Friday, April 18, 2014

Finding Furniture For Your Home

The design of any home's interior is dependent on many things, such as the style of the exterior, the family's budget and their personal preferences. Most people would agree that the furnishings a family uses to define their space dramatically affect the way the entire home looks. Every room can have a different design, but this can be complicated and difficult to pull off. An easier way to achieve great home design is to choose furniture from one collection that goes into every room in the house. Doing so unifies the home and gives it a feeling of being well organized. Homeowners who choose from a collection like Henkel Harris Furniture will find that they can choose a living room, bedroom and kitchen set that all match or greatly complement one another. This helps the home look clean and organized to both residents, and it can make the home more inviting to any guests. Friends and family who visit will surely appreciate seeing how much thought was put into the design of the home. When choose similar furniture for every room so that all the rooms in the home complement one another, furniture choices go far beyond pricing and color of a single item or two. A family on a budget might be tempted to purchase random, discounted pieces instead of buying an entire set, but complementary rooms in a house can really create a highly sophisticated look. 

In the long run, families who buy a matching set may end up saving money by investing in quality pieces that need little maintenance over the years. A homeowner might choose a sleigh bed for the master bedroom and purchase beds for the guest rooms that are of a similar color. The dining room table can have similar scrolling as the couch in the living room, and even the side tables in the home office can have similar legs to the chairs in the office or even the chairs at the breakfast table. Little ornamental details throughout the home make it look expertly designed and subtly enhance each room. When the family is finally ready to cast away their old furniture and use a collection that complements itself, they can appoint their entire home in similar colors, shapes and design details. Doing so impresses guests, makes the home comfortable to live and helps the living space become more beautiful than the homeowners could have imagined.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Mom's Point of View on Common Core

The very moment that my first child was born, I took on this title of Mother. My heart was bursting with unexplainable joy as I often caught myself staring into the face of this beautiful baby boy, this miracle that God gave me. I learned a quick lesson once I assumed this role as Mother and that was that I was always needed. This especially became true as God blessed us with 3 additional children. As a mother of four, there is never a time in my day that I am not needed. I set my alarm and get up hours before the rest of my family and I am often the last one to close my eyes and go to sleep at night. 

The truth is, being a parent is a full time job that never ends. I work 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are no days off. No vacation days. And sick days are out of the question. Everybody knows that Moms aren’t allowed to get sick! We are always needed. Being a parent brings along many other titles as well. I’m a cook, a taxi driver, a housekeeper, a teacher, a nurse, a CEO and an animal keeper just to name a few. As a matter of fact, a study by Salary.Com estimates that the replacement cost of a mother would be around $113,000 a year to cover all of the titles that she holds. I think it should be even higher than that! 

Being a mother means a lot of things to me but the number one duty that I take the most seriously is that of a protector. I can go from a quiet, calm, normal human being to a crazy, overprotective beast when I see my kids are in harm’s way. I remember a time not long ago when we were playing baseball in the backyard. Our youngest child who was 2 at the time was riding bikes right behind us on the sidewalk with his big sister. I remember turning my head for just a second and when I turned around, to my horror, I saw my toddler heading into the street. I had nightmares for months after that day, seeing one of my most precious gifts in life standing there, not understanding or knowing the danger he was in as a semi truck came barreling down the street. Things could have ended much differently that day and I thank God still today that he kept his hand of protection over my son and I was able to take him back into the house that day unharmed. 

Back in the fall, my 3rd grader began to struggle in school. He has always been a good student who catches on to concepts rather quickly and he always has excelled, especially in math. I began to ask questions and every answer came back to this Common Core. I am an involved mother. I volunteer on a regular basis in my children’s schools so I was really confused. What was this Common Core and how had I not heard about it before? So I started to dig around. I spent months researching and educating myself and every time I did, my Mom radar would go off, signaling that something just wasn’t right. And as most of you who are reading this right now can probably attest to, our radars rarely steer us wrong. What I found about Common Core left my stomach in knots. After I really “got it” and understood it for what it really was, I knew that my kids were in serious danger. Those who did not understand would say things to me like, “Sarah, it’s not that bad. It’s just a set of academic standards. It’s going to make our kids smarter. It’s going to make them better. It’s going to prepare them to be workers in the 21st century global economy.” But my heart just wouldn’t accept that. The Mom inside of me knew better. You see, the word “Standards” has gotten approval from the public and most educators because we all want higher learning for our children but as we know, there is also another meaning of the word standard and that is “like everybody else” and standardizing minds is what Common Core is trying to do. I once read that standardized minds are as far out of sync with deep-seated American values as it’s possible to get and I have to agree. As a mother of four, I can tell you how different each child’s mind works. My youngest child receives special education for a severe delay in speech. My oldest is an amazing speaker and is in the gifted program at school. He wants to become an engineer and play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds someday. My 8 year old doesn’t care too much for school and speaks of his dreams of doing something in his future that involves fixing things and using his hands. Our only daughter is a great student who wants to own her own beauty salon someday. I know these things with my children might change but giving them the freedom to choose their own path is such an important thing to me as a Mom. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I am a mother who believes in letting her children choose their own path, with a little guidance and Mom wisdom, of course. 

One of the greatest childhood psychologists of all time, Jean Piaget, studied the cognitive development of children for decades and he identified stages of said development that children go through as they mature. I think Piaget said it best when he said “Children are not mini adults. If a child is not developmentally ready these problems will likely lead to frustration, discouragement and negative emotional reactions—which is exactly what parents are reporting. There is a time to help our students develop high level thinking skills that require manipulation of multiple symbols and the use of deductive logic. Childhood is not that time. What they are doing is rushing the most important season of a person’s life—their childhood."

Even more concerning, I am worried about the instruction time that my children are missing out on in the classroom because of the standardized testing. It seems like every time I turn around my kids are telling me that they are working on practice tests and taking assessments. It makes me wonder how much knowledge our children are missing out on because our teachers are teaching to the test. I listened to expert testimony about the harmful side effects of standardized testing and what I found was scary. This type of instruction might benefit the average and below average student because they have less information to process but what does it do to our above average and gifted students? They will forever be held back from ever achieving their potential because of the mediocrity of the information they are being exposed to. This ultimately means that any goal of producing brighter and higher achieving young people will never be reached. These tests do not measure the abilities of a student. They measure how good a school is at teaching curriculum that produces good test takers. I recently read that we must return to teaching curriculum that prepares students for a wide range of opportunities instead of teaching them how to know the answers to tests that really only benefit the vendors that create them. I wanted to give someone a high five when I read that because as a mother, I couldn't agree more. 

Is it really that important to compete with other countries when it comes to education? Why can't our kids be good for America instead of good for a "global economy." Why can't we  let the teachers do what they have been trained to do and let them teach creativity and beautiful things that will create lifelong learners? Why must we rush the childhoods of millions of children, making them miss out on the most influential years of their lives? 

I'm not in favor of national anything because the truth is, every state is different. The people in one state don't hold the same values as the residents of other states. What we do have in common, however, is that we are seeing states all across our country now springing to life and threatening to dismantle what is known as the Common Core and it's it's not because of these great speakers or experts who are speaking out against the standards. It's because of the real experts--the Moms and Dads. The Grandmas and Grandpas. The Aunts and Uncles. The concerned citizens. The taxpayers. It's those who believe in the principles that our country was founded upon. It's those who want to keep our freedoms in tact and not hand those precious gifts over to the government. It's those who love and care about children and want to see a generation of bright, free-thinkers who understand the history of our great country and the sacrifices that were made to be able to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave. It's the educators like the 42,000+ in the Bad Ass Teachers organization (BAT) who are starting to stand up and say "not in my class." 

Recently I had the opportunity to join the group of nearly 600 BAT's from Ohio and words could never even begin to express the gratitude I have for these teachers who truly want to make a difference in the lives of children. I asked one of them to share their opinion with me for a presentation I was working on and I was so touched by the responses.  "From the perspective of an educator who has been teaching for almost a decade, the Common Core is one of the worst educational reforms to ever rear its ugly head in this state and across the nation. It is a set of standards that trumpets the glib buzzwords “rigor” and “grit” with one side of its mouth while laughing in the face of a diverse and accommodating education for students with the other. How can any educator, administrator, parent or student champion a set of standards that turns children into data rather than seeing them as individuals with specific needs, interests, strengths and learning styles? How can any right-thinking or remotely compassionate person declare a set of standards that mercilessly labels a child from a young age, breaking them into “successful” or “failure” based on a single test, a triumph of reform and a panacea to the education gap in this country? How can any person who remembers the joy of learning through a multitude of different experiences, subjects and activities ever see standards that demand hyper-focus on hours of test preparation for the majority of the school year a worthwhile educational experience? How can any citizen look at the immense amount of preparation that goes into a teacher’s day, dedicated to helping each student as an individual, the projects that are created to get them to imagine and think beyond their boundaries, and the experiences that are brought to them to enrich their minds and see that measurable by a single, obtuse test? The answer is clear. Only someone with no common sense, someone with no understanding of how people think, learn and develop, someone who has NEVER stepped foot into a classroom to see what real learning and teaching looks like, someone who has found a way to make money from the failure of children and teachers and someone with little real desire to provide the BEST education a child can have. This is the kind of person who develops a set of standards as deeply flawed as the Common Core is. And it needs to be done away with before untold damage is done to the emotional and educational growth of students now and for generations to come."

Thank God for these teachers who are speaking up. Thank God for the parents speaking up. It might not be tomorrow but I think we are going to see something HUGE happening across America very soon.

Let's face it. We all want higher standards. We all want an excellent education for our children. Let the states go back to the drawing board and create truly higher standards that still allow children to be children because after all, they are humans, not machines. Prepare them for life, not the workforce. And for the love of God, let's push to make sure the federal government and social elites are never allowed to interfere with our children's education ever again. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Preparing Your Home for Pest Control

Spring is finally upon us and with that comes warmer weather, more sunshine and BUGS! The snow had barely melted when I first started seeing ants trying to get inside which is really strange because we have never had an issues with ants in our house before. Normally small annoyances like this can easily be taken care of yourself, however, if you run into a bigger problem with pests in your home, it might be better to leave it to the professionals. If you do decide you need help, the following are some tips of how you can prepare your house for the exterminator. 

Even though it typically doesn’t take long for an experienced pest control company -- such as -- to eliminate unwanted pests, you can help make the exterminator’s job a bit easier by properly preparing your home for their arrival. Clean out from underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks. This includes temporarily removing any items you normally store in that location. By simply removing and cleaning out these areas, you will give the pest control experts more room to work. You should also ensure all items are at least two feet away from the exterior of your home and move items away from the interior garage walls. This allows the pest control expert to easily inspect and possibly treat these areas. If you have bushes or groundcover that covers and conceals the foundation or walls, make sure to trim them back a bit before the exterminators visit. The pest control expert may need to enter your basement, crawl space or attic so you should ensure there is easy access to these areas. If the access opening to these areas are located in a close, remove any clothing or items stored beforehand to make it easier for the inspector to gain entry to these places. The preparation for flea control is a bit different and requires stripping all the beds and removing any slipcovers from the furniture. These items -- along with pet beds -- should then be washed in laundry detergent using the hottest water setting that those specific fabrics can stand. Make sure to thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture and carpets, and consider shampooing or steam cleaning the carpeting and upholstery as well. If you do decide to go this route, just make sure the fabrics are completely dry before the appointment. Furthermore, consult with your veterinarian about flea treatment options for your pet and plan to have everyone -- including your pets -- out of the home for a few hours during the treatment process.

I guess with every change of season we must take the good with the bad. I can deal with a few ants if it means warmer temps and SUNSHINE! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Will an HSA Help Save My Family Money?

The tax deadline and open enrollment for health insurance are both right around the corner. Saving on taxes and healthcare is important to everyone, however, millions of Americans still don't understand health savings accounts (HSAs) and how to use them to save on taxes and to better control healthcare spending. The award winning resource is an excellent place to start to find straightforward information on HSAs, how they work and the triple tax advantage they offer. Using the interactive tools on the website, users can estimate potential savings before deciding if an HSA might be the best choice for their budget and healthcare needs. 

The Affordable Care Act did change a few aspects of HSAs, however, their triple-tax advantages remain. Money deposited into an HSA is tax deductible, interest on these savings still grows tax deferred, and funds withdrawn for qualified medical expenses are still tax free. Money left in the account at the end of the year rolls over to the next year, accumulating over time for use when needed, even for retirement health care costs. 

You can find newly enhanced resources within the pages at enabling consumers to learn how they can save both in the short term and long term before deciding if an HSA is the best choice for them. These updates include:

*HSA basics, including an extensive list of frequently asked questions
*Three interactive calculators to estimate health insurance savings, tax savings and future value
*Updated videos and examples of how families are using their HSAs to save
*Information on 2013 and 2014 deductibles, contribution limits and out-of-pocket maximums
*Qualified medical expenses and other resources 

If you already have an active HSA, you can also consider maximizing your contribution before the April 15 deadline to take advantage of their tax and savings benefits. For the 2013 tax year, HSA contributions are tax deductible up to $3,250 for individuals and $6,450 for families. HSA holders 55 years and older can contribute and deduct an additional $1,000!  Many individual states also allow deductions from state taxes for HSA contributions. 

HSA Center was created as an online education site for consumers by Golden Rule Insurance Company and UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Company. For more information, visit For additional information about UnitedHealthOne HSA health plans, call 800-444-8990. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Benefits of Ecigs

My husband and I have been married for 13 years and he has been a smoker since the day I met him. Over the course of our marriage he has made many unsuccessful attempts to quit but after a short time, he always seemed to pick the nasty habit back up again. Last month, right before Valentine's Day, he decided that instead of quitting smoking, he was going to go a different route and he purchased his very first Electronic cigarette. On February 13th, he officially lit his last Marlboro and hasn't picked up one since. 

I was really skeptical when he bought the Ecig but I quickly found that it was a great alternative for him rather than smoking actual cigarettes. Below you will find some of the benefits that I have seen in him making the switch.

*Smell. Let's face it. Cigarettes stink. They make your clothes stink. They make your skin stink. They just stink! We do not have this issue with the Ecigs. When my husband smoked regular cigarettes, I often times would wash his clothes separately from the rest of ours because his were so stinky. I don't have to do this anymore! 

*Whiter Teeth. In the month that my husband made the switch to Electronic cigarettes, I notice a huge difference in the color of his teeth. They are getting whiter every day. 

*Better breath. There was nothing worse than when my husband would come in after a long day of work and I would welcome him with a kiss while trying to hold my breath because all I could smell on his breath was stinky cigarettes. 

*Cost. The initial investment my husband made into his Ecig was around $150. It paid for itself in just a couple of weeks. The fluid that he buys for his Ecig costs around $15 and is equal to 10 cartons of cigarettes. That is a HUGE amount of savings and has been enough that we have actually seen a difference in our bank account. He was paying nearly $6/pack for regular cigarettes every single day so this is a huge savings for us. 

*Convenience. My husband has a very demanding job that does not always allow him to step outside for a smoke break like some of the other employees where he works. He can carry his Ecig in his pocket and grab it out whenever he wants to at work without having to waste time going outside and taking long breaks that he doesn't have time for. We also don't have to make frequent stops when traveling with our children anymore so my husband can smoke which I personally appreciate a ton! 

There are Ecig shops popping up all over the place right now. You can also visit places like where you can enroll in programs for auto ship so you can make sure you never run out of supplies. I was very skeptical when my husband said he was going to make the switch but here we are nearly 6 weeks later and even the slightest smell of a regular cigarette makes him scrunch his nose. I would venture to say our entire family appreciates his effort to make the switch! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finding the Right Home for Your Tools

If you are the guy who practically lives in your garage, your tools are more than a luxury. They are a necessity. Whether you are working on the car, projects around the house, or putting on an addition to your house, you want to know exactly where your tools are. Everything should be well-organized and on hand in the moment when you need it most. Choosing the ideal toolbox takes time to find the right home for your tools. You need to turn to a reputable source like before you make a substantial investment.

Find a Product That is Built to Last
That old expression, "You get what you pay for," is generally true. Steer clear of astronomical deals that seem to good to be true. You don't have to necessarily buy into the most expensive product on the market either. The most important thing you need to do is check product reviews. Find a manufacturer with an excellent reputation. The Better Business Bureau, testimonials, and customer reviews can help you to make your final selection. Take caution with testimonials as they may be skewed to favor the company. Once you have found a company that you are happy with, it's time to hunt down the right toolbox for your garage.

Consider Your Options
Look carefully at the product selection offered by the manufacturer. Make sure you select a toolbox that will have ample space for the amount of tools that you have. Otherwise, you'll only find yourself shopping for another toolbox in the future. If possible, find the right fit the right time. You may only need a top chest or prefer a roller set. Combination sets may also fit the bill for the projects that you have in mind. Don't forget about portable boxes, side boxes, and hutches. If you're shopping for a toolbox for the first time, you'll be looking for a comprehensive product that will give you proper storage for your valuable tools. If you already have a toolbox and want to upgrade, now is the time to scope out the full product line of a manufacturer that you like and choose the best items to complement your existing setup. 

Look for Extra Perks
As you shop for your toolbox, don't forget the perks. You might find free shipping, a special sale, or an excellent warranty to entice you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Searching for Home Loans

Home ownership is a part of the American dream but it seems like it's becoming harder and harder for people to achieve that goal in their life. One of the biggest issues families face is finding the funding to finance that dream. 

First time home buyers need to understand all of the options that are available for a loan. Modern mortgages come in various types of plans that are suitable for any budget. A fixed rate mortgage is the most common type of home loan. The fixed rate refers to the monthly payments and interest rates that are associated with an entire's loans term. A variable rate mortgage comes with different monthly payments based on specific time intervals. For example, burrowers may have to pay small amounts towards the last few years of a variable rate home loan. Finding a mortgage in the United States can be accomplished at local banks, credit unions, financial institutions and even small businesses. 

The application process for a mortgage involves submitting official information about the status of employment. A lender needs to know how much money a borrower is earning each month. Special formulas and other strict guidelines are used to determine if an applicant qualifies for a mortgage that covers a specific sum. Sometimes, people might get approved for a home loan that's tens of thousands of dollars less than the original expected amount. Banks and other lenders also need to ensure that borrowers have money for a down payment on a home. Additionally, all homes that are financed through a mortgage are considered collateral. Therefore, lenders have the legal right and obligation to take away any property that has not been paid for. Borrowers often get evicted after missing several months on mortgage payments.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Common Core Strips Us of our Parental Rights

I apologize to all of my readers for my recent absence. Life has thrown me some curve balls and I feel that my efforts right now are needed in the fight against Common Core. It's not a fight that I ever thought I would find myself in the middle of but here I am. I have a lot of issues with Common Core but I am not going to go into those today. What I want to talk about today is how schools are trying to strip parents of their rights over their children. We keep seeing stories across the country of this very thing but what I never thought was that it could happen to me. But it did. 

 As parents, my husband and I talked and we have been very cautious with the programs that our children are participating in at school, particularly in regards to their health. We take them to the doctor regularly. We know how much they weigh. We know how tall they are. We take them to the dentist so they don't need the school to check their teeth. We, as their parents, are on top of these things. Medical data, in my opinion, is very private and we just prefer these things be kept between our children and their physicians. No big deal, right?!  So I sent in an opt out form 2 weeks ago to prohibit my children from participating in the BMI screening that is now done a couple of times a year in gym class. We allowed them to do the physical aspects of the fitness test but just requested that they not be weighed or measured. The school principal called me back and while he was still trying to convince me not to opt out, he advised that the school respected my request and my kids would not have to participate. The time came in gym class for this to take place, and as expected, my children were skipped over and all was well. 

In the meantime, I also have a multitude of issues with standardized tests. Again, my husband and I felt that it was in the best interest of our children to not be subjected to these tests so we chose to join the opt out movement. I again sent in a formal request for my children to be opted out of both the OAA's and the PARCC pilot exams that are coming up. After sending in the opt out forms, I contacted the superintendent, the principal and my children's teachers to ask what we could expect for my children on testing day. Would they be allowed to go to the library to read? Will they have something they can work on? I waited for several days on a response but still did not hear back.

Fast forward to this week. Tuesday night we hosted Dr. Terrence Moore here in our area and he spoke to a packed house on the dangers of Common Core. I awoke yesterday morning, and my life had been turned upside down. I received a letter from our superintendent telling me that I could NOT opt my children out of the standardized tests. He based this on Ohio law and advised that he had taken advice from the school attorneys on the matter and this was where he based his stance. I have attached the letter below so that you can see exactly what I received. 

As if this was not bad enough, telling ME, a mother, that I have no RIGHT to choose this path for my children, what came next was unbelievable. 

My kids came off the bus yesterday very upset. The superintendent had came to their school and my kids were singled out in gym class and forced to step on a scale to be weighed and measured, even though this had already been done in the class last week and my kids were opted out. I was never called. Never notified. My rights as a parent were violated. My kids rights to privacy were violated. And I am TICKED! I tried calling the principal but was told he was on the phone so I hopped in my car and drove straight there. What I was met with was unbelievably childish. Basically I was told by the principal that I am not his boss. They don't take orders from me. He gets his orders from HIS boss, the superintendent, and based on the letter that the superintendent had sent to me earlier in the day, they had voided my opt out forms and they were no longer applicable. What they did was take away MY rights to MY children. The Supreme Court has always held that parents have the supreme authority over their children in EVERY aspect of their lives, including education so how did this happen?

My job as a mother carries many titles but protector is the most important to me. When I see my children in harms way, it is instinct for me to do whatever I need to do to protect them from that harm. Isn't that the job of every parent? To protect our children? So what happens when our right to protect them as we see fit is taken away from us? 

I am not going to lie. I feel like I went to sleep and woke up in a nightmare in another country. Surely I am no longer in America if I am being told that I do not have the RIGHT to parent my children as I see fit. Parental rights are being stripped away from us, right before our eyes, and we didn't even see it coming. I held it together all day yesterday. Right up until bedtime that is. When I looked at the faces of my 4 innocent children, for the first time in my life as a Mom, I felt helpless and I felt fearful for them. My 10 year old daughter asked me if they had to go to school today because she was afraid that they would be singled out again and humiliated in front of their peers. And for the first time in a long time, I was no longer able to hold it together. My husband held me as I sobbed into his chest, unable to hold back the emotions that I had been trying to suppress for so long. My heart hurt. Not just for my kids but for all of our kids. If this can happen to ME, it can happen to YOU! Don't think for a minute that it can't. I never imagined it would happen so close to home and could have never prepared myself for the emotions that I feel every time I read that letter telling me that I don't have a right to do what's best for my children. Every time I think about my kids being called out in that gym class, taken to that scale, my blood boils because at that moment, my job as my children's protector was stripped away from me and there was nothing I could do about it. 

In the evenings, I sit down with my 8 year old son who is in the 3rd grade and often times, we end up with a box of tissues next to us to dry his tears because he is frustrated and he is confused by the "new math" methods that we are teaching. It is sad when I, a college educated parent, cannot help my child with his homework in the 3RD GRADE! When I sent in emails to the school asking about the things that we were seeing, I was told that my email inquiries were "borderline harassment." 

What are we doing to our children? How can we sleep at night knowing that this is going on? It doesn't matter if you are for or against Common Core. This is about parental rights. God help us all because I'm afraid this has only just begun. Oh how it hurt my heart to send my kids out the door to school today. As I sit here typing, tears continue to pour down my face. My children are not human capital. They are kids. They have souls. They have hearts. They think for themselves. They are unique. And they are MINE! My kids do not belong to the state. They do not belong to the government. They do not belong to their school. They belong to ME and I will continue fighting to make sure that NO Mom or Dad ever has to go through what I have been put through because I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dirt Cheap Signs

If you have been paying attention to educational news across the country, you are probably well aware that we are in the middle of what is probably the biggest battle our generation has ever seen with Common Core. We are fighting it in our local area here in Ohio the best we can by having speakers come and by regularly calling our legislators but several weeks ago we decided we needed more ways to get the word out so we decided to invest in some Common Core Yard Signs! I literally searched the internet for days trying to find the best place to order because I knew once people seen them, we would have a huge demand for them (and I was right!) and I am so happy to have come across DirtCheapSigns.Com!

I was able to custom design the perfect sign at Dirt Cheap Signs in less than 15 minutes. They have so many options available and you can choose from pre-made signs your you can create your own custom design from scratch. You can choose from various sizes and you get the option to have your sign printed on one side or two. We went with the 2-sided design and could not have been more thrilled when they arrived. They are PERFECT and just what we needed! They are nice and sturdy and the stakes we ordered to go along with the signs were perfect. 

In addition to the great sign, I have to put it out there that their customer service is world class. They have a quick turnaround time on orders but I was late on placing the order and I quickly realized we weren't going to be able to get them in time for our big event that we wanted them for. I made a phone call and I was able to have my order rushed and they arrived just on time for our event. 

We have gotten rave reviews on our yard signs from Dirt Cheap Signs! They are so popular that people driving by have literally stopped to knock on my front door to ask me where I got my sign. I have had phone calls and emails from people all over Ohio asking me where I got my sign and how they can get one too. That is awesome! Even better, when I logged into my account to get another order ready to place, I was able to just click the reorder button and my design and everything was right there ready to order! 

Yard signs are such a great way to send a message to the public on where you stand on an issue or to show support for someone or something. They are also great for yard sales, real estate and to promote businesses! The next time you are looking to get the word out, check out! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Step by Step Garage Makeover Made Easy

Garages have a rustic charm all their own. If your diamond in the rough is a cluttered jumble of awkward items, this makeover primer is for you. Increase your garage's appeal with a few great products available online at stores like Garage Appeal.

To make logic out of a disarrayed mess, you will need to do a little heavy lifting. Separate your stuff into three piles.

One pile is junk destined for the garbage can
The next pile will be perfect for a garage sale
The last pile is for things you wish to donate. Do not forget donations are tax deductible

Do not spend too long sorting out your piles. If you have not used it in years, toss it. If you have more than one of something, sell it. If you have gotten a lot out of it, but want a new one, donate it.

Define the Garage's Uses

Once you have cleared out many of the excess items, you will begin to see an idea form. If you have a pile of flowerpots and gardening tools, define a gardening zone within the garage. Crafters may envision a spot for a craft table and organized supplies. Handy people will want to keep a part of the garage for tools and a workbench. When you have a clear idea of what you wish to use the garage for, besides parking, you will have a guide for your next steps.

Create a Place for Everything

It can be fun to put your things away when the garage is well ordered, and there is a place for everything. Clean and paint the floor, walls and surfaces. A clean garage floor will do wonders for your outlook. Tile flooring, modular floors, or roll-out flooring make a perfect foundation for the makeover. If you have a charming wood framed garage, you may wish to keep the walls natural wood. Use vertical wall space for hanging up bulky tools or items you use a lot. Pegboards, adjustable tracks, and cabinets are an excellent way to make those walls work for you. Do not overlook the ceiling. Overhead storage racks are useful for those items you use once a year or so, and your floors will be clear for better purposes. Finally, remember to install good lighting. A dingy garage is immediately brightened when proper lighting is in place at task locations and overhead.

Enhance and Soften Water in Your Home

There are ways to improve and soften the water that many consume and use daily, despite the well-related issues that contribute to the hard-water taste and accumulated deposits. While many products are essentially additives that have the propensity to alter the taste, composition, and healthfulness of the water being consumed in the home, there are some options that attack water on its way in to the home, altering the hard-deposits that affect the taste, appearance, and purity of the water. 

Other devices might be installed to filter water as it comes in the pipes, tanks, and taps of the home, altering the molecular composition and softening up the hard water deposits, minerals, and chemicals that may be interfering with the quality and appeal of water in the homes in many regions. These systems are professionally installed, and don't rely on detergents or solutions that could compromise the integrity and taste of water. These systems rely on a frequency wave that changes the density and the molecular formula of the water used by consumers. This augment not only affects the taste and quality of the water, but also serves to minimize the accumulation of deposits along walls, pipes, and plumbing in the home. The larger deposits are broken down by the waves and frequency, which keeps the hard water deposits from being able to adhere to these surfaces as the water makes its way into the home, and subsequently, into the drinking supply of those living in the dwelling. Devices such as the Scale Blaster could be a viable alternative for many homeowners. 

These devices work through a coil that is wrapped around the incoming water line or pipe. The conduction presented through this scientific coil is what alters the chemical composition of the water being flushed through, and into the home. The process is non-invasive and effortless for the consumer, and the water that emerges is fresh, clear, and tasteless- which is what drinkers want in a simple glass of water from their tap. 

Before relenting to the chemical solutions and agents that promise to reduce the taste and deposits that hard water create, consider some alternatives that are new and innovative, and that don't add anything to the drinking supply. These systems might be a more feasible option for those consumers that are wary or sensitive to chemicals and additives found in conventional water treatment products.

Give Mom and Dad an Easter they will Remember

The looming spring holiday may be the perfect time to give mom, dad, or any special loved one a gift that they will not only enjoy, but also use daily. One thought that some buyers may want to consider is to give a fine gift of furniture, and perhaps in particular, a great chair or recliner. Some individuals spend a tremendous amount of time in a spot or seat, either using it as respite at the end of a long day or reclining in it to visit and interact with others in the home. Having a comfortable, supportive chair to relax in is something that will remind the owner of the thoughtful person who giving it. 

There are various retail venues to provide shoppers with distinctive selections and competitive price points; some of the familiar, local Harrisburg PA Furniture Stores will rival products and savings to vie for consumers' trust. They offer expansive ranges of La-Z-Boy, a benchmark in recliners, in contemporary and classic styles with features that shoppers want to experience. There has been a furniture evolution in terms of the recliner, and the type of chair that Grandfather enjoyed is now offered in styles more befitting the modern design themes and linear furnishings currently trendy in home decor. While it is still possible to find Uncle Joe a replica of his all-time favorite chair, it is also pragmatic to find a cool, aesthetically-appealing piece for modern studios and apartment living. 

In addition to the overall style, there are some new and exciting options found with these quality fixtures. In addition to the range of colors that might impress some buyers, there are some unique, patterned styles that elevate the simple chair to becoming a curious focal point of the room. Enlarged hounds-tooth plaid in vibrant hues on an arm-less recliner makes the ideal piece for a home office or space-limited bedroom. It is reassuring that there are some brick-and-mortar retailers in the region that continue to offer buyers the high-quality and reputable names of manufacturers that have been around for generations. This personal assistance and dedication to quality has made the timeless brands and manufacturers continue to fulfill home furnishing needs for the everyday consumer.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Common Core: Where Did We Go Wrong?

As a mother of four children, you can probably imagine that education is very important in our home. I always urge my kids to do their best in everything that they do, especially when it comes to learning. I want them to have the skills that they need to be able to attend college someday or whatever path life might take them on. All of my kids have always been good students without any learning issues. I am an involved parent who regularly volunteers in the schools and community and I have always felt so proud of the great school system that my kids are a part of. 

This year, I have a preschooler and students in the 3rd, 5th and 6th grade. The year started out just like every other but back in the late Fall, we started to see issues. Our 3rd grader started to struggle in both math and reading. I was especially alarmed when he brought home a math test that he received a 79% on. I looked through it and was kind of surprised because he had all of the answers correct! It was simple multiplication facts and he mastered his facts very quickly. I emailed his teacher and his response was not helpful. He continued to talk about these "tests" and how he had to prepare these students to take these "tests." When he talked about the math test, he spoke to me about the new standards and how writing the correct answer was no longer acceptable. For 8x7, he couldn't rely on his memory of his multiplication facts to answer the problem. Instead, he had to draw a model that contained 56 dots to show his answer. His teacher advised that coming up with the correct answer was not as important as showing how he got to that answer. *scratches head* It didn't make any sense to me so I decided I needed to dig into these new "standards" and see what they were all about. 

I was shocked when I read my first article about Common Core. How was it that my children's school has been implementing these new standards into the classrooms for over 3 years and I had no idea about them? Researching Common Core became my new job. I researched day and night. I asked questions. I consulted with experts. And the more I dug, the uglier it got. Over the course of the last several months, I have lost countless hours of sleep and I have cried more tears than I can ever remember. I am scared to death for my children! 

Most alarming to me is the fact that these standards have never been tested. Our children are being used as guinea pigs and if/when the system fails, it's not going to affect a small group of children. It's going to affect over 50 million children across our country. The next thing that really bothered me was how these standards were created. When laws have to be changed to comply with something, we have a problem. Never in history has curriculum been tied to a set of standards yet this is exactly what has been going on. We are literally teaching our kids how to take tests! The number of tests and assessments that our children are going to be subjected to is mind boggling! And even worse, the teachers are going to be the ones who take the fall when the kids don't perform as the government thinks they should. 

Let me dig a little deeper into the curriculum for you. I started asking my kids questions and when they would have books at home, I would examine them cover to cover. What I found was text that was full of religious, moral and political ideologies that have no business in a classroom. In a country where many schools no longer recite the pledge of allegiance as to not offend anyone since it uses the word "God" would it surprise you to know that my 6th grader who is 11 years old has spent the last month in an in depth study of the Islam religion? He can tell me the entire history of Islam, the 5 Pillars of Islam, where, how and why they pray and that is only the beginning. In a system where we can't talk about God, my child can tell you all about Allah and Muhammad. They also talked about the politics among the Muslim community and when they studied the Muslim Area Brotherhood, it was described as a political group that is much like the Republicans and Democrats in the United States. I had to give him my own lesson on how they are, in fact, a terrorist group that played a part in inflicting unfathomable pain onto the American people. Below you will find some screenshots taken directly out of my son's textbook. 

Now, before you go crazy on me and call me a conspiracy theorist or close minded, let me explain. At 11 years old, I have no problem with my child learning about other cultures. This study on Islam happens to come from a chapter they are covering on Africa. Now in my mind, he should be able to give information on the geography of Africa. The wildlife in Africa. The economy in Africa. And yes, I believe he should even be able to tell me what religions are practiced in Africa. I do NOT believe he should be subjected to an in-depth study on Islam while studying Africa. Especially because Islam is only prevalent in the northern part of Africa. The entire Southern half practices Christianity. Now to be fair, Islam isn't the only religion he's being subjected to. Next up he will learn about Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and finally Christianity. I should also add, however, that Christianity got a couple of pages in the book vs. the two full chapters that the study of Islam received. This is alarming to me. I just don't see why it's necessary to indoctrinate children in these types of studies. In college, maybe. Elementary school? Heck no! 

If you don't think these things are going on in your schools, think again. Nearly 80% of the curriculum for Common Core has been created by Pearson Publishing and every bit of it contains stuff like this. It is scary and if parents do not start to act, we are in big trouble. 

On a positive note, Georgia passed their Senate bill yesterday to fully repeal Common Core. This gives me hope. I live in Ohio and we currently have HB237 and SB237 that would also fully repeal Common Core if passed. This is why I now spend countless hours emailing and calling my state representatives urging them to act. It has been discouraging at times, especially when our own Keith Faber who is the Senate President refuses to do anything on the matter but I can't give up. I am now the voice for not only my children but all of the children across Ohio. 

If you haven't looked into Common Core, I urge you to educate yourself. It's the most important thing I have ever done and I will continue fighting this beast until it is gone! 

Removing Odor and Mold from Your Home with Ozone Shock Treatment

Keeping my family safe is my main priority in life. Years ago when we first moved back to our hometown to raise our family, we lived in a small home just outside of town. I started seeing evidence of mold in the home so I purchased a mold testing kit and when the results were ready, I was so sick to my stomach. We had a huge mold issue. With 3 small children at the time, I knew we needed to act fast but I had no idea how we were going to tackle this huge problem. 

There are many different ways to remove odors and mold from homes. One of the most effective is O3 generator shock treatment. Shock treatments using O3, more frequently called ozone, are potent eliminators of various kinds of odors. Shock treatment works by flooding a space with a high volume of ozone. This allows the ozone to bind to odor-causing chemicals and starve mold of oxygen. These combined factors take odor-causing chemicals out of the air and kill mold.

The first advantage of shock treatment is that it is quick. Most other effective odor treatment methods involve replacing chemical canisters or other devices repeatedly over a long period of time. Shock treatment only needs to be performed once, or once intermittently if odors return as a result of how a space is use. This makes it more efficient.

This also makes it viable for clearing odors out of a property for sale or some other purpose. Most odor-reducing technologies cover odors in lieu of neutralizing them. Actual neutralization of odors and mold allows you to restore a property to a healthy status, rendering it inhabitable and safe as it might not have been previously. It can be a major boon for individuals with respiratory issues.

The only downside of shock treatment is the requirement that everyone evacuate the space for treatment. Shock treatment relies on lethal levels of ozone to do the job, so you can't have anyone present and inhaling the atmosphere while the shock treatment is underway, and for some time afterward.

Gun Safety in the Home

For as long as I can remember, my husband has bothered me to get a gun to keep in our home. With four small children, the thought terrified me and I just couldn't do it. As time went on, our small community started seeing crime rise and a time came when I finally agreed to a handgun. While I still had fears about it, the security of having one outweighed my arguments as to why I didn't want to have one in our home. 

Owning a gun can be a great way to protect one's personal property and have a greater sense of security. However, if not stored properly, guns can create a huge amount of danger. This is especially true in households where children are present. All it takes is a few seconds for a child to gain access to an unsecured gun, and the results can be catastrophic. For this reason, all gun owners should have at least one gun safe in the house where firearms can be securely locked away at all times. This can essentially eliminate the risk of an unwanted person gaining access to any of the guns in the home. Many lives could be saved each year if only every gun owner had the sense to own and use a gun safe.

There are many different styles of gun safes that gun owners can consider as a way of making their homes safer places while still keeping their guns within easy reach if needed. These days, one of the most popular types of gun safe is the fingerprint ID safe. This allows the owner to program fingerprints of authorized users into the safe as a way of giving them access to its contents. Once a matching fingerprint is scanned and verified by the built-in computer chip, the safe opens and the gun can be obtained. There is no need to carry around a key or to memorize a pin number.

For those who would prefer something a little less technologically advanced and more traditional, basic lock-and-key safes and combination-lock safes are also available. These safes have a master key that can be tucked away in a secure location to open the safe as needed. Some also have a combination lock built in so that, in the event that a gun is needed and the key is not nearby, the user can still open the safe by using the code. All of these safes come in a variety of sizes that can accommodate anything from a small revolver to a large shotgun.

Responsible gun owners thinking about shopping for gun safes online in the near future should begin by determining what type and size of safe is ideal for them. From there, they can begin shopping around online for the best deals. There are many sites to explore, with being one of many that may be worth looking into.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spring Styles from Umi Shoes

Spring is right around the corner (or at least we hope!) which means we have been in the market for new shoes for our children. Buying new shoes for four children can be a daunting task but thankfully we have one of our favorite shoe stores that helps make it a lot easier. Umi Shoes has been one of my favorite "go-to" places online since my youngest was old enough to wear shoes so I was super excited when they sent us a pair of one of their new styles for Spring! 

We received the "Luke" style for our 4-year-old in the Bone Multi color and we could not have chosen a better shoe for him. 

The Luke style is not only adorable but they are so versatile so Aiden can wear them wherever his adventures take him. From playing outside to a day at preschool, he is styling in these shoes that include durable outsoles, canvas uppers and linings and a rubber toecap and sole. We ultimately chose this color because they will be perfect for Spring but this style is also available in two other adorable colors. 

There are so many things I love about Umi Shoes. Aside from the fact that their shoes are adorable, durable and affordable, I love the sizing. Every pair of shoes we have ever gotten from Umi have had extra wiggle room to accommodate growing feet. If you have children, you know how quickly their feet grow and not having to go out and buy a new pair of shoes every month is always a plus. Our kids have never complained about sore feet with Umi Shoes because every pair is made with the highest quality materials that are comfortable, breathable and safe. 

If you are in the market for new shoes for the upcoming season, check out the new styles at UmiShoes.Com


One lucky reader is going to win a $60 gift card to UmiShoes.Com!

*This is not a paid post. All opinions belong to the owners of this site. Review products and giveaway were both provided at no cost via the company and/or representing PR firm*

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cute Valentine's Day Card Ideas for Kids: I Mustache You a Question

I mustache you a question.........are you all ready for Valentine's Day?! Chances are, you are still contemplating what kind of cards to get for the kids this year to pass out at school. You could always go get a box of pre-made cards or you can even get some of the great candy Valentine's that are out right now but for  me, nothing takes the place of homemade Valentine's Day cards. I wanted to share our mustache Valentine's from last year because they turned out so daggone cute and they were a HUGE hit with the kids at school. Now, I must warn you. This was a multi-step project. You do not have to do everything that we did but here is how we did it. Oh, and don't forget treats! We have a recipe for a super easy and yummy Valentine's Day Treat that everyone will love!  Who doesn't love popcorn? Yum! 

1. We made t-shirts that said "I Mustache You, Will You be my Valentine?" We then took a picture and used this picture to make personalized photo cards. You can print these out yourself or have them professionally printed somewhere like Walmart or Rite Aid. 

2. Next, we took popsicle sticks and added a mustache to each of them. We found mustache stickers and attached these to cardboard to make them stronger and then attached them to the sticks with a little glue. 

3. We stuck one of these mustache sticks in each Valentine Card so when the kids at school opened them, they all had their own and we were able to do some super cute pictures with them! The kids LOVED their mustaches! 

Totally. Adorbs. Now I mustache you to have a Happy Valentine's Day! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Give Him The Gift of Style this Valentine's Day With Lugz

Valentine's Day is around the corner and you might already be contemplating what to give that special someone in your life. I find holidays like Valentine's Day extremely difficult when buying for men. They have it pretty easy....they can buy us ladies flowers and candy and be set but these aren't the typical gifts that women give to men which means we have to be more creative. If you have a man who loves the latest in style and fashion, look no further than Lugz footwear!

My husband has been a fan of Lugz for as long as I can remember. When he received his first pair from the Strider collection a few years ago, he was hooked and still loves those shoes today. They are made with amazing quality and are still in great shape even after wearing them all this time. When Lugz recently offered to send him a pair of their latest shoes, he ultimately chose the Drifter Peacoat and this was the perfect shoe for him. They are stylish and casual enough for every day wear but durable enough to stand up in even the harshest weather conditions, especially this brutal cold we are experiencing right now here in Ohio! My husband has wide feet and every pair of Lugz he has ever owned has offered that extra room that his feet need to stay dry and comfortable for extended periods of time. 

This is the classic Drifter work boot in a peacoat textile that can be worn for winter, work or casual wear. They feature a padded tongue and collar, a cushioned insole for comfort, a durable Lug rubber outsole all wrapped up in a military style design that any man is sure to love!  They carry a price tag of just $64.99 making them not only a stylish choice but affordable too. The Drifter Peacoat is also available in black, although my husband loves the gray! 

Visit to see all of their latest styles. Your man will love his new pair of Lugz this Valentine's Day! 


One lucky winner is going to receive their own pair of Drifter Peacoat Lugz! 

*This is not a paid post. All opinions are our own. Product was sent to us to help facilitate this review*

Dress Up Your Phone for Valentine's Day from MyCustomCase.Com

My iPhone is my lifeline to the outside world so it is very important to me to protect it with a good case. Having a super cute case for every season is also a big plus so I was excited when MyCustomCase.Com contacted me and offered to let me create a custom iPhone 5 case for Valentine's Day! There were so many choices to pick from and ultimately I chose a personalized heart case with my initial on it!  This style is called "Be Mine" and could not be more perfect for this time of year. It's not too heavy or bulky and I feel confident that my phone will be protected if it gets dropped. 

I was really impressed with the ordering process for MyCustomCase. It took me less than 5 minutes to personalize and order my case and I received it just a week later!  I was able to choose between the slim case or a more durable 2-piece case that includes an impact-resistant bumper for extra protection which is the one I ultimately chose since I have a toddler who loves to play on my phone.  

Check out all of the Valentine's Day Phone Cases at MyCustomCase.Com where you will find a huge selection for iPhones, iPads, iPods and even the Samsung Galaxy line! 

If you would like to connect with MyCustomCase check them out on Facebook or you can follow them on Twitter @MyCustomCase 

*Product was provided to us at no cost to help facilitate this review. All opinions are my own*

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mr. Peabody & Sherman Hitting Theaters on March 7, 2014! #MrPeabody

20th Century Fox and Dreamworks Animation has done it again with another awesome children's movie that is coming soon to a theater near you. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is set to hit theaters everywhere on March 7, 2014 and we could not be more excited! Mr. Peabody, the most accomplished dog in the world and his mischievous boy, Sherman, use their time machine to go on outrageous adventures. When Sherman takes the WABAC out for a joyride to impress his friend Penny, they rip a hole in the universe, wreaking havoc on the most important events in world history. Before they forever change the past, present and future, Mr. Peabody must come to their rescue, facing the most daunting challenge of any era: parenting! Together the time traveling trio will make their mark on history. 

Watch the trailer below! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Feeding Your Baby After You Return to Work

Returning to work after having a baby comes with so many mixed emotions but even more importantly, major decisions on your baby's nutrition. I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding but I also know that many women choose not to breastfeed for various reasons. After I went back to work after having my 3rd child, I so desperately wanted to continue nursing. I tried to pump during my 8 hour shift at work but as my milk supply diminished, I realized that I was going to have to supplement while I was away from my baby and that's when I started searching for infant formula. After doing a lot of research, I found that the store brand formula carried the same nutrition as the national brand and I could save a lot of money, as much as $600 a year! Perrigo Nutritionals is the largest supplier of Store Brand Infant Formula and one of only four companies recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for meeting strict FDA requirements for safety, nutrition and quality for infant formula manufacturing in the United States. 

75% of American moms will go back to work after having a baby and of these, 42% attribute stress to feeding their baby. We would love to share Five Return to Work Tips from Michelle LaRowe, author of "Working Moms 411."

1. If you don't have quality childcare, you won't be able to focus on anything else. Whether you choose a nanny, enroll your child in daycare or have a family member provide care, if you're not confident your child is safe and being well cared for, you won't be able to get any work done. 

2. A momtourage is a necessity. Now is the time to find out the people, places and things that can make your life easier. Whether its outsourcing the pet walking or ordering your groceries online, figure out who and what you can count on to give you more time in your day to spend with your family. 

3. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else. Set your alarm to get up 15 minutes before everyone else to have your cup of coffee in peace. If you can't hit the gym, take a brisk walk during your lunch break. If you aren't meeting your own needs, you won't be able to meet the needs of others. 

4. You'll need to adjust your expectations. Sure, you can do it all and have it all if you're willing to refine what that means. You're too tired to prepare a home cooked meal every night. Consider starting an office meal swap. Make double of a meal one night per week, have a coworker do the same things and switch and get two meals for the trouble of one. 

5. Guilt is mommyversal.  Don't let anyone fool you. Whether you are a working mom, stay at home mom or work from home mom, guilt is mommyversal. Just because you feel guilty doesn't mean you are guilty. If you've made the right choice for your family do yourself and your baby a favor. Let go of the guilt. 


One lucky winner is going to receive a gift package identical to the one in the picture above! 

*Gift packs for review and giveaway were provided to us at no charge by Perrigo Nutritionals. All opinions are my own*