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Wednesday, June 30, 2010


What would you do in Kissimmee?

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Kissimmee Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

We are a Disney family. I would go to Disneyland once a year if I could afford it. We have never been to Disney World though. I think it would be fun to visit Disney World once both of the kids are old enough. And while there we would be sure to check out Kissimmee! Just next door to the Magic Kingdom!

Located in the heart of Florida, Kissimmee sounds like my recent Mexico trip, just in the USA!
With great activities from zip lining, horse back riding, hot air balloon rides, carriage rides and ghost tracker tours, this definitely sounds like my kind of kid-friendly vacationing!

The beach is only about a hour away, just another great way to spend some quality family time. We love building sand castles, flying kits and swimming in the ocean!

Close to Kissimmee are theme parks such as, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando (with the new Harry Potter ride), Seaworld Orlando, and four different water parks!

I would LOVE to stay a Disney resort when we visit if possible. We have never stayed there but I am sure they are AMAZING!

Of course with shopping and many great restaurants near by I'm not sure if we would ever want to leave!

Visit  today and start planning your next vacation to Kissimmee, Florida!

Visit my sponsor: What's Your Kissimmee Story?
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infantino Twist and Fold Gym

Ok I LOVE my gym set that I had for my kids however the #1 issue I had with it was where to store it. It was long and bulky and just did not fit anywhere "nicely". Well "where was this!"

Twist & Fold Activity Gym Unique twist and fold action makes using and storing gym easy! Pops up in one simple motion and folds down for easy storage or travel. Comes with 4 linkable toys and bolster pillow for tummy time. Encourages reaching and engages baby's senses.

I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for Infantino and have received various Infantino products to as part of my participation.
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Summer Helmet Safety

The tragic death of Natasha Richardson was a major wake-up call for a lot of people. Ms. Richardson was skiing on a beginner slope in ideal skiing conditions. She was participating in a private skiing lesson with a professional ski instructor. She was laughing and talking after the accident. When she was asked if she wanted to be taken to the local hospital for a check-up, she allegedly declined. How could have such a “small” accident have caused the severe brain damage that led to her death?

Would Natasha Richardson still be alive today if she had worn a safety helmet? It’s impossible to know for certain (if only we could turn back time) but sports injury experts say ski helmets cut the rate of head injuries by 30% to 50%. Research shows proper use of a bike helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 88 per cent.

Our awareness about the importance of helmet safety continues to grow, but the question remains: how can we best protect our children? Here are a few guidelines for parents:

Insist that your child wear a safety helmet when biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and skating. Just because legislation making helmets mandatory for ALL sports isn’t yet in force, it doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Role model the behaviour for them! Think of it in these terms … when we want our kids to learn good manners, we teach by example. The same is true of helmet use. If we wear a safety helmet then it’s easier for us to insist that our kids do too! For those of you worried about “helmet hair”, ask yourself which is worse … helmet hair or a head injury?

Ensure that your child’s helmet fits properly. In order for a helmet to do its job, it needs to fit properly and the strap has to be done up. Not sure if your child’s helmet from last year still fits? Wondering whether or not your older child’s safety helmet can be passed down to your younger child? Ask a sales associate in your local sporting goods store to check the fit of your child’s helmet. I’ve always found them more than willing to help and it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Tempted by the great sale on helmets at your local discount retailer? We all want to save money but a helmet that doesn’t fit properly won’t protect your head. It’s imperative that your child tries on the helmet before you buy it because everyone’s head is shaped differently. As well, ensure the helmet you are purchasing meets helmet safety standards. CSA, CPSC, ASTM or Snell certifies most helmets sold in North America.

Bike helmets are designed to protect your head against only one crash. After a crash in which the cyclist has hit his or her head, a helmet should be replaced, even if it does not look damaged. You should not rely on a helmet that has been in a crash to protect you from another head injury.

Helmets should also be replaced if they are more than 5 years old. The plastics dry out and may become brittle with age. Also, older helmets may not meet current safety standards, or they may have missing or broken parts.

Your child may be complaining that he/she is too cold under their helmet. This is particularly true of skating and hockey helmets because they usually don’t have any insulation. Please keep in mind that wearing a hat under the helmet does not allow the helmet to fit properly. You can always try adding a helmet cover over the helmet. It adds a layer of warmth and will make it FUN for your child to wear his/her helmet when they have an adorable design they love.

Remember that there are different helmet styles for different sports … for a good reason. It’s a proven fact that people tend to fall differently depending on the sport and, therefore, the type of protection required by the different sports helmets varies. In other words, please don’t assume that a bike helmet will protect your child while tobogganing.

Overwhelmed by all of the statistics and the helmet do’s and don’ts? If you are, you are not alone but please keep the following in mind. Once you and your children are in the habit of wearing your safety helmets, it will become second nature. Remember the first few times after car seat belt legislation was passed and you felt uncomfortable with the routine … now you probably don’t think twice about buckling up before pulling out of the driveway. I hated my ski helmet at first but now I feel “naked” without it. The Zany Zebra helmet cover also helps make it a lot more enjoyable to wear.

Author: Karyn Climans, Owner of Tail Wags Helmet Covers Inc.
A company dedicated to encouraging more kids and adults to actually wear their safety helmets.
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I Do the Dog Park...What Do You Do?

Time for some mental pampering! I sew. Writer Kim DuBois does the dog park...what do you do?

I love Cosmo dog park.

I discovered this unexpected treasure a couple years ago, and have found myself drawn to return time and time again.

Because it feels good to be here. There is something to be said for the emotional honesty of the dogs as they run and play. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen a purer joy than that of a dog flying off the short landing and splashing belly first into the water to retrieve a beloved tennis ball. There are big dogs and little dogs. Yapping puppies and older sensitive fellows. Dogs that run with long galloping strides and those whose legs become a blur as they attempt to keep up. They run around chasing balls, catching Frisbee’s, climbing concrete steps and jumping over short walls - you name it, it’s goes on here, and all of them are having a blast.

Seeing it makes me smile, and smiling feels good. These days smiling comes more easily for me, but that hasn’t always been the case. And yet even when things were pretty rough, I’d leave the park feeling better than when I’d arrived. From the soft breeze and smell of the dirt, to the splashing of the water or the feel of the bench beneath me, the entire experience is one that fills me with a blessed sense of peace and calm. I can feel it as soon as I pull in the drive, and the smile on my face feels permanent, no matter how long I sit and watch.

And that’s what I love about it, how it makes me feel. There are so many things in life that try to drag us down and defeat us, but this… this helps wash it all away. Here I can just ‘be’. I can clear my mind of all the cluttering thoughts that threaten my sanity and just exist in the uplifting energy of the animals around me.

As I sit here tonight watching a young black lab romping along the edge of the water, experiencing what looks to me to be total bliss, I can’t help but laugh out loud. I can feel his joy! And that sort of pure, unadulterated, uninhibited ecstasy doesn’t come along often, so I soak it up any chance I get.

I hope each of you can find your own dog park. A place where you can let go… where there are no worries, no anxieties, no burdens, no responsibilities or pain. A place where you can just sit and fill up on an honest, positive, elevating and healing energy. It is truly magnificent.

I’ve visited Cosmo 3 times in as many days.

And I don’t even have a dog.

(For more information on Cosmo dog part, visit Gilbert parks and rec at )

As always, it is my goal to uplift, inspire and help others to heal their lives. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this with you. - Kim
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Family Fun with Tail Wags Bicycle Helmet Covers

I think these are SO adorable! We need some for the ENTIRE family!

Tail Wags Helmet Covers are now available in 3 fabulous fabrics: Lycra, Micro Fleece and Polar Fleece.

For all-year-round comfort, Tail Wags now offers even more choices. Adding to our extensive selection of adorable fleece helmet covers, Tail Wags is pleased to announce a brand new collection of Animal helmet covers in lightweight lycra fabric. They’re guaranteed to fit all makes and models of safety helmets including bike, skate, ski, snowboard, toboggan and equestrian helmets.

Still the same wonderful quality and perfect fit – just more Tail Wags to love!

Tail Wags offers a wide range of designs to choose from so that finding the right “look” of helmet cover for every member of your family and friends is easy. The Fairy Princess is for all girls who dream of magic. The mischief-maker in the family will love the new Cheeky Monkey. Gross green and slimy, our Menacing Monster appeals to all boys who don’t want to look “cute”. Our cat is sleek, majestic and graceful. The Red Devil, always a popular choice, is perfect for the scallywag in your crowd! And don’t forget the Big Stinker Skunk or the Pesky Raccoon … we’d much rather see them adorning someone’s safety helmet on the ski slopes, bike trails and skating rinks than in our back yards.

I received a free Tail Wags Helmet cover for this review. All opnions are 100% mine.
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Monday, June 28, 2010


How to Plan a Successful Vacation When Bringing a Babysitter Along

You are planning a family vacation, but you and your spouse would like one romantic evening in your destination city. Wouldn’t having your babysitter nearby come in handy then? Additionally, by taking the babysitter on vacation with your family, you can potentially make the vacation more relaxing for the family.

When planning to take your babysitter on vacation with you, it is essential that you establish shared expectations pre-departure. Ensure that you and your babysitter have an understanding on the following subjects:

  • What the travel accommodations will be (Will the babysitter have her own guest room or is the family renting a shared suite in which the babysitter has her own bedroom?)  
  • What the babysitter’s responsibilities will be (Will she have responsibility for the children at all times or will there be time to pursue her own interests?)  
  • Which expenses will be paid by the family and which expenses are hers to bear (It is common for the family to pay for the babysitter’s transportation, lodging, and admission tickets to attractions that the family will visit. The family usually pays for the babysitter’s food, either in whole or up to a specified dollar limit per meal or snack. The babysitter is usually responsible for purchasing her own souvenirs and her admission tickets to attractions that she will visit apart from the family.)  
  • What compensation will be due to her for her services during the vacation (The average is $150 per day, based on the babysitter working eight hours each day.)  
  • What the wake times and bedtimes are expected to be, and whether family vacations are active adventures or leisurely breaks from the usual hectic pace of life  
  • What the appropriate attire will be for the various activities during the vacation (If visiting a beach is on the itinerary, is it acceptable for the babysitter to wear a string bikini?)
  • What constitutes appropriate attire at breakfast and when lounging in the evening (This is relevant only if there will be shared living space during the journey.)  
  • To what degree it will be deemed acceptable for the babysitter to use her personal cellular telephone while on the vacation  
  • As always, communication is key to maintaining a solid relationship. Clear, up-front communication before and during vacation lays the foundation for a wonderful journey for everyone.

 *Footnote: when traveling with children, with or without a babysitter, ensure that you are packing toys for the children. Just because the babysitter is going on vacation with your family, that doesn’t mean that the children shouldn’t have toys to keep them occupied at times.

The database is designed to assist families in finding a quality babysitter, housekeeper, tutor, companion/eldercare, pet sitter and Miscellaneous care such as a personal assistant, gardener, party planner, etc. for their specific needs and requirements and offer caregivers an enjoyable employment experience.

A free preview of available caregivers is available to families through our local neighborhood mapping technology. Whether you need a caregiver for a few hours to a few days, you will find it at Once you are a registered member, you will be given immediate access to babysitters through email and phone. In addition, helpful tools are available, including sample interview questions, a sample reference form and a sample contract. also gives you advice, tips and information that will help you and your caregiver connect on a social and personal level. has been affiliated with the caregiver industry since 1987 so all of us here are no strangers to matching families and caregivers. Besides, we are also affiliated with, and a full service Nanny Placement Agency.

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Spider Monkeys and my trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

So as many of you know I just returned from EIGHT days in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico which is about 1 hour south of Cancun!

I left the kids and husband home and went with my aunt and cousin (recent high school graduate), two of her friends and one of their parents.

I had fun. It was RELAXING which is JUST what I was there for. I was not there to see Mexico and do excursions. I was there to sit by the pool, sip a margarita and CHILLAX! And that is just what I did!

The first day was primarily spent in travel. Left the house at 330AM and arrived in Mexico around 330pm.

The second day we hit the beach and the pool. We went, I guess you could call it Kayaking, in a two person Kayak. It was fun and of course tiring! More laying by the pool and swimming and of course SHOPPING!

The third day we went snorkeling on the beach in front our our resort. I was able to see all kinds of little fish amongst swallowing a lot of the Caribbean Ocean! Which by the way does NOT taste that good!

The fourth and fifth day we went shopping around the resort and took and interesting trip to Cancun. It was suppose to only take 1 hour by bus to get to where we were going. But after many wrong directions and finding the store we were looking for had moved, three hours later we made it just in time for dinner and then returned back to the resort.

The sixth day was my ABSOLUTE favorite. We were able to visit the spider monkey reserve called The Jungle Place. If you are ever on the Rivera Maya I HIGHLY suggest you visit the Jungle Place. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time because they only allow two groups of about 15 people per day. This keeps the monkeys happy and safe.

The grounds of The Jungle Place are a sanctioned reserve for the endangered spider monkey and royal toucan. Tours of our sanctuary and grounds are available only with advance reservations. *Please note children under 7 years of age may not interact with the animals directly.Tour price is US$50.00 per person and last approximately 1 hour. 100% of tour donations go to the care and feeding of our rescued animals. The emotional experience of directly interacting with these remarkable animals is likely to be something you will remember for the rest of your life. Some have told us it changed their lives, changed their outlooks and even healed their troubles.Whatever you take from the experience we hope it includes a new understanding of the dangers these animals face and provides inspiration to give back to the earth in your own way. Maya was one of my favorite monkeys. She liked to be rocked in your lap and then decided to do some Yoga with me!

Day seven was my last full day in Mexico and we were suppose to go to Xcaret but because tropical storm Alex was moving in it was a day of rain. I spent my time in he hotel room, sleeping, relaxing, and enjoying my last day. No I did not go to the pool because I had gotten a tattoo the night before!

Needless to say I had fun doing about NOTHING, a little pool time and enough sun not to get burnt!

We did have some exciting things happen, one night we had a small fire the floor above us (was just a AC unit), a gecko decided to make his bed in my aunt's suitcase (the girls ended up on the bed screaming as I got it out of the room, they are QUICK little things), and of course tropical storm Alex gave us lots of wind and rain but we all stayed safe!

My last day was all about travel. I left the resort about 830am and returned home to my family around 930om. I was glad to be home I missed my kids and husband and they missed me more!
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Monday, June 21, 2010


Taking a Blocation! See you in a few days...

I will be taking a Blogcation! I will return Monday, June 28th.
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Friday, June 18, 2010


John Morrell Introduces Allergen-Free Meats!

We don't have any food allergies in our house but we also still have a young one who still may develop food allergens. Right now we prefer to buy the Hebrew National kosher hot dogs but our NEW favorite is the new John Morrell Allergen-Free Hot Dogs! With many households experiencing food allergies, it has become more stressful for some of us to find meals for everyone that won't cause a problem due to a common allergen such as dairy, nuts, wheat, or gluten. Past generations had less information and concern towards food allergies, but as modern parents we pay much more attention to what we feed our children. And while meat products don't necessarily trigger an alarm to look for possible allergen risks in the ingredients, many in fact do contain a hazard.

John Morrell, maker of great tasting hotdogs, smoked sausages, and bologna, now offers these products 100% "worry-free". Free from allergens of milk, nuts, egg, soy, wheat, gluten, and MSG, these John Morrell meats provide a great option whether you're having a barbecue or packing a lunch for the kids. John Morrell removed all the allergens from these meats without sacrificing the mouth-watering taste, and still offering them at a low price. They even went a step further by making their hot dogs, smoked sausages and bologna in a completely allergen-free facility. Knowing that these John Morrell meats will never cause an allergic reaction in my children allows me to cross off "label reading" on my already endless grocery store to-do list.

John Morrell will also launch a designated Facebook page to serve as a destination for allergen-free information. The site will feature regular coupons, contests, expert advice, recipes and nutritional information. The Facebook page will be offering daily "Free" and "$1 Off" coupons – cascading into even more coupon giveaways!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of John Morrell and received a free coupon for John Morrell products to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.
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2 Easy Italian Picnic Recipes for the Summer

There is no doubt summer is right around the corner. In fact, a sure sign is when you are invited to your first summer picnic. Whether visiting with friends on a back patio, or heading over to the local park, picnics are a great way to get caught up with friends, have fun, and eat some great food!

Why not spruce up your summer outings with some new picnic salad recipes which are sure to be the talk of the party? Here are a few ideas which you can use to jazz up your standard picnic recipes.

Italian Potato Salad (serves 6)

An Italian potato salad is similar to a German potato salad in that, it does not use any mayonnaise. Instead, you use olive oil and white wine vinegar. Simply
take 5 potatoes, peel and chop them into bite size pieces. Boil them until they are tender but firm. This can take about 10-15 minutes depending on the type and size of the potato. Set them aside when done and run under cold water to help cool down. You can also place them in a bowl full of ice cubes. When cooled,
place the potatoes in a large bowl and add in 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1/3 cup of fresh chopped parsley, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup white wine vinegar. Add in some salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and you have yourself an amazing potato salad, that won't spoil in 20 minutes in the sun!

Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. One large potato can provide 37% of your recommended daily value. It also provides other vitamins such as B6 and thiamin. Keep in mind however, that potatoes do contain a lot of carbohydrates and too many carbs can lead to weight gain.

Chickpea Salad (serves 8)

This recipe is also a winner. It takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and can be done all in one bowl. Pour 2 cans of drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) into a large bowl. Add in 1 small red onion diced, 6 scallions chopped, 2 - 3 medium tomatoes diced (with any juice), a handful of black ripe olives chopped, 4 Tablespoons olive oil and 3 Tablespoons red or white wine vinegar. Mix well and you are ready to serve!

Chickpeas provide us with a great source of protein and fiber. They also include lots of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E, and K. They are also a good source of magnesium and manganese. Magnesium is especially helpful for a woman as it helps relax muscles and can help relieve some of those ugly PMS

Have fun this summer by trying some new variations to your standard picnic buffet selections with these easy Italian recipes.

This article was contributed by, a website featuring Italian recipes and cookware such as pasta bowls. She enjoys sharing her experiences and cooking tips online and with family and friends.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010


Road Trip Activities for Kids

Taking a road trip is fun but long strechs in the car can sometimes be a challege for children.

The first rule in our house is the Nintendo DS is played only in the car. Before a road trip we try to get a new game for the kids to play as a surprise. Step-3 provide my family with a copy of the new Shrek Forever After Nintendo DS game. I surprised Little Man with it before we went camping on Memorial Day. Little Man thinks it is GREAT! And his 1-year old sister tries to play it too!

Return to Far Far Away in Activision Publishing, Inc.’s upcoming Shrek Forever After™ video game. Based on the final chapter in the Shrek® franchise from DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., the game reunites fans with their favorite characters – Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss In Boots.

Gamers will adventure through a variety of locations from the Shrek universe, solve challenging puzzles and battle exciting new enemies as they morph between Shrek’s normal world and his alternate reality…and ultimately conquer that crafty Rumpelstiltskin! The game offers a fun-filled social and collaborative experience with its co-operative multiplayer mode, allowing up to four players to work together through the single player story.

Shrek Forever After will be available for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS and PC. The game is rated “E10+” (Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Lyrics) for all consoles and PC and “E” (Cartoon Violence) for the DS by the ESRB. Shrek Forever After is in development by XPEC for all consoles.

Another great way for kids to pass the time away in the car is digital books. We have TONS of them downloaded on my iPod Touch for Little Man. You can find many free books in the App Store. We recently were given the opportunity to review the new Shrek Forever After Movie Storybook app for iPhone and Android.

iStoryTime brings the adventures of Shrek to the convenience of your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch in this entertaining kid’s book application based on the DreamWorks Animation movie, Shrek Forever After. Welcome to iStoryTime, a library of narrated children’s books for the iPhone and iPad. iStoryTime books are illustrated and narrated, so your child can enjoy the book even when you’re busy. Best of all, the app is drop-dead simple to use because it’s actually designed for kids 2-years and up.

About iStoryTime

iStoryTime is part of FrogDogMedia, LLC. The company was founded in 2009 by two fathers and an uncle who love to have fun with their families. Driven by a passion to make children’s books more accessible and entertaining, iStoryTime is the pioneer of children’s book apps for the iPhone.

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5 Things to Check on Your Vehicle Before a Road Trip

I asked Elizabeth to write this article for me so that we can all be safe before we go on a road trip this summer!

This post was contributed by Elizabeth Cutten. Elizabeth helps run FindGasCards, a gas credit card / auto blog helping those that drive save.

We all look forward to that time of relaxing, new scenery and getting away from our hometown. Although, what we don’t look forward to, or expect to happen is for something to go wrong with our vehicle. You can’t predict the future, therefore it is important to prepare for it in every way that you can.

When traveling across the country your chances of something going wrong with your vehicle increase. Whether or not your car is old, things still happen and don’t go as planned. Although, there are a few things you can do to try and prevent anything from going wrong ahead of time. To learn how to do a quick check on your vehicle, continue reading below.

Oil: First of all, you should always be looking out for your car’s oil. You want to make sure the levels are where they are supposed to be, and that it is a nice and light color. If it looks dark, be sure to get it changed before your road trip.

Transmission fluid: You always want to make sure your car has enough transmission fluid. Transmissions can be very costly to replace so it is a good idea to always look out for them.

Tires: Also, be sure to check the air pressure in your tires. You can get a tire pressure gauge and check this very easily. If it is below what it is supposed to be, be sure to take your car to the gas station or fill them up at your house. If you have a portable tire inflator, it’s not a bad idea to bring that long with you as well.

Wipers: It is always a good idea to make sure your wipers work well and that the fluids are where they should be. You don’t want to cause any accidents simply because you couldn’t see. Filling up your windshield wiper fluid is very cheap, so be sure it’s full before you leave.

Emergency bag: Make sure you have some type of emergency bag in your vehicle. This should contain things like emergency numbers to call, towing numbers, some food that won’t spoil, some drinks and a first aid kit. You never know what the future has in store, so be prepared! Also, if it is cold, be sure to bring extra blankets just in case your car stalls.

If you’re looking to have the safest road trip possible, be sure to prepare in these five ways. These can help prevent accidents and enhance the safety of your driving!
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010


To My Dad

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Voctorinox Swiss Army. All opinions are 100% mine.

I love my dad more than anything. And it seems like I am always not around during Father's Day! One year I was on a Mexico Mission trip, another Oregon visitng friends, and this year I will be in Mexico again.

Growing up my dad was quite. He was raised if you have nothing to say, then be quite. As I got older we grew a bond and when I was about 13 we found our true bond in singing. My dad knew I was in choir but in choir you never really stand out. My dad loved to sing karaoke and I just loved to sing. One night he took me to kids karaoke. And he cried. Since then we have enjoyed going to singing together many, many times. We sometime we even find a song to sing together. My favorite song to sing with him is Some Where Out There. He still cries when I sing the National Anthem but he won't admit it!

My dad has always been there for me. I remember in high school visitng him once a week while he was on a bowling league and guess what dad always asked "How much do you want this week?"

Now a days it is becoming more uncommon to have parents still married to their first husband or wife. My parents have been married for almost 30 years. I love them both and love honoring them all year long, not just on Mother's and Father's Day.

I want to thank my dad for being my dad and being there for me when I needed cover from mom!

There is also the obvious gerenational differneces between us. I for example have never owned a watch. Why would I need one? I have a cell phone, car clock, etc. But my dad has always had a watch and if I could I would buy a Victorinox Swiss Army watch. One because they look REALLY cool and two because I think he would like it and he definatly deserves it!

If you still have a dad on your list to by for this Father's day visit to view the timepiece collection:

You can also fan the Victorinox Swiss Army Facebook IWAW sweepstakes page page and participate in the I Wear a Watch sweepstakes. Over 30 days they’re giving 30 lucky winners a Victorinox Swiss Army timepiece.

Visit my sponsor: Does Dad Wear a Watch?
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Top 10 List for Hiring a Babysitter

Hiring a babysitter can be a confusing task. There are so many things to consider as you face the task of selecting someone to care for your children in your absence, and you want to find the perfect fit between the babysitter and your family. Here are some of the most important things for you to consider when selecting a new babysitter for your children.

1. The babysitter should be able to relate easily and bond well with your children while maintaining a clear distinction from them. Babysitters must be able to play with and enjoy your children (which can often be construed by the child as peer-level interaction) while also maintaining discipline. It is easy for a babysitter (and a parent) to feel more comfortable in one role or the other: to be most comfortable being friends with the children, or to be most comfortable supervising the children and redirecting their errant behaviors.

2. The babysitter must be able to relate with your family and administer discipline to your children in a manner that is appropriate and consistent with your family’s boundaries. If you have a prospective babysitter that uses social isolation (sending a child to his/her room, for example) as a method of behavior modification, and you are not comfortable with that method of behavior modification, then the prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family.

3. The babysitter should ideally have years of experience, solid references from prior employer-families, a clean background (pursuant to background checks), and completed training on babysitter basics (CPR, first aid, the Heimlich maneuver, basic nutrition and food preparation, and general personal and home hygiene). You can obtain background checks through The babysitter should not represent a risk to your children in any way; thus, in addition to the foregoing, the babysitter should be current on his/her vaccinations.

4. If you need your babysitter to drive, then your babysitter should have a valid driver’s license, a clean (or as close to clean as possible) driving record and a reliable car.

5. The babysitter should be able to develop and carry out fun, creative, and educational experiences for your child.

6. The babysitter should be willing and able to comply with your rules about what constitutes appropriate television viewing, when s/he may use his/her cellular telephone while babysitting, when s/he may use your telephone for his/her own purposes while babysitting, when s/he may have friends over while babysitting, etc.

7. The babysitter should be capable of handling small “crises” on his/her own. You and your babysitter should come to an agreement about what issues may warrant a call to you and what issues the babysitter is authorized to handle on his/her own. Your babysitter should be able to act comfortably within the boundaries you have provided.

8. The babysitter’s expectations regarding terms and conditions of employment should be close to the terms and conditions of employment that you are offering. If you wish to hire a babysitter in a smoking home, a non-smoking prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family. Pay rates for babysitters should be discussed up front to ensure that the prospective babysitters are willing to work for the income you offer.

9. The babysitter should not have fears or concerns about the non-negotiable aspects of the job with your family. If you have a cat, and your prospective babysitter is severely allergic to cats, the prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family. (Side note: some allergic reactions can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications or other accommodations that may be used by the allergic babysitter.) If the prospective babysitter is unable to work specific hours or days and you need your babysitter to attend to your children on those days or in those hours, then the prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family.

10. The babysitter should be a positive, loving influence in your household.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Glidden - Paint Your Way to Happy! #Get Color

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Glidden. All opinions are 100% mine.

I love COLOR. And even more so when you get to chose it! One of my favorite stores is, yes I admit it, The Home Depot!

My favorite department in the whole store is the paint department. At least one wall in every room of our house is filled with color. Now I work for an interior design firm so I had some help choosing the right color scheme. But this also means when my husband asks me to bring some white paint home, I reply "What color white paint?" After all there are thousands of shades of white!

When I start a room I start at Glidden has many user friendly tools on their site to help you choose just the right color for your project! They offer paint testers in EVERY color. Yes EVERY color not just a select few like MOST paint companies! They also have extra large paint chips and a ton of coordinating color ideas and pictures for your home!

One of my FAVORITE product from Glidden is their Ready-To-Go Paint Testers. This is very beneficial is you have children. Because I don't know about you but my walls can get scratched, scraped, colored on, and who else knows what! I found it is easier to paint over the black permanent marker my son decorated my office with than try to scrub it off with stinky rubbing alcohol! So another cool feature about the Ready-To-Go Paint Testers is you don't have to purchase an additional paint brush to test your color out! It comes with one attached to the lid! That is a great feature for a mom that seems to loose track of everything. And lastly my most favorite feature of all..small and easy to store! I cannot honestly tell you how many gallons of paint I have stored in my garage. Um let's say at LEAST a dozen, not to mention the 5 gallon buckets which realistically only have a half of paint left in them! also offers a Room Painter feature on their website allowing you to visualize your color choice on your wall.

Visit today and start PaintingYour Way to Happy!
Visit my sponsor: Glidden
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Car Maintenance: Three Ways to Save Without Doing it Yourself

Image taken from:

Car maintenance is one of those necessary evils we would all like to avoid but can’t seem to get out of. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it would be more expensive to pay for others to handle maintenance tasks or not do it at all and end up dealing with the consequences later. While paying for someone else to do the maintenance tasks on your car can be expensive, there are some great ways to save. No, I’m not talking about doing it yourself. Too many of us do not have the experience and knowhow to pull that off. Instead, try some more creative ways to get your car maintenance taken care of on a lower budget.

One option is to refer a friend. Auto mechanics are just like cosmetologists – they are always looking for new clients. Often times they will provide a discount on a service to those who refer their friends and family. Of course, it’s a good idea to work out the terms before the referral is made just to make sure a discount is given. Referring a friend to a good mechanic will not only help your friend out by providing them with a reliable solution for their car maintenance but it could also end up saving you a few dollars as well.

Another option is to negotiate. Auto mechanics have busy months and slow months. Do a little research and find out what months are typically slower for auto mechanics. Choosing to have your vehicle maintenance performed during the slower months may give you just the leverage you need to negotiate a better deal. Competition is fierce in the slower months which mean that mechanics are more likely to provide competitive prices.

The last suggestion to consider is to look into a group discount. Everyone who owns a car is in need of car maintenance. With a little organization - friends, family and neighbors can all work together to receive a group discount with an auto mechanic. It will be well worth it to him to discount his prices if he is getting more business with a group discount. A little research and coordination can really add up. So before you let an auto mechanic attach the vacuum pump to your A/C or change out your oil, consider putting these suggestions to good use to get some great discounts on your car maintenance.
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Monday, June 14, 2010


Times Are Tough, But Vaca(tion) Doesn’t Have to be a 4-Letter Word

Most American families are feeling the crunch from these tough economic times. And a lack of capital has a tendency to make even the most light-hearted optimist turn a bit sour. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a job and you’re able to pay all your bills on time, but saving extra money is another matter entirely. And you can just forget about the summer vacation you had planned! The worst part is, with all of the financial stress facing today’s families, the thing you need the most is a little respite. And believe it or not, it can be yours with these helpful hints for a frugal family vacation.

1. Camping is the easiest and least expensive getaway for a family on a budget. If you already own camping gear, you’re pretty much good to go. But even if you don’t, think of your preliminary payout as an investment. Whatever the initial expense, just imagine how much you will save over time on travel and lodging by driving to a nearby destination and rouging it instead of flying to a city and spending tons of dough on hotels, food, and transportation. And the splendor of nature is certainly a more relaxing backdrop than crowded malls and noisy cab rides.

2. Visit friends or relatives. This is not only a good way to save on lodging, it can also be an incentive to see those you have neglected to keep up with in awhile (or ever). Doesn’t your mom have a second cousin somewhere if France? Time to go tour the Louvre! Many times, extended family members will be excited at the prospect of putting you up for a few days, as well as giving you an insider’s look at the area they live in, just for a chance to meet you (and you can return the favor at a later date).

3. Stay close to home. Take a week off work and explore options for entertainment in your area. Spend a day at the local beach, lake, or state park. Check for family discounts at museums, zoos, or other attractions. Or just get the kids out for a hike and a picnic. However, if you choose a stay-home vacation, just remember to ditch the electronics. Nothing is worse than fielding calls from work or other obligations while you’re supposed to be relaxing. And you’ll find that avoiding the media at large for a few days really helps you focus and enjoy spending time with your family.

Guest Post by: Sarah Harris of Adiamor Diamond Engagement Rings. Adiamor offers a large selection of engagement ring settings, loose diamonds, and other fine diamond jewelry at affordable prices.
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Friday, June 11, 2010


Food Friday - Freschetta FlatBread #Freschetta

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Freschetta. All opinions are 100% mine.

Freschetta has to be one of my favorite frozen pizzas. And I am a picky pizza eater since we owned a pizzeria several years ago. Freschetta FlatBread pizza is packed with amazing ultra-thin crust (cooks up extra crispy!) all-natural cheese, fresh meats and ripe-tomatoes! Here is the flavor line-up!

For a flatbread pizza this has just the right amount of sauce on it and actually is much easier to eat with your hands since the dough is not droopy! The all-natural ingredients also make this quick (oops I forgot dinner) entree great for families on the go.

Zesty Italian - pepperoni, sausage, Genoa salami, mozzarella and asiago (one of my favorite chesses) all perfectly combined a top their red sauce for a great Italian flavor

Roasted Garlic & Spinach (My favorite!) - Roasted garlic, spinach, parmesan and mozzarella topped on their creamy white sauce. YUM! YUM! YUM!

Pepperoni - classic pepperoni on the thin flatbread crust!

The 5-Cheese - My kids' favorite, a blend of mozzarella, asiago, Romano, parmesan and provolone

Check out Freschetta FlatBread Pizza today for your self and readers can get a $1 off coupon HERE!

Which will be your favorite? Zesty Italian, Roasted Garlic & Spinach, Classic Pepperoni, or The 5-Cheese

Visit my sponsor: Freschetta Pizza
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Start saving for Graduation - but not for college tuition!

Don't let the title scare you. YES you should be saving for your child's child college as early as birth.

However, tonight my cousin graduates from high school. We are so close I call her my niece. It has made me realize that I should open a savings account and put a restriction on it that it cannot be accessed until January of 2021. Until then I should deposit $20 a month. That would make the account balance roughly $3,800 (if my math is correct).

Here is the breakdown!

Dress or Tux for Senior Prom  = $100-$200
Flowers = $20
Limo for Prom = Starting at $500
Senior Pictures = $100 (IF you are lucky and get my pricing!)
Annual =  $50
Senior Announcements =  $100
Graduation Cap & Gown = $50
Extra Graduation Tickets = $100
Graduation Gift = Could be $100's or MORE!
Graduation Party = $500 or more

So that is around $ 2,120
That is IF prices do not rise and I have not forgotten anything.

Geez that could put someone out of a mortgage payment!

So my advice, start saving $20 a month in an account you cannot touch until the January before your child graduates so the hit will not be SO hard, and who knows maybe you will have some left over for "empty nest therapy!"
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Cilantro Pork Tenderloin

The summer time is the perfect time of year to experiment with different flavors because there are so many fresh ingredients available. In this blog post I will be sharing with you a versatile recipe for grilled pork tenderloin that can be used as a main dish, a salad topper, for tacos, or a number of others Latin recipes. This pork tenderloin is the perfect example of a food that allows you to be creative in your cooking. I personally made tacos from the meat and added some homemade guacamole and pico de gallo (recipes following the pork tenderloin recipe).

3/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice from 2 limes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 Tbs garlic salt
1 tsp. cumin
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp chopped jalapeno (or as much as you like for spice)
Pork tenderloin


Mix all ingredients (except tenderloin) in a bowl. In a large dish place your tender loin and pierce with a fork several times on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the tenderloin and rub into the meat making sure it is fully coated. Let sit for at least 3 hours and up to overnight in the fridge.

Grill the meat for 40 minutes on medium high heat. Be sure to flip half way through the cooking. After you remove the pork tenderloin from the grill, let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Now your pork is ready to eat! If you do decide to make tacos from it, here is my personal recipe for guacamole:

(Serves 2-3)

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup salsa (I prefer Pace Picante medium salsa)
Juice from 1 small lime
Garlic salt to taste (start with 1/2 tsp and go from there)
1/2 tsp jalapeno or more for more heat

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until it reaches the desired smoothness. Serve on your tacos with salsa and your favorite toppings.

If you wish to take your tacos to the next level you can even make fresh pico. Check out my recipe for pico de gallo HERE.

Guest Blogger: Kelly Noble is the Social Media Geek for, a foodservice equipment and supply provider that also specializes in industry education. She has been an avid wine drinker and home cook for over 8 years and writes the Wine & Dine blog which focuses on her recipes, food trends and favorite wines. Learn more about Kelly HERE.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010


Develop Your Preschoolers Gross Motor Skills at Home

In order to learn specific activities to develop your child's motor skills, we must first look at what are gross motor skills and the importance of these skills.

Gross motor skills refer to movements governed by the large muscles in the body. These large muscles are in the legs, arms, and trunk. They allow people to run, jump, kick, catch, and throw. Preschoolers especially need time to develop these skills. Gross motor skills begin developing in infancy.

The importance of gross motor skills can't be overstated. These are the muscle skills that allow standing, walking, jumping, and balancing. While writing is a fine motor skill, sitting erect and standing at the blackboard both require gross motor skills. The developmental milestones for cognitive and motor skills often go hand in hand, so if there is a problem with gross motor skills professionals will be on the lookout for other issues.

Infants learn to hold up their heads, creep, then finally crawl. At 12 to 18 months, many children are taking their first steps. By preschool, children are able to balance, run, hop, jump, and climb stairs with alternating feet.

Activities that develop gross motor skills
Dancing is a wonderful activity for improving gross motor skills. Use music to do freestyle movements or sing along with movements, such as "I'm a little teapot." Add in marching, hopping, skipping, or jogging to get more variety for the little tyke.

Pretend marks a fun game to play. Gross motor skills are used with all movement, so waddling to be a duck or jumping to be a rabbit gets good use of those muscles while feeding their brains.

Painting in the garage or outside on the lawn also works for the gross motor skills. Large sheets of paper or canvas that can be marked on with hands, feet, or flicked from paint jars. This craft can be messy, but having your preschooler help with cleanup is also good for their motor abilities.

Provided by Victoria of Ratelines,find great money market rates.
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Where was this when I had a baby?

Times are changing QUICK! My baby is just over a year old and every day something new and more convenient comes out in the baby world! I am an Infantino Test Mom and I got two GREAT products to review!

First I will tell you about the  Fold & Go Bouncer.

We all know how well Bouncer can ease your little one. But they are often bulky and can only stay at home. Way to big to transport. Well not any more!

The NEW Fold & Go Bouncer goes where you go!

Designed to go anywhere- A smart, lightweight, fold-flat design makes it perfect for storage and travel, whether you and baby are cruising room to room, or traveling town to town!

Music, soothing sounds, and Vibration - Fold & Go Bouncer is packed with music and sounds. In addition to the calming bouncing motion, you can choose from cool tunes, soothing vibrations and soft nature sounds.

Easy volume control - The volume can easily be adjusted at the push of a button.

Simple, Fuss-free set-up - Set-up of the fold & go bouncer is simple and fuss-free because it was designed with moms in mind!

removable Entertainment Bar - An adjustable entertainment bar lets you customize the fun! It's removable and includes two plush bouncer buddies - perfect for giggle time or chill time!

Design for Comfort - Designed with baby's comfort in mind, the bouncer includes a plush seat, adjustable padded head support and a waist harness.

I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for Infantino and have received various Infantino products to as part of my participation.

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