Pups of the Spirit: A Review

Pups in the SpiritPups in the Spirit is a fun-loving, whimsical way to help children to remember the Fruits of God’s Spirit as spoken about in Galatians 5:22, 23.  This book is written for the under eight set, and since I happen to have one of those around, I decided to give the book a whirl. [Read more...]

Kids, Cats and Walking

At the recommendation of their eldest sister, Jasmin, my kids and I have started watching “My Cat from Hell” a reality television show for animal lovers. We really enjoy watching the show and I have used some of Jackson’s tips to help me deal with Onyx (the annoying cat) that my youngest daughter loves. We’re actually starting to get along a lot better now and a lot of his annoying habits (such as nipping the top of my feet) has diminished. So hurray! Jackson has created another breakthrough and he didn’t have to drive through the snow to do it! [Read more...]

How to Add Coupons to Your Store Loyalty Card

Coupons put money back into your walletDo you want to know one of my pet peeves. I hate coupons!  Even when I remember to clip the darn things, I forget to bring them with me to the store.  ARRRGH!  That’s why when I found about how to use the myriad of loyalty cards that are attached to my key ring (and always in my pocket!) I got really excited.

So if you are one of those people who loves coupons, you’ll really love this — how to utilize your store’s loyalty card and get additional savings. And if you hate coupons like me, you’ll be happy to know that absent-minded professors can also save money thanks to technology!

Most major grocery stores offer coupons. You can grab them in the store, in your weekly newspaper supplement, and often in the mail. What you may not know is that many grocers also offer coupons with their membership and loyalty programs. Here’s how it works.

Step #1 Get a Loyalty Card

If you don’t already have a loyalty card for the supermarkets you frequent, sign up for one. In addition to weekly in-store savings, you may also earn points that you can use on gasoline, tickets, and other promotions. In most cases you can obtain a loyalty card when you check out. You can also head to the information desk and sign up. You simply need to provide your name, email, and telephone number and you’re good to go.

Step #2 Visit the Store Website

Once you have your loyalty card(s), visit the website and see if they offer downloadable coupons. Most major supermarkets offer printable coupons, coupons you print from your home computer. However, many also offer downloadable coupons. This is where you can really start to save tons of money. On top of your loyalty discount, you’ll add coupon savings. It can really add up. You may have to register with the grocer’s website in order to access the downloadable coupons.

Step #3 Peruse the Offerings

In most cases, you’ll be able to scroll through pages of current coupons. Simply put a check next to the ones you want to add to your card. Once you’ve finished adding them, you can then click on a button that says, “Add to card.” It may take a few seconds but you can then go and check your card to make sure the coupons were added. Some grocers even show you what coupons are about to expire and what coupons you’ve used so far.

A Word of Caution

If you’re using both printable and downloadable coupons you’ll get some overlap. For example, you might print a coupon for cereal and add a coupon to your card for the same cereal. Pay attention to the coupon that has the better offer. Usually, they’re different and in many cases the printable coupon offers the better saving.

However, if you swipe your loyalty card before you hand the cashier your coupons, it’ll apply the coupon on your card. The printable one will no longer apply. To save the most money, pay attention to the differences and use the coupon that offers the biggest savings first.

Adding coupons to your loyalty card is a quick and easy way to make sure you’re always saving a bit of money. Consider sitting down once a week to look at what’s offered to ensure you always have up to date coupons on your card. I’m kind of liking this new system — at least I don’t have to worry about forgetting my coupons at home anymore.

 

Homeless at Harvard

Homeless at Harvard book coverI selected Homeless at Harvard from Booksneeze because I think it’s important to remember that people everywhere matter. The book blurb really struck a cord within me:

“While taking his final course at Harvard, John Frame stepped outside the walls of academia and onto the streets, pursuing a different kind of education with his homeless friends. In this unique book, each of these urban pioneers shares his own story, providing insider perspectives of life as homeless people see it. This heartwarming page-turner shows how John learned with, from, and about his homeless friends—a cast of colorful characters who tell an unforgettable story of their life shared together—focusing readers’ perspectives on problems outside themselves and teaching them how those on the streets are more like them than they ever believed.”

I have found this book to be both insightful and surprisingly entertaining. Growing up in NYC, I have seen many homeless people and even spoken or given food or money to a few that I became familiar with while traveling back and forth to Manhattan or while out in field service distributing Bible literature. As a kid I was puzzled by how someone could end up on the streets. And I was more curious about why the homeless people who I was acquainted with didn’t seem interested in  returning to a “normal” life  living in their own home. John brings the “invisible” homeless into sharp focus and makes us look not only at their lives, but our own prejudices and beliefs about them. [Read more...]

Dogs in the Family

My dogs and the kidsThis post is underwritten by our partner Dog Fence DIY, the most affordable resource for wireless dog fencing.

Dogs, glorious dogs.  I’ve lived with dogs of all shapes and sizes — Alaskan Malamutes, Border Collie-mixes, Labrador-mixes, Goldens and now a snauser/poodle hybrid.  Regardless of the breed they are all consistently great pals to have around!

When I was a child, having a dog meant always having someone to play with — the friend that never says “nah, that’s boring!” Dogs are versatile playmates too. I remember teaching my dog simple sign language commands when I wanted to play school. I think my dogs enjoyed my little tea parties even more than I did. I mean, those dolls really couldn’t eat the little sandwiches, so guess who got an extra snack. That’s right – Lance, Prince, Rex and Randy!

Dogs in Childhood and Beyond

As a child dogs were also my personal therapist. Hey, the price was right (purloined table food was always a winner) and the advice was perfect.  Only a dog can sit with a crying child and look even sadder than their the kid. They’d lick my tears, which tickled my face, rest their head on my lap and just let me pet them until I tired.  They’d sneak into my room if they saw that I was distressed and spend the night with me. [Read more...]

Family Mint Revisited – And a Bargain Too!

FamilyMint Money Management Certification ProgramA few years ago I reviewed FamilyMint as a member of the TOS Crew. This product is an excellent way to provide children with a real life banking experience. And now they’ve stepped up the program to make it even more dynamic and educational.

FamilyMint is offering LIFETIME access to FamilyMint Premium which you can use for multiple children and it includes Premium-only features like mobile access, our unique automated Savings Plan, and other features to encourage savings over spending. [97% of us don't set goals... help your child be in the Top 3%].

FamilyMint is something that you think can benefit your 6-16 year old (though truth be told I’m thinking of using it for myself as well). Here are all the details taken from an email I received this morning:

FamilyMint’s Offer

If you have not already taken advantage of our end of year offer, today is your last chance to save 20% on FamilyMint’s new bundle: our Premium online application AND our new Money Management Certification Program workbook. Make 2013 the best year yet for your kids!

Best part is, through this special bundle offer, you’ll get access to our Premium online application for LIFE. No ongoing subscription and no recurring fees. This end-of year offer ends TONIGHT at midnight and is a wonderful way to start the new year right.

www.familymint.com

You’ll not only save, but by participating in this comprehensive learning program, your kids will learn the foundational secrets of money management that will set them on a path toward financial confidence and independence including:

  • how they are spending their money now
  • how much money they need for future expenses
  • what income and expenses are
  • how to track their money offline and online
  • how to write a check and fill out a deposit slip
  • what goals are and why creating goals is so powerful
  • secrets to achieving goals, how to create SMART goals
  • how to create a budget
  • budgeting using the envelope system
  • the difference between simple and compound interest
  • 2 months of reinforce to create new life-long habits
  • a Certificate of achievement at the end!

Times almost up! Get it now so you can help your kids learn the basic financial literacy skills that will help them rise above the current and future economic challenges.

A great way to instill good money management skills in 2013.  Happy New Year everyone!

P.S. And in case you’re wondering I’m not an affiliate of the FamilyMint, just an enthusiastic mom :-).

 

Rags and the Safe Glow Collar

Rags and the Safe Glow CollarThis is Rags. He’s our rescue schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle mix) wearing The Safe Glow dog collar.  And this is definitely the right collar for him!  Rags has a compelling need to put himself in dangerous situations. And since he isn’t bigger than a minute (one of our cats is bigger than he is!) and black some of his antics have been heart-stopping adventures.

Rags was delivered to the animal shelter after being found on a busy country road. His owners either dropped him or he ran away and they couldn’t be bothered to look for him.  Unfortunately his fascination with the road didn’t end when he came to live with us.

In the beginning, he spent every opportunity trying to sneak out of the house so that he can run down the road. Rags likes to run into cars — not chase them, but go head-to-head with them. That’s nerve-wracking enough in the daytime, but at night it’s torture because, obviously, he is difficult to be seen and has had a few close calls before we started working on his need to bolt through open doors.

Rags is much better now, but I still worry about the little guy being visible to cars on the road when we take late night walks.  So when I was contacted about doing a review on The Safe Glow dog collar I was more than happy to oblige.

The Safe Glow Experience

The collar arrived without any instructions, but how many instructions do you need to put a collar on a dog, right? What I found to be very interesting when the collar arrived is that  instead of having some glow-in-the-dark colors painted on the collar, it actually “houses a flexible, light-transmitting polymer core that illuminates” when the collar is turned on.

To be honest, I discovered the lighting function on the Safe Glow Collar purely by accident — my son was playing with the collar and turned it on. According to the manufacturer’s description the collar is powered by a super-efficient (100,000 hour) LED bulb.  The bulb is powered by the long-life lithium batteries that you can pick up pretty much anywhere. The Safe Glow Collar are three settings for it: fast blink and slow blink and steady. If you don’t want to turn the lighting system on, there is a reflective stripe adds additional safety by reflecting a car’s headlights to alert the driver that there’s someone moving about out there.

A Hidden Perk of The Safe Glow Collar

The Safe Glow Collar with Rags on the Leash

Aside from all the lighting features (which are great) what I love best about this collar is that it remains stationary at all times. My pet peeve with walking the dogs is that the leash ends up under their body.  Then I have to stop and fix it — over and over again. But the Safe Glow collar always remains where you place it. It has passed the arduous test of Rags doing his head shaking, ear flapping routine as well as his credible imitation of a kangaroo.  If I place the leash ring behind his head it stays there despite the fact that the collar is a little too large for his neck. Just awesome!

The Safe Glow dog collar works very well for me and has replaced his previous collar.  The collar is made of  wear-resistant nylon and has the feel of cloth. It’s not scratchy or irritating to his skin. The Safe Glow collar costs $29.95 and affords me with peace of mind knowing that Rags can be spotted if he is ever out on the road at night.

Review

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What did you do when the lights went out?

It’s been an action packed two weeks here on the East Coast with Hurricane Sandy, blackouts, elections, Nor’easters and who knows what else! We lost power and had a few other inconveniences to deal with, but nothing like what NY and NJ faced.

Up in the Poconos we lose electricity just because, so I was already prepared to go dark during Hurricane Sandy. Well, almost prepared.

Usually my husband stocks up on a billion and a half candles for the month, but somehow we let the inventory go waaaay down to just 5 large jar candles.  Uh oh. And, of course it was difficult to buy more because everyone had the same idea. No, let me rephrase that, it was difficult to purchase more candles at a reasonable price. My local CVS  had the normally priced $5 jar candle priced at $15 — a bargain (not!). So cheapo (that’s me) purchased the tiny ones at $1.50 each bought a bunch of tea candles and called it a day.

So we had candles, flashlights (even a tiny hand-powered flashlight we got from the Da Vinci Science Center), and a whole lot of imagination. The kids and I pre-blackout selected the games that we wanted to play, charged up our Kindles, DS’s and other iPods and got ready for the blackout event.

I secretly like blackouts. It gives me time to enjoy the quiet (you don’t realize how loud our world is until all of the electric applicances are silenced). I consider it to be a mental vacation for a day or three (the average amount of time it takes for the electric company to fix whatever was broken).  As a family we spend a lot of time playing board games, telling stories and  enjoying the “pioneer life.”

One game that we enjoy playing is Sequence. We have the State Sequence game that teaches children the state capitals as they attempt to dominate the board.  It’s a game for three people (or three teams) and my nine year old dominates the game. I don’t know how she does it, but she always get the winning sequence.  We may just have to “gang up” on her one of these days just so someone else can win once.

Now, this is our all-time favorite blackout game. Story Cubes consists of nine dice that have pictures on them. You roll the dice and use the pictures to tell stories. You can set your own rules for the stories, so sometimes we have a theme for the day, select specific genres or just do a free-for-all.  I’ve learned that my eldest daughter is actually a Klingon in disguise. Her stories always involve blowing up aliens and buildings. (And she claims not to be sci-fi person!)

The great thing about Story Cubes is that you never get the same story twice and it allows us to get our creative juices flowing without being stressful. It’s also open ended enough that young children can participate. My six year old son loves it and begs to play each night. His stories aren’t the most cohesive, but we smooth out the rough edges as we each take a turn to add to the story line.  We easily spent a couple of hours each night playing together.

My kids also played “Flashlight Wars” — think flashlights instead of light sabers and you’ll have the right idea. Even our cats got into the fray since they like to chase shadows.  Another favorite activity at my house is keeping the fire in the fireplace burning. We had petrified wood (last winter’s logs) already in the fireplace when we lost electricity, so it was  interesting to come up with schemes to get the old wood to catch and burn all the way through.  It took us awhile, but eventually we had a nice toasty fire going with everyone taking turns tending it.

Although the storms were devastating, the memories we created while we waited for things to get back to “normal” are very precious to me. When the lights came back on, my kids were disappointed. One of them said, “Can’t we pretend they don’t work and get back to the [flashlight war] game?”

That’s our story. How did you spend your time during the power outages?

 

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Ideas for Mother’s Day

Well, I stole these ideas straight from Jack Card’s email to me.  They ideas were so good that I just had to share. And there are many more on their Facebook Fan page. Be sure to share these articles with husbands (and others) who just can’t seem to think of a Mother’s Day gift that goes beyond candy and flowers.  (If you’re wondering what I’d like, just check for “YES!”)

“Moms love… [Read more...]

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Fit Mommy Friday & Me

Michael Eating Ice CreamOkay, Denise at Got Chai? has inspired me to take my fitness goals public so every Friday from this day forward I will be confessing my eating sins, exercise triumphs and whatever else pops into my little mind.  My ultimate goal is to lose about 50 pounds since that will get me well out of the danger range for Type II diabetes which does run in my family.

Since my three children assisted in adding the extra 50 pounds they are also part of my fitness plan. I got Wii Fit back in December and we’ve been using it on an almost daily basis. I, however was taking the easy way out until a couple of weeks ago. What’s the easy way out? Well, with Wii Fit your time goal is just 30  minutes and you can set how many calories you want to burn. So being lazy economical with my time and energy I did the bare minimum. I did a couple of yoga exercises and then played games like Snowball Fight (I am the Champion thank you very much) and other calorie burning, but very easy exercises.

But three weeks ago I stopped fooling around and added boxing, step aerobics, hula hooping, as well as a full 30 minutes of yoga. And low and behold I’ve lost a pound a week (so I’m down 3 pounds!) I am now working out for at least an hour a day which is challenging, not from a physical standpoint, but from a mental one. You see I live with saboteurs — one short one and two furry ones. They’re all cute, but dangerous.

Saboteur #1 is my three year old son Michael who you see in the corner is determined to either have me trip over him or his toys while I work out. If I’m doing step, he finds it necessary to circle me in ever shrinking circles until I step on him. At which point he goes into his death throes and other theatrics.

Now, once he’s tired of that he leaves and sends in his henchmen, my golden retriever named Candy and our resident panther, Diamond. Saboteur #2 (also known as Diamond) wants to rub my legs, walk in between my feet and plop down on the floor to be petted as he swishes his long tail back and forth daring me to step on it.  After about 5 minutes of this I call his “mama” Alaya and have her remove the fickle feline. Of course he comes back until I threaten to shoot him with my water pistol. (He hates water … lucky me!)

Once Candy (Saboteur #3) sees that the cat is out of the way she decides to do her rolling over, puppy dog sad eyed look of “rub my belly” act. So I give her a dirty look and she looks all sad like I kicked her. Then she’ll go directly behind where I’m working out at to lie down and lick her wounded feelings.  And for the rest of my exercising time she’ll make sure she’s somewhere inconvenient for whatever exercise I’m attempting.  But now Spring is here and I kick the lot of them out of the house.  (hee hee evil laugh)

The good thing is that the girls want me to succeed in my goals and will take the little trio outside and away from me for my 30 minute yoga exercises. Now my question is, with all the shooing and fussing and moving people and animals around, don’t you think I should get some extra calorie points? I mean it’s only fair … why all mothers aren’t size 0 is beyond me with all the running around we do all day, but I’ll save that rant for another week.

Fit Mommy Friday here I come!

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