Archive for April, 2005

The Real Story

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

It has been awhile since I have blogged about my personal life and I am sure you are all dying to get a little glimpse into my real life so I am going to do a “real” blog today.

Can I just say, where the heck did all of my time go? I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off and am accomplishing very little these days.

When I started my website I thought to myself, “Wow! Wouldn’t it be great if like two of my friends came on my site and we pretended like I was a writer? Wouldn’t that be so much fun?” I started my website and thought what a nice little release it would be for me to feel like I had a little place in the internet world.

This began as my little great idea that would take a little bit of my valuable time and it has turned into a monster in time suckage.

Here was my typical day…

Eat breakfast with Ethan
Watch cartoons
Play with toys
Take a nap
Work on errands/cleaning house/paying bills
Make dinner
Watch Tivo
Eat snack
Hit the sack

Now here is my typical day…

Wake up groggy because I spent the whole night thinking about what I should have been doing while sleeping and coming up with brilliant ideas that I want to write about when I have “free time”
Have coffee- skip breakfast because who the heck has time for that?
Check email, check email, check email
Check site for latest posts- come up with something great for the forum
Check Google to see if we made any money
Check the statistics of the site to make sure we had visitors
Get quoted for magazines (yes, as unbelievable as that is….)
Answer phone all morning from friends that I have neglected and generally feel like crap
Apologize to family for not keeping in better touch and never letting them see our family
Feel like crap because I can’t get everything done
Check my email!
Answer phone to people who have confused voices thinking that they are calling a company and realize that I really am a mom who stays home as they try to listen to me over the sound of my child laughing/screaming/crying as I change him. Then hear disappointment in their voices as they realize that I am what I say I am.
Play with my son and feel guilty as he watches television while I run around trying to clean house/pay bills/grumble to myself about not enough time.
Check email, check Google, check statistics
Ethan takes a nap- I write
Make a pathetic attempt at dinner and apologize as I am too tired to be more inventive
Check email, check Google, check statistics.
Watch ten minutes of television with hubby on respective couches.
Try to read for ten minutes, but realize that I am too distracted to devote more than three minutes to any one thing.

I now realize why I see websites shutting down all the time because people just don’t have time anymore. I also see the potential in outsourcing help from China and the potential in child-slave labor- I feel like they can write about menu-planning just as well as I can, right??

So when you see me and I am a scattered ball of nerves and you feel like I have no time for you, please understand and don’t make me feel more guilty than I already do- I am just a mom who stays at home and wants more than anything to relax the way I once did.

Raising Financially Responsible Teens

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

In today’s money-driven society, teens are constantly bombarded by magazines, television ads, and peer pressure which make them feel less than ideal if they do not wear the latest clothing style and drive a “cool” car. Briefly visit your local mall and you will observe multitudes of young people who shop as if credit cards have no maximum spending limit. With all this push for extravagance, is it even possible to raise your teens with money sense and save them from making serious financial mistakes?

Although I have yet to have teenagers of my own, I was blessed to be raised by parents who taught me from a young age to be a wise steward of money. Let me share some things my parents did to instill in me that money is a limited resource and must be spent with care.

1. Start Early

Just because your child is too young to have a real job, does not mean it is too early to start teaching basic financial principles. From the time we were little, we always received an “allowance” from our parents. We only received this money if we had done all of our daily/weekly chores. This taught us that money is not free; it is earned.

2. Set An Example

You cannot expect your teens to wisely spend money if you do not set a good example for them. Do your children see you buying things on credit because you want them now and do not have the patience to wait until you are able to save up enough money? My dad was an excellent example in this area. Before making any large purchase (such as a car), he first decided what he could afford. Then, he began shopping around. Sometimes it would take him close to a year to find what he was looking for, for the price he wanted to pay. His patience always paid off and it left an indelible impression upon me.

3. Don’t Buy Everything For Them

It is easy for many parents to want to “help teens out” by buying most everything for them. But, is this truly “helping”? When your teenager enters the real world on their own, they are going to have some hard lessons to learn if you always bought everything they needed and wanted for them. As soon as we were able to begin earning money, my dad had us start paying for some of our own things such as clothes, gifts for other people, things we wanted, and so on. Because my parents did not buy everything for us, it taught me the value of hard work, to think before I spend, and to look for the best buy.

4. Teach Your Teens the Value of Hard Work

In a day when laziness is rampant, teach your teens instead the importance of being a hard worker. What you work for, you usually appreciate more. If your teenager has worked hard to buy themselves a car, it can be almost guaranteed that they will appreciate it more and take better care of it.

5. Train Your Teens to Think Before They Spend

This might seem like a no-brainer, but learning to think before I spend has literally saved me hundreds of dollars over the years. Teach your teens to ask themselves at least three questions before making any purchase:

  • Do I have the money on hand to pay for this?
  • Do I need this?
  • Can I buy this somewhere else for less?

Oftentimes, in asking these questions, I will talk myself out of making the purchase! I will realize I don’t really have the money to pay for it or I don’t need the item. Other times, I will think of a way I can purchase this item for less.

6. Encourage Your Teens to Get the Best Buy

In addition to asking these questions, also train your teens to look for the best deal. It is amazing what variation in prices you will find out there. For instance, the water pump burst on one of our vehicles recently. When we took it into auto shop for repair, they said that we would have to take it to a more specialized shop, since the engine would need to be taken out in order to replace the water pump. The first price we were quoted was $775. Knowing that was out of our current budget, my husband began calling around to different body shops. One place quoted him around $500 another quoted him a little over $300. By calling around to find the best deal, we are going to be saving hundreds of dollars on this repair job.

**More on Surviving the Gas Hike**

Monday, April 25th, 2005

So…um, I guess that gas is not going down? What in the world, people! I won’t get political on this or anything, but I thought as an American that I was entitled to blame everything on our lovely President?? Just kidding…but seriously! This is unbelievable….

I would just like to add a couple more tips for surviving these rising gas prices:

1) Head to your local Sam’s or B.J.’s Warehouse for filling up your gas tank- these warehouse clubs typically offer four to ten cents cheaper per gallon on their gas.

2) Another great site to check out (besides
Gas Buddy) is Gas Price Watch for finding more. This site boasts to be the world’s largest consumer advocacy site for gas prices. They have a gazillion volunteer price spotters who track the pricing of gas for you. Be sure to join their email newsletter for all of the latest news on the crazy gas prices.

3) Local supermarkets might also offer discounts if you purchase your gas through them. Some supermarkets also offer gas savings if you purchase certain items at their store and give you this savings at the end of your receipt. Take the savings where you can!!

4) Become friends with the folks at the gas stations….no, seriously! While we got gas yesterday, my husband struck up a conversation with the gal who worked there. He discovered (through their conversation) that the reason their gas was so low was to keep up with the gas station so-and-so on such-and-such a street. So guess who is going to gas station so-and-so on such-and-such a street? ME! I am starting to think that I am rubbing off on my husband (who looked like the cat who swallowed the canary when he climbed in the car). Who would have thought that he would have been the one hopping in the car saying, “Guess who got the scoop on the cheapest gas?” Tell me who doesn’t love a deal??

Here are a few tips from
Health Recipes for even more ways to survive this gas hike…

Save on your gas price!

The surest way you can improve your fuel cost problem is to change your motoring habits. Listed below under four categories are 30 effective methods of doing so… no need to buy expensive add-on equipment.


1. Avoid prolonged warming up of engine, even on cold mornings – 30 to 45 seconds is plenty of time.

2. Be sure the automatic choke is disengaged after engine warm up… chokes often get stuck, resulting in bad gas/air mixture.

3. Don’t start and stop engine needlessly. Idling your engine for one minute consumes the gas amount equivalent to when you start the engine.

4. Avoid “revving” the engine, especially just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and washes oil down from the inside cylinder walls, owing to loss of oil pressure.

5. Eliminate jack-rabbit starts. Accelerate slowly when starting from dead stop. Don’t push pedal down more than 1/4 of the total foot travel. This allows carburetor to function at peak efficiency.


6. Buy gasoline during coolest time of day – early morning or late evening is best. During these times gasoline is densest. Keep in mind – gas pumps measure volumes of gasoline, not densities of fuel concentration. You are charged according to “volume of measurement”.

7. Choose type and brand of gasoline carefully. Certain brands provide you with greater economy because of better quality. Use the brands which “seem” most beneficial.

8. Avoid filling gas tank to top. Overfilling results in sloshing over and out of tank. Never fill gas tank past the first “click” of fuel nozzle, if nozzle is automatic.


9. Exceeding 40 mph forces your auto to overcome tremendous wind resistance.

10. Never exceed legal speed limit. Primarily they are set for your traveling safety, however better gas efficiency also occurs. Traveling at 55 mph gives you up to 21% better mileage when compared to former legal speed limits of 65 mph and 70 mph.

11. Traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel than is needed.

12. Manual shift driven cars allow you to change to highest gear as soon as possible, thereby letting you save gas if you “nurse it along”. However, if you cause the engine to “bog down”, premature wearing of engine parts occurs.

13. Keep windows closed when traveling at highway speeds. Open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%.

14. Drive steadily. Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Also avoid tailgating – the driver in front of you is unpredictable. Not only is it unsafe, but if affects your economy, if he slows down unexpectedly.

15. Think ahead when approaching hills. If you accelerate, do it before you reach the hill, not while you’re on it.


16. Do not rest left foot on floor board pedals while driving. The slightest pressure puts “mechanical drag” on components, wearing them down prematurely. This “dragging” also demands additional fuel usage.

17. Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel rob you of up to 30% of your gas mileage.

18. Use alternate roads when safer, shorter, straighter. Compare traveling distance differences – remember that corners, curves and lane jumping requires extra gas. The shortest distance between two points is always straight.

19. Stoplights are usually timed for your motoring advantage. By traveling steadily at the legal speed limit you boost your chances of having the “green light” all the way.

20. Automatic transmissions should be allowed to cool down when your car is idling at a standstill, e.g. railroad crossings, long traffic lights, etc. Place gear into neutral position. This reduces transmission strain and allows transmission to cool.

21. Park car so that you can later begin to travel in forward gear; avoid reverse gear maneuvers to save gas.

22. Regular tune-ups ensure best economy; check owner’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals.

Special attention should be given to maintaining clean air filters… diminished air flow increases gas waste.

23. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for occasional misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, bad shocks, broken springs, etc. create engine drag and are unsafe at high traveling speeds.

24. Remove snow tires during good weather seasons; traveling on deep tire tread really robs fuel!

25. Inflate all tires to maximum limit. Each tire should be periodically spun, balanced and checked for out-of-round.

When shopping for new tires, get large diameter tires for rear wheels. Radial designs are the recognized fuel-savers; check manufacturer’s specifications for maximum tire pressures.

26. Remove vinyl tops – they cause air drag. Rough surfaces disturb otherwise smooth air flow around a car’s body.

Bear in mind when buying new cars that a fancy sun roof helps disturb smooth air flow (and mileage).

27. Auto air conditioners can reduce fuel economy by 10% to 20%. Heater fan, power windows and seats increase engine load; the more load on your engine, the less miles per gallon.

28. Remove excess weight from trunk or inside of car – extra tires, back seats, unnecessary heavy parts. Extra weight reduces mileage, especially when driving up inclines.

29. Car pools reduce travel monotony and gas expense – all riders chip in to help you buy. Conversation helps to keep the driver alert. Pooling also reduces traffic congestion, gives the driver easier maneuverability and greater “steady speed” economy. For best results, distribute passenger weight evenly throughout car.

30. During cold weather watch for icicles frozen to car frame. Up to 100 lbs. can be quickly accumulated!

Unremoved snow and ice cause tremendous wind resistance. Warm water thrown on (or hosed on) will eliminate it fast.


Install pressure regulator valve (sold in auto parts stores)… Use graphite motor oil… Beware of oil additives, regardless of advertising claims… Add Marvel Mystery Oil into gas fill-ups… Investigate fuel/water injection methods and products… combine short errands into one trip… Use special gas additives to prevent winter freezing of gas lines!

**The Beacon Street Girls**

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

Dr. Beth, who writes for our website (check the parenting section), is involved in a great new series of books for girls between the ages of 9-13. These books are called, “The Beacon Street Girls” series published by the B*tween Productions, Inc. These books have been featured in Working Woman’s magazine, Inc. Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Teen Magazine, and the Boston Globe.

The author was frustrated by a lack of books, products, and places where her daughters and friends could celebrate those frustrating (and complicated) times of life. She wanted to create a series of books that would be fun and also create empowering and upbeat messages that would teach tweens that values, friendships, and community service can all be fun & rewarding.

As a child, I was drawn to books like Sweet Valley Twins & Babysitter’s Club which, at the time, addressed the issues of my generation. It seems like these types of books are difficult to find anymore and there are few positive influences in our child’s life. Think of these books as a great way to have an even more positive influence on your child.

I always love a freebie, and The Beacon Street Girls website also offers fun no-sew crafts & party snacks for the tween in your life.

Picky Eaters

Thursday, April 14th, 2005

It is hard enough to menu plan for your family with family members who will eat just about anything, but try to plan a menu around a picky eater. Trust me, it isn’t fun! Not only am I blessed with a son who is extremely picky about his food, but I was doubly blessed because I am the proud wife of a picky eater. With two picky eaters in the same house, with different likes and dislikes, there are days where I want to throw in the towel and let my family eat Pop Tarts, chicken nuggets, and macaroni for the rest of their days.

The problem is that I know that this isn’t the nutritious route for them and I enjoy eating a variety of foods in my own diet, despite their pickiness. So what is a mother to do with a picky eater? What are some guidelines to follow to get them to eat? And where in the world can a mom find a menu that fits her child’s likes and dislikes? Here are a few ideas for the mommies of picky eaters everywhere.

My Own Picky Eater

I have always had a concern about my son’s diet ever since he started solid foods. At the age of four to ten months my child would eat anything that I fed to him. I made my own baby food for him and provided him with every fruit and vegetable under the son.

Once my son began to feed himself, however, food as he knew it began to change. He realized that he had a choice as to whether or not he wanted to eat the food and, for the most part, he chose not to eat anything that was given to him. Consistency, texture, if the food stuck to his hand, the color of the food, if the food was a meat, and if the food was a vegetable all became variables in whether or not he would be eating that particular dish. The worst part about all of this was preparing food for him only to discover that this was not listed on my son’s weekly top three list of favorites- chicken nuggets, macaroni, or bagels.

As a mother, and someone who studied nutrition, I wanted a variety of healthy foods for my child and refused to give in to the monotony of this menu. I started reading & researching on the topic and discovered that I was definitely not alone and that this was all normal and part of most children’s development. These are a few of the tips that I have gathered through researching for my own family.

Picky Eater Basics

  • Despite the guilty feelings you may have about what your child isn’t eating, realize that this is part of a child’s normal development. If your child is growing and is active, then there is probably very little to worry about. Even if your child does not eat particularly well on one day, keep in account all of the days during the rest of the week that he/she ate well. If you are still concerned, daily vitamins can provide some peace of mind for parent’s of picky eaters although they are usually unnecessary.
  • It is normal for children to go on eating binges on one particular item of food. My own personal opinion is to go on the binge if it is healthy food and if it is adding value to their diet, but be more conservative with it if it is not part of a well-rounded meal.We have had our own experience with “binging” many times in our household. The first time, my son went through a stage where he loved peanut butter and jelly and that was the only food he would eat. Thinking I was saving money and pleased that he was actually eating for a change, I ran over to Sam’s Club and bought the biggest container of peanut butter that they sold. One week later, my son hated peanut butter & jelly and only wanted grilled cheese. I learned a very valuable lesson that week- don’t buy in bulk for a toddler no matter how crazy you think they are over a particular food. They change their mind very easily and their loyalty to foods changes all of the time.
  • Keep snacking to a minimum so that when the dinner hour rolls around, your child will be hungry and more willing to eat new foods. Don’t forget that snacking can also include all of the milk & juice that your child consumes. These beverages can pack in a lot of calories and give your child the feeling of fullness.
  • Even if you think your child does not like a particular food, try reintroducing it to him again and again. Surprisingly, research shows that children need to be exposed to a new food usually between ten and fifteen times before they will accept it. If your child doesn’t like green beans one night, give it a week and then reintroduce the vegetable.
  • Don’t offer your child too many new foods at one time or they may get overwhelmed and uninterested in the entire meal. Limit your exposure to one or two new foods each week and keep the portion size minimal (one tablespoon should suffice) giving you’re child a taste of the food and not wasting food unnecessarily.
  • Do not equate food with behavior because it can lead to many problems down the road for your child. You never want your child to think that eating is a symbol of esteem or love. Likewise, you do not want your child to associate eating with negative feelings and punishment. It is great to comment on how much your child enjoyed a particular dish, but stay away from praising your child for eating everything on their plate. In a similar manner, also try to refrain from the you-will-sit-here-until-you-clean-your-plate mentality or punishing your child for not eating all of their food. We want our children to have a healthy relationship with food and to learn to exercise their own self-control towards their diet.
  • Allowing your children to help you in the kitchen may be a great way to get them to add new foods to their diet. There are so many benefits in having your children aid you with the meal preparation- math skills, understanding science, and important bonding time with you as the parent. Having them help you will give them a sense of pride and ownership in the food that they have created. This ownership will hopefully get them interested in the new food and maybe even an amazing career path.
  • Leave it to Family Fun Magazine to help you in menu planning around a picky eater. Family Fun offers a “Picky Eater Problem Solver” where you can exclude ingredients that your child doesn’t like and they also help you come up with recipes using meals or ingredients that your child will eat.

I hope that some of these tips that are offered here help you with your picky eater. The important thing to remember is to relax and not make yourself (and your child) crazy about what they are and are not eating.

Please be sure to visit our Picky Eater Dinner Ideas for some great recipes for dinners that you can prepare for your own picky eater.

**Surviving the Gas Hike**

Monday, April 11th, 2005

Could gas be more expensive? The unfortunate answer is…. yes it can. I went to fill up today and the gas was around $2.22 per gallon. I think since I don’t really enjoy driving, hate filling my tank, and despise spending money that I will just walk to wherever I need to go. Hmm…well, it is also unfortunate that I do not enjoy being outside or walking long distances either. I guess I will stick to driving, but cut down on the driving as much as I can.

If you are searching for the gas station with the lowest prices in town, check out Gas Buddy. Gas Buddy can help you find cheap gas prices in your city. It is comprised of 170 gas price information web sites that help consumers find low gasoline prices. For some of the larger cities, there is also a forum where you can chat it up and find out who was the lowest in town. For small cities, like mine, I could type in my zip code and run across the latest compiled data of the gas prices in our area.

I discovered when plugging this information in that I could save like twenty-two cents per gallon if I just drive about two hours away from here. With my amazing knack for numbers, I think I could save at least four dollars if I drive out there. I will just need to fill my tank up to get there and fill it up to get home- think of the savings!!

Go ahead and comment on here where you are at and what your price of gas is. Maybe I will feel better about that $2.22 per gallon that I put in my tank. If you paid less then me, you are not allowed to comment on here- it makes me look bad!

**Traveling With Children**

Friday, April 8th, 2005

I ran across these great tips from Fine Living on how to survive trips with your children. I thought they were great and worth sharing…

Traveling is challenging with young kids, especially when they’re away from the routines and comforts of home. It’s not uncommon for parents on a family vacation to spend more time trying to cheer up cranky kids than actually enjoying the trip itself. “A little creative planning can help keep the kids busy and happy when traveling, and make things easier on you,” says Sheila Ellison, co-author of the book 365 Way to Raise Great Kids.

  • Try a Treasure Hunt
    When no one is looking, hide little treasures, like candy, small toys, etc., in the hotel room or play area.
  • Put on a Play With Hand Puppets
    Stage an impromptu puppet show with puppets you keep with you. Use the back of the front seat as your stage and entertain the kids in the back while you travel. Then, hand the puppets to the kids and let them entertain you for a while.
  • Collect and Send Postcards
    Most restaurants and hotels offer free postcards and filling them out with the kids can be a fun activity. Have the kids write whatever they want about how they spent the day, from what they ate to what sights they saw. Then address them to your own home and drop them in the mail. When you get back, the postcards will serve as a sort of diary of your trip.

**Help With Prescription Meds**

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Prescription medication is an expense that many families cannot afford. If you are not blessed with an insurance plan that will cover your prescriptions and are a low-income family, there are programs available to assist you with your medications. Here is a list of a few sites that you can check for more information on medical assistance programs:

Needy Meds site is designed to provide information about patient assistance programs which provide no cost prescription medications to eligible participants.

Rx Outreach is a new Patient Assistance Program developed by Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services, Inc. (ESSDS). The program provides qualified low-income individuals and families with access to generic versions of brand name medications.

Helping Patients brings together America’s pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patient advocacy organizations and civic groups to help low-income, uninsured patients get free or nearly free brand-name medicines. Its mission is to increase awareness of and enrollment in existing patient assistance programs for those who may be eligible. Through this site, Helping Patients offers a single point of access to more than 275 public and private patient assistance programs, including more than 150 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.

If you cannot find what you are looking for on these sites, don’t forget to check directly with the drug company for programs that they may offer. The sites above are your best bet for finding this information, but do not be afraid to ask your doctor, the drug company, or your pharmacy about programs that you may be able to take advantage of.

Please note that all of the sites that are listed above will gain you information for FREE. If you are looking for more information, there are sites on the internet that will supply you with the information, but they will charge you for it.

If you are aware of any other information or websites that you feel are beneficial in medical assistance, please hit the comment button and share with our readers.

Old Lady

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Yesterday was a rough day for our family. I came home from a play date to transfer laundry over to our dryer and noticed that everything was still damp in the washer. After realizing this, I got that sickening feeling that something was definitely wrong with our washer. Thankfully, nothing was wrong with our favorite appliance, but something almost as bad had happened. A .79 cheapo paint brush had lodged itself in the drain of the sink where our water drains into from our washer and had clogged the sink up. Looking down at the floor, I realized that we had a good two to three inches of water that was now covering our basement floor.

Using our teeny-tiny shop vac to try and get all the water up was very labor intensive and not as effective as those nicely sized shop vacs (note to all of you for our Christmas list next year). Ryan and I worked on getting all of the water up, but now my two hundred loads of laundry have doubled to four hundred loads of laundry since there were nice clean clothes, toys, and various other belongings lying on the basement floor. Not only that, but our basement floor also was covered with all of the things that we had moved down from our living room while we have been painting and redecorating it. I am thinking now that the room that we redecorated will forever look the way I originally set it up because all the things downstairs are water damaged. It is a good thing that I liked the way the room looked and it saved me a trip to the Goodwill box for a donation. I will have to hunt around the house for other unnecessary things to offer to them. I am sure I will be able to come up with something.

In light of our evening last night, this morning I woke up with the worst back pain ever (next to the car accident back pain) and I feel like an old woman who can barely move her body. You can imagine the fun that Ethan is having with his mommy today as I am sitting on the couch like a bum with the electric heating pad on my back. My eyes are also bloodshot and hurting so I am also wearing my, less than fashionable, glasses. This is definitely not how I had planned to spend my day.

I hope that you all are having a better day then us and please stop by again for more of my depressing blog.