5 min for Mom knows how to celebrate the Holidays!

Maybe you've noticed that there are tons (and tons) of Holiday Giveaways being hosted by your fave blogs. I want to talk about one of mine.

It's called 5 minutes for Mom. To be honest I spend waaaaay more than 5 minutes at a time there, but shhh, don't tell DH.

Created by twin sisters Janice and Susan and run with the help of lots of very nice people (my opinion), 5 minutes for Mom hosts contests, feature other mom-blogs, websites and businesses, discuss faith, parenting, and more. I love to browse the site, though I am an infrequent commenter, they get tons and tons of repeat visitors. Like me, people just want to go back.

Right now they are hosting a HUGE giveaway with many many, many chances to win something special for someone special.

The best part about it all is that each of the sponsors will also be donating products to Under The Tree, the sisters' special project. 5 minutes for Mom will be sponsoring Christmas for some very special families. (Aren't they great?) You can even nominate a family right here!

Under the Tree 240x240

On to the Prizes! There are so many, it makes my head spin, but here are the ones I've entered in the Christmas Giveaway 2008:

Stuff Their Stockings with Playskool/Hasbro
Win Wall-E
Mrs. Goodbee Talking Dollhouse
Win a $100.00 Gift Card to Sears
Skating is Fun and Easy with Skorpies
Totem Boys Recycled Construction Toy
Some Charlie and Lola Fun
Even More Charlie and Lola Fun
Win A Stepping Stone Play Mat
Get Cozy this Christmas with Lands’ End
Wholesome Groovy Girls
Win a Poingo
More Hasbro Fun
Pulse Kick N’ Go Nitrous Scooter

And plenty more that I didn't enter...

Whew! Can you get any more impressed with this site? Well, sure, go check 'em out, silly... Enter some giveaways, read some articles. You'll love it there, too, I just know it.

P.S. Wish me luck with my own entries, will ya?
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Layaway is back!

You probably know by now that Wally-world has *gasp* ended it's layaway service. (Why - oh why?)

But there is still hope my bloggy-friends. Did you know that you can do layaway at Sears? Yup! Your local mall anchor-store has brought back that holiday lifesaver!

All you need to do is walk in, gather your perfect gift purchases, go to ANY register and breathe those magic words, "Layaway, please." Of course they require a deposit, and you really need to make payments on those gifts (or they will languish at the store without you.)

I bet you wanna know what's on my wish-list... 'course you do.

For my lil' man, I soooo love this

Chicco Chicco: DJ Guitar Cute, huh?

For my lil' darlin' it's gotta be the Moon Sand Adventure Island
(She is crazy about Moon Sand. Really, really nuts for it.)

And for my honey, 'cause he seriously rocks: Mi Jam Pro Air Drummer (Um, yes, I know it's a toy. ) That's totally the point...and of course, he totally needs the Craftsman LocBoard 64 pc. Heavy-Duty Steel Storage cause, well - his tools could use a decent place to live...

For my Ma: The Concept Housewares Espresso Wood Rectangular Ceiling Rack, she's moving in just a couple of weeks, and she plans to completely renovate the kitchen in her new home. How cute would this rack be?

And my mother-in-law would absolutely love this
Zero Xposur Mini Dot Jacket.

Yay, Sears! The call it wish granting. For budget-concious families, I have to agree....

So get on over to the Sears Layaway and make some wishes come true!

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There's always something to celebrate!

Thanks to Hot Mom's Club, for sending this great widget my way...

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Body Bootcamp

I'm busting my butt, literally. Mama Mio's Bootcamp for Butts has been my inspiration. According to them "We wanted to create a kit which was the perfect product mix to help the tone, texture and tightness of your skin...By improving the tone and texture of your skin, and also strengthening and toning the muscle structure that supports the skin, the results will be more dramatic." I like that bit, more dramatic.

I've been exercising my Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Mimimus faithfully (Not to mention my Adductor and Abductor muscles), and swathing that tender skin in Mama Mio's Tummy Toner and Shrink to Fit. The exercises, called The Butt Raise and The Doggy are easy, but after all the repetitions (you add one each day) phew - I really do feel the burn!

Do I see any difference?

Well.... My stretchmarks are noticably smoother, (for that alone, All Hail Mama Mio and Tummy Toner!) and there seems to be slightly more definition at the bottom of my, er, bottom. I'm feeling hopeful.

Mama Mio's Bootcamp for Boobs has been just as inspirational. In this kit, you massage the Tummy Toner and Boob Tube onto your neck and chest, to right below the breasts. The exercises here are The Fly - which I actually enjoy doing, and the Push Me Up, not so much with the enjoyment part. (I hate push-ups. Always have.)

Difference here, too?

Um, yeah. Those dreaded Push Me Ups are actually tightening my triceps and biceps as well as my Pectorals. And The Fly, besides being kinda fun, adds to it, with the targeting of Deltoids, Rhomboids and Latissimus Dorsi. (Ooooh, don't you just love Latin? Even muscle groups sound exciting.) In other words - I noticed some subtle tightening under my boobs. Also, the small stretchmarks are smoother, (again, yay!) and overall - I think my skin fgeels somewhat more elastic, if that makes sense.

So far, so pretty good. We're not quite at dramatic change yet, but there are still three weeks left!
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November is Military Family Appreciation Month

With today being the Marine Corp.'s 233rd birthday, and tomorrow we celebrate our Military Veterans, I'd like to give you some quick info about Military FamilyAppreciation Month.

Instituted in 2002, the designation of an entire month is meant to (according to Marine Corps Commandant J. L. Jones, General) provide "an opportunity to honor the extraordinary contributions of our nation's military families."

Here are some things you can do to facilitate maximum appreciativeness (I totally just made that word up):

  1. Send a holiday card or gift package to overseas servicemembers! Just know that Thursday, Nov. 13, is the deadline for sending holiday packages to troops stationed overseas using Parcel Post to all Air/Army Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) ZIP Codes. For cards/letters, you have untilThursday, December 11. However, all military mail, regardless of destination, is sent by domestic mail rate. International rates do not apply to military mail delivery. (Sweet!)
  2. Make a donation to one of these many (many) groups, gathered here at America Supports You.
  3. Order FLAGS Across The Nation Note Cards. They're very cute...
  4. If you're a business owner, offer a discount for military families.
  5. Hire milspouses! (Like me, lol!) (No seriously - cmwpro.com)
  6. Support your local Armed Services YMCA.

Maybe you are wondering why we military families even need an appreciation month. I'll explain. (Well, after I shoot you a nasty look.) Consider if you will, the extreme lifestyle of the military family. Relocation, most often to places we've never been. We subsist on quite a bit less and do a whole lot more. We raise our children quite literally on the fly. We rally, and we inspire, and we give those men and women a pretty darn good reason to keep fighting for home, because home is us. You're welcome, folks!

Coast Guard Emblem Pictures, Images and Photos
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My-oh Mama Mio

My boobs just aren't what they used to be. *sigh*

Two babies, and they've lost that perky profile I was so proud of. No really - not to be terribly immodest, but I had a great pair. Now, however, there's a definite droop.

Enter...Bootcamp for Boobs. Mama Mio's boxed skincare set that promises to "perk your profile in 30 days". That's a pretty big promise. Can they deliver?

Included in the box are two of their luxe skincare products, Tummy Toner (called "gym for slack skin") which is meant to lift and tone & Boob Tube, whose purpose is to help your chest "defy gravity" (and smells yummy!). Also you get a handy laminated how-to card which explains the process, and has diagrams of the two mandatory (yup!) exercises that target your pectoral muscles.

And then there's the bottom. Mine specifically. I wasn't exactly known for my butt, however, I always thought it fit my body, filled out my jeans nicely, and never, ever jiggled inappropriately. Ah, I wish I could blame that loss on my children, but it's all the internet's fault. Too much time in a chair has flattened and broadened my err, rear.

No fear, Mama Mio has an answer for that, too!
Bootcamp for Butts is another boxed set; for booty-lifting this time. Included is the handy how-to card, Tummy Toner, Body Buff (a gentle exfoliant) and Shrink to Fit Cream (this stuff is awesome!).

As it's a 30-day program, and I'll be updating weekly with my progress.

I have totally been doing it all this week. DH and the kids find the exercises pretty funny, and the "Doggy" is definitely the favorite. You wish I was masochistic enough to upload video, but I'm not...
I liked the Body Buff, especially that it's not very strongly scented. The Tummy Toner, which comes in both kits, is light and easy to apply. The Boob Tube is thick and smells pretty yummy. (Probably thanks to the Avocado Oil and Shea Butter.) The Shrink to Fit cream leaves a kind of tingle behind, and it lasts for a good long while. So far, so not much difference, to be honest. My skin does feel smoother, but I haven't noticed any real lift, either North or South... Still, I have high hopes, and figure that I just need some more time.

I sooooo hope this works!
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Blogs to check out:

Okay - I told you about some of my fave sites, and now some blogs you really should be reading:

Warm Biscuit Bedding Co. has a blog! Did you know? Well now you do! Right now they are having a giveaway featuring the oh-so-soft Loungewear for kids.

Lipstick to Crayons is also hosting a giveaway. (Actually, quite a few) Direct from the sisters in charge: "Lipstick to Crayons was created for moms to 'escape' their busy lives".

Simple Finds, a review site that's more! I love their Holiday Gift Guide.

Mom Most Traveled - if you and your kids get lots of traveltime, this is the place to get gear ideas to make it easier. Also hosting a giveaway! Very cool between you & me journals...
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A Brand New Day

Like so many others, I am thrilled, awed and overcome. Last night we opened a new chapter in the history of our great country. I am so very, very happy.

I pray that God is with the Obama and Biden families in these coming months and years - for the task ahead is difficult. But I firmly believe that it is not insurmountable.

Congratulations President-Elect Barack Obama, and godspeed.
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Some Shout-outs

Even though I've been an absentee here in blog-land, I have been online. Some sites have made me laugh, cry, feel righteous, uncomfortable, and fired-up. Some did all of those things!

Here's the who's-who of my online loves (in no particular order):

WAHM 2.0 'Cause Kelly McCausey knows her stuff...
Joomla awesome website development!
List PlanIt um, lists, lists and more lists for people (like me!) who love erm, lists!
Traveling with kids a retail site, it's all in the name
Etsy if you aren't buying from here...Why not?
Online-Sweepstakes um, because I like free stuff, and so do you - I just know it.
Christian Women Online full of Godly goodies
Cool Mom Picks reviews of stuff I never knew I needed
SAHM Answers all kindsa stuff
Family Time something we all need to get lots of....
YummyMummy club they say that "mummy needs to play, too" - I couldn't agree more!

Oh, man and so many more, but my kids are ready for some momma-attention now. More later, BYE!
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Oh my gosh!

So - I took an unannounced break from blogging - but here's the thing, I drafted like twenty-five posts so that I could do it pretty low-key, right (no on the wiser).

Um, yeah - so uh...


I am super-bummed, 'cause my poor 'lil blog looked completely abandoned. *sob, sniffle*

I am so sorry. All apologies, my friends. Totally a mistake I made, and since they were all pretty much time-specific, not even worth trying to put them up now. Guess I'll start fresh.

Err, starting right after I find my sons binkie - 'cause he is totally freaking out.
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So - I'm like freaking out a little

Have any of you ever heard about Vacation Bible School? (also handily shortened to VBS)

Let me tell you how I, a rank amateur, ended up sweating the fact that I'll be teaching (guiding, herding) more than twenty 3-year-olds come Monday morning.

I love my church. Really (and I never, never thought those words would come out of my mouth.) I decided some months back that I needed to be more involved in both the church and the community. So, I joined a womens group, called Lydia Circle. At the second meeting, one of the ladies was talking about VBS (she is of course the director); and lamented her lack of three volunteers to complete the ranks of teachers for this weeklong summer program.

I can honestly say that I thought, "Aw - that's too bad. I hope she finds people in time." But what I said was this, "I'd love to help out." WHAT? Was that me? I actually heard the words, but I certainly had no intention of volunteering! What just happened here? (Lord, they say You work in mysterious ways, but literally putting words in my mouth ... I'm shocked.)

Kathy jumped right on them, and now I am preparing to face a room full of other people's children to teach them about God and Jesus. I barely feel capable of explaining it all to my own three year old. What on earth am I doing?

So, of course I'm praying that I'll remember not to swear, or take his name in vain, or lose my temper or, you know, accidentally turn them to the dark side. Do me a favor ya'll...pray for me too. (And those kids, please pray for those poor children. They have no more idea of what they're getting into than I do!)
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Hey - I'm almost famous!

Just a quick note to tell ya'll about my brief brush with fame. No, no - I'm not talking about Al again. I just found out that I won Stonyfield Farms monthly recipe contest. Check me out under the June 2008 Winners for my super-tasty Curried Tuna Sandwich. (Yes, curried tuna - it's totally delicious.) And looky-here at what I won:

They asked me to send in a headshot. I'm not really much of one for being in front of the camera. So - I didn't have a whole lot to choose from. I picked this one, tell me what you think.

I'm pretty cheeky (ha, ha - get it? Yeah, *sigh*, sorry) but I thought maybe the angled head would...oh, alright, but believe me when I tell you, it's one of the best pictures I've taken since my first pregnancy. (Also - it was taken by the fruit of said pregnancy, which tells you exactly how that particular camera broke not more than 15 minutes after that picture was taken.) But I digress. Ummm, make some yummy sandwiches or something, eat some Stonyfield yogurt, and stop looking at me like that!
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The Weird One

Um, DH is a very big fan of Weird Al Yankovic. Huge, really. Early on in our relationship, he expressed great shock when he learned that I had the barest of acquaintance with "The Weird One". (UHF, Eat It!, and Amish Paradise pretty much summed it up.) I didn't even know that he did anything besides parodies! (Um - I sooooo know better now, after an exhaustive intro to the Weird Al retrospective.) Apparently, Mr. Yankovic was a huge part of DH's growing up years - so when he heard tickets being offered up on a local radio talk show, he called in, and wouldn't you know it - the man actually won! Not only did he get two tickets to the "Straight Outta Lynnwood" concert at the Pier 6 Pavilion Friday night, but he scored a meet -n- greet with the man, too.

Can I begin with just this: I haven't laughed so hard in at least ten years. I actually had to fight for breath, and was clutching my aching sides. I'd say it was quite possibly the best straight-up performance I've ever seen. It is a show, folks. Some pics for ya:

This is from the opener where he performed two compilations, and finished with "Canadian Idiot".

And this is the finale to another compilation called
"Do I Creep You Out?"

And then we've got "Eat It,"...
...and "The Saga Begins,"...

..."Smells Like Nirvana,"...

...and "Amish Paradise,"...

...and the notorious, "I'm Fat".

But the best pic?

There were so many songs, videos, celeb interviews courtesy of "Al TV", cartoon shorts, and costume changes - I cannot even begin to tell you how the man managed it all, and still stuck around for an hour of photos and autographs.

At any rate - I used to think Weird Al was a funny guy. Now, I'm a fan. Thanks for the laughs, Odd One!

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You're my WonderFaaaall

Have you heard of Beaches All-Inclusive Family Resorts? You have to have seen the commercials, right? Turquoise waters lapping at gorgeous sandy beaches, happy families frolicking in the pool, childish wonder at tropical fish swimming in their native waters? Luxurious rooms, blissful spas, on-site childcare...Ahhhh, now I've got ya.

I am drooling over the new WonderFall package at Beaches. Book for 5 or 6 nights, get one of those for free -or- book a seven-night stay, and only pay for five of them! Combine it with up to 45% off the regular price for super-savings. If you travel between September 1, and November 4, 2008 - you can get in on this incredible deal.

So, where does the magic happen? You'll be blown away by the luxurious digs at Beaches Boscobel, Beaches Negril, and Beaches Sandy Bay in Jamaica, as well as at Beaches Turks & Caicos. (Click the links for details like photo galleries and amenities.)

Now you may have heard about all-inclusive before, but I want to illustrate what a Beaches resort provides, so that you can see just how affordable a truly amazing family vacation can be.

  • All meals, unlimited snacks (and most restaurants have kid-friendly menus, and even child-size tables and chairs!)

  • Unlimited premium drinks

  • Supervised activities for kids (By age group: infants up to 23 months, toddlers ages 2 - 5, children 6 - 7 yrs, pre-teens 8 - 12 yrs, and teen programs, for 13 yrs and up.)

  • Fine dining

Arizona Restaurant, an outdoor TexMex restaurant at Beaches Boscobel, Jamaica

  • Scuba diving

  • Water sports

  • Land sports

  • Luxurious rooms and suites

(Gorgeous, isn't it?)

  • Taxes, tips and gratuities (All included!)

  • Airport transfers (No worries!)

  • X-Box video games center

  • The Caribbean Adventures with Sesame Street ®

(I think this is my favorite, so far.) With activities like Sesame Street Stage Shows & Parades, Story Time with Elmo, Bake with Cookie Monster, Dance with Zoe, Make Music with Bert and Ernie, Discover Magical Treasures with Abby Cadabby, and Explore with Grover, (even birthday parties!) - Beaches WonderFall Celebration is set to be a truly memorable family experience.

(Doesn't this pool make you want to jump right in?)

Now - think of all the savings, and consider how much you'll have leftover for souvenirs!

My other fave thing about Beaches? All Sandals & Beaches Resorts have been awarded the coveted Green Globe Award for environmental stewardship. GREEN GLOBE 21 is the worldwide benchmarking and certification program that facilitates sustainable travel and tourism for consumers, companies and communities.

Go! Feel good about your vacation! Oh, just one more thing, before you jump on over to book your Beaches WonderFall vacation, comb your hair, honey, 'cause passports are required!

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poor little bug

I hope you ll had a fine fourth. BBQ, friends and family, parades, fireworks, etc. We tried to. Catonsville hosts a big-deal July Fourth celebration, with kid's games and races, booths, a 61 year old parade, and an impressive fireworks display.

But yesterday morning, our Liv woke up with a fever. Poor little bug. My girl is a lively one, normally. Everything she does and says is imbued with masses of energy, and for her to do little more than lay on the couch, pushing away food, it's just heartbreaking. When she woke from her afternoon nap, we hoped she'd feel well enough to at least see the parade, but her eye was swollen nearly shut.

Here - I'd like to b*tch a little about the way our health care system is run. Because there are no office hours on holidays (and okay, I understand that - even doctors deserve some time off) you have to call the after-hours care number. Why do they spend more time and concern regarding your bloody insurance information than in giving any useful stinking advice? After going through our particulars with two completely different people (very s-l-o-w-l-y), I was told that I'd have to wait over an hour before a nurse would be available to call me back. I wondered aloud if I should just take my sweetling to Urgent Care, and was told that they couldn't help me with that. (Uh, hello - why am I calling here in the first place? Aren't you supposed to help me?)

We plied her with children's Tylenol, and Pedialyte, and she seemed to liven up a bit, so we waited for the call. Of course, a person over the phone cannot give a diagnoses, only very generic advice. Liquids, rest, more Tylenol for the fever, yada, yada, yadda. Then I tried to find out where we should take her or if we should take her to Urgent care at all, and went similarly unhelped. Gah. Useless.

The later it got, the more listless she became, and DH insists we should just take her in. Phew.

Know this about me. I am not a doctor lover. I don't go unless I absolutely have to, or DH makes a big deal about it, because in general, I just feel like I can take care of myself. Though I am not nearly so cavalier with my children, I do tend to want to hold back. I mean, kids get sick, and then they get better, and Lord knows - one of the worst places to be with a sick kid is in a doctor's reception room or waiting area at the E.R. I'm just saying.

However, in general, in this area, I tend to let DH lead, cause it's better to be overcautious than under. Ah, yeah. I sure am glad I did.

We went to St. Agnes' Pediatric Emergency Care. Not only was it one of the best ER visits in my experience, but fairly fast, too. We waited less than two minutes before being seen by the triage nurse, and less than ten for the ER doctor. (DH and I were stunned. This is totally unprecedented.)

A few questions, a brief, but gentle exam (that Liv cried and cringed over - this kid hates doctors, too many needles as far as she's concerned,) and hey ho, diagnosis.

DH and I fully expected to hear that she had a weird virus or something like that. What we were informed, however, was that our kiddo had cellulitus, a skin infection. Possibly caused by a bug bite. I was completely bugged out when I googled it. On the one hand, fairly common - but if left untreated, possible death! Or blindness in children whose eyes have been infected. Holy crapola! Thank God for DH's doctor-love. Thank God for St. Agnes. Though I no longer consider myself Catholic, no girl raised as one would have felt any less comforted (though mildly weirded out) by the sound of a nun reciting the Trinity and Psalm 23 over the intercom system.

We did get a little something in, though. On our way home from the ER, we dropped off her antibiotics scrip at a 24 hour pharmacy (thank you for that, by the way) and stood in the parking lot, watching the far-off fireworks loosed in celebration of our nation's indepedence. Ah, well. Better than last year, anyway. Did I mention? Last year we spent most of the fourth at the Children's Hospital with our younger son, at the time, just days old. I'm thinking, next year - lets try to start a new tradition. One that doesn't mean sick kiddos.
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Coming attractions

I am so stoked right now! My good friend, Amber Davis of CMR Enterprises, is going to sponsor a giveaway of the ChoreMinder! We're going to hammer out the details, but I can promise it's going to be awesome. I'll be listing it on Prizey, and PrizeFetch, too. Woo-Hoo! (I just couldn't wait to share....)

Good Weekend
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The Devil's in the Details

I hate cleaning. (Big surprise, I know.) There isn't much I won't do to avoid it. I've made lame excuses, faked injury, even pretended I don't notice the gi-normous piles of both clean and dirty laundry preventing us from fully opening our bedroom door.

What's that? Oh, you want to know about the whole "fake injury" thing. Well, alright...but you can't tell DH. This was early on in our marriage, and I've always been known for my clumsiness. When DH came home after being away for a week and the house looked exactly the same as when he left, I knew he'd be pretty peeved. I quickly threw myself onto the couch and dragged a blanket over my legs. I put on a suitable expression of noble suffering, of course. When asked, I told him a whopper of a lie about slipping on ice in the kitchen. This really wasn't fair, as I actually had twisted my ankle earlier in the week, so at least I looked injured, but I'd been walking on it just fine for the last three days. Still, the site looked suitably bruised and swollen enough for my trickery to be plausible. All loving concern, DH certainly made no complaints about my housekeeping. Of course, these things tend to backfire, because I was coddled and hobbled for the next couple of days, while the house fell further and further into what I'd have to call a god-awful mess. DH just isn't the kind of guy to do the cleaning for me. Nope - he just left it 'till I was "able" to do it myself. Ah, well. I never tried that one again.

These days I still don't enjoy cleaning, and I especially hate my huge, clunky upright vacuum. It's outrageously heavy, and like most appliances, it's a total energy suck. (Mine and B.G.E.'s)

Enter the Dirt Devil AccuCharge. It's a slick new device from the folks at Dirt Devil. Because of it's high-tech charging system, this baby actually reduces energy consumption by 70%. That's impressive to say the least. It's even the first cordless vac to be Energy Star rated. (When I think Energy Star, I think major appliances. A vacuum? That's just cool.)

Notable Features of the Dirt Devil AccuCharge:
  • Longer Battery Life
  • Charges 2X Faster
  • Utilizes 70% Less Energy
  • Energy Star Approved
  • Cordless Rechargeable Convenience
  • Powerful 15.6 volt Cordless Vac
  • Bagless
  • Weighs just 5.84 pounds
  • All Surface Cleaning: Motorized Brush for carpet cleaning and Brushroll Shutoff for safe bare floor cleaning
  • Fold-away handle for convenient storage
  • Charging stand
  • 2 Year Warranty

I really think you should check this bad-boy out, 'cause you know...
the Devil's in the details.


Sponsored by Dirt Devil AccuCharge
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Is there a Mommy, er... Doctor in the House?

My Owie
You know that when your kiddos have an owie or boo-boo, they come crying for Mommy. And who better? You know how to soothe, and ease and whisper love, and all that. Unfortunately, you're, (or at least I'm) not an actual doctor. Step in MommyDocs.

Jamie A. Freishtat, M.D., and Rachel L. Schreiber, M.D., FAAAAI; based out of Maryland, are certified and celebrated pediatricians, who just happen to be Mommies. Very cool Mommies with an understanding of how a net-savvy modern momma like myself likes to get her kid's health info. You know, the easy way.

With podcasts, videos, blogposts, Q & A, articles, tips, useful web-links, an Ask the MommyDocs page (My fave), this sit is chock-full of the kind of info any mom could use. Seriously - I know you'll be hooked, so check it out.

In fact - next time you're at the pediatrician's, why don't you mention MommyDocs to the other parents in the waiting room? It's trickle down theory, folks! You'll spend less time asking the pediatrician for extra info, the other parents will also take up less time, and bobs-your-uncle I, uh, I mean, you ... You will no longer spend 45 minutes in a room with nothing but some rubber gloves, tongue depressors, a 2 year old BH&G mag and a cranky toddler for company. (Quick glimpse into my world, friends.)

That being said - here's a little something for ya to help make your summer a little easier, (in general health anyway. Nothing can be done about the late July too-hot-to-go-out-and-all-of-their-friends-are-at-camp-or-whatever-so-they're-

Simple Summer Safety Tips from the MommyDocs :

Have a Sun Protection Strategy: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15. Look for products that provide "broad spectrum" coverage to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Use this sunscreen routine with your child--daily application 30 minutes before going outside and reapplication every 2 hours (or sooner if swimming, toweling off, or sweating). Creating a routine will establish good habits for the future. In addition, don't forget a wide brim hat, sunglasses with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection, and sun protective clothing.

Keep Pests off Your Little One: In the summer, many insects can bite or sting your child. For pesky mosquitoes and ticks, consider a DEET containing insect repellant. Apply sparingly to exposed skin (avoid backs of hands and around the eyes and mouth) and/or to clothing once a day. As the percentage of DEET goes up, the duration of action increases. To prevent unnecessary exposure, always use the lowest percentage that will last for the planned length of time spent outdoors. Never go above 30% or use on children under 2 months old.

Keep the Pool Cool and Clean: Small yard pools provide a great way for kids to have fun and cool down when the temperature rises, but they can also harbor germs, such as bacteria. To keep the pool free from unwanted "swimmers," after each use disinfect it with bleach by cleaning with a solution of ¾ cup regular bleach to one gallon of water, then rinse well and dry thoroughly. Safety must: Always supervise children regardless of age when they are around any water; whether it's a bucket, a small backyard plastic pool, or the local community pool.

High Heat Means Hydrate: Excessive heat exposure may cause your child to experience a heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. How to prevent this: take breaks in the shade, avoid playing outside during peak sun exposure hours, and drink, drink, drink! Make sure your child is taking in plenty of fluids before he become thirsty.

Rid Rashes and Relieve Itchies: Running through the yard in bare feet, taking a nature walk on a trail, and picnicing in the park are some of the joys of warmer weather. But all of this outdoor activity can expose your child to a host of plants including those which cause poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. If an allergic reaction occurs, ask the pediatrician about an oral antihistamine and/or a topical skin care product such as a steroid cream or calamine. If the rash is extensive, looks infected, or is not getting better, call your doctor right away.

In case you'd like this in a printable format, click on Summer Tips PDF. (Really, print it out and hang it on the fridge. No, not with the chinese-food menu, jeez, people.)

Now, I have to add this little caveat: MommyDocs is in no way a substitute for a doctor's visit. If you have a real concern for your child, please contact your pediatrician immediately. But if you always walk out of the office kicking yourself for not asking about this, that or the other thing, MommyDocs is the place for you.

Oh - just so you can see that these are real people, with real qualifications, here's a video of their appearance on a Local CBS affiliate news program:
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En espanol, por favor

That's all, I just thought this was so funny - I had, had, had to share! (Remember my intro?)
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California's Strawberry Dreamin'


"Yum. Yum, yummy, yummy, yum, yum." That is a direct quote from my 3 year old daughter when she bit down into her first summer strawberry. It sounded remarkably familiar, as I remember saying something like it as a child. For a little while we lived in a house with a large garden, and my brother and I eagerly awaited the strawberry ripening. When at last we were allowed to pluck the ripe sweet-tart berries, the generally approving noises were quite the same as my Liv's.

There is nothing in this whole world that quite compares to strawberries. It's nearly impossible to finad a kid who doesn't love them. The best strawberries, though? They come from California, thanks largely due to the California Strawberry Commission.

The California strawberry industry developed a comprehensive food safety program in 1996 to provide consumers with the highest level of confidence in California strawberries.

Some neat California Strawberry Facts

  • Total California strawberry acreage: 35,696 acres.

  • If all the strawberries produced in California this year were laid berry to berry, they'd wrap around the world 15 times.

  • 87% of the strawberries consumed in America are grown and harvested in California!

  • Within 24 hours of harvest, the strawberries are loaded on refrigerated trucks for delivery to local supermarkets across the country, so that the berries reach consumers in fresh-from-the-field condition.

  • The California Strawberry industry eploys more than 80,000 men and women.

  • California grew over 14 billion strawberries just last year!

  • Packed with Vitamin C, and with no fat, California strawberries are an incredibly healthy snack!

If you're interested in more great facts about strawberries, or the Calfornia Strawberry Commission, check out their website, http://www.calstrawberry.com/.

Also, if you've got kiddos chomping at the bit to jump on your computer, (hey, mine is!) you could direct them Strawberryville, a super-cute and fun, kid-friendly site, geared toward 5 - 7, and 8 - 12 year olds. There are games, nutrition facts and strawberry-related trivia that's guaranteed to provide some wholesome distraction.

I thought I might go ahead and include a strawberry recipe. I think you'll love it! ('Cause it tastes soooo yummy, and it's like ridiculously easy to make.)

Balsamic Strawberries 'n Ice Cream


1 tablespoon butter
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the strawberry halves, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Cook until the strawberries are heated through.
Place scoops of ice cream into pretty dessert bowls.
Spoon strawberries over the ice cream and serve.

The balsamic vinegar really brings out the sweetness of the strawberry, but somehow mellows it at the same time.

The best way to store fresh strawberries is in a large container with a dry paper towel at the bottom. (Don't wash them until ready to eat, or cook with, in order to prevent mold.) Just before using, wash strawberries with cold water, but gently. Strawberries taste best at room temperature, so let them warm up on the counter before serving.

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George, we malcontents will miss you

"Not only do I not know what's going on, I wouldn't know what to do about it if I did." George Carlin

It was quite literally the very first thing I heard this morning. DH's alarm is set to some radio talk show, and when it went off the words "George Carlin died this morning" slammed into the room with the effect of cannon shot, as our eyes flew open, instantly alert.

George, born May 12, 1937,whose stand-up style, according to his mother was " filthy, blasphemous, (and) anti-American", is gone. I think the world is a lesser place without the man.

I think his best known riff is the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV." I won't list them here, but if you don't already know them, you probably don't want to, anyway.

Maybe you're wondering why, as a good Christian woman, I might still call myself a fan of an adamant non-believer. George was a master of verbiage, something any literati can appreciate. He was king of getting to the bone; that is, he swept past all the hooey, and just spoke his mind, whether for good or ill. I didn't always agree with the man, I'm sure he didn't expect anyone to. However, I appreciate the basic honesty in his humor, and I know that even subversive personalities have a place in our world. I just don't think there is anyone able to fill this great man's shoes.

For a look back, check out GeorgeCarlin.com. Have you ever played ask george?

I'll leave you with his own words...
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The Trouble with Tribbles, I mean Technorati

Hee, her, ha. *sigh* If you aren't a Star Trek fan, then you just think I'm weird. But that's okay with me friends. (As if you hadn't already figured that out by now.)

Maybe you've noticed that my Technorati ratings aren't all that; (and severely lacking in bags of potato chips, as well.)

If you glance to the left, there is a technorati me button in my sidebar. I also provide helpful labels at the bottom of each post. And yet, my ranking goes pretty well nowhere. No authority to speak of. This is no way reflects the quality of my writing good folk, just that I'm kinda sucky at web-presence. Soooo...

I'm jumping in on an experiment that will help up my page-ranking, and give me some auth-or-a-tay. You can do it, too! Want backlinks, pagerank, and prestige? (Aw, you know you do.)

Brad Blogging came up with an easy, but innovative way to increase your blog’s Technorati Authority. These are the 4 simple steps to glory:

  • Make a blog post and copy the list below after the line.
  • Include your link at the end of the list.
  • In order for Brad Blogging to know that you have joined with his experiment, you have to make a comment from the original post.
  • Sit back and watch your Technorati Authority Increase…

*–Copy Here - Technorati Authority–*

1. Brad Blogging.com - Daily Blog Tips For The Masses
2. Daily Blogging Tips At The Daily Rambler
3. Blog Chews - Blog About Anything
4. Steve v4.6 - Big Made Small
6. Indo Contest.com - Find the Latest Contest Here
7. POTPOLITICS-We Smoke the Competition
8. ATA - AskTheAdmin.com
9. Dolly’s Daily Diary
10. The Tech Juice - Tech Tips And More
11. Wendy’s OBA, Blog Tips & Tricks
12. Wendy’s Reel - Fact And Fancy
13. A Grateful Heart
14. 50+Whatever..Just some Ramblings in Life
16. The Blog for DesignCreatology
17. Contest Whiz - The Blog Contest Expert
18. About Blog Contests
19. Esmeraldasblog - Como aumentar la Authority de Technorati
20. Best Widgets for free - Blog Widgets
21. New life by Pitonizza
22. Todo Seiya - Como aumentar la Authority de Technorati
23. Blog for Spanish Readers
24. The Blogger And The Blog
25. Hero Help
26. Makmalcyber
27. Forex Study
28. Techyplus
29. 8
30. Darn Good Reviews
31. Blogger Tips - DotBlogger
32. Lilyruths This and That
33. That Blog 4 Me
34. Pinoytek - Make Money Online and SEO Blog
35. Snigit(blogspot)
36. Snigit(.com)
37. Best Of The Web
38. Swat the Fly
39. Area3000
40. Shut Up And Eat
41. Find Torrent Blog
42. Cebu in the World
43. Web Design
44. Trestin Adventures
45. Ask Trestin
46. Trestin Autobiography
47. Trestin Ideas
48. Trestin Gallery
49. Trestin Games
50.(Impressive Results!) Trestin Hall Of Fame
51. Trestin History
52. Parnell Forever
53. Trestin Political
54. Trestin Spiritual
55. Trestin Sports
56. Trestin Store - Yep, Each One Of These Are Different Blogs.
57. The Ordinary Agung
58. Il blog di Luca Marchi
59. What About Brazil?
60. Shri Rada Blog
61. Hawaiian Travel Blog
62. Hawaii Cruise Superstore
63. GadgetHeat!
64. Over The Sky
65. Yavinator log
66. I Travel to Work do you?
67. The Home Page of Tony Smith, Writer of Comic Books, Articles & Screenplays
68. Ultimate Credit Online
69. The Rhythm of Write
70. A Hoosier Family
71. Analyzed Marketing Solutions
72. O2S Media
73. Project Swole - Fitness and Nutrition
74. Life is simple, Don’t make it complicated
75. Yet Another Blog from Marco Ciacci
76. Freebies, Making money and More
77. Babysitter On Board
78.Vhiel’s Corner
79. Anything and Everything in Between
80. Designs By Vhiel
81. Can of Thoughts
82. Only in Silence
83. Everything Nice!
84.Reference Notes
85. It’s a woman’s world!
86. Ramki’s Blog
88. Picture Clusters
89. Maiylah’s Snippets
90. My Wanderings
91. Confessions of a Supermodel Wannabe
92. Tiklaton: We are the Witness!
93. O'Joy of my life...

94. *Add your link right here!*

*– End Copy - Paste This List And Join! –*

Now: You must remember to comment on the original post at Brad Blogging. Get on it!

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Sparking, Socially

Do you guys remember what sparking used to mean? Technically, the word means to produce, or throw off sparks. But in the olden days, it was colloquially meant as cuddlin' up with someone.

Did you know that your blog can spark? Shuuure. It's a site called SocialSpark, where your blog can cuddle up with other blogs, and I'd love to tell ya about it.

Social Spark is the brain-child of the folks at IZEA, Inc.

Ever heard of PayPerPost? Maybe Zookoda? Or Bloggers Choice Awards? How about RockStartup? That's all IZEA. They're a social media marketing company. SocialSpark is the world's first Social Marketing Network. I know I don't have to explain social networking for you, and you can guess that social marketing is a way to bring advertising dollars into your pocket, as well as extend the reach of those advertisements. Maybe the boss can explain better:

Ted Murphy, founder and CEO of IZEA says of this newest endeavor: "We have taken our highly successful PayPerPost model and flipped it inside out, creating a completely new model for social media advertising that extends beyond sponsored posts and opens up a wealth of new opportunities," adding, "We have created a social network that not only is free for advertisers to join, but also encourages advertisers to reach out to our community and build a network of people to help promote their brand. It's the first social network that is designed from the ground up to be advertiser-centric, while preserving the free, managed flow of user information common within other networks."

How does it work?

Bloggers can register for free at SocialSpark.com to create online, searchable public profiles.

Here's a glimpse of an individual blogger's profile.

This is today's featured blogger, who's a real hot-dog when it comes to presence on the site.

Bloggers can share information, interact with each other, issue ratings, create networks, etc. Like any social network, you've got friend lists, comments, faves, you know the drill.

There's lots to see on the site, like the community Videos section. I've got a cute video for you to watch, featuring the folks behind it all. It's called IZEA Beatbox:

Now for the makin' moolah part (or monetization of your blog, if you prefer). Advertisers are encouraged to provide information about their product or service, and post it in the marketplace. In return for an honest review of said product or service, they offer monetary compensation. These are called "opportunities".

Have a look-see at what an opportunity looks like:

Let's say you feel you can write an honest 200+ word post/review of this product. (And the idea is that it must be honest! You may not love said product, but don't shine on your readers, they trust you.) You'll sign up for it and you usually get about 12 hours to make your post. When you've done that, you let SocialSpark know, and you'll get paid your $12.00. Of course, you have to meet the necessary requirements. (It's gotta be long enough, readable, etc.) If the post is still live after 30 days, there'll be a sweet little addition to your PayPal account.
Er...you don't have a PayPal account? Whyever not? Go get one, silly. It's free! (After you're done reading this of course...)

So easy, so fun. What kind of company will pay you to review their products/or services? Jeez, you're just full of questions aren't you?

You've got everything from DirtDevil to VO5 to Reader's Digest to Criss Angel; (yes, the oddball magician guy.) Reputable companies, every one. They're trying to promote a particular goodie, and they know that your audience is interested in the stuff you like; ('cause well they've agreed to be your audience, see?) knowing all the while that the long reach of the world wide web is a very good thing, as far as advertising via blogs go. Now,may I say, easy-peasy? Oh, good.

I especially like the site's Code Of Ethics. The team behind this hot 'lil meeting place is just not kidding. They want to provide the community with paid post opportunities, but also want to maintain confident relations with the sponsors. To that end, they work very hard to protect everyone involved. Here are the high points:

  • 100% Audit-able In-Post Disclosure (lets readers know that the post has been paid for)
  • 100% Transparency (no hiding who's working with who, which helps keep people honest)
  • 100% Real Opinions (it's that honesty thing again, and I love it)
  • 100% Search Engine Friendly (keeps the powers that be from penalizing you)

Isn't that nice? Can you see why I'm so willing to get behind a company like that? Also, I especially like it when there's an obvious sense of humor behind all the techie stuff. For illustration, refer back to the beatbox video.

Last but not least, I must say that even though this is a paid post, I would have rhapsodized over SocialSpark anyway. I'm that excited about the whole thing. So there you have it. Register now and Spark away, people! (I'll be your friend!)

Sponsored by SocialSpark
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