Friday, June 28, 2013

Benefits of Cinnamon

The scent of cinnamon is one I've always enjoyed. It makes me think of fall--my favorite season--and baking. In addition to being a mood elevator, cinnamon has several other benefits.

You can read about cinnamon's impact on your brain, diabetes, and digestion in this article titled, "20 Blogs Describing the Benefits of Cinnamon." The article includes links to numerous blog articles where you can learn more.

How do you use cinnamon?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Parenting Habits

I don't often read parenting books. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and I don't think it's easy to fit your ideas into someone else's style. That said, there are some basic habits that can help you feel more secure in parenting and make for a more peaceful home.

"Ten Parenting Habits to Get Into" shares many of those basics. Offering choices, asking for help when needed, picking your battles, and not expecting perfection are ones we put into practice here a lot. It helps in a family that includes a strong-willed child.

What is a parenting habit you were glad to get into?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Ways to Supplement Your Child's Education at Home

I'm a parent who believes children shouldn't stop structured learning simply because they are out of school for the summer. That's one of the reasons our daughters participate in the library's summer reading program each year. I have to be honest, however, and admit I'm not good at coming up with creative learning ideas.

The article, "How to Supplement Your Child’s Education at Home" provides a wealth of ideas on how you can supplement your child's education at home. Think of how much better prepared your child will be if he or she stays focused on learning year round.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Copycat Recipes You Can Make At Home

One of the things I promise myself when we go out to eat is that I'm not going to order something I can just make myself at home. Why waste money going out if I can whip the same thing up at home?

But what if I could make a broccoli and cheese soup like Panera Bread or carrot cake cheesecake like they have at Cheesecake Factory?  This article includes links to 25 blogs that offer copycat recipes of restaurant favorites. If you try any of them, let me know.

Pool Safety

It's that time of year again. Heat and humidity make our families run to the pools and beaches. Last year, I wrote an article on pool safety. Though I grew up with a fear of the water, my girls love it. There are days it's almost impossible to get them out of the pool. Thankfully, there's always a responsible adult watching them, because I still don't swim a stroke. Maybe one day.

Here is a great article titled, "10 Tips for Preventing Accidental Drowning in Your Backyard Pool."

Let's have a safe and fun summer!

Book Review: Help! for Writers by Roy Peter Clark

As a writer, my bookshelves are filled with various craft and business books. While I don't feel like I read enough of them, I also wonder what else can be said that hasn't already been said about writing.

Now that I've read Help! For Writers by Roy Peter Clark, I have my answer. Vice president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, Clark shares his decades worth of experience with writers in this engaging and valuable volume that includes 210 solutions for problems writers face. From generating ideas to finding your focus to strategies for writers block and more, Help! For Writers is a must have text.

Clark speaks with authority from his vast experience, but he never talks down to the reader. Bits of humor are sprinkled throughout. While some of these ideas I had heard before, several were new and definitely ones I will put into practice.

Whether you're writing article, short stories or full-length novels, you'll find more than one tidbit of advice to but to good use.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316126713

Monday, June 24, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

Another week has come and gone. Last week was a crazy one with doctor visits, end of the school year activities, and dance recital. Today is the last day of school, so now the schedule should lighten up for a month or so.

In addition to my latest issue of All You magazine, the postman delivered catalogs from Boston Proper, Land's End, and FrontGate. Not feeling in the buying mood--meaning, I am so broke it hurts to even browse--they swiftly made it into the recycle bin.

Two books arrived this week and I am so excited. The Many Faces of Katniss Everdeen and Buffy and the Heroine's Journey. These books are by Valerie Estelle Frankel. I read Frankel's other Hunger Games book, Katniss the Cattail, which is a guide to all that is Hunger Games. She kindly sent me these two other books for review. What a neat niche she has created with her movie and television show tie-in books. You can find her here if you would like to learn more.

That's it for this week's You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a lovely week.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sleep In: Breakfasts Kids Can Make

As you can tell by the picture above, my girls have been interested in working in the kitchen for a long time. Some of our favorite memories occur while sitting around the table preparing a certain dish or meal.

During the school year, I make breakfast for the kids at least five days a week. None of us are morning people, so if I left it to the girls to get their own breakfasts, they would probably be late for school. Now that the end of the school year has come, I look forward to sleeping a bit later each morning and allowing the girls to get their own breakfasts.

This article includes links to several other blog articles that have easy breakfast ideas that can be made ahead  or that kids can make themselves. There are also some easy microwave meals. My son learned how to make the 5-Minute Egg Breakfast Sandwich in middle school and I still make them from time to time.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

All-Natural Alternatives to Bug Spray

As part of our "Going Green" goals, our family is doing what it can to remove harmful chemicals from our house. My mother-in-law recently brought us an article on many wonderful uses of honey and vinegar. She's also a big proponent on using cider vinegar on her skin to repel mosquitoes.

One of the nicest things about our home is that we are surrounded by woods on three sides, which makes it very private. The woods are home to many animals that I love to watch through the windows in my office. The wetlands, however, are home to those pesky mosquitoes. We love grilling and sitting outside, but by May, those pests make you want to duck for cover.

"10 Insect Repelling Alternatives to Bug Spray" is a great article for people like us who are trying to reduce the amount of chemicals we use. We already do some of the suggestions on this list: citronella candles and torches and no perfume or scented body washes through the summer. Planting a bug-repelling garden caught my eye. I add deer-resistant plants to my garden, so why not bug-repelling plants like marigolds and catnips?

"Going Green" is a learning experience for all of us. Just like my garden, I learn as I go and try to read as much as I can.

To Wait or Not to Wait....That Is The Question

A challenging decision for many parents is when to enroll their children in kindergarten. I honestly didn't realize how challenging until I discovered my mistake.

My son's birthday is in May. Back when he went to school (oh my gosh, I'm saying that about one of my kids, I must be old), the cutoff date was five by October 1st. His birthday was in May, so we sent him.

Many years later (14 to be exact), the Lil Diva' came along. Her birthday is in August. Our district's cutoff date is five by September 1st, so we sent her to kindergarten a month after she turned five. And that poor girl has struggled academically ever since. She is usually the youngest child in her class. Though in preschool we noticed she had trouble writing her name and couldn't read yet, it never crossed our minds to keep her in preschool another year. With tutors and after school help she has made substantial strides, but I still can't help but wonder how different her learning experience would have been if we had waited to send her to kindergarten.

The following article provides information on what to consider before enrolling your child in kindergarten. I wish someone had sat down with us and asked us to think about these things before enrolling our child.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease by Eric M. Osansky

An informative and insightful title that offers natural treatment solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease.

After being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, chiropractic physician Eric M. Osansky explored natural treatment options for his condition. His successful treatment led him to want to help others explore the options available to them outside of traditional methods.

A few years ago, my sister was diagnosed with Graves' Disease. I had never heard of it before, but when she told me she was seeing a naturopathic physician, I became intrigued over why she would seek this type of doctor over a more traditional physician. I have to admit, I don't know a tremendous amount of information about holistic and naturopathic doctors. I do, however, believe in the impact of diet and exercise on  overall health.

 Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease provides information on why natural treatment methods should be given a chance before resorting to radioactive iodine and synthetic hormone replacement. Using his own experience and examples from his own practice, Osansky makes a compelling case for starting with natural treatments in the hope patients can avoid treatments that simply lessen the symptoms but do nothing to get to the root cause of the ailment.

This isn't a book to help you understand Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease as much as it is one that shares the author's philosophy of natural treatments and testing to discover the cause of the condition. I came away with a determination to reconsider how I approach my overall wellness and a desire to seek more information on lifestyle changes I can make to improve my health and well being. My original intention was to pass this book along to my sister, but I don't think she will get much out of it, since it's truly more geared toward a person considering treatment options than a person who has already decided to use natural methods.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism or Graves' Disease, this book will help enlighten why they would want to consider natural treatment solutions. The author provides additional information on his website:

Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Natural Endocrine Solutions (July 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 061548493X
ISBN-13: 978-0615484938

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Getting Out of the House on Time with Kids

Ever since the girls were born, I swear, I feel I'm late for everything. That's not true, but it sure is frustrating rushing from one thing to the next. The one place we never seem to get to on time is church. We're always five or more minutes late. It makes me want to scream.

Here is an article that provides tips on how to get out of the house on time with the kids: I'm a big fan of packing the night before and checking the weather so the kids know how to dress in the morning. Hopefully you'll find some of these tips helpful, too.

Summer is the Perfect Time to Visit Your Local Library

My girls are excited to participate once again in our local library's summer reading program. Sign ups are this Saturday. The girls usually turn this into a competition of sorts, but it's a great way to keep them reading over the summer.

Need a reason to visit a library this summer? This article gives you ten:

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - June 18th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"During Holy Week, he took a 'turn for the worse,' the doctors said, 'There is nothing we can do.' Nothing you can do? I screamed, but only in my head."

~ Page 123, Lessons from the Mountain by Mary McDonough

Monday, June 17, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

Happy, happy, joy, joy. Happy, happy, joy. (Brownie points for anyone who knows where that comes from.)  It has arrived! It's so rare I treat myself, I can't help but get excited when a total unnecessary, but thrilling product arrives.

I've missed talking about Downton Abbey while it's in between seasons. I can't wait until January, so I have an excuse to bombard this blog with DA posts. Enjoying this show so much was a surprise to me because it's not an era or a setting I read a lot of. American drama set in the 1800s is my thing. But these characters' lives have totally captivated me. I've even joined a DA forum.

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes is filled with tons of historical information and loaded with historical pictures and photographs from the show. I've only skimmed it because most of my reading time takes place in the bathtub at night and there is no way I am taking this book with me. I hope to read through it while we're in North Carolina.

Included in this shipment was the latest Dork Diaries book, Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, by Rachel Renee Russell. The girls love this series and we never miss a book. Thank God for Jeff Kinney and his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series that spurred an entire trend of diary books for boys and girls.

My latest Land's End and Gardener's Supply Company catalogs arrived last week, too. That's it for now. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Use Sumertime Fun to Get Kids Ready for Kindergarten

Summer is a time for lighter schedules and fun and games. It can also be a time of great learning. In "Summertime Fun That Can Help Kids Get Ready for Kindergarten," you'll find tips on how to boost your child's social skills, teach them how to follow simple instructions, encourage independence, and more. You'll find this article online at

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh No, It's Raining!: How to Entertain Kids on Rainy Days

It's been raining so much around here, I swear I'm going to need an ark pretty soon. My girls have always loved to play in the rain. Before we put the drains in around our poorly pitched driveway, huge puddles would form in two areas that the girls would splash in. But sometimes, it's too cold to play out in the rain, so how do you entertain your children?

You'll find some ideas in this article, "Fun Ways to Spend Rainy Days Indoors with Kids."

What is your favorite way to spend time indoors on a rainy day?

Book Review: Belle of the Glades by Cheryl Abney

Eleven-year-old Isabelle Lacey feels abandoned and alone. After the death of her parents, she is cared for by her aunt while they travel to her Uncle Arden’s place in Okeechobee, Florida. The dangers of living in such a place are new to the former city girl, and she must learn to adapt to a perilous environment.

A map-inscribed shell rock drops Belle and her friends into the middle of a dangerous adventure filled with Everglades creatures and outlaws. Through it all, Belle must depend on her faith to help her adjust to her new life and keep her safe.

Belle of the Glades is a lovely faith-filled middle grade novel girls will enjoy. Readers will be drawn in by its plucky main character. Abney has created a girl whose sense of loss and abandonment makes her sympathetic, while her tenacity in coping with challenges inspires and empowers.

Abney paints a beautiful picture of the Florida Everglades in 1918 with rich details and descriptions of the world which Belle now calls home. The mystery of the shell rock propels the action forward to a superb conclusion.

Lovers of historical novels and adventure stories will want to read Belle of the Glades by Cheryl Abney.

Publisher iUniverse (March 15, 2013)
Language English
ISBN-10 1475975406
ISBN-13 978-1475975406

I received this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

This review first appeared at Christian Children's Authors.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - June 11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I call being able to give a proper handshake an art because it seems so many people have forgotten or never learned how to do so. You can learn a lot about a person by the way he/she shakes your hand. 

~ Page 95, God's Special Forces: A Manual for Becoming a Young Woman of Quality by Darlene Laney

Monday, June 10, 2013

Articles To Help You Make Your Nails Look Beautiful

Most of the time, I don't care what my toenails look like. Even at Disney it didn't matter, because I wore sneakers all the time. But when we go to North Carolina I would like to walk around in sandals without feeling I need to hide my ragged nails. The garden destroys my fingernails, so I do my best to keep them looking decent, even if they aren't polished all the time.

NannyNet™ recently posted an article entitled, "25 Blogs with Tricks for Making Your Nails Look Beautiful this Summer." It has links to a variety of articles about nail care, nutrition, and polishing. You can find it at

You've Got Mail Monday

Last week was a crazy week. The kids were sick. New book tours started. I had meetings up the ying-yang.  It's always like this at the end of the school year.

Not a lot in the mailbox this week, but two great items from CafePress worth mentioning. I had a gift certificate to spend, so I bought a great breast cancer collage T-shirt and a new clock for my office. I'll be posting reviews of these items soon.

I also received the summer Oriental Trading catalog. I usually use this to buy prize for vacation Bible school, but we're changing the format this year and offering a Bible lesson and cooking classes, so I'm not sure what we'll do for giveaways yet. I would like to tie the prizes into the theme. We'll see what happens.

That's it for now. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Christian Fiction Pack Winner

Congratulations goes out to Brooke B. She won the Christian fiction package:

Last Chance for Justice and The Deliverer by Kathi Macias and Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach.

Thanks to all who entered. You can enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card during the Faith on Earth? Book Blast. This giveaway runs through June 28th. See our sidebar for details.

Faith on Earth? Book Blast & Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

About the book:

“Shall He find faith on the earth?” is a question Christians must answer for they will decide the matter. Believers today have yet to appreciate the magnitude of the responsibility God has placed on their shoulders. You may be surprised and challenged as Lou Poumakis sets forth the eternal significance of your personal efforts in this brief, thought-provoking volume. This book will stimulate your thinking about faith on Christ’s terms. The church and the yet to be evangelized world need this message.

Purchase at:

About the author:

Lou Poumakis is a retired electrical engineer. He practiced this profession until his retirement in 2002 but has been a serious student of God’s word since his conversion in 1974. He was ordained as elder in the Christian Reformed Church and later as minister in the Federation of Reformed Churches. Early on, he was attracted to the work of R. J. Rushdoony at Chalcedon Foundation where he discovered Postmillennialism and Christian Reconstruction. These doctrines reflected a truly Biblical Christian faith that possessed a dynamic that contrasted favorably with the passive outlook that predominated in what he had seen elsewhere. Faith on Earth? is primarily based on information garnered from this source. Before writing Faith on Earth?, he published several articles relating God’s word to current events. He and his wife Joan,
who have been married since 1955, now live in Florida.

To learn more about Faith on Earth visit

Pump Up Your Book and Lou Poumakis are teaming up to give you a chance to win a fabulous prize!

Here’s how it works:
Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn’t set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries. This promotion will run from June 3 – 28, 2013. The winners will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on July 1, 2013. Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the Rafflecopter form doesn’t load, you can enter by visiting the author’s tour page at

Faith on Earth? Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 3rd

Tuesday, June 4th

Wednesday, June 5th

Thursday, June 6th

Friday, June 7th

Monday, June 10th

Tuesday, June 11th

Wednesday, June 12th

Thursday, June 13th

Friday, June 14th

Monday, June 17th

Tuesday, June 18th

Wednesday, June 19th

Thursday, June 20th

Monday, June 24th

Tuesday, June 25th

Wednesday, June 26th

Thursday, June 27th

Friday, June 28th

Guest Blogger: Don't Come Back In Until Dark! By Jenny Daniels

Now that most schools are out for the summer, parents are faced with the daily struggle to keep kids occupied and active. In our own childhoods, many of us were shooed out the door with instructions to stay outside until lunchtime, then repeat until suppertime, and repeat yet again until dark.

Unfortunately, that was in the days of greater space and safety for our kids. More people lived on large lots or even on farms, and fewer of us were in apartments or townhouses with no appreciable yard.

And thanks to the news, we know more these days about how many creepy people are out there where we thought we wanted our children to play. All that makes it more difficult to lock the screen doors and let them fend for themselves.

Whatever our living arrangements and regardless of who is drifting through, there are still lots of great ways to keep our kids active and away from smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles. Kids will grunt and groan about the mandate, but in time they'll get engaged in something and quickly forget about them.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that your kids are outside when the opportunity presents itself, not on the couch or bed swiping and scrolling. Set policies for weather conditions and activity levels that determine when they can utilize their electronic devices.

Here are some starters:

No cell phones outside unless kids are out of earshot. Remember Mom yelling for you to come home? It still works. For safety, longer jaunts necessitate phone access, but otherwise they're a distraction from physical activity.

Technology is allowed when outdoor temperatures reach a certain level. Although many of us just went ahead and sweated it out regardless of the mercury, you can throw your kids one bone to gnaw on by conceding time indoors when it hits, say, 90 degrees.

Or to throw in a science learning lesson, use the heat index as the parameter and get a thermometer and hygrometer to teach them how to calculate it.

Set up an outdoor/indoor exchange rate. Keep a running tally of the number of active outdoor hours (tanning does not count for teenage girls) for each child, then convert that into a (lesser) number of technology hours that the kids are permitted to have.

Have something to show for it when they come in. If the message around your house is "Take us to the mall!", do some background work to make that happen. Get online and find some Levi's coupons and be ready to go shopping on a rainy or super-hot day.

And speaking of shopping, position them for some future rewards as well. Coupons are already out there for the best Black Friday deals, so a reward five months out can spur their inspiration for an active summer next year, too.

There's no shortage of competition for our kids' time and attention. And there's nothing wrong with yielding here and there. We just can't let it become a habit. Finding some clever, workable ways to manage technology will keep your kids active during their time of greatest freedom.

Jenny Daniels is a freelance writer second, and a busy mom first. When she's not blogging about her children, she enjoys spending time with them in the sun or at the beach.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Food Advisory Committee

School lunches. They are convenient for busy families. But what about nutrition? From rumors of the United States Department of Agriculture purchasing 7 million pounds of ammonia-treated meat--referred to by many as "pink slime"--for school lunches, to a teacher buying school lunch for an entire year and blogging about it, the quality and nutritional value of meals offered in America's schools is a hot topic.

Several years ago, our school district implemented a health and wellness policy that "promotes healthy schools by supporting wellness, good nutrition, and regular physical activity as part of the total learning environment." In addition to providing an environment where students develop and practice lifelong wellness behaviors, this policy encourages all foods available on school grounds and at school-sponsored activities to meet or exceed district nutrition standards. The policy also looks to provide more opportunities for physical activity.

A little over a month ago, while browsing the district's website, I saw a notice about a Food Advisory Committee being formed with the goal of bringing together parents and administrators to improve our district's offerings. I was eager to participate for a few reasons.

1) It's important to be involved in my children's education. Not only because it helps me to understand  more of the process--my perception versus the operational realities of the district--but also because showing my girls the joy and need for volunteering is a priority.

2) I've eaten some of the school lunches and wondered how kids eat them. There is one meal that sticks out in my mind--pasta. A few years ago, the district went to whole grain pasta. We eat it at home, so I figured it would taste the same. Not even close. A lukewarm, sticky glob of pasta is not what I want to eat. The Lil' Princess likes French toast sticks, but they taste nasty to me. Why? Is it just my personal taste that's the issue? Is preparation the challenge? Are there simply too many students to service in each school at lunch time and not enough people running the kitchen to prepare meals?

3) I couldn't reconcile how the district had a health and wellness policy in place, yet, still offered mini-pancakes, French toast sticks, stuffed crust pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs on their menus. Especially when it has grown stricter about classroom snacks for parties and birthday events.

4) Meeting with like-minded individuals helps alleviate the feelings of isolation I experience working from home.

After the first meeting this week, not only do I already have a better understanding of how Food Services must balance menu offerings between required nutritional guidelines and providing meals children want to eat, it confirmed to me that the administrators of this department are dedicated to providing the healthiest meals for my children while at school.

This is a simplistic overview. There are so many other aspects to what the Food Advisory Committee and the Food Services Department must consider as we move forward. I'm excited to be part of such a dynamic group.

BackUp Care: 30 of the Best Blogs with Summer Looks for Busy Moms

I'm not much into fashion. It's something I simply don't have time to be concerned about. I want to look good, but I rarely pay attention to the latest and hottest fashions. I am, however, interested in health and fitness. As I've gotten older, and considering my husband's previous scare with high cholesterol and being borderline diabetic, diet and exercise have become important to us. It's changed what we eat and what I purchase at the grocery store.

This article, "30 of the Best Blogs with Summer Looks for Busy Moms," offers links to blog articles on all types of fashion and styling tips, in addition to some articles about workouts for busy moms. Click here to access the article. I also encourage you to watch this video from author Robert Henry, produced solely for readers of The Busy Mom's Daily, that offers exercises for busy moms. You can find it at

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Diary of A Busy Mom - Things I Learned on Vacation

Our family recently went to Disney. It was fun. We ate too much food, went on tons of rides—only one of which made us sick to our stomachs—and got plenty of exercise walking around the parks and around our resort.

A few days before we were scheduled to leave, the family snuggled around the laptop to plan our dining reservations. That’s when we noticed a problem: the travel agent booked us five-day park passes and we were only going to be in the parks four full days. Originally, we were scheduled to fly out of Bradley at 12:30PM and arrive in Orlando a little after 3:00PM. Yes, we could have gone to the parks that night, but we didn’t plan to, and why pay full day park-hopper fare and only get to spend a few hours at one park?

It took hours on the phone and me calling Southwest to reschedule our flights—not to mention an additional $200+ dollars—but in the end, we would get to use the passes we were sold.

This was an interesting vacation, filled with learning experiences.

Did you know kids can fight just as well in Florida as they can in Massachusetts? My girls screamed, argued, kicked, and told one another to “go die” most of the vacation. Next time I’m bringing ear plugs, rope, and duct tape for when they get out of hand.

Why do they even make sun block with 30 SPF? It’s useless. I bought it because it came in the type of container I wanted to pack in my suitcase. We sunburned our shoulders and the back of our necks. Even globbing it on like glue didn’t help.

Trying to get children to do homework on vacation is even less enjoyable than trying to get them to do it at home. Thankfully, only the Lil’ Diva had assignments to work on. I might have smacked my head on the wall if I had to convince two children they needed to complete homework from the hotel room.

What is it with hotel sheets and coverlets? Do they make them five inches shorter all around? One person is destined to have her rear end hanging out while the other person sleeps comfortably.

Why do so many resorts carry Coke products? And why is there only coffee available in the hotel room? After paying an arm and a leg for the vacation can’t I at least drink all the Pepsi I want and have tea bags in my room?

And what is up with those motorized scooters? I appreciate the fact that Disney is so accommodating to people with disabilities, but they are everywhere. I’m not talking elderly people, either. The majority of people riding those scooters were maybe 10 to 20 years older than me. My 83-year-old father-in-law with two fake hips and arthritis in his legs doesn’t use one, but there are out of shape people 30 years younger than him riding around Disney waiting in line for rides that state you must be in good physical health to ride them? And don’t even get me started on that investigation into wealthy families hiring disabled tour guides to bypass lines.

Despite the learning curve, we rode our favorite rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, and It’s A Small World. We took the boat rides in Mexico and Norway over at Epcot. In addition to eating at the usual places—The Crystal Palace, 50’s Prime Time Café, and Liberty Tree Tavern—we tried Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the United Kingdom at Epcot. Excellent food and it’s right on the water so you can catch the fireworks if you eat late enough.

I’m glad we took the trip. My wallet, however, is still crying. 

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Product Review: Sun Maid® Tropical Dreams (Pineapple)

I'm a huge snacker when I work on my computer, but I don't want to load up on junk food and gain tons of weight. On a recent grocery shopping trip I saw Sun Maid® Tropical Dreams Pineapple on the shelf above the raisins. I figured these would be a great way to add fruit to my diet and still feed my snack cravings.

These are chunked pieces of pineapple in a 6 oz bag. The bag is the perfect size to keep by my computer. The fruit has a nice texture considering it's dried. Too bad I didn't enjoy them more. I've eaten my share of pineapple. I love it. The added sugar made these snacks way too sweet. A quarter cup serving of Sun Maid Tropical Dreams Pineapple has 27 grams of sugar. Even the Lil Diva' who is a sweet freak found them too sugary. They are a bit big to add to yogurt, but maybe if you add them to a large bowl of oatmeal it would cut back on the sweet taste. One Amazon reviewer said this would make a healthier alternative to candy, which makes sense to me. With how sweet these are, I really can't say I would recommend them as a healthy snack.

I purchased this product at my local Walmart during a normal shopping trip. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Monday, June 3, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

Between being gone to Disney and spending so much time in the garden, I haven't had a lot of time to concern myself with the mail. June is also a notoriously busy month for us. With softball, end of the school year activities, meetings for fall sports, and volunteering, it seems the days whiz by.

A new Dave's Soda and Pet Food City opened recently. We haven't been inside yet, but our mail carrier brought us a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $20 or more or $10 off a purchase of $60 or more. Payless Shoesource® also sent us a coupon for 20% off a purchase through June 9th. I don't think I'll have a need to use it, but with the ways these girls grow, you never know how quickly that will change.

SpongeBob Squarepants characters have come to Build-A-Bear Workshop®. Our catalog shows SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, and Gary are available. Arriving in June, they'll have Sully and Mike from Disney Pixar's Monsters University.

The June 2013 issue of Traditional Home® magazine arrived. This month's cover is stunning. Love the pink marble-looking walls in the featured room. There's a beautiful guesthouse on Lake Manitowish in Wisconsin featured on page 75. The June 21, 2013 issue of All You magazine also made it's way into my mailbox. Looking forward to reading the article on how to save $100 on groceries this month.

Catalogs arrived from FrontGate®, Improvements®, Grandinroad®, and Land's End.

That's it for this week's edition of You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a great week.