Monday, December 31, 2012

Wonderful Christmas in SoCal

Ever since moving to Northern California I have gone home for Christmas every other year. This was my every other year and I had so much fun! I love being home for Christmas and my twins love seeing their cousins and playing with the kids their age.

The weather was awesome, as always and it was just a shame I could not have stayed down for at least two weeks. I did not go to any big name places on my Christmas vacation, but spending time with my family was all I needed. I mean, I grew up in SoCal so I was not really missing out on anything big, but it would be nice to go to Disneyland with my twins since they have never gone. I mean, it costs like $93 each to enter the park now. What would be cool is if Disneyland went back to buying a ticket packet where the "E" ticket was the best ride. My "E" ticket was always for Pirates of the Caribbean.

Oh but I digress....

Let's see, my whole family had a Christmas party at one of my cousin's homes, I had Christmas Eve at my sister's home and Christmas Day at my parents home. It was Christmas, Christmas and Christmas. My twins are so blessed, indeed. My twins are so blessed with love from their Nana and Papa and Auntie(s), Uncles, Daddy and Mommy as well.

Yeah, this was one of the best Christmas'  I have had in a long time because I was able to see all my family in one location.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas is here and so are the lights

Last weekend my hubby put up our Christmas lights. I just love them. They are the white ones that look like icicles. I just love these and they come in blue or multi colored too. Ever since I was a kid I have had Christmas lights on my home. So, now that I have twin girls, it is just so cool I get to put lights on my home for them now. I think we began putting Christmas lights on our home when they were four years old. Before the age of 4, they probably would not have appreciated the lights as they do today at age 7.

This is not my home, but you can see how cool these icicle lights are on any home. These are great lights because they can be used all over your home and they really look like icicles from the street.
In the past couple of years these icicle Christmas lights have been all the rage, but now there are the oh so popular LED Christmas lights. LED Christmas lights come of white, multi color or sets of red, blue, green, orange, pink and so much more. These LED lights are the most popular string lights because they can be used year round too. Even though they are awesome for Christmas, these can be used year round for inside your  home or on your patio. I use LED string lights on my patio awning and I love them.
There are also a variety of shapes for LED lights like stars, pine cones, snowflakes and a lot more.
If you have never heard if Color Wave LED lights, they are designed with the newest technology for seasonal and commercial usage. LED lights are so cool because one color fades into the other as it changes to a new color.
If these new Christmas lights are not your thing, there is always the traditional incandescent lights, craft lights, lights for weddings, patriotic lights, mini lights, battery operated lights and a lot more.
The skies the limit today for all the Christmas lights you can look at and choose from. String lights are fun for decorating any space in your place. Bring some colors into your space as they hang from one end of your door to the other or over your windows.  

Twins In Ballerina Costume Photo Shoot in Backyard

Before my twins were playing in the falling leaves, I wanted to take some photos of them in their ballerina costume. I was not sure if there would be group photographs taken so I took some myself in my backyard. The reason I took these photos was to add to my annual calendar for myself, Mom and Dad, husbands parents and GG Fiddner.

There are leaves all over the ground and I had them against the fence seperating my neighbor and myself. Some photos are candid and others are not. I also wanted to take these photos so I could have one of the photos added to a canvas. I have one canvas photo in my hallway already, but want to give it as a Christmas gift to a family member.

These are some of the photos I took of my twins in their ballerina tutu costumes for The Nutcracker recital.


I just love these ballerina tutu costumes. They are just adorable and of course the pink is such a great color.


Twins Jumping in Falling Leaves

I love when the leaves start falling. The leaves have been falling for over a month now and they are finally beginning to fall down faster. Some leaves are brown and some yellow. A lot of the leaves are bigger than my hand. They do not look that big from on top the tree, but when they are on the grass, they are pretty big.

Anyway, on Monday I had be twins raking the leaves, as they love to do. Then they jumped in them. They love jumping in the leaves and throwing them in the air and just playing in the leaves. Well, I think they like fighting more than jumping in the leaves, but raking and jumping in the leaves is fun too.

So, if you know me, by now you know how I love taking photographs of my twins. This is my backyard photo shoot with my twins jumping and throwing falling leaves into the air and just having fun. If we lived higher up, foothills maybe, my twins would love the snow. I am NOT a fan of snow. Oh, I love looking at it, and singing about it, but cold weather, NOT a FAN of and snow is cold.

Well, without further ado, here are some photographs of my twins playing in the falling leaves:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Twins in Ballerina Costume for The Nutcracker Recital

My twins have been practicing since September for their Christmas recital in The Nutcracker. This performance is through Starlight Studios. I just love watching my girls practice and they are doing so well. Their performance is next week. For the past two weekends, they have been dancing downtown and at a senior living facility in town.

These performances are wonderful because it gives them the chance to remember what they have learned and "give back to the community" with their talents. This is the first time my twins will have been in a Christmas recital and I am so excited it is for The Nutcracker. I have never seen The Nutcracker live before, in fact, my twins and I are going to see it at our cities theatre this weekend. I can not wait. My twins and I have watched three shows on Ovation since yesterday.

Today my twins come home from school with an ad for The Nutcracker performance dowtown. So, I had to reserve seats for the three of us. My twins are excited we are going to see The Nutcracker to. This performance, I think, is performed with children, not adults, though. This is fine with me because my twins will be more interested in the performance.

Well, here are some photos I have taken of my twins from their ballet class this season:

I was going to upload a video I took, but it is taking too long to upload, so here are some cute photos I took of  my twins.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dr. Jim and his sidekick Bob

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of © Blue Shield of California for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Oh, these days our lives are so busy. We are going here, we are going there, it never ends. The only time we are resting is when we sleep. With that said, the last thing on our minds is our health. That is, until we start feeling worn down and just not ourselves. Even everday discomforts can have us stressing out.This is when it is time to get informtion from  Dr. Jim and Bob's Fun & Helpful Health Advice. In fact, finding time to make an appointment to see a doctor for health issues is most of the time out of the question. This was always an issue, until the Internet came along. The Internet has been a lifesaver, literally, for a lot of people wanting answers right away for health issues such as hiccups. Hiccups are probably one of the most annoying health issues anyone could have. For one thing, people really have no idea where they come from and how to get rid of them. A lot of theories are that hiccups come from talking to much or taking in a lot of air. One never really knows, but now everyone can look at these cool videos from Hiccups to Insomia.

Now, the Internet is one amazing tool, for sure, but scanning the Internet for all your answers can be daunting. This is where Dr. Jim and Bob's Fun & Helpful Health Advice come into play. They do all the research for you, then they upload videos for you to learn from. If you think Hiccups is a not so kind health issue, what about Insomnia. Oh goodness, when all you want to do is sleep, and sleep does not come, this is something that has to be addressed. Sleeping is something everyone needs. Our living relies on our waking and sleeping hours. When questions come up about insomnia, there is not better place to check out that Blue Shield's Facebook page.

If you are wondering about Blue Shield, they are a not for profit company which offers easy access to alternative care. Alternative care, like chiropractor, acupuncture, et. al., is something a lot of people are seeking today. This is excellent information for people who want to go the alternative route, there is great access to great doctors and they have a wide variety of health care plans.

As you can see, Blue Shield of CA is a healthcare company to consider moving to. They are for their patients and want to provide for their patients in a way they are looking to be taken care of. These videos, with the Dr. Jim and Bob's Fun & Helpful Health Advice is just one aspect of care provided my Blue Shield of CA.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How a Degree in Business Can Be a Great Option for Busy Moms

As busy parents, we rarely think of ourselves. Our minds are constantly occupied by our children, our partners, our children's education, our children's future, but almost never ourselves. This is just the nature of being a parent. That being said, as any self-help or wise friend will tell you, taking some time for yourself is vital and finding ways to better fulfill your own interests is imperative as a busy parent. Busy moms are the queens of putting off their own interests and their own goals. That being said, earning a degree in business for yourself is one of the best ways to fulfill something for yourself as well as for your family.  

As our economy continues to struggle, more and more stay-at-home moms are seeking ways to add to their income without compromising the time they spend with their children at home. This can be a difficult order to fill for many reasons, but it doesn't have to be an impossible one. Many mothers turn to the web with blogging or crafting to create parent networks and potentially add to their household income. By supplementing that passion for web business with a degree in business, busy moms can really make a splash in their income and build a career of their own. Consider an online business degree for these reasons:  

Least Impacted by Recession
With the recent recession and the rise in student loan debt, many people have been questioning the worth of a degree. While few will argue that the bachelor's degree has lost its worth, many might argue that graduate degree programs just aren't worth the cost in most cases. Unless you're determined to go into higher academia as a researcher or professor, obtaining a graduate degree can lower your chances of landing a job and put you even further into debt. That being said, a graduate degree in business is one extended degree that pays for itself in most cases. Employers seek job candidates with a degree in business, the degree is translatable to numerous areas, and degree holders have skills that can help them in home-business as well.  

Most Versatile Degree
A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree is one of the most versatile degrees available. Those who obtain a degree in business are able to use their expertise in many different areas of enterprise. Employers from all different areas seek MBA holders for their ability to communication clearly, their understanding of business, and their well-rounded education. Importantly, MBA holders are equipped with the know-how and knowledge they need to create businesses of their own. For busy moms and parents, this can be the most valuable aspect of an online business degree. Your parenting blog that began as a hobby can be redesigned into a fulltime career with the knowledge you gain from a business degree program.  

Flexible Degree Program
As online degree holders everywhere can attest to, online degree programs offer the important aspect of flexibility for busy moms. Achieving your degree online allows you to design a class schedule that works with your home schedule. You can complete coursework, attend classes, and fulfill assignments from home while you take care of the kids and house. While, of course, keeping up with both your regular at-home duties and your class responsibilities will be difficult, doing so online makes it possible at home. With an online degree, you will become well-versed in online methods for communication. Many business programs that take place online will specifically focus a segment of time on online business and online entrepreneurship as well. This can be very useful to moms looking for alternative business options so they can remain busy, at-home moms as well as businesswomen.  

Karen Smith is a devoted freelance writer and business blogger. Her primary goal as a blogger is to inform her readers about pursuing a online business degree. She also enjoys writing about small business trends, Internet marketing, personal development, and sustainable living. Karen welcomes your comments below! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pros and Cons of Having Two and Having Twins

Is it twice as nice?  Or is it double the trouble?  Moms often hope for twins so they won’t have to go through more than one pregnancy to fulfill that white picket fence fantasy of a two-child household, but other moms prefer not having to take out the mortgage on the house to pay for twice the diapers.

So, let’s break it down. 

Twins vs Two: Pregnancy

Two kids, one pregnancy.  For moms who don’t enjoy carting around a beach ball belly most of the year, having twins is sort of a two-for-one coupon. 

Moms who enjoy the bonding of pregnancy can enjoy it twice by having two children without having a third one eating away at the savings. 

Twins vs Two: Parenting Experiences

With twins, the parenting experience is condensed into one.  Unlike when you have two children, twins allow parents to go through the painful stages of parenthood once.  When teething is done, it’s done.

On the other hand, twins don’t allow for do-overs.  Mothers of two get to learn from their mistakes from having the first child and applying their lessons to the second.  Mothers of twins get no such luxury, and barely get any time alone with one child instead of both. 

Twins vs Two: Playmates

Twins are each other’s playmates.  Moms of twins won’t find themselves playing with toys for hours on end while fighting off sleep; instead, the kids play with each other, leaving parents enough time for naps, chores, and blogging!

Meanwhile, twins are also rivals.  Sometimes, Mom has to skip the shower she planned while the twins were playing because they started slapping each other around.  This means that twins deal with sibling rivalry early in life and are over it by later stages, but it can make the early years difficult. 

Two children of slightly varying age can take a big-sibling, little-sibling approach to most experiences in life until about the teen years when the older one suddenly wants nothing to do with the younger one. 

Twins vs Two: The Money Thing

Two kids, one pregnancy, one empty bank account.  Twins mean having to buy two of almost anything—from diapers in early stages to college savings later.

Then again, when the kids leave the house, it’s all yours.  It does mean an empty nest, but it can also mean your freedom.  Vacation in Tuscany, anyone? 

Twins vs Two: Attention from Others

When you have twins, everyone talks to you.  This might be nice at first—especially if your own mother comes by the wash the dishes, do the laundry, walk the dogs—but it gets old quickly.  Sometimes you don’t want another living soul around you, and that’s when strangers stop you to squeeze your twins’ cheeks or your mother-in-law won’t stop showering you with useless gifts.  (Did you not insist on wooden instead of plastic toys?  Or did she pretend not to hear you again?)

Most moms of twins will tell you: it’s not a pros and cons situation.  It’s a matter of the support structure in your life as well as the stress you can take and the sleep you can lose before you crack. 

Other moms know that twins may be cute, but we wouldn’t change anything about the two we have for the world. 

Catie Keeler is the primary researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with a degree in business and communications. Her current focus for the site involves commercial mortgage rates and current mortgage rates in texas.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 5: Miracle Cosmeceuticals for Beautiful Skin

Today is my last day for applying this skin care Complete Rejuvenating System. This Complete Rejuvenating System includes the Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, Dynamic Age Defying Serum and Instant Effect Lifting Serum.

In my last day of the week for applying this skin care, I again apply only a small amount, a nickel sized amount to all points on my face that might be showing signs of crows feet, frown lines and any other place on the face that does not look smooth.

With all these products combined on top of each other, your face should see a dramatic reduction in wrinkles within five (5) minutes. It is recommended that that final step remain on the face for at least two (2) hours and be repeated at bedtime as well.

This is the summary of how to apply these three (3) products:

A.M. Application

-Instant Effect Lifting Serum
-Dynamic Age Defying Serum
-Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream

P.M. Application

-Instant Effect Lifting Serum
-Dynamic Age Defying Serum
-Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream

Now that the initial application for the week is through, after four (4) weeks, the skin will be refreshed and look smoother than before. It is recommended to finish off the Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream in the morning and evening hours.

Finally, Dermagist also has an Refer-a-Friend program.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day 4: Miracle Cosmecuticals For Beautiful Skin

Just like the day before, I would wake up, wash my face and apply the Age Defying Serum. When applying this product, I place a little dab on my pointer finger and in a circular motion apply it to my skin. When applying this product, I tend to apply it on my cheek first, then each cheek, forehead and under my eyes. This is just the way I do it. When you begin using these Complete Rejuvenation System as I am, you might apply it in a different manner.

The Age Defying Serum, to the right, is what I apply all over my face. I really like to use the around my eyes because....well....this is where a lot of wrinkles show up. I do apply more of this cream under my eyes more than any other place.

After applying this Age Defying Serum, I begin applying this Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream like I did yesterday. Now, one would think that applying these two products would make the face feel greasy or weighed down. That is one of the best thing about this Complete Rejuvenation System, it will not feel greasy or make the face feel heavy and pasty either.

Now that I have applied these two products to my face, I can begin putting on my make up.

Here are the steps I took yesterday when applying the Age Defying Serum and Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream:

A.M. Application

-Dynamic Age Defying Serum
-Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream

P.M. Application

-Dynamic Age Defying Serum
-Originl Wrinkle Smoothing Cream

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 3: Miracle Cosmeceuticals For Beautiful Skin

With days one and two facial applications complete, I am on to day three. For day three my new application is using the Age Defying Serum. This Age Defying Serum, in a circulation motion, is to be applied to such areas as problem redness, wrinkles, age spots and anywhere else on the face, or neck.

This application comes in a long container and is also a cream like the Original Smoothing Cream. Now, for the third day, reading the packet instructions for application, it says to apply this Age Defying Serum first. Once it is applied to the trouble spots on your face, let the serum absorb in the skin before applying the Original Smoothing Cream.

I am not sure about you, but I like doing things with steps. This is why this is the perfect product for my face. I like my home in order, my garage in order so why not my face in order. With that said, this is an amazing facial product. In fact, this is the best facial product I have used on my face, and neck, in a long time. Well, actually I have not used any facial products on my face in three years.

Here are the steps for applying these two facial products to your face:

A.M. Application

When I woke up this morning, even before I brewed my coffee, I washed my face and applied the Age Defying Serum. I put a little dot of this cream on my pointer finger and dabbed it on my chin, my left and right cheek, on my nose, forehead and around my eyes. After allowing the cream to absorb, I applied the Original Smoothing Cream in the same manner.

P.M. Application

When I was getting read for bed, I repeated the same steps above.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 2: Miracle Cosmeceuticals For Beautiful Skin

When I woke this morning, my skin felt softer and smoother. I can not wait to see the final results at the end of the five days. So now I am on Day 2 and just like I did yesterday, I will repeat those steps. In fact, I am going to give you the same steps below just in case you did not read my article from yesterday.

Okay, I really do not want to disclose this, but I do have wrinkles around my eyes and some around my mouth. Albiet they are not really visible when far away, they are easy to see up close, at least 5 inches close to me. Usually women will not disclose this information about their wrinkles, but for the purpose of this awesome product line, I will do it.

So without further ado, here are the same steps below from the day before:

Day Two: I applied the first skin care product called Original Smoothing Cream

A.M. Application

Morning Application (s)
-Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream
Evening Application (s)
-Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream

This Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, when opened is a white color. When you dip your finger into the cream, it is thick and has a pleasant scent to it. When applying this wrinkle cream all you need is a nickle sized amount massaged into your skin in a circular motion.

The best thing I have found about this product is the fact that it is not greasy. This is something anyone using this product will like, that it is not greasy.

P.M. Application

The evening application repeats the above instructions. When the Original Smoothing Cream is smoothed into the skin, it will not come off as you sleep either. I found this out the this first night I applied it to my face.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 1: Miracle Cosmeceuticals For Beautiful Skin

When women are looking for the perfect skin care products, all they see are advertisements on the television or on department stores. These advertisements can be daunting, especially if this skin care companies keep, 'reformulating' their skin care products. One would think the particular skin care product they are currently using is working, right? Well this no longer has to be an issue.

Just like a lot of women out there, I have been searching for a new skin care product line. Then I found this skin care product line from Dermagist. I had never heard of this company before last week while searching online for something other than the very commercialized skin care products. This skin care line I purchased is called the Complete Rejuvenation System.

This product I am just goes through five (5) steps.  One the first day, I followed the instructions as given to me inside my package. Here are the steps I followed on Wednesday when I started applying these skin care products:

Day One: I applied the first skin care product called Original Smoothing Cream

A.M. Application

Morning Application (s)
-Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream
Evening Application (s)
-Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream

This Original Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, when opened is a white color. When you dip your finger into the cream, it is thick and has a pleasant scent to it. When applying this wrinkle cream all you need is a nickle sized amount massaged into your skin in a circular motion.

The best thing I have found about this product is the fact that it is not greasy. This is something anyone using this product will like, that it is not greasy.

P.M. Application

The evening application repeats the above instructions. When the Original Smoothing Cream is smoothed into the skin, it will not come off as you sleep either. I found this out the this first night I applied it to my face.

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Soft Scrub Total All Purpose Cleaners

For a while now I have been able to test our new products through the Purex company. I am known as a Purex Insider. Well earlier this month I was sent a package of these two new cleaning products: A bathroom cleaner and all purpose cleaner. Well, I have to say I loved using them. The main selling point, I must say, was the fact the user can spray these products upside down. Yes, haven't you always wanted to use a cleaner product that allows this user to turn the cleaner upside down without it spilling out? I am sure you do.

So, when I received these products, I was excited and used them right away. I was amazed at how awesome the All Purpose Cleaner product worked on my kitchen sink. I mean when I sprayed the product, I allowed it to sit for about 10 minutes. When I came back and washed it away, my sink was spotless. My sinks have never looked that white before. This product was so amazing, when I had our house cleaner come over,she used all of it. I was a bit sad because I was ready to use it for cleaning my kitchen table and oven.

The other product I was able to test was the Bathroom Cleaner. The first place I used this was the toilets. Just like the kitchen sinks, it worked like a charm. Once I sprayed the inside of both toilets, I allowed the product to sit for 10 minutes. When I came back and flushed the toilets, they were white and spotless.  The best thing, of course, about the bathroom product was the fact I could use it upside down and get under the lip of the toilet.

As you can see, these products are well worth the purchase, especially if cleaning is not one of your favorite things to do. I have ONE coupon for THREE people. This coupon allows three people to receive one of these All Purpose Cleaners for FREE.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Fall Season Is Finally Here...Well Sort Of..

If the wind is not picking up and the leaves falling in your city, they will be happening soon. As late as summer is still here. It is cold in the morning, around 60 degrees somehing and once 3:00 rolls around, it is 90 degrees. So when the leaves begin falling more often as the seasons begin to really change, my twins will be jumping in the leaves and throwing them at each other.

This is one of the best parts of the fall season. I live in NorCal, so this is part of California, so NorCal is a bit colder than Socal and when the leaves begin to fall, it is so beautiful. I like to play in the leaves and through them too. I have begun taking fall photos of my twins playing in the falling leaves.

These are they photographs I took of my twins last year and I will take some more this year as well. The hats my twins are wearing I made and I love making, and selling, my flower hats, headbands and now hair clips. If I could be a professional photographer, I would be awesome. I just consider myself a photographer hobbist..

So if you like the fall season, what do you like about and do your kids like the fall season too? My twins just love playing in the falling leaves and when it gets cooler, sitting in front of the fireplace an drinking hot chocolate. My twins birthday is in the fall so this is another reason why they love the fall as well.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

To Split or Not To Split Twins in Education

The challenge to parents of twins where education is concerned can center around the issue of whether to separate them or allow them to attend the same class. The primary concern is in wondering what effect their separation will have on the unique relationship twins enjoy. In the simplest of terms, the question may be posed: Why try to interfere with a good thing?

Consider these aspects:
1. Identical twins are mirrors of each other. The monozygotic aspect of identical twins means they are siblings whose genotypes are simply duplicates of one another. While this produces the visual sameness that tends to leave singletons staring in awe and wrongly assuming that the twins feel, think and desire exactly the same things, it should not be overlooked that twins enjoy their own distinctive personalities.

2. Identical twins share a shorthand of communication. The symbiotic relationship twins share is dependent upon the reinforcement that is exchanged on a regular basis, whether this is beneficial or detrimental. It is part of their bond and very difficult for singletons, such as brothers, sisters or even parents to fully understand. Often what may appear as dissidence is closely tied to their harmony with their ability to be together the key to letting this play unfold as part of their emotional evolution. The automatic connection, often thought of as the twins' mind-meld, is a tremendous gift of their relationship. They really should be allowed to exploit, or more specifically, enjoy this quality of mutual understanding.

3. The differences between identical twins complement one another. As twins work through their self-expression, they have an inherent sense of their mutual needs. This is best expressed in the example of the introvert and the extrovert, very often the conditions that exists within the twin relationship. While the extrovert twin always appears to need to protect the introvert twin, there is the extremely helpful benefit of the introvert allowing the extrovert to keep center stage. This form of compensation relies on the closeness of the didymous relationship. As twins grow, parents will find they are responding to each child individually as their personalities emerge, and not always as a collective unit.

In short, it is not recommended that twins be separated throughout their schooling simply in an attempt to promote their individuation. There is a reason twins are twins and their relationship is a condition of heart, mind and soul. It is a shame to disrupt the natural choreography of their interactive dependency. This will not cause their own self-expression to suffer, but it will encourage their freedom to bloom where they have been planted. Separating twins is an unnatural response to a naturally cohesive condition.

Author Bio
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to service by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She is available at H.smith7295 [at]

Friday, August 24, 2012

What Kids Want for Christmas This Year

Yes, it’s only August, but the holiday season will be at our front doors before we know it. Even though you probably won’t even start thinking about going Christmas shopping until mid-November, it never hurts to start planning your strategy early.

Christmas shopping for your children isn’t always the most enjoyable task, but with a little research, you can easily find what’s popular these days with the elementary crowd. In fact, I’ve already done a little research for you and found that you should expect your children’s wish lists to include one or more of the following four popular/new toys.

All Things Victorious

Nickelodeon’s popular children’s television series Victorious was named “Favorite Television Show” at this year’s Kids’ Choice Awards. Both boys and girls love to watch this after-school show, which tells the story of aspiring singer and performing arts high school student, Tori Vega. There have been several Victorious-themed toys produced in reaction to the show’s popularity. Most of these toys are marketed towards girls, and all of them can be purchased as affordable Christmas gifts. Top-rated items include the Hollywood Arts Debut video game for Nintendo DS, the Victorious tote bag and the Victorious Microphone Stand. All three of these items can be purchased for under $30.

Fisher-Price Servin’ Surprises Cook n’ Serve Kitchen and Table Set

This new item was a hit at this year’s American International Toy Fair. It’s a play kitchen that doubles as an activity table. While kids pretend to make food items like pizza and cookies, the magical serving tray recognizes the play items and responds with related sound effects and songs. The kitchen includes a stove-top burner, grill and light-up oven and comes with a four-slice pizza, toppings and pizza cutter, as well as four cookies and a baking tray. Also included are two forks, spoons, cups and plates. To convert it into an activity table, simply slide the oven off and flip the stovetop over. This toy can be found at any major toy retailer for around $80.

K’NEX Angry Birds Sets


There are a few new themes for K’NEX this year, including the Angry Birds sets. These setsare perfect for children ages five and older, and are both educational and interactive. The Angry Birds sets are especially fun, because they mimic the popular app game. Kids can use the catapult to launch bird figures and knock down the structures they build, just like the game! Each set is designed to look like a different Angry Birds level and can be purchased at most toy stores for between $30 and $45.

Collector’s Edition PAC-MAN Connect & Play Video Games


This video game toy is expected to be the most popular, by far. It won’t be released until sometime this fall, but both children and video game-loving adults alike are waiting for its arrival. Manufactured by Bandai, this connect-and-play console will contain 12 retro arcade games, including the famous Pac-Man Level 256. Other games include Disdug, Galaga, Mappy and Xevious. Look for this product to be sold anywhere video games are sold. It should be released by mid-September and will be on sale for around $25.

If you can stay on top of what your children are interested in and learn about the newest and hottest toys before they hit the shelves, your Christmas shopping season will be as easy as pie. Good luck and have a happy holiday!

Maria Rainier is a hardworking freelance blogger who dispenses education advice and useful data for students, instructors and parents interested in topics related to online education. Please share your comments with her below!

Homemade Halloween Costumes

(For those of us who are not so crafty!)

Almost all the blogs I have been reading lately are about how to save money in one way or another. It seems as though it is a common theme these days. In the spirit of this theme I am offering up some very cool homemade Halloween costume ideas that will work for even those of us who are not so crafty. And for those of you who are I offer these ideas as a basis for you to upgrade at will! More than half of these ideas come from my own stab at creativity with my children and others come from people all over the country. As I was searching for homemade costumes I was amazed at how many imaginative, creative people there are in this world. But then necessity is the mother of invention and when it comes to our children we often find ourselves creating new ways to do things.

  1. Superman
When my daughter was two she was enamored with Superman. I was showing her some of the older Superman movies and cartoons and that is all she could talk about. When Halloween came up that year I knew what the request would be! I found an old comic book and looked at his costume. I wasn’t a big sewer but I could stitch a little here and there. We found a set of blue tights and long sleeve leotards in her size. I went to the fabric store and looked through the discount bin and found some yellow material and a larger piece of red. I cut out the yellow background and the S for his chest and tacked it on the leotards. We “borrowed” a pair of whitey tighty underwear from one of her boy cousins about her age which I dyed red and pulled up over her tights. I cut a cape out of the red material, covered a belt with the yellow material (or cover a thick piece of elastic), and for the boots I found a red pair of adult socks and pulled them on over her rain boots (because they were black). If you have a red pair of rain boots then you are set! She was absolutely thrilled. She flew all over the neighborhood. She was Superman for a couple years after that too!


  1. Mouse
A few years later we were into the An American Tail movies with Fivel. She wanted to be a mouse. We found the tights and long sleeve leotards in brown. At the craft store they had the thin wire; I think it’s for soldering. We bought a little brown and pink felt for the ears. We already had some of the plastic head bands for her hair at home. We made the shape of ears out of the wire and covered it with the brown felt; you can use glue or staples if you don’t want to sew. We then cut a circle of pink for inside the ear and glued it on. I attached the ears to the brown headband. Then I made a brown tail out of some left over brown material; I cut it in a sort of long cone shape, sewed it down the side and then turned it right side out. Then I tacked it to her bottom. We painted whiskers on her face and a pink circle on the end of her nose. This would be an adorable mouse in itself but I had to go on…. I get that way sometimes. I wanted to add a piece of Swiss cheese… get a remnant of yellow felt-like material that will not be as saggy. Cut out holes in the material randomly (like Swiss cheese), big enough to fit whoever you’re making the costume for. Sew the ends together and put it over their heads with their arms sticking throughout the cheese holes. The little mouse is eating the cheese!


  1. Geisha Girl or Japanese Doll
Easy peezie as can be. Paint the face white with round red cheeks and red lips. They also make their eyebrows more pronounced with eyebrow pencils if you check out a picture online. Put the hair in buns on each side. Put on a kimono and some thong type shoes. You can add more to it if you want to. A Japanese umbrella, Japanese fan, or Japanese type hair accessories (the kind that looks like chopsticks through the buns) and Japanese hair combs.


  1. Black Bat
As my daughter got older she was very into bats, the real ones and Batman. The black tights and leotard were simple enough. We created the bat ears like we did in the above mentioned mouse costume with the wire and black material or felt on a headband. The wings were a bit trickier, which I made with black material and had to use all the creativity I could muster on the sewing machine. I laid out her leotard and with the arms straight out I cut the material in a fan shape, I wanted excess material so that I could make some gathers in the material to make it look more like a bats wings. I sewed in some elastic pieces to make it look more like the divisions in the wings. I cut the bottom of the wings with in a scallopedpattern to make the pointy wing look. Then I sewed it to the arms and sides of leotards. We put a brown dot on the end of her nose. She loved it. However, as I was looking for more homemade costumes I saw another bat idea where the person cut an umbrella in half and attached that in between for wings. In hindsight that sounds a lot easier. We had fun creating this together however, so it was worth it!


  1. Mummy
This is one that is right up my son’s alley! Wrap them all up in gauze, make it look old or molding with dirt or paint on green mold. Wrap their legs so they have the walk, but not enough to cut off circulation (wouldn’t that be awful?). Paint the face white and put age lines to “age” the mummy.


  1. Raggedy Ann or Andy Doll
I actually did this for myself one year for a Halloween party. I had some old pajamas, a long sleep top and long pant type. I bought some lacey trim and sewed to the wrists and ankles to make it look ruffley and the pants look like pantaloons. I found an old apron type dress, made it shorter, and sewed ruffles on the sleeve edges and made it a lot shorter. I wore red and white striped socks and added some baby doll shoes… or like ballet type slippers would work. Then I took some panty hose and cut the legs off and used the crotch part to put on my head. I bought some orange yarn and pulled it through all over the panty hose knotting it underneath to stay. I then cut it for bangs and shaped it with scissors. I put red circles of rouge on my cheeks, a red triangle on my nose, and fake long eyelashes which you can buy or paint on with eyeliner. You could make an Andy Doll with a cute pair of overalls that have been shortened and sew on some large buttons. Use a red and blue checkered shirt with a blue bow tied at the neck. Add red and white knee socks and shoes, along with a sailor type hat with the orange hair. For this one you could attach the orange or red yarn inside the hat. Add the triangle nose, red circle cheeks and eyelashes.


  1. Cluster of Grapes
I’ve never done this one but it sounded so cute I thought I’d share. A purple leotard and tights and some purple balloons attached in a three, two, one pattern. Three on top then two and one at bottom attached on front and back of leotard to become a cluster of grapes! You can do the same with green if you prefer green grapes… or the color goes better with your eyes. You can add a green felt hat for the stem and you’re the hit of the party!

You may wonder why I didn’t mention more costumes for my son. It’s not that I did not have any ideas for boy costumes; it’s just that he refused to be anything but a skeleton for all but two Halloweens that I can remember. I just wanted to share this fact with you so you don’t get the impression that I left my son out! 

These are just a few of the great homemade costume ideas out there. What is great is that we can share them with each other. I am hopeful that there are a couple costumes here that someone can create this Halloween. Enjoy making costumes with your children; they will think you are a creative genius!  

Author Byline:

Ken Myers as an Expert Advisor on multiple household help issues to many Organizations and groups, and is a mentor for other “Mom-preneurs” seeking guidance.  He is a regular contributor of “”.  You can get in touch with him at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater

No Energy wasted with Tankless Water Heater
The tankless WH is the best thing you could buy for your home today. A tankless WH allows the homeowner to save on energy like never before. There is no standby heat loss and when taking showers, you can truly have endless showers with no worries as the next person takes their shower. A typical shower will use 2.5 gallons of water per minute and the mid size tankless WH will supply around 6 to 7 gallons of hot water per minute. That is a big difference and well worth the investment.
The best thing about a tankless WH is more than one person can take a shower simultaneously.
The tankless water heaters have the best tankless technology and are very sophisticated with computer controlled appliances. The technology controls the water temerature to prest level regardless of water volume and pressure. If you live in the Houston area, the only placto look at and purchase your tanless WH is at the Houston TX Plumbers at Mamoth Plumbing. Mammoth Plumbing offer their clients the Rianni Tankless Water Heaters from the Rianni Corporation patented water heater technology. Other tankless water heater manufactuers are Noritz, Takagi, and Bosch. These are the most durable tankless water heaters on the market today.
The best thing about the tankless water heater is the temperature feature. It does not matter how much water is being used, the temperature is the same regardless if there is a second shower turned. The gas burner or electic heater modulates the engergy, gas or electric to the desired level to achieve the set temperature. If this temperature feature is amazing, then you will like that it lasts 3 times longer as a storage tank WH with no noticeable degradation in performance or efficiency over time. Tankless WH models like Noritz 751 or Takagi TK-3 can supply an entire house with continuous hot water and save energy and money.
Looking for a Plumber in Houston is easy as 1-2-3. Houston is a pretty big city, this means there are a lot of plumbers in the phone book or online. Right not, all you have to do is bookmark the Mammouth Plumbing website for all your plumbing needs and to have a tankless WH installed today.     
Government incentives make Tankless WH more affordable than ever before
With today's government subsidies, tax credits, tax rebates and sometimes additional local utility companies offer, rebates for tankless water heaters can compete favorably. This is especially true when it comes to replacing your old fashion Storage tank water heater. If you think these tankless water heaters are a lot, think again. Even if  their initial cost looks expensive, their cost has come down and the payback on energy savings can be very substantial.

There are some statistics that suggest  30% to 40%  of the energy cost in most typical homes is consumed by the water heater. Installing the tankless water heater will reduce this current percentable by more than 50%.  The tankless water heater, although popular in the home, is also popular for commercial and industrial applications. Models like Noritz 751, Noritz 842 and Noritz 931 can be installed in series to provide almost boiling water. Restaurants, Hair Salons, Gyms and many other commercial businesses can benefit from the energy savings of tankless water heaters in addition to the space savings. Smaller units like Noritz 631 are well suited for smaller applications, like apartments or smaller homes.

Some of the tankless water heater units allow for the desired termperature setting on the control panel that can be installed in a bathroom or another room. If a homeowner or business owner need to change to a higher termperature of 182 degree F for example, this would be easy to set with th digital control panel. This will be useful when filling a SPA or bath tub. Whether it is a home, office or vacation home, the tankless water heater will work in all these locations. In some areas, electricty might be expensive compared to natural gas and a natural gas or liquid propane or LP tankless water heater may be more economical.

Correct Installation makes the difference
The tankless water heater is a sophisticated appliance. This means it is critical they are installed correctly. It is important they are installed by a licensed, factory certified and experienced professional. Customes will be looking for a Plumbing Houston company. The only place to find experience and professional installers is at Mammouth Plumbing. Before purchasing your tankless water heater, it is important the location is picked out for where it will be installed in a home, office or vacation home. The tankless water heater has to be near the gas meter and the gas line for it to be property sized. This allows the water heater to supply the volume of gas needed. Utility gas meters can also be restrictive and not able to supply enough gas. Since tankless water heater modulates its burners it adjusts the gas flow to the burner for desired temperature.

The gas supply and volume is very important to have a trouble free operation. It is not that tankless water heaters use more gas; they use more of it when heating the water instantaneously versus the tank WH that slowly heats the water. It is important how efficiently that energy is used. A professional installation also tries to minimize the pipe length from the tankless WH to the next bathroom. This reduces the amount of cold water that is flushed before the hot water reaches the faucet.
A variety of pump products that continuouly circulate hot water in the pipes so that hot water is immediately avaibale if you open the hot water faucet.These types of water hearts happen to be very wasteful. The energy wasted with these type of water heaters are not insulated and made of copper. Copper is a very good heat conductor so all the hot water in the pipes are constantly radiating heat to the surrounding and cooling off quickly. Hot water is pumped through it to cool and these pumps and associated valvles us the cold water pipes for the circulation of water. This allows the cold water in the pips to become warm as well.
The best thing about a tankless water heater is the size. It is compact and can almost be installed anywhere and not necessarily where the old water heater was. This tankless water heater has to also carry the same volume of water as the old fashioned water heater. The tankless water heater needs to regulate the flow because it does not have to capacity when needed. Because of this fact, it mean that multiple showes may not have enough hot water at the same time.  Even though a tankless water heater, it still needs a minimum flow of water to start heating water. It takes 0.5 gallons per minute to begin heating water.

If there is a very low flow of water in the tankless water heater, homeowners should know it might not come on or it will turn on and off again quickly. The one handle shower faucets are also known to do this. The mixture ratio of cold and hot water is set according to the storage tank water heater temperature which is higher than the tankless WH.
Finally, it is easy to fix and adjust the mixure ratio of the vavle to match the tankless water heater temperature. If the flow of hot water coming out of the shower is not hot enough, it is not directly related to the operation of the water heater itself.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School Savings from Dollar General

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Oh yeah, school is back in session. This means kids, high schoolers and college bound students will be needing to buy school supplies. School supplies are important at any grade level. The many school supplies for the Back to School Saving from Dollar General are backpacks, pencils, paper, notebooks. markers, desk supplies and so much more.
If you are anything like me, you will love shopping at Dollar General because it is all inclusive. This means you do not have to go from store to store looking for what you need. It certainly is nice when all it takes is a one stop shop.
Just as students need supplies, so to do teachers. Yeah, Dollar General have classroom supplies for teachers too. Let's see, there is a 4 pack of glue sticks, 6 pack of dry erease pens, office pocket highlighters, drawing, colorng, paper, notebooks and more. This is one amazing store my friends and family.
I do not know what your top 5 needed school supplies are:
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
Yeah, these are some of the school supplies my girls need for their new school year. If there is something you do not see on the Dollar General website, email them and let them know what you need.
One more thing, these days almost everyone has a smart phone where they can take a picture of their product(s) they want. Well at the Dollar General, they have a Back to School mobile coupon embedded with the QR code. Or, if you want, you can also text "bts" to 34898 from your mobile phone.
Visit Sponsor's Site