Thursday, September 29, 2011

Manage Animal Hair and Odors Effectively

In my house we love animals. In fact our love for animals holds no prejudice, openly welcoming cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, ferrets, even rats. We set no limits when it comes to sharing a home with fury companions.
As great as my animals are I DON’T love the hair and odors that come with them!

For me it’s crucial to welcome guests without worrying whether or not they can smell my pets. And I need to be assured that when my grand-daughter crawls on the floor she won’t be eating animal hair. So, among my other many talents I decided I was going to add “animal hair and odor eliminator” to the list.

Breathe Easy with Odor Free Air

Pet odors come from a variety of sources including; natural skin oils, anal glands, ear infections, litter pans, dirt and odors that are picked up outside. Regardless of the source your pet’s odors go everywhere they go, depositing on your floors, furniture, even your clothes. From there these odor particulates attach to dust and are carried through the air you breathe.

To effectively eliminate odors you need to focus on both the surfaces in your home and the air you breathe.

  • Neutralize Odors On Your Floors. When it comes to hard floors experience has shown that mopping alone isn’t always enough. To ensure you destroy odor causing particles on your hard floors invest in a simple steamer and run it across your floors once a week. If you have a large number of animals like we do I recommend a daily steam after you mop.
  • Remove Odors From Furniture. Upholstered furniture could be a little tougher at getting some odors out but it’s not a lost cause. I have found the most success in using baking soda and a high quality vacuum. Let the baking soda sit for 30 minutes before vacuuming off once a week and you may be surprised at the difference.
  • Eliminating Odors from Your Carpet. Baking soda and a high quality vacuum have always proven to be the best choice for eliminating odors in your carpet. I’ve tried the “pet products” that seem to continually burn holes in my wallet but to no avail. I always come back to baking soda and my trusty vacuum.
  • Clean Odors From the Air. Everybody knows the best way to clean your air is with an air purifier. What many may not know is that you have two primary types to consider, the widely known HEPA purifiers and the less known ionizers. The first uses filters to trap particles and the other uses an ionizing effect to neutralize particles, causing them to fall out of the air. Whichever purifier you prefer just be sure to pick one designed for animal odors and you’re set.
Relax and Let That Baby Crawl!

Have you ever gone to someone’s home, took one look at their floors and then spread out the blanket before putting your baby down? Has that ever happened at your own house?

Let’s face it with animals comes animal hair and try as you might you can’t seem to get ahead. While many products on the market brag on their ability to “release the static cling” for easy hair removal this won’t necessarily eliminate animal hair. Let me explain.

The static charge that exists in hair merely serves as an “attraction” causing hair and fabric to come together so to speak. But this static charge is not what causes hair to cling to fabric. As hair grows it overlaps in layers resulting in a scaly affect. These scales make perfect hocks for snagging and holding onto fabric. This is why releasing the static cling is useless in removing animal hair. So what does work?

Brush. Brush. Brush. Perhaps the most effective way to eliminate animal hair is through prevention. Through regular brushing you can trap a lot of the hair before it hits your floor.

Sweep hard floors daily with a microfiber dust mop. These mops are designed to attract hair and dust using the same static charge that attracts hair to fabric. If you can trap hair before it clings to your carpets you’ll have fewer hairs to fight with.

Vacuum daily. Once the hair attaches to your carpet it gets harder to remove but daily vacuuming will cut your efforts in half. The longer hair is attached to your carpet the more tangled it becomes. I recommend using a vacuum specifically built to remove animal hair like the Miele Cat and Dog Vacuum.

No matter how many animals I have running around my house I feel confident that my floors and air are free of hair and odor. After all eliminating both has been added to my list of talents.

About the Author:

Mikki Hogan lives in North Carolina with her four children and nine-month old granddaughter. Active in animal rescue and homeschooling her three younger children not a moment goes by that there isn’t something to occupy her time. Whether chasing kids or chasing dogs some of the best moments of her life are spent at home with her family.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Labor & Delivery: What I Packed In My Hospital Bag

I didn't have a whole lot of time to pack my hospital bag! Normally, I wait until I am in labor to start packing my hospital bag, however a routine ultrasound turned into a "we need to delivery this baby" and a rush-home-to-pack and then turn around and get back to the hospital - so I didn't have too much time to think, either. (you can read about the birth story here). But, I knew ahead of time the necessities that I wanted to pack.

So, what did I pack in my hospital bag???

Well, let's start off with the fact that I planned to pack my dearjohnnies designer hospital gown...but it had not come in the mail yet. :(

I was able to pack:

  • Neiman Marcus silk pajamas that my mother-in-law sent me
  • my laptop
  • my digital camera (I forgot the card reader, however my husband remembered to bring it later on)
  • socks (you can certainly wear the hospital-issued sockies, but I like to bring my own)
  • a change of clothes (comfy and elastic waste) to go home in
  • a set of clothes to bring the baby home in (I brought two sets, just in case)
  • my L'uvalla balancing cream (you will want to feel pretty after delivery!)
  • my make-up bag
  • toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush
  • my purse, of course, which included my photo ID and insurance cards
  • my Certain-Dri antiperspirant
And, that is all that I packed...short and sweet and simple...and it seemed to be enough! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System Review

With a new baby in the house and the cold and flu season quickly approaching, I was ecstatic to receive the Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System in the mail. The stainless steel appearance is made to compliment kitchens with stainless steel appliances...although my kitchen isn't fabulously adorned with stainless steel appliances, it looks great, anyways.

I actually left the Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System in its packaging until after the baby was born, because I knew that the kids would use it all up before the baby even had a chance to enter into this world! And, of course, the day that I opened the packaging and put it together (it's so easy to put together!), the kids were quick to start putting their hands in front of it and use up the soap.

Not so fast...

I quickly put a stop to the hands that were destined to use up all of the soap in one day. LOL I had to turn the switch to the off position and instruct the kids NOT to use it all up in the first day.

Cool Aspects

On the back of the dispenser, there is an "on" and "off" switch that is convenient when you have children around the house that might overuse the soap. A red light on the front of the dispenser illuminates when it is triggered -simply put your hand in front of the dispenser and it will dispense the perfect amount to wash your hands.'s refillable.

In a household with 4 school-aged children, a four year old and a two year old who cough without covering their mouths and pick their noses - come on, yours do, too! - and a newborn who weighed only 4 lbs, 15 ounces at birth, a no-touch soap dispenser is a much-needed item!

There are four different refills to choose from:

  • Refreshing Grapefruit Essence™ (Refill only)
  • Soothing Cucumber Splash™
  • Aloe Vera & Vitamin E with Moisturizers
  • Antibacterial Total Care
You can find them on Amazon for $12.79.

I was sent a Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System for review. All opinions in this review are mine.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Amazing Deals on Glasses (And A Blessing)! Review and Giveaway!

Blessings never cease to amaze me when they occur!

Veronica, my 10-year-old daughter, woefully came to me with her prescription glasses - one piece in each hand. Somehow, Kodi-bear had gotten his devious little hands on them and broke the (let's see if I get this right...) "temple" in two. (I'm referring to the piece that goes from the frames to the ear - did I get it right?) Needless to say, she was devastated. And, I reluctantly added "Get Veronica new glasses" to my to-do list for the upcoming week. Ugh! Do you KNOW how much the last pair of glasses cost me?

Unfortunately, with school coming up fast, Dylan's surgery date impending and the new baby on the way, my to-do list was overwhelming and getting Veronica glasses fell to the bottom of the list. Fortunately, she only has to wear them for reading and seeing in the classroom, so they weren't necessary for everyday activities until she actually went back to school. However, school was coming up FAST!

The Blessing

Remember I mentioned a blessing? Just as the kids are gearing up to start school, Dylan's surgery is on the brink, the baby's birth is impending, and my to-do list doesn't seem to be dwindling as fast as I need it to, the opportunity to work with presents itself. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "God works in mysterious ways!"

When I received the email about reviewing the site - and the opportunity to receive a pair of glasses in exchange for the review of the site and the glasses, I was so excited! It was actually beyond that - I was ecstatic and amazed at the timing of the proposal.

The Website

One of the first things that I did when I visited the website was check out the selection of glasses. Would my daughter even like any of the choices that they offered? First of all, the organization of the website is extremely user-friendly, from start to end. There are quick-access tabs at the top of the homepage that will lead you to the type of glasses that you are looking for. So, quickly and simply, I clicked on the "Shop Eyeglasses" tab and found the "Kids Eyeglasses" category. Just with a quick glance, I knew immediately that Veronica would find something that she would love.

Because I want her to feel comfortable, classy, sophisticated and pretty when she wears her glasses, I chose to let her make the decision on her own. I told her to get on the laptop and look through the kids eyeglasses on her own. One of the coolest things about the website is how you can click on a pair of glasses to view them and then change the color of the frames and lenses with a click of a button. It's actually quite fun and we ended up spending far longer than I expected "designing" our own glasses. However, as I mentioned, I wanted Veronica to choose a pair that she would like for a long time and feel good about wearing.

After a ton of playing around, she decided that she loved the "Rabbit" style in lavender. I couldn't agree with her more. They are stylish, chic and make her feel pretty. (See pic below)

Glasses sure have come a long way since we were children! I know quite a few kids who would have loved the opportunity to choose from the selection of glasses that offers back when I was in school!


Once you have chosen the type/color glasses that you want to buy, it's time to order. Now, I am a prescription eyeglass script Loser. I have no idea what any of the numbers mean - or even how to enter the numbers correctly on an order form.  I have never ordered glasses online before, either, so this part was surely going to be difficult!

To my surprise and disbelief, 39dollarglasses has this covered! They make ordering prescription eyeglasses simple for a dum-dum like me. :) Managing a veterinary hospital several years ago taught me the O.D. and O.S. part of the prescription (right eye and left eye, respectively), but the rest was foreign. Unfortunately, the script I was provided by Veronica's ophthalmologist had no graph, no lines, and no way to easily figure out which number went into which box.

Like I said, though, 39dollarglasses has this covered! They have a "How to Read My Prescription" link that opens up a new window. This window breaks down each aspect of the script and even has 6 more questions to help answer common questions that people might have about their script. With this information and instruction, I was easily able to enter the appropriate numbers into the correct spots. (And without this guided ordering, I would have become frustrated and probably have left the site and looked for a more user-friendly site if I was ordering eyeglasses for the first time.)


I learned a new word back when I first ordered glasses for my kids (I have two in glasses): Polycarbonate. This basically means that they are impact-resistant, and it is "the same material used to make bulletproof glass", according to the site.

Accidents happen, especially with children (hence the broken pair in the first place!). When I was ordering glasses at the ophthalmologist's office last time around, they highly recommended polycarbonate glasses for the kids, as they were much, much safer.  They told me that if one of the kids wore their glasses in gym class, for example, and a ball hits their glasses, shards of glass could go into their eyes - not a pretty thought! Unfortunately, my insurance did not cover this aspect of the glasses, so up went the price $100 for each pair!

Would you know that 39dollarglasses does not even give you the option to choose polycarbonate glasses when you order glasses for your kids? ALL of their children's glasses are made with the polycarbonate glass, so no matter which pair you choose, your child's eye will be as safe as they can be. And, there's no extra charge or fees for the polycarbonate - I LOVE that! (An immediate savings of $200!)

The polycarbonate is also lighter and thinner than most regular glasses, which is great for children's little faces, too!

More Options

I was provided an allotment to spend at 39dollarglasses, so when it came time to check out, I was able to select the anti-reflective coating, as Veronica likes to use the computer frequently. The last step was probably the most fun, as we were able to choose a "designer" case. This is the one we chose:

How adorable for a 10-year-old girl! And, it all cost less than $75! In addition, I ordered Veronica's eyeglasses on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and we received them in the mail on's that for fast shipping?

My Opinion...(In case I haven't said enough!)

I can't say enough about They not only make it easy to order prescription eyeglasses on their website, they also have a ton of different styles of frames, colors and even cases to choose from! From now on, forget about replacing accidentally broken eyeglasses through our ophthalmologist or at any of the local eyeglass places around here! I'm going to save time and money the next time around and order!

Affiliate Program

If you are interested in working with, they have an excellent affiliate program.

Giveaway!(A Blessing for You!) wants you to check out their website, their easy ordering and their excellent prices, too! They are passing on the blessing of a pair of prescription glasses (up to $75) to one very lucky Mommy Rantings reader! (US or Canada addresses only)

Simply "Like" the Facebook page. (But, be sure to NOT leave a message that Mommy Rantings sent you, as it is their policy to remove posts that include blog names)

Did you say you wanted extra entries???

For extra entries:

Like Mommy Rantings on Facebook

Follow Mommy Rantings through GFC (left hand column of blog)

And, for three extra entries, you can blog about this giveaway and leave three comments with a link to your blog.

This giveaway will end on October 7th at midnight eastern. Good Luck!

Thank you, for this opportunity and blessing! I was provided an allotment to spend at in order to perform this review. All opinions in this review are mine.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Birth Story of My Seventh Child: A Routine Ultrasound, Surprise Induction, and Teeny Tiny Baby

Moms remember every "birth story", regardless of the amount of children they have. They can tell you the time that they went into labor, the number of centimeters that they were dilated on which date and at what time. They can tell you every detail of every matter how many years pass and how many other children come afterwards...because the experience is one that will never be easily forgotten. It's an experience that ends in a precious little person that comes in a teeny weeny little package that will continuously bring stories and memories throughout its life.

I can tell you all of the details of each one of my children's births, too. All seven of them...where I was, how I felt when I went into labor, how early they came - or how on-time, in comparison to their due date. I can tell you what I had planned...and how my plans were sidetracked by the new addition. I can recite, moment by moment, a plethora of thoughts and feelings that came with each of my children...

Lucky Number Seven

The birth story of my newest and littlest addition to the family is one that I have told many many times already. It's one that I, once again, will definitely not forget!

Friday morning, 9/9/11, I had a routine ultrasound at the highly boasted Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo. (The same facility that I had just taken Dylan for surgery three days earlier.) It was a busy first morning, sending four children off to school and running out the door to drive 45 minutes to my appointment. By the time I arrived at the hospital, I was late and worried that they may make me reschedule the appointment. However, they said that they were still able to see me.

I was first put on the fetal monitor for 20 minutes, then I was walked to the ultrasound room. Unfortunately, there was only one monitor in the ultrasound room, as I patiently awaited the technician to tell me something. She took measurements and told me that the baby wasn't cooperating, and finally, after about a half hour, she turned the monitor and showed me that my little man had hair! You could see the little bits of hair on his head and I couldn't wait to see him and hold him!

To my surprise, I would be holding him a lot sooner than I thought...according to the due date, I still had a little under two more weeks to prepare. But, in the world of newborns, we all know to expect the unexpected...

At the end of the ultrasound, the technician nonchalantly told me that she was going to run the ultrasound by the doctor and she would be right back. Within 5 minutes, two nurses returned to the room to tell me, "Try not to be alarmed, but you most likely will not be going home today."

My immediate reaction was confusion, mixed with "what in the world is going on???". "Why, what's going on? You mean I'm going to be hospitalized?" I couldn't possibly stay in the hospital for two weeks! My children need me at home with them! I mean, I was prepared to stay for a couple of days when the baby was born, but...

Cutting into my thoughts, one of the nurses said, "Your amniotic fluid is low and the baby is measuring small. In addition, he wasn't moving around as much as we would like to see when you were on the fetal monitor. Sometimes, it's better to deliver the baby early...the doctor is on her way to talk to you. Let's wait and see what she says." Now, it had been a very hectic, stressful morning, so the baby had been moving the whole way to the hospital, but he slowed down while I was sitting hooked up to the fetal monitor (and those reclining chairs were so relaxing!), so that wasn't of concern to me. All of my babies have been between 5 lbs and 14 ounces and 7 lbs and 12 ounces, so the fact that he measured small didn't faze me very much at first, either, but the amniotic fluid being low...I wasn't sure exactly what that meant.

I Needed To Call My Husband

It just so happened that, in the middle of the morning mess, I couldn't find my cell phone, so I had left without it, and this was the moment when I started panicking and wishing I had the cell phone to call my husband with. I told the nurses that I needed to move my car, as I had parked in two hour parking - and that time was up. In addition, I needed to call my husband...was there a phone I could use?

They told me to go ahead and move my car, were nice enough to tell me where I should park, and told me to get back as fast as I could, because the doctor was on her way. So, I ran to the car (yes, 9 months pregnant!), moved it and went back upstairs where I was able to use a phone to call my husband. My first words were, "Don't be alarmed, because I haven't talked to the doctor yet, but I might be having this baby this weekend." I proceeded to tell him what little information the nurses had told me and we agreed that I should come home so we could make arrangements for the children, I could pack a bag (no, I didn't have my bag packed, as I didn't plan to go into labor for two more weeks!) and get as prepared as I could before I went back to the hospital.

Discussion With the Doctor

When the doctor finally came and we went into the ultrasound room, she and the nurses held a dialog that was full of medical lingo that I could barely understand. The more I listened, the more I started to get worked up. Finally, the doctor told me to come over and look at the graphs that she had on the computer screen. She showed me that my little guy was only measuring in the 10th percentile for his fetal age, asked me if I had been leaking any fluids (not that I recalled), and also wanted to know how often the baby moved.

Here is where I become extremely alarmed...what is wrong with my baby and what aren't they telling me??? The doctor wasn't quite sure, just by looking at the ultrasound, what exactly could be wrong, but there were enough signs for her to want to proceed with induction.

When the doctor told me that she recommended that I be induced immediately, I explained to her that I needed to go home and get things squared away and then come back in a few hours. Was that going to be okay?

She agreed that it would be okay for me to go home and come back, as long as I promised to come back. I told her, "This is my baby we're talking about. If you say he needs to come out to be cared for, then it would be awful if I didn't come back."

Fear and Worry

If you've ever been told that something might be wrong with your unborn child, you understand how I felt all the way home. I was somewhere between panicked, scared and worried. You will rarely see me cry - that's just how I'm built, but I was unable to hold back some tears as I drove home.

At Home

After fighting mid-day traffic all the way home (a 35 minute drive that took almost an hour), I was met with my husband who was in "baby name mode". We still hadn't come up with a name, so he was searching through baby boy names on the Internet and writing down the ones that he liked the most. He didn't seem worried about the baby - or maybe he just didn't want to let me know, but his forward-thinking was exactly what I needed at that moment.

I hurriedly packed my bag, trying to remember all of the little things that I would need, still a bit cloudy and confused. I have a list of What I Packed in My Bag For the Hospital, if you're interested in knowing. :)

The children arrived home from school and we told them that I was going to go to the hospital to have their baby brother. They were ecstatic, ready to welcome their new baby brother into the home. I still couldn't be too excited, stuck between worried and a bit of shock.

It was shortly after the children arrived home that my husband brought me back to the hospital. We knew that the process of induction wasn't going to go very fast, so we agreed that he would drop me off and I would get started in the hospital and when things were "in motion", I would call him.

It just so happened that it wasn't going to happen that fast...

The Induction

After checking in, I was taken to a room where I was asked the 101 questions for registration. My nerves started to calm down drastically as I watched the nurses struggle with and complain about the new computer system. (This computer system would be a major topic of conversation throughout the duration of my stay at the hospital, as everyone seemed to be frustrated with it).

A lovely nurse by the name of Dawn was so very sweet to me. She told me not to worry too much, as it was possible that the amniotic fluid being low was only because I was dehydrated and that the fact that I always had smaller babies would be a good indication that this one would be small, too. So, she didn't see anything to be alarmed about. I seriously needed to hear that. She also scrambled to get me into the computer before the hospital kitchen closed, because she wanted me to eat before we started - I hadn't eaten much all day.

It turned out that I was dehydrated, as it took 3 different people before they could get a good IV stick in me. Next, they inserted this thing called Cervidil - it is supposed to thin out the cervix. This was supposed to stay put for 12 hours, and Dawn told me that I could have an Ambien a little later to help me sleep. She recommended that I take them up on the Ambien, as I wasn't used to sleeping away from my kids.

It wasn't until 11 pm that I requested the Ambien...and within 30 minutes, I was knocked out cold. Around 7 in the morning, I was awoken by a nurse to check my stats and realized that I was having contractions 4 minutes apart, but I was only 2 centimeters dilated at that point in time.

Nobody told me I could get the epidural at 2 centimeters because I was being induced...I was just told that they would order it when I started to get uncomfortable. So, I waited...and when the nurse checked on me around noon and noticed that I was having some pretty heavy contractions, she said she would order the epidural. I asked her if she needed to check to see how far I was dilated first, and that's when she told me I could get an epidural at any time if I was getting induced (NOW, you tell me!...LOL)

Did I mention that I was keeping friends and family updated on my laptop on Facebook? Yes, through most of the process, I was updating my status on Facebook and communicating with family. One of my cousins even insisted that I "Put that thing away"..."that thing" being my laptop.

Shortly after I got the epidural, the nurse told me that they were going to break my water soon. I called my husband, because I knew that once the water was broken, things could move pretty fast. He was on his way already, it just so happened. When checked, I was about 4-5 centimeters dilated.

My husband arrived and my water was broken and I spent some time talking to my kids and answering a million questions. My 2 year old buddy wasn't sure what to think of me, with cords and tubes attached to my arms. He wasn't sure what to make of everything and sure didn't want to get too close to me. I felt a little sting of sadness mixed with hurt, knowing that he was accustomed to having mommy all of the time and that the night before was his first night going to bed without me...was he mad at me for leaving him? He wouldn't offer me any consolation...

It didn't seem like much was happening, as I was fairly relaxed with the epidural - and the children were being the best that they could be for a whole three hours. At about 3:30 PM, my husband decided he would take the children home, call the babysitter and head back to the hospital...I could just call him if he needed to come back faster.

He Didn't Make It Far

The nurse came in within moments of my husband's departure, went to check to see how much I had dilated and said, "The baby's head is right there!" So, I started dialing the cell phone frantically, and told my husband, "Get back here now! The baby's head is right there!" Fortunately, he had taken the kids to the cafeteria to get some drinks, so he was still in the hospital. The hospital didn't allow children in the room during delivery, but they were kind enough to allow my husband in the room while the children sat in the waiting room.

It took about 15 minutes for the delivery team to come in and get set up, as they were in another room when the nurse started calling for them. And the pushing started and ended within 5 minutes.  At 4:08 PM, our little Chase Alexander entered the world at a mere 4 lbs, 15 ounces (as opposed as the ultrasound's guess-timate of 5 lbs, 7 ounces).

I wasn't able to see much of what was happening across the room, in the warming bin where they whisked the baby to. I remember my husband was snapping pictures and videotaping our new little guy and I could hear crying - a good sign. There was a bunch of suctioning - my husband later told me that the nurse was working hard to suction him and that his breathing was not so good - or so it seemed.

I was able to hold and feed little Chase for about a half an hour before they once again whisked him away and told me that they would bring him to me after I was moved to another room, where I would stay for the remainder of my time in the hospital. It wasn't until 9:30 PM that he was brought to me, but I was delivered amazing news along with him...he was released from what they called "recovery" and seemed to be healthy as can be. They said he was a feisty little guy!


I find it truly amazing how a little guy who weighs less than a 5 lb bag of sugar could have so much spunk! Even the nurses and pediatricians were in awe of how feisty and lively our little Chase was. I wondered if they were going to release him, though, as small as he was.

He and I were released Monday morning, to my surprise, two days after his arrival. Thank goodness, because I was definitely ready to go home to my children! Chase was eating well and seemed to be doing just fine, so homeward bound we were.

My Recovery

My recovery was (is still, two plus weeks later) extraordinarily rough. Maybe it's due to the fact that I have been through 6 epidurals (with Wes, I did not have the option) or maybe it's because I'm getting "older"...and it could even be because I have given birth 8 times (which included one very sad birth story of our son who did not survive...I will share that one, too, one day).

I'm betting on a combination of the factors creating such havoc on my body...and hoping that I will be back on my feet, running around like "normal" soon enough. For now, I will welcome the break and continue to count my blessings on a daily basis. Each day, I live in awe of how much my children are learning, doing and speaking. They never cease to amaze me! My heart bursts with love for them, even on the "bad days".

Do You Have An Amazing Birth Story?

If you have an amazing or unique birth story that you would like to share, Mommy Rantings is a guest-post friendly place - you are welcome to submit your story!

I appreciate the staff at Women and Children's Hospital and can now testify, in my own words, why they are boasted as one of the best hospital facilities for Women and experience with them was wonderful and as comfortable as they could make it (no, it's not home, but they try very hard to accommodate their patients). Both my experience with my son, Dylan, who had surgery there and my own experience, earns them a perfect 10! (Oh, I might need to take off a fraction of a point for the missing dessert at one meal and the missing coffee at another, but other than that, they were awesome!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Local Teen, Jamey Rodemeyer Bullying Suicide: A Shameful Loss

I'm deeply disturbed by the latest news story in our community. Young Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life, yet another teen who was distraught and hurt, to the point of wanting to die, because of the hateful comments of peers.

This handsome young man could have turned out to be anything that he wanted to be, and I will state right now that I feel strongly that someone should be punished for the hurt that was inflicted on him! I have written blog posts before, one about the People Magazine article and also about the father in Florida who got on the bus to stand up to the brats who bullied his daughter - and was arrested!

Apparently, New York State has yet to establish Anti-Bully Laws, which is quite scary, because me and my very own, precious children are living in New York State. Thankfully, my husband and I have decided to enroll our children in a Catholic school here in Lockport, just a hop, skip and a jump from the schools where Jamey Rodemeyer attended. As a matter of fact, when we moved, our aim was to find a house in the VERY SCHOOLS that Jamey attended! However, we did not move to the Williamsville/Amherst area - we moved to Lockport.

But, let's get on the ball, New York State!!! 

Bullying has become far worse than it was when I was growing up. I was certainly bullied...and I remember how hard it was to be a teenager, never mind adding the terrible torment of bullying! Now, with the Internet, social media and cell phones, technology has created a whole new means of bullying that can easily be disguised from parents and administration of schools.

Of course, we should be monitoring our children and teen's usage of social media forums, but if there are no laws to protect our children, what's going to stop those heartless brats that are hurting our children? If there are no consequences, then kids won't take bullying seriously! Right now, police are "exploring whether or not they can bring charges", according to an ABCnews video.

Hate Crime?

I hear that it's also being questioned whether or not this was a hate crime. Lady Gaga herself tweeted, "Bullying must become illegal. It is a hate crime." Not that she's any type of expert, but she does believe in gay rights and has spoken outwardly about the subject, as well as Jamey's suicide, and I happen to agree with her. Any type of bullying is hateful - and if you drive someone to kill addition, sending a message to someone on a social media forum that states, "I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!" ( may not necessarily be a crime, but it is definitely hateful and encourages someone to take that final step, if it is said enough.

I have one word for these bullies (and New York State, ultimately): Prosecute! I don't care if they are minors or not...send them off to juvenile detention.

Ellen DeGeneres said, "You can't let intolerance and ignorance take another kid's life."

The Parents

Fingers have pointed to the parents of the bullied children. How did the parents NOT know that their child was close to committing suicide? Are you kidding me????!!!! Once again, people point the finger at the parents...and that makes me sick! Sick.Sick.SICK! How would you EVER really believe that your child would take their own life? Yes, there are signs. Yes, they can monitor the actions of their children and teens on social media forums - although with all of the different types of social media (and the busy lives that we live), it's not that easy!

Stop blaming the parents...okay, well, maybe you can blame the parents of the children who are bullying. Yes, we can blame them...but not the parents of the victims! Ultimately, we need to blame the bullies! They KNOW BETTER!

Now that I've shouted mine, what's your take on the subject?

The Ultimate, Yet Practical Baby Shower Gift: Diapercakes!

I can't imagine a more practical, yet whimsical and delightful gift for the expecting mom! If you are looking for new baby gifts, you'll want to be the person who brings one of these adorable diaper cakes.

The birth story of my seventh child is one that I have already told over and over again...and I'm sure that it will be told many more times in the future...

I was expecting two more weeks to prepare before the little guy was born, but as we all know, things in life don't always go as they are planned. Especially when it comes to babies and due dates! What are the chances that you will deliver your baby on the due date? Very miniscule.

I was working avidly on the Mommy Rantings Baby Shower campaign and was excited to get the chance to work with! It just so happens that the diaper cake made it to my house JUST.IN.TIME for the surprise arrival of our newest addition. I was induced on Friday, delivered Chase on Saturday and when my husband brought the other children to come visit me at the hospital on Sunday, in he walked with the diaper cake pictured above. It was a wonderful surprise.

The nurses at the hospital ooooh'd and aaaah'd at the diaper cake and when my husband was asked if he bought it for me, he sheepishly admitted that I review products for companies...and, no, he didn't buy it for me. But, the fact that he thought enough to bring it to the hospital was sweet, right? Well, I thought it was! "It's the thought that counts..."

Why Should You Buy a Diaper Cake?

I'm all about "practical"...and diapers are probably one of the most practical items that you can get for a new mom. In addition to the 70-75 size 1 diapers that are magically tiered, the diaper cake that I received had a pacifier, three baby wash cloths, small bottles of Johnson's baby bath wash, baby powder, baby lotion, baby shampoo, a small sample packet of Desitin diaper rash cream - I needed that on day one! - and a cute stuffed animal Gum Drop Puppy that rattles. This diaper cake can be purchased for $89 at Choose from any of the unique and adorable baby boy diaper cakes. They also have a great selection of baby girl diaper cakes. And, if the person that you're buying the diaper cake for is one of the few who elects to keep the gender of the baby a secret, they also have gender-neutral diaper cakes, too!

I also know how excited I felt to receive the diaper cake in the hospital - and how much of a stir that it caused with the hospital staff. Now, that's something that makes a new mom feel special. :)

Make Your Own Diaper Cake

If you're looking to make your own diaper cake, here's how to make a diaper cake the EASY way!

Thank you to for making my delivery day special with a diaper cake! I received a diaper cake for the purpose of this review. As usual, all products that I review represent my own opinions.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Budget for New Baby: Advice for Parents

Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a person's life; it is also one of the scariest. Many thoughts race through a new parent's mind, but one of the most troubling thoughts is being financially prepared for a newborn.

Don't worry yourself too much about your financial situation. With proper planning and care, it is easy for many people to budget for a new baby. Yes, babies do change a couple's financial situation, but it is not impossible to spend money on your new baby and have some left over. Consider these tips.

Resist Buying New Baby Items

This is probably one of the hardest things for new parents. Every parent wants the best for their new baby. The old mindset of buying happiness easily takes over and compels parents to spend hundreds of dollars on new items. However, your money won't buy your child happiness. As long as that stroller works, is safe, clean and in good condition, it does not matter if it cost you twenty dollars or two hundred dollars.

Keep that extra money and put it towards something useful, such as a savings account for your child's future college education, which will approximately cost you around $184,000. If you are able to put a few hundred dollars in a savings account with seven percent interest every month, you can work on accumulating the money he or she will need for college.

Keep Your Budget Visible

It is easy to forget or neglect your budget if you cannot physically see how you are doing. There are software programs that make it very easy to record transactions and help you limit your spending. Set your goals and stick to them. Many programs will let you know when you are reaching your spending limit for different categories, such as rent, food, utilities and clothes.

Use Coupons

There are many coupons for baby needs, but you should also use coupons for everyday items. Though the savings may seem minimal, it does add up. Make sure you take all of the money you save with coupons and put it towards that savings account.

Set Your Priorities

Determine what you need the most. You may find that many people will help you get important items, such as a crib, clothes, toys and other baby needs. If you already know what items people are going to help you get, you need to figure out what items you still need and the order of their importance.

Cut Back on Personal Expenses

Part of having a baby is being able to sacrifice things in your own life. You and your partner should pick one thing that you do frequently, such as eat out, purchase new clothing or go to movies, and cut that thing out of your budget. Figure out how much you spend on that expense and put that money towards your savings goal. You may be shocked to find out that you spend hundreds of dollars every month just by eating out during your lunch break.

Hopefully these tips will help you budget for your new baby. Congratulations and good luck!

Anthony Thompson is a content contributor for companies offering an interest only mortgage, and he insists that reasonable mortgages are still available for all types of borrowers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tips for Getting Organized

Getting organized then staying organized is a challenge for many moms. As a mom you are your own organizer; you do not have lead management software program that will organize your life or your kids for you. As a mother you organize the food, and the house, and the kids, and the appointments, and the kids stuff, and the schoolwork, and the laundry, and so much more.
With all the things you have to do it can become hectic and stressful to try and keep everything in order and it can be even harder to stay organized as you go throughout your day. There are many different books and websites and programs you can buy that are meant to help you get organized but those can take time and money. In order to get organized and stay organized without reading a long book or buying a program that will walk you through step by step you can look for quick tips and tricks that will help you out each day.
Becoming organized is a process; it doesn’t just happen in one day. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you get started on your organizing process:
·         Preparing for each day the night before. This may sound silly but it really does work. If you put out the kids clothes, get everything ready in the fridge to make lunches, and set everything you need for the next day on the counter you will feel prepared and ready to go in the morning.

·         Write it down. As a mom, you have a lot of things to remember. You have to pick kids up and drop them off at certain times and you have to remember dentist and doctor appointments.  You also have to remember play dates, birthday parties, etc. Being a mom means you are in charge of remembering everything so write it down.

·         Organize the stuff. No matter how hard you try the house will probably not stay clean for very long; however, you can help it to stay de-cluttered longer by picking a box or stair for each child. As you go around the house picking things up you can put all of the shoes, books, clothes, toys and other things each child’s box or on his or her designated stair. At the end of the day everyone takes their box or pile of things and takes it to their rooms.

These are just a few tips but becoming organized can mean taking one tip a day and seeing how it works for you. As you try each tip and it works, keep using it, if it doesn’t work, try a new one.

Madison Hewerdine is an author who writes about lead management software and has a passion for singing.

Aptus Life Insurance provides free life insurance quotes online!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creative DIY Halloween Costumes on a Budget

If you’ve dared to enter a Halloween costume “superstore” with children, you understand the ridiculousness of it all. The kids go nuts for an overpriced, poorly made superhero costume and the begging commences. If you make it out without a costume and your wallet (and sanity) intact, you’re a stronger woman than most. I’m sure you’re just chewing at the bit now to get to the Halloween store, but as much fun as this sounds (not), I’d like to offer an alternative to the pricey, megastore costumes.
Growing up, my mom would pack all of us in to the bus-burban, as we fondly called our behemoth family vehicle, and take us to the local Goodwill store. Each of us were given a certain amount of money and let loose for an hour. I remember turning choir robes into scary monster costumes, old sheets into capes, and used prom dresses into an outfit fit for a queen. Not only did she minimize her expenses, my wise momma encouraged creativity and pushed us to think outside-the-box.
I absolutely loved creating my Halloween costume as a kid, so when I had the opportunity to work with the team to put together a DIY HYPERLINK ""CHYPERLINK ""ostume HYPERLINK ""Ideas guide, I jumped at the chance. The list of costume ideas and descriptions on how to put the ensembles together is a part of their new resource, Heel to Toe: A Guide to Feet. A few of the costumes include socks as a crucial part of the costume, i.e. Tom Cruise in Risky Business, but if you’re looking for costume ideas we’ve got it all—from character costumes to clever, funny costume ideas for groups. Below are a few examples:
·         Tom Cruise in Risky Business:

·         Men’s over-sized dress shirt
·         Wayfarer sunglasses
·         White HYPERLINK ""sHYPERLINK ""louch socks
·         Pretend like you’re singing into a microphone and slide around on your socks.

·         A Picnic:
·         A red and white checkered picnic table cloth: Cut a hole for your in the center of the cloth and wear as a poncho.
·         Attach plastic food (or pictures of food) to the cloth and carry around a picnic basket.

·         The Weasley Family (Harry Potter):

·         White button-down shirt
·         Oversized red or maroon sweater: If you’re really creative, use yellow tape to put the first letter in the name of your favorite Weasley on the front of the sweater (i.e. R for Ron).
·         Dark dress pants
·         Dark shoes and dress socks
·         Temporary color hair spray: Orange of course!

·         Lady Bug or Bumble Bee
·         Red or yellow long sleeve shirt
·         Black spandex pants or tights.
·         Create wings using cardboard: Draw a large circle on red or yellow (depending on your bug of choice) posterboard. Color large black dots or use tape to create black stripes (again depending on your bug). Draw a line down the center of the circle and cut down the center of the line to create two wings. Attach to back of shirt.
·         Attenae: Create using a black headband and pipe cleaners.

·         Where’s Waldo?:

·         Jeans
·         Red and white striped sweater
·         Red and white striped snow hat: This might be tricky to find, if so, get a solid colored cap and use colored tape to create stripes. Attach a red poof to the top of the hat.
·         Fake round glasses
·         Walk with a cane and hide behind objects.
Halloween costumes don’t need to break the bank or require the talents of professional seamstress,, so for more ghostly good costume ideas using items from your own closet or the local secondhand store, check out the DIY Costume Ideas page. Happy Halloween!

Guest author Maggie Voelker, works as a writer in Indianapolis, IN. She loves fashion, bargain hunting, good food, live music and spending time with family and friends.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

5 Simple & Healthy After School Snacks for Hungry Tummies

Many parents see back-to-school time as a breath of fresh air: the kids are out of the house, you don’t have to worry about babysitters or daycare all summer long, they have homework to occupy them when they get home, and even earlier bedtimes. But unfortunately, that breath of fresh air comes right before a big gust of wind: the truth is, life can get even busier with the hustle and bustle of the school year. Between driving the mom taxi cab to track meets, spell bowl competitions, dance classes, and school concerts, you still have to find time to cook, clean, and take care of yourself as well. It’s exhausting! Luckily for your sanity, there are ways to stay ahead.  Here are some after-school snack suggestions for you busy moms out there that are quick, healthy, and easy to store in the fridge for the kids when they come home with stomachs growling. These five snacks are perfect for getting your kiddos to the next destination with ease or a nice break before they get started on their homework assignments.

1. Ants on a log: This snack is healthy and fun. Ingredients needed are celery (or pretzel rods), peanut butter, and raisins. Your child can help spread the peanut butter onto the celery (log) and then add the ants (raisins). In no time, your kids will have chowed down and be ready to go.

2. Cheese roll-ups: A personal favorite among the kids at the school I work at, cheese roll-ups are fast and filling too! These are simple; all you need is a flour tortilla and some cheese. Salsa is optional. Sprinkle cheese into the tortilla and the snack can be microwaved for 30-45 seconds, until cheese is melted. Then, you simply roll it up and dip it into salsa to eat!

3. Healthy wraps: These wraps were invented by a former co-worker of mine, and the kids loved them! We used flour tortilla wraps, apples (sliced), raisins, and peanut butter. Spread the peanut butter on the wrap and add apple slices and raisins. Roll this up and eat it—delicious and healthy!

4. Graham cracker frosting sandwiches:
This snack isn’t as healthy, but hey, you have to treat your kids every now and then. Children will love making and eating this fast, easy snack. The ingredients needed are frosting, sprinkles, and graham crackers. Your children can spread the frosting on the graham crackers, add the sprinkles and make a sandwich. These taste great right away and are even better cold!

5.  Ham and cheese kabobs: This is a fun one! Alternate cubes of ham and cheese on a bamboo skewer. You can use different types of cheese, add vegetables, or do as you see fit. You could even try a plain fruit kabob. Eating something kabob style will be fun (and hopefully mess-free) for your children and quick and easy for you.

Good luck with these snacks! Get creative and have fun.

Author Bio: Stephanie loves children and is the site director for before and after school programs at elementary schools. She keeps her children healthy outdoors with kids’ sunglasses and sunscreen and indoors with nutritious snacks and plenty of exercise. After work, she enjoys blogging about fashion trends like women’s socks with pumps or working up a sweat while dancing away at Zumba.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Three Ways to Decorate Your Home for Fall

By Molly Borter
Fall is my favorite season, because the weather is just perfect enough to wear a sweatshirt, scarf, and sunglasses, and the air starts to smell of burning bonfires and pumpkin spice. September days are flying by and soon it’ll be October, so while school’s well underway for the little ones, nights are getting longer and chillier, and summer décor is old news, your home is in need of a fall pick-me-up.  Splashes of autumn give it that warm, cozy vibe we love so much about the season: mums, leaves, pumpkins, and gourds are all beautiful, chic ways to spruce up your home. Transform your haven from summer’s brights to fall’s burnt oranges, reds, and yellows with just a few easy touches. Soon, your home will be a haven of harvest and tranquility in no time at all.
Bring the Outdoors Indoors
The best part of fall is the rich, beautiful colors of the leaves, fruit, and flowers; use these pieces to spruce up your living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms. Round up some fall foliage around your yard, on a hike, or at a craft store and pile them in hurricane dishes, large vases, and candle sets. Combining the outdoors with such stylish holders give it that shabby-chic elegance that’s so perfect for fall.  For table centerpieces or mantel décor, try filling a tall vase (or a couple!) with apples or pears for a sophisticated simple touch. And don’t forget about the flowers: mums and sunflowers are the perfect way to bring fall’s splendor indoors.

Get Creative with Pumpkins
Pumpkins are more than just for carving: stick metal tacks onto the exterior or paint them with shiny golds and bronzes for instant class and a rustic feel. For an island or table centerpiece, stack different-shaped gourds or mini pumpkins. For a more diva-ish feel, rhinestone-studded designs on pumpkins, like a spider web or polka dots (all you need is a bag of jewels from the craft store and a hot glue gun) are a great way to add sparkle, too. For a more traditional feel with a twist, turn pumpkin carving into an accent piece for your shelves by carving cool designs or patterns and placing a yummy smelling candle inside. Pumpkins are such a fall décor do!

Make Baking a Decorative Piece
The most delicious part about fall? Caramel, cinnamon, pumpkin, ginger, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg—just to name a few. Make these staples in your cookie recipes this season, or use them in your pies and even your cocktails! And while you’re at it, you could make: apple crisp, pumpkin cheesecake, nutmeg and cinnamon French toast, pears with caramel drizzled over them, corn pudding, and brown-sugared squash (for a healthier-“ish” choice).  The aromas and decorative deliciousness of autumn baking leaves you comforted, relaxed, satisfied and warm on the inside. Now all you need is a good book, a comfy blanket, and a cup of tea.
Author Bio:
Molly Borter works for The Affordable Style Network specializing in making everything fashionable, even mens diabetic socks.  In her free time she enjoys blogging about sun safety, such as wearing bifocal sunglasses  even into the fall, decorating her home for the seasons, and spending time with her nieces and family.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Should You Give Your Child a Credit Card?

Image credit:
Money is a sensitive, albeit important topic of conversation in households. Before we know it our kids are heading to college, and we realize we hadn’t discussed the financial responsibility that comes with being an adult. A large part of turning 18 is the availability of credit cards. So when do we introduce our kids to the scarily enticing world of credit? Should we get them credit cards before they ship out? Some experts say yes; many parents say no.

Early Use of Credit Cards Equals Later Fiscal Responsibility

Surprisingly, many financial experts tout getting your teenager a credit card. Most agree that 16 years old is an appropriate age. Reasons why experts believe your child should learn how to use a credit card follow:

• Credit cards help teens learn to be financially accountable while being monitored closely by parents
• An early credit card allows you to observe and train your teenager on credit card use
• If you co-sign on a card, you have more control over how it’s used
• Having a credit card is a good way for your child to learn how to build good credit
• Credit card statements give you and your teen a record of how money is being spent

Too Young to Charge?

While the experts say it’s to your teen’s advantage to get a credit card, many people out there (especially parents) disagree. Indeed, the thought of a teenager having free reign with a credit card is a frightening one. Other concerns about giving your teenager a credit card are outlined below:

• Credit cards endorse borrowing rather than saving
• Teens are not mature enough to handle credit cards
• Young adults should not be incurring debt at a young age, and it can reflect badly on the parents’ credit as well
• Credit cards make it easy for teens to spend frivolously

Work Together

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, here are some financial tips to help you guide your teens into the world of finance:

1. Communicate! Talk to your kids about money and credit early, even if you decide not to get them a credit card.
2. Whatever you decide, experts agree – don’t get your teens prepaid debit cards. They are riddled with hidden fees.
3. If you have bad credit, think twice before getting your kid a credit card. It’s likely you will not pass on the wisest advice about using it.
4. Let your child practice making payments to you. Buy them a larger-ticket item they want and have them pay you back, with interest.
5. Consider giving your child a charge card rather than a credit card. Charge cards require you to pay the full balance each month.

It’s better to inform your teens now about credit card usage and how to be financially responsible than to have them deep in credit debt in the future, which can affect them the rest of their lives. Good financial lessons last a lifetime.

Tony Patterson is a personal finance consultant, and content contributor for companies offering consumers credit cards for bad credit situations they may have temporarily experienced.

alt="YOUR TEXT HERE"rel="Facebook image"src="IMAGE URL HERE"style="display:none;">