12/09/2016

5 Tips To Avoid Having A Spoiled Holiday Brat




Over the years, I have come across some of the most obnoxious Santa and gift-obsessed kids. Kids who tear through twenty Christmas gifts, then get upset when there are no more presents to open. Kids who have no idea why we even celebrate the holidays. Kids who when I walk through the door on Christmas day, jump up and down asking, "What did you bring me?" 

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. On every level.

In an effort combat raising my own gift-obsessed brat, I've made it my mission to teach my child the true meaning of Christmas and true holiday spirit. Below is my game plan, that, so far is working well!

1. CHRISTMAS IS NOT ONLY ABOUT SANTA!!! First and foremost, I don't want my child to associate Christmas with Santa, only. Being that my son is now four, going on ten, I don't expect him to fully absorb the religious meaning behind Christmas, however, I do have every intention of making up my own mommy version so he understands Christmas is a time to honor our faith and be thankful for our blessings.

2. Keep the focus on giving, not getting. There's no doubt about it, giving is far more rewarding than receiving. Getting a child to realize that, from a very young age, is a true parent-win. Over the last two weeks, my son and I have been going through all of his toys to donate "to the children in need." During that time, he's asked many, many questions about who the 'kids in need' were and why they didn't have their own toys. By the end of the questions and toy-clean-out, he was much more happy to donate his toys. He also went with me to drop the toys and felt super proud when the man taking our donations told him what a "kind and generous" boy he was. We are also going to pick an angel off the angel tree as a family this weekend while doing our family holiday shopping trip. The plan is to let Ollie pick out the toy.  Next year, I hope he will be old enough to start a tradition of family volunteering. Nothing beats the feeling of helping others, especially those in need.

3. Family Centered. It's so easy to get whisked away with family events, holiday parties, shopping and everything else that puts us in fast forward during the holidays, which is why I think it's more important than ever to try to slow down and spend time as a family. This is my BIG focus this season. I only get a few holidays with a little guy who's happy to be home with mommy and daddy. I want nothing more than to enjoy the extra time off together and be thankful for our blessings.

4. Incorporate a daily reminder to focus on the important aspects of the holidays. Every chance I get to demonstrate to my son the holdays are way more than a gift giving extravaganza, I take.

5. Keep Santa under control. Last year, FTD and I agreed that Santa would bring only ONE gift. The big one. Then we could give him two gifts each- Something he needs and something he wants. For example, last year my two gifts were Star Wars Pj's and a play-doh construction set. Being that he was two, five gifts on one day was MIND BLOWING. I expect still at three year old, five gifts will still be fantastic. I firmly believe there is absolutely no reason why my little guy needs a bunch of gifts on Christmas to make the holiday great. When he needs is a few fun gifts and a day of mommy and daddy swooning over him.


How do you plan to teach your child that the holidays are not only about opening presents?
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12/07/2016

How Do The Insurance Companies Keep Getting Away With This? HOW?




How is the United States of America such a developed country, yet the healthcare industry, as a whole, is so incredibly screwed up?

Yet again, I find myself sitting here with my heart pounding out of my chest, my shoulders up to my ears with stress and anxiety and feeling helpless, all thanks to healthcare coverage and the astronomical premiums I have to pay.





I just can’t get my head around how insurance companies getting away with mob-like tactics? How is it ok to charge a monthly premium that costs more than a mortgage payment? How is it acceptable to charge over 50% of my husband’s net salary to cover my family on a plan that doesn’t have a ten-thousand PLUS deductible?

I know I’m not alone in this frustration. I know this because ALL OF US are paying astronomical premiums. 

Starting in 2017, even the heavily subsidized families will be feeling the premium pain so many of us know all too well. With few providers left in the government healthcare marketplace, there is NO reason to offer competitive plans. I was told by an insurance broker, I was lucky that there are two providers in the Kentucky marketplace, “It keeps the rates fairly competitive.”

THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

Starting January 2017, the current Caresource Silver family plan I have for my family will DOUBLE in cost in 2017. Taking the premium from $251 to $571! 

To add insult to injury, the cheapest plan available through the marketplace, a Caresource Bronze plan that has a $13,000 deductible and HUGE upfront out of pocket fees when we visit a doctor, will cost $365, with the subsidy. That means, in 2017 I will have SUPER shitty health coverage that cost me an additional $125 a month. WTF?
HOW?


Sure, my family can get coverage with my husband’s school; A non-profit school for children with learning differences. The lowest monthly premium, that is essentially the same coverage as the CareSourse Bronze Plan with the HUGE deductible, will cost us $965 a month. Yes, NINE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE DOLLARS! The “best” plan would cost us $1800.

For the record, it would be cheaper to pay CASH 100% out of pocket to have a baby, then pay a year’s worth of premiums and the deductible.

HOW?

After talking with a friend who is an insurance broker it was clear, the insurance companies who work with the government subsidies, have increased their premiums so much in 2017, the once helpful, Affordable Care Act, is no longer. The 2017 increase COMPLETELY absorbs the subsidy, leaving families, once again, with budget-busting astronomical premiums.

You know the joke about how a store will increase the price of everything by 35% then have a 25% off sale? The Insurance companies are doing the same thing.

NOT RIGHT!

Not on any level.

Allowing insurance companies to charge families, in some cases, two thousand dollars a month in premiums is, CRIMINAL! How are we paying more a month for our health insurance premiums than our mortgage?

HOW?

Don’t even get me started on the fact that my husband’s ‘shared’ company health coverage plans offer the SAME plan on the Humana website but at THREE times as much! When I asked the Humana rep at my husband’s school how that was possible, she told me it had to do with illness and pregnancies from the prior year at the school, and that I could “probably find the SAME plan at a lower cost on the Humana website.”

HOW IS THAT LEGAL???

I’ve had it. I’m not signing up for insurance. I’m not paying the tax fine at the end of the year. I don’t care. I have officially been pushed over the edge. I claim mental duress and insurance premium-induced psychosis.

I dream of the day the government cuts out the insurance companies and regulates the coverage and premiums FOR ALL OF US!

And last, To The Trump Team, you want to help this country? You want to make America great again? START with the insurance companies gouging the shit out of American families.
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12/05/2016

12 Ways To Beat Winter + Holiday Weight Gain


Today I am partnering with the makers of the Easy@Home Digital Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Scale, to share 12 Ways To Beat Winter + Holiday Weight Gain, all opinions are my own.


Already feeling the holiday weight gain creeping up on you? Cold weather got you couched? it's ok, the holidays and winter are skinny jean sabotagers. I an effort to not bust our of my fat jeans before the end of the year, I did a little research for fast easy ways to not only keep off the winter + Holiday weight gain but, make small lasting changes that lead to a sustained, healthy lifestyle. Below are my 12 easy ways to make small steps towards big sustainable results!

1. Hydration is KEY!  You hear it all the time, Aim for eight glasses of water a day. After all I read, and the conflicting ideas about how much water you should actually be drinking a day, for the purposes of this list, and general health, Iat the very least have a glass of water before EVERY meal. This help's curb calorie intake and boost metabolism by 3%! Also, your skin will thank you. Staying well-hydrated reaps benefits you inside and out. 




2. Don't eat dinner before it's done. Snacking while making dinner is dangerous. Tasting your sauce is one thing, shredding a pile of cheese to snack on is another.  Studies show you snacking while cooking can lead to 200 extra calories. TWO-HUNDRED!  Before you snack on the shredded cheese or bread, take a big gulp of water. If that doesn't work, take another gulp. 

3. Find a Friend.  Get a workout buddy to join you for a walk or class (Yoga/Pilate/Spin...) once a week, with the goal of eventually getting out for three. 

4. Pack a Snack. Starving yourself creates a metabolism then coupled with a vending machines or drive-thrus binge-fest, is the fastest way to pack on unnecessary pounds. Avoid the vicious cycle by keeping healthy snacks at your fingertips like fruit, nuts or protein/fiber bars.  TIP: Keep healthy snacks at eye-level in the refrigerator and out on display on the counter. Or keep a "snack list" on the refrigerator to remind you of the healthy snacks, to keep you from grabbing the not-so-healthy ones.




5. Set small goals- Don't aim to lose 20 pounds. Aim to lose one pound 20 times! Studies show, meeting small goals is enough to propel you forward to the next. While setting large lofty goals can set you up for an almost immediate failure. 

6. Stop dieting-To quote Jullian Michaels directly, "Everyone's like: 'Give up carbs!' 'Give up fat!' 'Wait, no, now I'm taking pills!' None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you're either starving yourself or you're cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it's even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad crap." Diets end. Healthy lifestyles last. Small steps will lead to a healthy forever.

TIP: Eat Lean protein to stay fuller for longer. Pack turkey or chicken into a whole grain pita with lots of veggies for lunch and you just might not launch your usual 3pm assult on the vending machine .

TIP: Leave the last bite on your plate to keep it off your ass.  One less bite saves about 75-calories a day or 8 pounds weight loss a year! So if you're full and trying to be polite and clean your plate, don't! This theory always makes me think of my grandmother. She once told me, A Lady always leaves her last bite. It's stuck with me forever, and something I actually do practice. Especially when eating out.

7. Citrus slashes cortisolVitamin C inhibits the production of cortisol, a hormone that essentially tells your body to store fat. Suck down grapefruit slices on the way to the office, or pack a Cutie in your lunch too!




8. When you feel Snacky, ask yourself, Am I really Hungry? 
Studies show food cravings pass in about 10 minutes, so call a friend, paint your nails or knit an afghan until the craving passes. If you are just feeling snacky out of bordeum. Set a timer, telling yourself you can eat in ten minutes. In the meantime, DRINK WATER! 

9. Can the crap! Clean out your pantry of all trans fats and unhealthy sugars and swear them off!  Don't let that shit cross your threshold again starting 2017. See how long you can last. The goal is to  create a healthy grocery store within your kitchen to make healthy choices easy.

10. Stand and deliver results. Standing burns 1.5 more calories than sitting. Reason #44 to stand while on the phone, checking email or playing Candy Crush.





11. Portion control is key. It's as easy as considering this before every meal: Think of eating the portion for the size you want to be; Small, Medium, Large or Extra Large? The make a plate accordingly.  



TIP: When you finish each meal, brush your teeth! Studies show people were much less likely to snack after dinner once their teeth were brushed.

12.  Create Accountability. It's important to own your weight and body shape, and be accountable for the choices you make regarding both. I am a HUGE fan of weekly weigh-ins. In fact, I think that has a lot to do with why Weight Watchers has been such a successful program. Combine weigh-ins with the magical things "Smart Scales" are capable of these days, and you've got a true quantifiable picture of your health and weight loss.  I LOVE the Easy@Home Digital Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Scale (with App for iOS and Android!) 

Since receving the scale two weeks ago, I actually threw my old scale away. I will never ever be able to use another scale again unless it;s a smart scale. HOLY CRAP!  I keep telling friends I know more than I ever wanted to know about my health, and that I feel liek I have an evil personal traner I have to answer to almost daily. If you've never had one, a Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Scale creates accountability (and guilt!) like you have never known. Want to really track your weighloss goals EIGHT different parameters that directly affect your weight loss and overall health? GET THIS SCALE!!!! You can learn more about the Easy@Home Digital Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Scale, here.


  • Measures: Body Weight, Body Fat, Body Water, Muscle Mass, BMI, BMR(KCAL), Bone Mass and Visceral Fat.
  • Using Bluetooth technology, the scale seamlessly uploads the measurements to the corresponding App that can be downloaded on iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.
  • High precision sensors measure in increments of 0.2 lb./0.1 kg; ITO layer provides a metal-less surface and higher sensitivity
  • The large tempered glass top is safe and supports up to 400lbs; 4.3" backlit LCD display with extra large numbers
  • Smart step-on technology and auto shutdown; Operated by 4 AA alkaline batteries (Included) ; Satisfaction guaranteed with a 1-year warranty

**I received the above Easy@Home Digital Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Scale free for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own. It really is a super cool scale! 








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11/30/2016

How To Find The Balance Between Holiday Madness And The Simple Moments That Mean So Much

Even though the next few weeks promise to be full of parties, holiday kid-events, challenges, a wild-child jacked up on sugar cookies, and a stupid amount of cooking and baking, I do enjoy it. But I learned last year, it's so easy to get lost in it all. Or more to the point, spend the majority of the holiday season stressed out trying to keep everything on track.



I'm determined to make this year different. Better. Most of all, I don't want to be a stressed out cranky scrooge! I want to find a happy balance between Holiday Madness and the simple sweet moments that mean so much to my family.

As a kid, I LOVED the holidays and now that I have one, the traditions are fun all over again. Seeing my son's face light up at the magic of the holidays is AMAZING. Which, is why I have a tendency to over do it for my child. I accept every party invite, sign-on to every kid-friendly event, over buy, over give, and overextend myself.

It's times like these, I'm reminded why the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask over your face before your child. If you are not calm, healthy and focused, what good are you to a child?  I know I'm absolute shit!  (Also, this is a reminder that if you are sick, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Parents are so bad at this!)

As I sit here, the boys at school, Professor the cat is keeping my feet warm, I'm taking this quiet peaceful time to remind myself that the next few weeks are a magical time that I will never get back. I don't want to miss it running around with my head cut off!

I've decided this year to make a list, and use a written calendar to make sure I stay on track, plan ahead and DO NOT overextend myself or family.



Some of the happiest family holiday moments can be had at home, making cookies, decorations, playing games and making new traditions and memories. I know mine are. I loved spending solo time with my parents as a child. (Teenage years are a total different story!)

Life can get so crazy and stressful around the holidays. That's a given. Being that I'm already stressing and know how bad that is, especially this time of year, I'm determined to slow down, enjoy the simple things, and not try to pack in a lifetime of holidays memories in one year. When my son is older, there will be a time for all that. This year, I want to cherish the simple sweet moments. Something tells me, they will be the best.

What about you? Do you overextend or have you learned to slow down? What's the secret to a perfectly balanced holiday season?






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11/23/2016

If You Shop Online, READ THIS! It's Game Changing.

There's no denying, online shopping is a lifesaver around the holidays. In fact, I have absolutely no plans to endure the shopping malls anytime soon. Between the traffic, parking and lines, I'd rather stay home and shop from the comfort of Pajamas.  

If you agree, keep reading, because I have a few tips that will save you time and money, and wait for it... 

Get a crap load of cash back on your purchases!




1. GOOGLE ALL PURCHASES! If you shop online without checking for a coupon first, SHAME ON YOU! Seriously. It's as easy as Googling "Home Depot Coupon" or "Walmart Coupon Code." There are millions of online promo codes for percentages off your purchase or for add-ons like free trial packs. DO THIS EVERYTIME YOU SHOP ONLINE!!!

2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE AMAZON PRIME FREE 30-DAY TRIAL! If you don't have Amazon Prime, get it! New members can take advantage of a 30-Day FREE trial. Yes, you do have to give your credit card number, but once you sign up, "cancel" the Prime Membership and the clock will still run for 30 days. So no worries about remembering to cancel. 

Here is a screen shot of me canceling my 30-day free trial early, but still have the benefits through the full 30 days. 


TIP: Haven't used Amazon in a long time or not even sure what email you used? Your account may be eligible for a new free trial! Or, just start over. Sign up with a new email address, take advantage of the free 30-day prime membership and shop away in your PJs!  You also get all thePrime Extras like Free TV, Movies, Books, Music. Click the banner below to sign up now.

                                                      

                                         
3. GET CASH BACK ON EVERY PURCHASE! Did you know, you should be getting cash back for every online purchase you make? And I'm not talking about 1% of your purchase. Try up to 25% of your purchase! Seriously. No. Shit.

Last year, I reviewed a website that offered cash back. It worked. I REALLY got a check for the purchases I made when I shopped through the website. The problem was remembering to use the website before shopping.

Which is why EBATES has taken the online shopping world by storm with its browser button feature. Ebates created a button that installs on your web browser to easily find coupons offered on every site you shop at. INSTANTLY!





I made $10 cash back shopping last night between Macy's and Clinique. INSANE! I'm mad I didn't sign up for Ebates sooner. A friend who recently showed me a $300 check from Ebates said she has been using the website for two years, and has gotten over two-thousand dollars cash back. There's NO gimmick. Shop and get Cashback!  If you plan to buy a refrigerator or something big on Black Friday, definitely consider a site like Ebates to get a huge chunk of change back on your purchase. It's my plan for sure! 

To check out or Sign up for Ebates, click Here.

Do you have a super Shopping tip? Please share, us Parents need all the help we can get over the next two months!
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11/22/2016

Picture Perfect Thanksgiving Dishes, With a Twist! (Recipes Included!)

When it comes to Turkey I am a traditional girl, I love my turkey brined overnight then roasted all day, however, when it comes to sides, I like the traditional dishes too… but with a twist! Think horseradish and double cheddar mashed potatoes, or cranberries with orange-zest and jalapeños…

 I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes I have come across this year, and a couple of faves from years past… (to get the recipe for any of the following dishes click the Dish's title link and a new window will open up!)


Without further ado… Picture Perfect Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes, With a Twist! 



Potatoes…


Leave it to me to find a way to get Goat Cheese on the table.
Lawd I love that creamy goodness!

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries!
Why they always gotta be sweet and cinnamon-y?
Kick those suckers up a notch!
Veggies…



(This is Sunny Anderson's recipe.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE her!!)

Just like with Goat Cheese, if I can get Bacon on the table… It's happening.
The only other traditional dish on my table is the Traditional Green Bean Casserole.  I am a Sucker for this one.




Stuffing….

Two Words,
(This link is to another of my personal faves, Rachel Ray!)

I LOVE this idea!
You can use any stuffing recipe you want, just bake into muffin tins.
Every one will get crispy stuffing,
and its a total over loaded Thanksgiving plate space saver!
Cranberries…


I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!
My Brother-in-Law made it a few years ago and I have begged for it at every holiday since.
The dish is a perfect balance of each flavor; Cranberry, Jalapeño & Orange.
 OH. SO. GOOD!!!
Dessert…

For the grown-ups, Caramel Apple Cheesecake




For the littles...




What about you? Are you a traditional turkey and sides kind of person, or do you like things to have a wild twist too?  Do you have any awesome ideas you want to share?  




  
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11/21/2016

6 Things All New Mothers Should Know To Survive The First 6-Months

 If only I knew all of this, and followed it, when I was a new mom...

I have no doubt that every mother will agree with me when I say, during pregnancy the only thing you get more of than stretch marks and bad gas, is parenting advice.  Between the always ready to share been-there-done-that mothers, parenting books and online resources, the information available today for new mothers is overwhelming. What's more, you never know what to believe since one book will contradict the next, and what one mother swears by, another mother will insist did not work for her baby. Weeding through all of the advice can be daunting, to say the least.

Looking back, I wish I was given more advice on how to deal with becoming a mother, and less on the three million different ways to rock a baby to sleep. I needed to know about the self-doubt and failures that came along with motherhood, or that having a baby would take a huge toll on my marriage and personal life if I let it. After talking with numerous other mothers, I realized we all struggled with the same issues; things it seemed no one bothered to warn us about in between lessons on feeding, changing and rocking our newborn to sleep.  I've put a list together of the top six things all new mothers to know.  Things we wish we didn't have to learn the hard way.

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We are FAR from childhood development professionals. We cannot and will not be held responsible if you take us seriously. Especially, because we don't even take ourselves seriously.