12/28/16

5 Ways I'm Going To Make 2017 AMAZING






For years, my New Year's resolutions were the same; Quit Smoking (Pre-motherhood), neve drink again, stop believing tacos and nachos are a food group, lose weight, find a better job...

Truth is, I usually broke the quit smoking resolution by the end of New Year's Day, ate tacos by the end of the week, and the weight loss resolution is really just an ongoing joke I have with myself, and until I retire, I will always be looking for a better job.



Clearly, New Year's resolutions were really just a joke to me, like rules that were meant to be broken.




Well, after the shitshow 2016 turned out to be. ON SO MANY LEVELS. I've decided to make resolutions that will help make 2017 Amazing. And the truth is, these resolutions if I actually can follow them, will change not only my life but my family too.

5 Ways To Make 2017 AMAZING.

1. Stay Positive- Let go and let God. This too shall pass.  I have to remember, everything always works out in the end. Always. In one wonky way or another, my world-ending problems are solved. It's the space between the problem and resolution I need to be positive and have faith that all will work out.
2. Make Healthy Lifestyle and Nutritional Choices for My Family. This is such a no-brainer. When grocery shopping, I have to make wise choices, not pick up a shitty snack.
3. Be Thankful For All I Have- It's easy to get swept away with Kardashian-dreams of stupid excess, but none of it truly buys happiness. I am so blessed, so what if my car sucks and we live on a tight budget. My family is fed, warm, healthy, happy and comfortable. I truly need nothing else.
4. Be Humble

and last... the most important...

5. Do Not Be Afraid To Follow My Dreams. They surely know the way... I am a firm believer in following your dreams. Even if that means devoting time every day, even if just a few minutes, to accomplishing my dreams. The first year I filed taxes as a 'writer' I cried. I had finally made money following my dreams. Best. Feeling. Ever.

DO THIS.


Happy 2017. Cheers to the next 365 days being your very best yet. I know that's my plan!



12/22/16

Don't Forget To Track Santa On NORAD! #SantaTracker @NORADSanta

Did you know, you can track Santa's flight path across the world?

For over sixty years, NORAD, The North American Aerospace Defence Command, has been giving families around the world a super fun way to track Santa's flight path on Christmas. 



At any given minute, Ollie and I can check where Santa is in the world and where he is going next! 
It's actually super cool. And a learning experience for all involved. I promise you will see towns and villages you never knew existed!  For extra learning fun, look them up!






The NORAD website isn't just for tracking Santa, there's also has a bunch of fun interactive things to do,  games to play and even 'Santa's Favorite Holiday songs' on the NoradSanta website.


 


This year, for the first time, we are going to track Santa from my phone using the NORADSanta Tracker App. 





AND THAT'S NOT ALL!!!

Wait for it... 

It's totally free. 

I know, finally something free during the holidays. 

If you have kids, DO THIS! It's fun and exciting for all. 

Check out the NORADSanta Tracker Website, here





12/20/16

How To Pick The Perfect Teething Toy

Today, I'm partnering with a couple of parents to talk about teething and what to look for when shopping for a product to help your child alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with teething. The parents I'm partnering with, know all too well the trials of teething. They had such a hard time, they invented their own 'perfect' teethers, the Nenu Bud and Bug.






The first two years of my son's life, it seemed like he was constantly teething. I'm sick over the stupid amount of money I wasted on 'stuff' trying to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with his teeth ripping through his gums. 
In case you don't know yet, there are hundreds of teething products on the market. From toys, to rings, pacifiers, tablets and gels, the options are endless.

I'll never forget standing in the baby teething aisle for the first time. It was a wild wall of teethers in every color and shape. I stood there for at least 15 minutes trying to decipher what they all meant. It’s a teething toy, why so many different variations? 




After about five minutes, I realized there were three basic types of teethers for:


1. Front teeth 

2. Back teeth 
3. Both, front and back. 

Two years and many teethers and home remedies later, it's safe to say, I'm nearly an expert on teething products. Below are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a teether and two amazing options that fit the bill!



ELIMINATE: 

  • Eliminate anything heavy. It blows my mind how many 'infant' toys are heavy, or grow heavy after being held for a minute. If it looks heavy, pass.
  • Eliminate anything with large elements that your baby will need to negotiate to chew on. I bought a teether once with different textured beads. My little guy got so frustrated trying to chew on it. 
  • Eliminate anything that cannot be easily washed. things with nooks and cracks not easily washed become bacteria filled yucks. 
  • Eliminate any product that only addresses one area of the mouth, there are way too many products available that take care of baby's whole mouth. Not just the front or back teeth. 




The short arms with soft bumps are designed to reach the front teeth and gums.
The long legs with ridges are designed to reach the back molars.
Bud's loop is designed for easy grasping.




LOOK FOR:
  • Products Free of: Phthalate, Latex, Vinyl, BPA. Made from medical grade materials 
  • ONE solid product. Teethers take a beating, make sure the one you choose can't be destroyed into little pieces. 
  •  Products that offer multiple textures and angles to chew on. This is the most important, you want something that will last and continue to alleviate baby's discomfort for as long as possible. 





  • Soft bumps on legs help soothe sore gums.
  • Legs are designed to mimic the size and feel of a babies finger.
  • Bug's loop is designed to encourage one and two-handed grasping for building fine motor skills.


Teething is a tough time for all involved. Choosing the right products to help your child can be difficult, but once you eliminate the 'don'ts' and look for the 'do's', your chances of saving time, money and both your infant's and your sanity will be much, much better. 

To get your hands on the above parent invented Nenu Teethers and utensils, or just find more information, visit the Nenu website, here. (Use code HAPPY30 at checkout to save 30%!)

12/19/16

5 Tips For Meltdown Free Family Travel

Planning a trip? Heading to Grandmas for the Holidays? Escaping the bitter cold for warm sands? Regardless of the mode of transportation or destination, one thing remains the same, the kids are coming and you need to prepare. Below are five of my best tips for meltdown free family travel. 


1. Pack Light. With so many gadgets, toys, clothes, blankets, bedtime bears and favorite pillows to consider for the trip, it's easy to over pack. Very. Easy. Combat the need to over pack by making an "essentials" list for each family member. Give the little one a small bag to pack their favorite things.   Remind yourself and fellow travelers, you're not leaving for good, it's a week! 

Road Trip Tip: Clean and check the headlights and taillights. While giving the exterior some love, double check tires' air pressure and tread and look for nails or debris that could be potentially dangerous. You may want to invest in an air freshener too!

2. Snack Attack. Whether it's a hungry kid or a chatty Aunt Cathy, snacks will come in very handy.  Skip the traditional sandwiches for bento box lunches to keep kids busy. 




Road trip snack TIP: Freeze small bottles of water and use them in the cooler instead of ice. The frozen bottles will keep things cool and the cooler free from filling with melted ice water that sloshes back and forth with every turn.

3. Floors Are For Feet Only. Let's face it, the floors can be valuable real estate when traveling, but not so great for the person losing the foot space. Free up foot space by hanging bags on the back seat. Backpacks fit nicely over the 'shoulders' of the seat or secured by the headrest. 




4. Check Your Tech. Before embarking on any trip, check your tech; make sure all phone, tablet and laptop batteries are fully charged, with all accessories safely and conveniently packed away for emergency charging.When it comes to a crying kid over a dying tablet, the last thing you'll want to do is search four bags to find it. Keep all tech together for easy access. 

5. Baby Wipes Work Wonders On Trips. Whether you're traveling with a child or not, invest in a pack of baby wipes. The pre-moistened wipes clean messy faces and surfaces in a pinch, and without stinky harsh chemicals. Not to mention, those little wipes will be a lifesaver at the grimy roadside or airport bathrooms that haven't seen an attendant in at least a decade.

If you have a family road trip tip please share in the comments below!

12/16/16

10 Kid Toys That Really Drive Parent's Crazy

If pissing off a parent is on your list of things to do this holiday season, then keep reading, because the following types of toys drive parents bat-sh*t.

1. Toys that make annoying noises. Steer clear of the firetruck with 50 flashing lights that screams "FIRE FIRE" and then belts out a 30-second siren whenever you slightly touch the button, because I promise, your kid will push that button repeatedly for two hours straight. There is a special place in hell for toy manufacturers of those toys. It's on the corner of  Whatswrongwithyou & Needsaslap St.

2. Toys with sensors that go off when you walk by. This reaches beyond toys. ANYTHING that makes noises when you walk by will be regretted. You will never be able to sneak out of your child's room again thanks to it. I could have killed FTD when he managed to procure a HUGE BAG of Furbies (complete with batteries) at a yard sale. Those little monsters, with all their the nonsensical chirping, whistling and garbled chatter. It never fails that the cat walks by one the second Ollie falls asleep.

3. Toys that are part of a set or collection.  Once you open the floodgates, you can kiss your nest egg goodbye.



4. Toys that require assembly of more than three parts and/or stickers to apply. Have you ever tried to assemble a toy that requires 22 steps with a toddler "helping"?  Three pages into the instructions, nothing makes sense anymore and the stickers are stuck to the TV.  You'd think that if a manufacturer has gone to all the trouble of assembling, marketing, and packaging the thing, why on earth wouldn't they have applied the damn stickers too?

5.  Toys that can be easily disassembled into two hundred tiny pieces. This will inevitably happen in the back seat of your car, two minutes after pulling out of the store parking lot. With any and all accompanying stickers immediately stuck to the car window.

6. A toddler bed. I don't care if it looks like Dora the Explorer or a Race Car, your kid will not fall for it. It's a waste of time and money that will fail you. TIP: Transition from crib to a bed no smaller than a twin, so you have somewhere to sleep when your kid crawls into bed with you and takes over. Every night. Forever.




7.  Toys that are really candy in disguise. Let's just go with sugar in general, because we all know what happens...



8. Toys on wheels your kid cannot operate alone.  Make no mistake about it, if you buy a tricycle, scooter or bike before your kid is ready for it, your back will break from having to bend down to push it CONSTANTLY!

9. Annoying books. Before you purchase/accept a book, read through it first, then ask yourself if you could stand to read it at least ten times a day for two months straight. If not, drop the book and run like hell.

10. Tiny toys. The smaller the toy, the more pain it inflicts when you step on it. Think: Lego.


                              



12/15/16

10 Tips To Save Big AND Avoid Having A Holiday Shopping Meltdown


Nothing says I hate my life like shopping for holiday gifts at the last minute, with a child in tow.  I know, I've done it.

Twice.

Last year, I vowed NEVER again. I was sick of standing in a line that snakes all the way to the back of the store just so I can to buy overpriced crap because I'm in a last-minute pinch.

So I made a plan. A really good plan. This is year two, and I've finished most of my holiday shopping, with my sanity intact. Here are 10 Tips To Save Big AND Avoid Having A Holiday Shopping Meltdown.



Before I get started, I need you to repeat after me...

I WILL NOT PAY FULL PRICE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

1. Make A List.  Probably the biggest holiday shopping mistake is going shopping without a solid plan. Going to the shops with a loose list of people to shop for, and a vague idea of what I want to get them is dangerous on so many levels. From over buying to completely forgetting Aunt Thelma... Everyone's been naughty, just make the damn list already!

Make a list of anyone and everyone you may want/need to buy gifts for, then add your vague gift ideas. Maybe even go so far as to just come out and ask them what they want. Then use this as your master list. Stick to it, and when that person has been taken care of, write down what you got them, and cross them off the list. Organization is key.

2. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU! I am so bad about shopping for myself during the holidays. So bad. As much I'm a huge fan of retail therapy, there are two major flaws with this:

1. My holiday shopping time and budget are limited.
2. The post-holiday clearance sales in January are WAY BETTER.

It's best to leave yourself out of the equation until after the holidays.

3. Leave the distractions at home.  When possible, avoid taking your child(ren) with you.  Even if this means trading all of your lunch breaks until January.  Brown bag it and shop in peace. Kids only complicate the mission with their begging, meltdowns and diaper blowouts.

4. Price shop from home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today to not to compare prices both online and in stores. Take Your Master List and price shop online before you step foot in an actual store. Write down where the best deal is, then check your list once finished for stores or websites that overlap. This can save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore in store or online.

Example:  I needed a big ticket item from a big box hardware store. I went to their website, found what I wanted, then searched for a coupon code.  I was able to save 20% at checkout with a coupon code I found on Ebates.  What made the deal even sweeter was that I opted for an in-store pickup.  This saved me time and money. DO THIS!!!

5. Never Shop Online unless you get cash back! I recently found out about Ebates and I'm OBSESSED!  I have made over $110 in cash back shopping. Some of the money has already been directly deposited in my PayPal account. Seriously, if you shop online, I cannot recommend enough signing up for Ebates. (Tip: download the browser buttons and all cash back offers and coupons are automatically offered when you start shopping on a website.)


6. Coupon like a crazy person.  Coupons are everywhere these days, don't buy without them! Don't just rely on coupon specific websites and apps, check the website for the store you are heading to.  So many stores will scan the coupons off your phone. If you shop at Target and don't use the Cartwheel app... bad, bad, bad.

7. Don't discount the discount sites. Websites like Amazon, Groupon, Zulily, Overstock, Wayfarer...  all will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders. I have each bookmarked this time of year to check quickly for steals on things on my list.

TIP: GiftCardGranny is a totally legit site to get gift cards at super discounted prices. So before you buy a gift card in a store, check Gift Card Granny first.

8.  Shop Secondhand. What does every parent have in common at 2 am on Christmas Eve/Hanukkah? They're putting together toys. So, if you are going to give your child a fully assembled toy anyway, why not just buy it secondhand, shine it up and slap a bow on it? Secondhand children's stores and higher end consignment shops have incredible deals on gently used items... so worth checking out!

9. Hit up Pinterest and get crafty. Make something for the person that has everything.  Every year I knit hats and scarves for family and friends. They all look forward to them now; some even put in orders for specific colors.



10. Regift it! Before you do any of the things on this list, grab a box and walk around your house filling it with crap you don't want anymore. Remember, your crap is another person's treasure. Somehow. Once you have filled the box, sit down and decide which friend/family member or what holiday party's Secret Santa you can pawn your crap gift the goods to.


How do you save big during the holidays? If you have any tips or tricks, please please please share them!!!!

12/13/16

5 Great Career Options for Mothers

After having children, making the choice to return to work can be incredibly difficult. More women than ever are choosing to return to work, but struggle to find flexible options that allow them to work around childcare, and still get time to devote to their children. These five careers are perfect for those working women who have other commitments but still want a fantastic career.

Nursing

Nursing is a great career path for mothers. An online nursing degree would allow you to study while raising your children. Then once you have completed your online nursing program there are many career options available to you. Working as a practice nurse would give you a lot of flexibility, as would a career in nurse management.

Marketing

Marketing is a career path that appeals to many women. It allows you to explore creative options to problem solving, while working logically and meeting a lot of different people. Marketing is an especially good choice for mothers as a lot of work can be done from home, allowing you to set your own hours without having to rely on childcare.

Starting a Business

More women than ever are choosing to start their own businesses. The internet makes this a lot easier than it used to be. All you need is an idea, a laptop and a good internet connection. If you have a particular skill, such as cake decorating, you could start a business. Other options include making money blogging, writing, or selling photographs to a stock photo site.

Teaching

Teaching has for a long time been the first choice for many working mothers. The holidays and hours fit in with your children once they start school. You may require further education to get started, but then teaching can quite easily be a career for life.

Realtor

Realtors often set their own hours and arrange their own appointments. It’s an easy job to do part-time while your children are young. However, you may sometimes need to be available at weekends and in the evenings, so this is a good career for those women whose husbands work 9-5 jobs.

Part Time Work

Any job you can do part time could be a great option. Some may not be careers, but just ways to make a little extra cash while your children are young. These include working in a restaurant or bar, hairdressing and sales assistant jobs. They might not make great money, but sometimes it’s more about being out of the house, away from the kids and the pride that comes with earning something for yourself. Even if it is just a small amount, use it to buy yourself a treat or take the kids out for the day. Many couples choose to use the main earners job to pay bills, then save any other income for holidays and special treats.
Being a working mother can be incredibly rewarding. Finding something that allows you to enjoy your work, offers options in terms of progression, and lets you be a great mother doesn’t need to be difficult. One of these careers could be a great choice for you and

12/12/16

Is It Time For Kitchen Storage Makeover?

Having a tiny kitchen is difficult, but smart kitchen storage turns a frustrating kitchen into a small but usable room. Some kitchen storage, like hanging your cooking utensils from the walls, also adds accents to the kitchen and creates a unique look.



Hang Your Pots and Pans



Image via Flickr by ChalonHandmade
Metal hooks on the walls or the ceiling provide excellent places to hang your pots and pans. Once you remove these bulky utensils from your drawers or cabinets, you free up lots of space for storing the things that have cluttered up your kitchen. Plus, now your pots and pans are easier to grab when you need them.

Get a Rolling Cabinet

Sometimes the best storage is storage that you can move around as you need it. A rolling cabinet or cart is wonderful in the kitchen because it provides you with movable counter space. Use the top for food prep when you need it, and store often-used implements close at hand underneath. Your rolling cabinet also doubles as a rolling bar cart when you have company over. Just roll it into the living room. Store wine below, and showcase glasses and cocktail snacks on top.

Install Wall Shelving

Take advantage of blank wall space by putting up shelves. Wall shelves in the kitchen are great for cans, jars, boxes, and spices. They're also wonderful for oven mitts and dish towels, or for matching sets of dishes and glasses. Leave the shelves open so your items are plainly visible. Or, keep things looking neat and organized by investing in small storage baskets where you can hide measuring spoons, vitamins, zesters, and graters.

Invest in Drawer Organizers

The silverware drawer isn't the only drawer you need to organize. Drawers with dividers or pegs are easier to organize and keep neat when you're storing things like plates, Tupperware, and measuring implements. You can even create a spice rack out of one of your drawers by installing dividers in a lattice pattern. Print small labels for each nook so every spice has a place. Go the extra mile by buying small glass jars to store your spices uniformly; write the expiration dates in chalk marker on the jars so nothing goes bad.

Put Up a Peg Board

Steal an idea from the garage or basement workspace and hang a pegboard in the pantry or on one of your walls. Measuring cups, spatulas, tongs, and ladles now have a place when you put up a pegboard. You can paint it any color you like, and outline each item you hang so that it looks like tool storage. Or, leave the board blank so you can rearrange it when you need to. If you have enough space, hang your pots and pans on the peg board, too.

Start your kitchen organization journey by assessing where you need the most storage. Any of these kitchen storage ideas will help you to clear off your counters and create a space for each of your utensils. Make cooking in your tiny kitchen a pleasure, and not a chore, with the right storage.

To Elf, Or Not To Elf. THAT Is The Christmas Question




I'm so on the fence about getting an Elf.

Do I let him in?

Or, slam the door in his face?

Every mother I know swears by The Elf On The Shelf, Christopher Elf, or some other thing they use to instill fear of a pissed-off Santa. Or basically, a deferral of blame for being an Asshole parent for a month.

What I don't get is how can this little elf be so effective at getting a child to behave?

How can an elf bouncing around the house, multiple times a day, playing the odd prank, turn my kid into a perfect little Christmas Child?



I know moms who have had their elf for seven years.

Seven.

FYI: The word on the street is that once you let the elf in, you can't shut it out the next year. That elf becomes a Holiday tradition until your child stops buying into it.

Which, in my case with a four-year-old, that Elf could become a fixture for eight years!

Oh. Hell. No.

I don't want to deal with the multiple daily moves and random pranks. It sounds tedious.

FTD thinks it "could be fun."


My nephews, who LOVE their Christopher Elf, keep asking where our elf is. They are freaked out about my tree being up, but no elf has arrived. I'm running out of confused looks and crap excuses.

Is the Elf becoming standard now? Does everyone, but me, have an Elf?

Damn Elf.


How much does it suck to know in a two weeks when the elf goes back to Elfland, your perfect little Christmas angel is going to turn back into a heathen shit? Why not have a year long elf?


Plus, why would I want to make a mess then clean it up for the sake of an elf prank? I love my kid, but dammit that's going too far. I clean up enough shit every day. 

Even though I'm leaning towards skipping the elf this year, I'd love to know what you think. Is the elf really improving your child's behavior? It is really worth the trouble and mess? 






12/9/16

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?

12/7/16

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 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 Administration, 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.

12/5/16

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! 








11/30/16

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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