8 Healthy Alternatives To Hand Out On Halloween

October 28, 2016 April McCormick 2 Comments


I have a serious problem when it comes to Halloween Candy. Whether I buy one bag or two, inevitably, I eat all the candy before Halloween. Then, my pants don't fit.

Which is why I'm on my second year of banning bags of Halloween candy, and so far, there have been no complaints from the boys! Seriously, they get enough candy everywhere they go.


If, like me, you have a problem with self-control when it comes to a bowl of candy, keep reading for a few fabulous alternatives that's won't break the bank or your pants! Oh, and did I mention these options are under $10 and double as lunch packs and go-to snacks?


1. Animal Cookies.



2. Chex Mix! #winning


3. Assorted snack packs.  You could let the little gouls and girls pick their favorite.





4. Fruit Snacks. I'd much rather my son eat fruit snacks over Skittles.



5. Goldfish!  Who doesn't love Goldfish Crackers.




6. Granola bars. Imagine being cool with your child eating breakfast out of their Halloween Haul!




7. Cracker packs. 'nuff said.



8.  Pretzel packs! This is my second year giving these packs away. No guilt here or tight pants here...


All the above can be purchased in bulk at a warehouse store or grocery store. I get a big bag of 25 Hanover's Pretzels snack packs for $3.99 at Whole Foods.

Do you hand out a healthy Halloween option?


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18 NASA Approved Air Purifying Houseplants

October 24, 2016 April McCormick 0 Comments

Being that I live in a cold climate where I'm trapped inside for the winter months, keeping the air clean and free of pollutants can be a challenge. Thankfully, I have a little help from nature.

According to NASA, there are 18 houseplants that are fantastic natural air purifiers. And would you believe, one of the best is Gerber Daisies? Before you shut the windows on Autumn's cool temps, get a few air purifying houseplants. They eat pollutants for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Some need very little light and water.  The complete study is here.


First of all, here is what's lurking in the air...




Here's how those pollutants affect humans...

According to NASA, the following 18 houseplants are the best indoor air purifying plants with a legend to match the plant to the toxins it's destroys!.







Here are the plants with 'real' photos.




The following is a sort of cheat sheet to find which plant will be perfect for your space.



To see specific plants and care instructions, check out my Houseplant Air Purifier Pinterest Board, Here.


How many houseplants do you have on the list? I'm seriously going to try to get half the list before December 1st.  I'll let you know how that works out for me...






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How Humana + CareSource Destroyed My World With One Word.

October 19, 2016 April McCormick 0 Comments

I am so sorry to the long time readers who've noticed the absence of my usual humor posts on parenting. I've been living a nightmare inflicted by Humana-CareSource Insurance. It's been horrible. I've done all the fighting I can do. I've escalated the issue as high as I can and with no more avenues for resolution through Humana, I thought it was finally time to share my story of how CareSource destroyed my world in one word, caught them holding my money and taxpayer money wrongfully and then, got away with it because there was no one to help me.







”I’m sorry, Mrs. McCormick, the system is showing your insurance is not valid.”

I stood there, staring blankly at the receptionist in my son’s pediatrician’s office. That can't be? There must be some mistake. I've paid the premiums. I just picked up a prescription. I’m still receiving EOBs from doctor appointments last month.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see my four-year-old jumping from one chair to the next. I turn and give him the mom look of death. “Get down right now!”

He jumped to the ground landing his best Spiderman pose. While shooting an imaginary web at me he asked, “When is it our turn, mommy?”

Before I could answer, the receptionist hung up the phone and said, ”According to CareSource your insurance was terminated on May 31, 2016. I’m sorry. If you want your son to be seen today, you will have to self-pay. The office visit is $85. Depending on what tests the doctor orders, the cost goes up from there." 

Tears filled my eyes. I thanked her for her help and opted to straighten out the issue with Humana first, and then call for an appointment.

Devastated, my son and I walked out of his pediatrician’s office hand-in-hand. The tears changed to anger. 

By the time my son and I got home from the pediatrician, I was fuming. Never did I receive anything from Humana about my coverage being terminated.

Once my son was settled, I called CareSource. When the member services representative answered the phone, I drew in a deep breath, and as calmly as possible said, "I’m furious beyond words, and you don't get paid enough to deal with me, please, send me to your supervisor."

Since joining CareSource, through the State of Kentucky’s Healthcare Exchange, Kentucky Kynect, I’ve had nothing but problems.

Over the last nine months, I’ve talked to five supervisors and nine member service representatives with Humana. The online payment system inevitably would neglect to reflect my premium payment. Every call ended with a representative saying, “Don’t worry, I see the error on our side, the finance department will straighten everything out.”

(Here is a screenshot of proof of monthly payments, and the errors on their end reflected in the invoice amount. I paid $500 in April to cover April and May Premiums. To this day, May has still not been reflected. 





After a lengthy call to the supervisor, he finally saw the issues but insisted it was too late to do anything on his end. “I cannot reinstate your family’s coverage, only Kentucky Kynect can.”


“My son needs to go to the doctor. Please, help me.”

Silence.

I hung up and called Kentucky Kynect.

“How may I help you today, Mrs. McCormick?” Her voice was warm and kind, I thought I might cry. Coming up from the dungeon of the insurance dark world, I needed her kindness more than she knew.

I explained what happened with CareSource and that I need to have my family’s insurance coverage reinstated.

Sounding slightly annoyed, Tori, the Kynect Rep said, "I don't know why they tell people that, we can't reinstate your coverage. We can't do anything for you until open enrollment. Plus, our system shows you as currently covered with CareSource.  Until we get termination papers from Humana, the system won't allow me to open a new case for you. When did you say your coverage was terminated?

“Effective May 31, 2016."

“That’s six months? Humana is still billing for your payment assistance each month.”

"You have got to be kidding me. I can’t believe we are both still paying premiums to CareSource and I'm not covered. How many more people have been wrongfully terminated that Kentucky taxpayers are still funding? This has to be illegal.”

"I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do on my end.” I could tell by the tone in her voice, she genuinely wanted to help. “Is it possible to have a three-way a call with CareSource or ask them to call us? "


"A three-way call?” Really, she will do that? “That would be great! I've got to get to the bottom of this and for two months I’ve bounced between the two of you.”

As the phone rang through to Humana, my heart was racing. Was this nine-month long nightmare about to end?

I cleared the verification gate with Humana, then merged the calls.

I introduced, Tori, the Kentucky Kynect rep to the CareSource rep, then, for the twelfth time, I explained the situation. I walked the rep through my account, showed how each month I paid my premium and that I was canceled incorrectly.

After reading the notes and looking over my billing she said, “Can I put you on a brief hold?”

The operator came back on the line to let me know her supervisor said I was "termed out correctly, effective May 31, 2016."

I thought my head would explode with fury. 

“What about the premiums I’ve paid since May? Where’s that money? What about State of Kentucky’s payments? Where is our money going? Why are you still taking it? I went to the doctor in August, and it was covered? I have the PAID EOBs to prove it. None of this makes sense. How can you still be taking money from me and the state of Kentucky, and say I have been canceled since May 2016? It’s October!”

“The premiums you paid since May are showing as a credit on your account. Would you like me to put in for a refund?”

“Are you serious? A Credit? NO! I want my insurance. Not a refund.” Every ounce of my body was fuming mad. How could this be happening?

“I do see the issue, but my supervisor said you will have to work this out with Kynect. They will need to reinstate your plan.”

“That’s not true!” Tori, the Kentucky Kynect representative chimed in.“We don’t have access to her Humana account. Our system shows her plan, and that’s she’s covered. It’s clearly an error on your part, so you will need to work it out on your end.”

It felt so good to hear someone stand up for me. The past nine months have been nothing but me against CareSource .

After two hours, three supervisors and an emotional rollercoaster from hell, the ugly truth came out; Humana canceled me for non-payment effective May 31,2016, yet, was still accepting the monthly premiums from both Kentucky Kynect and me.

Neither of us had been notified of the plan termination. Nor was I made aware of my account “credit”.
  
The supervisor from CareSource said, “The only option is to send your account to the Finance department for review.”

I went through the roof.

I couldn’t believe they were getting away with this. I need insurance. I need to take my son to the doctor.

“NO! I am not waiting another thirty days for a review. I need insurance, NOW! I did nothing wrong. This is CareSource's fault.”

“I will send this over directly and ask that it be expedited. Hopefully, the review will not take the full thirty days. A member services representative will reach out once a decision is made.”

With no other options for having my insurance reinstated immediately, the three of us hung up. 

On Saturday, October 1, 2016, I received my first letter from CareSource since July 5, 2016. It was dated Monday, September 26: the same day I took my son to the doctor. I was being notified my insurance was terminated effective May 31, 2016. 




Two weeks later, CareSource  refused to reinstate my insurance. Even though I had done everything right on my end. My credit for premiums paid after the termination date is being refunded and can be expected in thirty-days. 

There is nothing else I can do. I'm now responsible for all doctor bills after the termination date. As well as finding new insurance without the help of Kentucky Kynect or pay tax liability fees for not carrying insurance. 

Needless to say, I'm lost. I feel like I have failed my family. We can't afford to get insurance outright. There's nowhere to turn, and in no time at all, the doctor bills from the summer will begin mounting. Suffocating me. Just in time for the Holidays. 







UPDATE: This post was published at 12:20pm October 19, 2016. I received a call from a "very concerned" Rep from Humana at 3:09pm. I essentially told her everything mentioned above and answered a few of her questions. The conversation ended with her promise to look into my account and address my concerns with the CareSource team. While I am happy that another set of eyes will review my account, I'm still pissed it took putting my family's dire insurance issue out there for the world to see to get Humana's attention.  Bottom Line: No fix. Still pisssed. 

UPDATE: (10/20/2016) Today, a rep from CareSource reached out. CareSource has admitted fault, albeit reluctantly, with an explanation that, somehow, placed blame on both of us. They offered to reinstate my insurance effective immediately. What transpired after those words were said will require a separate post, that I'm now working on. Just know, it's incredibly important to me that my situation NEVER happen to another person. I insisted on explanations about each and every issue, and how CareSource planned to fix policies moving forward. Bottom Line: Insurance reinstated. Still Pissed. Not over yet. 


UPDATE:  New post: "I Fought An Insurance Giant And Won"
For updates along my the path to resolution bookmark/pin this post, or follow me on your favorite social media channel: 

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5 Ways To Save Big And Stress Less This Winter

October 18, 2016 April McCormick 0 Comments


I'm an obsessive organizer and planner. I can't help it, I need the order to stay sane. Even if it makes my husband and child insane in the process. Whatever. In the end, they both see the method to my madness and the benefit!

Below are my 5 MUSTS to prepare for the upcoming cold weather and holiday season.

1. Create a holiday/winter budget. It certainly doesn't help that the holidays begin when the kids need new seasonal clothes, the electric bill starts to skyrocket, and the grocery bill nearly doubles. I've learned the hard way to prepare the holiday/winter budget now, so I don't break the bank later.

TIP: Factor in how much you will need for seasonal clothes, holiday gifts and groceries (People always forget about holiday groceries!) higher utility bills and every other inevitable incidental that breaks the bank year after year.


2.  Start stocking up. Over the next few months, depending on where you live and the holidays you celebrate, a few things are about to become hot commodities, things you can grab in the stores and online now, that may not be easy to find or marked up later. Things like holiday wrapping, ice melt/salt, snow shovels, ice scrapers, gloves, hats, mittens, batteries, blankets... You see where I'm going.



Rather than wait until the first snow storm to race out and get ice melt, I get it now. I also check our car windshield wipers, scrapers and snow shovels now to make sure they will withstand another season. Basically, I make a list of things I need and keep it in my wallet so when I'm out I will keep an eye out for sales and specials for each item.

3. Prepare the yard. Beginning in fall, plants, especially the delicate ones, need to be prepared for bitter winters and droughts. If you don't know what your Azaleas, rhododendrons, shrubs and trees need this time of year to safely make it through winter, look it up now! While some plants will need mulch, others will be fine. Some plants need to be cut back now, others after winter.  Some will need fertilizer now, others not until after winter. Knowing what your plants and trees need, can make a HUGE difference in the spring, especially with the bloomers, so take the time now to make them happy and thriving later! Check out this great post on ways to prepare the garden for Fall's first frost. 



4. Weatherproof the house.  As much as I pride myself on being organized and a great planner, it took me a few years to grasp the fact that most home weatherproofing needs to be done well before the first frost! I can't tell you how many times I have started to put plastic on the windows only to realize it's WAY too cold outside for the adhesive to stick. Most weatherproofing materials need it to be at least 55-65 degrees outside to work, so don't wait for the first frost to weatherproof under your roof.Here's a great post for easy, money-saving weatherproofing tips. 



5. Prepare the car for emergencies. There's no doubt about it, the winter weather is notorious for creating stranded motorist and long delays. The last thing I want to do is be caught on the side of the road in a snow storm without a few essentials.

In my trunk, in addition to a small bag of ice melt/salt, I keep a duffel bag with a blanket, flashlight, a few bottles of water and packs of peanut butter crackers. I also have a mom-kit in the car loaded with winter essentials and daily must haves; tissues, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, lotion, lip gloss, a few snacks and a bottle of water.

These small steps now save big headaches and budget busting winter dread. At least, it does for me!

Is there anything you do now prepare for the holidays and colder dryer months that saves you time and money later?







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14 Halloween Treats You Have To See To Believe!

October 17, 2016 April McCormick 0 Comments

Below are some of the most amazing Halloween treats I have ever seen.  And I'm not talking about hot dogs that look like fingers. Been there. Done that.



No doubt a few will be gracing my Halloween Party table... (For recipe, click the name under the photo)




LOVE these yummy and super easy to make, edible pumpkin candy bowls.


This Halloween inspired cake is SO easy and So cool. Halloween Tie-Die Bunt Cake.

I positively LOVE these. The Ultimate witch's hat cupcakes!


Super simple Cheese puff pumpkin giveaway bags







So easy, the kids can make them...Monster Marshmallow pops.




This is so gross, it's good. Ear wax (caramel) marshmallows



SO CREEPY!!!  Skeleton Cheese Skull





Spider PB&J!
I love Healthy Halloween-inspired treats.


This Monster Meatloaf is so gross. 
I'm totally feeding it to my family.

Genius. 



I LOVE this Coffin Bread Bowl.


Mmmmmm. Homemade gummy worms.



What's your favorite? Have you ever tried any?

For more Halloween inspiration from costumes to decorations to more eats and treats, check out my Halloween Pinterest Boards.

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20 AMAZING Halloween Pumpkin Ideas

October 13, 2016 April McCormick 0 Comments

I am in complete awe over the following pumpkins. It is absolutely mind blowing what people come up with when decorating these big round orange fruits!  Some don't even cut into them and still make a rad ass work of art out of them.

So without further ado...

20 Amazingly Badass Halloween Pumpkin Ideas...


This Pumpkin puts the 'P' in PLEASE do mine next year!

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Parent PSA: Tis' the Season To AVOID This... (Mothers. READ THIS)

October 12, 2016 April McCormick 0 Comments



Not only are the Holidays upon us, so is cold and flu season. This means, if you don't play it smart, you'll be eating the Thanksgiving dinner you cooked in bed. Alone.

I'm talking about the complete household-wide misery that strikes when mom (or primary caregiver) gets sick.

You know, the point where after spending two weeks caring for every member of your family who's been sick, YOU get sick. Not super sick, just kind of dragging and sniffling sick. Then, two weeks and three boxes of tissues later, because you refused to slow down and take care of yourself,  you find yourself bedridden. All because you didn't follow your own rules.

You know, "Go to bed, you're sick!."





It's time for Change, Parents.

It's time to take care of yourself sooner than later, so you don't spend the ENTIRE winter fighting off your first cold or flu from OCTOBER!

You know, like last winter. And the Winter before...
                 
So, how to make this dream a reality?

1. Create an emergency sick kit. Stock the house with EVERYTHING you need to fight off winter's ailment, BEFORE they strike. Pre-stock the house with cold/flu meds, throat lozenges, extra boxes of tissue, Gatorade, sprite, antibacterial wipes... YOU know you will have to buy them eventually Why wait until 11:30 at night with a crying child or a head cold so hardcore you're positive death would be better?

2. Make a list of your night and morning routine. Pass it off to the most responsible adult. (I say "most responsible adult" because sometimes it's a toss-up between my husband and his mini-me.)


3. GO TO BED.

4. SLEEP IN.

5. Eat a solid breakfast. NOT just the last two bites of the waffle your child didn't finish.

6. Decide if a trip to the doctor is necessary. If so, BLOODY GO!!!!!!

7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Until the cold or flu has passed, stay still.  No good comes from dragging your sorry ass out of bed the minute you have enough energy. Seriously. How did that work out for you last year?  Bought you another day in bed, didn't it? Me too.

Or.

You could do nothing.

Which, you know results in you eventually being bed-ridden anyway. Remember last year when you took days off work and were too sick to move thanks to not slowing down in the first place?

Yeah. That.

My friend, don't fall into the same sick routine. You know you will end up in bed one way or another.

Why not take care of yourself and get ALL THE WAY better on the front end? It only takes about 2-3 days. Opposed to the month of sniffles and feeling rundown that leads to the two weeks of feeling like you're dying, followed by two days in bed feeling like death would be a welcome relief, that still doesn't seem to kick it all the way. Then you spend the rest of the winter feeling, "not-quite-right."

Do you really want that?

Please, take care of yourself this cold and flu season.

You know, there's a reason you're supposed to put the oxygen mask over your face before your child's in an airplane emergency...  Your family needs you, take care of you.

For tips, check out my post on, Tips for keeping your family safe during cold and flu season.


Not following us on social media yet? You're missing out on all of our behind the scenes nonsense, and trust me, it's complete and utter nonsense. 


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Monday Humor To Get You Moving. #MondayMotivation

October 10, 2016 April McCormick 0 Comments


This morning I woke up with two choices, be annoyed and angry with the Presidential debate recaps and banter over who won the second presidential debate, or ignore it and find a way to make Monday Fun!

I went with the latter.

If you're feeling the same, then keep reading, because I went into my funny files and found myself laughing until there were tears in my eyes. I feel so much better.

I wanted to share this feeling. So, without further ado, here are a bunch of funny things to help you get over your angry frustrated Presidential Debate hangover too...





















Last but not least...


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