Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tips for A Smart Home this Winter

I can't believe summer is over and our central air turned on only 5 times!! Yay, for saving $$ but I'm not adjusted yet to the extreme change in climate from the gulf coast and if this winter is anything like the last one, I might just be packing our bags and heading south with the geese. 

The conversations have already shifted to talk about the cold and looming winter months. Have you turned on the heat yet? Stocked up on firewood? Pulled out the winter blankets? Wonder if it will be snowing by Halloween again? 

I'm not ready for this! Heavy coats, shoveling snow, bone chilling cold and the endless sea of complaining voices... I'm cold, turn the heat up.


In our house I have control over the thermostat and I'm a checker, no turning it up without me noticing. We never leave the house or go to bed without turning the thermostat down and shutting off the lights. 

Saving energy is a must in our household. Just the other day my girls asked what I put in their lamp. I was slightly confused to what they were asking, I replied "a light bulb". There response was nothing short of comical, "Oh, like the kind you see in cartoons".  We've switch most of our lightbulbs over to CFL's and LED's, it never occurred to me that my kids would recognize a 60 watt incandescent light, the kind most of us grew up with.

                      Liberty Building                                                                                 Electric Tower


This week I took the kids to the top of Buffalo's City Hall to see the view, breathtaking! 
What a beautiful city, it was one of the first electrified cities in the United States, thanks to the mighty Niagara. 
Buffalo's waterfront is lined wind turbines and the city was chosen to have the first Solar powered neighborhood. 

Today there's so many options now for saving energy in our homes and in our cities.


Here are some easy energy saving tips for a Smart Home we've done around ours:

1. Your living room typically has multiple active light sources available. Make sure your lighting is energy efficient by switching traditional bulbs to CFLs or LEDs.

2. Replace your old, inefficient appliances with new, efficient, Energy Star® appliances. Old appliances tend to run inefficiently.

3. Replace the showerhead in your bathroom(s) with low flow showerheads.  These showerheads regulate the flow of water, assuring you a more efficient shower. Turning down the hot water tank helps to, better yet get a tankless we did!

4. Installing light dimmers can save cut your electricity use 40% over time and make your lightbulbs last 20 times longer.

5. Planting trees in optimal spots on your property will provide shade during the warmer months making your system work less hard to cool your home down. Living in the south for 19 years taught me the value of a shade tree.

6. Even when your appliances are turned off, they are still using electricity. Use smart power strips to combat energy vampires. This one I'm big on making sure nothings plugged in that we aren't using.

7. Add more insulation in the attic, I prefer the recycled denim or newspaper, filled to an R30 rating.

8. Ceiling fans help to circulate air in both winter and summer months.

9. Smart thermostat is another great option in your home (this one is on my to do list).


Our favorite 52"ceiling fan (found at Home Depot)

 Direct Energy most recently partnered with Nest, to bring customers the Nest Learning Thermostat. So for those of you shopping for energy in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois, from Direct Energy, you now have the opportunity to sign up for an energy plan and get a free Nest Learning Thermostat at no cost (a $249 value!).It’s just one of the ways we’re hoping to make your home smarter and more convenient. 































Even better Direct Energy is hosting a sweepstakes where 5 lucky winners will have the chance to win Nest Learning Thermostats! 




To enter the sweepstakes, click to visit the campaign landing page and simply fill out the entry form. How easy is that? 



The giveaway will take place from Wednesday, October 1st to Wednesday, October 22nd. Winners will be selected in Mid-November.



Click here for Nest Learning Mobile link.








Thank you to Direct Energy for sponsoring today’s post.







Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kicking it up!!!

We finally found that a sport they can all participate, better yet stick with! 
I feel like they've tried them all; soccer, tennis, ballet, swim, chess and golf, (baseball's next year).

So when Saturday came it was a big day for my three littlest ones. Their first belt testing!!


100 crunches
50 pushups
100 jumping jacks
and
dozens of kicks and pushes



It was almost as much fun seeing the looks on the parents and grandparents as the kids counted 10, 20, 30, ...100 crunches. I think all our stomachs were hurting just watching.





Modesty, Courtesy, Integrity, Self-Control, Perseverance, Indomitable Spirit...and a smile.


They've been working hard for the past 3 months, 2-5 times a week, collecting stripes and now it's official, 
we have 3 yellow belts in our house! or what mine refer to as the bumble belt, once they get a couple black stripes on it.


All five of us take karate, but belt achievement is slower in the adult classes. 
There's no shame, Luna and I look good in our white.

It makes me proud to see all their hard work and perseverance give them such a sense of accomplishment, 
as they proudly tie their yellows for class each week.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Potty Training, getting started.




Years ago when my oldest was getting ready to potty train I picked up the phone and called my grandmother, who better to get advice from than a woman who successfully potty trained all 16 of her children, and this was before the internet! Even though she was 1200 miles away her support and encourage meant was there.
The clock was ticking and I was in a hurry, pregnant with my second, there was no way I was going to have two kids in diapers.
 I asked her  many questions about when would I know she was ready and how do I even start to potty train? She went on to talk about how every child is different and it takes patients, her earliest was trained at 12 months (that was my mom, way to go!) and others took until they were three, but her best advice was to reassure me it would happen and not worry, she never had one leave for kindergarten in diapers.


First thing I did was run out and buy a package of Huggies Pull-Ups, I couldn't believe how easy they were to get on and off, she had no problems potty training and within 2 months she was wearing underwear and I delivered baby #2. My second was just as easy to potty train but #3 and #4, well I contemplated buying stock in Huggies many times. My boy took the longest, I actually gave up at some point and just let him be. It wasn't until the morning of his third birthday, he literally  woke up, went straight to the toilet and never had to use another Pull-Ups after that. Crazy.



I have several friends who currently are in some stage of potty training their toddlers, we're always sharing stories and advice, wondering when the last package of Pull-Ups will be. That right of passage and sweet victory can sometimes seem so far away, but it also means they're growing up and the next thing you know it's the first day of kindergarten.



Over the Labor day weekend we got to hang out with old friends, eat lots of handmade taffy, watch the annual parade of volunteer fire trucks, say goodbye to summer and take a ton of photos... especially of these two adorable kids and their doubly adorable dimples.


The 10 Signs of Readiness
Whether the start of potty training comes earlier or later for your child, you’ll get your cues on “when it’s time” from your child. That emerging independence starts shining through and they’re eager-to-please. Now is the time to start actively watching for these signs of readiness for potty training. Ask yourself if your child:
  • Stays dry for at least two hours.
  • Is dry after a nap.
  • Is uncomfortable in soiled diapers.
  • Shows increased interest in the bathroom.
  • Asks to use the toilet or potty chair.
  • Has regular and predictable bowel movements.
  • Asks to wear Big Kid or “grown up” underwear.
  • Uses words or body language when he or she needs to go.
  • Follows simple verbal directions.
  • Walks to and from the bathroom, helps undress his/herself.
If your child shows two or more of these signs, it’s a good indication that they’re ready to start potty training.




Pull-Ups® products are all about getting kids interested in potty training. That’s why our training pants have fun designs, and stretchy sides that let kids put them on and take them off — just like Big Kid® underwear.

Pull-Ups is all about saying “bye bye” to diapers and using Pull-Ups from the start of the potty training process, they enable learning and offer support tools and resources through the Big Kid Academy. Potty training is a journey that mom and child go through together, and Pull-Ups are a great help, teaching kids how to “pull up” their big kid underwear. 


In addition, they will learn about Pull-Ups® which can make the transition to Big Kid® underwear an easier one. Lastly, they have the opportunity to find more support and tips by enrolling in the Pull-Ups® Big Kid Academy.






Today’s post is sponsored by Pull-Ups, by my love for their Big Kid Academy option is all my own!"






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tea Tree Oil Homemade Healing Cream



A couple years ago I had a life threatening reaction to Neosporin, it was our go to remedy for all cuts and boo-boos but I was directed by my doctor to never use it again. So I went in search of an alternative. 

Turns out Tea Tree Oil a great  natural way to fight everything from Minor scrapes to Acne, Lice and Yeast Infections, to Cold Sores, Dandruff, Fleas, Warts, Psoriasis, and More.
 It can also be use to make your own Shampoo, Lotion, Soap, Face Cleaner, Body Wash, and Toothpaste. 

We already use Tea Tree oil de-tangler on our dog to keep her coat nice and smooth and ease the pain of brushing her.

 It can also be used as a natural Household Cleaner, Shower Sprays, Bathroom Disinfectant, and Kitchen Spray. Just a few drops goes a long way!


Homemade Tea Tree Oil Healing Cream

Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3 TB beeswax (where to buy) equals 2-3 oz. if using bars 
  • 1/2 TB raw honey
  • 10 drops tea tree oil (where to buy)
  • 3 drops black walnut or pecan oil
  • diffused lemon verbena 
  • glass jars 

In a saucepan melt over low heat the coconut oil and grated bees wax (or beeswax pellets), while stirring mix in the olive oil and honey. Once everything is fully dissolved, turn off heat then add in oils. Pour into jars and stir for 5-10 minutes until fully cooled and smooth. 


It's really trial and error to get the cream to your liking but this recipe will get you started with using Tea Tree oil as a healing cream.



Adding more or less beeswax will determine the thickness of your healing cream.


I really enjoy the aroma of this Tea Tree Oil and I look forward to a more natural way of healing.



This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Organized with LyveHome and a Giveaway!!


I'm on vacation photo overload!

Our phone and iPad were totally full by the time we got back. Sometimes I have no idea what to do with all of it.
Photo organization is not my specialty.



The kids were completely exhausted after being in the van for 27 hours and I had mountains of laundry to, so needing them occupied started us on yet another hunter for our forever missing iPod.



Have you ever lost something and spent the next 10 months looking for it? Well then you'll understand the absolute frustration we've had searching for the kids iPod Touch. 

I remember the first thing I said when it went missing way back in November 2013 was to my son asking him to check the leather chair. Of course he looked and found nothing.

 Now jump ahead to August 2014, our first day back from our latest road trip and my 11 year old decided to look again to try and find it. I was no longer loaning out my iPhone for them to play Minecraft and it felt like every other sentence out of my mouth was, well if you only had the iPod.

 Stream decided after an hour looking around the cupboards that she'd go to the seen of the crime, the last known place where we saw him playing it, his favorite leather chair. 

A few moments later I almost didn't believe what heard, "I found the iPod Touch!"

 No way! right? and where had it been for nearly a year? Yep, the leather chair. The one he sits in almost daily. The same place he said it wasn't.



It was perfect timing too! We wanted to immediately copy and save all 1000+ photos from the iPod.
This was the same day LyveHome arrive at our door!!!

My urgency to collect and protect our photos on all handheld devices came after last years emergency rescue of my son from the bottom of the swimming pool (he's totally okay now, thank goodness) and on a lighter note, the funny story of my friend's daughter dropping her iPod full of vacation photos in to a port a potty. 

So needless to say I'm pretty eager to start protecting our memories and having easy access to sharing them with our family.

 I set up Lyve right in the livingroom, better known as grand central station around here. A perfect place to copy, share and organize our daily adventures.



After copying everything to our LyveHome the kids had a great time thumbing through the photos. 

My girls were freaking over the photos from last weeks trip of the giant alligator Zen and I spotted in the bay just 10 feet from us! And I was freaking over how grown up Luna and her friends, feels like just yesterday they were 7 years old in braids running our house playing dress-up. 

Taking photos has become crazy popular, camera phones have come along way and everywhere you look someone's clicking a pic or selfie and sharing it to a 100 friends within seconds. 

Makes me feel a bit old remembering how I use to wait a week before get my photos back from the lab and ordering double prints to share, yikes!



We already have over 3000 photos on our LyveHome!! Now the fun part, sharing with you a chance to have one of your very own.


GIVEAWAY the details:
LyveHome and the LyveApp allow you to collect, protect and rediscover over 1M photos, that's over 1,000,000 photos. 

Busy moms don’t have time to scrapbook; every family vacation, any many firsts, from baby's first steps to first day of school and Dad's first marathon can now live together, you can count on LyveHome for protecting your photos and #LyveMoments. 

LyveHome fits perfectly in to your home without losing the “homey” feel of family photos, on a bookshelf like I did, to a coffee table or on a hallway entry table." I especially love that it can display the time along as it scrolls of our latest family photos.

 Today, you have a chance to win a Lyve Home to protect, organize and share your family’s memories!!!

Here's how to enter to win a LyveHome of your own:
  1. Click on over to the LyveHome site (it will open in a new window).
  2. Take a moment to watch the “View Product Video”. 
  3. Then come back and leave a comment telling us how it would be most useful for your family. Winner is selected through comments made on this post.
Only one person will receive a LyveHome. 
Winner randomly chosen August 28th, prize value is $299.

 Winner of the LyveHome :
Kristen dreaperAugust 18, 2014 at 9:17 AM
How awesome! This is just what we need and I had no idea! I've been switching between 2 outdated computers with 3 cameras and 2 iPhones. This would eliminate all the frustration and anxiety over missing photos by not wanting to deal with the hassle to just plan missing them because they were lost on a device.
 U.S. Residents Only.


Thank you LyveHome for sponsoring today's discussion and helping me protect my precious memories!"

Saturday, August 2, 2014

You Look Amazing! #imENOUGH




A look back at the last three years feels like watching people puck on a roller coaster. From divorce to losing my job to a failing industry, starting a business, transitioning the children from homeschooling to public school and maybe back again, a new dog, a new house, a different state, and trying to adjust to a very different financial situation makes it hard to feel like I'm enough. I feel more like crawling under a rock. But I've been getting through it thanks to a few loyal friends who kindly remind me that I truly am enough, that my children are amazing because of me and that I'm an amazing person. You are awesome! Now it's time to look in the mirror and say those things to myself, I'm enough! But even harder is turning the camera on myself, yikes!... I usually leave it up to my kids to fill up this blog with cute photos. So here it goes....


Surrounded by my children's artwork makes me smile.




"The Mrs. will be releasing their debut EP this fall. Although the music may sound like what’s being played on pop radio right now, the lyrics tell a different story. As women in their late thirties/early forties, songs about teenage heartbreak and wild nights clubbing weren’t things they could relate to. They decided to write about their own lives - like the challenge of juggling a career, marriage, motherhood and friendships, while still trying to maintain their own identity. They set out to foster a connection through their music with other women at the same place in their lives. The Mrs. is comprised of drummer Andra Liemandt, lead vocalists/guitarists Mandy Prater and Jennifer Zavaleta, vocalist/keyboardist Larissa Ness, and bassist Jenny Mason."




       
What a fun video!   




Selfie on the left is me at 4pm still in my pj's and the selfie on the right 5:30pm finally dressed and ready to run errands. 


click for more on #imENOUGH AND The Mrs. Band






 Many thanks to The M sponsoring today’s story!
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