Tuesday, March 21, 2017

You'll Always be My Baby

No matter how old our kids get, they'll always be our babies, won't they? We've loved them from the moment we knew they were on the way - from the positive pregnancy test, the first time we heard their heartbeat, that first sonogram, to the moment we finally got to hold them in our arms.

I was reminded of this a couple times yesterday on Facebook:
  • One of my nieces turned 10, and her dad (my brother) said that while she has grown into an amazing and beautiful young lady, and he can't wait to see where she goes from here, he still wants to keep her as his little girl for as long as possible.  My mom replied, "Trust me: she will always be your little girl. Just like you will always be my little boy." Yes, he's all grown, 6 foot 5 inches tall, and married with three girls of his own, but he'll always be his mom's baby. (and he'll always be my 'baby brother' but that's a whole different thing)
  • Another one of my friends, who is a teacher, had a kindergartner in tears. Why? One of her classmates had called her a baby. The teacher's response, "You will always be a baby to your parents. Do you know what my mom calls me? Her baby." And the tears dried up as the kindergarten girl realized that all of us will always be babies to our parents.
My baby will be 25 this summer. 25! How in the world did that happen? It seems like yesterday that he was just a cute little guy. He's still pretty cute, but he's not so little anymore. On a side note, I married his dad a month before he turned 25. How can our son be almost that same age?

Those 25 years certainly explain the difference in what the sonograms we had with both our babies looked like and what sonograms look like today. I've been looking through some images, and technology has really advanced in those 25 years. Nowadays you can really see your unborn baby with 3D and 4D (video) imaging. I am in awe of these images! You do not need a technician to explain what you are seeing, as we did, because these images are so clear.

What our sonograms looked like:
Can you see his little face? Kind of, and we loved what we saw, but look what can be seen now:

Absolutely amazing! If you just can't wait until your baby is born to see that little face or count those little toes and fingers, these are great. You can start showing off your little one before he or she is even born. Not that we didn't do that, too - but this is so much better. You can also get high quality images suitable for framing and displaying on your wall - your baby's first portraits!

Have any of you had professional 3D sonogram images taken of your babies? What did you think of the experience?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Boost Your Frozen Yogurt Business

We all love frozen yogurt, right? Perhaps you've even thought of starting your own frozen yogurt business. It sounds like nothing but fun and all the delicious frozen yogurt you can eat, but there is also a lot of responsibility. For instance, offering kosher frozen yogurt helps ensure that your customers get the best for their money. Would you have thought of that? I know I wouldn't have, so it helps to always do a lot of research before diving into any new business - even one as tasty as frozen yogurt.

Frozen Yogurt with Fruits

Here are some great tips to help you have the best frozen yogurt business possible:
  • Provide Different Types of Yogurt: There is more to selling frozen yogurt than just offering tasty flavors and toppings. Your customers are going to want a treat that fits their lifestyle. A customer who is looking for an alternative to ice cream may enjoy non fat, low fat or no sugar added options. Be sure to always taste test your products to ensure your customers are not sacrificing great taste for a low fat or no sugar added option. (Yes, it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it!)
  • Offer a Variety of Flavors: A menu full of delicious flavors is sure to appeal to your customers. Start by offering traditional flavors such as Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Butter Pecan. These are perfect for customers who just want something simple but sweet. For the more adventurous customers, you'll want to offer a range of fun flavors, such as S'Mores, Red Velvet Cupcake, Cappuccino and Hazelnut Irish Cream. This appeals to customers who enjoy trying new flavors. You can even offer holiday flavors such as Pumpkin Royale, Apple Pie and Candy Cane. You don't have to offer all of the flavors all of the time. Rotate them in, and your customers will come back in more often to find out what's available now.
  • Be Mindful of Health and Diet Restrictions: Your customers are going to have different health and diet restrictions, such as a food allergy or weight-loss diet. This is why it is important to offer options that appeal to everyone. Steer away from flavors that are made with high fructose corn syrup or growth hormones. Use flavors that contain real milk, vitamin A and vitamin D3.
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Invest In Flavor Cups: There are several benefits of investing in flavor cups for your business. Flavor cups come in a wide variety of flavors, and you can even mix the flavors to create an exclusive dish for your customers. The pre-portioned cups make it easy to mix the right amount of frozen yogurt. You can also save space in your freezer because the cups are small.
No, you can't make all the people happy all the time, but it looks like the key to a successful business is, yes - delicious frozen yogurt in lots of fun and creative flavors, but also thinking about the needs of your individual customers and making sure there are some options for everyone. A wide variety of flavors and healthy choices will have your customers coming back again and again.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Doodle 4 Google Voting Open

I love this every year. Young people are given a theme - this year it's "what I see for the future" -, and they design a Google doodle. These kids are crazy creative!

Judges have selected State and Territory finalists, and public voting is now open to choose five National Finalists. Check out the gallery of submissions and cast your vote before March 6, 2017 at 5:00 pm EST.  Click on the doodles to learn more about the artists' visions of the future and vote for your favorite.

That is easier said than done. I just looked through all of them, and I'm not sure I can actually pick a favorite. There are lots of good ones. Like I said, these kids are crazy creative!

Be sure to check all the doodles out and let me know which one(s) you like best!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Do You Have an Award Winning Movie in You?

Are you getting tired of your current profession? If this is the case, you should take steps to put yourself on a better career path. There is no reason that you should spend the rest of your life doing a job that you are not excited about. So what will your new job be? There are certainly many things you can try your hand at. Are you a big movie fan? With the Oscars coming up, you may be thinking about channeling your enthusiasm for movies into a new career as a screenwriter. There are many reasons why this could be a great career change for you. 'writer'

Consider all of these things:
  1. You will finally be able to be your own boss.
    Being a professional screenwriter gives you an enormous amount of personal freedom that most other jobs will not be able to match. You will determine how much you work and when you will do your writing. You will no longer have a boss looking over your shoulder for 40 hours each week. The ability to take control of their own destiny is something that most people desire. However, very few of them will ever realize this dream. You will control your own destiny if you work as a screenwriter.
  2. You will have a job that allows you to be creative.
    There are far too many people who are stuck working at jobs that do not challenge them at all. They are very repetitive and boring. Writing screenplays for a living will get your creative juices flowing. You can think up stories about any subject that interests you. You might even be interested in writing an adapted screenplay of a novel that you read in the past. It is completely up to you.
  3. You will have more free time. And the Oscar goes to...
    Having to go to a full-time job means that you do not have a lot of personal time. Becoming a screenwriter will definitely free up your schedule. You will no longer need to get up at the crack of dawn and sit in rush hour traffic every day. You can use this extra free time to travel or spend more time with your family. You will have a much more leisurely lifestyle than you had before.
  4. The money is very good.
    You will find that screenwriters make a very nice living. You will not be disappointed with your pay if you sell a screenplay.

Who knows - maybe the next Oscar-winning movie will come from your imagination!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Create Your Own Colonial Masterpiece

Have you ever visited a historical home and wished you could recreate that cozy feeling in your own home? It is easier than you think. By changing a few basic elements you can capture that vintage look throughout your home.

The Dining Room

Colonial dining rooms have a formal feeling while still being very inviting. Wainscoting is a must. Use trim pieces to make a chair rail approximately three feet up from the floor. You can use textured wall paper, paneling, or bead board underneath to recreate the slatted look of boards. Paint the top portion of the walls in a neutral shade while using rich blues, greens, or cranberry shades for the lower half, trim, and doors. Cover windows with heavy drapes, and hang vintage portraits for a completely colonial appearance. All of these items can be found at your local home improvement store.

The Living Room

Make the fireplace the focal point of the room rather than the TV. TVs and other electronics can be placed inside of an armoire where they can be hidden behind closed doors when not in use. Place all of the furniture facing the fireplace. Decorate the mantle with antique candle holders, pewter pieces, and vintage figurines. Don’t forget to add vintage fireplace tools next to the hearth. You can find these at online merchants such as Adams Fireplace Shop.

The Kitchen

The kitchen has always been the heart of the home. In colonial days this was especially true. Keep that in mind while decorating. Colonists kept everything they needed in this room. Hang baskets from a beam on the ceiling, stack pottery dishes on a wooden shelf, and allow the cast iron pots and pans to serve double duty as decorations. Use a large wooden table with matching benches and chairs as the anchor in the room. Find candle sticks and a crock filled with flowers to use as the center piece. Homespun curtains and towels will complete the old fashioned look and feel.

By making these few simple changes within your home, you will be well on your way to creating a vintage feel in your own home. Use these tips to get started, and then you can add more antique pieces as time goes by. Before you know it, you’ll have your own beautifully warm and cozy colonial home.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I Don't Always Steal Cereal...

...but when I do, I take it back.

A few weeks ago, I bought a couple boxes of granola. At least I thought I had bought some granola, until I wanted to open a box and have some for breakfast. And then I could not find that granola anywhere. I checked the shelf I normally put cereal on; I checked the top shelf where I store the extra cereal when I have too much for the regular shelf; and then I checked again. Then I checked my van, just in case I had somehow left a bag in there. And I checked again. No granola. It just was not in my house.

I started wondering if I had actually bought the granola, or maybe I just thought about buying it and then decided against it. Then I dug out my receipt and checked. Yep, I definitely bought granola.

So I called the store - even though it had been almost two weeks - just to see if perhaps they kept a record of any items left behind at the registers. Nope, no record. They keep things for about a week and then put them back. But, Kyle said that wasn't a problem, and they'd be happy to replace my two boxes of granola. So I wrote his name on the top of my receipt, and finally got back to the store about a week later. They were indeed happy to give me two new boxes of granola to replace the two I couldn't find. No questions asked.

I took my new boxes home and placed them in my cabinet. Then a few days later I moved some oatmeal boxes - and found my original boxes of granola behind them.

Which means next time I was out, I took those replacement boxes back to the store. The lady behind the customer service desk just smiled.

Monday, February 20, 2017

How Home Renovations are Helping Home Sellers in a Buyer's Market

germany real estateAcross the country, home sellers have had a difficult time because of the lack of buyers who have the ability to pay legitimate prices for new homes. With the economic recovery being somewhat sluggish and people being a bit reluctant to leave their existing homes, sellers have experienced trouble even though the housing supply has been down in some places. This has left many home owners in a difficult situation. What should they do to make their homes stand out from the crowd? The answer for some has revolved around renovations.

There has long been debate among general contractors about whether home renovations add more value than they cost. If a person puts $30,000 into a home renovation, for instance, will that person experience an equivalent gain in his or her home value? Many today believe the answer is yes, and more, they believe that renovated homes will sell more quickly, saving home sellers a tremendous amount of money that might have otherwise gone to fees or double mortgage payments. The trends suggest that today's home buyers are looking for something a little different in their homes. They want something clean, updated, and move-in ready.

Updated kitchen
Home renovations allow home owners to respond to the trends in home buying. The housing market goes through shifts, with buyers desiring different elements depending on the year. In some eras, people are looking for kitchens with big double ovens. (Me! Well, not necessarily the double ovens, but the kitchen is always a big factor when I look at a house.) In other years, buyers will pay more money for an updated bathroom. Other years bring a heightened desire among buyers for a so-called "man cave" or perhaps a hometheater room. During a renovation, a contractor can respond to the current trends, making the home into one that can be more easily sold on today's market.

Home sellers looking for easy ways to get their homes sold and off the market must consider whether a renovation is right for them. Many sellers have decided to invest the money up front, trusting that a contractor will create more value than he takes in the project. It is an interesting strategy that seems to be working out across the country, as sellers are seeing their homes fly off the market when they add the touches that buyers want.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Book List 2016

The simple thing would be to link you to My Year in Books on Goodreads, BUT I started putting together a list of all the books I read starting back in 2008, so it just seems the thing to do. Because of Goodreads, I know that I read fewer books this year, but it will still be fun to go through them, and see how many pages and how many hours of reading I had in 2016.

Also, once again I'll link to any reviews I did. I started out with good intentions to review more of the books I read, but I'm not sure how I did. I guess we'll find out.

  1. Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline - 278 pages
  2. Barefoot Summer (Chapel Springs #1) - Denise Hunter (audio) - 7 hrs 27 min
  3. The Darke Toad (Septimus Heap #1.5) - Angie Sage - 96 pages
  4. Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel - David Limbaugh - 406 pages
  5. March - Geraldine Brooks (audio) - 10 hrs 22 min
780 pages | 17 hours and 49 minutes

  1. Family (Firstborn #4) - Karen Kingsbury - 345 pages
  2. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History - by Chris Kyle (audio) - 10 hrs 22 min
  3. Caretaker (Caretaker Chronicles #1) - Josi Russell - 325 pages
  4. Forever (Firstborn #5) - Karen Kingsbury - 346 pages
1016 pages | 10 hours 22 minutes

  1. Guardians (Caretaker Chronicles #2) - by Josi Russell - 394 pages
  2. The Fixer - by Joseph Finder (audio) - 9 hrs 38 min
  3. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands - Lysa TerKeurst (audio) - 6 hrs 31 min
  4. Forever (Firstborn #5) - Karen Kingsbury - 346 pages
740 pages | 16 hours 9 minutes

  1. The Good Girl - Mary Kubica (audio) - 10 hrs 38 min 
10 hours 38 minutes

  1. Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts - Sara Frankl, Mary Carver - 208 pages
  2. I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist - by Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek (audio) - 14 hrs 47 min
  3. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (Enola Holmes #5) - Nancy Springer (audio) - 3 hrs 9 min
208 pages | 17 hours 56 minutes

  1. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins (audio) - 10 hrs 59 min
  2. Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story - Andrea Warren (audio) - 1 hr 26 min
12 hours 25 minutes

  1. The Elijah Calling: The Hidden & Revealed Messiah! (Restoring Truth #1) - Ken Mentell - 487 pages
  2. Magyk (Septimus Heap #1) - Angie Sage (audio) - 12 hrs 10 min
  3. Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle (Landon Snow #1) - R.K. Mortenson (audio) - 6 hrs 30 min
487 pages | 18 hours 40 minutes

  1. The Passage (The Passage #1) - Justin Cronin - 897 pages
  2. An Invisible Client - Victor Methos - 240 pages
  3. The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) - Erika Johansen (audio) - 14 hrs 30 min
1137 pages | 14 hours 30 minutes

  1. The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) - Erika Johansen (audio) - 18 hrs 4 min
  2. How It Went Down - Kekla Magoon (audio) - 7 hrs 10 min
25 hours 14 minutes

  1. The Twelve (The Passage #2) - Justin Cronin 626 pages
  2. Fractured - Catherine McKenzie 492 pages
  3. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad - M.T. Anderson (audio) 10 hrs 20 min
1118 pages | 10 hours 20 minutes

  1. You Can't Do it Naked: From Exposed to Fully Clothed in the Armor of God - Kim M. Snyder 116 pages
  2. All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven (audio) 11 hrs 4 min
116 pages | 11 hours 4 minutes

  1. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) - Amie Kaufman (audio) 11 hrs 41 min
  2. Beginning at Moses: A Guide to Finding Christ in the Old Testament - Michael P.V. Barrett 328 pages
  3. Torn from Troy (Odyssey of a Slave #1) - Patrick Bowman (audio) 5 hrs 28 min
  4. The Murder Game - Julie Apple 300 pages
  5. David and the Psalms - Michael J. Ruszala 184 pages
  6. Our Presidents & Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America's Leaders - Rand Paul 160 pages
972 pages | 17 hours 9 minutes

  • Total books - 38 (compare to 43 in 2015)
  • Total pages - 6574 (compare to 6533 pages in 2015)
  • Total time - 182 hours 16 minutes  (compare to 200 hours in 2015)
Page counts courtesy of Goodreads; audio lengths courtesy of Audible.

I even wrote a review for 20 of the books, so that's a little better than last year. Scrolling through the list, I see several books that I really meant to write a review for, but somehow I just didn't do it. I think that maybe I think too hard about it and write these great reviews in my head, and then I just never get around to actually posting a review. Because when I sit down to type it, all those things I was going to say just don't seem to be there anymore. I just noticed that there's a new feature on Goodreads that lets me see, and share if i want, my highlights and notes from the Kindle books I read. Perhaps having that to easily look at will help for future reviews? I guess we'll see.

How many books did you read in 2016?  I'd love to hear some suggestions for my 2017 reading list.

*if you happen to click any of the book covers and buy  from Amazon, they say they'll pay me a small percentage.  Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your support!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

$3000 College Scholarship Essay Contest

I just received this information about a scholarship opportunity.

anti-smoking ad 3The scholarship is sponsored by Mig Vapor, a company that creates products designed to help people reduce their dependency on tobacco, and each semester they award $3,000 scholarships to students who help bring awareness to the dangers of smoking.

The scholarship recipients are selected through an essay contest with the winning essays to be selected on the basis of how well-written, compelling, and persuasive they are.

Applicants must be a full-time student at an accredited four-year or two-year university, community college or junior college, or a graduate degree program. There are no costs associated with submitting an application for this scholarship, and the application deadline for Fall 2017 semester scholarships is May 31st, 2017.

For more information, be sure to check out the MigVapor Scholarship Essay Contest page. Feel free to share this with anyone you know who might be interested.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Tips for Helping the Whole Family Sleep Well

365/84 Bed time [Explored]Sleep deprivation can have an adverse affect on both kids and parents. As a parent or anyone who has spent time with young children, you know that when they get tired, they can get a little cranky. Although adults may not like the comparison, they too get a little irritable when they are sleep deprived. A lack of sleep can make kids and adults accident prone as well as making it difficult to concentrate at school or at work. Here are several things to look at that can help your whole family get a good night's sleep each night.
  • The Bedroom
    It's difficult to relax and feel a sense of calmness in a cluttered bedroom. Clearing the clutter and simplifying the décor can make the bedroom a more pleasant sleeping area. Some experts suggest that a bedroom be painted in soothing colors that encourage sleep. It's also difficult to sleep soundly in a room that is either too hot or too cold. Experts suggest that the ideal temperature for sleeping is 65 degrees. If noise prohibits kids from going to sleep or sleeping soundly through the night, a white noise machine could resolve that problem.
  • The Bed
    A good mattress is essential to good sleep. It's worth investing in the best non-toxic mattresses for everyone in your household. Memory foam mattresses and those with heat dissipating gel can provide a comfortable sleeping area for kids and adults. In addition to a comfortable, supportive mattress, everyone should have a high quality pillow on their bed. 
  • Routine Bedtime Stories
    Having the whole family establish a pre-bedtime ritual can help everyone go to sleep faster. This routine should start at the same time each evening. Keeping the same bedtime and wake-up time throughout the week and weekend is beneficial to the family. For everyone's benefit, you should set a technology curfew. Some studies show that watching television, using a laptop, or playing electronic games is not a good pre-bedtime activity. Bath time, followed by story time, is a good ritual for the kids. Reading prior to bedtime is also a good way for teens and adults to relax.
When every family member gets a sufficient amount of sleep, there's likely to be less conflict among siblings and less stress for parents.