Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bank Fees for Using Your Own Money?

Cory has been putting most of his paychecks into savings this summer.  Sure, he's spent a bit of his money too, but he's been trying to put most of it into his savings account so he wouldn't be tempted to spend it.  When he wanted to buy something or go do something, he'd move money into his checking account so he'd have enough.  It just makes him think a little harder about what he's spending and what he's spending it on.  He can manage his accounts online like at, or even on his phone, so he always has access.

Then yesterday he suddenly got charged a $12 fee for going over the 'Savings Withdrawal Limit' - a limit he didn't know he had, and a fee he didn't know about.  Needless to say, he was a bit upset.  I got home at the end of the day yesterday to find two messages from him on the answering machine about it.  He has his account information texted to him every morning so he can keep track of his balances and avoid overdraft fees, and he checked the text while at work.  I checked the bank statements after I got his messages, and the only thing I saw on there about a fee was that the monthly fee was waived because he kept a minimum balance of at least $300.  Where/when did they ever say he could only move money out of his account so many times - and how many times is it? - before they'd help themselves to some of his money.

He's going in to the bank today to talk to somebody and find out what this is about.  Hopefully they can get it straightened out and let him know exactly what he can and cannot do.  When we changed his account from a Student Checking account to a College Checking (and Savings) account last summer, the only thing they mentioned was the $300 minimum balance on the savings.  Beth kind of let her savings account dwindle to nothing once she was out of school and over 18 because she didn't keep enough money in it, and they started charging monthly fees, and she wouldn't do anything about it.  The Student checking and savings accounts had no minimum balance requirements because they were tied to our accounts, a good way for young people without a lot of money to get started with bank accounts.

Instead of just closing Cory's account, because he didn't have any money to put into it, I transferred the minimum $300 into it and let it sit - until this summer when he started to add to it and use it.  So we've avoided fees until they suddenly sprung this one on us.  It has me wondering what other fees we're going to have to watch out for.  I've been reading that banks are testing monthly fees for debit card use, which would be another fee that would eat into Cory's hard-earned money.  He uses his debit card all the time.  I think we're all just going to have to get a bit more creative about how we manage our money.  I'm not sure taking it all out of the bank and storing it in a shoe box is the answer, but there has to be a way to keep the banks from grabbing more than their fair share.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Yoked oxen at Old World Wisconsin. They finall...Image via Wikipedia
Another Tuesday almost gone.  I keep meaning to do these posts earlier in the day, but today I really had an excuse - I was gone all day.  I went with Beth and the kids to Old World Wisconsin again.  We had fun walking around - it is definitely good exercise pushing those strollers up the hills!  This time we rode the tram for a while, but it's almost more trouble than it's worth to unload everyone and everything from the strollers so they can be folded and stashed in the front of the tram.  The kids got to pet some horses, and see some chickens, pigs, sheep, and a calf, so that was fun.  (We did not see the oxen pictured here.  That was a picture I took on another visit.)

After we left OWW, I went with Beth back to the house where she works, and while she got the kids down for naps, I took her vehicle and went and picked up my new glasses (the expensive ones).  I like the way they look, but I think it's going to take me a while to learn how to look out of them.  She said it would take a while to get used to them, so we'll see.  And, because I went to the fancy in-plan optical shop, besides the glasses I also got a fancy gift bag that contained, get this - a bottle of cleaner, a cleaning cloth, and a miniature candy bar.  Yep, definitely worth the extra money!  NOT.  Also, we just picked up Jeffrey's new glasses at Walmart Friday evening, and they were much more thorough there making sure his glasses fit right and the bifocals were right than the place where I got mine.  Makes me wonder what I was paying for...

Anyway, after picking up the glasses I also stopped at Walgreens and Aldi and grabbed some stuff and then went back to get Beth and Jason.  I finally got to meet the people she works for.  She talks about them all the time, and they're really nice people.  They really appreciate the way Beth takes care of their kids and seem to like her quite a bit.  So it was after 5:00 when we left there, almost 6:00 when I got home and in the house and started putting stuff away.  And then I had to figure out what to have for dinner.  By the time dinner was over - mostly leftovers I pulled out of the fridge - I decided to skip washing the dishes.  I can certainly see how nothing would ever get done if I was gone on a regular basis.  How do people do it?  There's enough stuff I'd like to get done but can never seem to get to as it is.

But for now?  I'm thinking the only thing I'm getting to is bed.  I can wash dishes tomorrow.  And fold towels.  And pick beans. And...  I need to vacuum, clean bathrooms, catch up on receipts, write some posts, etc., etc., etc.
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Study on Your Own Time with Online Courses

Beth called me yesterday and asked me to go to Old World Wisconsin with her and the kids again.  The little boy she watches is starting school on Thursday, and she wanted to do something special with the kids before that.  Once he starts going to school every day, they won't really have time to go and do anything.  She'll be taking him to school, taking care of the other two, picking him up from school, naps, snacks, lunch, etc. - no time to get out of the house and do something.

She mentioned that things have been going really well, and all three kids usually nap at the same time, giving her some time to herself every day.  So maybe once Ben starts school, she can get back to seriously considering signing up for some Online Courses. She can take her computer to work, and work on her classes and assignments when the kids are asleep - take advantage of that time.  Now that she's out on her own, she might even be able to get some financial help when she fills everything out at It's certainly worth a try.  She has always put off school because she hates to spend so much money with no guarantees that she'll even find a job or be able to work once she's done. Getting some help paying for her education and being able to work on it while she's working at her present job would be perfect.  At least that's what her father and I think, but Beth will have to decide that for herself.

I wonder if I should look into online degree programs in web designs? Or maybe something else.  There are so many to choose from, not only degrees offered but colleges and universities offering them.  I'm not like Beth who has known for a long time that she'd like to do interior design.  I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  I just know that if I'm going to study something, I'd much rather take online courses than have to attend classes somewhere.  It's cheaper, I could study on my own time, and I wouldn't be limited to classes offered by local colleges.  And I wouldn't have to fit in with all those kids my son's age!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Need Tickets?

Skins / Chiefs 2009Image by bradlby via Flickr
It seems like there's always something going on - concerts, sports events, festivals, etc.  It has me wondering how so many people can afford to go.  How do they justify spending so much on a few hours' entertainment?  The news around here is that the Packers are planning to add on to their stadium (that's what it's called, right? where they play football?).  Anyway, they figure they can pay for it because there is a whole list of people who are just waiting to get season tickets, and they'll have more space so they can sell more of those tickets and make enough money to pay for the expansion.

Not me.  I'm not on the list.  I can't see spending that much money, whether for Packers tickets, Anaheim Ducks Tickets, Chicago Blackhawks Tickets, or any other tickets.  Partly that's because I don't really care about sports much, and mostly because I can't imagine caring that much.  I'm just too cheap.  Occasionally we'll see a basketball game or hockey game, but only when we get really cheap tickets or free tickets.  I have a good time when we go, but I don't get all excited and decide we need to see more games.

For those people who just need to see the games, there are some options that aren't quite so painful.  I checked out and found some Packers tickets for Thursday night's pre-season game against the Kansas City Chiefs for around $20.  Not that I'd know if they are good (or even remotely decent) seats or not, but they're tickets to the football game, and that's not bad for the experience.  I'm sure there are some decent deals on Boston Bruins Tickets, Calgary Flames Tickets, Buffalo Sabres Tickets,or whatever teams or games are in your area, too.  They also have concert and theater tickets.  See if they have the tickets you need - for the price you'd rather pay.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mat Kearney - Young Love

I have to admit - I'd never heard of Mat Kearney, but when One2One Network offered me a chance to check out his new CD, first I checked him out on Spotify, and then I signed up!  I love checking out new music, and I could tell just by listening to the first few tracks that I was going to like this CD. 

Here's the video from the first song Hey Mama.  Watch it and see if you don't agree.

Young Love is Mat's 3rd album. Released on August 2nd, it debuted on the #1 spot on iTunes Album and Rock charts.  I guess I'm one of the few people who hadn't heard of him!  According to the info given to me by One2One Network:
If you aren't familiar with Mat's music you've probably heard some of his previous hits on your favorite TV shows. Past songs have appeared on 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, The Hills, Friday Night Lights, Scrubs, NCIS, and numerous other television shows.
So maybe I've heard some of his music and just didn't know it!  After listening to this CD, I'm definitely going to be checking out his other two - and so is my teenage son Cory.  I'm lucky I even got a chance to listen to the CD at all.  The day after I got it, he 'borrowed' it to listen to in the van.  The next day he told me, "That Mat Kearney CD is awesome!"  Sometime in the next day or two I heard him refer to it as his new favorite CD, and he was telling his friends they should listen to it.  I still don't have the actual CD back.  I had to go back to Spotify to listen to the whole thing!  Of course, once I listened to it, I could see why he's not giving it back.  This is definitely something I will be listening to again!  This CD will have you moving your feet (or at least nodding your head) and feeling good.  Yep, I was dancing around the kitchen while I listened!

Here's the track listing for Young Love:
  1. Hey Mama
  2. Ships In The Night
  3. Count On Me
  4. Sooner Or Later
  5. Chasing The Light
  6. Learning To Love Again
  7. Down
  8. She Got The Honey
  9. Young Dumb And In Love
  10. Rochester
  11. Seventeen (Bonus track from the Mat Kearney iTunes page)
Ships in the Night - love!  Sooner or Later - love!  She Got the Honey - love!  Well, actually, really loved most of them.  The only song I didn't really like was Rochester, which he dedicated to his dad, and I liked that part, but it just wasn't as catchy or memorable as the rest.  I'll have to listen to it again a few times...

Mat will be on tour this Fall beginning in September and playing nearly 40 shows in the US and Canada.  Tickets are on sale now.  Here's the whole list of Mat Kearney shows.  Maybe there's one in your area.  Also, check out Mat on Facebook - I, of course, had to 'Like' him.  If I could have figured out how to embed this Mat Kearney widget, I would have, but I couldn't - so you'll just have to check it out where it is.  It's just kind of fun to play with.

Ok, enough of that.  Go check out the new Mat Kearney CD Young Love and let me know what you think!

Disclosure: I got a free CD from One2One Network.  All opinions are 100% mine (and Cory's)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Try Proactiv Solution for FREE

For a limited time you can try Proactiv Solution for FREE.  Sign up and get the 3-step system for only $19.95 with free shipping, and get $20 credited to your Shop at Home account.  No Shop at Home account?  Sign up for a FREE account, and you'll also get a $5 bonus for making your first purchase.  That means you actually make $5 on this deal!

You also get to choose a free gift with your order and have the option to include a free 30-day supply of Vitaclear vitamins.  There is no commitment and no minimum to buy, but starting 30 days from your order date, you’ll receive a new 90-day supply of  the 3-Step System every 3 months at the guaranteed low price of just $19.95 per month plus $7.99 s&h per shipment, unless you call to cancel.

Proactiv is the #1 acne system in America, and I've been wanting to get this for Cory to try, so I'm not sure if we'll cancel or not.  I guess we'll see how it works.  It's supposed to be really good - and getting to try it for FREE is awesome.

To get in on this deal, simply visit Shop at Home, sign in or create your new account, search for Proactiv, and then click the blue 'Shop Now' to be taken to the Proactiv site.  Shop at Home will track you so they know you are placing the order and you can get the $20 credit.   Choose the 3-step system for $19.95, pick your free gift, check out and pay for your order.  Within a few days, you'll see the $20 credit in your Shop at Home account along with the $5 bonus if you're new.  And then, of course, don't forget to cancel, unless you decide you want to continue receiving Proactiv.

Thanks to Mom and More for the heads up on this one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Another Tuesday come and gone.  Well, almost gone, and I'm just now sitting down to see what kind of random things come out.  Yep, that's how I work. 

So, this weekend - Saturday we attended a funeral for the mother of one of our long-time friends.  It was nice getting to see some people we don't see regularly and sharing in some memories.  She was quite a lady, and I know the family will miss her.

Sunday we went to Walmart, and Jeffrey picked out and ordered some glasses.  His total before insurance reimbursement?  Less than my total after insurance.  It's just not fair!  I sent in the reimbursement form today.  They say they cover up to $70 on frames and up to $75 on the lenses, so I'm interested to find out if they actually cover what we paid, or if it's some percentage they have.  Anyone ever used VSP for out-of-network glasses?

Does anyone else have to fight the urge to correct people on facebook?  Spelling, grammar, use of words, there are so many things that are wrong.  Would it really take that much longer to read comments over before submitting them to make sure there are no mistakes?  Of course, that would mean people actually have to know a mistake when they see one.

Cory will be going back to college soon.  He and his roommate are planning to move in on the 2nd, and classes start the 6th.  After that I probably won't see him much because he'll be busy with classes and rehearsals, and all that college stuff.  He was going to be home on the weekends so he could work, but he's an understudy for a play, and they have Sunday rehearsals scheduled - so there goes his only day to work, and he has to quit.  His last day is the 5th.  He can go back next summer, but during the school year he'll need something closer that he can schedule around classes and rehearsals.

Once he's back in school, I'll get my van back.  Not that I really have a need or desire to go anywhere most of the time, but it might be nice to get to the grocery store once in a while.  Eventually.  I've had Jeffrey pick up a few things on his way home from work, and had Cory pick up a few things at work or on his way home, and grabbed a few quick things whenever we happened to be out, and there's really nothing we desperately need.  So it can wait.  Also, I have things that need done around here, and when I'm not home they don't get done.  Sometimes (way too often) they don't get done when I am home, but it's worse when I'm not.

I think that's it for now.  Enough, anyway.  I'm sure there will be plenty more random things run through my brain as soon as I publish this post.  Oh well!  Join me next week...

Friday, August 19, 2011

On Being Three Months Old

Jason, 3 months old - 8/10/11 (I took the video last week, but just now got it uploaded)

I'm not sure exactly what he's trying to say here, but he's sure cute saying it!  Telling us all about being 3 months old, I guess.  He'd just eaten and had a diaper change, so he was a happy boy.

Also, I think his great grandpa in Missouri will really appreciate this.  He hasn't met Jason yet, and since he's blind, he hasn't been able to see any pictures either - but hearing that precious little voice is something he can do!  And the rest of us can enjoy it, too.  I think it's impossible to watch this video without smiling.  I dare you to try.

Who Even Thinks to Ask This Stuff?

I'm anxiously waiting for the commercials to get over so I can find out which celebrity America trusts the most, and which one is least trusted.  Not exactly.  I'm just wondering who really thinks to ask this stuff?

Most likely advertising agencies, don't you think?  They've got to know the best celebrities to hire for their ads and endorsements.  There's a bunch of money riding on choosing the right celebrity to endorse everything from designer engagement ring settings to bathroom cleaners.  Of course, they need to think a little bit harder about who they choose to actually write their ad campaigns, because some of those commercials are just plain dumb and don't encourage anybody to buy whatever they're hawking. (Think that awful orchestra teacher Target commercial, and, come to think of it, I don't think any of the current back-to-school/teacher commercials Target is airing right now will actually make anyone run out and shop at Target.)

Anyway, the answer is Betty White.  She was chosen the most trusted celebrity, and also the most likely to boost business.  That part clued me in to who was actually asking the question.

Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen both ended up on the least trusted list.  I guess I can agree with that.  Would you really buy anything Charlie Sheen is selling?  But Betty White?  America's buying.

Two Pairs of Mossimo Gauchos for $12 w/ Free Shipping

PhotobucketToday only at you can get 2 pairs of Mossimo Gauchos for $12 (Buy one/Get one Free) with free shipping.  That's $6 per pair.  There are several colors available.  I got some of these last summer, and I really like them.  They are so comfy, and look really cute with a t-shirt and flip flops.  With a nicer shirt and sandals, they can look quite dressy.

I got black and white last year, wanted brown, but they didn't have it in my size.  So, this time I grabbed a brown pair, and one in gray. To save even more, go through Shop at Home and get 13% cash back.

Hurry, though, because this deal is only for today and only while quantities last.  It looks like some of the sizes in some of the colors are already gone.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Design

Since Avast suddenly decided that something in the code of my old template should be blocked, and since there was absolutely nothing I could do to change it - since I needed that code to make the template look right - I just changed the entire layout of the blog.  I was tired of being warned and redirected.

So, new design.  It was about time anyway.  I used Blogger's template designer, which is pretty easy - lots to choose from, and it's easy to change stuff with just a click.  I tweaked some stuff with html and css and made a new header using an image I downloaded from fotolia - a site I'm trying out and must review very soon.

So, let me know what you think!  Best of all - no 'Trojan Horse' warnings!!

Back to School Needs - Get More for Less

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's that time of year again - time to go back to school.  And that means shopping for school supplies and new school clothes.   Pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, folders, lunch boxes, book covers, and so much more.  The costs can really add up.  Last year we had the added expense of furnishing a college dorm room.
The other day on Good Morning America, correspondent Becky Worley reported that one of the best ways to get back to school bargains is to buy the basics at the dollar store.  She bought the same list of 10 items at a pharmacy chain and a dollar store, and spent $35 less at the dollar store.  (Back to School: How Not to Pay Full Price)  That extra money could sure come in handy!  The GMA story said that the average parent spends $600 per child on back to school shopping.  This would be a good time to be below average.
So, if you're shopping for back to school supplies, be sure to check out the Dollar General Back to School sales for some deals on the supplies you need most.  $8 backpacks, Crayola colored pencils for $2, and pocket portfolios 3/$1 are only a few of the advertised items.  There's also a coupon you can print to save 20% off your entire purchase of back to school supplies and dorm decor.  That's my favorite way to shop - combine low prices with coupons so I can save the most possible.   There are several other coupons available to print on the DG website, and they take the manufacturer's coupons you get in your Sunday paper - and every little bit helps, 20%, 25¢, 50¢, etc.  Chip away at that $600 average!
I'm not sure what Cory needs for school this year since he can use the same stuff for his dorm room this year as last.  Besides pens, paper, and his laptop, I'm not sure what else he needs for classes.  And he is 19 and should be paying for his own stuff now.  Should be is the operative phrase there, but I will point him toward Dollar General and tell him you can Get more of your Back to School needs for less at Dollar General.  Now that he's spending his own money, I know that will be important to him.

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Saving For Your Child’s' Future Education

It's easy to forget, or sometimes just put off, the long-term costs of having a child. We're often faced with the overwhelming day-to-day expenses of getting by and forget about things like education. Not saving for a child's college education isn't uncommon by any means, but a college education will become essential to find any job in the coming years. You might ask yourself where the money is going to come from after you're done paying all the bills and feeding a family, but there are ways to accomplish this without having to radically change your life.

Before you do anything else, you'll first need to figure out how much you'll need to save up. This is pretty tough considering that the rate of tuition increases greatly every year and can go up several thousand dollars for online college and universities. You can go to a page supported by CNN and you can factor in many of the costs you're likely to see when you child comes of age. With this you can factor in multiple children and many of the side expenses you child is likely to see. It's important to not let these figures scare you. College is expensive, but you have time to save.

Consider the options available to you before you start packing money away into an account. One option that has become a very popular avenue for parents is the 529 Savings Plan. This was devised as a strategy for parents to start saving early for college. It's available in every state and it's named after the same federal tax code that allows significant tax benefits. There are two different options with this plan: the prepaid tuition plan and the 529 savings plan. With both options, you'll be able to earn tax free interest with your investments and will cover anything education related. Check the program out to see which 529 option works best for you situation.

Another popular option is the Coverdell Education Savings Account (CESA), traditionally known as the Education IRA. This option allows parents to save up to two 2 thousand every year, which is completely tax free. One of the biggest benefits of this program is you can pay for elementary and secondary school tuition. One of the problems with this program is that they are considered holdings, and when you child applies for financial aid later on, they might not get very much because this money will be factored into their government financial aid award.

There are many other programs out there designed to help parents save for their child's future. You just have to do some research. You don't have to be wealthy to put money away for you child. Everyone wants the best for their child and investing in one of these programs is an investment in your child. Give your kid the best possible future and look at ways you can help them later on in life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm a Hypocrite

OK, maybe that's not the exact right word...

After all my talk about saving money and buying glasses online (Zenni Optical!), I actually paid almost $200 for a pair of glasses.  Crazy, huh?  But I saved $360!  Or, at least, that's what the receipt says.  If we didn't have vision insurance, those same glasses would have cost over $500?  I don't think so!!  There's no way, no how I ever would have or could have done that.  I had a hard enough time with the (almost) $200.

But, I did it.  Jeffrey and I went to a couple places that are 'in-plan' for our insurance this evening.  Things are changing at work; insurance is changing, and we need to use our benefits, before the end of the month.  The first place we looked at didn't seem to have any frames under $200.  We didn't even ask about the lenses.  The second place had more reasonable frames - the insurance covers the first $120 and then 20% of any overage - so we actually found some that would be mostly covered by insurance.  Except that the first pair I picked out wasn't actually covered, or only about $45 would be covered.  I'm still not sure what that was about.  But then the girl we were working with found me a pair that I only had to pay $20 for after insurance.  And then we added the lenses...

The main reason I went ahead and got them was that I wanted to get the progressive lenses.  Well, I didn't actually want to get them, but I'm getting tired of looking under my glasses to read things, so I thought it was time.  Since I've not worn progressive lenses before, I thought it would be best to get them locally.  Later, if/when I get used to them, I can order some online if I want.  But this first time,  I think this will be best - even if it hurts to spend so much on one pair of glasses, when I know I could get them so much cheaper online.

So, don't do what I do - listen to what I say!  Save money, and buy your glasses online.  Unless, of course, you have a good reason.  Or lots of extra money.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stock Trading and Interest Rates

We've been talking about it for a while, and we're finally going to re-finance our mortgage tomorrow.  The rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage had been at 3.75% for a while.  Occasionally, it dropped to 3.625% and then went back up.  The day we went to the bank to sign papers for Beth's car loan, the rate dropped to 3.625% again, and we decided we better grab it - so we locked the rate in.

That was right about the time the government was in a big mess because of the whole debt thing, and nobody could really tell us what that might mean for the the interest rates.  Well, it turns out we should have waited, because the rates went down - to 3.25%.  I guess it's all a gamble, like Stock Trading and playing the market.  Some people have a good feel for the direction things are going and know when to buy and when to sell.  I don't think we have that talent - at least if you're going to judge our financial savvy on how well we hit the interest rate at the right time.

There's quite a bit of information about Online Trading available, information that we'd definitely need if we decided to get involved in investing.  With all the turmoil in the stock market recently, I'm a bit worried about how that's going to affect Jeffrey's 401K.  I've heard that people who are in the market for the long-haul should be OK - meaning, if you aren't planning on retiring right away, it should be all right.  So, maybe...

Or maybe we should look into IRA Accounts.  Probably should.  I think I'm going to have to do some reading and learn a bit more about investing and trading.

New Hangings for the Deck

Multicolored wind chime 1Image via Wikipedia
Besides watching the horse pulls, one of the things we really like about the Fair is looking at all the stuff people have to sell.  Sunglasses, boots, jewelry, hot sauces, archery equipment, patio spinners, hats, dresses, you name it, somebody's selling it.  The hard part is deciding what to buy, because of course, it's the Fair, and we have to buy something.

This year I got a wind chime and a mobile type thing to hang out on the deck.  We've always looked at a lot of these things, but we never had anywhere to hang them, so we waited.  Now, we've got the deck and the pergola, and I've got someplace to hang them!  I got a wooden wind chime because I love the sound of the wooden chimes better than the metal tinkly ones.  And this one just happens to have a frog on it.  And then I got a decorative hanging with copper and colored balls - kind of like the ones pictured here.  It kind of reminds me of a solar system, and I really like the way it catches the light.  We just have to decide where we really want to hang them.  For now they're hung on the hooks we have for the citronella lanterns.  I'm really enjoying listening to the frog when the wind blows.  I ought to get video or at least audio of that - and some pictures too, huh?

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Tuesday Tidbits

Another Tuesday.  Oh, these weeks, they go so fast!

Jeffrey and I went back to the State Fair again on Sunday.  We didn't get there until about 5pm because Jeffrey had some work to get done first, and then we had some shopping to do at Kohl's and Sam's.  We had some free money to spend at Kohl's so we checked out the clearance racks, and we hadn't been to Sam's in a while, so we needed all kinds of basics - toilet paper, sugar, cheese, etc.  I wanted to buy flour because last time we were there I was pleasantly surprised to see they had unbleached flour instead of the usual all purpose bleached stuff.  This time - no unbleached.  So I had Cory grab me some at Walmart, since he was there anyway.  I just get a bit antsy when I'm getting low on flour.  And toilet paper.

We didn't really do a lot at the Fair - walked around, got something to eat, bought some summer sausage because the guy at the fair always has the best, and then watched the horse pulls.  We really enjoy watching those.  We saw some of the middleweights last weekend, and this Sunday we watched the heavyweights.  I don't even really pay attention to who wins.  I just love watching how hard the horses try.  And they're gorgeous.

Beth had a Tupperware party on Sunday, which I forgot about.  She called me when we were out running around asking where I was.  Oops - forgot to write down when it was.   I can't think of anything I actually need, but she's supposed to send me a link so I can look.  I can order something online and she'll get credit.

I mowed the yard today.  We've been getting rain, and the grass is actually green and growing now.  Jeffrey maybe could have done it when he got home, but he's been extra busy with work, and Cory had to go to work, so I figured I'd do it and get it over with.  Besides, it's good exercise.  Never mind that I had plenty of stuff to do in the house - vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes - how do things get into such a mess, and will I ever get caught up?  Speaking of cleaning bathrooms, I really want to try this cleaner when I do get around to doing it.  What happened to those days when I cleaned bathrooms every Thursday?  Yep, I used to have a schedule!

Speaking of schedules - tune in next Tuesday for another edition of this regularly scheduled post.

Oh, and I tried a new recipe for dinner, which I will definitely have to post. It was really good.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Save Money with Zenni Optical

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Zenni Optical for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I just can't help myself.  Every time somebody talks about needing prescription glasses, I have to tell them about Zenni Optical.  Have to.  Where else can you get glasses starting at just $6.95?  And that's not just the frames - that's the lenses too - even the thin and light 1.57 index lenses, which usually cost a lot more anywhere else.  Believe me, I know, that's where they usually get me!  Also included: anti-scratch coating, UV protection, protective case, and cleaning cloth.  Anti-glare or sunglass tint are only an additional $4.95 each.  Seriously, it's a great deal.

I had been hearing about them for a while, and we finally ordered some glasses from Zenni Optical last summer.  Since shipping is $4.95 no matter how many pair you order, I ordered 2 pair for me, 1 for my husband, 1 for my son, and 1 for my friend - and we all love them!  They are perfect.  And did I mention that you can save money on prescription glasses by ordering from Zenni Optical?  A lot of money.  The best deal I've seen anywhere else is Walmart's $29 glasses for kids 18 and under - and they're only that cheap if you can find a pair of $9 frames you like.  Anti-glare is an additional $20, and the costs add up.  And if you're over 18, you can't get that deal.

I've been wearing glasses since sometime in grade school.  I didn't always like my glasses and used to carry them around, only slipping them on when I needed to see the blackboard and then taking them off again as soon as possible.  We couldn't afford to just go out and get me a new pair whenever I might have liked.  If only we'd had something like Zenni Optical!  Kids can have cute glasses for school - even 2 or 3 pair, whether for style or as a back-up in case a pair breaks - without ruining the budget.  And so can I!  You'll notice that I ordered 2 pair when we ordered our Zenni Optical glasses.  This time I need to order some bifocals or progressive lenses which are going to cost me a bit more, but still way cheaper than I can get them anywhere else.  Now, if I can just find some frames I like...

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Save Money on Back to School Fashion

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bealls for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When the kids were little, we could do all their back to school shopping at Goodwill, and they were happy.  Then Beth started Middle School, and she started to think she needed name brand clothes and the same kinds of jeans, tops, and everything else that 'everyone else' was wearing.  Last year's fashions from Goodwill were no longer acceptable.  Which, of course, meant that back to school shopping was going to cost more from then on.  She didn't get as many new clothes, either.

Cory's main fashion requirement is Converse shoes and lots and lots of t-shirts.  And he loves his ties.  Sure, some college students go to class in their pajama pants, but the boy likes to dress up and look nice.  He's learned to look for good deals on all his clothes - partially because he grew up with me, and I'm really cheap, and partially because he's spending his own money now.  I think mostly because it's his own money!
Same with Beth.  Even though she doesn't need back to school clothes now, when she does buy clothes, she likes to find the best deal.  That means always checking the clearance racks at stores and looking for good deals online at sites like Bealls. They've got some really cute stuff and offer savings like free shipping on orders over $50 and $10 off orders over $50 with code 10MORE, so it's a good place to find those must-have back to school fashions and still manage to save some cash.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

What Happens if You Lose Your Phone?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sprint for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

It seems like nowadays more and more people are tied to their phones - totally reliant on those little technological gadgets.  We take our phones everywhere and check them often.  So what happens if you *gasp* lose your precious phone?

HTCEVOSHIFT_GCVS_settings menu.jpg (5 documents)
Last year, Beth lost her cell phone, and she really lucked out because the person who found it actually tracked her down and returned the phone.  Sadly, I think that is the exception and not the rule.  Often a lost phone is gone forever, and the person who lost his or her phone has to start all over from scratch - first worrying about who has the phone and what they're doing with all the info stored on it, getting that phone turned off, getting a new phone, rebuilding the contacts list, etc.  What a pain!
Sprint customers can get the Sprint Total Equipment Protection App now to help with that.  Available for Android, Blackberry and select feature phones, the app can:
  1. Locate phone (using network integrated GPS technology)
  2. Sync contacts (so they can easily be restored)
  3. Remote wipe phone (so some stranger won't get access to all the info on it)
  4. Lock phone (so that stranger can't use it)
  5. Sound alarm (what's more irritating than misplacing the phone when it's on silent?)

Sprint customers usually must enroll in TEP within 30 days of activating their phone, but through August 30 Sprint is offering Open Enrollment.  This means any Sprint customer can add the Total Equipment Protection feature to their existing phone.  In addition to the new App features, TEP provides Sprint customers with a quick and convenient way to receive a replacement if their phone is ever lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctions after the warranty expires.  It even covers accidental phone drownings - in the lake pool, or toilet!  To enroll or learn more visit, but hurry, because time is limited.

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Trojan HorseImage by BFS Man via Flickr
Yesterday, every time I tried to load my blog, I got a warning from avast Web Shield that it had blocked a Trojan Horse.  Glad to know I'm safe, but really?  It's my own page.  I wouldn't know the first thing about creating, uploading, embedding, or whatever you do to place a Trojan on a page.  And I certainly wouldn't want to!  Or understand why anyone else would do something like that either.

So, I spent way too much time trying to figure out what was causing the problem and finally figured out that it's a script in the footer of my template - a script that has always been there, and Avast never cared before.  I removed it, and the warning went away - but the template didn't show up properly.  I put it back, and the warning came back.  I even checked the page where I originally downloaded the template - Wooden Fence template - and got the same warning when I tried to view the preview.  So, nothing has changed.  Avast just suddenly thinks it's a problem.  I got an email from my dad and a facebook note from my brother this morning that it's doing the same thing for them.

I added my page to the exceptions list, so at least I can load it now, but I'm thinking it's about time to find a new template.  It's about time anyway, but this just gives me an excuse.  I spent some time yesterday looking for a new template I like, and I found a couple.  They will, of course, need some tweaking to make me happy, so hopefully I can find some time - between cooking, cleaning, going through the mail and throwing out all the pre-approved reward cards applications, and just generally trying to get this place straightened up. 
Re-designing the blog sounds like so much more fun...

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Amazon Free App of the Day

I love checking Amazon for the free Android App of the day.  I don't care too much about the games and such, and they don't really work too well on my tablet.  But today's free app looks like a really useful one.  It's called WiFi File Explorer PRO, and it lets you transfer files between your Android tablet or phone and your computer via WiFi - no cable needed!

When you start the app, it automatically detects nearby Wi-Fi networks and supplies you with a URL address to enter into the Web browser of your computer.  The page says you'll be prompted to set up a password, which would be good on a public network, but I didn't see that option, so I'll have to look for it.  Anyway, once connected, it's really easy to see everything on your device.  You can download files to your computer, upload to your tablet or phone, and even stream files.

I just transferred some music to my tablet, and now I'm streaming it to my computer.  Yeah, I know - silly!  But I just wanted to see how it worked.  It works really well!  I think I'm going to like this app.  Be sure to grab it today while it's free!!  (regular price is $1.49)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Do You Have a Website?

Things have certainly come a long way. I remember the first time I attempted to build a website.  It was very, very simple.  It had to be really, because there was no drag and drop, no WYSIWYG, just plain text HTML.  Thankfully there was plenty of how-to information online to help me with the HTML.  I printed a bunch of it out for easy reference, and I went to work.  Unfortunately, nobody told me that music which started automatically when the page loaded was tacky, or that images needed to be optimized to help them load faster.  Back then that was really important because practically everyone had dial-up internet access!  Who remembers that?

I've learned a lot since then, and things have gotten a lot easier, too.  Now there are sites that let you easily create your own website - no HTML knowledge required.  Anyone can have a web page.  If you can send an email and arrange elements on a page - seriously, just type in the information you want to share and drag and drop it where you want it to be - then you can build a web site.  Add modules like games, forums, or photo albums.  Include gadgets and widgets, and even integrate popular web services like YouTube, Flickr, and Paypal.  Then, arrange everything on the page the way you want it.  Change your mind, and it's super simple to move things around again, until you get it just right.  And for people like me, there's still the option to tweak the HTML, meaning I can still have complete control.  But if you don't know anything about HTML, that's perfectly fine.

There are hundreds of templates to choose from, so your site will look nice, and you get unlimited free website hosting too.  Did you see that?  I said FREE.  So if you don't have a website yet, it's time you got started.  It's easy, it's free, and it's fun!  Create a free website now at
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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

 Here I am at the end of another Tuesday and now that I sit down, everything has flown out of my head.  I'm sure it was all there before!

I already mentioned that we went to the State Fair on Sunday, and Jeffrey got a new cell phone.  Cory got one too, even though he wasn't with us.  The boys had already picked out the phones they wanted, so we knew which one to get him.  Then Monday before work he stopped by US Cellular to get his activated and pick out a protective case.  I think he's liking it quite a bit.  I'm the only one left without a Smart Phone, but I guess I'll survive.  I still like my phone, and I can check facebook, twitter, and email from my phone, so what else do I really need?  And, besides, I'm usually home where I can use an actual computer to do all that.

I've been wanting to use this picture for a while.  It made me think of Beth & Tim when I first downloaded it - and then I just never needed it.  They found out they were going to be parents and cut down on the drama.  Or maybe they just kept it to themselves.  Until now.  Hopefully they'll get their stuff figured out.  They have a son.  They need to grow up.

Speaking of that adorable son, I got to go hang out with him today.  Beth had a dentist's appointment and didn't figure Jason would be happy to sit in his car seat the whole time, so she had me meet her there and watch him for her.  Yeah, it was tough, but somebody's gotta do it, right?  Thankfully Cory didn't have to work today, so I had a way to get there.  I still would have gotten to hang out with Jason.  Beth just would have had to leave work early enough to swing by here and drop him off first.  Tomorrow I get to see him again, because she wants to take all three kids to Old World Wisconsin, and she doesn't think she wants to do that all by herself.  Probably a good decision.  Also, I really do need to see that little guy regularly, because he just keeps growing and changing, and I might miss something.

I guess that's it for now.  Nice to see there were at least a few things in my head, huh?  Tune in next Tuesday for another edition - episode? rambling list? - something.

Convert Movies for Personal Viewing

Do you you use a video converter to transfer movies to your phone or MP3 player so you can watch them anywhere?  I always wondered why anyone would want to.  I mean, those screens are so small.  But then Jeffrey got a new phone at the Fair on Sunday.  Our provider, US Cellular, is a big sponsor of the fair, so they always have a shop set up and offer some really good deals, so it's a good time to upgrade.  He got a fancy Android Smart Phone with internet access, a slide-out keyboard, and a  5MP digital camera and HD camcorder.

We were watching the horse pulls later in the evening, and I had to play with it, of course.  First I shot a video on my phone, and then I tried his.  Wow, his screen is super clear!  I'm not sure what format it saves the video in, probably  AVI or MP4, and we haven't actually taken it off the phone, but it looked amazing on the phone's screen.  It really wouldn't be bad at all to watch a movie on that screen, especially when you consider only one person is going to be watching at a time.  I am going to have to find a good video converter and put at least a couple movies on his phone so he'll have them.  He wanted me to put a movie on his Archos tablet a few months ago so he could watch it on the plane when he went to Oklahoma.  Unfortunately, he didn't ask until quite late the night before he had to leave, and his tablet had to do some kind of conversion of its own, which was going to take ages, so he didn't get a movie.

I'm not sure what format the new Android phone is going to want for videos - MP4, WMV, MOV, or something else, but it looks like a good video converter  makes it really easy.  Just select your MP3 player or phone, and it rips your DVD or converts a YouTube video to the proper format, size, and quality.  This one I looked at supports over 180 devices, so whether you have an iPhone, Nokia, Samsung, HTC, or any other phone, chances are yours is supported. 

Easy or not, I'd still like to try it when I'm not rushed, like right before a long trip when he'd like to have a movie to watch.  He can carry a few movies around in his phone the same way I'd like to carry a few books in mine.  Guess I better get busy...

Orchestra Enrollment Declines

I don't know about everyone else, but if this guy was going to be my kid's orchestra teacher, I'd strongly suggest he take up sports - and you know I'm all about the arts...

He's just creepy, and this commercial does not inspire me to shop at Target, either.  Who comes up with this stuff?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Pictures I Didn't Take at the Fair

Jeffrey and I went to the Wisconsin State Fair yesterday and spent the day just walking around and hanging out together.  We always have a good time, from the moment we walk through the entry with the bronze letters saying, "Wisconsin State Fair Park" until we walk out again at the end of the day.
I took several pictures, but I just get busy looking and seeing and doing, and I forget to get pictures of the stuff I'm really interested in.  I have a friend who always takes tons of pictures whenever she goes, and they're always a lot of fun, so I'll let you look at her pictures!  (I hope that works, and her pictures aren't all friends only)  I just love that she takes pictures of everything, and she's not afraid to take pictures of people.  I don't get good pictures of people, because I don't want them to actually know I'm taking their picture.  Yeah, I know, get over it.

Instead I take pictures of animals (mostly horses),  crowds, the sky, bronze plaques and neon signs, and even some flowers.  I just want to take pictures of the people eating the turkey legs, wearing the odd interesting outfits, and trying to sell all the gizmos and gadgets - but I don't.  And, instead of taking a picture of the man cooking the noodles I had for lunch, I took a picture of the sign.  So many signs at the fair, just begging for attention...
The noodles, by the way were yummy.  I didn't get a picture of them either.  I just ate them.

Friday, August 05, 2011

She's Going to Be How Old?

Birthday CakeImage by Will Clayton via Flickr
Beth has a birthday next month. For some reason, she thinks this is a special birthday.  And, for this birthday, she'd like us to keep Jason overnight so she can go out and take advantage of her age.  I bet she expects all birthday gifts for her to be of a certain type, too - a type she can drink!

Yes, next month Beth will be 21.  It doesn't seem like it's been 21 years...

She wants to go out and 'get drunk' - because she can, I guess.  I don't really understand the whole idea of going out drinking just because you're old enough to do it.  I think I bought a 6-pack of beer or some wine coolers or something at at grocery store a few days after I turned 21, and then went home with my parents.  I was vaguely disappointed that the checker didn't even ask for my ID!  Of course, now they have to ask everybody.  And in the years since then, I've never gone out 'drinking' and definitely never gone out to get drunk.  Why would anybody want to do that?

Regardless of whether I understand her need to go out drinking or not, I'll be happy to keep the little guy!  I do hope she lines up someone responsible to drive, though.
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There's a First Time for Everything

I was watching/listening to The View yesterday, and I found myself actually agreeing with Joy Behar about something.  Normally I just think she's very opinionated, abrasive, and wrong.  Then yesterday, co-host Sherri Shepherd was talking about sending out her wedding invitations and getting back the RSVP cards - with no names on them.  People were replying 'yes, we'll be there' or 'no, we won't' but she had no clue who was planning to come and who wasn't.  Not a big deal if you just want to know how many will be there, but Sherri needed names for the tables. She's not the first bride to have that problem.  One of my facebook friends got married last summer, and she had the exact same frustration.

I was thinking that brides are just going to have to start putting the guests' names on the RSVP cards when they mail out the invitations - and then Joy Behar mentioned the same thing.  Imagine my surprise.  I never thought I'd agree with Joy on anything.  It kind of reminds me of the day I found myself singing along to a Sugarland song and a Keith Urban song.  One, I don't sing.  Two, I don't even like Sugarland, and I've never been all that impressed with Keith Urban.  I don't know how they got me.  I guess there's a first time for everything.

Also, kudos to View co-host Sherri Shepherd for having morals and waiting until after the wedding to have sex - and being willing to say so on national television.  People need to hear that is a real choice.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Most Important Thing to Know About Sunscreen

What is the most important thing you need to know about sunscreen?  Is it the SPF?  The higher the better, right?  Whether it blocks UVA or UVB rays, or both?  That is contains ingredients like Mexoryl SX or avobenzon?  And what do those even do, anyway?

Nope, I'd say the most important thing you need to know about sunscreen is to apply it - and remember to re-apply it! Swimming, sweating, and just generally spending time in the sun wash away your sunscreen and lower the effectiveness.  So, applying sunscreen in the morning is a good thing, but if you go out canoeing all day and don't re-apply, this is what can happen:

Pain!  For days. Then, you turn into a reptile of some type and get all scaly and start shedding your skin.

We've been using a lot of aloe gel around here.  More you need to know about sunscreen.

Reading The Help

Guest post written by Katherine Benton
Most of the time, I prefer not to read books before I see their film counterparts. I've found in the past that a lot of the time it's too hard for the director and actors to make the movie better than the book and I end up getting disappointed by it in the end. Well, I had to make an exception for it this time around though because my mom gave me The Help for my birthday. She told me that she and her book club had read it and then she cried because it was so sad, but beautiful. After she said that, I knew I had to read it. Normally I get way more emotional about books than she does, so I thought this one must be especially good!

I also looked into a few book reviews before I actually cracked it open though. While I was browsing through some, I came across the site After I looked through it some, I decided to change over my apartment internet service to it.

It took me just a few short days to read the book! Granted most of that was over a weekend when I just read, but it was that good. I have faith that the movie will live up to it though.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Question About Milk

I need your help with this, OK?  Jeffrey and I were at Walmart the other evening, and this is what the milk case looks like.  I would have taken a picture of the 2% because that's what I always buy, but they don't have both brands together, so Vitamin D it is.

So, if you were going to buy a gallon of milk, which brand would you buy?  I know which one I'd buy, but I'd really appreciate it if you would take my survey and let me know.  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Somehow, Tuesday  is almost over for this week, but if I get this posted, it will be 3 weeks in a row - and that's gotta be a record or something.  Actually, I posted Camera Critters posts almost every week for at least a year, so that's a real record.  Unfortunately, I've gotten away from it, and I just can't find my way back.  I miss all the cute critters, too.

Cory left on Thursday and went to Michigan for the weekend.  He had a great time with a whole bunch of friends, pushing cars out of the mud, canoeing, going to the beach, getting majorly sunburned, etc.  Thankfully he didn't have to drive all the way by himself.  He drove about an hour from home, met up with some friends from Minnesota, and they all rode together.  And, thankfully, he's old enough to drive now so I didn't have to drop him off and then have to be back and pick him up Sunday night - because he didn't get home until after midnight.  Then, he had to be up the next morning so he could go to work at 7am - the earliest he's had to work since he started at Walmart.  But, he survived.

We went to the bank Friday afternoon and signed a bunch of papers.  Beth needed a new vehicle because she couldn't get 3 car seats in the Regal she was driving.  For work she watches two kids, and now she has one of her own, so she needs to be able to get all three of those car seats in.  So, she got a Buick Rendezvous, which is nice, and most importantly to her it's not a mini van.  I'm not sure what the deal is with mini vans, but whatever.  She got a decent deal on it, all three cars seats fit, and she's happy - and now that all the papers are signed, she's got her very own car payment to make every month.

Jeffrey and I went to a church conference in the Chicago area for the weekend.  We left Saturday morning and didn't get back until Sunday evening.  We had a great time with some great people, heard some good presentations, ate lots of wonderful food, and just had a really good weekend.  I had my first Lemon Drop Martini thanks to my friend Trisha, and it was yummy!  And our friends Paul and Laureen opened up their home and gave us a bed to sleep in Saturday night - which was really nice, because they're always so busy when they host one of these things, so staying with them actually gave us some time to spend with them we wouldn't have had otherwise.

I mowed the yard Monday morning.  I can't remember when I mowed it last, and the boys hadn't mowed it for a while either because it's been so dry.  But we got some rain recently, and things have started to grow, the grass included - or at least all the weeds/extra plants in the yard - so it needed done.  It was a bit hot, but there was a breeze and clouds, and I drank plenty of water.  Then Jeffrey called late afternoon and said not to worry about it.  Too late!  Yes, I could have waited until tomorrow when it's supposed to be much cooler, but it's done now. 

Today it was hotter, or at least that's what they said.  I was inside, freezing in the air conditioning.  For some reason it seemed colder than it has been, even though the thermostat was set the same.  I went outside to warm up several times.  By tomorrow, I should be able to turn the air off and open the windows because it's supposed to be nice for a while.  Looking forward to that!
Gold Star icon.Image via Wikipedia

And now, Tuesday is basically over, so this post must come to an end.  A gold star to you if you made it all the way to the end!

Tune in next Tuesday....
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The Straight Talk on Cell Phone Plans

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I keep looking at these cell phone plans that give you everything you need  for a great price.  Imagine an Unlimited Monthly service that includes calls, text, picture messaging, and web - for only $45.  That's what you can get with Straight Talk.  We pay more than that per phone, and the only thing that's unlimited is the text and picture messaging.  And we don't even have web!  We could save a ton of money if we switched - well, if we switch after our contract is up.
You know how the big cell phone providers require you to sign a new contract every time you want to change your plan or upgrade your phone?  I think if they'd just concentrate on providing great service at a great price, they wouldn't need to tie people down; they'd have their customers hook, line and sinker.  I've even asked our current provider, if companies like Straight Talk can provide so much for so little, why can't they?  They try to tell me that the service isn't that good.  These cheap(er)  companies which, by the way don't require their cusomers to sign a contract, can't provide a reliable cell signal.  Kinda telling me that you get what you pay for.  Well, Straight Talk customers seem to disagree...

Phone selection is really good with reconditioned phones that let you call a friend as well as listen to music, take pics and video, and surf the web, for only $10, as well as some amazing Smart Phones with all the bells & whistles.  Straight Talk only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung.
With Straight Talk there are no contracts, no hidden fees, and no activation, reactivation, or termination fees.  So what I'm thinking is that I'd like to buy one of those $10 phones, pay for one of the most basic plans, maybe the "All You Need Plan" that includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30 MB of web data, and then I want to try it for myself.
If you're using Straight Talk, please - let me know how you like it.  I would really love to save some real money on our cell phone plan - and get more while we're at it.  It just seems crazy to spend more than we need to.
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Enter the Brite Start Sweepstakes

Here's another possible way to help an elementary school of your choice.  I found this when I was cutting out coupons this morning.

Enter the Brite Start Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $250 Visa Gift Card, and while you're there, designate an elementary school for a chance to win a $1000 'school supplies' award.  There will be 5 grand prizes of a $250 Visa gift card to the winner and a $1000 check for school supplies to the winner's designated school.

You can enter once per day through the end of the month - 8/31/11 at 11:59pm CT, and winners will be drawn after the promotion concludes.  So hurry and enter - and good luck to you and your designated school! (There are 4 prizes up for grabs besides the one I'm winning for me and my  local elementary school)

Help Your Local Schools My Coke Rewards

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of My Coke Rewards for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

MCR_School_Blogger_0706[1].pdf (page 3 of 3)
If you or someone in your household drinks Coke products, chances are you have a MyCokeRewards account.  There are codes on all kinds of Coke products that you enter on the site to earn points which you can redeem for all kinds of cool stuff.  Well, here's a really cool use for those points - use them to help your local school!  Through the My Coke Rewards Schools Program, you can donate points to your school, so it can get rewards like art supplies and sports equipment.

Schools are always having to make do with less and less money, so any help they can get is HUGE!  I'd love to see every parent, every teacher, and every member of the community, even those without kids in school (like me!), go to, register, and start donating points to our local school.  Those points would surely add up and really help the school get things they need like classroom supplies, sports equipment, books, etc.  It can be a really easy way to do something really good, and it really doesn't cost anything!  I mean, if you're already drinking the Coke products, you don't have to spend any extra money.  Yes, you could use your points for yourself, but do you really need another magazine subscription, movie poster, or whatever other reward you've got your eye on?

I am going to have to contact our local PTO President, because I just checked and found out our local elementary school isn't registered.  That needs to be fixed right away so they can take advantage of the My Coke rewards for schools program and start spreading the word.

MCR_School_Blogger_0706[1].pdf (page 3 of 3)

It's especially important now because from July 13 through September 30, Sprite is giving away 25 playgrounds, worth $25,000.  Anyone who enters a code from any package of Sprite/Sprite Zero during that time earns an entry into the sweepstakes to help their school win. In addition, every three points donated to the school through the Sprite Spark Parks for Schools sweepstakes will give the school additional chances. Any new school that registers will be given a chance to win.  They're currently trying to raise money for a new playground, so this would be AWESOME!!

If your local school isn't registered (you can easily check on the site), be sure to let them know about this program so they can get registered and be eligible, too.  And if you're school is already registered, start donating those points!

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Monday, August 01, 2011

How to Make Moving Your Kid to College Easier

In the upcoming month, many parents will be taking their son or daughter to college to start their freshman year. For many of these kids, they will be headed out-of-state and will move into large college dorms loaded with students and 10x10 foot rooms. Dorm life is compact, and planning for the transition from a solo room to a smaller room with a roommate can be difficult for any first time college student.

However, there are a few ways that both you and your college student can make the move to college easier. A few of those include:

Properly Prepare and Research

There are hundreds of lists online that suggest great items for your future college student to take to college; however, try to look at the one that is specific to the college your son or daughter will be attending. This list will not only have recommended items, but will also list prohibited items. Having this list will let you know what all your child needs to pack, and how much hauling room you can expect to need.

Phone the New Roomie

There is no reason for both roommates to bring mini fridges and coffee makers. Prior to departure, have your child call their future roommate. Between the two of them, they should be able to determine who will bring what into the dorm allowing you to ditch the unnecessary TV or room fan when loading up.

Rent a Trailer in Advance

The weekend your son or daughter will be moving to college will most likely be the same weekend that everyone else’s sons or daughters move to college. Don’t wait last minute to get the equipment you need to make your move more successful. While your child shouldn’t be packing enough to fill a large moving van, you may not have a car big enough to fit more than two people and may need to rent a trailer or small moving vehicle.

Consider a Storage Unit

Have plans for your child’s vacant room once they are gone? You may want to rent a self storage unit ahead of time. Transitioning into college can be hard, but coming home and finding that all of your possessions have been crammed into boxes and stored elsewhere can be even more difficult. If you plan on redecorating your child’s room upon their departure, have them pack up everything they can’t take to college with you. Not only will this alleviate the burden of you packing up their room by yourself, but it will also make their transition easier.
College is a fun and exciting time, and to make it as stress free as possible, parents should begin planning for the big move at least 3 weeks prior. Doing so will make moving day seamless, and will allow you to enjoy the last few hours spent with your child instead of worrying about last minute packing and hauling.