Friday, May 24, 2019

Summer Reading


Do you have a plan for your summer reading? I signed up for the summer reading program at the local library, which starts June 1st, but as far as I can tell, it's just about keeping track of how much time I spend reading and then entering to win prizes. I like winning stuff, but I'm horrible at keeping track of my reading time. I just read. Whenever I can squeeze in some time. And I pretty much just read whatever catches my eye - though I am determined to finish Stephen King's Dark Tower series this year (just 2 books to go, and I'm enjoying it just as much this time as I did the first time through).

The main difference between my summer reading and my rest-of-the-year reading is that I need some 'real' books for summer so I can read them outside in the sunshine. The Kindle doesn't do so well in bright sunshine, but for any other time, I like it a lot more than I thought I would.

But what has me thinking about summer reading is this Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge. It looks pretty interesting and a good way to expand your reading horizons - especially good if you tend to read a lot of the same type of books, or books by the same author. I'm not sure if the intent is to check off every prompt on the list, or if you're just supposed to use them as a nudge to try something new.

Me, I'll probably use them as a nudge to try something new. Or I'll approach it from the backside and see how the books I'm already reading anyway fit into the checklist. I'm guessing that it doesn't really matter too much. As long as you're reading.

But, of course, I can't imagine not reading.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Whole Thing Makes Me Sick

Somehow I got on this email list. I pretty much disagree with everything they send out, or at least the ones I actually read. (I tend to just delete most of the emails) But I do occasionally read them, just to see what they're trying to say. This one I pretty much read with my mouth hanging open. There is just no part of my brain that understands the rabid need so many women have to defend their 'right' to kill their unborn children. How did we even get to such a place?

Their argument is that taking away this right to 'manage how many children we have and when we have them' is an outright war on women; it's 'not about abortion' but an attack on a woman's right to choose. Seems to me they've been waging a war on their own babies for years - and that seems far worse on every level. Why don't they exercise that right to choose in a timely manner - before there's another life involved? You want to choose 'when and how many children to have' (which sounds an awful lot like they're using abortion as a birth control method, doesn't it?) then choose. You have every right to choose. But choosing should not involve murder. Stop abdicating your responsibility to choose until 'Oops!' there's a baby you just don't want, and if you kill her before she's born you can go on with your life as if nothing ever happened...

And maybe that's what boggles my mind most of all. Why do these women who so desperately want to 'control their own bodies' only seem to be fighting for the right to kill their babies, while ignoring all the points where they really should be making those choices - don't be having sex with random guys, use birth control... Perhaps if we take baby killing off the table, they'll fight harder for the right to make the choices they should be making.

Anyway, here's the email. All emphasis is theirs.

Dear Anna,
Most women who have abortions are already moms.1 Being able to manage how many children we have and when we have them has been nothing short of revolutionary — not just for women and mothers, but for our country as a whole. It has helped to narrow the gender pay gap, improved the health of women and their families, and led women toward access to increased economic and political power.
Following on the heels of Georgia2, Alabama just passed the nation’s most restrictive reproductive healthcare bill that, if allowed to go forward by the courts, would impose criminal penalties on any doctor who performs an abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. As moms, we know the lifesaving importance of access to reproductive healthcare for ourselves, and we cannot even begin to imagine the horror of a high schooler who has been raped learning that terminating her pregnancy is a criminal action. Despite these horrors, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey immediately signed the bill into law.3
* Join MomsRising in telling every governor that they must protect access to safe abortions and resist the attack on a woman’s right to decide when and how many children to have — or whether to have children at all — which is nothing short of a war on all of us, including mothers and our daughters.
Across the land, other states like Missouri and Louisiana are considering bills designed to provoke the reversal of Roe versus Wade, which protects a woman’s right to choose under the U.S. Constitution. (In good news, some states like New York are passing protections of a woman’s right to choose in response to the bans.)4 Ultimately, it’s up to governors to sign them into law. Signing such anti-choice laws signals a governor’s active participation in the war on women that wants to take away our bodily autonomy and our ability to make our own family planning decisions.
This coordinated effort to take away choice and deny reproductive health care involves states with some of the worst health outcomes for women, including high maternal and infant mortality rates.5 Politicians who say they value life should advocate for policies to solve the public health crises that are killing women and newborns, not dismantle women’s health care.
Governors must protect women, moms, and families, and stand firm against the attack on a woman’s right to choose, which is nothing short of a war on women.
Make no mistake, this war on mothers and women is not about reducing abortions. If the goal of those who are passing such severely restrictive laws was to avoid abortion, then they'd be passing access to free birth control, which is proven to lower abortion rates,6 not setting lifetime imprisonment laws for doctors who help women in need. What's really happening is a direct attack on women and moms having bodily autonomy, economic freedom, and sovereignty in our lives.
Twenty-five million women — that’s one in three women of reproductive age – now live in states in which abortion under any circumstances could be outlawed if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade.7 And this war on women, mothers, and our daughters particularly harms women in low-income families and communities of color, who face more barriers accessing reproductive healthcare.
Lawmakers should not be attacking women, who are half their constituents. Instead, they should be supporting us by passing paid family/medical leave like every other industrialized nation has done, access to health care including birth control, affordable childcare, equal pay, fair treatment of immigrant families, and an end to the mass incarceration that tears too many families apart — and not a rollback of our rights.
Women are the foundations of families, communities, and the economy. Tell governors to protect women and stand firm against the attack on a woman’s right to choose.
Please forward this email to everyone you know who believes in a woman’s equal right to freedom and her own autonomy, and ask them to sign too.
In solidarity,
- Kristin, Monifa, Gloria, Donna, Elyssa, Felicia, Sili, Tina, Casey, Maggie, and the entire MomsRising/MamásConPoder team
So, apparently, lawmakers should not be attacking women. but women should be allowed to attack the most vulnerable and helpless, killing them with impunity. And they have the nerve to talk about horrors.

Please note, I removed all the links. If you want to support this nonsense, you'll have to look up your own links.

Why Choose an Architect

blueprints_architectural_plans_2228686Oftentimes when you're planning to build a home for your family, your builder will give you a choice of 5 or 6 home designs. You pick one of those, and they build it. If you happen to know a bit about home design, you may be able to tweak the plans a bit to get something that works a little better for your family. Otherwise, your house is built according to the plan, and odds are there are several houses in the neighborhood that are just like yours.

If you'd like something a bit more unique, consider hiring an architect. Here are ten reasons an architect can benefit your new build:
  1. Dreams - Architectural design services include trained professionals that can make your dream design into reality.
  2. Investment - Your home is often your largest investment, so why not make sure you get what you want in your new build.
  3. Weather - A local architect understands weather conditions your home needs to be prepared to protect you from.
  4. Original - Working with a design team can let you create an original residence that includes unique areas such as hidden rooms.
  5. Green - Earth-friendly architects can help you create a home that is energy efficient and eco-friendly.
  6. Value - Working with an architect can assure you are creating a house that is the best value for your dollar.
  7. Costs - Construction costs are lower than they have been for several years, so why not take advantage of the savings?
  8. Property - If you have an unusual property, an architect can help you design a home that highlights the strengths of the land.
  9. Resale - The resale value of a home designed by an architect is often much higher than standard stick-homes.
  10. You - You are worth the extra time and effort it takes to find an architect to make your dream dwelling come to life.
Dream House
If you want someone to help you build the home you visualize, choose an architect. You can be sure he or she will be familiar with the latest technology, roofing fabrics, and building materials. With a trusted design team in place, your dream residence can become a reality.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Had to Share

Shortly after posting that last post on whether to buy wooden or vinyl horse jumps, I came across this video on Facebook. It seemed almost too coincidental, so I just had to share.

Is that wood or vinyl?

When It Comes to Jumping

Whether you keep your own horses at home, have a small training or boarding facility, or run a facility that hosts multiple horse shows a year you want to make smart choices with all your purchases. When adding horse jumps the first question you may have is whether you should invest in wood or vinyl. There are several reasons why wood horse jumps are the best choice.
Horse Jumping

While some horses are chronic overachievers, many are, like many humans, a little lazy. Using vinyl horse jumps teaches your horse that he doesn't need to respect the jump because it will come down easily at the lightest touch. A few times of this and he will quickly learn he doesn't need to be particularly careful with what he does with his legs when jumping. Hanging his knees or not tucking up tightly has no consequences. These bad habits are more than frustrating, they can prove dangerous as he continues to get more sloppy with his front end, or when he faces a more solidly built fence.

Another reason you should consider wood horse jumps rather than vinyl is that wood fences are made to last. Wood fences just look good. While vinyl fences may look nice when brand new, they quickly show signs of wear. If damaged, they cannot be repaired but must be replaced. Wood fences are much tougher than vinyl, but even if they are damaged, they can often be repaired. If they start to look a little worn, a fresh coat of paint can have them looking just like new.

I just finished a very lovely book - The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - in which the young girl at the center of the story learns to ride a pony (after never being out of the city or even the room her family lived in), and she works really hard to be able to jump. There's a lot more to the story, but the relationship between the girl and the pony was really special. I never really thought about whether they were jumping wood or vinyl, though because the story was set during WWII, I'm thinking it was probably wood - with a few logs and then a couple stone walls thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Liars, Every One

I occasionally watch Family Feud in the afternoons. Sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) it's really hard to come up with the responses that are up there. And some of them have me practically yelling at the television screen. There was the time they asked single men what was the longest time they'd gone without cleaning the toilet. Remember, we're talking about single men. And the #1 answer was - any guesses? If you're like me, you're guessing a month, 6 months... But, no, the #1 answer was one week. I'm pretty sure they were all lying on that one.

There was a time - amazingly, back when my kids were very small - when I really did clean my bathrooms every single week. Thursdays, to be precise. Now, if I could just figure out how to get back to something that remotely resembles that.

Another Family Feud question was 'How long does it take to clean your house top to bottom?" I actually did clean this house top to bottom before we moved in. The house had been sitting empty for a few months, so it was mostly vacuuming up all the dead flies and spider webs in the corners, wiping down the bathrooms and kitchen, and vacuuming all the floors. There was no furniture (except for the table in the breakfast area), so that made things a bit easier, but it still took pretty much all day. So my response to the Family Feud question was 8 or 10 hours. Maybe? But the #1 answer was 3 hours. Yeah, right... What, do these people all live in tiny houses? Either that or they're lying. Lying.

Back when we lived in the apartment - before kids (all those years ago) - I could clean the entire place on my days off and still be able to get out to the pool when it opened at 10:00. But this house is a bit larger than that old apartment, and 3 hours wouldn't even come close to being enough time to clean the entire thing.

And then there's this chart I saw on facebook a couple weeks ago:

Yep, that looks entirely reasonable...  Does anybody actually do this? Probably those people who can clean their entire house top to bottom in 3 hours.

I do make the bed and do the dishes (mostly) every day, so there's that.
(also - *every day - there really is a difference)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Four Benefits of Enrolling Your Little One in Childcare

It is not uncommon to feel guilty when enrolling your kid in childcare. Many moms would rather be home with their children instead of working, but sometimes there is no other choice. In that case, it helps to focus on the positive aspects of enrolling your little one in childcare.

Here are four benefits:

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  1. Childcare Prepares Them For Kindergarten
    Once your child starts kindergarten, they are going to be on a certain schedule. Enrolling them in childcare prepares them for kindergarten by getting them used to a routine. Their schedule includes lunch, naptime, games and other activities. There are many childcare centers and kindergarten classes that offer a similar schedule and curriculum.
  2. Childcare Helps Your Child To Socialize
    A childcare setting helps your little one to socialize with children in their age group. Their teachers come up with a variety of activities that encourage children to play together, such as working on puzzles, building with blocks and pretend play games. The activities teach children how to communicate and work together to solve a problem. Teachers also use the games to teach children how to share and take turns with others.
  3. Childcare Encourages Children To Try New Things
    Children who attend childcare are encouraged to try new things. Teachers have different methods for getting children to try certain foods for the first time. Your child may also be introduced to unfamiliar games, songs and stories. There is a good chance your child will be more open to trying different things as they grow older.
  4. Childcare Increases Their Independence
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    When you enroll your child in childcare, you are helping them to gain their independence. Your child may need time to adjust to being away from you and home, but their teachers can help them adjust to their new surroundings. Children also learn how to do things without parental assistance, which helps them to develop and enhance their independent skills.

You can take comfort in knowing your child is in a positive atmosphere when you enroll them in child care Tampa Palms.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Get Your Ears Ready! Sync 2019 Starts on April 25th!

It's almost time for another summer of free audiobooks from Sync! Yes, they're specifically directed at teens, but I've been enjoying them for several years, too. I check out YA books from the library, too.

Every weekSync gives away two free audiobooks in themed pairs, often a current book paired with a classic. The program is a great way to get exposure to many different types of books. And audiobooks make it possible to read and do other things at the same time!

Unlike library books, these audiobooks are yours to keep, but you'll only have one week to download each pair. So be sure you have Overdrive on your computer so you'll be ready to start downloading. And sign up for email alerts or text syncya to 25827 to receive text alerts about all the featured titles.

2019 titles:

Who's excited?

Monday, April 01, 2019

Review: Simply Earth Essential Oil Recipe Box

A few weeks ago, the nice ladies from Simply Earth contacted me and asked if I'd try out one of their recipe boxes. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant, so I checked out the website and learned it's a great way to try out essential oils. With the box you get 4 essential oils, other natural ingredients, and some fun extras. The idea intrigued me, so I said yes, I'd love to try them out!

I received my box last week - along with a Bonus Box full of extras like roller bottles, smaller oil bottles, and carrier oils to use with the essential oils. The whole thing was so much better than I imagined. The box held some lovely recipe cards with recipes for things like Natural Laundry Detergent, Foaming Hand Soap, and a Laundry Stain Remover - as well as a Diffuser Blend to try. I've got that going in my diffuser right now, and my house smells so good! I am especially loving the nutmeg in there.

All of the recipes use the essential oils included in the box, and they sent along some additional ingredients needed for the recipes. Some of the recipes call for things you probably have around your house, like white vinegar, Borax, and distilled water, so those aren't included, but they did include a bottle of Castille soap which I did not have on hand. I used that to make the Laundry Stain Remover, and that went into a roller ball from the Bonus Box. They really make it easy to jump right in and start using the oils in your home. There's even a sheet of beautifully printed labels to apply to your finished products.

Besides the Laundry Stain Remover, I also made the Tea Tree and Lemon Surface Cleaner. Both recipes were very easy to follow and quick to mix together, and I love knowing I can clean my house with natural products. My 15-month-old granddaughter was visiting last week (along with her mom and brother), and she did a good job of smudging up my stainless steel refrigerator. I used the Surface Cleaner on that this afternoon, and it looks really good. It smells really nice when I spray it, too. The smell was a bit strong when I mixed it up, but I'm pretty sure it was because I put rubbing alcohol and the tea tree and lemon oils into the hot water. Note to self: next time wait for the water to cool a bit before adding those ingredients! Once it cooled, it was much better.

I need to get some washing soda before I can try the Natural Laundry Detergent recipe that came in my box, but I added a few drops of the BO Be Gone blend to my laundry today, and I love the smell. I used to make my own laundry detergent from basically the same ingredients as the Simply Earth recipe (minus the essential oil blend), but now I'm using a plant based detergent I bought online, so it's all good and natural. And smells so good!

Simply Earth offers a monthly subscription service for $39/month. You get all this every month - new oils, new themes, new recipes every month. Use my code - BCMOMTOOFREE - when you subscribe, and they'll include a $20 gift card in your first recipe box. You can use the $20 on a future purchase - you can buy single oils or accessories from Simply Earth too - or apply it toward your next box. Sounds great, right? I think you'll really love it. And everything comes with a guarantee, so if you don't love it, you can return it and find something you do love.

Be sure to use my link when you shop Simply Earth and use the code - BCMOMTOOFREE - when you subscribe to get the $20 gift to use on your very next box or order. I'll get a little something out of it as part of the Simply Earth #squad, and you'll get a fresh, natural house. 13% of company profits go toward ending human trafficking, so you can feel good about that too.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Show Your Creativity with These Graduation Invitations

Students everywhere are looking forward to graduation, and now is the time to be thinking about invitations. As I read through this, I couldn't help but think that it sounds like a great option for creating some personalized invitations you're sure to love:
One of the most wonderful things we can do in life is to be creative. Connecting to our creative sides helps us reconnect with our inner child and can help us feel renewed. Creating and designing is exciting and fulfilling. Our minds are stimulated and engaged. When we have finished designing something, we feel ready to turn our attention to our less creative and inspiring to-do lists again.

It can be difficult to find time to be creative, however. A few weeks ago, I had to help a friend start preparing for her college graduation. It was a very stressful time for both of us. I had graduated the semester before and was frantically looking for a job to pay the bills. My friend had finals and projects to work on. She also really wanted to send out graduation invitations. Initially, I didn’t think this would be a good idea. We were both stressed to the max, and I didn’t think we could find the time to take photos and design invitations.

My friend was adamant, however, and we found a way. One of our friends is majoring in photography, and she agreed to take pictures of my friend for free. It was great going out and shooting the photos. We both felt a huge rush of relief being outside and just having fun.

Then we had to find a stationery company to print our cards. We looked at dozens of websites, but we finally settled on Basic Invite. My friend and I really liked their simple graduation invitations. They are pretty and elegant, and they match my friend’s personality really well. Searching through all of Basic Invite’s graduation announcements was another great way for my friend and me to relax.

Once we chose the invite (the Gemstone Grad Graduation Announcements, above, for those of you who were wondering) we got to the fun part. Basic Invite lets you customize your invitations. You can choose the colors you want your invites to be, from blue to red to yellow, and anything in between. Many of their invitations even have foil options. All of their foil is available in either gold, silver, or rose gold. You can also choose if you want your foil to be raised or not.

Designing the invitations was a joy. It felt great to let our imaginations run wild and come up with the craziest color combos. We had trouble deciding between a couple different color combinations, so we decided to have Basic Invite print out a few samples to help us come to a decision. The samples arrived in the mail a few days later, and we were able to decide which one looked better IRL and chose the paper quality we liked best.

Once we settled on the color scheme, we went to print our order. Basic Invite has over 40 different envelope colors to choose from, and we were able to choose envelopes that matched my friend’s invites perfectly. We also took advantage of their address capturing service. My friend shared a link to her Facebook and Instagram profiles and had all her friends and family input their addresses. Their info was saved on my friend’s Basic Invite account. We selected the option to upload the addresses to the envelopes, and just like that, the hardest part of sending out announcements was finished. And, the envelopes are peel and seal, so we didn’t have to worry about eating gross envelope glue when we mailed the invites out.

If simple grad invites aren’t your thing, you might take a look at some rustic graduation invitations or these Hollywood graduation invitations. Our photography major friend can’t wait to use those when she graduates next year!


For anyone who needs invitations printed out, but doesn’t feel like they have the time, I really recommend Basic Invite. I think taking the time out of your day to do something both productive and creative will be a big help to you emotionally. You’ll feel better after creating something unique and beautiful, and if you need to get invites anyway, you might as well kill two birds with one stone, right? I hope you can reconnect with yourself and knock something off your to-do list by grabbing a few invitations from Basic Invite. You won’t regret it.

Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51