Friday, December 28, 2018

A Year of Books

2018 is almost over, and it's about time for me to start working on my book list for the year. Since I keep track of all the books I've read - and the ones I want to read - over on Goodreads, I already know how many books I've read this year. It's been a pretty good year, judging by the number of individual titles I've read. What I won't know until I go back through all of them is how many pages I've read and how many hours I've listened. That's probably a clearer indication of how much I've read than the actual number of books.

Stack Of BooksNow if I could only actually get to reading more of those books on my Want to Read list...

That particular list just keeps getting longer and longer, but that didn't stop me from signing up for my friend Ruth's Reading Recommendations, 2019. I already pay attention to what she's reading on Goodreads, so I know there will be some really great books recommended every month. The question is - will my to read list just get longer, or will I actually read some/a lot/most of the books she recommends? I guess we'll see.

If you're interested in some great recommendations, be sure to sign up for the monthly email.

Now, I need to run on over to Goodreads and finish up some ratings and reviews so I'll be ready to post my 2018 Book List.

(see previous book lists here)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

How to Help Out Someone Who is Mourning a Death

Knowing that someone you care about has recently lost a loved one can be very upsetting. You might know that there is nothing that you can do that can truly take the pain away, but you still want to help in some way. Here are a few things you can do to bring a level of comfort:
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  • Send Flowers to the Funeral
    One popular way to show support to someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one is to send funeral flowers Brookfield IL. You can contact a local florist to find out more about the different flowers or plants that you can send to the funeral home for the service. Be sure to respect the wishes of the family. Sometimes donations to a scholarship fund for the surviving children or donations to a charity may be requested in lieu of flowers.
  • Bring Them Food
    Even though your grieving loved one might not feel much like eating, it's important for him or her to do so. Someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one might not feel like cooking or going out to get something to eat so you can help by bringing food. You can prepare food yourself, or you can pick up something from a local restaurant. Either way, the hot meal is sure to be appreciated. Stocking up your loved one's refrigerator and freezer with food that can be eaten later and even bringing along paper plates and other necessities can also be very helpful.
  • Help with Child Care
    Taking care of children can be challenging at even the best times, and it can be even harder when someone is going through the grieving process. If you volunteer to babysit for even a little while, this can help take a big load off of your loved one's shoulders during a difficult time.

Helping someone who is grieving can be very hard to do, but there are ways that you can help. The tips above are great for helping someone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

That'll Teach Them to Steal Packages!

Glitter is evil. It's exactly what those people deserved.

Have you ever had a package stolen off your porch? Thankfully I'm usually home, and our porch is shielded from view, so we haven't had that problem. But, wow - I would really want to do something to the people who would dare to do something like that.

I've also seen the posts going around that recommend putting some of your old junk into Amazon boxes and putting them out on the front porch for the porch pirates. Might be a convenient way to get rid of some stuff you don't want...

Monday, December 17, 2018

How to Get the Best Deal for Your Auto Insurance

Saving Cash with Budget Car InsuranceAuto insurance is a necessary thing, something that we're all required to have if we're going to drive. It can also get expensive, especially if you stick with one company and never shop around. One of the best ways we've found to save money on our auto insurance - besides paying for the policy annually instead of monthly (or even every 6 months) - is to find an agency that represents multiple insurance companies. Every year, they review our policies and select the ones that give us the best deal.

Below are a few things to keep in mind when searching for the best deal on your car insurance rates.

  • See If You Qualify for Good Driver Discounts
    Take full advantage of any type of discount that is offered, whether it's a good student, good driver, military, or any other savings plan. Saving a few dollars each month can add up over the calendar year. Make sure you add the information about low mileage use if you are only taking your car around the local area.
  • Only Purchase the Coverage You Need
    Don't opt for coverage that you might never use. Adding excessive amounts of property and medical coverage can hurt your wallet in the long run. Weigh out carefully whether your car is worth enough to carry full coverage insurance. It might be better to stick with liability only if your car is older and in less-than-perfect condition. (this is one area that could possibly save us some money because our vehicles are several years old, and should something happen, the amount the insurance will pay will be far from enough to purchase a new vehicle)
  • Instant Car Insurance Charlotte
  • Do you qualify for multiple vehicle savings?
    Including more than one vehicle on your insurance policy will get you automatic savings with most companies. Adding two or more vehicles will reduce the price you would pay for each one separately. Also consider insuring your home and your vehicles with the same company for multi-policy discounts.
  • Get Quotes from Several Companies
    Not all companies charge the same rates. Gather up several quotes to make a comparison. Take the time to investigate how people review the quality of each company. It might be worth paying a few extra dollars if you have faster claims and better customer service.

Find the auto insurance Orlando FL residents count on to give the best rates and top service in the area. Don't get caught without the right type of insurance for your vehicles.

The Importance of Roof Maintenance

Your roof is the most important system in your home. This is one of the reasons why when people talk about their home, they refer to it as a roof over their head. The roof is designed to protect your home from damage, protect your property from damage, and provide shelter to the home’s occupants.

There are a wide range of roofing materials that you can use on your home. They include things like asphalt, slate, concrete, and granite. The type of roofing material you will select depends on the style of your home and the structural strength of your roof. Certain materials, like slate and concrete, are very heavy. If your roof is not properly reinforced, it might not be able to support the weight.

Most roofing material does an excellent job protecting your home from storm damage. However, during severe storms, your roof is liable to sustain to damage. There are certain things that you can do to give your roof the extra support it needs to endure a severe storm.

One of the best things that you can do for your roof is to stay up-to-date with the repair and maintenance of your roof. If there is a small defect or a small amount of damage on your roof and you do nothing about it, the damage is going to get worse. When a storm comes, the area of damage will be a weak point that could lead to the complete collapse of your roofing system.

Identify roof leak before causes serious roof damage
Roof repair Beaverton Oregon professionals understand that giving your roof the maintenance it needs requires vigilance on your part as a homeowner. A small leak may go unnoticed for some time. Then it can explode into a large leak that causes serious damage, especially when a storm hits. This underscores the importance of being vigilant and monitoring your roof for signs of damage, such as missing shingles, missing granules, and signs of leaks. The better you take care of your roof, the better your roof will take care of you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

I Just LIKE to be Barefoot

But it looks like there are plenty of benefits too!

I'd heard that walking barefoot outside is very beneficial, but this video shows much more than I was aware of. I'm going to have to make a point of walking barefoot on earth more often. Though, with winter fast approaching - it was 18° this morning - I may have to wait a bit. Unless I want cold toes.

I have been known to put my bare toes into the snow... (though that was a warm and sunny day and most of the snow had melted except for this little pile right here)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

An Online Resource for Your Favorite Hobby

Dad's Model RailroadA model railroad can offer hours of amusement and intrigue. People who are fascinated by model railroads may want to devote hours to their hobby and have everything on hand they need to make their models look and sound like the real thing.

When you live in a city that has few if any hobby stores, you might lack the resources you need to transform your model railroad from a beginner's set into one that is more sophisticated and impressive. However, model parts, tracks, city layouts, and model railroading tutorials are available online so you can build and enjoy your model railroad no matter where you live.
If you are just beginning with this hobby, tutorials for how to build the perfect set will give you all the information you need. Learn how to lay out your tracks, what kinds of model trains are best, and what it takes to make your set as sophisticated as possible. The website offers dozens of tutorials that you can read that will help you make your train set all the better. The tutorials are written by people who have sets of their own and have devoted hours to perfecting what theirs look and sound like.

Depending on where you live, you might not have a lot of fellow hobbyists with whom to network. You may not actually know anyone else who builds and has model train sets. The website is a great place to find people who are just as enthusiastic about model railroads as you are.

BandNCoalTrestleYou also may want to know where you can take your model train set if it breaks down and needs to be repaired. The website can offer you locations near you where you can find repair services for your set. Many of these locations are also hobby stores where you can find new items to add to your model train. You can also add new items by ordering them directly from the website and through the merchants that advertise there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What is Your Definition of Church?

Most of my life I've attended churches that met in rented halls. School gyms, community centers, hotel meeting rooms, and even some church buildings belonging to other churches. We'd show up on Sabbath, set up the sound system and the chairs, and hold church services. Pretty simple, really though it often meant a lot of work for the guys who hauled and set up the sound system every week. There were many times we thought it really would be nice to have a permanent place of our own, if only to avoid that extra work.

I'm reading the book Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna right now. I've had it for years; just finally got around to reading it. I have to be honest - I really don't know much about the trappings such as you can get from, ceremonies, and meanings behind most things in traditional churches - and I'm not just talking about the pagan origins, which are really eye-opening. Those I'm pretty sure most people don't know about...

The churches we meet with most of the time now do have their own buildings. And most of the time the order of services looks pretty much like it always has - songs, prayers, announcements, a sermon. There are people who don't think it's 'church' unless we have something very close to that. That's pretty basic compared to churches where the minister wears special clothing, candles are lit, and incense is burned. Really, do they actually do that? Too much singing bothers me - yes, I know, some people think that is the best part of the whole service, but I just don't get it - so I can't imagine how all that extra stuff would make me feel. Does it add to the service? Or does it just distract?

Personally, I think the most important part of 'church' is the fellowship, the gathering together, the building of relationships. If your church doesn't eat together, can you really call it a church? Candles, altar tables, and incense notwithstanding.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

'On-Trend' for Fall

I happened to turn Good Morning America yesterday right as they started talking about putting together a capsule wardrobe for fall. I've heard the term - capsule wardrobe - but I wasn't really clear on what it is, so I settled in to watch.

They took six basic pieces, mixed them and matched them, and created an entire wardrobe good for everything from work to a casual night out with friends to date night. Overall it was quite interesting and has me thinking of going through my closet - which has way more than six basic pieces - to see what I can mix, match, and coordinate. It would be extremely handy when it comes to packing for a trip. (We just traveled to Utah at the end of September, and even though I packed quite a bit less than I normally do when we drive, I still took way too many clothes.)

I can't say that I was a huge fan of the outfits they came up with for the GMA story. I really did not like that sweater (especially not belted over the dress) or the robe coat (and I would never pay even close to the price these pieces all sell for), but it did have me thinking of some of the pieces I already have in my closet and how I can combine them. Of course, I have a pair of black pants (or 2 or 3 or 4, who's counting?), a white blouse, and I even have a red blazer - 3 of the pieces used in the story. The one outfit I did like was the first one that combined those 3, except I think those pants are too short. But, I can do that! (with the pants I have that are actually long enough)

Apparently, red blazers are 'on-trend' this fall so I really should pull mine out and see if I can wear it at least once.  (with my leopard print shoes, which are 'on-trend' too - wow, I am going to be so stylin'!) Of course, since I spend most of my time at home and don't go out if I can help it, I'm not sure exactly when I'm going to be rocking my 'on-trend' outfits - but it will still be fun to see what I can come up with.

Not that I usually worry about fashion or what's 'in style'... In fact, there are many times I look at the clothes in magazines or even the weekly store ads and wonder who decided that looked good. Nobody is dumb enough to wear that, are they? But if you ever go out in public you know there are people who will apparently wear absolutely anything.  I find myself wanting to ask them if they have a mirror in their house - because they could not have looked into a mirror and believed for one minute that they looked good enough to go out in public...

Perhaps they just went shopping and picked up some of these new fashions available at your local Target. Oh my, what in the world are they thinking?

Who's ready to be 'on-trend' for fall?

Monday, October 22, 2018

Rely on Experienced Professionals to Keep Your Lake or Pond Healthy

Millenium Pond 5/3If you have a pond or lake on your property, you know it's important to take care of it. In addition to keeping it free of insects and other pests, you want to keep the water fresh and healthy. Stagnant water can end up attracting the very pests you're attempting to keep away. If you're not experienced in dealing with ponds or lakes this can become a frustrating experience.

Fortunately, there are companies who specifically deal with these kinds of environmental concerns. When you enlist their help, they will take over care for your body of water, ensuring it remains in good condition. Since the lake, or pond, is an important part of the area ecosystem, hiring professionals to care for it can help ensure you're doing your part to help the environment.

Fishing at Uncle Rob'sTo keep your pond safe and thriving, the technicians may conduct tests for pond algae identification . This can help them recommend the best methods for algae control and the elimination of aquatic weeds. Once the water has been cleared and refreshed, you may even consider having the water stocked with freshwater fish. This can help control the population of insects and other pests that the fish may eat.

Another service provided by an aquatic solutions company is the installation of a fountain or aeration system. This will likely be recommended because it helps to keep the water circulating. Water that stands still attracts mosquitoes and gnats more readily, so incorporating some method of keeping the water active can help keep those pests away.

Whatever your specific concerns, pond and lake care specialists can treat the water on your property with the services you need. Having the water and shoreline cared for by professionals means it will remain visually appealing, while also helping to nurture the environment. You may be able to bundle your services, or customize treatments, to suit your needs and your budget. Best of all, utilizing a professional service will spare you the aggravation of having to do it yourself.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

But It's Not November...

Last week we had temperatures in the 80s. It was still feeling quite a bit like summer. They told us on the TV weather that it was going to cool down, but I don't think we really paid that much attention. I mean, the weather forecast is pretty much always wrong...

    - Are you wearing a hoodie, pants, socks?
    - Is it November?
    - Do you pay the gas bill?
Or maybe we just expected it to be a bit cooler - not a lot colder.  But we've had quite an extreme temperature change, and it's really starting to feel like fall now. It's been cool enough when we crawl into bed at night that I've wished quite a few times that I had put some warmer sheets on the bed last time I changed them - maybe not the flannels yet, but perhaps the t-shirt material ones instead of the regular cotton sheets. But, it was 80° when I changed those sheets, and I wasn't ready for warmer sheets...

Jeffrey's also mentioned at least once that maybe we should think about turning the furnace on. It's not bad during the day - I've even been able to open up the door to the sunroom the last few days and let the cats out there - but climbing out of bed in the early morning (while it's still dark. WHY is it still dark?) is a bit chilly. A little heat might be nice, but it's not even November yet! Like a date on the calendar really makes a difference.

Honestly, the most important question on the thermostat in the pic is - "Are you wearing a hoodie, pants, and socks?" If you're not dressed properly, you really can't complain about being cold. Or hot, for that matter. There used to be a commercial showing a guy in jeans, socks, and a long sleeve flannel shirt always trying to adjust the thermostat to make the air conditioning colder. Seriously, buddy? Dress for the weather!  Apparently, you can save quite a bit on your energy bill just by adjusting your thermostat a couple degrees up or down (depending on season).

So, now that the weather has cooled down, we're wearing the long pants and putting on socks - and holding out for November. How about you? Have you turned on the heat yet?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Local Moving Company Can Take the Stress Out of Your Move

Moving is always a stressful experience, whether you're moving across the country or just across town. There are dozens of details to be taken care of before you even get to packing up all those boxes and transporting them to your new neighborhood. The process is especially complicated when you have pets and children. Fortunately, you can get help to make the move easier.

Most people don't even consider hiring movers when they're just relocating to a different neighborhood in the same city.  You may borrow a friend's pickup truck and recruit every available friend to help, but it still takes multiple trips back and forth and is a thoroughly exhausting process.

What if you could get the help you need without breaking the budget? Many smaller, local moving companies provide the same services as nationwide movers, but at a lower cost. You can get the help you need, while still staying within your budget, which alleviates much of the stress. This leaves you to take care of other concerns, like filing a change of address with the post office, switching utility services to your new home, and cleaning the property to prepare it for your family.

When you hire local movers in Clearwater, FL, be sure to check references, licenses, and insurance. This can help you ensure you're working with a respected and reputable business. Once you feel confident in the service and accept the estimate they offer, you can leave the rest in their hands. Simply make the arrangements and the movers will make sure your belongings get to their destination safely and on time.

Many local movers will also pack your boxes for you. If you've ever watched professional movers pack boxes, you know they can do it much faster and better than you or I ever could! The movers also label everything clearly so they know where each box goes when they get to your new house.

Even a short move means taking on a dozen tasks, while still dealing with the everyday aggravations of work, taking care of the family, and meeting other obligations. A local move can be even more emotionally draining than a long distance move. Hiring local movers with a good reputation can help alleviate some of those frustrations and make your move a little easier.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Oh, By the Way, They Have Books

I just finished reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean. I loved the book, which reminded me of how much I love the library. Sadly, I haven't been spending nearly as much time there as I used to...

While the book was primarily about the Los Angeles Public Library, it could also serve as a love letter to libraries everywhere. Yes, libraries are places where you can check out books - and who doesn't love taking home a whole stack of books? But libraries are so much more, always adapting and changing to meet the needs of their communities.

This morning on Good Morning America, one of those libraries was featured as a finalist in the Reader's Digest "Nicest Places in America" search.

I would have enjoyed the story anyway, but I just thought the timing was perfect, having just finished reading The Library Book yesterday. (which, by the way, was not a library book but an advance copy I got from NetGalley, which pretty much explains why I'm not in the library as much - ebooks!)

I'd like to believe that all libraries are among the nicest places in America...

and it's really time to get back into the habit of going regularly.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Getting An Insurance Quote For Your Horse

Young girl and horses IVThere's a special attraction between little girls and horses. I almost said that all little girls want a horse, but that may not be entirely true. It's pretty close, though. If you have a little girl, you know what I mean. I was certainly one of those girls.

I was quite young when we had a horse and a pony, so the idea of needing insurance for the horse never crossed my mind. However, it really is a good idea. The question is - where do you find insurance for your horse? Here a couple places to start:

Call Your Insurance Provider - The first thing you can do is call your insurance provider. See if you can get an insurance quote for your horse as soon as possible. If your insurance company doesn't offer horse insurance, you can also contact several different insurance companies and try to request a quote from them. Sometimes, contacting multiple companies is better, enabling you to find the best deal.
little girl with grey mare
Look For Horse Insurance Companies - The next thing you can do is look for horse insurance companies. Sometimes these companies offer traditional insurance to people, but their main focus is to provide insurance for horses and other animals. You can find these types of companies online. Be sure to check the search engine ratings and customer reviews. A company with high ratings and good reviews is the Ark International Group. They promise to deliver a horse insurance quote within minutes, and they do their best to provide the country with the lowest insurance rates for horses.

You may not think having insurance for your horse is a big deal. However, your horse can get sick or even get hurt in a split-second. With no insurance, you may end up spending thousands of dollars, so even though you hope never to need it, you will be very happy to have it if something unforeseen happens.

Maybe even as happy as a little girl with her very own horse...

Monday, September 17, 2018

I Love This Idea!

I shared this video on Facebook 4 years ago. Thanks to Facebook memories, I was reminded again this morning. I loved it 4 years ago, and I love it just as much today! This is such an awesome idea. I really, really hope that this program is still going on and perhaps it has grown a bit.

What do you think? Great idea, isn't it?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Don't Let a Stinky Bathroom Drive Your Business Away

One Wrong Flush

As a business owner, you've likely come up with contingency plan after contingency plan to deal with arising problems. Staffing issues? You've got them handled. Power decides to go out? You have those backup generators. A rowdy customer? Security is just a call away. However, you may not have put thought into something that likely seems as though it could only occur in a comedy.

Imagine you're hosting at a restaurant. Everything, thus far, has been running smoothly and customers are pleased with their food and service. All seems well until you hear a few cries of terror and murmurs of distaste. The bathroom is flooding into the main dining room. It seems that because you chose to wait a little bit longer for someone to come and inspect the public restrooms of your business, one wrong flush ended up clogging the entire system making it back up. As such, you have sewage leaking over the polished hardwood and staining everything it touches.

As you can imagine, your customers will not be pleased. Not only is that money you're going to lose that night, but you're also going to lose even more to repair the damage those toilets have caused. Not just the porcelain thrones either. You'll have to hire cleaning crews to thoroughly wash the contaminated areas and potentially buy new furniture to replace the old. All while your business is closed - no customers, no income. It's a nightmare.

Have A Plan

To avoid this, you should come up with a plan of attack. One of the best ideas you can consider is having commercial plumbing Naperville IL services stop by regularly to perform maintenance on your toilets and sinks. Not only does this ensure the longevity of the toilets, but it could prevent an expensive problem from ruining your business. After all, you can imagine your reputation may suffer a bit from backed up toilets. Avoid the embarrassment and cost and have Courtesy Plumbing help you today.

(I was trying to find the appropriate picture for this post, but I think you probably had an even better one in your mind as you read it.)

3 Facts about Private Education

Every child must be educated. Most children attend a public school because it is free, readily available, and usually the easiest option available. Charter and private schools are also options, but since their costs are paid by the children's parents, fewer students attend. In some areas, the alternative options tend to be more sparse, too. While it is true that many private schools come with a sizable price tag, affordable private schools tampa florida exist, too. Some private schools offer payment plans, scholarships, and grants. In the case of religion-based schools, subsidized tuition fees are available because the affiliated congregation helps pay the costs.

Starting a Private SchoolHere are three facts about private education:
  1. All Grades are Under the Same Roof - Public education tends to separate children based on age due to the number of students who attend the school. For volume reasons, it is easier to divide the students into different schools like junior high and high school. Since the number of students who attend private school is considerably less, in this setting, a student will spend their entire educational career at the same school. The interaction between the younger and older students as well as in-between adds to the experience and develops another set of skills.
  2. Smaller Class Size - It is well-known that private schools have smaller class sizes. Again, this is simply due to the fact that fewer children go through this system. The benefits of smaller class sizes are also well-known. It is important to remember that the reduced class size is a result of parents paying the costs of their children's education. Since they are directly funding the institution, as opposed to taxpayers funding the education of everyone in their area, their expectations are higher.
  3. More Programs - Many parents would like to send their children to a private school because these institutions offer more opportunities and programs. While public schools are cutting extracurriculars like music and physical education, private schools maintain them. This is largely due to tuition fees.
Your local public school may be a good one, but if these sound like some benefits your child could benefit from, at least look into some of your local private schools. See if there are some scholarships, grants, or other ways to make it affordable for your family.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

An Alternative to Public Education

Teachers, principals, administrators, and parents everywhere know all too well that the United States' public education system has seriously declined over the past few decades. Despite the fact that the United States is home to the world's greatest economy, so many of its public schools are terrible.
It seems that less and less federal and state money is earmarked for education. School budgets are whittled down to the bare minimum making it harder and harder to maintain high standards, and the students pay the price.
Parents of students across all 50 states have enrolled their kids in Montessori schools more and more frequently over the years. But what is a Montessori school? What benefits do these alternative forms of education offer?

Montessori Schools Can Help Children Socialize

Traditional public schools in the United States - and across the globe, for that matter - have largely segregated students based on ages. Kids in any given grade are rarely one year older or younger than one another. As such, children only learn to communicate with their same-aged peers - not much of a growth opportunity there.

Montessori schools pack up to 30 students in one classroom; here's the catch - they're largely different ages. Such an environment can really help children of all ages mature more quickly and boost their communication skills.

These Systems Help Raise Free Thinkers

Unlike regular schools, Montessori programs encourage kids to think on their own - humming to the tune of everybody else's songs isn't necessarily a good thing. While this might not prepare students for close-knit traditional workplaces, Montessori graduates have been shown to be more entrepreneurial than their counterparts.

Montessori en famille, vie sensorielleStudents Are Happier

Far too many students aren't excited to go to school in today's world. However, the same can't be said about Montessori programs. Kids are allowed to be more free, independent, and do their own things.

With more than 2,000 of these schools spread across the United States, a quick search on your phone for "a Montessori preschool near me" should find one in your area.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Preparing for the Unexpected

No, this post is not about preparing for Hurrican Florence, though that would be pretty timely, wouldn't it? However, I've only been through one hurricane (sort of) when Nate came in while we were in Florida last fall. He mostly missed us, but we did get quite a bit of wind and rain, and those waves were the biggest I've ever seen in the Gulf.  But, I digress...

It would be an understatement to say that life is full of surprises. This is especially true if you are a parent. Whether there are one or more children in the house, life always seems to be interesting, to say the least. Those kids certainly know how to keep us on our toes.

readingNo, we can't predict the future, but there are a few things we can do to be prepared when the unexpected occurs.

Reading Material - No matter the age, parents are often chauffering children to various events for school and other extracurricular activities. Consider placing some special books in your vehicle that your children like to read or do not see very often. Although children may not appreciate a commute, they may like reading a book while on the go where they can learn about dinosaurs, big game skirted trolling lures, or other information that they find interesting. For younger children, be sure to include picture books on topics that they like, such as animals, colors or people.

Water BottleSnacks and Drinks - Children always seem to be hungry, and this seems especially true right after a meal. It's certainly true for my grandson Jason. How does he go from being 'so full' at dinner to being 'hungry' 5 minutes later? Regardless of whether the inquiries for a snack are genuine or not, it's a good idea for parents to have a few snacks readily available. Some prepackaged snacks are perfect for the ride home after a practice for band or a sport. Premade snacks are wonderful when at home and children need something immediately. When it comes to drinks, encourage your children to drink plenty of water. Juices and other bottled beverages can be fine, but be aware of the sugar content.

Although life is always surprising, a little preparation can help you be ready for whatever comes your way. Snacks and drinks can be ready for growing children. Commutes and other travels can be improved when a book is in the vehicle. The end result is that parents, family members, and friends are ready for the unexpected.

-- so I just read through this post, which was written for me; I just did some editing. Sometimes the sentences are just so awkward... Honestly, there is some good information here, but the basic premise is just wrong. Yes, we should be prepared, but, these things are not unexpected. Of course, kids are going to get bored in the car if they don't have anything to do, and of course, they always want something to eat. The only thing unexpected would be a parent who doesn't know that and has done nothing to be prepared...

Monday, September 10, 2018

Reading with Kids

My friend Ruth posted this updated list of Great Read-Aloud Recommendations for Kids this morning. If you've got kids in your life, be sure to check it out. There are some of my favorite books on the list, though I must admit that I didn't do much reading aloud with my kids after they were old enough to read for themselves. Maybe I'll do more of that with Jason when he's here. This summer we did quite a bit of reading together, where we'd take turns reading a few pages or a chapter in a book. That was quite fun. That boy's reading improved so much in the last few months of first grade!

Also included on Ruth's list are some interesting books I want to check out, and even one that I'm currently listening to - The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck. Audiobooks are kind of like read-aloud, right? I'd still rather actually read because the words get into my brain better when I actually see them, but I can't do that while I'm walking in the mornings. So I listen to audiobooks. I'm really enjoying this one and starting to think I should get an actual physical copy of the book so Jason and I can read it next summer. Possibly. He'll be 8 which is a little young for the book's target age, but he likes and understands a lot of things that I think he's too young for...

Now the little guy in this video? He isn't quite old enough to understand this book. Yet. But his granny is getting such a kick out of it, I dare you to watch this without laughing!

I predict this is going to be a regular thing with these two, and eventually the little guy will get just as big a kick out of it as his granny does.

The best thing about reading aloud to kids - besides all the great books - is that special time together.

Are You Considering a Piano for Your Home?

Did you have a piano as a child? Many homes had pianos in the living area where children would take piano lessons each week. At one time Beth thought she would like to learn to play the piano, but we didn't have a piano and didn't know where we would put one if we did. I guess we should have done a bit more research...


Pianos Fit in a Variety of Places - There are several places that you might not think of to place a piano, even if your home is small. Do you have a two-story home with a staircase in the entryway? Often, this is a great place to put a piano. The stairs generally have a space on one side that is large enough for a standard piano.

Replace a table in the foyer with a piano. Many times the tables used in these areas are similar in size to a small piano. Unless you have a large home, you do not necessarily need a grand piano. There are a variety of sizes and styles that will fit quite nicely in smaller spaces. Main Street Music, a popular boston music store, can help you find the perfect style for your space.

Benefits of Owning a Piano - Although you may not have considered it yet, a piano can be a welcome addition for all family members. You have fond memories of playing when you were a child. A piano can help your children create these memories as well. Even if they are not interested in learning, odds are that they will enjoy listening to you play.

Children that are interested in learning will not only develop an appreciation for music, but it is thought that learning to play piano helps with concentration. Learning to play piano can help with cognitive development, such as thinking, memory, and attention. It has also been suggested that students that learn to play have improved mathematics skills.

A piano can be a wonderful addition to your home even if you only play occasionally. It can be a place for the family to gather and spend quality time when the world today is so rushed. You and your family can make memories that will last a lifetime and be handed down to the next generation.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

When to Splurge on Home Décor

Home décor trends change constantly, and most people aren't financially able to change their home décor as often as those trends change. Even if the budget allowed it, making frequent changes might become tiresome. What typically works best is to splurge on home décor items that will remain in place for a long time and purchase budget-friendly trendy items. You might want to consider a few DIY projects to update items you already have or can buy at a good price. It’s important to know when to get professional help and when to tackle a project yourself.
Mirrors - Mirrors are timeless. A custom designed mirror can be a statement piece in any room. Professionals such as a glass cutter dallas tx can create a mirror design that will personalize your décor. A custom mirror can be designed to fit into a wall space that would otherwise be difficult to decorate. Custom mirrors can be strategically placed throughout your home to reflect natural light or interior lighting thereby making rooms look more spacious.

Furniture - If you find an impressive or unique piece of furniture that’s in need of repair, you may be able to do some cleaning, painting or refinishing yourself to make it a beautiful part of your décor. For projects such as adding a glass top to a dining table, accent table or desk, you should give that task to a professional glass cutter. Many styles of furniture can transition through numerous décor changes.

Color - Painting is a common DIY project that can instantly change the atmosphere in a room. Rugs, curtains, and upholstered furniture are items you should spend enough money on to get a good quality product. You can layer rugs and purchase new accent pillows to keep your décor trendy.

It’s always best to consider how long an item can remain in your home when evaluating how much to spend on it. Your home should reflect your personality and showcase your interest, rather than be a showcase for the latest trend that simply doesn’t fit your style.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Seven - Seven

Jason started 2nd grade this past week. Second Grade! How did that even happen?

Of course, his mommy posted pictures of his first day - because it's the thing to do. My facebook feed has been full of first day of school pictures for a month or so. Yep, some of these poor kids go back to school early in August or even at the end of July. In Wisconsin they still go back at a civilized time - the day after Labor Day.

Anyway, a few days after Beth had posted Jason's first day of school pictures, Facebook reminded me of some pictures I uploaded several years ago - pictures from the time that Beth, Jason's mommy, was also 7 years old. Her birthday is in September, so she had just started 1st grade, but thinking about how they were both about the same age made me want to compare them side by side.

In case you can't figure it out, that's Beth on the left and Jason on the right. :D

What do you think? Do they look a little bit alike?

I love them both. So much.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quality Healthcare Products for Your Dog

Windsor at Frontier Animal Society (May 23, 2014) 09Most families with canine members try to offer their pets the best products to maintain health, wellness, and proper nutrition. It is not always possible to find the quality vet-approved brands locally. Vet Products Direct brings all of the items your dog needs right to your door.

Flea and Tick Control - Knowing that your dog is feeling uncomfortable from flea and tick bites is usually enough to send any owner out to find a solution. You can now get the strongest, most beneficial anti-flea and tick protection available and have it sent directly to your door. Ease your dog's discomfort and avoid health problems like flea and tick-borne illness or anemia.

Safe Deworming Products - It is difficult to always monitor what your dog is ingesting, especially when they spend a good deal of time outdoors. It is common for dogs to develop worms from time to time. You can end a worm infestation by using a safe product that is easy for your dog to take and provides trusted results. Visit Vet Products Direct for dog worming tablets that are sent right to you whenever your dog needs relief.

Total Heartworm Protection - Heartworm is a parasite delivered to your dog through mosquito bites. Your animal will rarely show any signs or symptoms when this parasite attacks. Without treatment, it will grow in the heart and eventually lead to the death of your beloved family member. The treatment for heartworms can prove difficult. The best way to deal with heartworms is to use a true protection product. You can choose from daily or monthly heartworm protection products that are proven safe for your pet.

Today's My Picture Day Eh?Essential Vitamins and Minerals - Much like people, dogs also need to maintain healthy levels of vitamins and minerals that are sometimes lacking in the basic diet. It takes a well-balanced diet and correct levels of vitamins and minerals to develop and maintain a strong immune system. Aging dogs have a harder time absorbing some vitamins and minerals. Adding an extra source daily is a way to help them maintain the levels they need to stay strong, healthy, and illness-free.

Bone and Joint Health - As your dog begins to naturally age and slow down, you might start noticing that they move slower and have a harder time keeping up with an active family. It is critical to introduce bone and joint support supplements to keep them mobile and limber. You will quickly notice the difference in their level of comfort and willingness to get involved in fun activities once again.

Skin, Hair, and Oral Care - If your dog is suffering from dry skin, breakouts, dry hair, and uneven, or patchy growth, you can add supplements to their diet that are focused on improving hair and skin condition. You will even notice stronger, more healthy nails. The healthier the skin stays, the better the hair will look as it grows. You will notice less dry patches on the skin and fuller, softer, less brittle hair. Taking care of your dogs' oral health is also critical to longevity and good health. You can incorporate the use of products that will keep tartar under control and maintain fresh breath.

Muffin StrutsHealthy, Well-Balanced Dog Foods and Treats - The best dog foods are rarely found in the general market, yet many dog owners end up making a hurried purchase of food that has little to no nutritional value. You can find all the healthiest food and treat brands through Vet Products Direct that will keep your dog happy and healthy during every cycle of life.

You finally have a source of great, vet recommended products for all breeds of dogs, at any age and condition. Visit Vet Products Direct for dog worming tablets, flea and tick control, heartworm protection, healthy supplements, and all of the great foods they need to enjoy life to the fullest.

Vet Products Direct also has products for cats, fish, birds, and horses.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Learn English at Summer Camp

Research indicates that children often learn a second language easier than adults. Children raised in bilingual households will often learn two languages concurrently and without conscious effort.  International students enrolling in school here in the United States can learn English at school, but that can be a very difficult and frustrating endeavor. Enrolling in an esl summer camp for international students is a better way to begin learning English and be ready for the school year. Read on to discover the advantages in doing so.

Chinese studentsLearning English can be Difficult

This is, of course, relative. If your first language is a Germanic or a Romance language, learning English may pose a challenge to your child, but it may not be an insurmountable one. Yet, nearly four times as many people in the world speak Chinese—primarily Mandarin—than they do English. It would be far more difficult for a Chinese adult to learn English than a child as Chinese and English are very different languages. The less-related linguistically and culturally the mother language is to English, the better it is to learn it at the source.

Language Immersion

One of the surest ways to learn a new language at any age is to spend an extended period of time in a place in which it is the primary language spoken. Travelers realize quickly that in order to be able to get around, they need to acquire a few stock phrases and have to be able to pronounce them clearly. An ESL summer camp provides a great way to experience this language immersion in a structured way.

Use Summer Free Time

How do your children spend their summer? Do they complain about being bored? Instead of learning a second language in a classroom, let them learn it in a country in which it is spoken. This working vacation also provides an opportunity to learn local history and geography at the same time.

Bilingual citizens often enjoy a distinct advantage socially and financially over monolingual ones. Giving your child fluency in a second language can be one of the most precious gifts they will ever receive. Consider how an esl summer camp for international students can help your child meet their life goals.

(Now I'm wondering if there are camps like this for American students. Perhaps in Mexico? Maybe France, or even Canada? We tend to believe that everyone else should learn our language...  And, honestly, there are plenty of children and adults in this country who could benefit from an English summer camp.)

I Finally Changed It

I've been meaning to change the pictures in my header for ages. I had a picture of Jason as a baby - it was a super cute picture, but he's not a baby anymore. He's 7 years old and starting 2nd grade this year. He can read! And ride a bike with no training wheels. And jump off the diving board into the deep end of the pool. It was definitely time for an update.

And Jason's little sister wasn't on there at all, so now I've got it fixed. Maybe next time it won't take so long...

Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think. Or just look at the pictures I used, because I like them quite a bit.

Amara and me

Cory and me

Jason on one of our walks

Amara and Jason

Tim and Beth

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Caring for an Elderly Loved One with Compassion

Whether it is a parent, grandparent, or other elderly loved one, you want to take care of them in the best way possible. This not only means making sure they are getting the care they need, but also making sure they still feel needed. The following are a few suggestions as to how you can easily accomplish both of these goals.
Jeffrey's grandma with our two grandchildren

Searching for the Best Place to Live
There are many options when it comes to living arrangements. Nursing facilities offer care for those who need extensive attention around the clock while assisted living facilities give residents more independence according to their level of health. Assisted living ranges from small residential style homes that provide one on one care to larger communities where residents live quite independently but know that help is nearby when needed. If your loved one wishes to remain in their own home, or if you have decided to have her live with you in your home, you can go through a home care agency greenwich ct that can help you find in-home care to suit your individual needs.

Making an Elderly Loved One Feel Needed
In order to help an elderly person feel like they are a necessary member of society, you need to put yourself in their shoes. What would make you feel like you were still needed? If your grandma is used to taking care of everyone, let her do as much as she is able, whether it is helping fix meals, doing household chores, or contributing to family functions. Give her chores that are suitable to her level of health. This could be helping prepare vegetables, setting the table, folding laundry, or any other job that can be done easily.  If your loved one is in a nursing facility or assisted living community, remember to call, visit, and take the time to listen.

Once you have found a place for your loved one to live that includes the care they need, you can focus on making them feel like they are still needed. With the proper care, their lives will be comfortable and more enjoyable. Their spirits will be lifted, and they will feel like they are a necessary part of the world around them.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Make Your Home Your Own

When you become a homeowner, it's one of the most exciting experiences. Finally, you can put down roots and settle down. As a homeowner, you have free rein to customize the home however you want to. If home decorating doesn't come naturally to you, it might feel daunting to walk into an empty house and turn it into a cozy home. You'll want to remember to take it one room at a time. Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Your home wasn't built in a day. The decor won't happen in a day. It might take a few months or years to get the house the way you want it.

Here are three changes you can make rather easily that will make a big difference:
Our living room after painting

  1. Paint - Paint is a great way to warm up and freshen a room. If you love to paint and work on large projects, it's not difficult to paint the room yourself. It's important to remember that flat paint tends to be a lot more forgiving in a space. You can choose to paint all four walls in one color, or you can choose to paint one wall in a really bold color and make it a statement wall. You can even choose to paint the ceiling instead.
  2. Rugs - Rugs add texture and visual depth to a room. Even if you have carpet on the floors, it's still a good idea to add an area rug. The right area rug can even serve as artwork for the floor because of the various prints and patterns. Try arts and crafts style rugs on hardwood floors for a stunning contrast. On carpeted floors, you can use a bamboo rug. Bamboo rugs add a hard texture which can work well against the softness of plush carpeting.
  3. Lighting - It doesn't make sense to be in a dark room. You've got to incorporate light. Since you are a homeowner, you have the opportunity to try permanent options like recessed lighting and chandeliers. If you'd like to choose a quick fix, consider purchasing a floor lamp or a lamp that can stand on a nightstand or side table.
Don't try to completely redo the entire house all at once. Unless you are on one of those home improvement shows on TV, it really doesn't work that way. Live in the house for a bit, figure out what you really like and how you will use your space, and then update. You'll appreciate each new improvement as you do it, and it can be almost like having a new house each time. 

An Afternoon at the Pool

Jason has been visiting. He always stays with us for a couple weeks in the summer, and it's a tradition we plan to keep up as long as possible. I spend a lot of time reading with him or playing UNO. That boy loves to play games!

He also loves to swim, so we spent an afternoon at the pool this week.  I don't usually have anyone to go with, so I'd never been to the pool before. It was really nice, and even better? It was free! And there weren't very many people there at all, so it was almost like having our own pool. (school has started here - so early - so, even though the pool doesn't open now until school is out, I think people are just busy)

It was fun to hang out with Jason in the pool. He even jumped off the diving board! At first, he wasn't sure about doing it. He wanted to, but he was a bit afraid. After he'd done it once, he had no more problems and went off multiple times.

Google made a video from the pictures and video I took. I thought it was fun, so I'm sharing:

A Toy To Delight Both Parents and Toddlers

If your child or another young family member has a birthday coming up, finding a new toy for them is probably on your To-Do list. Toys for children have become remarkably advanced since the days of wooden or tin toys. Many toys are designed to stimulate their young minds and help them grow and develop. However, there are other toys that play an even more important role.

CormacThese toys have one purpose and one purpose only - to release energy. As a parent, you're likely well aware of the seemingly endless amounts of energy that a child can have. At some point, they run you ragged, and then you just want something to keep them occupied and that lets them release some of that energy. Well, there's an old toy that has been improved over the years that will give you a chance to catch your breath while allowing your child to continue to release that energy. Safely.

An Oldie But A Goodie

That toy is the indoor baby swing for toddler. You really can't go wrong with it. After carefully installing the swing in the desired location, your child can bounce or swing to their delight for hours. What's incredible about this particular swing as well is that it not only gives them an outlet for their energy, but it also helps them to build coordination and balance. You may not have realized when swinging as a kid yourself, but you were actually helping yourself to build your core strength and to maintain balance by kicking your legs out and in to make yourself swing.

The swing is geared towards children from six months to three years so it can be a go-to favorite for years to come.

Thursday, August 02, 2018


I mentioned a while back my issue at the grocery store - when the girl at the Service Desk told me I had to buy 2 items to get the sale price. The day after I sent an email to customer service, I got a phone call. The lady I talked to was really nice. No, they haven't changed the sale policy, and I did not have to buy 2 to get the sale price. She said she had already let the store manager there know so they can cover it with their people. Hopefully, it won't be an issue for anyone else in the future.

And, she credited my account with 500 Fuel Points, which is 50¢ off per gallon. Every little bit helps, right? Especially with the cost of gas these days. And I never spend enough to save that much. Occasionally, with the added points from surveys, I get up to 30¢ off per gallon - and we think that's pretty good. This month, with the bonus, we can actually save 70¢ off per gallon.

All I was really asking for was my missing 50¢ - and that the store employees understand how the sales work so they don't give other people the wrong information too. But saving a bit extra on gas is nice, too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sometimes You Need Professional Installation

If you are remodeling your current home, working on updates at a rental property or need to quickly replace and install an appliance, you may have thought about handling the job on your own. There are plenty of jobs you can handle, but in most cases, unless you are licensed as an electrician or general contractor, it makes sense to hire a professional when it comes to installing major appliances.

Done Right Professional Appliance Installation
Some home improvement centers offer free installation if you purchase one of their in-store products, but you may only get base-level installation and setup. If you attempt to install appliances on your own, you may overlook measurements and proper disposal of old appliances. Additionally, you may accidentally damage the existing electrical wires when attempting to remove the old appliance. You can also cause damage to your floors if you are maneuvering a refrigerator or range out of your kitchen. With appliances like kitchen ranges and certain stoves, you have to worry about exhaust pipes and connectors when assembling and disassembling appliances.

If you are looking for oven installation in Washington DC, you may want to hire a professional to install your new appliance. Not only can a kitchen installation expert handle a variety of sizes, brands, and styles of appliances, but they will also work to make sure the installation is completely up to code and will dispose of your old units safely and efficiently. From running new gas lines to replacing connectors and hoses, licensed and insured installation companies take the hassle and guesswork out of replacing, maintaining and installing new kitchen appliances.

Many home remodeling companies and installation experts also carry a wide range of home appliances in their showroom. This offers customers a hassle-free, one-stop-shop way of purchasing the appliances and services needed for the job in one fell swoop.

While you can take on your home remodeling project on your own with the assistance of online videos and tutorials, there are some projects that will just go more smoothly when you hire a professional. It's worth it to save yourself a lot of time and frustration. Just be sure to check for credentials and references before signing a contract.

Feast Checklist

✔ Condo reserved
✔ Airplane tickets purchased
✔ Airport parking reserved
✔ Rental cars reserved
    Now, to figure out how to pack - when I'm used to being able to take whatever I want, since we usually take the minivan and the trailer. How am I supposed to get everything I need into one suitcase? Time to start watching helpful packing videos.

    I do always take way more than I really need...

    Feel free to share any packing tips you have! I do have some time to figure it out.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    Air Conditioning is Important in Florida

    Air Conditioner Do OverDuring the winter months we're all pretty jealous of those who live in Florida. We've got freezing temperatures and snow-covered roads, and they've shirt sleeve and shorts weather. But come spring and summer, they're all suffering - unless they can live at the beach or spend all their time indoors in the air conditioning. Floridians rely on always having a properly working AC system in their homes, especially during the summer months.

    I have friends here in the Midwest who think properly working air conditioning is pretty important, too. Oftentimes they're talking about turning on the air conditioner or complaining that it quit - and I haven't even realized it was supposedly hot enough for air conditioning.  If your home has poor air circulation, or you have small children, elderly family members, or an expectant mom in your household, I know air conditioning can be very important at times.

    There are a few things you can do to have a proper AC in your home.

    Search Out AC System Companies

    If it's time for a new AC system, some repairs to your current system, or just some regular maintenance, search out AC system companies in your area. Look online and research companies to find one with a good history of making people happy in regards to their AC system. Read all those reviews. A great example would be Gulf Shore Cooling, which is among the best ac companies in fort myers. Besides installing and repairing AC systems, they also repair furnaces and other hardware in the home.

    Get A Good Warranty

    Whether you have a traditional air conditioner or central air, you should do your best to get a decent warranty with your AC system. Some of my friends had their air conditioner go out last week. After a bit of scrambling, they were able to get it fixed for just the cost of a service call, because it was still under warranty. That was a huge relief to them - in more ways than one!

    A properly working AC system is important, especially in Florida and on hot summer days everywhere.

    Hiring a Waste Disposal Company

    Do you need to rent a large dumpster for a large renovation project? Every year for Camp Outreach we rent one. The first year I went, I spent an afternoon working to fill it up with all the debris from the projects we worked on that week. This year, I just happened to be in the parking lot when the dumpster was delivered, so I got the process on video. If you've never seen this, it's quite interesting.

    You may not need an entire dumpster, but perhaps you need someone to come pick up an old appliance that you are throwing away. For either one of these situations, you could require the services of a waste disposal company. There are many companies that are in this line of work. However, it would be a mistake to simply hire the first one that you come across. Thoroughly check out each waste disposal company in your area before making a decision.

    Here are a few tips for hiring one of these companies:
    1. Reach out to some of the people you know who have done business with waste disposal companies in the past. These people will know more about hiring a waste disposal company than you do and can be an invaluable source of advice.
      Here is a list of questions to ask:
      • What was the name of the company they hired? 
      • What services did the company perform for them? 
      • Were they generally pleased with the quality of the company's service? 
      • Did the company charge a fair price for the amount of work they did? 
      • Would they hire the same company again in the future? 

  • The Better Business Bureau can be very helpful in situations like this. Go to the BBB site and look for companies that perform waste management Pasco County. The BBB should have a few waste disposal companies in your area profiled on their website. Read through everything they have posted about each company. You'll be able to learn about the history of the company and get some helpful information to determine if the company is good or if they should be avoided.
  • Talk to each company to find out what their specific price is going to be. Have a firm understanding of the price you will need to pay and exactly what the company is going to do for you before you agree to hire any waste disposal company. And get it in writing, so there won't be any surprises later. 

  • The more information you have, the more equipped you will be to choose the company that is best for your needs.