Lifestyle * Travel * Food

May 20, 2017

How Quickly Does A Tulip Poplar Grow Yearly?

Lately, we have been in a planting frenzy over at the Ismail home. We had all of our old, overgrown trees removed about two years ago. It was both a smart and dumb move at the same time. You see, we didn't think ahead about the fact that we would have zero shade in the hot summer months. Since having the trees removed, we have replanted new ones. We did a ton of research beforehand to ensure we got what would work for our zone and hopefully grow quickly enough to enjoy the shade before we become senior citizens.

One of the dozens of trees we decided on was the Tulip Poplar. We purchased two of them, one locally and the other from on online nursery located in our state. This tulip tree pictured below was planted late last summer and started off between 2-3 feet in height. So far since the spring completely sprung, it is now at 5 feet tall and climbing! There is still a lot of time left in the growing season so we are hoping for another few feet. This tree and the other one we bought seem to be growing overnight. I have read reviews where some people said they saw 8-10 feet of growth each year.


As you can see, the leaves are huge and they grow in dense clusters. When I was researching this tree, some people said the leaves get as large as full-size dinner plates. This is a good sign that in time, it will provide tremendous amounts of shade here in the 'Famously Hot' city of Columbia.


Something we learned along the way is to be super careful when watering your tulip poplar. You can't over-water, because it will completely drown out the roots and kill the tree. Ask me how I know this *ahem*. We only give it water once a week if it has not rained and the temperatures are over 90°. Also, we put down some fertilizer pre-spring and will probably do it again later on in the summer. The birds seem to be enjoying the trees and love to retreat from the heat among the dense foliage. Next up will be a couple bird baths to place next to each of our poplars. 
I'll be sharing more about our gardening adventures in upcoming posts. In the meantime, I'd love to know what you have planted this year. Do you have any wishlist plants or trees you would like to get in the future? Please share in the comments. Have a great weekend! 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links
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May 15, 2017

Get Your #myKuplove 25¢ Drink Refills At Circle K Southeast Stores All Summer Long (Giveaway)

Today's post is brought to you by Circle K

Today, May 15th, kicks off the new myKup (formerly known as the Roo Cup) summer promotion. Right now at participating Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina Circle K stores, you can purchase a myKup for $7.99 and get drink refills for only 25¢ all summer long through Labor Day!



You can choose from the variety of fountain or frozen drinks and beat the heat this summer. This is such a great deal and with so many Circle K locations around, you can quench your thirst as often as you please for a super low price. With the end of the school year here, a myKup would make the perfect end-of-the-year gift for your child's teacher.


Are you on Instagram? Right now, Circle K is running a fun giveaway for their beloved fans. To enter, all you have to do is post a photo showing how you enjoy myKup on Instagram with the #myKuplove hashtag. Five random winners will receive two myKups with free refills all summer long, and two $100 Circle K gift cards. Be sure to follow Circle K Southeast on Instagram and Facebook. You can also find Circle K locations here.

Additionally, Mom Files is offering a giveaway bag for one lucky reader to win. The prize is a Circle K reusable bag, a myKup, branded swag, and one $25 AMEX gift card so you can get your 25¢ drink refills all summer long. Enter below....

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will end on May 30, 2017. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Please be sure to read Rafflecopter rules and participants must have a valid email address to claim prize. Have fun and good luck!
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May 14, 2017

Stay-at-home Jobs – Some People Love Them, Some Don’t (Guest Post)

Working from home is a subject that is met with both positivity and negativity for different reasons. While some believe that it is a great thing that people are able in this day and age to complete their work duties from the comfort of their own homes, other consider that this is not a beneficial thing due to the fact that it brings with it some disadvantages.  Both sides could be considered correct depending on which you choose to lean on. However, it wouldn’t hurt to have some arguments for both for and against working from home. Many people want to learn more about what it means to work from home and they would surely love a couple of reasons for which it’s a good or bad idea. If you’ve already decided that you want to work from home you can try this out.


Let’s go on and see what the disadvantages are. We’re starting with the negative aspects then hop over to the pluses to see which side makes a better point. In the end you can draw a line and decide whether or not a stay-at-home job would suit you.
  • You don’t get to chat with your office friends if you work from home. If that’s something you like doing, this may be considered a downside
  • You have to constantly find the willpower to start work each day since there’s no schedule to tell you that you have to start at a precise hour
  • It can be challenging to maintain the same work ethic when there is no one around to correct you or your work
  • Speaking of correcting work, your boss won’t see how hard you are in fact working and will only judge you based on your number, so if you don’t put out the same performance each day he’ll think you’re slacking
  • You have to re-arrange a significant deal of space in your home to accommodate your home office especially if you have a lot of things that you need around you for work

Now that we’ve seen what the downsides are to working from home, let’s take a look at the positive aspects.
  • You can save up a lot of money on gas and other expenses that come up when you have to commute to work
  • You get to spend more time home with your family and also take care of the household more since you can set your own schedule to a certain degree
  • You can work without distractions like office chatter and commit fully to your tasks for the day
  • You can sleep in more since you don’t have to wake up as early to get to the workplace
  • You can wear whatever you want and sit in whichever position you see fit so that you are in your most comfortable state
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May 10, 2017

Are HIIT Workouts Really Effective?

Have you heard of HIIT workouts? HIIT actually stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It is basically a very high intensity workout that gives super short breaks in between each exercise. I have accepted that I will probably never weigh 115 pounds again and have come to embrace my womanly body. My issue is tightening it up! I was introduced to Blast3Fitness.com and decided to give it a go.

Get this, their HIIT sessions are only 3 minutes long! The warm-up is 3 minutes, so if you have 6 minutes (which we all do), you can fit in a really good workout. I have to say, be prepared to feel muscles you didn't know existed. WOW. Below is the warm-up video that I highly recommend you start with.



Once you do the warm-up, you will be ready for a Blast3 session. I really like this one below although I had to improvise a bit. I have to do my press-ups against the wall so I don't mess up my knees. I still get the same effect though.



I noticed that I felt really good after doing the exercises. It was maybe 20 minutes later that my arms and legs felt like jelly. I could feel the muscles in my thighs, abs, back, and arms burn so I feel like I did it correctly. I really love the Blast3 exercise videos and have vowed to make sure I get one or two in each day. I usually hate it when those super-workout-I-run-marathons-for-breakfast people say there is no excuse not to exercise. I admit, with something this convenient, you really do not have an excuse. You can do these exercises just about anywhere. All you need is a yoga mat and minimal space. Perfect for even the busiest person! Don't forget that your health is your wealth.

This is not a sponsored post. I simply wanted to share my experience so far and I will update you all in about a month with my progress. If you are looking into a quick daily fitness routine, I highly suggest Blast3Fitness.com. Thanks for stopping by today πŸ’“
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May 9, 2017

$20 Little Big Meals From The Fresh Market

Cook up convenience with The Fresh Market’s grab-and-go “Little Big Meal” program. The specialty grocer makes dining at home delicious and affordable with inspiring meal solutions each week.

The Fresh Market is a specialty grocer focused on providing fresh, delicious food with friendly service in a warm and inviting atmosphere. From seasonally fresh produce to exceptional quality meat and seafood, signature baked goods and thousands of organic options; The Fresh Market is dedicated to offering guests the most delicious ingredients and inspiring meal solutions.

WHAT/WHEN: The Fresh Market is taking the guesswork out of preparing a deliciously different meal each week with its “Little Big Meal” program.  Available at all of the grocer’s 174 stores nationwide, the grab-and-go meals offer satisfying solutions to the perennial “What’s for dinner?” question.  Guests may simply stop by the “Little Big Meal” display every day of the week to choose from a variety of fresh ingredient options to help make every day eating nothing short of extraordinary.

Each “Little Big Meal” recipe is tastefully curated with the finest quality, hand-picked ingredients of the season and offers a quick and easy wholesome meal for four – available throughout the month for $20 or less!  Guests can visit The Fresh Market any day of the week in May to pick up the below simple and delicious meals:


Now through May 9 – Fajitas ($20)
Add some sizzle to dinner time with The Fresh Market’s Fajita Little Big Meal! Choose from fresh, seasonal ingredients to tastefully master steak or veggie fajitas. Also included in the meal, guests can choose from a side of refried, Cuban or chipotle beans! For an extra twist on this foodie favorite, The Fresh Market suggests whipping up its avocado crema recipe to dollop on top (not included in the Little Big Meal; recipe available at thefreshmarket.com).


May 10-16 – Salads ($20)
Toss the traditional salad recipe out the window, and explore the fresh and delicious Little Big Meal Salads from The Fresh Market! Choose from premium ingredients to make sirloin steak salad with blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette; shrimp and feta salad with mango coconut dressing or grilled chicken and vegetable salad with parmesan and Meyer lemon poppy seed dressing. Guests will also receive a side of sourdough rolls to top off the meal!


May 17-23 – Grilling Meal ($20)
It’s time to fire up the grill! The Fresh Market’s Grilling Little Big Meal will help guests gear up their palates for the summer season ahead with hand-picked, fresh ingredients to grill pork and chicken skewers and vegetables. To sweeten up the deal, guests can also choose between a cherry, apple, peach or blueberry pie for dessert.


May 24-30 – Burgers ($20)
The Fresh Market’s Burger Little Big Meal is packed with the fresh ingredients necessary to craft four, juicy patties on gourmet brioche buns! Choose from high-quality ingredients to make a classic burger, or a portabella burger with roasted red peppers and pesto mayo. Complete the meal with crisp corn and either macaroni or potato salad – all included for only $20!
                             
WHERE: The Fresh Market’s 174 store locations nationwide

For local store information, please visit thefreshmarket.com/your-market/store-locator.

MORE INFO: For more information on the “Little Big Meals” program, ingredients and recipe ideas, please visit thefreshmarket.com/specials/little-big-meal and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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Apr 25, 2017

7 Ways to Maintain a Young-Looking Face

We all want to look as youthful as possible for as long as possible. We spend money on creams, facials, fillers, and even sometimes plastic surgery. To get some tips for how we can maintain a young-looking face, we went to several great beauty professionals including Dr. Kirk Brandow, founder and director of the Brandow Clinic for Cosmetic Surgery in Philadelphia, who has appeared on national programs such as Good Morning America and 20/20. Here’s what they all have to say.

1. Get rest.
There absolutely is such a thing as beauty sleep. “Women come to my practice thinking they need an eye-job or a facelift when all they need is sleep. Sleep is a time when we rejuvenate ourselves and cellular turnover is at its height. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep nightly will make a huge difference in how youthful a woman appears especially as she approaches age 30 and collagen production decreases,” says Dr. Brandow. “A woman can speed up aging if they are constantly sleep deprived.”

2. Use an overnight treatment.
If you suffer from breakouts or skin dryness leading to wrinkles or blotches, treating your skin concerns at night, is a way to maintain a youthful glow. “Work closely with your dermatologist or aesthetician who can recommend non-irritating skin treatments specifically addressing your concern,” advises Dr. Brandow. You want to take advantage of overnight options available to boost collagen and heal skin while sleeping.

3. Hydrate
When it comes to anti-aging and putting your most youthful face forward, water is key. Water flushes your system of toxins which helps skin to glow. “Women spend a lot of money on topical creams formulated to boost moisture and hydrate the skin yet, if they integrated more water, even 4, 8 ounce glasses per day, they would see fewer wrinkles and an overall smoother younger skin texture within a month,” says Dr. Adriane Pompa, Miami based board certified dermatologist who specializes in aging skin.

4. Be smart about fillers
Fillers are used to add volume that diminishes as we age but people have taken it to extremes. There have been many advancements with fillers over the past 5 years offering more options and more sophisticated ways to administer them to achieve a youthful look.

According to Dr. Brandow, many patients believe that filling their cheeks will soften their laugh lines, so they push doctors to administer two to four syringes in their cheek bones and cheek area at once. This can result in swelling and doesn’t necessarily lift their face. Fillers are often done as an alternative to a face lift but, if not spread out over several weeks, it just gives the patient an unnatural look that distorts their face and makes them look odd.

“My personal preference is to perform the fillers sequentially. For example, I will use one syringe of filler in multiple locations. Then I’ll have patients return in 4-6 weeks and perhaps do another syringe to the same places, or different places, giving them an overall natural look. This leads to a softer, more natural result. The key to doing fillers well are going with small amounts every 4-6 weeks,” explains Dr. Brandow.

5. Get facials.
According to Dr. Adriane Pompa, one facial per month does wonders for skin’s clarity, texture, and ability to produce collagen. “There are many at-home facials available one can do weekly. The key is knowing your skin type and ingredients that address your specific skin concern. Also, you can treat different parts of the face differently depending on skin issue. Let’s say you are prone to breakouts on your jawline, have wrinkles on your forehead and dryness on the cheeks, your dermatologist or aesthetician can recommend a facial plan customized for you.”

6. Consider lasers and light!
Lasers are another tool that blasts away acne scars, evidence of past sun damage and evens out skin giving that flawless, youthful glow. There have been so many advancements with lasers resulting in more immediate results without downtime. Lasers typically cost between $600 - $1200 per treatment depending on the city and type of laser. The advantage with lasers is accuracy. You can treat a specific area without affecting the rest of the surrounding skin.

7. Tone down your make-up.
One way to immediately take 10 years off your look is to revamp your make-up. Consider hiring a professional make-up artist who can teach you how to enhance and even modernize your look. New York make-up artist, Carlo Geraci, who was protΓ©gΓ© to Trish McEvoy and Kevin Aucion, explains that a lot of women are doing their make-up the same way they did 20 years ago. That bronzer that you loved in the 90’s when you were 24 may appear harsh and outdated at 44. “Heavy eye liner and strong lip colors may only accentuate wrinkles and fine lines. As women age, less is more when it comes to make-up. Opt for a great hydrating foundation or a touch of concealer, a pinch of blush, a swipe of mascara or a gray or brown eyeliner and a natural looking lip liner topped with a tinted hydrating balm,” he suggests.

About the Experts:
Dr. Kirk Brandow, founder and director of Brandow Clinic for Cosmetic Surgery is a plastic surgeon with 2 locations in the Philadelphia metro area and a 3rd one at the jersey shore. Named a “Top Doc” in Plastic Surgery by Philadelphia Magazine as well as nationally recognized for one of America’s “Best Plastic Surgeons” of this decade, Dr. Brandow is a trusted expert who has developed many innovative, minimally invasive procedures for the face, body and skin. He has been featured on local, national and international television programs including 20/20, CNN’s Headline News, Good Morning America.

Dr. Adriane Pompa is a board-certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital who is highly trained in medical dermatology, dermatologic surgery and cosmetic dermatology. In addition to her general practice, she specializes in anti-aging skin care, skin cancer prevention and treatment, and laser use in dermatology.

Carlo Geraci, New York make-up artist has worked alongside Kevin Aucoin, helped launch the Trish McEvoy brand, and was invited by Barneys New York to became the first Beauty Guru, a position created specifically for him. His work has appeared in print and commercial campaigns, New York Fashion Week runways, red carpets, Broadway stages, television, film, and fashion editorials. He has also appeared on the Style Network, CBS News, and Today on NBC. 
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Apr 24, 2017

Mark Your Calendar! Mini Hess Toy Trucks Return June 1 Exclusively Online


If you are a Hess Toy Truck collector, you have to mark June 1st on your calendar. Hess Corporation has announced that the Miniature Hess Toy Truck series will return as a limited-production, three-vehicle set – forming the 2017 Mini Collection. Each vehicle included in the set will be a fully detailed, small-scale version of one of the popular holiday Hess Toy Trucks, equipped with working lights and a detachable display base.

The designs included in the 2017 Mini Collection will be revealed when it goes on sale June 1 at 10 a.m. EST. The three-vehicle set will be sold exclusively at www.hesstoytruck.com for $26.99 with free standard shipping and 9 Energizer® batteries included.

To stay up to date with the Hess Toy Truck, sign up for alerts at www.hesstoytruck.com and follow Hess Toy Truck on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Why Care And Nursing Work Is Good For A Parent

Parents know and understand that simply being a parent is a full-time job in and of itself, so pointing out how another job such as nursing would be fitting may seem a bit odd, perhaps asking too much. Becoming a nurse is difficult, and requires study and an eventual qualification. For parents looking for a job that provides a nice paycheck, there are some important points to consider when it comes to training and being a nurse.

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Being a nurse requires being able to care compassionately for people who are complete strangers. If you are a parent, you probably have a higher amount of compassion and empathy for others simply because you have children you care for. You know what it means to take care of someone who needs help because he or she cannot help him or herself. You learn from your child what it is you need to do as they grow up, and it is not only hard work, it is really rewarding work. As you grew as a parent, you probably were not thinking of all the skills you were learning, like communication and understanding non-verbal cues, planning, supervising, and critical thinking. Yet all of these skills are necessary in dealing with patients as a nurse as well, so the gap between parenthood and nursing should seem a bit smaller now.
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What is it that would be expected of you should you become a nurse? Let's look at what nurses working with children do as an example; especially since it may be a job you would be interested in doing. Nurses who have become Nurse Practitioners (NP) by passing their classes and the test can treat common illnesses, order medical tests, do some tests and procedures, write prescriptions, answer questions about health problems, and specialize in and manage chronic illnesses, along with so much more. Nurses have such a huge impact on family life, and often the nurse is the one who sees the patient for a longer amount of time than the doctor, so developing a relationship with patients is a gift nurses have that can come from parental experience.

There is always the issue of when you would go to school; are there even any schools nearby that offer a nursing degree? Is there anywhere that is flexible to be there for a parent trying to gain a degree? The good news is that there are educational establishments that offer online courses, such as Maryville's master of science in nursing. The flexibility of these courses means that even those of you raising children on your own have a way to find a good fit for your schedules, as hectic as they may be. So you can continue working your side job to raise your child and take your classes online while your child is at school or asleep, and when you get your degree you can decide on working hours that suit you.

There are different nursing degrees you can go for that can also decide when and where you work because the degrees themselves focus on different patients. As far as ideas for places to think of working at, being a school nurse means you can be close to your kid while you can also be a home care nurse to look after the elderly. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) require the least amount of training compared to Registered Nurses (RN) who need to pass a two-year program and Nurse Practitioners (NP) who receive the most training. NP's can then decide to focus on different concentrations, such as being a Certified Family NP (CFNP) or a Certified Pediatric NP (CPNP). Parents will find they will most likely relate to the CPNP since this certificate focuses on kid's health. Both of these concentrations would allow a working parent to find a job outside of a hospital easily if it is more doable for the parent to get the job done during the day instead of at night.

Downsides? Of course, there are some; especially given the hours you may be studying and working while your child is sleeping or going to school. Another mom talks about her love for her work but also feels worried over how her daughter is unable to attend sports activities because she helps so much with her two youngest daughters. She appreciates it greatly, but this is still a big sacrifice. However, she also feels that nursing has taught her to be a better mother as well as the reverse being true. Her family understands that you cannot take anything for granted, a lesson she has learned from this job as well.

As a parent, and single parent especially, this choice is very difficult to make, but there are some great pros to come out of having this career that go even beyond the higher salary. However, it is a decision that is truly up to you, so consider all the elements carefully.
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Apr 18, 2017

Important Things To Keep In Mind Before Going To The Gym

Going to the gym in itself is an important step to take when entering into a healthier lifestyle. If you decide to take time out of your day to go to the gym it means that you care about your health and desire to get into shape. You become willing to sacrifice a couple of hours every day in which you would usually be doing something else, to dedicate to getting fit. However, as great and exciting as starting a gym membership can be, there are many things that newcomers don’t take into consideration and end up hindering them greatly in the long run. Let’s take a look at some of the things that you should keep in mind as you start going to the gym. These can be taken as some simple tips that will help you get more out of your gym sessions and also as a sort of introduction to the gym life.

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Don’t leave your weights lying around

The first time you go to the gym, as well as the next time, and the next after that, you might be inclined to try out different weights for your workout. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as most workouts impliment using multiple weights for the same exercise. The problem is that newcomers aren’t familiar with gym rules, which clearly state that you need to put the weights back on the rack. Don’t be that guy that leaves them all around the gym for others to search for. Keeping this in mind will spare you the frowns of your fellow gym goers.

Don’t neglect the warm-up

A lot of people, even some that aren’t exactly beginners, are caught getting straight into lifting weights. That couldn’t be more dangerous as not warming up beforehand can lead to accidents in the gym. You can pull a muscle or strain a tendon, and create some unnecessary complications for yourself. The consequences of neglecting your warm-up can be even worse, but these are just some examples. Make sure you properly stretch before the workout and wear knee straps for squats.

Stay hydrated and make sure you have fuel in the tank

There’s nothing worse that going to the gym on an empty stomach. To someone that isn’t familiar to the life in the gym this might seem like an acceptable idea, but the truth is that you need plenty of nutrients and enough fuel to take you through a successful workout. Don’t eat right before hitting the gym. Make sure you have a consistent meal about two hours before your gym session. You can also drink a protein shake for the extra protein boost which can do wonders if consumed before a workout, as well as after the session.

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Also make sure to stay hydrated throughout your workout, because lacking water in your system will slow you down. You will start to hit the brakes on your ability to keep pumping out max performance. Keep a hefty bottle of water close to you at all times and take small sips now and again to stay hydrated. Don’t gulp half a bottle in one go either because your stomach will hate you and you won’t be able to continue for much longer after.

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Apr 17, 2017

How to Choose the Best Slipcover for Parsons Chairs - Guest Post

A slipcover may not seem important, but it can make the difference between a professional look for your sitting room and a design that is made just for the sake of it, without too much effort. Most times, the attention to details is the one that pays off, and this is true especially for interior design. Even if you don’t work in this domain, it’s not hard to get the right slipcovers for your room. But if you need help with this, read on.

Where to Get Slipcovers for Parson Dining Chairs?
There are lots of places to get slipcovers, but as usual, the most interesting things are found in hard to reach stores and in garage sales where people don’t need their stuff anymore. You should start by going to the local shops found near you, since there are high chances to find what you need. However, the easiest thing to do is to search online for some great items. Try Amazon and Ebay, and you can even find some serious sales there.

Read Reviews
If you are buying online or if you know the brand and the material of the slipcover, then you should totally read the reviews. These are important from several points of view. On the one hand, it’s great to know what type of material you have there, how resistant it is etc. On the other hand, it is particularly useful to see how other people incorporated the respective slipcover into their own design. For example, you might think a yellow slipcover is awesome (and maybe it really is!), but does it match your red parsons chairs in the room?

Check the Size
Not all slipcovers may fit your particular type and size of chair, so you should make sure you are buying the right size for you. If needed, then you can write down the size your chairs have and then check before buying anything. It is quite easy to get tricked about the space and size, especially if the colors are somewhat odd.

Test the Possibilities
If you’re not sure how the slipcovers will look, there’s nothing wrong with testing them before. Regarding the size, you can test it with any slipcover you have around (or you can borrow one): pay attention to the corners, the size, length and so on. About the color, you can test the way in which the slipcover will be integrated within the design with any material in that color. Place the material on the chair and step back in order to see the final effect. If the blanket, shirt or dress you are using to replace the slipcover don’t really match the rest of the room, you should probably reconsider it.

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Apr 13, 2017

Math Skills- Subtraction Practice For Third Grade

Math is one area where most kids struggle or bump into some sort of challenge. I was really excited to be contacted by Education.com to share some practice work and strategies to help my son really grasp some math concepts. You can't ever have too much practice in math, although I am sure he would disagree. Below is a fun activity to help with subtraction.

Subtraction Action

Most parents probably wouldn't mind subtracting 8-9 years off their age. Here's a fun subtraction activity for your child that will do just that—in theory, anyway. It's also a good way to boost third grade subtraction skills and make them real and relevant.

What You Need:
Pencil
Paper

What You Do:

  1. Explain to your child that his mission is to find out how old everyone was when he was born. Encourage your child to go around and record each family member's current age--don't forget grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunts! Use the adult's age as the top number, and your child's age as the bottom number. Have your child set up the equation and subtract.
  2. Now that your child knows how old everyone was when you were born, try it this way: Add his age to every family member’s age today. When you get the result, have your child make a line graph with numbers 0-100 on the y-axis (vertical) and names of family members on the x-axis (horizontal). Ask your child to plot the ages and connect the dots to see how large of an age difference there is between family members.
  3. Write a word problem with your child using the ages collected above. For example, when I was born, mom was thirty years old. Now I am 9-years-old. How old is mom? Word problems in abundance!
  4. What's going on? You're tying abstract math skills--the stuff on flashcards and worksheets--to real life. These kinds of activities help your child build lifetime skills, and they help make related topics--like the timelines of history--make perfect sense. Don't be surprised, of course, if you also end up with some cherished family stories while you're at it.

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Apr 12, 2017

Slimsation has what every mom needs

I have been a mom for 22+ years and my body has surely changed over time. I remember the days of being 100 pounds and having the nerve to be unhappy about it. Well, those 100 pounds days are long gone and I have come to terms that those days will probably never return. Like most moms, especially if you have had a couple c-sections, I have the annoying mom tummy. It makes buying clothing that fits properly a trying task.

Luckily, the SlimSation brand of clothing is here to save the day. I have been wearing their jeans and dress pants for about 3 years now and out of all the brands I have tried, they fit and wear well. SlimSation has a higher cut waist that has a wide, built in elastic band that controls your tummy for a sleeker, slimmer appearance. Normal jeans tend to give me the dreaded muffin top look that make me feel like I have to keep pulling them up. No lady should have to go through all of that.

I was thrilled to get a few pairs of SlimSation pants for the spring. First up are the Boyfriend Style cropped jeans. These are perfect for day or night since they can be dressed up or down. They slide on with the ease without a zipper or button. They have pockets in the back and really make my butt look cute. I would show you, but I'm a lady (smile) They are SO comfortable and wash well. This picture is from at least 3 wash cycles and they still look like new. They feel well "broken in" and easily have become my new favorite jeans!


Next, are the classic denim capri pants. Any time I wear them, my husband compliments me and tells me I look like a very classy lady. They fit well and are versatile, too. You can wear them dressed up or down to achieve the perfect look. And most importantly, they fit SO well! They feel comfortable while keep my tummy looking flatter. 


For the upcoming summer, I have the shorts in white. I am hanging on to them for when the temps get a little higher. Again, just like any SlimSation pants or bottoms, they fit perfectly. 

I think the key is once you know the correct size, you are set. I order a size 6 no matter the cut, and they all fit the same way. I can depend on getting jeans and pants that fit my mom body comfortably well without looking like I'm wearing "mom jeans". 

I am so pleased with the superior quality of SlimSation garments. I have some jeans and pants from a couple years ago and they have been washed over and over again, and have held up very well. I feel like purchasing staple wardrobe items of higher quality is a must for moms. We tend to put ourselves last, so you might as well get something good if you don't shop frequently. I highly recommend SlimSation to every woman, even if you're not a mom. Oh, and the fact that my husband sometimes comments, "You're looking extra skinny today" when I'm wearing my pants or jeans is proof of why they are named SlimSation.  

Check out the new arrivals of SlimSation garments today. I know you will love them like I do. They offer a wide variety of styles, sizes and colors to fit every woman's taste. Be sure to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter for updates and style inspiration. 

Disclosure: I received product samples for review purposes. All opinions are 100% mine as always. I absolutely love this brand! 
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When adults get braces

When our older daughter, Chardonnay was in middle school, we all noticed that her teeth were not quite as straight as they could be. Of course, that is very normal for most any kid. Her dad urged her to get braces and continued to shove the idea down her throat highly encourage her to get them for years. She was going through that vain teenage stage where she did not want to have a mouth full of metal for all of those important stages of her high school career- prom, grad photos, and so on.

She is now 22 and finally realized that her teeth were not going to fix themselves. Either she do something about it, or just live with it. It got to the point where she really disliked seeing her smile in photos or in video. She is in the public relations field and there are many times where she has to be at events in get this, the public! She wants to always look her best and came to the point of breaking down and calling the orthodontist.

We tried not to tell her, "I told you so", but we are human, so we made sure to rub it in her face. (kidding) She realized that she should have listened when she was a teen, and has learned her lesson. She is now the not-so-proud owner of a mouth full of braces. They look so good on her and she is struggling with getting used to them. Here is the before and after shot.


It's actually very cute watching her speak, because she has to do the whole roll-your-lip-back-over your braces thing while trying not to drool. She is so angry about it all LOL Every day she is like I am calling the orthodontist so he can rip these things out of my mouth! It has been almost a week and she is still not comfortable with eating. I feel badly for her, but assured her that she will eventually get used to them and make a way to eat what she wants within reason. Of course when you can't properly eat is the time you want to eat EVERYTHING. Chardie has a slight lisp like she did when she was in kindergarten. We make jokes that maybe we need to find her old speech therapist from elementary school. HA!

Overall, she is coping the best she can. We have known a lot of people who got braces way later than she did. Oddly enough, we can already see a difference with her teeth shifting. It is amazing how quickly it happens. Well, she has a little under 2 years to go, so hopefully she will get used to them in the upcoming weeks. She told me the other day that she tells her coworkers to not think she has no enthusiasm about anything anymore. She simply refrains from smiling or laughing because she cuts her mouth easily. Just think, this could all have been done when she was in her teenage years. Oh well, you live and your learn.

Did you get or someone you know get adult braces? If you have any advice for her, please leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by today!

P.S.- for those who often ask about her curls, this is what she uses below (affiliate)

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Apr 7, 2017

Adagio Teas For The Most Discriminating Tea Lover

I want to tell you all a little something about my husband, Dwayne. He is the rough and rugged type who isn't afraid to work hard and get a little dirty. He also loves books, music and business. In recent years, he has become rather passionate about something we wouldn't have expected. He LOVES tea. He loves it to the point where he buys books on tea, researches them online, and drinks lots and lots of the good stuff every day. 

It isn't unusual for us to go out to a restaurant and he asks the server if they have hot tea. He believes in drinking hot tea after each meal to aid in digestion. Needless to say, he drinks quite a bit of hot tea. We were so lucky to get to try out Adagio Teas recently. They offer a wide variety of teas for every taste. Having Dwayne peruse the site was like sending a kid to a candy store. He was in heaven! 

It took him over an hour to place his order because he was overly excited about what to get. He took the smart route and ordered a variety of sample sizes which makes up to 10 cups of tea. This gave him the option of trying smaller batches so he could narrow down what his favorites are to order in a larger size next time. We actually recommend for anyone to do that as well. There's no need in buying a full size of a particular tea that you might not care for. 


We picked out a variety including chai, rooibos, green and Pu-ehr. He was very curious about the rooibios and honeybush, so he tried those first. He chose this small black tea pot and coordinating cups to steep the tea and make his actual tea drinking experience feel more authentic. I told you you loves his hot tea! 


One of his favorite tea tips is to add a small amount of local honey in the bottom of the tea pot before adding the hot water and tea. This way, the honey gets distributed into the tea so you don't have to add any after steeping. With some tea varieties, he doesn't bother with any sweetener at all. We actually reserve the tea leaves when he does not add sweetener after brewing, to add to his worm compost bin. 


The packaging is air tight and when you cut it open, you are hit with the distinct tea fragrance. I have to say, this isn't your ordinary supermarket tea. Those simply can not compare! Each packet of tea comes with brewing instructions on the package. You can adjust the amount according to your personal taste. So far with the ones he has tried, the suggested quantity and brewing times have been spot on. He has even experimented with mixing two types together to make a unique blend.

The taste of Adagio Teas is very robust and very true to what it supposed to taste like - pure and natural. You can tell that their tea comes from excellent crops by the quality you receive.


A few things that I really love about Adagio Teas is the amount of information they have listed with each variety of tea or tea accessory on their website. You can find out where they are sourced and read the reviews of verified buyers. This makes it very helpful when you need a little help selecting just the right tea. They sell most of their tea in loose, bulk packaging, but do offer tea bags/pyramids for those who prefer the convenience. My husband actually has a one cup tea ball so he can have his loose tea while at work. Again, we highly recommend starting off with some sample sizes to find which teas you like best. 


So far it looks like the green chai, decaf chai, rooibos, honeybush, and spearmint are the faves. You have to check out the Adagio Teas website because they carry practically every type of tea you would want. You can even design your own tea blends and containers. They have a lot of gift options, tea collections and brewing accessories. If you are a real tea lover looking for superior tea, you have to give Adagio Teas a try. Once you create your account and start making purchases, you can earn points toward gift certificates to use on the site. There's a dashboard where you can keep track of your orders, points, wishlists and more. They also have a tea of the month club and very affordable flat rate shipping of only $3.75 (you can qualify for FREE shipping on orders over $49).

Learn more about Adagio Teas on their website and stay connected on Facebook & Twitter for product updates and promotions.

Disclosure: I received a gift code to spend on products for review purposes and all opinions are my own as always. 
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How to Choose Keywords for SEO (Guest Post)

We all know how important it is to use the right keywords for your website. Identifying the most relevant keywords and key phrases can be essential for the success of your website and therefore business, so it is something you should totally treat seriously. Before doing such a thing, it is advisable to know the SEO process well so that your results could be useful.

Step 1. Have a keyword list

Place yourself in the shoes of your target consumer. If you would like to reach your website, what kind of words would you choose to search on Google? Also keep in mind that many users do not use a proper sentence structure or grammar rules. The order of the words is not necessarily the right one, so be prepared for such exceptions too. Use brainstorming for finding the right keywords and write down anything that comes to your mind. For example, people are more likely to look up “seo Chicago in IL” than write “SEO companies offering service in IL”.

Step 2. Research other keywords

You can use special analytic programs or Google’s suggestions to find alternative keywords. Take the list you have in Excel and start looking up each keyword there. But don’t press enter! Let Google suggest you other words there and write down those too. For example, wordstream.com offers a free keyword research tool which you can use. Also keep an eye for the most popular search terms out there.

Step 3. Careful with the pitfalls

Pay attention to possible pitfalls! These are vanity keywords, most of them formed by one word, which are really generic and descriptive. If you have a political campaign, probably you shouldn’t invest in generic keywords such as “senator”, “politics” or “election”, since they are too broad to bring you useful visitors.

Step 4. Test the SEO keywords

Take the list you made with the useful keywords for your website and test them. Check out the terms that belong to your analytics and which have good test results on WordStream.com. Rank them and see which ones make it to the top of the list. The next step is to buy pay-per-click ads only on the search engines that bring most traffic to the website. Then all you have to do is to sit back and see how do these keywords perform.

Step 5. Do weekly reports

Every week you should do a report and see how your website is going. In this way you can track any changes, whether for good or bad, and you can prevent other future lows. Compare the results to the baseline you had in the beginning in order to see if the SEO tactics are successful.

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Apr 6, 2017

Homeschool Updates Spring 2017

We are headed into our final two months of third grade with William and thankfully next week is Spring Break. We both desperately need the break. I now understand why school teachers used to act like they were about to blow their top at this time of year. I admit, I am burned out. Some days wear me out to the point of aggravation. I am SO ready to get our last day out of the way so that we can relax for a week. I make sure that I take a power nap in the afternoon if I start getting too crazy. It has come to a point to where William recognizes that I need a little breather.

Don't get me wrong, William is a great student when he's not being lazy or getting distracted. He is doing so well and is currently making all A's with a 96% overall average. Let me tell you though, those good grades don't come easy! We both work hard to make it happen. I am so thankful that I can pinpoint what he struggles with so that we can review for as long as it takes until he gets it. I am grateful I have the gift of patience, because some days are trying.


William has really been enjoying learning about different cultures in his current unit in Language Arts and seems to really love math. He sometimes stumbles while learning new skills, but once he understands it, he aces through the work. One of the things I love is when he learns something that his dad recently taught him, which is usually about money, spending, or making smart choices. He geeks out and tells me he can't wait to tell his dad what he learned in school that day.

He is enjoying his life as a homeschooler and never complains about being bored or lonely. That was one of my biggest fears, but thankfully he is like an old man who enjoys the most simple things. We break up the day with outdoor play or having lunch on the back patio. I think we are both going to enjoy Spring Break and hope to be back refreshed and ready to tackle the end of year testing and final assignments. I have noticed that my friends with kids in public school have been going nuts with all of the spring festivities and craziness that comes at this time of year. I can definitely say that I do not miss any of that!

Anyway, I wanted to share the latest regarding William's school progress. Have your kids had their Spring Break yet?
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