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Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Top 10 Signs That Mom Needs a Vacation

“My novel, Drawing Free, deals with a tough subject, but one that I feel needs to be addressed because sometimes moms have bad days when they just want to run away from it all. Whether you admit it or not…if you’re a mom, I’m willing to bet you’ve had one of those days.

Since Drawing Free looks at the tougher side of when a mom has had enough, I wanted to take a lighter look. I ran a contest to come up with the Top 10 Signs That Mom Needs a Vacation, and this is what members of the Goodreads‘ group, Ladies & Literature, came up with.



Their answers made me snort tea, with only a little bit hitting my laptop. When I was done wiping up the mess, I compiled the final list.”

Top 10 Signs That Mom Needs a Vacation 

  1. When you realize the spit up in your hair holds better than hairspray.
  2. When you yell four names before getting the right one and one of them is your husband’s.
  3. When you view the restroom as your ‘happy place’ because of the solitude.
  4. When you open your purse and find that it contains 15 receipts for kids clothing and shoes, a half-eaten lollipop that has been rewrapped, tutti-fruiti rainbow flavored chapstick, a nursing pad, three Hotwheels, a pair of size 2T panties and absolutely no cash.
  5. When the only songs you know are sung by cartoon characters or men who wear primary colours with Australian accents.
  6. When your husband comes home from work, sees the house is in relatively good order and says, “Oh, today was good?”
  7. When you’re more excited about your daughter’s weekend sleep-over at a friend’s house than your daughter.
  8. When your children bring you breakfast in bed and all you can think about is if there is enough dishwashing soap to clean the mess they left in the kitchen.
  9. When you start to think SpongeBob is actually funny.
  10. When you have no idea whose snot is on your shirt. And don’t care.

Which answer is your favourite?
What other signs are there that mom needs a vacation?

~ Thanks Leeanne & Elena! We were taking the time to look for vacation spots and quite coincidentally Leeanne, from Ironic Mom, and her friend Elena Aitken show me how much we need to create some urgency here! Check out more of  their funny stuff at the Ironic Mom.


You know….sometimes you go through those days when you are just attending to one fire, one responsibility, one obligation after another. Where you feel like you hardly have time to look up. The world is grey. No fun. The Blues! Mom’s been calling the bathroom her ‘happy place’ right now! Heck, the other day she called out four names until she got to the right one. And one of them was mine!

Then, some days, your mind gets to travel in those fun things to day dream about. The playgrounds of the adult mind so to speak, when you can escape the monthly Blues and plan some happy, fun things. Planning vacations may fall into this category. Or shopping for new houses. Planning birthday parties. Or fun things going on over the weekend?

This week has been in that happy ‘upswing’ for me because we are trying to plan our summer vacation right now. (sigh) And I need some suggestions. Wanna help? Care to take a trip down the pleasant memories of ‘vacations past’ with me?

You see, we have researched several fun resorts that are awesome for kids only to find our girls can’t go in the same ‘kids club’ with each other as one club is for ages 0 – 3 years old and the next if is for ages 3 – 6 years old. Naturally we want our kids to be happy and feel safe in a foreign land. We prefer that each is able to go to the same kids nursery if Mom & Dad want to sneak out and explore the island. Have any of you ever experienced this problem?

So far we have considered a Disney Cruise to explore the Caribbean, that looks great for the kids, but they are the source of various aged kids clubs. There are lots of fun things for the kids to do. Princess make overs! Disney characters throughout the ship. Great dining it appears, with your own personal servers for the trip. Evening movies on a large screen on the deck in front of the swimming pool and so on. But if we want to go for a swim with the fishes the kids might have to get separated. I picture having the off ship excursion all set up and we drop the kids off at the kids club and one throws herself on the floor crying and wailing. Can’t go then!

Get to play with the toys in Toy Story

We have found this wonderful resort, the St. James Club, on the island of Antigua. This all-inclusive sits in its own peninsula at the southern tip of the island, with water on two sides. It looks very nice. It has a great kids club and small water park. But the airlines make it difficult to get there, mainly leaving our air port at 6:15am and no quick layover anywhere. There’s nothing like passing 6+ hours in an airport with two hungry, tired toddlers! We’ve had that happen when we were ‘rained in’ last August in Philadelphia. It’s no vacation!

Very Tropical…once you get there

We found another resort on Jamaica where they give you a full-time nanny. Well, not really “give you”. We swore we would never go back to Jamaica again after our last trip and being badgered by the locals (Jamaica Mistaika!) This resort boasts itself as the best all-inclusive in the world on its web site. But you can’t even find what part of Jamaica its in unless you click on the ‘Brochure’ tab. ~ its not one of the best all-inclusive web sites in world!

Daddy, what’s the funny smell?

By far our favorite resort to pursue has been Beaches on Turks & Caicos. We’ve stayed with this chain before at a Sandals. The trip was exquisite! The resort and dining were extraordinary! This Beaches resort has the kids clubs, Sesame Street characters, a water park and all the great dining.

Elmo and the crew in the Caribbean

In fact, we had  reservations to vacation at this very Beaches resort 2 years ago! We made the reservations. Booked the flights. Then, 3 days later we got word we were going to be visited by the child bearing stork in a few months with a new born baby girl. We had to cancel.

Bye-bye paradise

That was one airline seat ago. Now, we actually have to pay for 4 chairs on the Caribbean flight, which makes this total package a bit pricey. For what that vacation would cost, flight and rooms, I could pay someone to rebuild our patio-deck-in-progress instead of me laboring over it myself. …..plus the patio furniture….a good sound system for out there…a wet bar fully stocked…well you get the picture. Sadly, this extravaganza is not in the budget this year.

We have considered going to Disney World, Universal Studios and all those other cool parks in Orlando but the idea of paying for a daily tickets yet being some place by 2:00pm so that one or more of our girls can bed down for a nap doesn’t make much sense either.

Last year we rented a house in Ocean City, New Jersey. This was a great kids resort, in a town designed for families. We had a great time. There is a boardwalk built for kids with rides, mini-golf, arcades, bikes and crapfully–unhealthy food to eat. What could be better to a kid? Or the kid inside all of us? Moms and Dads, even got to revisit a childhood memory with a boardwalk players production of Schoolhouse Rock. Are any of you old enough to remember Schoolhouse Rock?

We even frequented Browns Donuts, which was to be my business model for my get rich quick scheme during my unemployed days. Fresh, warm donuts. Mmmmm! The vacation could have been better if our youngest hadn’t picked up an ear infection two days into the escape. The one problem was that our kids were not big enough to get on the majority of the rides on the boardwalk; another problem I see with all the amusement parks in and around Orlando, FLA.

So help us out. Where have you been to? What great ideas or adventures have you gone on, been to, relaxed at with two small children? (a contradiction in terms?) I would love to hear your ideas! I could really use your good ideas here! Or maybe just come along with us if you want to be a nanny to two sweet kids for a week! Please hurry as yesterday Mom was actually sitting down watching Sponge Bob with the kids! And she was smiling!

“What are your kid vacation tips?”

“Which do you think we should choose?”

“Where have you gone to on vacations?”

Guest Post: No Throwaways and the Learning Curve

With the on going list of celebrity special guest bloggers here in 3D I am really proud to have another contribution from Derek Mansker, author of the blog: No Throw Aways.

One reason his guest post is special for me is he is mi sole amigo here in WordPress. That’s right! While I have several Amiga’s in the blog universe, both followers and followed, Derek is the only blogger I know where  I can safely say we share one thing, the men’s room, although I know some of you others have tried.

 Derek is a father of 4 lively kids, husband, and the Youth Minister at his church in New England. His blog, No Throwaways,  revolves around the many opportunities, challenges, and rewards he sees through his youth ministry in molding young people for their future. His stories come from his his youth ministry, his kids and family. My only answer I don’t get from his essays are, where does he get all his energy to do all this?

So with that, I will turn it over to Derek and some of what he learned in Parenting…

The Learning Curve of Parenting

Before you decide whether you should bother to read this or not, let me tell you something very important about myself. I have four children and they are all under 8 years of age. This will prove to be a helpful tidbit when I start to babble or I reference cartoon characters as if they were sitting right next to me. I recognize that for some people the thought of having more than one child in the one room at a time sounds like a death sentence, but for me I find a way to manage my life’s chaos. The funny thing is that when we had the first three children, people were so happy for us. Once we got to our fourth, the tone in their voices changed from excitement to that of panic. It is true that people will make comments to us about how crazy our life must be or how we really need to stop having children. It is also true that life can be crazy, but I would rather be crazy than bored. Parenting does not work like any of the books tell you that it does. There are very few overarching principles that everyone can count on as a parent. There are several things, however, that you can only learn (properly) through parenting:

Sleep is a privilege, not a right – This one you find out very early when your baby decides to wake up at any old time of the night and then stare at you. That routine is cute for a few minutes, but starts to lose its novelty after the first night. The ironic part of this is that your children hold all the cards as it relates to your sleep. If they feel like sleeping, you sleep. If they feel like waking up at 5:00 a.m., so do you. (like it or not) Don’t even bother trying to make the room darker in order to get them to sleep longer. The extra blankets you hang on the blinds just break the blinds and the kids wake up earlier because they make noise when they fall.

Napping is an (re)acquired skill

Everything you say your kids will never do, your kids will definitely do. – I remember our first hotel stay with child number one when we made a fun little stay overnight on our way to visit my parents. We took our baby to a restaurant and got evil glares from an older couple across from us. I know what they were thinking, but our baby was not one of those. Ok, well, this night he didn’t want to sit still and he didn’t want to be quiet. This was the same hotel stay that my wife walked out of the room and left the car seat on the bed with our child in it. This would be funny, except I had just checked us out of the room and had returned the room key. Did I mention we now have four kids?

Only the neighbor's kids eat dirt. MINE won't!

Privacy doesn’t exist, so bathroom doors need to be locked at all times. – Doors don’t mean a thing to my kids. If the door is closed, they just open it up. If you don’t want them to come in, you better lock the door. Even with a lock, don’t be surprised when they bang on the door like a scene from a horror film. They even make scary sounds when they are out there, so it works out well. The irony of this is that they don’t close the door to use the bathroom.

I thought we were going out to play?

Exercise is included, batteries are not. – I remember having the conversation with my doctor who told me I needed to exercise more. I told him I was constantly chasing my kids around and so I was getting a substantial workout. He told me that it didn’t count! I beg to differ. There are days that I sit down for only a few seconds at a time because the kids always need something. Of course, if you do sit down for longer than a few minutes you realize that you are actually quite tired and start to fade away.

Meals are about more than food, thankfully since parents don’t eat. – Meals are a tremendous opportunity for communication and getting material for your blog. Meal times are so much work for me, but they are also some of the best times we have during the day. There are times when I don’t sit down until the kids are done and my food is cold. During the entire meal we are talking about things that happened during the day or things we are looking forward to. In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that my kids make such a mess that I often tell me kids, “don’t touch me” after they eat. The truth can be painful.

Kids will get sick when you are the busiest, but when you are sick they will be the healthiest they have ever been. – The weeks that I have the most to do are the weeks that one of my kids, or a few of my kids, get sick and are up at night. Then when I am sick, they are healthy and ready to charge and conquer all the nations of the world. Sickness will happen, so you will need to dig deep and figure out how to make it through the day. Hopefully, your spouse is well when you are sick. That is not a guarantee.

Secrets are actually suggestions. – The moment I say to one of my kids, “don’t tell your brother” they will head out the door and tell their brother. If you want to keep a secret from someone, do not tell your child. I know the temptation is there because they will be excited, but don’t tell them. Resist at all costs!

Let's blame the dog...

Baby drool is sterile. – I bet you didn’t know that! People without children will run away because they seem to believe that baby drool will remove their flesh on contact. I have seen people nearly throw a child to the ground when they drooled. As a parent, you just learn to roll with it and, unfortunately, in it. Our kids did a lot of spitting up as well and it was not unusual for me to have stuff on any shirt I was wearing.

Kids bounce off things. – I think people often look at me funny when one of my kids takes a spill and I just stand there and say, “you’re fine, get up.” The thing is, I know they are fine. People who don’t have kids just need to let the parent deal with it, unless there is an obvious injury. Most of the time kids will just bounce off things and move on.

There are many pressures inherent with life, but none as fulfilling as parenting. – I look at pictures of my kids and lament at how fast they are growing, wondering how I could ever live without them. They make me stop and notice things I would never notice. They also give me excuses to do things that normally only kids can do. There is nothing quite as terrorizing and meaningful as parenting.

Here's the living proof!

You will notice I only wrote nine lessons here. If you are like me, this bothers you because you want there to be a nice even 10. This is where the reader comes in. I only have four kids; some people have far more experience than that. I give the end of this post to you to finish.

What are some lessons you have learned as a parent?

If you don’t have kids, what are some lessons you think you have learned from watching people who do have children?

That way we can learn from other people and hopefully do an even greater parenting job.

~ I can attest, these are all so true! My wife used to get upset when I was ‘watching’ the baby but she still rolled off the couch sometimes. (# 8) Mom really wanted to fuss at me. I told asked our pediatrician and she concurred, “Oh, that’s fine. They’ll be alright.” But I better stop here with real life illustrations before someone really gets in trouble.

Thanks again Derek for the Learning Curve! Does anyone else have anything to add?

Tips For Tight Wad$: Time, Time, Time is on your side

If I could find a way to insert a WAV file in these darn WordPress posts I would right now as the Rolling Stones have the ideal background music for this next post. ~Darn you WordPress, no WAV files at WordPress!

My wife wants to buy a larger house, again. We need a bigger one for the kids and I am personally tired of this ‘fixer-upper’ but I will get back to this.

Just let me start with the idea “time Is on your side” when it comes to personal finance. Some people may debate this over  the last decade or so. I say maybe they weren’t so smart with their money and lived beyond their means (a future Tight Wad post). But time can certainly work positively or negatively in your personal finance.

Let me give you an example. Interest! In our house, interest is a 4 letter word. We don’t mention it. We don’t buy it. What do you get for buying interest? Less disposable income? Interest can work against you in your credit cards, home purchases, credit score and so forth. You have heard the sad stories so I won’t take up your time here with that. Simply, don’t buy interest. Lots of companies want to sell you things interest free.

For example, look for the terms, 6 or 12 months ‘interest free’ or ‘same as cash’ when buying a large ticket item. Figure out what you can afford in your monthly budget, extend that across the months in the terms and then stick to it. Bam! You just bought a new roof or siding or that coveted patio set without paying a single dime in interest. Don’t pay interest! Over time it can eat you up! And you have better things to do with your money, right?

Let me give you another example. I am not getting political here I just want use this for an example. I heard last year President Obama made roughly $800,000 a year.  Senator Romney made over $20 million last year. Obama paid taxes around 20% (yet another Tight Wad post) while Romney paid only in the 15% tax level. How? Most of Senator Romney’s money comes from stock and bond income or dividends…accumulated over time. Dividends are taxed at a lower rate than personal income.

Here’s where I plug Dividend Reinvestment accounts again, or DRIPs.  DRIPs clearly are a way to let time work for you in building wealth. This investing is not sexy or glamorous at first.  Its not a get rich quick scheme. But put on auto pilot it can build Romney-like wealth over time. Well, not quite that much. MY dividends received for the first 10 years or so were nothing to brag about but now, they are starting to look a little sexier now, by reinvesting the dividends paid.

Coke for instance, is netting a positive 68% growth over the last 10 years for me, with dividends reinvested. 68%! By the time my girls are in school I will look REAL sexy thanks to Coke and a few other DRIPs. LOL not literally mind you but enough to swagger into Perkins for the early bird special. I can here the popular girls saying, “Ohh, yuck, totally gross!”

Which brings me back to my wife wanting to buy a house. We have been in this house for about 10 years and, financially, we’re ready to move. How? Write this down…Bi-monthly mortgage payments. if you never heard of these before they make time work for you!

Several years ago the end of the month looked very bleak for us. The last 10 days of the month I had to cover the mortgage, my car loan, the cable bill, cell phone bill and an unfriendly adoption loan payment. Ouch! I stumbled upon bi-monthly mortgage payments.

If you have never heard of these, simply, bi-monthly mortgage payments are just splitting you mortgage bill in half and paying half on the 15th of the month and half on the 29th of the month. You are not paying any more money per month than normal; just splitting it up. That’s it. Put it on automatic drafts from the bank and it is mindless. Even faster payments to principle are bi-weekly mortgage payments, making half a mortgage payment every other week.

What does this do? You are paying more ‘principle’ off early this way. This amounts to an extra mortgage payment being made each year. Less principle means paying less interest. That’s not enough for you? Look what mortgage calculator web site has to say:

“With the bi-weekly mortgage plan each year, one additional mortgage payment is made. That extra payment goes toward the principal of the loan. Since the homeowner is reducing the amount of the loan balance quicker, they are also reducing the amount of interest charged over the life of the loan.

Here’s an example:

A 30 year mortgage for $100,000 at a rate of 6.5% means the homeowner will pay $127,544 in interest throughout the life of the loan. This also includes a $100,000 principal for a grand total of $227,544. Paying one-half of the regular monthly mortgage bi-weekly makes the interest $97,215, which is a savings of $30,329. The homeowner would have to earn over $42,000 before taxes in order to net that much money.

Benefits of Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments

Here are some things that a bi-weekly mortgage schedule can do:

  • The mortgage will be paid off faster. A 30-year mortgage can be paid off in about 22 years. (!)
  • Equity will build in the home more quickly.
  • The homeowner can arrange to have payments taken directly from the homeowner’s bank account automatically.
  • The homeowner will save thousands of dollars over the term of the mortgage. For example: By paying biweekly on a 3o-year fixed rate mortgage of $100,000 at 6.5% interest, the homeowner could save over $30,000.

Did you catch that? You can pay off your mortgage as much as 8 years early! What could you do with the extra money of a mortgage payment laying around each month? Not to mention the “saving money on the I-word” part” .

And that is where we are at right now with our mortgage. We have paid off plenty of principle in 10 years to allow us to take some profits and move to a bigger pad for the kids. It is quick and easy. Just make a phone call to your mortgage lender and its done in 5 minutes. Five minutes saves you thousands and thousands of dollars; or rubles, pesos, or francs. JDI!

So my point here is (time, time, time, is on your side. yes it is!) Time is a friend of yours.  ~ My wife says ‘cheese’ is a friend of hers. My friend has been Jose C! But time wants to be your friend too. If you have a mortgage right now and you are paying a single payment a month take a look at this and what it can do. If you are going to be buying a home in the future please keep this in mind, “bi-monthly mortgage payments” . You will own that home A LOT faster or be able to trade up earlier too. There’s no catches here. Its just being smart with your money. There’s nothing wrong with being a Tight Wad!

For more information on bi-monthly mortgage savings Google the term(s) or click right here. And please don’t forget to invite us over to your mansion so we can awe. ~ I’m really good at that’ the ‘aweing’! And I can bring some snacks…

Live Well! Be Thrifty!

The Fight For Air

Imagine…..for a second…that where you work….there is an endless supply of…..snacks!

That’s my job currently. I order and manage product locally for a global snack leader. It’s a curse. If I ever get hungry there are literally hundreds of different products to try. All kinds of snacks too. Try? You open a bag and then eat it. The whole bag! I’m such a pig. Plus, I feel it is sort of my corporate duty to try these products as it is a new job and I should become more familiar with its products. Right? Or so I tell myself as I dig for another handful.

Thank goodness for the beginning of the local American Lung Association’s annual Fight For Air Stairclimb!

A few years ago our local American Lung Association (ALA) held a 5k run downtown. It was a bit small but lots of fun. As I walked to my car to get a check for the drive a nice young lady picked me up in her car and asked if I needed a ride? (can never get enough of that).

It turns out she was one of the directors for the local ALA. We chatted a bit and she introduced me to some of the other leaders in the organization. I was so impressed with these ladies I volunteered to write a race summary for our local running club in hopes I could drive some interest for the following year’s 5k.

Some call it a 5K run, some call it a 5K walk

The following year they contacted me to be on their Leadership Board for a new event to our area, their inaugural Fight For Air Stairclimb to help get it off the ground, so to speak. I was thrilled.

Have you ever done a stairclimb or run some stairs? The first year I ran the stairclimb I thought I was in shape. My 5k times that year were as good as they had ever been. I ran up and down those stairs and I have to tell you, when I was done, my lungs were hurting! My lungs now, not my legs or my calves, my lungs. Can you imagine going through life that way? I thought what a great cause to support, trying to get the world healthier lungs, as I was bent over catching my breath. And a great way to do it too! I think any fitness fanatic can agree, if you don’t have fresh air in your lungs, or healthy, efficient lungs, you are not going to get fit. So that is what the ALA tries to do, fight for lung health, cleaner air, as well as lung diseases like asthma.

Had to run to the bathroom...

I know there are several of you reading this that are runners or other healthy, fit, wellness individuals. There are many types, ages, and fitness levels all working to improve their health, kill some kalories, or fit into last year’s clothes. You know what? What a great hobby and passion!

Great hobby because you not only have the ability, drive, and stamina to make yourself a healthier human being but you have the ability to help others get healthier too. Your gifts, skills, talent and hard work can help less healthy people improve their standard of living by doing what you love (?) to do, running. All these fun events raise money for great causes. Whether you choose to benefit healthier lungs, breast cancer, or a long list of other great charities, you can take your talents, raise some money (shamelessly via your blog) and help others. And, to me, that is as good of a feeling as the great things I  we do for ourselves. Isn’t it?

I’ve said it before, have some fun with your fitness, join some races. Then think about other causes, other people you would like to benefit and join those races and events as well. They’re fun!

You may meet some people you know that you had no idea were runners too.

You can start by joining me in our Fight For Air Stairclimb. Join my (WordPress) team, or sponsor me from afar instead (it is tax deductible here in the states). I can reimburse your kindness with a very cool Stairclimb t-shirt, tub of ice cream or sorbet, used toddlers clothing and toys, or even a guest post. Sound too good to be true?  Check out my homepage.

You can join my team, one way or the other, or please have fun with your fitness in your own hometown. Join a race, help some less fortunate ones, and celebrate your great health that you have worked so hard on (you really have, haven’t you?). You can help less fortunate ones get healthier, in addition to your own rockin’ self. And run off all those snacks from work too.

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