Archive of ‘Just for Mom’ category

Has Technology Revolutionized Writing Thank You Cards? I kinda hope so…

During my studies for my bachelor’s in professional writing a few of us won a scholarship in the field of English studies including writing and education and research majors etc. And I was beyond excited and appreciative of this much-needed scholarship. Both years of winning this scholarship the Communications or English or Whatever department sat all the winners down in an office at a specific time and gave us all matching thank-you-cards and matching pens and a typed-up matching template that we were to follow to make sure we thanked the donor of the money for the scholarship the right way.

Ok, did anybody catch that? We won scholarships in the English studies field at a collegiate level and they practically held our hands and watched us write thank you notes. I’m not exactly sure who they were actually. But anyway the point is that that might have been the beginning of me hating and dreading thank-you notes. I protested the process and swore that those writing skills they’d been teaching me would actually come in handy for the task, and that I really wanted to just write my own. No cigar.

So now I’m very picky at the specific thank you card, the specific salutation, the specific message — honestly the bestthanks gift a friend could give me is excusing me from writing a thank-you card. Especially because as soon as I start trying to write them, it’s like a bird call for my one-year old and toddler to come charging in the room, demanding to hold my pen and rip the cards into tiny pieces of paper so they can throw them around the room…that I then will try to vacuum up in the midst of yet more protests and screams from the kids, demanding to hold the vacuum cleaner.

So it speaks greatly of my friendship with someone if they get a thank you note that just says, “Thank you for the wonderful gift.” The simplicity of the message just shows how comfortable I am with you. Then if you really don’t get one at all, that means I really, really, really love you. Thanks, mom and dad and mom-in-law, dad-in-law, and brothers, sisters.

IIIIII’mmmmm juuussttt kiidddiiinggg. I do understand the importance of thank-you notes, and do want to express my appreciation to people but what my question is, is this – can I send a text message, e-mail, or phone call to express the gratitude? Does a face-to-face thank you replace the thank you note in the mail? How about  cyber thank you card? Do those count? Weight in! Help a girl out!

Could it be? A Few Words on the Accuracy of Negative Pregnancy Tests

When one thinks about the accuracy of negative pregnancy tests, the scenarios you’ve seen on your favorite sitcom probably aren’t valid stories to base your worries on. You know what I’m talking about: sitcom girl thinks she’s pregnant, sitcom girl takes pregnancy test, sitcom girl sees test is negative so sitcom girl throws test out, and then the camera zooms in on the test as sitcom girl walks away, and viewers see that the test turns from a negative to a positive, unbeknownst to sitcom girl! And then of course you gasp because sitcom girl, who happens to be your all-time favorite sitcom icon, is actually pregnant! Well, let me assure you that if that were to happen in real life, it still would not mean that your are pregnant.

That’s because, as long as you wait the 14 days after possible conception, and follow the easy directions of your regular pregnancy test, they’re usually as accurate as the urine tests you take at the doctor’s office. About 97 % accurate, to be specific. And if a test result turns from negative to positive, it’s usually just because you waited too long to look at it. Usually the directions that come with a test will tell you that if you wait longer than 2-3 minutes, the test is invalid.

But is there one pregnancy test that is more accurate than the other? Should you dish out twenty bucks for the reliability of the name brand test, rather than cheaping out on the dollar store test? Well, according to a former marketing specialist from Thermo Fisher Scientific (Thermo Fisher Scientific sells analytical instruments, reagents and consumables, laboratory equipment, and software services), it makes no difference at all. Every test is made from the same ingredients, that are sold by the same company, to all the different pregnancy test manufacturers. Now, whether these pregnancy test manufacturers use different amounts of the ingredients in each pregnancy test, is a different story. So I always laugh when in the movies when I see the prospective-pregnant woman with ten different tests from ten different brands because all the tests are potentially the same.

There is a difference, though, in the clarity of the response of a pregnancy test when it comes to a digital test and a nondigital test. Digital tests will literally tell you straight up “pregnant” or “not pregnant,” whereas with the traditional nondigital result test, you’re playing with lines, equal signs, plus signs, smileys, pictures of cats, just kidding…but you get the idea. So if you do want to splurge on more clarity of response, you can go with the digital, but in terms of accuracy, they are still all pretty much the same.

So why spend the extra money thinking you’re getting more accuracy out of a negative or positive pregnancy test if you spend more, when you get the same accuracy no matter what you spend.

prospective mother

House Cleaning Tips that Require No Cleaning Products

panWe’re all too familiar with the current economic situation, and the new-found studies leading to the benefits of going natural. Well, here’s few  house cleaning tip for dish washing, cleaning silver, and cleaning floors with odor neutralizer cleaning products. Investing in a steam cleaner is an amazing idea it helps disinfect and clean stains off the floor. Here are some of the best floor steam cleaner.

Dish Washing

I have used this method a million times, even after, I’m not gonna lie to you, like two days before cleaning the dishes after a heavy duty cooking frenzy. And it’s prevented little tantrums that I would normally throw because I’d have to sit in the kitchen and scrub dishes rather than enjoying the company of my little baby girl and toddler boy. Is the same when we did the garage cleaning, we had some much trash, that eventually was easier to take everything and throwing away using a service of cleaning dumpsters from, than take the time to select every item and deciding that we would want to keep and what not.

All you have to do is this:

  1. Put about a half inch-high worth of water in your pan.
  2. Heat it on medium heat.
  3. After about 30 seconds to a minute, take a plastic spatula  and start scraping away at the gunk. (By the way this site is giving some spatulas away for free right now)
  4. You’ll see that the residue will come off very easily.
  5. Once you’ve scraped it all off, simply scrape it into the trash.
  6. Now, simply wash your pot or pan as you normally would in the sink, or in the dish washer!
  7. It’s quick, it’s cheap, it’s painless, and it’s a natural degreaser!

Wiping Just About Anything

Another great tip for cleaning dishes is to save money on sponges, and using wash rags instead. They accumulate less germs, and you can throw them in the washer and use them again and again and again. And you can save money and trees and do without paper towel by using wash rags instead as well to wipe your counters and cabinets, bathrooms, etc. I use them instead of a mop, too. The best way to clean your floors is to get down and dirty and wipe them with a wash rag. You have more control because you’re directly using your arm to scrub, rather than guiding a mop that probably won’t scrub that well.

Cleaning Silver

I was born and partly raised in Italy, and in Italy it is a big tradition for the women to have a collection of silver trays, tea sets, etc. to decorate their homes. It’s also a big Italian tradition for newlyweds to get tons of silver as a present. So, I grew up cleaning my mom’s silver at least once a month, otherwise it gets black and doesn’t shine as much. It was horrible. The chemicals dry out you hand and smell funky, then you have to wash them off, and dry the silver, then put it all back. I only go out of doing this in the past few years cuz I had kids, but I can bet I would still be doing it otherwise. Little did I know, that I could have been cleaning it with baking soda all along. All you do is wet a dusting cloth, and dip into baking soda paste, and use that to wipe clean the silver. You want to use a tooth brush and baking soda paste to get into all the nifty little grooves and details in the decorative silver. You can also fill a bath tup with water and pur baking soda in it. Then, put all your silver in it and wipe it clean in there. Make sure you wipe it clean, or you will leave water spots.

If you’ve got more chemical free house cleaning tips that don’t require cleaning products, feel free to add them. We can always use more inexpensive and easy cleaning methods!

Some Simple and Free Financial Advice Us Mommies Need to Keep in Mind


Everyone’s talking about the economy, and seeking financial advice left and right in order to to cut back and keep up with what seems to be a downward spiral of financial security. But that’s just the problem, especially with us lovers for shopping. Financial security has trained us to spend spend spend without thinking about the future. So now that the economy threatens financial comfort, it’s hard for people to get adjusted to cutting back.

So what do we do? Well apparently there’s not much you can invest in safely any more because we all know how that’s going for people. Savings accounts and Certificates of Deposits have such a low interest rate, that it takes years upon years for you to actually benefit from saving up. And without guidance any of that stuff can seem overwhelming to even think about. But there are some relatively sound investments that you can make.

So start with what you have; what you can control, experts say. Learn some simple self-control techniques, and those alone will help to secure a better future at the time of retirement. Such as, you may ask?

  1. Pay cash – Many retail stores will suck you in with the 10 percent discount incentives if you sign up and pay for what you buy with their credit card. But by the time you factor in the interest rate of that credit card, you’re actually losing a ton more money. Pay cash, and try not to buy novelties unless you know you can pay for them in cash right away, or unless you know you can pay off whatever you charge within the month.
  2. Do it yourself – My brother’s going to come over and show me how to change my own oil as soon as it gets really warm out. That’ll save me about 30 bucks every few months. My husband is having his friend help him remodel our basement, and he insists on cooking at home rather than going out to eat.  Clean your own car rather than spending money at a car wash, etc. Doing things yourself rather than paying for a service will save you a ton of money.
  3. Do without – Analyze your needs and your wants, and start cutting off spending from things you don’t really need. By all means enjoy life and treat yourself every once in a while, but if you can tell that you’ve made splurging on a cute pair of shoes a constant habit, start trying to wean yourself.
  4. Budget – A good practice of keeping you on task is to create a spending money budget. Every month, you make a list of all of your bills. Make sure you put  money aside to pay them all, then whatever is left you assign it different tasks. Like “savings money,” “dog food money,” “grocery money,” “spending money,” etc. Then take whatever money you plan on actually spending  and take it out in cash. That way, you know exactly how much you have, and don’t risk over withdrawing.
  5. Rainy day jar – Have a small emergency fund savings account. That way, when, say, your car breaks down, you’re not charging this and that on a high-interest credit card because you are panicked. Or when the roof starts leaking, you’re not dipping into your retirement fund and then getting penalized for it at tax time. Have some money saved up just for that.
  6. Buy used – Electronic goods, cars, hardware, etc. all go down in value over time, so when you buy them new, you’re only going to lose money starting from the day you buy them. So cut your losses, and buy used. Except for clothes – if you buy new clothes off season, you can save a ton of money, and used clothes are usually overpriced.
  7. Be prepared – Another way to protect yourself from going into debt, is by getting disability insurance. You never know when you’re going to be out because of a health issue. What would you do? Charge all your expenses? Nope. You’re going to have disability insurance.
  8. Start young – The sooner you start a secure retirement fund, the more it’ll grow. You definitely want to talk to a financial adviser about what your best option is as soon as you can.
  9. Don’t pay sticker price – Did I just sound liek a car salesman? But no really. The price a store sets for an item, is most of the time negotiable. Don’t just accept it. Price match, offer competitor’s coupons, search for coupons online for things you want to buy, etc. I can’t tell you how much money Michael saved us by doing that. We never buy any big ticket items without price-matching and using a coupons.
  10. Don’t be dooped – Listen to your gut feeling when you have buyer’s remorse, and don’t let trends, society, salesmen, etc. convince you you have to buy something. You’re not obligated to do any thing you don’t wanna do. Keep all receipts and packages and return return return if you change your minds, you’re not going to use something, or if it fails you withing the first three months – heck even a year. Don’t feel bad, and don’t get lazy. It’s your money – you have the right to get quality stuff for it.

These are just a few financial advice tips that I picked up from listening to Dave Ramsey’s CD collections, talking to my finance-savvy brother, and talking to representatives from finance service companies such as Primerica. I consulted with Primerica rep. Kad Favorite from the Pittsburgh area, and se was great. And who can forget Susie Orman?

Please, if you have some sound financial advice to offer, feel free to chime in! I would say feel free to ask questions, but by all means I am not a finance service expert. Your bank will ususally offer free consultations, and I know companies like Primerica will come to your home and help you set up a plan. You just need to seek out the right resources!


Parenthood is…

I have to laugh at many of the stupid parenting revelations that grace us day by day. So I’ve decided to start a list, to which you can add your own; I’m sure we’ll all be very amused with your additions.

Today’s revelation:

Parenthood is being completely out of toilet paper and pads for a week, but fully-stocked with cases and cases of diapers and baby wipes. So we make use of them for purposes other than were intended. Why? Cuz toilet paper and pads are no longer necessities enough for us to break from our busy lives and make a trip to the store just to replenish our stash. Gross? No. That’s just reality.


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