Back-to-School Goodness

Back-to-school time is in full-swing at our house. My youngest son started his first year of high school last Friday (Yikes!) and my oldest son heads back to college in just a few days to begin his sophomore year.

It’s a crazy-busy time of the year, for sure.

And yes, it’s totally true what they say: time flies. At warp speed!

Check out these four (4) great products that might just make the academic year a little easier for you.

Easy is good, right? Heck yes!

Read on.

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Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

As the old Carpenters’ song goes, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

Not really.

Fridays are my favorite day of the week; but Mondays don’t really bother me. I’m happy to have been given another day to live, laugh, and serve.

You too?

Growing up in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, I loved (and still love) the songs of Richard and Karen Carpenter.

Monday’s aren’t bad days by default; however, today was somewhat of a double-whammy kind of day. And it may not end well, either.

Read on.

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A Healthy Smile is a Good Smile!

DISCLAIMER:  I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.  All opinions are mine.


We seem to go through a lot of oral care products at our house:


  • Toothbrushes
  • Tooth pastes and gels
  • Dental Floss
  • Dental picks

Your Smile is a Good Investment

When you and your wife both had braces (and appreciate the investment your parents put into your teeth), you tend to want to take care of your teeth.  And treat them like a life-long investment.

Jennifer and I are like that.

No, we don’t have perfect teeth, but we certainly want to keep the ones we have.  My wife is much more regimented in her dental hygiene than I am.  {Insert sad face here.}  She brushes and flosses multiple times a day.  Kudos to her for that!

It’s important to take good care of your teeth by brushing, flossing, and rinsing.  {Click here to Tweet that little nugget of truth.}

She frequently gets on her soapbox about tooth brushing and flossing.  But, it’s all good.  The boys, almost-13 (Matt’s birthday is June 20!) and 18 have NEVER had a cavity.  We’ve told them all about Novocain shots and drills and the like.  Hopefully we’ve scared them straight!  :-)

The Orthodontia Years

Nate and Matt have both had braces.  In fact, Matt just got his removed last week.  His teeth look great.  Thank you Dr. Long.

I’m very grateful for an insurance plan that covers at least a big chunk of orthodontia treatment.  My wife and I sometimes crab about the amount of insurance premiums that come out of my paycheck every two weeks, but then again…we are so happy to have the coverage.    Health care is not cheap.

Speaking of ‘cheap’, the wife and I are always looking for the best deal on products we need.  Whether it’s a new bathroom faucet, or a box of breakfast cereal, we’re on the hunt for good products at reasonable prices.  And, if there’s a coupon for extra savings, then it’s like icing on the cake.

You know the feeling?

Shopping at Target®

We recently came across a great deal at Target®.  Running low on tooth care products, Target® recently had a great special on Colgate® toothpaste and mouthwash. (I’m not sure if Target® is still running the special, but I do know that you can get a 75 cent off coupon, directly from Colgate’s website.)


buy two get one free at Target

Yes.  It may not be at the top of your shopping list, but let me tell you:  when you can buy two products and get one free, it’s nothing to overlook.  And with our Target® Red Card, we save an extra 5.0% on everything we buy at Target®.  (We like that – a lot!).

Check out our trip to Target here.

Even with all the brushing and flossing, we wanted Matt to have extra protection with those new pearly whites.  So we picked up two bottles of mouthwash and a free tube of toothpaste.  Win!

The Colgate Total® mouthwash has NO ALCOHOL and the label said it didn’t have that nasty burning sensation that other mouthwashes have.

And they were right!  It is the best mouthwash I’ve used in a long, long time.

mouthwash in basket


Share the Love

What’s the dental care plan like at your house?  How do you get your kids to brush, floss and swish?  Add your advice to the comments section below.

P.S.  Colgate® tooth products have been around FOREVER.  I’m dating myself here (big time) but for those of you in the fifty-plus-year range, do you remember the Colgate with MFP® commercials that were on during the Captain Kangaroo Show?  Wow!  That was ages ago.  But it stuck in my head and I had a little childhood flashback at Target standing in front of all those Colgate® dental hygiene products.  Crazy.  I know!

P.P.S. Keep up-to-date with all the good things from Colgate® by following them on Twitter.

Family Time: Summertime Star Gazing

Dad and daughter with telescope

Star Gazer

Lots of kids say that they want to be an astronaut.

If you want to feed that eagerness and learn about astronomy, one of the best ways to introduce kids to astronomy is to buy them a telescope.

You might think a telescope is a multi-hundred dollar thing; but you can get some great deals online.  We sure have!

Our favorite e-retailer for telescopes is Orion.  Here’s the link.

Order your telescope today, and in just a few days you can be viewing the moon from your back yard or balcony  — and in good detail too.

We’ve also been able to see Jupiter and Saturn.  And Venus too.  All from our backyard.

Matt has three telescopes and recommends the Orion Observer 70mm refractor telescope. Or, a tabletop model, the Orion Funscope.

Looking through  a telescope is a really good way to spend your summer nights with child…under the stars.

Get Ready to Craft! Memorial Day Projects on the Way!



In preparation of Memorial Day (May 27), we’re gearing up for some quick and easy craft projects.

My son Matt is going to be helping out with craft projects this summer.  Once school is out, he’s going to be my official “assistant”.  He’ll be helping with online research, gathering craft supplies, taking photos, etc.  It’s going to be a fun summer!

To kick off the summer season, we’re going to feature three projects:

  • Pretend binoculars (for the little ones)
  • Mini-windsocks (for kids of all ages)
  • Patriotic fabric coasters (for the older kids and grown-ups)

We wanted to give you a heads up so you can gather your supplies. :-)


Interested in making a pair of kiddie binoculars?  Then start saving up your empty cardboard bathroom-tissue tubes.  You’ll need two to make a pair of binocs; and one for each mini-windsock.


  • Two toilet-tissue tubes
  • About 4-5 Popsicle sticks (or craft sticks — the small ones)
  • All-purpose glue
  • Craft paint in your favorite color
  • Paper punch
  • String, ribbon or yarn (about 24″ long)


Fly your American Spirit with these sweet little windsocks.


  • One toilet-tissue tube
  • Assorted patriotic themed scrapbook papers (scraps of paper will work fine for this project)
  • Craft paint (optional)
  • Scrapbook stickers (stars would be great for this project!)
  • All purpose craft glue
  • Paper punch
  • String, ribbon, or yarn (one piece that measures about 20″ long)


Show off your patriotism (and your sewing skills) with a set of coasters (like these):

Set of Four Coasters

Fabric Coasters:

If you’re up for an easy sewing project, then sort through your fabric stash (or make a quick trip to your favorite fabric store or Walmart)  and pick up the following:

  • 1/4 yard of your choice of some awesome red-white-and-blue print fabric (cotton please)
  • 1/4 yard of a coordinating cotton fabric (for the backside of the coaster) [Hint:  red, white or blue!]
  • 1/4 yard of basic, white  cotton flannel
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Iron + ironing board
  • Cutting board, rotary cutter (or scissors)
  • Chopstick or other similar blunt-end tool


Pick a project (or two or three) and gather up your supplies.

Complete instructions will be posted next week.

geranium in pot


Now…your only other assignment:  Have a fantastic weekend!


Back on the Paleo Plan

paleo breakfast salad

I’m overweight.

There.  I said it.  No sense trying to skirt around the issue.

I’m fifty-one years old.  My thyroid has been broken for many, many years.  (I take medicine, don’t worry.)

I have a beer belly.   But I don’t drink beer. 

The Paleo Plan works for me.  When I follow it.   Pretty much ANY diet (or lifestyle change) works if you follow the rules.  Life is like that too.  It works…when you follow the rules.

But that’s a subject for a whole new post.  For another day, perhaps. J

I’ve done the Paleo thing before and was very successful.  I lost about 35 pounds and felt really, really good.  I was running several days a week, too.  In fact,  I had to buy new pants.  I went down three waist sizes!

And then.  I let life get in the way and I went back to my old (bad) habits.  I ate too much of the wrong things. I became a couch potato.

I’m not looking for sympathy.  Just telling you like it was.

My wife, bless her heart, has been on my butt about my overweight condition.  She says she doesn’t want to be a b—- about it, but she’s concerned.  I love her for that.

Oh, and my dad had quintuple bypass surgery when he was fifty-five.  Uggh.

Last night (at dinner of all places) my oldest son (Nate – 18) starts asking me about the Paleo diet.  I tell him it’s based on the premise that humans were built to eat the same foods that cavemen ate.

The plan allows you to eat lean meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and fruit (in moderation).  However:  No bread.  No pasta. No rice.  No legumes (beans + peanuts).  No dairy products. No sugar.  No artificial this or artificial that.

Yes, it’s a bit restrictive.  Buy hey!  It works for me.  And that’s a big deal.

Nate remembered that I had great success so he was thinking about jumping on the Paleo bandwagon.

I’m going to share a ride with him. 

Nate and I are officially on the Paleo Plan.  I’ll be documenting our successes and failures here on the blog.

This morning’s BIG breakfast is shown above.  (It’s really enough for two servings.)

Here is what’s in the bowl:

  • About ¼ head of (boring) Iceberg lettuce*torn into pieces
  • ½ a Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/3 cup of fresh, sliced mushrooms
  • ½ a cucumber, sliced
  • ½ cup of shredded pork roast
  • Coarsely-ground black pepper
  • My homemade oil + vinegar dressing (recipe will be shared soon)

*A head of Iceberg lettuce was all we had in the fridge today.  I try to have Romaine or a spring mix of fresh greens, like this.  I eat a LOT of salads on the plan, so I make them as interesting (and tasty) as possible!

I am really excited that Nate and I are going to be doing this together.  It’s going to be a fun ride!

If you have ANY questions on the Paleo diet, please:  leave a comment or send me an email.  I am not a nutrition expert; HOWEVER, I have been-there-and-done-this.  I will be happy to help you in any way I can.

Stay tuned for recipes, food photos and progress reports.

Newsflash: Nate Turns 18!

Nate's 18th birthday cake


Nate celebrated his 18th birthday on May 1st.

So hard to believe that he’s really 18.  I mean honestly.  Where did the time go?

Such a silly question, isn’t it?

My wife is busy finishing up Nate’s scrapbook so it’s ready to be displayed at his high school graduation open house (in just a few weeks).  Oh the pictures!  Oh the memories.  Wow.

Our little boy has become a young man.  Smart. Well-mannered. Good-looking.

He has a great sense of humor too.

So now it’s time for him to find a summer job so he can make as much money as he can for college.  College?

Another season of life is upon us.

Nate:  If you happen to read this, please know that Mom and Dad are so very proud of you.  And we love you very much!

Happy Birthday dude!


Valentine’s Day is Thursday!

Wow!  It’s almost the middle of the month, already.  This year is off to a roaring start.  And, in case you didn’t already know, Valentine’s Day is THIS Thursday.  Are you ready?

Family Fun Magazine

Family Fun magazine (shown above)  suggests you have a stay-at-home Valentine’s Day this year and spend time with the kids.  I love that idea!  Hey, did you know that Family Fun is now part of the Parent’s Magazine family?

Speaking of ideas, I’ll have a crafty project idea tomorrow.  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, gather up your glue sticks, scissors and your other craft supplies.  We’re going to make some AWESOME book marks.



Mya’s Keepsake Box (Birthday Gift)

myaskeepsakebox “Handmade is the best …”

That was the comment made at Mya’s birthday party last Sunday.

One of the guests was oohing and ahhing over the gift I made and said that her favorite gifts are those that are handmade.  Amen.  I agree 100%.

The keepsake box took longer than I thought it would. No surprise there, right?  Doesn’t everything take longer than you expect?  But it was truly a labor of love.

It has been SO long since I’ve actually designed and made something.  It felt good to gather up the supplies and get to work.  ‘Making things makes me happy’.  If you’re a crafts-person or artist, feel free to Tweet that.

The best ‘thank-you-I-love-it’

It’s pretty amazing to me that with a little ingenuity, you can transform a paper mache box into something wonderful.  It made me smile to see four-year old Mya walking through the house with her arms wrapped around the box.  That was the ultimate compliment.

Here are some more photos of the box:

boxview1 boxview2 boxview3

Your turn:  I will appreciate your honest feedback on the box.  And…I’d like to know what YOU’RE making these days.  Please:  leave a comment below!  Thanks!



A Soon-To-Be Birthday Gift for Mya


Sometimes, the Creative “Bug” Bites Hard

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve completed a craft project.

My cousin’s daughter (Mya) is turning four this week.  My wife and did some traditional birthday gift shopping last weekend.  We’re all set.  Well…almost.

I decided that it was time to put the creative juices to work — once again.  I had a paper mache box tucked away and thought it would be a perfect gift.  The box has 3-4 coats of Bubblegum Pink paint on it now.  I promise to show you the project when it’s all done.

According to her mom, Mya loves pink and princess-y stuff.  So…a quick trip to Hobby Lobby and we’re good to go.

It felt really good to make something again.  In fact, while I’ve tried to push the creativity aside, it just can’t stay away forever.  It’s part of me.  And always will be.

I need to be okay with that.  And make (no pun intended) the most of it.

Your Turn:  What projects are you working on these days?  Share your story in the comments section below.

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