Why I Blog

I’ve been asked a few times WHY I blog or even recently how I make money. Well, I don’t make enough on a regular basis to call it a job. I’ll say that much. But WHY I blog is something I can get into a little more . . .


Really, first and foremost, it’s just what I do. I’ve always had a diary, a journal, or a blog. Remember xanga? Oh, yes. Xanga. There are worn-in notebooks FULL of my special, egotistical, teenage thoughts. I have logs of information on my childhood pets. It’s so dorky. You know those moments you think back on and you just really kind of hope a genie shows up and you can wish that one perpetually embarrassing instance away? Yeah, if it was published work I’d have multiple volumes of those moments all recorded on paper.


This has been my way of connecting with people for a long time. Writing, I mean. Blogging, being invovled in forums, writing legit snail mail, instant messaging. I have a hard time communicating face to face with anyone. I get flustered and anxious. It’s always been easier for me to write (or type) my thoughts. My husband and I communicate better through letters. We have boxes full of handwritten letters from the first years of our relationship and again while he was in boot camp and training. Seeing the words feels more real to me than hearing them.


Freedom, exposure, access. I don’t put myself out there in real life very much. I’m independent or a loner depending on your perspective. Blogging gives me control that I don’t have face-to-face. I don’t have to adapt my facial expressions (because my face tends to over emote, hahaha) or process my every word, tone, or twitch. I can type thoughts out without restriction and put it out there or read over it 50 times before I release it to the World Wide Web . . . or delete it. I actually stopped deleting things and kept copies elsewhere for the sake of entertaining myself later (like the preteen diaries).  So entertainment too, I guess?


Compensation. Not gonna lie. I’m not rolling in dough or anything. I don’t have any secret formulas or quick-cash schemes to share but I’ve had some pretty fantastic opportunities through my blog. I’m no one fancy but apparently my opinion is worth a dollar or two to someone. I’ve received products to review, been paid for my thoughts, and hosted some cool giveaways. It’s pretty fantastic! It’s a LOT of work or I’d probably do more of it. I blogged for years before these opportunities crossed my path so it’s just been a perk for something I’ve been doing anyway.


Self-expression. What better way to express yourself than to share your thoughts on things? Whether it’s a parenthood insight or some random product. Where I am limited in my household, my wardrobe, or my creative talents I am totally unlimited with writing. I can write about whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want.


In short: It’s a habit. I want connection, freedom, entertainment, and self-expression.

I also like the occasional compensation.

So pretty much the same reasons anyone does ANYTHING, EVER. Pretty boring and normal and typical stuff.


Citrus Lane Subscription Giveaway!


October 16, 2014

Savings in a Snap!


Oh, me.  That was cheesy and sad.  But, hey! You’ll remember the name! Go download the Snap app right this minute. Do it!

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 10.24.44 PM

Snap is the newest, shiniest coupon rebate app from the well known Groupon. It totally makes sense that they’d get in on this coupon app thing.

You can set up an account in just a few seconds through Facebook or Gmail. Oh, you don’t HAVE to use the app either. You can do this 100% online through your computer as long as you can get images of your receipts uploaded. They have some pretty simple instructions on that.

It works similarly to the others out there but there are some superb deals on there that some other apps don’t touch. Examples: $3 on huggies diapers, $1 on milk, $1 on bread.

Like Checkout 51 there is a $20 threshold. Once you reach that amount you can cash out and you’ll get a check in the mail. I submitted my first receipt for $2. (It’s still pending.)  Snap by Groupon

This app will definitely earn a spot in my couponing arsenal. If you aren’t into couponing all ready these rebate apps are a great place to start! It takes a few minutes after your shopping trip to submit receipts, select the coupons, and you’ll get the money back. It all adds up!

It does seem like the deals are in short supply and get snatched up fast so plan on being strategic and don’t put off uploading your receipts! So far, so good. We’ll see how long it takes to reach $20!


October 14, 2014

How We Do Halloween

I’m always interested to hear how different people do their holidays. The hubby and I did Halloween differently growing up. His family avoided it. They actually didn’t do much of anything at all. My family participated in new ways with church (the trunk or treats and fall festivals) that are now quite popular but we also learned the history and what all the symbology meant. We’ve kind of meshed our ideas together with what we want and don’t want. I’d say we do as much on this holiday as Independence Day or Thanksgiving. No big deal. Just family fun.

How We Do_


The dress-up is one contention that people, especially Christians, seem to struggle with a lot. I don’t see the big deal. Honestly, it’s just like any other day around here. There are very few days in this house that go by without someone being a lion or butterfly or a fairy or a doctor or whatever. We don’t do the scary junk though. I’m not a big horror, scary fan anyway. I take no pleasure in it. I don’t see the point. It’s not like it’s exceptionally fun to dress up as a zombie anyway. We can do that all we want during the zombie apocalypse later. I prefer the funny or the cosplay or the cutesy. (I’m lame and I like it.) We let the kids pick out what they want now. I totally dress them up as babies to because any excuse to smoosh their heads in a cute outfit and take pictures is a priority. We’ve done a flower, minnie mouse, a dinosaur, a unicorn, princess and the pea, and batman. This year Little Man will be Captain America. The girls haven’t made decisions. Shocking news: Anna and Elsa are on their radar but they have other ideas. Sweet Pea keeps talking about being a dragon. Bitty Bug has mentioned being a “princess body”. (I think I’ve mentioned before that she has a thing for anatomy. She thinks skeletons are cool.)  “Princess body” means a skeleton with a tutu and a tiara. Yeah.

So there’s that.

Pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns

We learned the history of these when I was a kid. We still carved them. It’s fun! Duh! My mom used a Christian symbology for the carving and lighting the inside of the pumpkin with a candle. Rather than a ward to ghosts or ghouls it’s a welcoming light. The pumpkin represents the person. The carving represents God’s “cleaning out all our crud” (to put it delicately). The candle inside is the light of love, of course. All of this may be more relevant for older kids as they can understand the contradictions. So, we carve our pumpkins. We have painted them instead of cutting into the sides but that’s because I look at pinterest too much. Plus, littles can actually participate in painting . . . not so much . . . well, anything to do with wielding anything remotely similar to a knife or pokey stick or sharp thing.

Bonus: It’s a total sensory-rich activity: there are different textures to explore, plenty of motor skills are used with cutting/carving the pumpkin, digging all the goo and seeds out by hand is the most obvious, there’s also the heavy smells. We don’t do this but I know some people like to bake the seeds as well.


We don’t do trick or treating door-to-door in the traditional sense. We go downtown or to the mall. The shops host a door-to-door “costume parade” or something similar. Set time, set place, no questionable neighborhoods. Easy peasy!

We definitely go to the pumpkin patch. We were going to go this past weekend but the weather wasn’t great. I LOVED the trips to the pumpkin patch when I was a kid. Feeding animals, hay rides, mazes, and pumpkin picking – yes, please. I love it still. We have gone to Farmland Adventures for the past few years.

Otherwise, we hang at home, enjoy company, and all that good stuff. That won’t really be happening this year since the military decided on other plans for October 31. (Helloooo! Why?!) Thankfully we can do most of our stuff a few days before and let the kids dress up more than once.



So that’s the sum of Halloween for us. It’s not a big to-do. We don’t really decorate or go crazy or spend much money on anything. We avoid the creepy, scary stuff. As the kids get older I think we’ll approach it differently and talk more about things (just as we will with every other important date!).


How do you do Halloween? Do you do anything at all? Even if you don’t go out do you give out candy?


P.S. Target still has their B1G1 deal on kid’s costumes!! We got both the girl’s costumes this week for $25 (total!).

October 14, 2014

First Twenty from Checkout 51!

I’ve written about Checkout 51 before but today I got my first twenty dollar refund check!

$20.95 to be exact. It’s just little bits at a time but it all adds up!! I’ve been using Checkout 51 since May 26. Just over 4 months and my total earnings to date are $23.95. It really doesn’t sound like much until you consider that I’ve stacked this with other rebates, coupons, and sales.

It took 3 days from the time they let me know my check was in the mail to its arrival. No complaints!

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 4.34.00 PMCheckout 51 Home

Are you using Checkout 51? How much have you saved so far?

October 6, 2014

Response to Target Open Letter

Well, crap. I started this as a facebook post and I kept writing so I’m going to write it here instead.

Take my 2 cents for what it’s worth.

I’ve been shopping at Target more than anywhere else the last 5-6 years. It’s a favorite. No doubt.

I saw this post here shared several times on my facebook feed and finally clicked out of curiosity because my experience with Target has always been relatively positive. Even as I started to get nervous as my oldest daughter crept up closer to the girl’s department and out of the toddler department. I remember walking through another store (shopping with someone else) when she was still an infant and seeing the loads of crap in the girl’s department. Yikes!!  I was put at ease by the selection I could find at Target.

Now here me on this, the gender-dominant character thing (not really, truly neutral by some standards so I’ll use a different term because I’m special) and feminine-cut shirts I totally get and agree with. My girls (and I) LOVE our star wars, TMNT, and superheroes as much as the next person. Pink and sparkles are also beloved by my girls but it is not a requirement on every.freaking.freaking.thing.

I hate the lady-cut thing for grown women just as much as girls too. They do NOTHING good for me (or most women I know). They are usually translucent because they aren’t even paper thin. They are never long enough on the waist or arms or high enough at the chest. I pretty much need to buy 2 shirts or have a second undershirt on hand for every “tshirt” I buy. That’s a whole other thing. Blah blah blah.

I happen to buy a ton of our kid’s clothes at Target. The styles they carry are adorable. There is no rampant “diva” or “macho” mess. There’s a variety. Everything is right next to eachother so we can look at “boy’s” shirts and step right over to dresses then right over to baby stuff. I also have no problems finding conservative, age-appropriate things.

We have bought longer shorts (hit just above the knee) and capris from Target several times in the last few years. They fit very well on both of my girls too. Considering Sweet Pea (3 yrs, 3t-4t) is tall and light weight for her age and Bitty Bug (4yrs, 4t-5t or XS) is shorter and average weight for her age this makes it easier to shop. We have even bought some of these exact style of colorful, striped, short-shorts in the picture on the blog. We use them primarily under dresses or for pool/park outings. I never considered them tacky, revealing, or too short because they are for toddler/preschool girls. There’s nothing to see. They’ve always had a diaper, pull up, or underwear underneath too.

The longer, baggier shorts happen to be in style for boys which is why that’s all you can find. You know, styles change. In the 60s, men and women, boys and girls ALL wore shorter shorts. The current styles aren’t just conservatively to-the-knee either. A lot of them might as well be called capris or pants. This style, often referred to as “bermuda”, are widely available for girls as well. Well, maybe not in October. But, by February they’ll be out with the bathing suits!

(Note: I have different opinions on short-shorts on grown people.)

Boys in the same age range run freely without shirts on or in just their underwear. No one says anything about that  because there is nothing to say. Why the difference with girls? Hmm?

You also have to take into account the cut of jeans in particular. They have slim/skinny, straight, and “carpenter”/wide jeans for boys and skinny, straight, or loosefit/wide-leg for girls. You can’t just take whatever off a rack and compare sizes. That’s absurd.

Even beyond that, my 3 year old can put on her baby brother’s 18mo pants and they fit her like capris. No one is saying that my son is in oversized pants because a 3 year old fits in them or that my 3 year old is malnourished because she fits in the little pants. There’s simply not that much of a waist-size difference in young kids. As they grow, they slim up but because they’re growing there’s just not that much of a measurable difference. IME, every single brand is different. Comparing brands doesn’t really mean anything more than one may fit a particular child better than another.

You can look at the sizing charts available for different brands on Target’s website and compare the differences yourself. Here’s the Cherokee brand (source: Target.com) screenshots for easy comparison. Some of the girl’s sizes are smaller. Or, MAYBE, the boy’s sizes are bigger so the fit is more baggy. You could go either way with your perspective on this. Remember too that sizing is not based just on waist/hip measurements but also chest, inseam, AND height.Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 2.22.34 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 2.22.52 AM

Some stores have sizes determined by exactly the same measurements for both genders like Gymboree. Many do not. Some brands run small. Some run large. They are averaging out thousands and thousands of kids to determine these sizes.


What does this tell us?

Mass-manufacturing CANNOT predict or include every possible human size ratio.

This is why people used to make their own clothes to fit.

Or go to a seamstress.

Or order special sizes.

And still do!


Do some things in the clothing industry need to change? YES. HECK yes.

Is it ridiculous to assume your exact-perfect-fit and ideal digit/letter size is going to be available whether you are 2 or 42? Also, YES.


The inseam thing by the way . . . Average 2-6 year old inseam is anywhere from 13-18 inches. So a one inch inseam is that 1/13 to 1/18 fraction. The average woman’s inseam is around 30-34 so a 2/30 to 2/34 is nearly the same difference in coverage. However, that’s not taking the shape of an adult female body into account either. Like I said above, I don’t see them the same way on little girls as I do on grown women. Conservative/coverage issues are not the same for a 24 year old as a 4 year old.

By all means, voice opinions and point out the issues. Don’t buy the crap and put your money where your mouth is. BUT I think a lot of what’s really important (like the availability of favorite characters on tshirts for both genders #firstworldproblems) is going to be drowned out by the bullshit of comparing current styles. So sowwy for the bad, bad word.

There is crap in the boy’s AND girl’s, men’s AND women’s departments that needs to be addressed.


P.S. NOTHING is keeping anyone from shopping in any section they choose. Buy clothes for girls in boys or for boys in girls. No gender-restriction police are going to cancel your purchase and no masculinity/femininity fairy is going to steal the clothes away in the night. No one is being withheld from buying anywhere they want in a department store. Let’s not pretend we are so excluded. If the “boy’s” spiderman shirt is what your 5 year old wants then freaking buy it. If your 7 year old wants the blue Elsa hat then buy it! Nothing is stopping you but your and your children’s need for inclusion in our current society.

Now you’re 2 cents richer. ;)

October 4, 2014


Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?

Overrated raises many thought-provoking questions at a time where facebook-shared fundraiser and awareness challenges are more popular than pumpkins in October. If you don’t want a button-pushing, introspective experience do not read this. It will make you uncomfortable. It is written as Cho’s confession of his own shortcomings and struggles.


The access to connection that the internet and social media offers us is creating more of a bubble instead of breaking down barriers. It’s like . . . rather than watch the movie we’re watching the trailer. We are drawing all of our ideas and beliefs from these snippets of reality. We’re our own advertising agencies: sharing the high points, masking the low points, and building creative language to paint our pictures of perfection.

“Let’s be honest here: We are into ourselves. We might not want to admit it, but if we started a fan page for ourselves, we’d click “like”. In fact, I think I did exactly that when I started my Facebook page.” – Eugene Cho, Overrated

It should be noted that this book is directed toward Christians. The author, Eugene Cho, is a pastor and founder of One Day’s Wages. Regardless, his insights are invaluable.

Definitely get your hands on this book. It’s 229 pages that will deeply interfere with your current perspectives in the best possible way. It stirred up a lot of thought in me, personally, and I will probably re-read it more than once before I really latch on to all this book encompasses. I’ll probably be questioning everything I say or do for a while and I honestly hope that switch doesn’t turn back off.


 Disclosure: I was given this book to read and review. All opinions shared are my own. Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this opportunity.


October 1, 2014


Have you been on goodreads yet? It’s like the library version of facebook. It’s all about books and I love it.

Here’s a peak:



I don’t have nearly as much time to read when I’m in school. I actually can’t stand it because I’m in the middle of several books right now. I got used to reading when and what I wanted over my break from classes the first 8 months of this year.

Anyway, I enjoy keeping track of where I am in my books with goodreads. It’s a pretty comprehensive site. You can rate and review books, take quizzes, and join different groups. You can create “lists” called bookshelves of your favorites and the long, long list of things you want to read. You can also see what your friends on there are reading and get book recommendations too.

It’s easy enough to connect with whatever flavor social media site you prefer. You can also hook it up to your Amazon account to keep tabs on your digital books through that.

Oh! Another cool feature is the giveaways! I actually won one book through there. Not everyone gets excited about a free book but  its right up my alley.

There are lots of other great features but these are the ones I’ve enjoyed as I’ve used it in the last few months. Click here and check it out for yourself.

September 26, 2014

Happy Fall!!

Yay! This is my favorite season. The fall has some of everything: holidays, family time, down time, nice weather. It’s perfect. Actually, I always planned to get married in October right when all the leaves were in that perfect, colorful stage before the trees are empty. Then I wanted to have an October baby. Not entirely sure why and it’s not what happened. It’s such a warm, happy season before the excitement of the holidays so it just seemed right. (I got my October baby eventually by the way but we eloped in July! haha!)

I think I’ve probably had my weight in fall-special coffees all ready.  What can I say? I won’t deny myself the deliciousness because it’s trendy. I can handle it. Some trends are good. ;) I drink coffee anyway to survive every day. It might as well taste like dessert in a cup. Right? I’m heading up for midterms soon. My BABY has turned into a toddler overnight. The man is starting a new position at work soon. We have a lot going on these days. It’s hard for me to keep up.

I think that’s really why I like fall. It’s slow and calm and just the right temperature.

So happy fall everyone!!

September 25, 2014

Study More Effectively


I don’t know if you’re going back to school for the first time or what but I sincerely hope some of this helps you out. I’ve used all sorts of different tricks trying to study more effectively over the years. I’m not an easy-A student but I’m of the opinion that ANY study can get A’s (and B’s) if they study well.

After being in school (off and on) I’ve worked out some of the kinks. I’ve also become very good at adapting. I’m ADD and we have three young kids. Most of my study time includes at least one child-interruption and 20 other distractions.  I do my best to get time away to hole up either in my room or the library to focus but I’m not really the best at that.

A few quick tips to get you started:

1. If you’re here right now spending all of your last hour before a test looking up study methods then stop. Bookmark it and go read through your notes and try to relax. I know. I know. You’re going to finish reading this instead and rush to take your test last minute. Better luck next time.

2. $7 notebooks and $15 ballpoint pens will NOT make you more interested, more effective, or more productive while studying. Go get a stack of 25c notebooks, a box of pens or pencils, and call it a day. (I’ll give you a list of what all you REALLY need in a minute.)

3. Assess your environment. What can you do to instantly eliminate distractions? Can you disconnect wi-fi, put on headphones, clean your space, open or close windows, turn off your phone, or move to a different place all together?

4. If you genuinely feel stressed by your workload early in the semester STOP. Go talk to your adviser. What can you drop and when? It’s gonna suck to have Fs, Ds, or Cs in 5 classes when you can have A’s and Bs just by dropping one of those. Don’t discount summer classes or forget about things like CLEP.

Got it? This comes from the ever-so-sweet bottom of my heart where only love and hope exist. I’ve BTDT in all of these scenarios. Don’t be like me. Just be obedient and do what I say. (I’m kidding. Sorta kinda. Do what is best for you, dear.)

Now, I’m sure most have heard about or tried the good ole, tried and true “study methods” at one point or another. If you all ready use these then you’re probably looking for more. This is where I want to start.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat.This is the best way I know to remember this. This alone is not a method though. It’s is just one part of an effective method. You have to think beyond writing notes, copying them, or repeating them to yourself in the elevator on your way up to the test center.

Caveat: some may hate doing things the way I do them. Fine. Go forth and write your own blog about your own study method. Please come back and share for heaven’s sake. Let’s not be keepin’ the things to ourselves which may help our fellow [desperately trying to get through another year of algebra] friends.

Anyway, keeping the Read. Write. Repeat. bit skipping around in our heads let’s move on.

These are the things you NEED to study effectively:

1. Accountability – Honestly, you probably wouldn’t be here looking at this post if you had this in place. One sub-rule – If you are in college then mama and daddy are NOT your accountability anymore. Don’t wait for them to ask to see your grades. You won’t be reporting to them when you are working in an office. Now is the time to get used to having colleagues. Find some friends, classmates, or someone (or something) else to check in with. Taking on the task of being accountable to yourself alone is a big deal so think it over carefully.

2. Time-management.  Yeah, yeah. Shut up. You aren’t that busy or tired. Everybody is busy. Someone is busier and more tired than you. Time management is a conglomeration of several things: calendars, reminders, and knowing when to say yes or no. I could write an entire book just on this. Get some coffee, set up a calendar, and tell yourself it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.

3. Stuff. Yeah, you need a few things. Something to write with and something to write on primarily. I also use highlighters, notecards, and a few different apps. Those are only fluff to beef up the other things. Just remember that $5 notebooks and $12 pens don’t make you a better student.

There are a few MAJOR parts to my study method that make it work well for me: color-coding and what I call “snippets” are the first two.

I’m not sure which to dive into first so I’ll go with the color-coding. Color coding keep things cohesive and is a stepping stone to organization.

(Add highlighters to your needs list.) Or those colored stickers or colored pencils – whatever. If you’re going to do this you’ll be assigning colors to very specific categories to help you keep things organized. You can get completely psycho with this or keep it simple.  Don’t use every ounce of energy highlighting. There are three things I like to keep tabs on in separate categories. Feel free to use whatever colors and add categories to your own system.

Using Highlighters              to Study(1)Makes sense, right? I used to just mark through my material looking for important topics or definitions and generally highlighting anything of value. Guess what? A lot of textbooks are written with the intent of ALL the information to be valuable so that doesn’t really work.

Now, don’t stop with this. If you do then you’ll end up darting through chapters looking for the information you need and squinting at scratch-notes hoping to find a clue to that essay question on the upcoming midterm.

By the way, some professors are generous with the aids they give you or even allowing open-book. Use them. Just don’t depend on those alone to pass.

All right, on to the next thing: snippets of time. This is my first tactic for getting around my ADD issue and coping with being a SAHM to three kids 4 and under while trying to pass classes (and preferable make As). Rather than studying in large blocks of time like I used to in highschool and pre-kids, I can manage occupy ALL three of the kids for 5-15 minutes and dive into one thing. During these “snippets” of time I can either get some of my actual work done like posting in Blackboard forums (did I mention I’m an online student?) or finding some solid references for an essay. If I have a test coming up I use the time to just outright study.

Mind you: I do this 4-5 times a day EVERY day during the semester. No skipping. This may or may not work for everyone but I constantly drill information into my head so it stay put. Plus, I do my best to take a few hours when I can to get away and do whatever I need to do. Some students are able to just study, study, study but many have families, jobs, or other obligations too. The snippet tactic is really, really great for those highlighted items above, especially the “WTF” stuff. If you don’t really get a certain equation or what have you then this is a great way to keep yourself going back to it. Find a video on youtube, read an article or journal, or participate in a forum.

It may help you to make a running list of the things you need to prioritize, write them in bubble letters on an eraser board, or put reminders in your phone.

Block Out the Noise

Some people have this magical ability to not get distracted or bothered by things. I’m not one of them. I get distracted by people’s life stories while I’m in the middle of an exam in the mostly silent test center on campus. Yeah, the life stories I made up for them in my own head. During the year I was at a private university I found this particularly difficult because I was living in an all-girls dorm. Unfortunately, the best time to study was the middle of the night when everyone else was gone elsewhere or asleep. Losing sleep is the worst thing you can do. People joke about how little sleep you get in college. The thing is that most college students have the option to prioritize their time or totally orient around themselves. SLEEP.

Off course a bit but that was a good point I guess . . . I was about to get into eliminating distractions. I’ve tried ear plugs. That may work for some but I’ve found myself fiddling with them or doing weird movements with my mouth for the benefit of the weird noises inside my head. (If I didn’t sound crazy before I’m positive I do by now.) I can listen to music though. Go figure. Classical or lyric-free instrumental is the best for me. The Lord of the Rings soundtracks are some of my favorite. However, you have to pair these with some decent headphones that will stay on your head and if possible block outside noises. If music isn’t a good option then go get some ear muffs from a sports/outdoor supply store like Bass Pro or Academy Sports. Not the fluffy winter kind. The kind you wear when you don’t want hearing loss from shooting big guns.

Note: if, like me, you are home with a bunch of kiddos obviously don’t put headphones on while you’re the only sane person in the vicinity.

Now, finally, the hardest thing you’ll have to do: Don’t Procrastinate. You’re going to have to do it anyway. That are you are knowingly accepting that F or Incomplete. Don’t do that. Figure out what motivates you. Find accountability. Do it.



I’ll have more on this later, including some of my favorite apps. Check back soon for the second Study post!