Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just Go Girl. Really.

"Seriously, Mom? You need to use the bathroom again? You just went!"

"Well, I can go to the bathroom now or I can pee on the roller coaster. Which do you prefer?"

"Pee on the roller coaster? That's disgusting, Mom!"

"Besides, I like this bathroom. Moaning Myrtle is in this bathroom," I said, indicating the restroom in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios where my kids and I have annual passes. Yep, that's me - the woman who can tell you where all the best bathrooms are wherever we go.

So I used the bathroom, chatted with Moaning Myrtle, and got in line for the Dragon Challenge roller coaster. After the ride, my kids and I walked toward The Incredible Hulk roller coaster.

"Hang on, guys. Let me just go to the bathroom before we get in line."

"I don't get it. I can go all day without peeing, Mom."

"I've had SIX kids. I pee when I sneeze," I retorted.

"Wow. TMI, Mom. WAY too much information."

"Besides I just chugged down a beer to mellow out when those tourists were being annoying in line by us, remember? That liquid has to go somewhere and I'd rather it not be on the ride."

So maybe my kids roll their eyes when I stop at the bathroom before every roller coaster. But I know there are other moms out there who are nodding their heads in agreement. It's just one of those things no one ever tells you when you're thinking about getting pregnant - you'll lose all bladder control. You'll have to stop at the bathroom between every roller coaster at the park, and forget about ever jumping on a trampoline again. It just happens.

Stress incontinence and even athletic incontinence is common. So common in fact that Brooke Solis, mother of 5, founded JustGoGirl for this very reason. In her research, she found an estimated 25 million women — from high school athletes and new mothers to women past their childbearing years — share her problem. That’s one out of every three women who may avoid exercise because they are worried about athletic leaks. (I personally avoid exercise because it's, you know, exercise, but she's one of those types who likes high-impact exercise and running. I know, right?!) For all of those women who like to workout and yet have those embarrassing leaks, exercise can be a real problem. Traditional sanitary pads aren't designed to hold urine. Incontinence pads are designed to hold a higher volume of liquid, but they're bulky and conspicuous under tight-fitting workout clothes. So Brooke designed the JustGo Pads. Shaped like a teardrop, they're totally invisible under your yoga pants (truly, these pads are crazy-thin!) but unlike traditional pads which hold about 50 ml, JustGo Pads hold 140 ml so you can go your whole training session without having to stop and change or deal with an embarrassing situation if you have a leak while jumping rope. 

If you have problems with athletic incontinence or know someone who does, then JustGo Pads are for you. You and your friends can get your own free sample HERE. And don't worry, they don't come in a big box with the word "INCONTINENCE" stamped across it. They're shipped in a thin, plain envelope. Give 'em a try!

Sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Price of Prom: a Breakdown of Costs

According to a recent study by Visa, teens will spend nearly $1000 on prom this year. That's a hefty chunk of change for a few hours of fun. I know it didn't cost that much when I went to prom! I did my own hair and makeup, got my fabulous, poofy Gunne Sax dress on sale at Sears, and piled into the back of a friend's Econoline van that was used to transport his family's Irish Wolfhounds. By the time we got to prom, I was covered in dog hair. Voila! The cheapest fur wrap you could ever find!

I know that kids today feel like they need to one-up each other. A teen can’t appear at the dance wearing the same dress as another kid! And she sure doesn’t want to be shown up by having the cheaper dress. She can’t arrive in a regular ole limo when her friends are taking a party bus! I mean, stuff like this can ruin a kid’s life. You can’t recover from such egregious slights. You know those homeless-looking people who ride the bus while having entire conversations with a chewing gum wrapper? Yeah, well those are the people who didn’t keep up with the Joneses at prom.

Still, as a single mom of 6 (3 of whom are teenagers), I’m always looking for ways to save money. I don’t have $1000 to spend per kid for one evening’s festivities so I decided to break down the typical prom expenses and then look for less expensive alternatives. Here, for your reference, is a list of your basic prom expenses:

PROM TICKETS:  $50 – $100 each

FLOWERS:  $25 – $50

DRESS:  $500 (which amounts to $100 per square inch of fabric)

HAIR, MAKEUP & NAILS:  hiring Cinna, Flavius, Venia, and Octavia to style you – $1000

PLASTIC SURGERY:  breast implants to make sure you adequately fill out that $500 dress – $8000

HELICOPTER:  because limousines are SO last year – $500

AFTER-PARTY:  a suite in a nice hotel. In Vegas. With airfare to get there. – $1500

ICE SCULPTURE:  that looks like Elsa’s castle in Frozen – $300

PAPARAZZI:  forget the traditional photographer; hire paparazzi to follow you around and immediately put pics and video on Vine, Instagram and Twitter. #prom #swag #amazeballs #yolo #schweg – $700

THE DOS EQUIS GUY:  hire him to hang out with your party because he is the most interesting man in the world – $2000

HOUSE REMODELING:  so you have a nice backdrop for all those pre-prom photos – $10,000

MORGAN FREEMAN:  to narrate your evening because, well, because he’s Morgan Freeman – $20,000


Sunday, April 27, 2014

This is How REAL People Bake Cookies

I love to bake! Wait, let me rephrase that. I love to eat baked goods and I know that baking them is a necessary evil in order to get to the “eating them” part. I made these yummy orange chocolate chip cookies the other day and thought I’d take beautiful, close-up pictures of every step and share not only my brilliant photography, but an easy recipe that will result in your own delicious confections. That was the plan. Reality was a little different, however. The truth is that THIS is how I actually make cookies . . .
Here’s the recipe if you want to follow along.


1 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 T. grated orange zest

1 T. orange liquor

1/2 t. salt

3/4 t. baking soda

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

jelly beans (optional)

brandy (optional)

wine (optional, but recommended)

Before I bake anything, I first look in the fridge for something yummy to eat. I know I just looked in both the refrigerator and the pantry 5 minutes ago to no avail, but you know never know. Maybe the magical food fairies have come to restock it in the last couple minutes. It could happen.

Next, I whine that I want something sweet. I hint to my older kids that if they really loved me, they'd run up to the store and buy some brownies. I look all sad and disappointed (for good measure.) When that doesn't work, I repeat STEP 1 again.

When my kids insist they have to do non-essential things like homework and can't run to the store for brownies, and the magical food fairies don't come bearing cupcakes, I resort to PLAN B. Aha! I'll make cookies! That's the ticket!

Orange chocolate chip cookies! Yes, they contain fruit! Healthy! I start gathering ingredients.

At any given time I have 3, 4, even 5 open bags of brown sugar. Why is this? Does this happen to anyone else? I bet Rachel Ray doesn't have this problem.

This is the point when I realize I'm missing an essential ingredient. In this case, I discovered I was out of chocolate chips. I was crushed. Then I remembered the Easter candy! "Hey kids! Give me one of your Easter eggs! I need to borrow some M&Ms!" Great plan, right? Except that the only things left in the plastic eggs were jelly beans. Orange-jelly bean cookies? Hmmmm, I'm not sure how that'll work out. I should probably just eat the jelly beans and make the cookies without any candy.

I don't have any orange liquor either. Hmmmm, what can I use in its place? I know! I have some brandy I got for a cake I made a while ago. Maybe that'll work. Does brandy taste anything like orange? Maybe I should sample it . . .

Oh dear God, what IS this vile stuff?! People DRINK this? On purpose??? Ugh, I need something to put out the fire in my throat and get rid of this taste, and I possibly need tastebud surgery too.

I know! How about wine? I could substitute wine for the orange liquor, right? Wait what? What am I saying? You don't put WINE in cookies! What am I thinking? That's crazy talk! I'll just drink the wine.

I searched my pantry once more (just in case I missed some goodies) in the hopes of trashing my whole 'let's make cookies' idea. Oh look! There ARE some chocolate chips after all! Excellent! I'd better make sure they're still good.

This is really a two-part step. First, you grate the orange peal. Then, you get a bandaid for the finger you sliced off and you search through the zest for bits of fingernail.

"Hey Mom, can I stir in the flour?"

"Sure, just make sure you go slowly so the flour doesn't . . . nevermind. Good job, kid."

When your kids get bored and walk off, finish mixing the dough and preheat the oven. Time to bake this stuff into soft, warm, delicious cookies!

Decide, after all that work (and wine) you're too tired to actually bake the cookies. Grab a spoon instead. Hide in the closet so your kids don't see you. And that, my friends, is how real people make cookies.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Florida's FCAT to Undergo Changes for the 2014-2015 School Year

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FCAT testing is well underway in the state of Florida. Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) was first administered statewide in 1998. Since then it has been instrumental in weeding out those students who aren’t intelligent enough to be promoted to the next grade, and those who don’t possess the skills necessary to get into college. Children attending public school in Florida from third through tenth grades must take the reading and math portions of the test every year. In addition, the science portion is administered annually to students in fifth and eighth grades. Students must also complete the FCAT Writes Exam during fourth, eighth, and tenth grades.

“The FCAT is a great tool, but it can’t possibly give us all the information we need,” says spokesperson for the Alliance for the Betterment of Students with Rigorous Discipline (ABSRD), Beatrice Potterland. Currently, many districts administer as many as 62 tests to students during the school year which equates to one test every 2.8 days of student attendance. “It isn’t enough”, asserts Potterland.” Our mission is to ensure children are tested every day they attend school. We can’t gather the necessary information on student and teacher performance without continually using those [the FCAT, FAIR testing, ePats, EOCs, etc.] diagnostic tools.”

In fact, Florida is developing new tests to replace the current FCAT next year. Children won’t just fill in a bubble on a multiple-choice exam; they’ll be asked to underline text, write essays, show work for every math problem, highlight every preposition, and circle every letter “T” within the text and testing materials. In addition, students will be required to write 5 of their own comprehensive test questions that will then be gathered and utilized on the 2016 FCATs. These new FCAT tests will take students, on average, 3 months to complete.

In the meantime, Florida is paying Utah over $5 million to borrow the test questions they’ve written. Some taxpayers oppose Florida’s cash-strapped districts spending money to buy test questions from another state. Principal of Montgomery County’s Herald High School, Dr. Antwan Johnson is concerned. “A problem we’ve run into is that Florida’s students are accustomed to questions like, 'If Daquan steals a $300 pair of shoes and runs 4.7 miles before being caught by the cops, how much time will he do?' and the Utah-generated questions read like, 'If John is 36 years old and his wives are 30 and 26, and he has 10 children, what level of Heaven will he get to?' The ABSRD insists that this is just a minor issue that will be easily solved as Florida spends another $5 million to train teachers how to train students how to answer Utah’s test questions for the 2015 FCAT.

“Of course, we’ll make sure our teachers are adequately trained to administer the new FCAT next year,” Potterland assures us. The current 388 page FCAT testing manual, the 140 page FCAT Writes manual, and the 260 page FCAT computer-based testing manual will be supplemented with a fourth, more comprehensive manual. Test administrators will also be required to complete an additional 20 hours of training. “Don’t worry. We wouldn’t think of leaving teachers to administer this test [FCAT] without first training them on how to collect students’ cell phones, tell time, break open the seals on the tests, pass out pencils, and read the testing instructions verbatim.”

Some people may criticize that Florida currently administers far too many tests, but a recent survey of 150 teachers in Orange County found that 97% of them think there isn’t enough testing. “Every year we’re required to give more and more tests to our students, leaving us with very little time to actually teach. It’s wonderful! I have so much more free time now that I don’t have to come up with lesson plans or grade papers,” says Montgomery County high school teacher, Marianna Fitzgibbons“With all the computer-based testing this year, it takes us a month to get through the FCAT. There are over 1000 students testing and only about 100 computers in the school. Teachers are forced to hold one class [so students don’t make noise passing from class to class which could disrupt those who are testing] for an entire day. We just put on movies for the kids to watch during the testing month. I’ve almost gotten through my entire Netflix queue!”

Potterland agrees that more testing, not less, is what is needed if students are to succeed. Teachers receive bonus money if enough students pass the FCAT. Schools that don’t earn an “A rating” don’t get “A school” money. “This system rewards those teachers who teach kids how to pass the test and weeds out those teachers who don’t like to do things by the book. The teachers who get to know their students and try to tailor their teaching to their kids’ learning styles, the ones who get creative, and the ones who are passionate about teaching will either learn to conform or they will quit, leaving behind the teachers who are dedicated to standardized teaching in a standardized world,” says ABSRD spokesperson, Potterland. “That [rewarding schools that have a high percentage of students who pass the FCAT] is how we will ensure that every school is accountable. The best judge of an individual teacher’s worth is how many students in the school pass the FCAT.”

Currently, Florida’s public school students are required to pass the FCAT in third grade in order to be promoted to the fourth grade. In addition, tenth grade students must pass both the reading and the mathematics FCATs in order to graduate from high school. Soon that will change. “We’re pushing to ensure the FCAT holds even more weight next year. If a student fails the FCAT at any grade level, they will not be promoted to the next grade. If a tenth grader fails it, they will not be allowed to graduate. Under the current rules, tenth graders who fail the FCAT can retake the test up to 5 more times in an effort to pass and thus earn a diploma. Potterland disagrees. “Students shouldn’t be given more chances to pass the FCAT. If they fail, they fail. That’s life. When they can’t attend college, they’ll learn just how important testing is. Starting next year, there will be no ‘do-overs’. That’s why they [students] need to take tests every single day, so they know how to take a test. That’s [test taking] what kids need to learn. That’s what is going to get them into college.” Under this new plan, students may try to obtain a GED and attend trade school, but will not be accepted into any college, thus eliminating anyone who simply isn’t suited for higher education.

image: flickr

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Younique 3D Lashes Winner

The winner of the Younique Moodstruck 3D Lashes giveaway is . . .

Blogger muvie said...
If this mascara can make my eyes look like yours?
I hope I win!!!!
March 30, 2014 at 8:02 PM
Congratulations! Email me at with your shipping information. :) Thank you to everyone who left a comment. If you didn't win and still want to buy the mascara or host a Younique online party, please contact Kathy HERE.

Monday, April 7, 2014

15 Reasons Why No One Will Ever Steal my Van

I'm generally a 'glass is half-full' kinda person. Rarely, I see the glass as half-empty. Sometimes I don't care if the glass is half-full or half-empty as long as the liquid in question is wine. I was feeling down about my car the other day, wishing I had the means to get a slightly newer, slightly less duct-taped vehicle. Instead of wallowing in my self-pity (which I've been known to do from time to time), I decided to make a list of all the great things about my car. For one thing, it's running. (Today, at least.) Also, I don't have a car payment which is really awesome. The more I thought about it, the more reasons I came up with why my car is fabulous. For instance, it'll never be stolen. In fact, I came up with an entire list of reasons why it will never be stolen. How you frame those frustrating situations and circumstances makes all the difference! 

15 Reasons Why No One Will Ever Steal my Van

1. When you get the van up to about 45 mph, it starts to feel like a plane going through really bad turbulence while chunks of rust (and occasionally an essential car part) falls off begins to rattle.

2. There’s a rusted out hole in the door that provides some lovely cross-ventilation, but to a would-be thief, it would probably be a little disconcerting to feel a sudden woosh of air fly in through the closed door.

3. It can be a little difficult to see out the side mirror since it’s been held in place with duct tape ever since the Great Basketball Mishap of 2013.

4. As a would-be crook took off in my van, he would soon be assaulted by the stench that can only come from a 12-year-old van that has hauled teenage boys to hockey and football, that has survived several cross-country trips with six kids, that has housed a package of onion rings in 90 degree weather for a week before they were discovered, that currently contains water-logged beach towels and a few bushels of sand, and that has had shrimp lo mein spilled on the carpet. I predict it wouldn’t take long for the thief to jump ship.

5. The first time you attempt to stop at a light, you’ll undoubtedly notice that you need to actually put your foot through the floor and drag it along the pavement à la Fred Flintstone in order to slow the vehicle. Most thieves probably don’t wear the Kevlar shoes necessary to stop this van.

6. The air conditioning is broken. Unless you count the rusted-out hole in the door as air conditioning. It gets hot in Florida. This is definitely a theft deterrent.

7.  Because the air conditioning is broken and/or because of the eye-watering stink, the thief will probably want to open the windows. The windows work approximately 50% of the time. It’ll be a real bummer when the thief pulls up to McDonald’s to order some chicken nuggets and can’t roll down the window to get them. It’ll also suck when it rains and the window won’t roll up because when it rains in Florida, it’s like standing under the giant dump bucket at the water park.

8. The radio only gets two channels: the Spanish station and the Lawrence Welk station. If you flip really fast between them, you can hear “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” with a Latin beat.

9. If a thief tries to drive away in my van, they could only go a maximum of two miles without having to stop at a gas station because that’s how many miles to the gallon the van gets. I doubt most thieves would be amenable to spending $100 in gas every two miles.

10. This van is about as easy to park as a river barge. (Note: I‘ve never actually parked a river barge. You probably don’t even park a river barge. You probably dock it or something. But I’m trying to find a fitting analogy here so work with me.) I’m positive that parking my van is akin to docking a large vessel which means you have to cruise around the parking lot for at least 20 minutes, searching for a chunk of two-three open spots together lest you bash in the cars on either side of you. It gets tiring real fast.

11. Every time you step on the gas, the glove compartment flies open, spewing an assortment of cassette tapes. Chances are the car thief would be pegged in the head by a projectile Veggie Tales tape rendering him unconscious. It’s okay if he sustains a bloody gash though, because the glove compartment also houses 382 napkins from various fast food establishments because you just never know when you might need to sop up a bleeding head wound.

12. The check engine light is pretty much always on. It hasn’t prevented me from driving the van, but it might just deter a criminal who’s afraid of the engine blowing up or whatever the check engine light indicates.

13.  The windshield wipers need to be replaced. Right now, they don’t so much clean the windows as they just smear the love bugs (Floridian creatures that look a little like lightning bugs, fly around while mating, and eat the paint off your car) around in a streaky, bug-guts, sort of way.

14. Sometimes my big ole Chevy Express is mistaken for a church van. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing a dude who just stole a car would probably not appreciate a load of youth singing “Kumbaya” climbing in the back of the van as he’s trying to make a hasty getaway.

15. You can’t really blend in with this van. The police would spot it immediately what with all the neon pink duct tape and the fact that it was personalized by my daughter when she was three and gouged everyone’s name into the paint with a nail she’d found on the sidewalk. As proud and impressed as I was that she spelled everyone’s name correctly, I recall being less than thrilled with her choice of medium to express her newly found writing skills.

I bet after reading all that, you’re wishing you had such an awesome, amazing gem of a car, aren’t you? Okay, well maybe not. But the next time you get down about something beyond your control, reframe the situation. Make a list of the positives. Remember that someone else always has it worse. And always, always find something to laugh about.

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