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Archive for January, 2010

Vehicle Donation Experience

Jan 27, 2010 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Short Stories, Think About It

My husband bought a used Toyota Camry to put miles on driving back and forth across town for his work car. He drove it for three years and it served its purpose for us, he was able to save 30,000 miles from being put on our newer cars. The Camry was in great physical condition but we did not know anyone who wanted to buy the car and since we were not buying a new car, trading it in was not an option.

When you try to sell a used car you deal with a ton of headache. You have to clean and detail your car, take pictures of it and try to make it look its best. You have to pay to post your car online or in the paper. You need a phone number just for people to call to ask questions about the vehicle so you don’t need to give out your home phone number. Once people ask you a million questions about the car then they want to come look at it, now you have to give strangers your home address. Now you have to arrange a time and make sure you are home to have strangers come over look at the car and then hope they actually show up and that you did not stay home for no reason. If they do show up they kick the tires, ask a million other questions and search every square inch of the car engine to trunk. Then if they like the car, then you need to let strangers drive your car. Now with your insurance, you have to trust that a stranger is not going to crash your car, steal your car by driving away and never coming back, you have to worry that they are going to beat on it to see how it runs, and then ruin the engine so now you are stuck with a car that is broken. If they really are interested and they don’t break your car, they might ask to show it to a mechanic, so you have to make time to bring the car to their mechanic, and even if it gets a clean bill of health, there is no guarantee they buy it. Then if they are really interested then it is time to haggle over price, they will point out every ding and scratch on your used car and try to get you to agree to a lower price.

Now if you finally agree to a price there is the method of payment, you can’t accept personal checks, you need a cashiers check or cash, but you have to worry that it is counterfeit cash or a fake cashiers check. Now if they actually pay you legitimately you sign over the title to them and need to create a sold “as is” contract so they don’t come back to sue you if the car breaks down in a month or just stops running. Then there is the matter of the title. You have to hope that they actually transfer the title over into their own name and address so that if they use it as a getaway car or hit and run someone, that is not still listed under your name the police don’t come knocking at your door. I know people that have dealt with every one of these things when selling a used car.

We wanted to avoid all of that drama associated with selling our car and even considered selling it to a junkyard so that we did not have to deal with strangers and we would then get $200-$300 for it. I called around that is what the junkyards offered me.

Then I came up with the idea that we could donate it! Then I had to research to find a legitimate local charity that I could donate it to.

We grew up owning a cabin right next to Camp Courage for the Courage Center so I was familiar with the great work Courage Center does for handicapped children and adults that is why I chose Courage Center. I researched online to find out the steps I needed to take to donate the car. I needed to contact the Courage Center to make sure they would take it, Then I filled out the online form that was printable off their website, I pulled the title out of the file cabinet, had my husband sign it over, then I brought the completed donation form along with the original signed over title to the post office and mailed it priority mail return receipt requested. I did that to ensure my car title was actually received and not lost in the mail. Within two days of receiving my title the courage center sent a tow truck to pick up the Camry. The Camry was sent to auction and the proceeds from the sale of the car all went to Courage Center. The Courage Center recieved a couple thousand dollars for our car and we received a personal thank you call and the tax deductible paperwork in the mail within 6 weeks. It worked slick!

I think vehicle donation was a fantastic alternative to selling our car or selling our car to a junkyard. The sale of our car benefited a local charity in my state, and hopefully helped send a handicapped child to camp. Consider donating your car!

If you live in Minnesota and want to donate your vehicle to the Courage Center here is a link.

A Clean Kitchen, A Happy Morning

Jan 27, 2010 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Home & Garden

I have a theory that in order to have a truly clean house with kids you should be gone constantly, then you and your kids wont have a chance to get it dirty. I thought that when I quit my job my house would always be organized and clean, but quickly learned that is definitely not true, the more I am home the messier my house gets. Since we are home everyday for most meals and the kids playing, my house certainly gets dirty fast. I may not be the best housekeeper around, I hate dusting and my bedroom is the pit of despair for all things that don’t have a home, but the one room that I try to keep clean is my kitchen.  

Every night after I put the kids to sleep, I walk into the kitchen to pick up any mess that I didn’t get put away after dinner, any snack dishes, and cups. I make sure that I pick up the counter tops, spray them with my vinegar and water solution, wipe the counters, wipe the table, empty the coffee pot set it up for the next morning, empty all the dishes from the sink, fill the dishwasher and wipe out my sink. Doing this every night makes it so I am greeted with a clean kitchen in the morning. It sets the tone for a less chaotic morning. I can’t cook in a dirty kitchen, so when it is cleaned at night I don’t feel like I need to clean before I can prepare my kids breakfast.

Try cleaning your kitchen before bed so that everyday you wake up to at least one room that makes you feel like there is order in the world, it might even balance out some of the craziness of raising kids.

Natural Honey Health Benefits

Jan 25, 2010 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Health & Safety

Honey is not only tasty treat on your toast, it also has many health benefits for you and your family. Even if some of these uses are not scientifically proven as medical cures, some people swear by them and honey can’t hurt you. You should be looking for Raw Honey, not the purified, distilled variety you can buy in a honeybee squeeze container. Raw honey can be found from a local honey producer or health food store. I love the taste of honey and these are some of the uses I have found it useful for.

You can use honey as an antiseptic or antibacterial agent- If you have a cut put some raw honey on it to produce an antiseptic action and you can apply it to pretty much anywhere on your body. Some lab studies show it can be used on antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria so toss some in your first aid kit to protect you and your children with honey’s natural antiseptic properties or if you can’t find your triple antibiotic ointment or are hesitant to use it, whip out the honey!

You can use it as a natural face moisturizer- Try this recipe- 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons raw honey, mix together apply to your face and neck avoiding eyes, leave on for 10 minutes and rinse off with warm water.

You can use it as a natural acne cure- put a small of raw honey dab on a pimple, cover with gauze and wake up to a clear face.

You can use it as an immune system boost- Try mixing a teaspoon in your morning coffee or morning water and it possibly strengthens your immune system, even if it does not help boost your immune system the sugar content will help wake you up!

Treat your sore throat naturally- a teaspoon of the juice from a lemon mixed with a a teaspoon of honey and swallow it or mix it with 6 oz of hot water and drink it as a tea.

You can use it to help with anxiety treatment- add honey to your oatmeal in the morning and it may produce a calming effect when taken in significant amounts, try mixing it in your warm water before bedtime to relax you.

Instead of trying over the counter medicines to keep you healthy and worrying about the side effects, sometimes natural remedies are the safest and best. Try honey!

Shark Steam Pocket Mop

Jan 21, 2010 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Home & Garden, Product Reviews

Euro-Pro Shark S3501 Deluxe Steam Pocket Mop

I was fortunate to get the Euro-Pro Shark S3501 Deluxe Steam Pocket Mop for Christmas. I wanted to use it for a few weeks before I wrote a review to make sure I was not still in the honeymoon phase and so I could be honest as possible.

The reason I wanted a steam mop was because I wanted to eliminate cleaning with chemicals on my floors. I had been using vinegar and hot water and a microfiber washable mop head that I washed after each use. I did not like the fact that I had to empty my bucket after each room I cleaned so I was not using dirty water on my next room floor. Even though I felt my floors were visibly clean, they were wet for 20-30 minutes after mopping and I did not think they were sanitized and certainly did not smell fresh, heck vinegar does not smell fresh, it smells like vinegar, but I would rather use that than any other chemical cleaning product.

When I opened it for Christmas I could not wait to get home to try it out! Unfortunately, I had to put away the truckload of gifts that the kids received and put away the Christmas decorations so I could have an clear floor to clean. We have hardwood floors in the kitchen, living room, in two bedrooms, tile floors in bathrooms and the entryway, carpet in the basement family room and one bedroom along with plenty of area rugs to warm up the wood floors. I swept and vacuumed the rugs then was ready to get to work with the steam mop. I read the instructions, filled up the reservoir to the top, plugged it in and pumped the steam and started mopping. I used the rectangle head and the white pocket pad and was amazed at the steam, it started strong and stayed strong the whole time I cleaned the floor. The steam cleaned my floors and got the corners cleaned, I loved how the head pivoted so easily, I loved that when one side got dirty I flipped the mop over and cleaned with the other side of the pad, I actually used one side for each room. I tried out the triangle head for corners and small spaces but I felt I had no problem getting into the corner with the rectangle head in case you don’t want to switch heads.

Since I have wood floors it is much easier to use the purple steam duster cleaning pads, they glide so nice along my wood floors and they are no effort at all to push like the white pocket pads are on a textured surface like wood floors. The purple dusting pads still clean off the dirt off my floor and shine it well as well as emitting the perfect sanitizing steam the whole time. One of my favorite features is the long cord, I can clean my kitchen and halfway into my living room without having to replug the cord in. My Dyson Ball
cord is at least 5 feet shorter so a longer cord does make my cleaning faster and easier.

The coolest option on this steam mop is the carpet glider for carpet freshening and deodorizing. We have a large golden retriever that is not always the best smelling dog, he swims and rolls in dirt and does all the other gross hunting dog things. With all of the area rugs in my house I simply drag the steaming purple dusting pad across the rug till I cover the entire area, it makes my carpets smell great, I don’t like to think that my kids that enjoy sitting on the floor to play and watch TV sitting on a stinky carpet. I can smell the difference immediately after they have been steamed and they are dried in minutes, I know the kids are playing on fresh area rugs.

Today I tackled an even bigger job than my hard floors, the basement carpet! You are not supposed to get carpets wet because it will break down the carpet fibers and shortens the life of the carpet which is why many people get their carpets professionally steam cleaned instead of shampooing them, so I figured this is steam, I have to try it. The dog likes to sleep on the basement carpet and when I was doing push-ups with Gilad the other day I could certainly smell the dog.

Our Dog

I took the carpet glider out of the box put on a fresh white pocket pad and fired up the steam. I steamed the whole carpet twice, when it was wet on the first run I could certainly smell wet dog, I flipped the head over and saw the dingy side that had swept over my whole carpet and started on the other side. After the 2nd pass the carpet looked like it woke up, it looked lighter and brighter. I put the fan on the carpet to make sure any remaining steam was dried, and then I went down into push up position to get a close up whiff, and seriously the carpets did not stink, I had my nose across the fibers and felt success that my kids could sit on that carpet without smelling that it is my dogs favorite resting place.

I read multiple reviews by other people who put chemicals in the water reservoir. Why? The point is to have chemical free cleaning and people are adding Febreeze or Lysol into the steam, now you are not only putting those chemicals on your floors but it is also getting into your air with the steam. If you are buying this steam mop to reduce chemicals in your home don’t put them into your water reservoir! Honestly you do not need chemicals to make your house smell good, this steam mop makes your house smell fresh.

Now that I have expressed how happy I am with the Shark Steam Pocket Mop I want to compare it to the other steam mops. The Bissell 1867 Steam Mop Bare Floor Steam Cleaner only has one sided steam pad, it has a swivel head but it is a very thick head which some people who review it complain makes it difficult to get under tight places, it also does not come with the carpet glider. The H20 Steam Cleaner Mop appears to come with a carpet glider and it has the triangle head but it does not come with the large steam head for large areas or the long cord. The Euro-Pro S3202 Shark Deluxe Steam Mop is the smaller unit without the extend-able handle, the triangle head, the steam pocket, or the swivel head. I would recommend to pass up these three models and invest in the Euro-Pro Shark Steam Pocket Mop, it has all of the good features of these other three steam mops and tops them with more inventive features and attachments.

I am happy I have the Shark Steam Pocket Mop. I am enjoying mopping, I love that my floors are clean, disinfected and completely chemical free.

Nobody wants their child be the youngest, most inexperienced, most immature child in a grade, everyone wants their kid to be the Biggest, Best, Smartest and Oldest. Humans are competitive from the time our children are born, we compare weights, how quickly they crawl, talk, walk, and I think this competitiveness is extending into when people are sending their children to Kindergarten. I think the decision that these people are holding their children back a year will make a difference in the children who are starting school on time, and ramifications of this decision extends far beyond kindergarten.

I know five boys that are being held back from starting Kindergarten on time. Of these 5 people who are selecting to hold their sons back 1 year, they all have different reasoning. Such as their boys were born in the summer, their boys are immature, their boys are small for their age, their boys are hyperactive, all of these boys will have one extra year to hone their skills over the other boys and girls who start school on schedule. You say do they only have summer birthdays? No! They have birthdays in January, March, April, and two have summer birthdays. Why do I care? All of these kids are the same birth year as my daughter who has a summer birthday and will graduate from high school at age 17. I feel that my daughter is developmentally prepared to start school, but she is less mature and less physically skilled than children who’s birthdays are 6-8 months earlier than hers. Imagine how far behind she will be to a child that is one to one and a half years older than her like those who will be held back for a whole year.

My daughter is pretty smart for a 4 1/2 year old, she is tall for her age, friendly and outgoing. She is not as mature or as bossy as the girls who are 6-9 months older than her. She is not as skilled at art, coloring and cutting as girls 6-9 months older. My niece who is 6.5 months older is a greatcolor-er, she can blend colors, always stays in the lines, matches hats with shirts on her coloring pages, while my daughter is not an exceptionally good color-er . My daughter has months to catch up with the coloring skill but she is still right on track with her developmental age. In six months kids grow and mature exponentially.

Kids are expected to all be at the same level no matter if they are born in September 5 or August 5 a year later when Kindergarten starts, they are graded against one another, all practice the same skills, coloring, math, reading, writing, science and athletics. If they are playing catch up in kindergarten to match the skills of those around them how is that going to transfer to subsequent grades? How will that affect their skills testing scores? How will it affect their advanced level class test scores?

In our school district we have a program called Anthenium where the excelled students are put in their own advanced school, they have their own budget and grant money to give these advanced students benefits that the other general public school students do not receive such as a laptop for each student, along with a curriculum that challenges them and puts them even further ahead of the regularly educated public school students. Lets carry this age advantage to middle school when they separate the students by advanced writing, math, science courses. Those students are now predestined to be enrolled in the advanced high school courses and Advanced Placement college credit classes in high school. These students are given higher opportunity for weighted grade point averages, given more opportunities to shine on college entrance applications. Will these kids who are older and more advanced than those children who are academically on track for their correct age, put the rest of our children at a disadvantage?

Lets look at other reasons people hold their children back. A woman in swimming lessons is choosing to hold her son back because he is little, and she does not want her son to be the smallest one in his grade. For boys this can be a huge advantage to not being the smallest physically. My brother was one of the oldest in his grade and the biggest, being born in October. He was always physically coordinated, bigger, picked for teams first, he was an excellent athlete and fast runner. How would this have changed if he was born in July and the smallest in his class? Would he have had such great luck in sports, would this have changed his friend groups if he chose not to participate in sports because he was not as good as other kids and did not enjoy hockey, baseball, football? I am sure it would have.

What about the people who want their kids to be the leaders, does leadership possibly stem from age, size and physical presence? It might take more for a small kid to get noticed than a tall kid. With an extra 6 months experience being a leader it can dramatically change a friend group as who is the leader and who are the followers, this leadership role can be very challenging to change as kids get older especially if the oldest and biggest child is usually in charge and calling the shots.

I was born in July and graduated high school at age 17, I also graduated college at 21. I was always one of the youngest kids in my grade and the smallest. I was never the smartest, I was never the most outgoing, I was more of a follower because my friends were older, bigger and wiser than I was. They lost their teeth first, they matured and got their periods first, they may have been better at math, they may have been better athletes than me because their coordination was 1 year more advanced. All of these things that combined may have put me at a disadvantage from being number one in my class, from being good at track and field events, from being able to express myself with writing essays. I would not go back and want to be held back a year and graduate 1 year older. I love being able to say I purchased my first house at 22 after I finished college at 21. I love that I had a whole extra year to fulfill my goals before I had children.

We all want to provide the best opportunities for our children by giving them a strong foundation with all of the possibilities open to them. Sometimes competitiveness and desire for our children to be the best can make people make difficult ethical decisions such as people choosing to hold their children back so they are the oldest in their class. I hope that this trend of people wanting their children to be the Biggest, Best, Smartest, Oldest in the class can be controlled, and that it does not negatively affect my children who will be starting school on schedule and on time.

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