Thursday, January 12, 2012

Streamline Refinance

Did you know that interest rates on home loans have dropped again?  I checked out Coldwell Banker and found that they are the lowest they have been in decades!  So, are you still paying too much interest on your home loan?  You could save lots of money with a streamline refinance.  If you currently have a FHA loan or a VA home loan, then you are already approved!  A streamline refinance could be an easy and fast way for you to save a ton of money on your current home loan. 

Maybe you don't know why obtaining a VA or FHA streamline refinance rates is called streamlined?  It is because the entire refinancing process is quick and easy.  And, to make it even easier, you can use the original paper work from your original loan.

Besides being fast, what are some other benefits of a streamline refinance?  There is no additional paper work and no out of pocket expenses.  You can potentially save thousands over the life of your mortgage term when you lower your interest rate and your monthly payment.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, click here for more information.  Streamline Refinance is one of the leaders when it comes to FHA Streamline Refinance and VA Streamline Refinance.  There are many options out there and Streamline Refinance can help guide you through the process.  They know there are lots of options out there.  For example, did you know that while a refinance is insured by the government, they are not originated by the government?  Streamline Refinance will help guide you through the different lenders who can provide a refinance, and find the one that is best for you.  They will provide you with an honest and clear picture of how much you can save, and they are committed to getting you the best rates on your streamline refinance anywhere in the US.

Great 50% off coupon for Joann Fabrics! Get printing! They don't come along often.  Valid through January 14, 2012 in store or online.

What Are The Best T.V. Shows For Children?

So, I was thinking about my latest post about kids watching T.V.  And, I wondered, since it is inevitable that most kids will watch T.V at some time, what are the best shows for them to watch?

Below is another article from that lists some of the best T.V. shows for your little one.  I was glad to see that many of the shows Mason watches are on the list.  I found very useful and I hope you do too!

"Allowing a little tube time isn't a parenting crime, as long as you're careful not to let TV gobble up more than its share of your child's precious waking hours.

Experts agree that kids should watch no more than one or, at most, two hours of TV a day. (Learn more about limiting TV time.) Your job as a parent is to make sure this limited quantity of TV is maximum quality.  Of course, you can't go wrong with a classic like Sesame Street (which first aired in 1969). But there are other gems you may not be so familiar with. Here are our picks:

Between the Lions (PBS)
These lions don't just grace the steps of the library, they run the place. Theo and Cleo Lion and their cubs, Lionel and Leona, offer fledgling readers a leg up on literacy and give their parents a few laughs along the way. This feline family and their animal friends live in a magical library where stories spring to animated life as they're read. Each episode focuses on a letter sound or combination (short "u," "ip," or "oo," for instance), which is highlighted in narrated books, songs, live-action skits, and animated segments. Clever jokes will keep you interested, too. One segment, "Gawain's Word," opens with the electric guitar licks of Wayne's World.

Dinosaur Train (PBS)
This entertaining show introduces scientific exploration to dinosaur fans with a healthy dose of lessons on getting along. Buddy, a young Tyrannosaurus Rex adopted by a Pteranodon family, is curious to learn about other kinds of dinosaurs. In each episode, he and his family board a time-traveling train to visit other species in the Mesozoic era. The young dinosaurs explore their differences, proposing hypotheses and making observations to support their conclusions – for example, trying to understand why a flightless Velociraptor has feathers. Between animated segments, paleontologist Scott Sampson shares additional facts and theories about the featured dinosaurs, comparing them with more familiar animals alive today.

Fetch! (PBS)
This unique animated/live action game show combines a cartoon canine host, six smart kid contestants, and genuinely challenging tasks that test the contestants' science, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. Host Ruff Ruffman sends his Fetchers off on wild challenges to use their intelligence and enthusiasm to earn points and prizes. The format can be goofy but the science is serious stuff: In one episode, two contestants trying to pluck a clue out of a pool figure out how to turn a pile of wood and hardware into a simple suspension bridge. In another, three kids who've just gotten a primer on the science of pushes and pulls need to turn a jumble of parts into an aerodynamic soapbox car. It's fast-paced, funny, and fascinating.

Handy Manny (Disney)
"You break it, we fix it," is the motto at Handy Manny's Repair Shop – and indeed, in multicultural Sheetrock Hills every challenge is met with cooperation, creativity, and a can-do attitude. Manny and his tools, each with a vivid personality, are called on to help with jobs large and small. The tools sometimes make their tasks harder through carelessness, pride, or impatience. But they always learn to set things right, with the support and encouragement of Manny and the rest of the tools. Community and interdependence are very strong themes here. Latino culture resonates throughout the series, from the music to the story lines, and Manny routinely uses Spanish words and phrases and translates them to English.

Little Bill (Nick Jr.)
"Hello, friend," Little Bill says at the start of each animated episode. Then and there, kids bond with the energetic, imaginative 5-year-old, who manages to make lemonade out of life's lemons (being stuck inside on a rainy day, not getting a desperately desired video game). Little Bill is the youngest of the Glovers, a multigenerational African-American family. His great-grandmother, Alice the Great, often helps Bill sort out feelings or find solutions to his daily dilemmas. Both the boy and the show draw their power from storytelling, humor, and family relationships, just as you'd expect from creator Bill Cosby. Because the Glovers are fully fleshed-out characters, moms, dads, and kids can all watch together and find someone to identify with – and something to think about.

Ni Hao, Kai-lan (Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.)
Like Dora the Explorer before her, 5-year-old Kai-lan Chow engages preschoolers with an interactive, bilingual format – here, it's Mandarin Chinese and English. Sweet and gentle Kai-lan goes further than Dora, however, with a fuller appreciation of cultural context. Chinese-American culture permeates the show, from Kai-lan's close relationship with her grandfather, YeYe, to story lines involving a dragon boat festival, Chinese New Year, and a baby panda. Kai-lan's friends struggle to cope with everyday preschooler drama: broken toys, jealousy, problems sharing. Thoughtful problem-solving, often with help from YeYe, helps Kai-lan and her friends cope with their emotions and learn to get along.

Sid the Science Kid (PBS)
Preschoolers are a curious bunch, and this show sets out to help them find the answers to their many questions about how the world works. Inquisitive Sid has a lot of questions about the world around him, and he finds the answers using scientific investigation and observation. The adults in his life encourage his investigations both at home and at school. Each week focuses on a specific theme, such as transformations, machines, and the human body, with concrete explorations that hook young kids: observing food and pumpkins decaying and growing moldy, or digging into dirt and seeing whether just paper towels or soap and water are better for cleaning your hands.

Super Why! (PBS)
The Super Readers, led by Whyatt, are a team of problem-solving characters in Storybrook Village who help kids learn reading fundamentals and discover the power of stories to help solve everyday dilemmas. Faced with a problem – when Jill keeps stomping Littlest Pig’s block towers, for example, or when Red Riding Hood wants to keep all her apples for herself – they transform into superhero persona's and fly into a book to find an answer to the problem. Each character has a special word-based power: highlighting words, building letters and words, creating rhyming words, and the like. Their adventures reinforce phonics, word usage, and other reading skills while imparting lessons on problem-solving, respect, and teamwork.

WordWorld (PBS)
In WordWorld, everything is literal: A barn is formed from the letters B-A-R-N, the letters P-I-E are squished together to form PIE, and even the characters are built from the letters that spell their names. It's a wonderful way to help kids make the connection between individual letters and words they use every day. The WordFriends – including Pig, Sheep, and Frog – cooperate to solve problems in each episode, always requiring them to "build a word!" Catchy music, appealing characters, and a solid grounding in phonics make this a great choice for preschoolers.

Zoboomafoo (PBS)
Animal Junction, Zoboomafoo's home base, gets an amazing array of flying, swimming, hopping, and slithering visitors. Sure, top billing goes to lemur puppet Zoboo, but it's the real animals and their handlers, brothers Martin and Chris Kratt, who truly make this nature show: A baby elephant lumbers in the door; a Burmese python curls around a wooden rail; a squid turns up in the tub. Meanwhile, the Kratts find playful ways to teach kids about animals — squirming like a snake, thrashing around in a mud pit, and never lecturing. Variety (songs, claymation cartoons, video segments of kids talking about animals, bike trips into the wild) keeps the momentum up, and chatty Zoboo maintains the goofy mood."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Bad is T.V...Really?

I said I would never do it.  I used to say, "Not my kid...".  Well, it has I suspect it does for the majority of most parents out there.  Two dreaded letters, "T.V."

I remember exactly when it happened.  September of 2011, when I broke my foot, I had no options but to let Mason watch TV.  My husband was away on business when I broke my foot and it took him an additional 2 days to get home after the incident.  So, what does someone with a broken foot do with a 17 month old?  Well, since the pain was nauseating, I wasn't going to run around after him.  So, I let him watch TV.  He went from 30 minutes of " The Best of Elmo" to unrestricted amounts of Sesame Street viewing.  And that is when it all began. 

Mason has expanded from Elmo, to Sesame Street, to Curious George, Dinosaur Train, Super Why, Sid The Science Kid, Cat In the Hat, etc.  If you haven't noticed we are PBS fans!  Mason has also started to request Mickey Mouse, so another whole realm will be opening up.

Although I have managed to reign in Mason's TV viewing to an appropriate amount, I still wondered, how bad is TV for your kids?  Below is an article from to help clarify it all. 

"The best way to approach television is to think of it as refined sugar: You want your kids to enjoy the seductive stuff without consuming it to excess. So you'll need to stay on top of the time your child spends in front of the television. The average American child watches three to four hours a day, despite the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids 2 and older watch no more than one to two hours daily. The AAP recommends that kids under 2 watch no television at all.

Starting out tough from day one is the key to keeping viewing time under control. It's a lot easier to relax your standards later on than it is to wean a 5-year-old from a three-times-a-day Barney habit. Here are some tips on how to monitor your child's television viewing:

Monitoring your child's TV Viewing

  • Limit the amount of TV your child watches. More than two hours a day is too much. To make it seem to your child that he's watching more — and to keep his little brain from going on autopilot as he watches — break up viewing into ten- to 15-minute increments. You should also keep the television out of your child's bedroom and turned off during mealtimes.
  • Avoid setting a firm TV time "allowance" for your child. This seems counter intuitive, but it's surprisingly effective. You may want to let your child come to you when he wants to watch and keep to yourself what the absolute maximum is. That way, you'll avoid tacitly sending the message that there's a certain amount he "should" be watching.
  • Make television physically inconvenient. Too often, television is a backdrop to family life: It blares away in the den or great room while the kids are playing, Mom's cooking, or the family is eating. Consider putting the TV in a small, out-of-the-way room in the house (on the second floor, if you have one). Another way to keep the TV from being front and center: Keep it in a cabinet that remains closed when the TV is off.

Choosing what to watch

  • Go with calm, quiet programs. Slower-paced viewing gives your child time to think and absorb. Lots of random activity, like the kind in action/adventure cartoons, confuses children. Also, some research suggests that children who watch violence on TV are more likely to display aggressive behavior. Stay away from scary shows, too. Choose simple programs that emphasize interactivity, such as Blue's Clues. Ideal are shows that inspire your child to makes sounds, say words, sing, and dance.
  • Watch programs, not television. Rather than allowing your child to sit down and watch whatever is on, use the TV listings to select carefully what he is going to watch. Turn off the set when that program is over.

Your role

  • Watch TV with your children whenever possible. Try not to use the set as a babysitter. A recent study looked at three groups: children with unlimited access to television, children with moderate access who watched without a parent, and children with moderate access who watched with a parent. The last group scored significantly higher academically than did the other groups. That aside, just being there says to your child, "What you do is important to me."
  • Help your child become a critical viewer. Even young children can learn to watch television without "tuning out." Explain what's going on in the show and in the commercials (and clarify the difference between the two). Encourage your child to ask questions and relate what's happening in the show to his own life. If you have a DVR, consider recording programs. Then you can watch when you choose, and you can pause to discuss what's going on.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

BabyGanics "The Germinator" Alcohol Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer Review

Like most people. I don't always think about what is in everyday products that I use.  However, I have become much more aware of product ingredients since Mason was born.  Even though I would love to, unfortunately, I cannot always afford to buy organic.  But, when it comes to the safety of my child, I will put out the extra money to keep him healthy and safe no matter what.  So, I do try to make small changes here and there.  I buy organic sunscreens, shampoos, snacks, etc.  Since I buy these things occasionally, I can afford to put out the extra couple of dollars. 

Now, we are officially into cold and flu season.  With the holidays over, we have all been exposed to many people with colds and worse.  Sniffles and coughs are sure to follow.  Naturally, teaching Mason to wash his hands is very important, especially at this time of the year.  Sometimes, it is not feasible to use soap and water to wash, so we turn to hand sanitizers.  Recently I checked the active ingredients of the hand sanitizer I usually use.  Guess what...the active ingredient was 62% Ethyl Alcohol.  Just what I want, to put Ethyl Alcohol all over my child's hands then let him run off to eat a snack where his hands will inevitably wind up in his mouth.  I kept thinking how so many common household products contain ingredients that are unnecessary and unsafe.  I though...there has got to be something better.  And, here is where a small change can make a big difference. 

BabyGanics "The Germinator" Alcohol Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer effectively kills 99.9% of germs without the harsh side effects of alcohol and other synthetic chemicals. It instead utilizes benzalkonium chloride, a naturally safe and effective substance which makes The Germinator not only fast acting, but allows for use without water or towels, its non-flammable, will not stain your clothing, and definitely won’t dry out your skin. In fact, this non-toxic formula actually moisturizes as it cleans and is of course the best choice for even the tiniest fingers and hands.  BabyGanics "The Germinator" Alcohol Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer is available in a fresh tangerine scent as well as a fragrance free variety and retails for $6.99 (250ml). 

Mason loves this foaming hand sanitizer.  It is not nearly as messy as the gels that, in my experience, inevitably slide off his hand or down his arm before he gets a chance to rub his hands together.  Here is a product that you can feel good about using without breaking the bank. PERFECT!  $6.99 is an awesome price for this product!  Not only can you feel good about having your child use a safe, alcohol free hand sanitizer, you will feel good knowing that you got the most for your money. 

This product can be purchased online at and nationwide at all Babies R Us, Bed Bath & Beyond and Buy Buy Baby locations.  I will be adding more BabyGanics products to our everyday, including The Cleaner Upper Toy & Highchair Cleaner - 17oz, which retails for $4.99 and Foamin' Fun Soothing Formula Body Wash & Shampoo, Lavender - 10.65oz, which retails for $5.99.

Check out BabyGanics website to learn more about their products and for special offers.  Not only is this product proudly made in the USA, they are healthy, safe and sustainable.  You will find what BabyGanics is all about. Here is a peak:

What healthy, safe and sustainable means to us:
  • Safe – Free from harm, injury or risk.
  • Natural – Products sourced from nature, i.e. plant based sources.
  • Sustainable – Materials that are readily biodegradable, provide for long term well being and are responsibly derived from our natural resources.
  • Renewable resources – Ingredients that are replaced by nature at a rate faster than we consume.
  • Healthy lifestyle – Making choices that benefit our health and well being while avoiding risk and potentially harmful materials.
  • Gentle – Neutral and safe formulations that are safe to touch, breathe and handle.
  • Value – Affordability of premium products at everyday prices.
  • Non toxic – Products that have low or no toxicity when used liberally and as directed.

BabyGanics provided me with the item above in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are 100% mine.