Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Price of Freedom

In honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to share with you all a poem I wrote in 2004 shortly after my friend was killed in action in Iraq. I was best friends with his wife and I spent a lot of time with her and their children. I saw his daughter ask about her dad. She was only 3 and I knew his son would never have a memory of his dad because he was only 10 months old. I want to remind you all what Memorial Day is about.

The Price of Freedom

What is the price of a soldier’s blood
Their mangled bodies laying in mud
We speak of freedom but lives were lost
How many more lives will the so called freedom cost
The 15 minutes of fame
All that is left is just a name
On a plaque in some museum
What happens to the family left behind
The pain never lessens so they find
Children left without fathers
Never an explanation why
So many nightmares too much time to cry
Some so young no memories they ever had
So many unanswered questions Where is my dad?

Remember to thank a soldier and remember the fallen. Thank you to all the soldiers and my brother in law Mike. Rest in Peace Chris and all the other fallen soldiers. Thank you to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

I hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day Weekend. Please take a few moments to remember exactly what the price of freedom really is.

This poem was written directly about the experiences I went through and saw. I am not saying only men are soldiers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not all Wal-marts are created equal.

I am going to tell you all about a series of experiences that I endured with a Wal-mart store. This is something that I will remember for a very long time because it really made me irate. It all started when I lived next to a Wal-mart. I went to this Wal-mart frequently. At least three times a week. It was just through the gate of the gated apartment complex I lived in. It was a quick walk. So, it started out like any other day on a typical Wal-mart trip. I went around and picked out some stuff to purchase. I found some clothes for Noah. They were on clearance for $1 each. I picked out a bunch and got him some Gerber puffs and a couple other things and made my way to the check out.

I always make it a habit to watch the prices ring up. I noticed the clothes and the puffs were all ringing up wrong. I said something to the cashier who looked at me like I was a nutcase. She then made me walk back with her and show her the prices. No big deal right? Oh no. I know that Wal-mart has had a policy of if the item doesn’t ring up right you and it is under $3 then you get the item free or you get $3 off if it was more. All the items were under $3. They then told me they never heard of that. The CSM never heard of it, although, it was written on the little check stand in front of me. They made me feel like stupid and crazy. They made me cry. The store had many issues not to mention the cashier and CSM couldn’t figure out how to void a transaction. I think they were trying to make me concede and leave. They shortly removed all of those signs on the check stands. I have been a Wal-mart customer for a long time and was well aware.

Well I decided after I was in tears in the middle of Wal-mart I wanted to talk to the store manager. I had been treated like garbage and I wanted to make it clear that it was unacceptable. The store manager called me the next day and talked to me for forty five minutes. He told me that he wanted me to gather my complaints and come in to the store and have a meeting with him. I had made a list of many things, this was not the first or last time this happened within the scope of being a customer at this Wal-mart. I documented all the phone calls and everything. I wanted to feel that since they were getting my money they could have their employees treat me and all other customers with respect.

So, I spent time writing down my concerns because I thought that he really cared about my thoughts. It came to the day of our meeting, Noah had been not been feeling good. I took him out with me to Wal-mart because I didn’t want to miss my appointment and my mom was going to come get him. I get there nice and early and the service desk acts like I am on drugs and that they had no idea I was coming. I wait for a half an hour and this lady said Chris had an emergency and had to leave. OK fine. Most people have cell phones or a store full of employees that one could have picked up the phone and called and said something. I was so annoyed at the time. I tried to call him a few more times and each time he hung up on me. Remember this was Chris’s idea in the first place.

I called Wal-mart’s 1800 number. They told me they couldn’t do anything. They said that they would call the district manager. So, Duane, the district manager called me and talked to me for a while and then he said he wanted to meet with me when he was in the area. Duane also told me that he has worked for Wal-mart for a long time and the policy that I tried to have them honor was still their policy. Then the store manager called me and said that I wanted a meeting with him (Chris). That is what he said Duane said. I said it was Duane’s idea and he was like oh, it was Duane’s idea, with complete sarcasm in his voice. I called Duane and he said that he was going to have a talk with Chris because I was really upset. Duane said that he was going to call me to meet with me when he got back from his business trip and it has been two years and I never heard from him again.

Wal-mart’s customer service wouldn’t do anything. I repeatedly emailed them. I still have the emails. I guess they emailed me back saying give us more information and we will forward it to the right department. I even replied that the proper department will not do anything. They never replied. I told Duane that I wouldn’t hold my breath; he of course lied and promised he would contact me.

My favorite line in my email back to Wal-mart is I guess a mom’s voice gets buried under all of the bundles of cash that Wal-mart makes. In this case it is true.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bridepower.com Wedding Dress Contest

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As some of you may know my sister got married a few weeks ago. I went with her to her final fitting and there were tons of wedding dresses to try on. I wanted to try some on just for fun but I didn’t want to be fussed over. I did happen to look at some of the price tags and the wedding dresses were all really expensive. A wedding is one of the most exciting events in a person’s life, one that you want to be perfect. A lot of it centers around the perfect dress, some people spend months or years looking for that one dress that makes them feel like a princess. I know for some they can’t afford a dress at all. I think that every woman deserves a chance to have a beautiful wedding dress and Bridepower.com thinks so too. That is why they are giving brides to be a chance to win a beautiful designer wedding dress, veil and makeovers to a couple brides that have heartfelt stories of perseverance in the BridePower and VOWS GI Gown Giveaway.

It is easy to enter just share your story with Bride Power. Are you having a financial hardship? Did something happen that changed your plans that was out of your control? Maybe you or your fiancée have health or family issues? No hardship is too small. They would love to hear your story.

Please email Bride Power your story along with a picture. You may be selected to win a beautiful designer gown, veil and a make-over. You must be willing to travel and appear at the VOWS showroom in Watertown, Massachusetts sometime this May or June. You must also agree to be filmed for a reality TV show telling your story, choosing your dream wedding gown and receiving an amazing make-over!

Please email all submissions to leslie@bridepower.com no later than 6/1/10. You will be notified by 6/6/10 if you have been selected. Please include your contact information.

Good luck to those who enter! Let me know if you do and I will root for you! This is an amazing opportunity for those who are getting married! Please remember no hardship is too small, if you are interested at all please enter!

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Monday, May 24, 2010

OnTray Review!

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Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed those free samples at the grocery store. The more samples the better. I have passed that on to Noah, and he almost always samples something at the store. Normally it is a free cookie from the bakery. I try not to give him the whole thing at once because knowing him he would gobble it right up. I also am trying to teach him to savor his food like I do. I think it is a lot more enjoyable when you take your time to eat. When I get him a cookie I try and break it in to pieces, but it is really hard to push a cart while holding a cookie and protecting it from the germs of the handle. So, when I had the opportunity to review an OnTray I was really excited because many times I have had trouble steering the cart when I am holding all kinds of snacks for Noah.

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OnTray is a brilliant invention created by Laura Hamrick who is a mother of three, to make shopping easier when you are shopping with small children. It is a little covered tray that you can put snacks in or coupons in to keep your hands free while you are pushing the shopping cart. You could even fill it with snacks from home if you are not a big sample person like I am. I personally can’t stand when people open things in the store without paying for them first so, it is free samples or a snack from home for my family.

When I received the OnTray, I wanted to go to the store immediately, to try it out. It is such a practical item and definitely made our trip to the grocery store easier. Sometimes I prefill the OnTray, other times I bring it empty. It just depends where we are going. I am pretty familiar with what stores have the free cookies, crackers and other items to try. It is great for things like Cheerios and Goldfish. It works so much better than a plastic bag because Noah tends to spill the bag. Sometimes he isn’t paying attention or he has trouble reaching the bottom of the bag, he just turns it upside down. Then it is like we are Hansel and Gretel and we leave a trail of food behind us in the store or there is a bunch of Cheerios all over the floor in an aisle. I don’t like to make messes and getting smashed up cereal in my shoes is such a pain.

I really like that it costs only $7.00 which is such a bargain for such a lifesaver item. That way if you forget the OnTray on the cart it is easy to replace or have spares. They are also safe for the top rack of the dishwasher making clean up a snap. It is also BPA Free and made in the USA. You could even heat up some chicken nuggets in it in the microwave with the lid off and then take it and go. Some families are really busy and I have seen people bring in what I consider meals in to the grocery store because there is just not time otherwise. Thankfully my family is not that busy and I hope we never are.

For more information please check out the OnTray Website

The OnTray is available at Babies R us and other retailers or you can buy it online HERE.

Thank you to OnTray for sending me a complimentary OnTray for my family to try out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Bees and me!

I was on Facebook and I was reading a status update from my friend Brandy of Happily Blended about how she mowed through a swarm of bees and didn’t get stung, and it brought up a memory of mine from when I was in elementary school. I commented and said “That's good you just gave me an idea for a blog post lol”. She responded “Oh no! LOL funny how a short status update on FB can give us bloggers a story idea!” We both got a good laugh about it. I thought I would share two funny bee stories with you. I have quite a few funny bee stories. I must be as sweet as honey because they always bother me.

I was in elementary school, and it was recess. My friend and I decided we would be cool and tough and kill bees. I don’t know why we decided to do it. I was in 3rd or 4th grade. We decided we would step on them. We were trying to be cool, and show off I assume as it was a long time ago. Well we spent almost all of recess trying to kill bees. I wasn’t very successful, we would try and step on one and run away so we wouldn’t get stung. I finally killed one. Me being the brilliant 3rd or 4th grader I was, picked up the dead bee and put it in the palm of my hand to show my friends and the other kids in my grade. Then it happened, I realized I had been stung. I looked around for the bee so I could step on that one too and then I figured out, I stung myself with the dead bee. I had to go to the nurse’s office and it hurt so bad. In the defense of the bees, this first story was my fault. All the other times I was minding my own beeswax.

It was my birthday and I decided I wanted to go to an Amish Fair for my birthday with my friend. I was a weird child. I even took folk dancing as an extra activity in school. I was very interested in other cultures and you know how I like fairs. I also love cotton candy. I was standing there eating pink cotton candy and I was wearing a skirt and I ended up getting stung by a bee on my thigh. It hurt so bad.

After that bees and wasps visiting me on my birthday became a reoccurring thing. Maybe it was a curse for stomping on a bee in elementary school. I really don’t like bees especially after seeing My Girl. It was so sad and terrifying when the bees killed Thomas J. I will be sharing a couple more bee stories in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Upcoming review from CSN Stores

I have a really cool review coming up from CSN Stores. They sell almost everything and I am really excited to share about all the wonderful things they sell and share my thoughts with you on what I am reviewing. What is it I am reviewing? Well that is a surprise. You will just have to wait and see, in the mean time check out these sectional sofas. We have a sectional couch in our house and it is the most comfortable couch. I love all the space it has. It is more fun when you have a big couch to stretch out on. It is easier to have space for when you have company too. I have been squished between two adults on a couch before and it makes me feel a little uncomfortable especially when it is someone I don’t know too well.

So, be on the lookout for my review from CSN Stores coming up soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I formula fed MY child, that doesn't make me a monster

First and foremost, I want to say that I have nothing against women who breastfeed their children. That is great if that was the choice you made for your family. The great part of being a mother is making choices for your children. I decided not to breastfeed my son, and that was my personal choice. I know there are a lot of women that feel strongly about breastfeeding and that is fine. What is not fine is how some advocates make women who formula feed out to be bad mothers or monsters.

This is the mentality I have seen over and over again in the blogging world and frankly, I am getting quite sick of it. I keep hearing that formula companies kill babies in foreign countries; babies that co-sleep and tragically pass away are only formula fed babies. Really? Let’s just not sit there and be like oh and by the way if you would have fed your child the “right” way you wouldn’t have had this tragedy happen. That is just heartless and cruel. I personally think co-sleeping is not for my family, I personally think that co-sleeping is dangerous no matter what your child drinks. I am not saying that people who chose to co-sleep are bad parents or monsters; it is just not for my family. How is it that some breastfeeding advocates can sit there and make outrageous claims and make other mothers feel like crap because they don’t share the same opinions as you? Since when did it become YOUR business how I fed MY child?

My son is three and a half and is perfectly healthy and he has only been sick a couple times since birth. He is smart and very talkative. Guess what he guzzled down his formula. I decided I didn’t want to breastfeed him which was my choice. Thankfully, I didn’t feel any pressure from the hospital I gave birth in to breastfeed. I had already been there for two weeks, they knew I would bite back. I had to wait a while before I got to hold Noah too because they took forever with my recovery and to bathe him. Oh, I had a C-Section, which means I had drugs. I didn’t have a choice with the way I gave birth, so he would have had to wait to be fed.

You are not a better mother than I am, because you breastfed. You don’t have the right to make me feel like I am a monster or I don’t care as much about my child. You chose your breast, I chose a bottle. I think what we should do is embrace each other as fellow mothers and not let it come between us. No one is right or wrong. The judgments need to stop. We are just doing what is best for our own families and children and that is all we can do.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hotel Toiletries

Have you ever gone to a hotel and taken the complimentary shampoos, conditioners, and lotions? When you get home did you stick them in your collection? Sure they were free and they looked cool in the hotel room light. You might as well take them, because I am not sure if the housekeeping staff can reuse them or if they have to throw them away after they have been in a room. I always take them because I am afraid they might get thrown away and that would be wasteful. Those little bars of soap are cute too. After seeing quite a few of them in my linen closet I decided to figure out something to do with them and came up with a few ideas.

I thought I could put them in a basket for guests to use when they are at my house. It was great idea but no one was using any of them. Another idea I had was take the glycerin soap and make my own soap out of them. That didn’t work either. I think by that time I had seen Fight Club way too many times to count. My other idea was donate them. I thought that homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters could get good use out these items.

So, I started saving them up and donating them when I could to those who might not have soap or shampoo. It seems like something so ordinary to some, something that we take for granted but really some people don’t even have those simple items to use. Some people have to give up everything to get away from those who hurt them or they lose their homes with just the clothes on their backs and what they can stick in a backpack. Sometimes toiletries are the last thing on people’s minds when they have limited space. There are so many other important things they want to save first. You can help in just a small way. It will make a big difference to those you help.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kid's Pajamas

Noah loves to wear pajamas. He must of gotten that trait from me. I am a pajama girl. Noah has tons of really cute jammies. I usually buy him Carter’s because I love the way they look and feel. I was a Carter’s kid too. I really like Carter’s but I don’t think that the pajamas for older kids last as long as baby jammies. Noah has many pajamas with holes in them. The footed ones are the worst. I don’t like when his little toes are sticking out. Some of his other pajamas have completely fallen apart with him inside them. It isn’t always the Carter’s ones. It makes no sense.

Yes he is bigger and more active than he was when he was an infant or only a year or so but it’s not like he is super active in them. It’s not like he plays football in them. OK maybe pretend football but not to the point where it is rough. I always try and get sizes that are roomy for him. He is known to put stuff in his “pockets” aka his jammies. He also has pajamas that he has that are his favorites. Right now it’s his brown space ship pajamas and his fire truck jammies
(the second generation).

I am not sure what the deal is. I wish they would last longer. He must have his momma’s luck when it comes to pajamas falling apart because you all know I have the same problem. I wish pajamas came with a warranty that they wouldn’t fall apart until your child grew out of them but I don’t think that would ever happen. It’s kind of frustrating. Kid’s pajamas are not cheap unless you get them on sale or a clearance. I feel like I am constantly buying him pajamas. I don’t really mind because I want him to be comfortable. They just need to last as long as it takes for him to go to another size. I am aware that kids can stay in a size for quite a while. It is not like it is happening right away. I guess some of the pajamas are like the velveteen rabbit and the ones that are the most worn out are the most loved; which is true in our case.

What kinds of pajamas do you put your children in? Do you think it happens to you too or do I manage to pick the defective ones in the store every time?

Friday, May 14, 2010

What is The 99?

What is The 99? It is a simulation of the bad choices that some teens make. It is a safe way to show them the consequences if they make the wrong choices in life. The number 99 is based on a statistic that 99 teenagers die each day from unnatural causes and bad choices such as drugs, fighting, suicide, domestic violence and car accidents. There are gruesome scenes of crack houses, where you find people overdosed and dead, car accidents where the teens are hanging out of the window bloody and mangled. It takes the haunted house to the next level. We all know there is no such a thing as Freddy Krueger or the wolfman, so when we go to those haunted houses they are just fun. The 99’s tent brings the haunted house to life, real life.



Sadly, most teens know someone who has overdosed or died from a car accident, they see their friends and themselves in the faces of the actors. This is a intense wakeup call for them. Normally, it just starts out with a little bit of drugs or drinking at a party, then it escalates where they are no longer in control and the drug or alcohol will take over. Those situations are very dangerous and they could lead to a whole host of problems and ultimately death. I urge you parents to take your teens or have them go with their friends and see The 99. What is the 99 travels all over the country. You can check on their website for when they might be in a town near you.

Firehouse Review and Giveaway--2 winners!

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Noah is the typical little boy who loves fire trucks. I am not sure if it is the fact that they are bright red or the fact that they have flashing lights and make noise. Either way, Noah loves everything that has fire trucks or toys that look like fire trucks. So, when I had the opportunity to review a book about fire trucks, I was excited because I knew Noah would love it. I told him about it shortly after I knew it was on the way. He talked about the fire truck book all the time while we were waiting for it to be sent.

The book we received is called Firehouse. The book is written by Mark Teague who also wrote and illustrated Funny Farm, a 2009 Parents’ Choice Silver Award Picture Book; Daer Mrs. Larue, the 2002 Book Sense Illustrated Book of the Year; Detective Larue; Larue for Mayor; and Pigsty. He is also the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling How Do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen. Firehouse is the story is about Edward and his cousin Judy as they spend a hilarious day learning how to be firefighters. From a fire drill that leads to a slippery slide down a fire pole, to a hysterical battle with an out-of-control fire hose, Edward is in for an action-packed adventure. And when faced with a real emergency, can Edward save the day?



The day the book arrived Noah was so excited. We opened the package and he hovered over me while I got it out for him. He spent the rest of the day looking at the book over and over again. We went to the store and Firehouse went in the car with us. We went to visit my sister and Firehouse went on our trip to my sister’s with us. Noah would sit down and study each picture and tell me all about what he saw. He loves Firehouse! I think that the book is really cute and I love how it is written. It is fun and exciting. I am really big on reading to Noah and I love to tell him stories. It really helps to build a strong foundation in your child’s education. I am so glad to have Firehouse in little library of books in our home.

For more information please visit HERE.

Thank you to Scholastic for providing me with a complimentary copy of Firehouse for my family to review and providing the giveaway prizes.

I have a giveaway for you too!

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Two (2) Winners will win:
Copy of FIREHOUSE!
Copy of FUNNY FARM
Copy of How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?

Mandatory entry: Please tell me your child’s favorite book.

You must do the mandatory entry for the bonus entries to count.

Bonus entries:

Subscribe to my blog via email. You must verify it.

Follow my blog

Tell me who you want to win these books for

Follow @sheilacakes7 on twitter and tweet this giveaway with a link to this post.
Remember you must be following me. This can be done once a day.

Add my button on your sidebar and tell me where I can find it.

Please remember to leave your email address in your comments or have it accessible on your blog.

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only.
This giveaway will end on May 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm ET.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Top Five: TV Shows

Faithfully Frugal and Free

My friend Shasta of Faithfully Frugal and Free has created a meme called Tuesday Top 5. Today’s topic is Top 5 favorite TV Shows.
Mine are:
#5 Desperate Housewives
#4 Judge Judy
#3 The Secret Life of the American Teenager
#2 Law and Order SVU
#1 NCIS
Be sure to check out HERE for more Tuesday Top Five fun!

Bath and Bodyworks

I used to work at Bath and Bodyworks when I was younger. It was a fun job. I have always been a Bath and Bodyworks junkie as long as I can remember. I worked in a store that was upgrading to the new fancy store. I helped them move and set up the store. It was interesting. I met a lot of interesting people and surprisingly I didn’t get sick of the smell of the store. I had to be really perky. I am a friendly person, but I am also a tad bit shy. I don’t like being all in your face like you have to be with that job. Most of the people I worked with were really nice, I had fun joking around with the cute stock guys even. I learned something I wanted to share with you all. It’s not really a corporate secret but it is something that not everyone knows and I didn’t until I worked there.

Everything at Bath and Bodyworks has a 100% guarantee. How long does the guarantee last? For-ever( in my best Squints voice). Does it have to be new? Nope, if you decide you don’t like the scent anymore you can exchange it. You know your sense of smell changes, especially if you bought it when you were pregnant or if it reminds you of a horrible memory. Have no fear you can take it back no questions asked. I have actually put it to the test. There were things I had for years that just didn’t smell good to me anymore and I exchanged them. The receipt was somewhere buried under 50 feet of trash in a landfill, they gave me store credit, they didn’t give me the price I had paid for because some of it was discontinued packaging or scents.

Of course I am not telling you to clean out your drawer of Bath and Bodyworks products and exchange them, but I know we all have that one or two bottles of lotion or bodywash where we are now thinking what the heck that stinks. I am almost convinced that they pump scents in the air ducts so you are in a scent coma that forces you to buy more. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. We all know it is almost impossible for me to walk in there and not come out with something. It’s not that I am out, it is quite contrary. I have plenty. My two favorite scents are from the classics collection and I stock up on them after Christmas when they are super cheap.

My favorites are Pearberry and Country Apple. I also really like Juniper Breeze but I always go back to my old stand bys. I remember how upset I got when they retired Pearberry. I cried a lot. I eventually found it online again but I didn’t want to pay the shipping for it. The next thing I knew it was back in the stores for limited times. Usually at Christmas. So, I have quite a few Pearberry body washes, lotions and sprays. I wish they made it in the antibac soap again. All my sinks have Bath and Bodyworks soaps on them. I need a support group badly. I have gotten a little bit better just because I have so many, but I still get the urge from time to time. I only buy it when it is on sale and/or I have coupons. They always ask me for my email address for coupons and I always say, “You already have all my email addresses.” I went yesterday and bought some more soap!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sprout For Parents!

I wanted to share with you guys an article I wrote for Sprout for Parents. Sprout For Parents is the parent’s website for PBS Sprout. It contains all kinds of really cool information and ideas from everything from parenting to recipes to craft ideas for adults. It is a great addition to Sprout Online. I really enjoy reading the articles and learning new things. It is something every parent should check out in my opinion. There are things there for parents of any age not just preschoolers.

I am incredibly honored to be a part of Sprout, as a member of The Band of Bloggers and now part of Sprout for Parents as an expert and contributor. My article is about scrapbooking, which is such a fun hobby of mine. I really enjoyed writing the article and I hope it helps people that want to learn more about scrapbooking.

So, go check out my article called Scrapbooking 101. and look around and make sure you bookmark it and come back often because they are always adding new content.