Our Crazy Corgle – Keep Your Dog Safe With Vectra 3D Flea & Tick Control

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Vectra flea & tick control for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I know you've been waiting for more pictures of Kiff, our cutie corgle (see The Unexpected Corgle and Corgle Update – He's So Cute!!)  Well, here they are:

Here's Kiff sleeping with his teddy moose.

Here he is standing proud.

And here's a picture of Kiff keeping a watchful eye on Katie's food bowl.  Isn't that considerate of him ?ūüėČ

It is very important to our family to keep both of our dogs happy and healthy.  One of the ways we do that is with flea and tick protection.

Vectra 3D is:

  • fast-acting.  It kills on contact – fleas are dead in as little as six hours.
  • broad spectrum protection.  It repels and kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, biting and sand flies, lice and mites (excluding mange mites).
  • long lasting.  It remains effective after bathing and swimming and lasts up to one month.
  • convenient.  It offers protection for puppies as young as 7 weeks and comes with a patented super-easy applicator.

Check out this video for more information:

From now until June 30, 2013, you can enter Vectra’s Protect the love Facebook Sweepstakes for a $100 gift card to use at their next veterinarian visit. A gift card will be rewarded each week for the duration of the Sweepstakes.

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Everyone who enters the Protect the love Sweepstakes can also claim a free dose of Vectra flea & tick control  Users can print out a coupon for a free dose to redeem at a Vectra veterinarian near them. All you need to do is enter the sweepstakes, then visit FirstDoseFree.com and fill out the form.

Follow Vectra on Facebook/Twitter

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My Winter Style – Classic and Comfortable with No nonsense

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of No nonsense for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I don’t think I really had a sense of style until 8th or 9th grade.¬† It was around that time that I discovered the “preppy” look.¬† I memorized The Official Preppy Handbook and begged my parents for a “button bag” for my birthday.¬† I was all about the sweater, polo and pearls.

Now that I’m a little bit older (okay, 30 years, but who’s counting?), I still dress pretty conservatively.¬† T-shirt and jeans for casual, and a cardigan, polo and corduroys for work.¬† Around my house we’ve taken to calling my style “librarian”.¬† For an evening look, I like to glam it up a little with a lacy tank and pearls.

Now that winter’s here, I thought it would be fun to match my sweater with some nice warm tights from No nonsense.¬† No nonsense tights and leggings are so comfy and stylish – and affordable!!¬† I can pick them up while I’m out grocery shopping or picking up a prescription from the drug store.

Take a look at the outfit I put together:

My Style

What do you think?  Cute, right?

Jill Martin, co-author of the New York Times bestselling style guide I Have Nothing to Wear!, and New York correspondent for Access Hollywood is the new brand ambassador for No nonsense. She will be assisting No nonsense this fall with educating women on how to wear the brand‚Äôs new colorful and high-impact tights and leggings.¬† I’m excited to see her suggestions because while I would love to wear more color, I’m always a little nervous about “what goes with what.”¬† Check out Jill’s fun video:

You can follow No nonsense on Facebook or Twitter @benononsense.
Leave a comment and let me know: What’s your style? Do tights and leggings something you would try?

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Fun & Helpful Health Advice from Dr. Jim and Bob @BlueShieldCA

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of © Blue Shield of California for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you ever had a mysterious ache or pain and googled your symptoms?¬† Or wondered what’s the best way to treat a cold sore?


Blue Shield of California has a new “dynamic duo” – Dr. Jim and Bob.¬† They scour the internet every day, looking for health questions posted¬† by regular people like you and me.¬† Then they answer them in a humorous, helpful video.¬† Topics range from insomnia to hiccups and even some more embarrassing topics.

I have watched all the videos, and I thought the funniest was this one, titled, How to Get Your Bowels Back on Track.¬† If you don’t mind “potty humor”, go ahead and take a look:

All of the videos have thoughtful advice from Dr. Jim.  Three of the four members of my family have problems with insomnia and Dr. Jim and Bob have some helpful tips on how to get to sleep:

One of the things that impresses me the most about Blue Shiled of California is they are a not-for-profit company.  They offer easy access to great doctors, as well as alternative practitioners like acupuncturists and chiropractors.  Best of all, I checked out their rates and they have some really affordable plans. They are one of the health plans we are looking at once we are back on our feet.

For more information on Blue Shield’s programs, or to watch some more videos from Dr. Jim and Bob, you can check out .Dr. Jim and Bob’s Fun & Helpful Health Advice.¬† Then come back and let me know – which was your favorite video?

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Save More Money at Walgreens

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am so excited!! Walgreens opened in my neighborhood this last Friday.  In fact, it’s the first Walgreens in our city.  Every week I see all these posts from deal and coupon sites talking about all the great deals you can get at Walgreens and finally I can get them too!

Well, today I heard about Walgreens Prescription Savings Club. For just $10 a year, my whole family is covered, including my husband, both boys (any dependent under age 22 is covered) and both our dogs!! Singles can join for $5.

A membership buys your family:

  • Savings on more than 8,000 brand-name and all generic prescription medications
  • Discounts on flu shots, pet prescriptions, nebulizers and diabetic supplies
  • Bonuses when purchasing Walgreens brand products and photofinishing services.

Now, some of you know that I have asthma and use a nebulizer.  I have always had to buy my nebulizer supplies online in order to get the best price, but now I will be able to buy them locally with the savings at Walgreens.

You can get more information by following the link above or by talking to your pharmacist.  Also, you can follow Walgreens on Facebook and/or Walgreens on Twitter to keep up-to-date with their latest news and special offers.  And between January 4 and February 29, 2012, Walgreens is donating $1 to their Well Fund Commitment Partners, who include American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen Foundation, American Cancer Society, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for every “like” they get on Facebook.

Visit Sponsor's Site

My Weight Loss Journey – Part 2

For Part 1 GO HERE

By the beginning of 2009, Art and I both realized our business was failing (see A Business Lost).¬† We ewere short on employees, working 10-12 hour days just trying to keep it afloat.¬† For lunch, we would run to one of the myriad fast food restaurants nearby and grab whatever we wanted.¬† I love to cook, but during this time I was so tired when we got home that we usually resorted to more fast food or take out.¬† Sometimes we wouldn’t eat dinner until 9 or 10 pm.

We closed the doors on our golf shop on May 31, 2009 and I fell into a depression.¬† I had two small part-time jobs that I went to faithfully, but most of the rest of the time I slept.¬† Or ate.¬† At my heaviest, in January 2010, I weighed 176 pounds.¬† I hadn’t been on a scale in months and was shocked.¬† It’s funny that when you look at yourself in a mirror everyday, you often miss the changes that are happening to your body.¬† I knew I was up to a size 12 (tight), but I didn’t realize how much weight I had put on.

I decided to go back to Sparkpeople.  Started hot and heavy with Wii exercises and the treadmill and tracked my food faithfully for the first 3 months.  By March I had lost 11 pounds.  Then I caught a bad cold and lost my momentum.  I think it was because I had never really been an active participant in the teams.  Sparkteams are a way to connect with people in a similar situation to yours and to find and give motivation.  I have always been so shy that it was difficult for me to reach out to people I had never met. I fell off the wagon again and was back up five pounds by the end of the year.

January 2011 I went back to Sparkpeople this time at 170 pounds.¬† I knew I had to do things differently – I just wasn’t sure how.¬† The first thing I saw when I signed in was the New Year, New You challenge.¬† Those who signed up for the challenge committed to exercising for at least 500 minutes during the month, as well as following Coach Nicole’s short exercise videos (usually strength training) and tracking our food a few days a week.¬† Nothing huge, but it did feel doable.

I also found a team that was reading the book A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson.¬† This 21 week¬† study really helped me to see that my issues with food came from fears and resentments I had built up inside me over the years.¬† As I have found a way to let the bitterness go it has become much easier to find other sources of comfort than food.¬† I also bonded with the ladies in the group and finally understood the benefit of Sparkteams.¬† When the New Year, New You challenge was over I immediately joined another challenge to keep me accountable (currently I am participating in the Winter 5% challenge – Go Teddy Bears!!).¬† I also found a couple of teams that had similar interests/concerns to me.¬† I make sure to check in on Sparkpeople every day – even just to talk to others if I don’t feel like exercising.¬† Over the course of 2011 I lost another 15 pounds for a total of 21.¬†¬† I finally feel like I have found the right formula for a healthy lifestyle.

I haven’t given anything up – I don’t crave many of the foods I used to turn to comfort, but when I feel like I want to have them I do – just in carefully controlled portions.¬† And I don’t feel guilty when I see other people losing weight at a much faster pace than I am.¬† I just remind myself that I am getting there slowly but surely, and as the turtle said, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Me - March 2010


Me - October 2011

My Weight Loss Journey – Part 1

I weighed 112 pounds on the day Art and I were married in 1988, which is a bit on the low side for my height. I really wasn’t watching what I ate, but I was riding my bike every day, walking when I could, and never ate much for dinner anyway. Also, I had essentially stopped eating for the 3 days prior to the wedding, so within a month afterwards I was back up to my normal 120.

I have never been a gym rat and was pretty agoraphobic the first few years of our marriage.  I pretty much gave up on exercise during that time, although I would occasionally go to the gym with Art to play racquetball.  Over the next few years my weight went up to 135.

After the births of my boys I stabilized around 140 and was quite happy at that weight for another 7 years, taking regular walks with Art and occasionally attempting the gym.  I knew I had gained weight, but I still liked how I looked in clothes and was so busy running after two little boys that it never occurred to me I was out of shape.

In October 2001 Art was recalled to active duty in the Air Force.¬† Fortunately, he was never sent into a combat area, but he was gone from home more frequently than before.¬† I turned to comfort food more than ever.¬† Cheetos, Cheez-its, Velveeta shells and cheese, popcorn with lots of butter, tortilla chips with queso dip and Nestle’ King Size Triple Chocolate cones were my favorite.¬† One one of Art’s overseas trips I gained 10 pounds in 2 weeks.¬† By 2003 I was up to 155 pounds.

Art & I on Alaska cruise 2004

I decided it was time to get serious about losing weight¬† However, I still didn’t see the benefit of exercise.¬† I was still walking one or two days a week with Art and doing crunches whenever I felt guilty (not that often) but that was about it.¬† Family Circle magazine published an insert based on their Eat What You Love and Lose diet and I decided to try it.¬† I learned some new recipes and some easy ways to track calories and lost 2o pounds.¬† Back to 135!! I was ecstatic.

That fall I was diagnosed with high blood pressure.  Not just high Рridiculously high.  How could that be when I was at a healthy body weight?  I had no family history of heart disease.  I started on two different kinds of blood pressure medicine. It never occurred to me that lack of exercise might be part of the problem.

In June 2005, Art and I opened our golf shop.¬† I was so busy running back and forth and up and down the stairs and moving boxes, not to mention doing the books and manning the cash register during busy times, while still homeschooling Bud, that I was pretty much able to eat whatever I wanted.¬† I was so stressed I went right back to my comfort foods.¬† I didn’t gain any weight, but I certainly wasn’t healthy.¬† As business and life stabilized the weight slowly started to creep back up.

Christmas 2007 brought a brand new treadmill and soon after that I discovered Sparkpeople.  For a few months I used the website to track my exercise, learned some new strength training exercises and some more new recipes.  For the first time since high school I attempted pushups!!  In May of 2008 when I had a partial  hysterectomy I was very glad for all the exercising I had done. I was back to work in a week with one of the fastest recovery times the doctor had ever seen. By July it was too hot to exercise indoors or out (no air conditioning, except in the bedroom) so I gradually fell out of the habit.

To be continued on Friday, January 13…

Bud’s Black Days

Ever since he was a little guy Bud has had anger management issues.

He hated having his picture taken.

When he was 5, Bud tried to pick a fight with some teenagers at the local burger joint because they said he was cute.¬† At 6, a 9 year old stole¬† Bud’s water gun (Super Soaker) and started spraying him with it.¬† Bud ran up to the other boy, grabbed the water gun out of his hands and whacked him with it until the other boy ran away.

I’m not telling you these stories because I’m looking for¬† sympathy or so that you think Bud is a terrible child.¬† It’s simply that in looking back I can see all the signs we missed that Bud had a mental health issue.

WebMD has a laundry list of symptoms that can signal depression in children.¬† I have included the entire list in the hopes that it may help another family, but I’ll highlight the ones that applied to Bud:

  • Irritability or anger (as previously mentioned)
  • Continuous feelings of sadness, hopelessness.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection.
  • Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased (From the age of 5 or so on, Bud had a bit of a weight problem – he wore size 12 husky pants when he was 9. About age 10 he grew a few inches in height and since then he has had a hard time keeping weight on.¬† So we have seen both sides of the appetite problem.)
  • Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep. (I talk about Bud’s sleep problems in my blog post I Couldn’t Sleep at All Last Night.
  • Vocal outbursts or crying.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that do not respond to treatment (We homeschooled Bud through the sixth grade, so he didn’t miss school due to illness.¬† But by the time he was in the 9th grade, he was missing up to 15 days per semester due to headaches, stomachaches or whatever excuse he could come up with)
  • Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Impaired thinking or concentration.
  • Thoughts of death orsuicide.
  • *this list (minus my comments)¬©2005-2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

I think on some level Art and I knew there was something wrong.¬† We thought he was just willful and when the problems first started, we cracked down on him when he raged at us (cold showers, loss of privileges).¬† It worked for awhile and as long as he was at home in a controlled environment, things went well.¬† But when he was away from home (at taekwondo or AWANA or grandma’s or camp) that was when all hell would break loose.

I wish very much we could go back and know then what we know now.¬† I wish we could have got Bud the help he needed from an early age so he wouldn’t have to have had so many years of feeling so lost and alone.¬† I am glad that we were able to get Bud help before it was too late and I hope that someone who reads this will be able to get their child the help he or she needs.

New Year’s Traditions

For most people New Year’s Eve is the big night.¬† In our family, December 31st has always been pretty tame.¬† We generally just have some snacks and maybe fondue, pop a bottle of champagne for the adults and sparkling cider for the kids, stay up to midnight to watch the ball drop, all yell “Happy New Year” and hug each other, then go to bed.

Our New Year’s Day tradition began during the great Napa flood of 1997.¬† Art & I were sleeping in, enjoying a day with nothing to do when Michelle called.¬† “We’re all at Bruce’s Mom’s helping her empty her basement in case the flood gets too close.¬† We’re hungry and we’re coming to your house in an hour. Don’t worry, we’ll bring the food with us.”

I scrambled to get everyone up and dressed and straighten up the house.¬† About 11 am, six people showed up with eggs, bacon, champagne and orange juice.¬† Art and I made some biscuits and gravy and we all had a New Year’s breakfast feast.¬† Afterwards we pulled some card games out of the closet and sat around talking and playing games until it got dark.

Every year since then we have continued the tradition Рevery other year at our house Рand it is a tradition we all look forward to.  Everyone brings something to share and often people show up in their pajamas. Over the years friends have married and divorced and had children, plus we have added new friends along the way.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of our annual New Year’s breakfast and seeing everyone together again made me remember all we have to be thankful for.¬† I am very excited about the possibilities of the new year and I want to thank you all again for being part of the journey!

An apology to my email subscribers who for some reason did not receive a link to last Friday’s post in their email.¬† Here is the link if you are interested in reading it: Well-Deserved?


As most of my readers know, our family has been struggling with financial troubles over the past few years.¬† Needless to say, we were a little concerned that we wouldn’t¬† even be able to afford Christmas presents for our boys this year.¬† In addition, as the holidays approached, we were in danger of having our power turned off.

Then the week before Christmas we had 3 pleasant surprises.¬† First, we received a check from a class action lawsuit – just enough to pay our utility bill.¬† Next I found out I had won an Amex gift card in an online giveaway.¬† Finally, Art’s parents sent us a Walmart giftcard to cover Christmas food and beverages.¬† Now we were set for groceries, gas and a few Christmas presents.

Art and I agreed not to buy each other presents.  We got excited about picking out a few gifts we thought the boys would really appreciate Рthey both got electric blankets and two other small gifts.  I found some special deals on gift cards and baked furiously so we would have gifts for our parents.  Finally, on Christmas Eve night, we looked happily at the tiny pile of gifts under the tree and breathed sighs of relief.

Christmas morning went as expected – everyone was pleasantly surprised by what they received.¬† The boys had picked out some very thoughtful gifts for us as well.¬† That afternoon, Art’s parents came over for dinner, which in our house is cold cuts, cheese, rolls, crackers, and various snacky items.

Afterwards, we had the second round of present-opening.¬† I did not expect that Art and I would have any presents to open as Art’s parents had been helping us out financially for the past few months and we all were in agreement that it was most important for Bud and Boo to have a good Christmas. But as the gifts were distributed, everyone had one box to open.¬† I was directed to open mine last.

Imagine my shock when on ripping open the paper I saw a netbook!¬† I was completely tongue-tied.¬† It took me a minute just to be able to blurt out an intelligible “thank you” to my in-laws.¬† Bobbie said later she could tell by the look on my face it was a complete surprise.¬† It turned out when Art found out his parents were insistent on buying us presents, he told them not to buy him anything but a bottle of Jack and to take the rest of the money they would have spent on him to buy me a really nice gift.¬† My old computer is a desktop in the middle of the family room.¬† I share this space with both boys and their computers, plus their friends and the occasional dog. Art knew I needed a computer I could move around with me; taking it into the bedroom or to the library so I could be alone with my thoughts and¬† work on my blog.

After the in-laws left, I lost it.¬† I loved the gift, but I couldn’t justify it in my head.¬† I didn’t deserve all that sacrifice.¬† I told Art how I was feeling and he told me he and his parents wanted to give me the computer.¬† I realized that it wasn’t about whether or not I thought I deserved the gift.¬† It was about the gift freely given.¬† I was reminded that none of us deserve salvation either – yet there it is – freely given, as it says in Romans 3:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”¬† Just as I try to daily honor God’s gift in the way I live, I will also try to honor my Christmas gift by using it to the best of my abilities to write a successful blog.

As always, thank you for being part of the journey.

Day of Recovery

No post today as I am taking a much needed day to rest and recuperate from all the festivities.¬† Look for my post on Friday, December 30th which will be about our family’s New Year’s traditions.

Merry Day after Christmas!!