Selling Our Home {PLUS: Win A $50 Gift Certificate To Petitti Garden Center}

I'd like to thank Petitti Garden Center for sponsoring this post!

We live in a small home by American standards. And, while 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1092 square feet was perfect when our family consisted of just Ken and I, things started getting smaller when we had our boy. And, smaller yet when we had our girl. When we decided to have baby #3, we knew we could make our small space work, but it would be less than ideal. So, 5 1/2 months ago, we put our house on the market... again.

While I was initially excited to have a garden this year, I didn't want to put too much into landscaping that I wouldn't be able to take with me. So, instead of our typical mulching, weeding, and garden-starting this year, I decided to get some nice pots, flowers, and a cute bird feeder we could take with us.

We headed to Petitti Garden Center, which is the most beautiful, artistic garden center I have ever seen. Sure, I know they do it up for Christmas with amazing trees and displays, but I had no clue that they take just as much care and creativity putting together displays for spring!

After looking around all that Petitti Garden Center has to offer, I decided that the best thing to do would be to buy some nice pots to grow some flowers in as well as a new bird feeder.

Everything will look great on our front porch as well as be easily transported to out new home. 

Yes... new home. Recently, we received and accepted an offer on our house! If everything goes according to plan, we should be moving within the next couple of weeks.

Your Chance To Win!

Have you ever been to Petitti Garden Center? If not, you're really missing out! They have locations throughout northern Ohio in Avon, Bainbridge, Strongsville, Mentor, Oakwood Village, Tallmadge, Boardman, Middleburg Heights, and Richmond Heights.

Enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Petitti Garden Center below. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm 22 Weeks Pregnant! PLUS: How Much Does Genetic Testing For Pregnancy Cost?

I'm officially 22 weeks pregnant, and this time around, things are a bit different. While I've always tried to eat healthy, I feel like I'm doing a much better job at eating healthier foods this time around. The kids and I have been working on eating less sugar as well as eating a fresh fruit or veggie with every meal. I'm also back to being an omnivore, so that has also made a major difference in my diet. I'm also working out regularly, doing kickboxing 4-5 days a week, though it's getting tough! Kickboxing will be put on hold soon, and I'm planning on focusing on more weightlifting and prenatal workouts.

NOW: Baby bump - 22 weeks pregnant with baby #3
THEN: 21 weeks pregnant with my little girl.
  This is also the first time I've had a high risk pregnancy - in my case, due to "advanced maternal age" of 35. As part of managing my pregnancy, it was suggested multiple times that I have genetic testing done to test for various abnormalities as well as chromosomal disorders.

At age 35, I have a 1/378 risk of down's syndrome and a 1/192 risk of a chromosomal abnormality.

I'm currently waiting back for my test results. But... what I did want to share with you today was the cost of having genetic testing done. After spending 2 weeks working with my insurance to see what was covered, I now have an answer.

I had all of the genetic testing done that was offered at my doctor's office. The verifi® test by Progenity is a non-invasive prenatal test that detects:

  • Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), which is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21
  • Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18), which is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 18
  • Patau syndrome (Trisomy 13), which is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 13
The test can also detect abnormalities of the sex chromosomes:
  • Turner syndrome (Monosomy X), which is caused by a missing X chromosome in females
  • Klinefelter syndrome (XXY), which is caused by an extra X chromosome in males
  • Jacobs syndrome (XYY), which is caused by an extra Y chromosome in males
  • Triple X syndrome (XXX), which is caused by an extra X chromosome in females
Today, I received an explanation of benefits in the mail with a breakdown of the cost for all of the testing I had done. The total cost for the genetic testing before insurance was $2,100. After my insurance company negotiated prices, the cost came down to $254. 

And, for those curious, here's a chart that shows your chances of getting pregnant by your age. This was a surprise, as I always thought it was common and easy to have a baby in your mid-30s to 40s, but it's actually not that common at all.

I'm hoping this information will be useful for other women looking for more detailed information about how much genetic testing for pregnancy costs as well as other info relating to having a baby when you're a bit older.

Have you had children? How old were you when they were born? Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

The Science of Raising Happy Kids

The other day as I was scrolling through Pintrest, this little gem caught my eye. I immediately thought I just had to share it here. So, enjoy!

 What do you think is the most important aspect of raising a happy child? Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

Is It Safe To Put Tupperware In The Microwave?

I've been on a journey to inform people about BPA in Tupperware. But, that only addresses one concern about Tupperware. What about putting Tupperware in the microwave? Is it safe?

For questions like this, I get my information from the Environmental Working Group. They're an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability.

I'd like to err on the side of safety, so while corporations may have their own statement on microwaving their containers, they have a vested interest to sell their product. I'd rather get my information from somebody not interested in helping the corporation in question make a profit.

While the smaller question is "Is It Safe To Put Tupperware In The Microwave?" the bigger question is: "Is It Safe To Put Plastic In The Microwave?"

There is some evidence that some molecules - phthalates in some flexible plastic, and another chemical plasticizer DEHA - can migrate into high-fat foods such as meats or cheeses. And that's not just if you're microwaving plastic. Many environmentally conscious Web sites tell consumers to avoid wrapping high-fat foods in plastic altogether for fear that you'll end up eating minuscule plastic bits.

Step 1 - Is Your Plastic A Safe number?

First, determine if your plastic is safe for food. Here are the numbers deemed as safe for food:
#2, HDPE, a usually opaque plastic used for milk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles, toiletries and the like.
#4, LDPE, used for things like plastic bags, food storage, bread bags, some food wraps, squeezable bottles.
#5, polypropylene, used for a wide variety of applications such as yogurt cups, medicine bottles, ketchup and syrup bottles, and straws.

If your item doesn't have a number on it, assume the worst, and throw it out. Better safe than sorry.

Step 2 - Is Your plastic In Perfect Condition?

The container must be completely free of scratches, dents, and bubbles. All of these things cause chemicals to leach out, and likely contaminating your food.

If your items pass both of these steps, then it is technically safe to microwave. However, if you're microwaving things often, I recommend using glass. That way, you know it's safe. You don't have to constantly inspect it for scratches or bubbles. 

There Are Many Alternatives To Plastic Food Storage

Looking for food storage alternatives? I like to go with good old glass. I store anything and everything in mason jars & a few Glasslock Snapware Containers. I love they they don't stain, don't hold odors,  are easily washable, and can even be thrown in the dishwasher. :)

I'd love to know what you think about this post. Leave a comment letting me know.  

PS - BPA isn't the only toxin we're living with either. Be sure to check out my posts about toxic makeup foundationtoxic nail polish, as well as the harmful toxins found in hair dye

Why I'm Removing My Kids From The Internet

Since my son was born, I've been blogging about him. I've always used his name, shared stories and photos about our life. When my daughter was born, the same thing happened. I thought parents who used code names for their kids were being a bit paranoid. And those who wouldn't share photos of their kids? Interesting, but certainly not for me.

Today, that all changed. I received a rather inappropriate comment about my 3-year-old daughter that has made me re-evaluate everything I've been sharing, both on this blog and on social media. So, I've decided to remove my kids from the internet. 

I know I have a huge task ahead of me, but I'm looking forward it. I also realize I've developed quite a few "friends" online that I'm simply unable to see out in the real world. Just send me an email... we'll work something out so you can continue to see my family grow. :)

I also realize now how this is a violation of their privacy. To be honest, I guess I've always known, I just decided to look the other way. There are so many bloggers who post photos of their kids online, it can be hard to see why it is "wrong". My new rule of thumb to ever post a photo of anyone without their express consent. If they are too young to consent, then don't I post their picture.

What are your thoughts about photos and names of children on the internet? Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

What We're Reading: Kindergarten Edition

Phoenix is in his 4th month of public school kindergarten. I'm so glad we made the switch from homeschooling. He finally has that social circle I think he really needed. His teacher is amazing, and really pushes him. We had a conference a few weeks ago, and she explained to me how she gives kids different work based on where they're at in the topic. Something that really surprised me was how much the teacher expects the kids to read in kindergarten. Phoenix is in the Pizza Hut Book-It program, and needed to read 20 minutes every day to reach his goal. We're actually a little bit behind here, which is why I'm writing this post.

I've noticed that there's a huge gap between what I thought he would be doing in kindergarten, and what he's actually doing. As Phoenix is starting to pick up on reading, I thought it might be useful for other parents to know what he's reading in kindergarten.

What He's Reading On His Own This Week

Quack Shack & Flip-A-Word Books by Harriet Ziefert
These are super-beginner books, with a lot of repetition, and very few words on each page. Some words include:
  • jack
  • sack
  • with
  • chick
  • lick
  • rock
  • sock

David Goes To School
A book about a trouble-maker and his adventures at school. This is another great beginner book. Some words include:
  • yelling
  • running
  • tardy
  • chew
  • raise
  • yourself
  • attention
  • started
  • recess
  • again
Sleepy Dog, Wake Up! (Step into Reading)
This book is a step up from the previous two, without being too challenging. It's broken up into chapters with about 6 pages in each chapter. Some words include:
  • time
  • sleepyhead
  • cat
  • dog
  • kiss
  • morning
  • turn
  • open
  • night-light
  • shade
  • window
  • drinking
  • spilled
  • happy
City Fun (Modern Curriculum Press Beginning to Read Series)
This book (published in 1980) uses small words & a lot of repetition. At 31 pages, it a longer book, but able to be read in one sitting. Some words include:
  • I
  • like
  • jump
  • up
  • down
  • away
  • ride
  • good
  • play
  • work

I Love Trees (Rookie Readers: Ready to Learn)
This book is a fun start to science literature. pages usually have one small sentence, making it an easy, fun read. Some words include:
  • I
  • trees
  • some
  • love
  • jump
  • big
  • are
  • have
  • needles
  • leaves
  • birds
  • bees
  • make
  • paper

The Cookie House (Modern Curriculum Press Beginning to Read)
This is the most challenging book he's read this week. The book is 29 pages long with 3 sentences on each page. This story is a re-telling of the Hansel & Gretel story, which may be frightening to some younger readers. Some words include:
  • get
  • come
  • you
  • work
  • something
  • little
  • here
  • who
  • want
  • down
  • look
  • house
  • father
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Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

#sponsored Our Cat Mieke's Rachael Ray Nutrish Journey #NutrishZeroGrain @Nutrish

I've been living with Ken & Lisa for 13 years. Guess how many times they've switched my food? Zero. But, today, something weird happened. We received a strange package in the mail that Lisa seemed to be particularity excited about. She kept on squealing, mentioned something about the adorable packaging, and snapped this picture.

I didn't so much care about the packaging... I wanted to know what was in that bag. I could smell it from a mile away. After a few more pictures and a bit of reading, Lisa headed over to the counter to grab a pair of scissors. I was right there next to her as the bag opened, unleashing the most fantastically-wonderful smell my little nose has ever met... and I knew exactly what the smells were from meals my owners have served themselves before. Yes, it was just like the food my humans eat... real whitefish, salmon meal, potatoes, peas, eggs, cranberries, and carrots.

Lisa placed a bowl of Zero Grain Whitefish Dry Cat Food on the counter. Although I had just eaten my lunch, I couldn't help but to take a few bites of this brand new cat food deliciousness.

Next time, she placed a bowl of Zero Grain Whitefish Dry Cat Food right next to my ordinary cat food. I've went for the Zero Grain Whitefish Dry Cat Food. She's repeated this "challenge" for me several times since then. Naturally, I eat the Rachael Ray Nutrish, and actually get a bit upset when she feeds me the old stuff... but she says she has to give me the old stuff still. Since Rachael Ray Nutrish has different ingredients than what I'm used to, it could take up to ten days for your my system to become acclimated to Nutrish. So, she slowly added some Nutrish next to my other food over a five-day period so my body would become used to eating Nutrish. 

Why To Choose Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Pet Food

Cats love Nutrish Zero Grain Whitefish & Potato Recipe. It is made with real white fish as the #1 ingredient — a tasty and highly digestible protein that helps to maintain strong muscles and helps minimize litter box odors. It also has zero grains, glutens or fillers... not to mention zero meat or poultry by-product meal. And, even better, Nutrish Zero Grain has no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.

About Rachael Ray Nutrish

In 2007, with help from pet nutrition experts, Rachael Ray created Nutrish ultra-premium food and treats for dogs. In 2014, they were very excited to grow the brand into the world of cat food. Whether intended for dogs or cats, Nutrish recipes are made with simple natural ingredients and do not contain meat or poultry by-product meal or fillers. Real meat is the #1 ingredient in our cat food and all recipes were inspired by Rachael’s kitchen.

Even more impressive than their formula or position, Rachael’s personal proceeds go to Rachael’s Rescue, created to help shelter pets. As of today, over $9 million has gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for animals in need.

This is the first zero grain dry cat formula from Rachael Ray Nutrish, who prides themselves on bringing pet specialty quality food to the masses. This is the first premium brand that is available in your local grocery store, as well as mass retailers like Target, Walmart and Amazon.

Ready to give Rachael Ray Nutrish a try? Perhaps you're already a loyal fan? Be sure to check out this coupon offer for $3 off Zero Grain Whitefish & Potato Recipe.

Want to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest from Rachael Ray Nutrish? Be sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Tips & Tricks To Keeping Your Pet Happy And Nourished

  • Play with your cat each day. Try different types of toys that allow your cat to stalk, chase, pounce and kick. 
  • Plant cat grass (available from pet supply stores) in indoor pots so your feline can graze.
  • Clean the litter box regularly.
  • Go grain-free! Grain free cat food is created without grains and is fed for health reasons or because of a personal preference. Some cats have allergies or sensitivity to grains that can result in itchy, dry skin and upset tummies. Grain free foods can help cats avoid these allergens, making for an equally happy cat and pet parent.
  • Switching cat foods can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be. Cats should gradually transition to a new cat food. Follow these tips to help ensure success. Begin the transition by mixing both the current food with her new cat food together. Gradually decrease the amount of the current cat food while increasing the amount of new cat food. Continue to do this over a 7-day period. Transitioning slowly can result in fewer digestive issues and better acceptance of the new cat food. Remember to be patient. For finicky, older, or cats with health conditions, the transition time could take 10 days or slightly longer.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

I'm Pregnant With Baby #3!

So, it's official! last week, I went to the doctor, who confirmed what we already pretty much darn know... I'm pregnant! Ariana accompanied me, and we were able to listen to the baby's heartbeat for the very first time. Here's a look at how things have been going so far. :)

8 Weeks Pregnant

10 Weeks Pregnant

10 weeks pregnant no baby bump
10 Weeks Pregnant - Baby Bump 
Maternity clothes: Not yet.

Sleep: Too excited with trying to sell the house to sleep!

Best moment of this week: Figuring chia seed pudding is great for heartburn.

Miss anything: Five days a week kickboxing. I've been too tired, and have only been going 3-4 days a week.

Movement: Not yet...

Food cravings: I'm not craving anything... I'm actually more not hungry than usual.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Everything I eat.

Have you started to show yet: A little...

Gender: Not sure.

Labor signs: Not even close.

Wedding rings on or off: On, I took off my elephant ring, because it kept on snagging on all of our towels.

Happy or moody most of the time: Neither. Tired & exhausted a lot.

Looking forward to: My first doctor's appointment at the end of March.

11 Weeks Pregnant

12 Weeks Pregnant

13 Weeks Pregnant

At 13 weeks pregnant, I got a horrible stomach flu. My appetite was non-existant, and as a result, I lost about 3 lbs that week.


14 Weeks Pregnant

15 Weeks Pregnant

Maternity clothes: Not yet.

Sleep: Not bad... I usually spend a few hours a night sleeping in Ariana's bed.

Best moment of this week: Hearing the baby's heartbeat and movement for the first time!

Miss anything: Food!  Practically nothing has sounded good this week. I pretty much force myself to eat three meals a day.

Movement: We heard movement on the heartbeat monitor at the doctor's office, but I haven't felt anything that was obviously the baby yet.

Food cravings: I'll snack on Phoenix's school snacks... either fruit snacks or cheese & breadsticks..

Anything making you queasy or sick: Everything I eat.

Have you started to show yet: A little...

Gender: Not sure.

Labor signs: Not even close.

Wedding rings on or off: On.

Happy or moody most of the time: A mix of both. It was a rough week.

Looking forward to: My ultrasound appointment coming up in a few weeks.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

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