May 25, 2015

Utah, The Second Worst Place in the Nation to Raise Kids

Utah was just ranked 50th (out of 50 states plus D.C.) in the Best and Worst States to Raise Kids.


Wow. I pretty much laughed when I read this article.
First of all, because it was based only on paid leave, and access to quality and affordable childcare.
Now THAT seems like the best way to determine the best states to raise children (insert sarcasm).

Policies that provide for more paid leave and better childcare may seem great on the surface, but every time policies are created, it takes tax dollars to implement those policies. Tax increases decreases net income and take away from our freedom to spend our income as we choose. In essence, new policy often decreases our freedom of choice.

So what's missing?
The fact that Utah has a higher percentage of stay-at-home moms than the rest of the country, and higher educated stay-at-home moms. (source)

My mom was a stay-at-home mom for much of my life, but there were still times when she wasn't there when I got home. However, because I grew up in a neighborhood where many of the women stayed home, or worked part-time or from home so they could be home more with their children, all of us were watched over.

Moms who stay home, work part time, work from home, or work odd hours to be with their kids, means kids are home, and playing. Unstructured play is essential for child development, read more about it here.
It also means that kids are exposed to many examples of home and family life, this allows them to see many healthy models (and some unhealthy) which will help them as they grow and develop and eventually start families and run households of their own. I learned as much about mothering from my friends' mothers as I did from my own.

We may have less paid leave, but I see more parent networking. I was picked up from school more than once by friends of my moms for different circumstances. Though this wasn't the case in my family, in Utah there often large extended families living close together. Meaning that often grandparents and aunts/uncles are jumping in to help out the parents.

Many of the day-cares in Utah are in-home day-cares, meaning that instead of an artificial, child-centered environment, many kids going to daycare are still experiencing a family setting on an everyday basis.

Utah may spend less per child on education but in my experience, Utah has teachers who care. Most of my teachers knew me (and my family) personally, and cared about me. I was influenced by teachers with strong morals. Many of my teachers had children who were my classmates, they were not just teaching kids, they were teaching and influencing the friends and peers of their own children.

My parents moved from Los Angeles, CA to Northern Utah when I was 5 years old, largely due to the fact that they didn't want to send me to public school in LA., and they wanted their kids to grow up in a neighborhood, with friends, and other families with similar parental values.
California had many great things, but beaches aren't everything ;)  
In LA I attended an amazing parent co-op pre-school! One I would love to have access to for my own children. But pre-schools aren't everything.

There are wonderful people, and experiences everywhere, and sometimes I long for the opportunity to have an out-of-state adventure with my own little family. To have my kids experience more than Utah. I often become frustrated at the lack of outdoor recreation and exploration opportunities in the small town in which we live. I want my children to live out of state at some point, and certainly outside of our small town. At the same time, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to raise my children in a family-oriented state, such as Utah.

THANK-YOU to all the moms who influenced me for the better, and to all the moms who are and will be influencing my children for the better.
Utah is a GREAT place to raise a family.

Free Shipping on ANY Order from Disney Store, Today Only!

It is RARE for Disney Store to do free shipping with no minimum order. Usually when they offer free shipping it's with a purchase from a specific collection.
TODAY ONLY they're ordering free shipping on ANY order with code FREESHIP.

They have great sales on Costumes, Swim, Plush, Classic Dolls, Die Cast Cars and Planes (Stockton just spent all his money on Skipper), and plastic figure playsets.
Skipper Die Cast Plane - Planes: Fire & Rescue

You cans see their whole list of special offers HERE.

PLUS if you shop with Ebates you can get 3% cash back,  on top of sale prices and free shipping!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

If you've been wanting anything Disney head over and check it out.

SWIM SALE - now up to 40% off - Select Styles | Prices as Marked - UPF 50+ - Built in UV PROTECTIONTink's Treasure: Deal of the Week - $9.99 Beach Towels

Amazon Deals 5/25

Just Dance 2014 for Wii $16.55  (Down from $20-30)

HEDBANZ for Adults $10  (Normally $15-20)
Adult HedBanz Game

May 19, 2015

Char-Broil 4 Burner Grill $159.99 Shipped

Here's an Awesome deal on a grill if you've been looking for one.
Char-Broil Classic 480 40000 BTU 4-Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner

Amazon has dropped the price on this Char-Broil 4-burner grill with side-burner to $159.99 and it will ship to your house FREE!
$150-160 is about the best price you'll ever find on a 4-burner grill unless you get a Black Friday deal or a display model markdown.

  • Char-Broil four burner, 40,000 BTU gas grill with 10,000 BTU lidded side burner
  • 480 sq. in. of primary cooking on porcelain-coated cast iron grates plus 180 sq. in. of secondary cooking on porcelain-coated swing away
  • Large, painted metal side shelves offer lots of workspace
  • Stainless steel lid, handle, control panel, and fascia add style and durability to this model
  • Electronic ignition system offers a reliable spark with every push

This would make a great Father's Day gift!!!

May 18, 2015

Two Miles!

If you know how to walk, run, or ride a bike,
And you want to make a difference in the world,
This post is for you.

The beginning of April my neighbor and I started running. 
Well, more like trying to run. 
We started out with each of us pushing two kids in a single stroller. We couldn't even make it a quarter of a mile. It was frustrating. We decided to go in the mornings before our husbands leave for work so we could run without kids and strollers. 
Slowly, we've worked up to 1 mile, then 1.5 and now, finally 2 miles! It's the furthest I've run since high school. And for us it's a huge accomplishment. 
I have lost 1 pound, nope not a typo, ONE. I have yet to drop a pant size. 
But this isn't about pant sizes or pounds, it's about lungs and muscle, it's about health.
It's about getting out of the house and doing something productive before my kids are even awake.
It's about fresh air.
It's about friendship.
It's about setting small, attainable goals, and succeeding.

And, thanks to @CharityMiles it's about raising money for Charity.
Charity Miles is my new favorite thing. They have teamed up with corporate sponsors to contribute $.10/mile for every bike ride and $.25/mile for every walk or run to a charity of your choice. All you have to do is download the app, open it, select a charity, and get moving, because #everymilematters .

By improving myself, I'm also improving the lives of others. $0.25/mile may not seem like much, but this morning I also hit 40 miles! 
Every 40 miles raises $10 and $10 is the cost for Nothing But Nets to produce, deliver, and educate about one insecticide treated bed net which can help protect one family from becoming infected with Malaria. #everymilematters

I can't see my body changing, but I can feel it, and I can do something I couldn't do before. So while I'd like to ditch my love handles, I'm tolerant with them for now because I feel better. #everymilematters 

Go join the FrugalandDomestic Team on Charity Miles, let's Get Moving and #GiveBack.

May 15, 2015

It's May, Have You Pulled Your Credit Report?

Back in January I wrote about Three Easy Ways to Protect Your Identity and Your Finances. In that post I talked about pulling your credit report.

If you pulled all 3 in January you'll have to wait until next January to pull another one, if you pulled only one, it's time to pull a report from another credit bureau.
If you see that post or didn't pull a report at all, here's a quick recap and you can read the full post here.
An easy way to monitor your own credit (i.e. you don't have to pay someone to do that for you), is to pull a copy of your credit report every 4 months.
Federal law mandates that each of the credit bureaus provide you with one free credit report per year. There are three credit bureaus, so that means you can pull from one of them every four months. (If it's your first time pulling a credit report, experts recommend pulling all 3 at once, then in a year start rotating through each bureau.)

To do this go to and click on the "request your free credit reports" button.
Annual Credit The only source for your free credit reports. Authorized by Federal law
 ***DO NOT go anywhere else, you will probably end up getting charged for a credit monitoring service, your credit score, or something else.

Checking your credit report regularly allows you to watch for unauthorized accounts (Fraud, ID Theft), ensure that accounts which you've closed are actually closed, and see that your payments are being recorded correctly.
Even if you have no debt, and no intentions of borrowing money you should still be checking your credit report.

May 12, 2015

Repeat The Feat: Teaching Kids to Serve

We took the opportunity last night to participate in the Repeat The Feat movement.

It's a concept created to encourage kids to serve and give back in their communities.

To participate, you order a FREE shirt ($1 shipping fee per shirt), then wear the shirt while participating in a service project, then share pictures and tag #repeatthefeat
Aren't the shirts so cute?!?

I love the concept, and I believe in teaching kids to serve from a young age, but I was concerned about what was manageable for a 3 year-old with his 1 year-old brother tagging along. I went ahead and ordered the shirts, it took about 2 weeks for them to come, and in that time I decided that picking up trash would be age-appropriate, and would teach them not only about service and giving back to our community, but also about taking care of things and being responsible for themselves by picking up their own trash.

The shirts came on Saturday, and on Monday we headed out to pick up trash around our neighborhood.

It also doubled as an easy Family Home Evening lesson and activity (As members of the Mormon, or LDS faith, we set aside Monday evenings to teach and spend time together as a family, you can read more about the purpose of Family Home Evening here.)

Because EVERYTHING is better with a friend, we invited our neighbors to come along.
The boys had a great time picking up trash, and racing each other to get each piece, by the time we finished they were pretty tired, but the next day my 3yo was still anxious to put on his "helper shirt" and find more places to pick up trash. I'm excited to continue using his shirt as a tool to teach him to look for ways to serve.

You can read more about Repeat The Feat and join the movement at
You can find them on Instagram under @repeatthefeat or here.

Thank-you Repeat The Feat for making my job of raising responsible kids just a little bit easier.

May 5, 2015

Charitable Giving, Making Your Gift Count.

I believe in giving, in lifting, in encouraging.
I believe that it's a significant part of the reason we're on earth, that it's important to our learning, spiritual growth, and emotional development.
I believe in being kind we find strength and encouragement for ourselves.
I believe that giving money is only one small way to be charitable, but I do believe that financial giving is important, it helps us prioritize and helps us gain self-control.
I'm grateful for parents who taught me to give of my time, knowledge, love, and other resources, as well as to give financially.

Every time I talk to someone about finances I try to determine their goals and desires, values, attitudes and beliefs. Each of us is different, therefore our financial decisions are different too. Budgeting is about making sure that every financial decision we make aligns with the things that bring us joy.
Even the utility bill, though it seems more a drudgery than a joy, is ultimately inline with my values; I like lights, warm food/cold food, a specific temperature range in my house, etc.

Like every other choice I make, when I give money to a charity, I want that decision to align with my values and goals. I believe this is part of being a good steward over the things God has given to me.

I often feel inundated by requests for charitable contributions. I'm sure I'm not alone. However, I feel that it it is my responsibility to make sure that the money I give goes as far as possible, and that it aligns with my values and beliefs. I often feel that I am not well informed when it comes to many of charities that are soliciting my donations.

There are a few charities that have earned my respect and to whom I always say yes. For others, I tend to say no until I have a chance to do a bit more research.

Along with outright scams, there are also charities that have very high overhead expenses, and some are very politically charged. Some charities do better than others at getting money to the project rather than paying for salaries, and lobbying.

I recently came across a charity that I was very interested in supporting, on the surface it seemed to fit well with my values and beliefs. I was excited, the information on their website seemed wonderful. However, a little digging on other websites revealed that this charity actively promotes legalizing abortion in 3rd world countries. That was heavy.
I do not support abortion. I would have been devastated to learn that I was supporting and promoting a charity that works for something that I morally oppose.

Next time you're thinking of donating to an organization, do a quick internet search, make sure that the goal you are helping achieve aligns with your personal values, beliefs and desires.
Money is not everything, but money IS power. Every dollar you spend has the power to bring you closer to your goals, or push you farther away,
Spend Wisely.

A great resource for finding out how a charity spends their money is
Finding out if they have political or other ties is going to require a bit more research.

I'm currently looking into a project that works with corporate sponsors to help individuals support charitable organizations. It looks promising.
If it works out, I will be sharing more in a couple of weeks so check back!