Is Santa Real? Plus, Win An Autographed Book!

The day has yet to come where I have to answer that dreaded question. The question that asks: “Is Santa Real?” My little ones aren’t quite to that age. But, I know that day will come. It’s a day that every parent may experience at one point in time. But, what do you say? How do you keep the Christmas magic alive? It’s easy. Plus, I discovered this cute little book that will help you. It’s called “The Myth of Santa’as Beard.” This book is a Christmas winner in our house. 

We’re only a few short weeks away from Christmas. I can’t lie. I’m excited. But, I’m not prepared. We have our Christmas tree up. But, I’d be lying if I said all our Halloween is up already. I’ve yet to replace the Halloween wreath on the front door. But, it’s happening by this weekend! I promise. At least nobody has commented on it, yet. Plus, there’s no doubt in my mind that Christmas this year will be fun. Haley is old enough (5) to really get into the spirit. Plus, she decorated the tree all by herself! Dray is a year old now. So, he’ll be able to rip into the presents. I’m excited! Even our baby proofing of the tree is “festive.” 😉

is santa real

My household is full of believers in the Christmas spirit. We love celebrating Christmas together. It’s an important time of year for us. We all hate that it goes by so fast. Haley loves thinking about what Santa may bring her. We read Christmas stories. We bake and decorate. It’s a great time to put technology to the side. To remember what it’s important in life. Plus, surrounding yourself with positive people.

We love reading classing Christmas stories. You can’t forget the annual Christmas movies. We’re addicted to those, too. When the tree is put up we may be playing Christmas music. Or we may have a Christmas movie going in the background. This year we added another Christmas tradition to the list. Our family discovered the cutest Christmas book. It’s called “The Myth of Santa’s Beard” by Sharon Thayer.

“The Myth of Santa’s Beard” has a great story behind it. Plus, a cool little addition at the end. This Christmas story tells the story of why Santa’s beard is so long. The myth is that every time you do something good, Santa’s beard grows a little longer. But, eventually it grew a little too long. The elves work a little magic and help Santa’s beard problem out. But, that doesn’t stop the magic. It still grows a little every time you do something good. At the end of the book there’s a special surprise that your little one will love!

I won’t give the secret away. Because, if you scroll down you can enter to win your own copy of “The Myth of Santa’s Beard.” As a bonus, it will also be autographed by the author Sharon Thayer! This is a book your family will enjoy for years. No wonder it’s an award winner.

The design of the book has even landed it a spot in our Christmas decorations. It stays propped up with all the rest of the decorations. Plus, it’s an easy way for Haley to grab it if she ever wants to look at it. Which happens several times a day. She loves this book. I can’t deny it either. This is a great addition to our Christmas traditions.

is santa real

So, it’s obvious that my children believe in Santa. We believe in the magic of Santa. The magic of Christmas. But, this is my opinion on the magic of Santa. If you chose to introduce him to your children, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s great, too. As parents we spend too much time judging each other. We just need to respect each others opinions.

I also have another opinion on Santa. Which, as I said before, is my opinion. Christmas has became entirely too much about gifts. It’s not so much about family anymore. I don’t know about you, but, I’m not rich. I can’t afford to get my kid a tablet. She wants quite a few things. I just can’t afford them. But, I don’t want her to think she’s any less important than children who receive iPads and drones. Because she’s just as important. She is the world to me. I make sure to reassure her of this every day. When I say Haley is a grateful child, I mean it. She doesn’t beg. She understands. She’s amazing. I really don’t think we should buy our children’s affection. I think our time with them is more valuable than the money we spend.

is santa real

“Is Santa Real?”

The day will come when a parent is asked: “Is Santa Real?” How does a parent respond? What do they say? I’ve often thought about what I’m going to say to Haley. But, after a long thought session, I figured it out. I know exactly how I will explain the magic of Santa to her.

St. Nicholas was a real person. He lived a long time ago. Around Christmas time he was known for his secret gift giving. So, in order to keep his spirit alive he uses people who believe in him to carry on the tradition. That’s why parents all over the world spend time wrapping and placing presents under the Christmas tree. So, mommy and daddy are putting the presents there. But, that’s because they want the magic of what St. Nicholas did a long time ago to live on today.

It doesn’t matter how to you celebrate the holidays. This is a no judgement zone. Whatever your decision, I support you. But, have you ever had to answer the question “Is Santa Real?” I’d love to hear your experience.

So, “Is Santa Real?” What’s your opinion? While you’re at it – enter to win your own copy of “The Myth of Santa’s Beard” by Sharon Thayer. As a bonus, it will also be autographed! This book would be the perfect addition to any Christmas tradition.

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Stepmoms – A Letter From “The Mom”

Stepmoms are wonderful creatures. As well as stepfathers. Well, let’s be real. Step anything are amazing individuals. They come in and care for children who aren’t technically “theirs.” Stepmoms experience highs and lows. Haley’s daddy and I aren’t together. But, for the most part, we co-parent quite well together. We’ve been divorced almost 3 years now. In those 3 years, I’ve met 4 women who came into Haley’s life. So, needless to say, I’ve experienced all sides of stepmoms. 

Divorce isn’t something anyone wishes for. When you marry someone, most of the time, it’s because you love them. But, it happens. It’s part of life. Divorce is just part of the reality of the world today. Regardless of the reason, divorce can be difficult when kids are involved. Where will the kids live? Where will they go to school? There are so many questions that cloud a divorced parents mind.

Quite often on social media you see stepmoms, stepdads, and parents alike bash each other. Now, I don’t know about you, but I like peace. As a divorced parents, I did my research after our divorce. I knew there would be trials and tribulations. As much mental preparation as possible was what I was aiming for. But, not every situation is the same. One parent may disappear. One parent may have been abusive. You never know the case. There are always two sides of every story.

My ex-husband and I have joint custody. But, I am the primary custodial parent. We only live 7 miles away from each other. That makes visiting easy. During the summer we even do it where he gets her a whole week then I get her a whole week. Often he will drive her to school if he is off. He works night shifts as a police officer. I get her half the day on holidays, they get her the other half. Believe me, I know not all relationships are that easy. Parenting isn’t easy in general.

But, this isn’t about me. This is a letter to stepmoms from, well, “the mom.” When I say you are appreciated. It’s not an understatement. You come in and you love children like they’re your own. Sometimes you have to come in and take a “mom” role on by yourself. But, you do it. You put someone else above your own needs.

My exhusband has introduced Haley to a few ladies. Some who really tried. A couple that just did not like me. But, that didn’t make me respect them any less. His current girlfriend is young, pretty, and full of energy. But, she doesn’t like me. I don’t think I’ve ever gave her a real reason not to like me. I’ve attempted to be cordial with her. But, she turns her back when I talk. She gets angry when Jamie and I co-parent. But, I’m hoping and praying over time that she will adjust. That she will realize I’m not here to interfere.

Stepmoms are true gifts from God. They step up. Stepmoms take on a major role in children’s lives. 

stepmoms

I want the women in my ex-husbands life to respect him. My biggest wish is that they care for him and my daughter. Because, with respect towards my ex, hopefully they’ll have the same respect with Haley. My wish is that Haley runs and hugs her stepmom. That her stepmom and I can have conversations. We don’t have to be best friends. But, I don’t see an issue with that. I’ll never turn down coffee and adult conversation.

My life has moved on. My ex-husbands life has moved on. He’s with you and I’m with someone else. My ex and I have a beautiful daughter. But, I also have a beautiful son as well. Nobody wishes for divorce. But, it happens. It’s hard. For a while the feelings are wonky. But, it passes. All we want now is for someone to love our children as much as we do.

We don’t co-parent to show you how “good” we are together. We co-parent to make sure Haley knows that we are both behind her. It isn’t our goal to go to parent-teacher conferences looking like one big happy family. More than likely, the teachers know we’re not together. They are supportive of the co-parenting we do. It isn’t for show. Co-parenting is for Haley’s happiness, safety, and health.

There may come a day when being in the “stepmoms club” is behind you. You may add to the family by giving Haley a little sister or brother. When that day comes, I hope you love them equally. I pray that Haley knows she has a family with you. That she knows she has a family with me. That we’re all in this together.

Stepmoms, as a mom, I want to tell you that I care about you. That I am so appreciative that you step in and give our children that “mother figure” when they are with our ex’s. We aren’t here to interfere with your new life. I wish ya’ll nothing but the best.

But, once again….

Thank you, Stepmoms!

How To Rock Your Pet Sitting Business

Do you love all things furry and four legged? Then pet sitting may be the step you need to take. Pet sitting allows you to spend time with furry friends all while making money. What’s the best part? If you start your own pet sitting business you have flexible hours, too. The pet industry continues to boom every year. Why not put your foot out there? It’s time for you to become part of the pet industry, too!

About 8 years ago I took on my first pet sitting gig. I was working at a local veterinarian clinic that offered boarding. We had an older couple that were regular clients. They had the sweetest, senior Chihuahua mix. The couple was aware we offered boarding. But, due to the numerous health problems their dog had, they wanted another option. They asked the veterinarian at the clinic about other options. In response, she began to spread the word around the office. Then she asked me, directly, if I would be interested.

Prior to that invitation, I had never pet sat. What was pet sitting anyways?! But, apparently I was the perfect candidate. I only had one other dog at the time. Another senior Chihuahua. After talking it over with my roommate, I agreed to do it. I contacted the owners, they dropped the dog off, I watched him a few days, and they picked him up and paid me. Easy peasy, right? Well, it depends.

When I took on my first “pet sitting client” 8 years ago, I didn’t know about the legal side of it. I thought I was just doing a favor. The couple never made me sign a contract or threaten me with legal action. Plus, at the end of it all they paid me in cash. This may still be the scenario in some cases, too. But, there is a lot more behind running a successful pet sitting business.

Shortly after my first pet sitting gig, I wanted to turn it into a business. My #1 information avenue was searching the internet. 

pet sitting

There are so many amazing pet sitting resources out there. People really have a passion for the pet industry. Plus, numbers don’t lie when it comes to statistics. The pet industry is a billion dollar industry. It’s a billion dollar industry that blooms every year. People love their pets, that’s for sure.

I highly recommend checking out “Pet Sitting for Profit” by Patti J. Moran. It’s packed with easy to understand knowledge. Plus, it lists almost every resource a pet sitting business needs! 

So, let’s start with the basics. There are a few things that should be prepared before you go in full force. I hate to be blunt. But, we live in a sue happy society. You just have to be prepared.

Pet Sitting Business Basics

  • In 2016, it was noted that 65% of households own at least one pet.
  • Pet owners spent $5.73 billion on their pets. That’s compared to the $5.41 billion spent in 2015.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 11% increase in pet industry job growth between 2014 and 2024. Which is considered above average.

 

The proof is there. The pet industry isn’t going anywhere. It’s a billion dollar industry! So, pet sitting experts are in top demand.

There is a harsh reality to face when considering pet sitting. Well, a few harsh realities. Pet sitting isn’t always playing with cute puppies. Sometimes it can even lead to heartache. But, none the less, it’s a rewarding job that allows you many opportunities. Pet sitting gives you the chance to connect with your community. You can set your own hours (for the most part). Also, there is the opportunity to play with adorable puppies.

Harsh Realities of Pet Sitting

  • You’re going to get dirty. There will be poop and urine to clean up. You may even deal with some vomiting. A lot of dogs like to get dirty, too.
  • People like to sue people. Why? Because it can equal up to some major dollars. That’s why protecting your pet sitting business is important. But, we’ll touch on that in a little bit.
  • There’s a chance you may have to administer medications. That’s why it’s important to be up front with pet owners. If you’re not comfortable, or don’t know how to give insulin – be up front! Proper medicating of pets is very important.
  • You’ll experience heartache. Some of your favorite clients will pass.
  • Some pet owners are very particular. You may be making homemade dog food. You may even be on a strict schedule.
  • Emergencies happen. Make sure you’re 100% honest with what you’re capable of doing.
  • Be prepared to have some house cleaning to do. Pets can be messy. Inside and outside.
  • Sometimes you may be out in less than desirable conditions. Ya know, like snow, rain, all that good stuff.
  • You may be recorded in someones home. If you’re interested in the laws on recording someone you can check out my post: Is Recording Someone Legal? Well, It Depends.

Don’t let the harsh realities of the pet sitting businesses scare you away. There are a lot of positive aspects, too. I hope the reality of pet sitting hasn’t scared you off. Because, now it’s time to learn how to ROCK your pet sitting business!

How to Rock Your Pet Sitting Business

At my other blog, TheThriftyBark.com, you can find a neat little infographic I put together. I’ve posted it below for ya’ll.

pet sitting

Pack the Ultimate Pet Sitting Tote

  • Extra Leashes – Accidents happen. Better safe than sorry to keep a few extra on you.
  • Treats – A great reward system. Plus, a great way to get the attention of a pet who isn’t quite interested in you. 😉
  • Pet First Aid Kit – Once again, accidents happen. Better safe than sorry.
  • Cleaning Supplies – I don’t think I have to repeat the “accidents happen” again. Always keep paper towels, disinfectant, extra bags, etc. in case of the occasional “uh oh.”
  • Extra Collars – To go with the extra leashes, of course!
  • Pet Waste Bags – This kind of falls into the “cleaning supplies” list.
  • Extra Pet Toys – I know a few dogs who can’t resist the sound of a squeaky toy.
  • Bottled Water – Those walks can get hot. Make sure you and your furry friend stay hydrated.
  • Pet Sitting Contracts – These are important to keep. They ensure you’re doing the job the way the pet owner wanted it done.
  • Notepad + Pen – This will allow you to jot down any notes about your pet sitting visit.
  • Business Cards – You never know who you’ll meet on your walk. Have business cards available in case anyone inquires about your services.
  • Camera/Smartphone – One of the things pet owners ask for are pictures. They love seeing their pets while they’re away. Capture your pet sitting stay.

Remember earlier when I talked about people being “sue happy?” This is where the “legal” aspect of pet sitting comes in.

The best way to obtain insurance for your pet sitting business is to look into a pet sitting agency.

National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

Right now, as of 11/21/2016, NAPPS is offering a 10-day sneak preview of what you can get as a member. This is absolutely free. Thanks to NAPPS, though, you can receive many discounts on your pet sitting insurance.

Pet Sitters International

I was a member of Pet Sitters International during my pet sitting career. The best part is they have memberships for the United States, Canada, and International. You can also get discounts on pet sitting insurance through them as well.

Branding your Pet Sitting Business

If you want to go the professional route, make sure you make a name for your business. Create a logo. Have your logo on your business cards and your contracts. Make sure your clients remember you.

Canva & PicMonkey are great and simple ways for you to brand your pet sitting business. CreativeMarket.Com is another great way to find products to help you.

But, I have to say without a doubt, that Patti J. Moran’s book “Pet Sitting for Profit” has been my #1 resource. You can check it out on Amazon here.

Are you into pet sitting? What are your tips on starting and succeeding in the pet industry? Drop a comment below. You never know who you might help!

 

 

DIY Pet Stains & Odor Removal Cleaning Agents

This is a guest post thanks to Demi over at Clean Start Cleaning Services.

Ah, pets! The kids that we have not given birth to! As much as we love our furry little friends and take care of them, accidents do happen and instead of getting angry or disappointed in your pet, you should just make sure that you are prepared to act fast and deal with the issue. Below you will find help and instructions on how to make yourself DIY pet stains and odor removal cleaning detergents that are efficient and all-natural.

And it does not matter how many pets you have, whether they are cats or dogs, or both, the following recipes for home-made pet stains cleaning products should be efficient for either case.

DIY Pet Stains & Odor Removal

For the new urine smells you need to make sure to remove as much of the urine as possible, use paper towels for the purpose. Then you can put the soaked towels at your pet’s bathroom place so that it is reminded of where their bathroom is.

Then act fast and use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to prevent the stain from setting into your carpet. Mix a ½ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a bowl and add a teaspoon of a liquid dish soap. Then sprinkle the entire stain with baking soda and add the liquid. Start scrubbing gently the mixture with a cloth or a brush, but gently, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Then simply vacuum off the baking soda. If the stain is still there you can repeat this action as many times as it is necessary.

The baking soda acts as a deodorizer in this case and the hydrogen peroxide removes the stain.

Another cleaning product that you can DIY to help you in the fight against pet urine smell and stains is to use both vinegar and baking soda. You will need 2 cups of warm water and 2 cups white (distilled) vinegar, a spray bottle (not necessary) and about 4 -5 teaspoons of baking soda.

Again, the first thing to do is remove the excess urine from your carpet using paper towels. Mix the water and the vinegar in the bottle or in a bowl and add the baking soda. When it stops fizzing it is ready to use. Spray the area or apply the solution with a sponge and let it soak for about 5 minutes. When the time has passed gently scrub and blot the area.

diy pet stains and odor removal

There is another interesting way to eliminate pet odors from your home provided by Canary Wharf CleanStart. Not just the urine smell but the dog or respectively, cat smell that they have. You can use the following recipe on any upholstery in your home – carpet, sofa, pillows, mattress, etc.

In a spray bottle mix two parts water and one part mouthwash – shake the bottle well and spray your couch or carpet with it. Put newspaper on the sprayed area and let it sit for a while. The newspaper will absorb the bad smell and the mouthwash will leave it fresh-scented for a while. The mouthwash smell will wear off and the pet odor will be gone as well. You can use this even on your pet’s bed.

If you do not have carpets to deal with, but have a hard floor you can make a floor cleaner specifically to take care of the smells and stains left by your pet – mix a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap, ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and a ½ cup of white vinegar in a bowl or a spray bottle. Either spray on your floor and wipe with a rag or simply use a mop. This will clean your floors from muddy or any other stains your pet has made and also remove any unpleasant odor.

These DIY cleaning products are easy to make, save you money and work miraculously. Make sure you try them soon.

Kidioke Review: Must Add To Your Christmas List!

** Disclosure: I received a Kidioke book for free in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Christmas is right around the corner. Are you still at a lost when it comes to buying for your smallest fan? Then you have to check out Kidioke! Plus, Kidioke has a cool app you can download to go with the book, too. My daughter has made me promise her I will get her another one. I think it’s a great idea. It’s a fun product and plus it’s educational, too. Especially when Haley is now learning to read. 

The past few months have been a roller coaster for our family. As many of you know, my kids stay sick. Dray goes to physical and speech therapy. Haley has epilepsy. Which means we spend a lot of time at the local children’s hospital. About two months ago I quit my job. I didn’t want to. But, with how often my kids were sick, I missed a lot of work. I didn’t feel like I was part of the “team.” Because of the missed work it became hard to afford gas. Not to mention paying a babysitter on top of that, too.

Right before I quit, Haley came down with pneumonia. She had just started kindergarten. Which was really awful. Because. from the get go she missed 2 whole weeks of school. Now, we’re just now getting over another case of pneumonia. Poor girl has been through the ringer. But, that doesn’t stop her excitement. She’s a lot of fun. Even if her 3 hour long stories make absolutely no sense. She loves school. Her intelligence is amazing.

Every afternoon Dray and I sit in the car line at the elementary school waiting to pick her up. We’re waiting at least an hour every day. At first it was hard. Dray is only a year old. It’s hard to keep him entertained. I would bring toys, drinks, snacks, and even let him tear up magazines. But, he gets bored fast. Even his favorite toy doesn’t keep him entertained more than a couple of minutes. Especially if we’re in the car and not moving. He’s great for car rides. Just not sitting still and the car isn’t moving.

Thankfully, a few weeks ago, a miracle came into our lives. We discovered Kidioke. Now waiting in the car rider line isn’t so unbearable. He’s entertained the whole time. Which is amazing to me. All thanks to a book. But, a book that we will stock up on this Christmas season.

What is Kidioke?

Kidioke is basically a book that allows your kids to enjoy the “karaoke” side of life. Each book includes a popular song. The Kidoke books also look cool with the side guitar on each book. The books also have a LED timer display. This helps little ones know when each verse will start.

The Kidioke is a great way to help your little one learn to read. In a fun way, too! Parents will love the song selection, too. Kidioke is bringing back the classics that’s for sure.

kidioke

Kidioke Book Series

Kidioke: “My Girl” by The Temptations

Kidioke: “Lullaby” by Billy Joel

Kidioke: “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

We were lucky enough to get the “What A Wonderful World” version. Such a great song. 

Find Kidioke books on Amazon + FREE Shipping!

Check out my post “5 Christmas Family Traditions You Can Start This Year.” One of the ideas is wrapping up 25 books. Then starting December 1st allow your child to open one book each day until Christmas. I can’t wait to see how stoked Haley is when she sees a few Kidioke books in the mix.

If you have a chance to check out the Kidioke series, let me know how you like it. Plus, what’s your favorite one? The songs are oldies but definitely goodies. I’ll post a review of the Kidioke app next week. So, if you’re familiar with the app – shhh! Don’t give any spoilers. 😉