Why I’m Breaking Up With My Scale in 2015


I totally get that a new year is a time for all sorts of weight loss goals (in fact as I type this a Weight Watchers commercial just came on TV). I myself am going on a bit of a sugar fast in an effort to feel better and get rid of a little holiday bloating. But I am also doing something that might surprise you.

I’m breaking up with my scale.

I’m not a slave to the scale or my weight by any means, but I step on it a few times a week to see how things are going. But instead of helping me, it is hurting me. Scale up, I feel awful about myself even if everything still fits perfectly and I am feeling good in every other way. Scale down, I am awesome and clearly deserve a pile of treats as a reward. Maybe two piles.

The truth is, as a woman of a “certain age” my weight on the scale can fluctuate wildly from day-to-day. And I refuse to continue to let it make me feel bad or good about myself. Actually I am quite happy with the way I look (well minus the holiday bloat that is on its way out the door) and I need to stop eating and rewarding myself based on some ridiculous number.

I realize this isn’t revolutionary. But I thought some of you might relate and break up with your scale like the toxic boyfriend that he is. Worry about the way your clothes fit you and not a number. And don’t even get me started on the number on a tag on a pair of jeans (a blog rant for another time). Kick that boyfriend to the curb while you’re at it.

Saving at the Pump With Shell Fuel Rewards


This year, because Silas started pre-Kindergarten at the girls’ school, I drive back and forth to school 3 times a day. It is about 15 minutes away. I also drive to youth group, soccer practice, drama club, piano lessons, and the myriad of other errands I seem to run all the live long day. I feel like I live in my car (and my car definitely looks like it) and my gas tank is perpetually on empty. I cannot even handle how much gas I am burning through every week. It is ugly.

Listen, if I can save a little on gas I am doing it. And I realize there are apps and websites telling me where the cheapest gas is but honestly? Ain’t nobody got time for that. I just need to get my gas and get on to the next errand.

A while back I signed us up for the Shell Fuel Rewards Program after seeing info about it somewhere or another. It is a ridiculously simple (and free) loyalty program for Shell customers that allows you to use your everyday purchases to lower your gas prices.

You simply sign up for a free Fuel Reward Network card. The shop and dine at your usual grocery stores, retailers, restaurants, Shell stations, Online Mall merchants, and more participating companies to earn Fuel Rewards. You need to link your store loyalty cards and the debit/credit card you use while shopping to your FRN card. Then you can start earning credits to your fuel account.

When you are at the pump, insert your Fuel Reward Network Card and get discounted gallons of gas. Sometimes heavily discounted. And since I’m already buying groceries, dining out and shopping, I’m basically getting paid in gas for things I am doing anyway.

Right now, through Nov. 2, Shell is running a Refer-a-Friend promotion. If you sign up for the Fuel Reward Network using my refer a friend link, I earn a 25¢ off /gal bonus when you uses the program the first time. And YOU earn a 25¢ off/gal bonus after their first fill-up at a participating Shell station. Then you can turn around and refer friends and earn even more. We are both #winning.

I love anything that rewards me for doing what I am already doing so I am grateful for the Shell Fuel Rewards Program making my time at the pump sting a little less.

Disclosure: While I have been a long time member of the Fuel Reward Network, I have partnered with Shell to share about their Refer a Friend promotion. I was provided with a gift card to facilitate this post. 


Why I Got My Eleven Year Old A Smartphone


Up until last week if there would have been a parade for people against middle schoolers having cell phones I would have been the grand marshall. I would have ridden in front (in a convertible or course) waving the banner HIGH. I was passionate about the subject and I let people know it!

But as Lily entered middle school Ryan and I really started to feel as though she needed a phone. We wanted to be able to leave her with friends for short periods of time and we don’t have a home phone. We had a pre-paid phone for home but it was constantly getting lost and didn’t hold much of a charge. And she was beginning to have more after-school activities where I wanted to be able to get a hold of her and couldn’t.

So off to Best Buy we went to get her the most basic of “feature phones.” We wanted something more than a flip phone since texting was an important feature. But beyond that, we wanted simple. And no “smart” with our phone.

But guess what? Those phones hardly exist anymore. When we got there and saw our choices they consisted of a huge variety of smart phones, one flip one and one other phone with a slideout keyboard and the old school resistive touch screen that basically never responds to touch. It got a 3 star review online.

Ryan and I literally sat in Best Buy for nearly an hour (while our two youngest kids went crazy with tablets) and debated what to do. This was going to be her eleventh birthday present so a flip phone seemed like the lamest gift ever. So if we wanted to avoid smartphones we were left with this really crappy other phone that, when we added her on our plan with a contract, ended up costing $50 more than a really good smartphone. But we were completely prepared to do it because we wanted to stand by our beliefs that middle schoolers should not have smartphones.

Well. Lily is now that proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy 4. We did not come to this decision lightly and it came with quite a few adaptations. Here is what we did:

  1. Turned Off Mobile Data: My biggest concern with a smartphone is that she would have access to the internet 24/7. Not only was I concerned about what she might see, but I didn’t want the phone becoming an extension of her arm. We tried to take her off our data plan but apparently phone companies like you paying for their data plans and Verizon wouldn’t shut it off. So instead we manually turned it off. She can browse under wireless in our home but we have filters and this was not different from before when she had access to tablets and her iTouch.
  2. Installed Family Base: When I called Verizon to ask them to shut off mobile they instead recommended this feature. It does cost like $5 a month but it is worth it because I can see all of what Lily does on her phone. I get weekly emails detailing who she is calling and texting (and who is calling and texting her). I can also see if she uses any mobile data which she knows she is not allowed to do. I can also see all this activity through an app on my phone. Family Base can also be used to block numbers from texting or calling if that every becomes necessary and limit the amount of money your kids can spend on apps (which would be zero in our case).
  3. Limited her hours of use: Again, we use Family Base for this. Her phone basically shuts down from 9pm-7am and doesn’t allow her to make or receive texts and calls. Originally we were just going to make her “turn in her phone” every night but we learned from trying this with other technology that we stink and consistency with this so the app makes it idiot proof for us.
  4. Disabled You Tube: We simply shut off the app under the settings
  5. Downloaded a safe browser: I liked the functionality of Mobicip. It restricts websites based on age. It also allows you to restrict your kids from downloading apps without a password. There is a paid version that does a bunch of other stuff but for right now we are just using the free features.
  6. Cell Phone Contract: When we gave her the phone we had a long talk about how this was a big responsibility and how we didn’t take it lightly. I had written up a cell phone contract and we went over it and she signed it. Honestly I think she was so excited about having a phone she would have signed anything. But so far she has shown a lot of maturity regarding her phone and I am proud of how well she is sticking to our rules. You are free to download our Cell Phone Contract and use it if you like.

Ryan and I really wanted to be upfront about our rules and what we expected from the beginning. I didn’t want to set her up for failure or try to “catch her” breaking rules. As she gets older we will loosen things up and she will be able to use the phone much more like a smart phone is intended. It is also excellent leverage when we need to punish her for attitude issues or behaviors completely unrelated to the phone. As the cell phone contract states right at the top, we consider this our phone that she is allowed to use. When she can pay for her own phone we can talk about different rules.

If there are any other ways / apps to protects kids online I would love for you to share them in the comments. I know this is a touchy subject, and one about which I still have strong opinions. But we made a decision that we are pretty happy with and hope is a good one for our family.

Protecting Yourself From a Security Breach With LifeLock


Last week I told you about a way I was making shopping with credit cards easier and safer. But how about even safer? It seems like every day we read about a new security breach from Target to Home Depot to Jimmy Johns. Not to mention they all seem to happen at the stores I shop at the most!

Identity theft scares the heck out of me ever since I saw “The Net” back in the early 90s. But I must admit I mostly feel completely helpless to do much about it. But here are five things you can do when you here of a security breach at a store you have recently frequented:

  1. Monitor your transactions: Check your bank records and look for any purchases you know you didn’t make. Make sure this is a joint effort between you and anyone else who is using the same accounts (spouses, children, etc.)
  2. Report suspicious transactions immediately: No matter the size, contact your bank or credit card immediately if you notice a supicious charge.
  3. Order a new debit card: If you believe your debit card number was compromised, don’t wait for fraudulent charges to appear on your statement. Because it is linked to your bank account, you run the risk of a criminal depleteing your whole bank account. Request a new card from your bank immediately. Also, keep in mind that credit cards offer more protection and less risk because funds are not directly withdrawn from your bank account.
  4. Follow the story: Watch for communication from the retailer involved in the security. Often times they provide additional information specific to their incident.
  5. Consider using an identity protection service: LifeLock provides identity protection products and services you can count on. In fact, with LifeLock Advantage™ and LifeLock Ultimate Plus™, they can help you detect fraudulent activity with alerts for cash withdrawals, balance transfers and large purchases within our extensive network.


LifeLock is the leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services. They have been around since 2005 and have over 3 million members. They offer 3 layers of protection: Detect, Alert, Restore. If a threat is detected you are notified by text, phone, or email and can quickly respond if the activity was yours or not.

LifeLock offers 3 levels of service: LifeLock Standard, Life Lock Advantage, and the new LifeLock Ultimate Plus. There is something for everyone’s individual needs. Just for my readers, if you enter the promo code BREACHWATCHyou will receive 10% off the protection plan of your choice.

Put your mind at ease and check out LifeLock today!

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of LifeLock. I have been compensated for this post but all words and opinions are 100% mine.


Family Movie Night With Netflix

Family Movie Night

One of my goals for this year is to have one night that is set aside for family time. Honestly, I think we have done a pretty good job of protecting our evenings together. We are definitely busy, but we still have a lot of family time together. But I know that will continue to become challenging as the kids get older and busier. So wouldn’t it be awesome to have one night that is sacred. One night that nothing is allowed to interfere with. One night that is just for our family.

I hereby declare Sunday night to be Family Night. And one of the best ways to celebrate Family Night (maybe with a board game night thrown in here and there). My kids are forever begging to have family movie nights, but they are always begging at 7 o’clock at night right when we are winding down for bed. So spontaneous movie nights are few and far between. But with planned movie nights we can do:

  • Snuggling up in sleeping bags on the floor
  • Getting to eat dinner on TV trays in front of the TV (a definite treat, eating in front of the TV is a giant no-no in our house)
  • Giant bowls of popcorn made on the stove and dripping with butter
  • A chance to watch movies old and new that the whole family will love

I am so thankful that we are Netflix members so there is no running the video store (is that still a thing?) or paying crazy high prices to see over-rated movies. With Netflix, we can watch so many of my childhood favorites as well as tons of movies with the current characters my kids enjoy.

Here are some ideas to get you started with Netflix movies your family will love:

Little Kids

For your little kids:

1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (a serious family favorite)
2. The Pirate Fairy
3. Hoodwinked
4. Angelina Ballerina
5. Bob the Builder
6. The Muppet Movie (RAINBOW CONNECTION!!!)

Big Kids

For your bigger kids:

1. Strange Hill High
2. The Avengers (Silas is still too young, but he LOVES super heros)
3. The Smurfs 2
4. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
5. Free Birds (this looks soooo funny)
6. Mako Mermaids: An H2O Adventure (mermaids and dolphins? Hannah would FLIP)

Teens and Adults

For your teens (or date night for you and the hubby after the kids are in bed):

  1. Clueless (one of my all time faves)
  2. The Breakfast Club (legitimately my all time fave)
  3. Friday Night Lights (I cannot say enough about this show- OBSESSED)
  4. The Vampire Diaries
  5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (seriously love)
  6. 13 Going on 30 (watch for the Thriller dance off if nothing else)

Do you have a family night that you keep sacred?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix Stream Team Ambassador. I received a free year subscription to Netflix and a Roku. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.