Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dyson Young Engineers' Holiday Challenge @JDF

Dyson, the brand that brought us the most amazing vacuums, has a charitable foundation that’s committed to encouraging design and engineering education at a young age and it's called the James Dyson Foundation. James Dyson started the Foundation in 2002 to encourage young people to think differently, make mistakes and invent.

For the first time, they are running a fun little contest in time for Holidays, and the brief is simple: construct the most ambitious gingerbread house possible. There’s no limit on materials. Creativity is key. And Dyson engineers are building too, providing tips along the way. Follow along on Twitter.

Rules: One winner will be selected and their photo featured on the James Dyson Foundation’s website. Dyson engineers will judge the entries. The winner will be selected based on overall design and creativity. The contest is open now and ends on December 22, 2014 at 12:01am EST. Official rules can be found here.

Entry: Entering the contest is simple. Post a photo of your gingerbread house build to Facebook or Twitter, tagging the James Dyson Foundation (@JDF) and using hashtags #JDFgingerbuild and #contest.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Avoid the January Hangover #FinancialPeace #CleverGirls @CapitalOne360

Black Friday is a tradition for many Americans, in fact now stores are offering deals days before the actual Friday after Thanksgiving.  With all the great deals, it's easy to lose sight of the goals we have set to help us achieve financial peace of mind. So many of us get caught up in the season that before we know it we are faced with the dreaded January hangover.  To avoid this, you have to plan ahead and stick to your plan.  Here are some tips on how to not overspend this Holiday season:

Make a list of people you are buying for and give yourself a budget for each person.  Remember bigger is not always better, it's the thoughtful gifts that really matter.

Bake, cook a meal, or make some of the gifts that you plan on giving.  There are so many ideas on the internet that the possibilities are endless.

Consider giving the gift of time.  Its the memories you make with your loved ones and not the gifts that you give that will go on being remembered.

Opt out of things like office Secret Santas or Grab Bag gifts.  In reality, those may be fun but they usually end up being useless items for which the cost adds up.

Use coupons, discount codes and shop around for better deals.  Check various stores and retailers online before making a purchase.

Set aside money into a separate account throughout the year so that come Holiday Season, you don't have to worry.

This holiday, to encourage consumers to stay on track with their finances, Capital One 360 is decking the halls with deals you can bank on, including new account bonuses, referral bonuses and closing cost credits. Once the Thanksgiving celebrations are done, be sure to add Capital One 360's Black Friday Sale to your shopping list. Visit HERE to give yourself the lasting gift of financial peace of mind by taking advantage of Capital One 360's deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products.

In addition to taking advantage of deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products yourself, you can give your friends and family the gift of financial peace of mind by encouraging them to take advantage of the deals and refer them to the sale. If they sign up, you may be eligible for a $40 referral bonus.

Capital One 360 Checking and 360 Savings are fee-free and earn interest. Capital One 360 offers remote deposit capture with Capital One 360's CheckMate tool and make savings a snap with the Automatic Savings Plan.

So don't get caught up in all the shopping that you forget about your financial future.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Placenta Tissue Banking and What You Need to Know {And Car Seat Giveaway}

Having a baby is life changing.  When they set that little person into your arms it's love at first sight, and from that point on your goals is to keep them healthy and safe.  But what happens if something goes wrong and as your child grows they become seriously ill? New science is using stem cells to treat patients with serious conditions.  LifebankUSA, owned by Celgene Corporation, is the only cord blood bank processing material for FDA-approved clinical trials using stem cells from placental tissue.  They preserve your baby’s placental tissue using the same steps taken for processing stem cells for our FDA-approved clinical trials. No other cord blood company can claim that. Tissue banking is simply one additional layer of protection and peace of mind foryou and your family offered by LifebankUSA. 

Stem cells in cord blood have transformative potential and have been used to treat over 30,000 patients worldwide. It’s been shown that using a higher number of stem cells in a transplant leads to better engraftment and survival. Did you know that you can preserve significantly MORE of your baby’s stem cells by adding placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection?

Banking the most stem cells can be critical and only through banking both cord and placenta blood do you have this opportunity. Numerous studies published in top medical journals have shown that transplanting more stem cells significantly increases success and transplant survival rates. In fact, customers who bank placenta blood in addition to cord blood with LifebankUSA preserve 60%-70% more CD34+ stem cells – the cells that are the most important for rebuilding diseased blood with healthy blood.

Only LifebankUSA has the technology to offer placenta blood banking with cord blood banking to expectant parents. They are also the only company in the world to release placenta stem cell units for transplant.

Your child is being born into a world of extraordinary possibilities that include the enormous potential of stem cell banking. You can make the most of this once-in-a- lifetime opportunity by choosing LifebankUSA and add placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection, for a very real, proven layer of protection for you and your family.

Head over the LifebankUSA facebook page by clicking HERE and enter to win one of three Graco 4ever 4-in-1 Car Seats!  Super easy to enter.

Friday, November 21, 2014

LG OLED is a Great Gift from Best Buy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free   @BestBuy #HintingSeason #OLEDatBestBuy

My idea of a great night is the whole family sitting on the couch, snuggled with blankets, watching a great movie.  Having something great to watch the movie on is really important, that is why I'm crazy about the new the stunning design of LG OLED TV.  This gorgeous TV is only 0.21" thick at its thinnest point and the picture quality is spectacular.  It has Infinite Contrast that ranges from the most blazing whites to the deepest blacks. And, LG's exclusive 4 Color Pixel technology delivers bright, vibrant colors.

I have a series of shows that I watch with my husband after the kids go to bed, these shows as well as great movies should be experienced, not just watched on any old TV.  So things really just need to be seen to be believed and such is the case with LG's latest display technology. With deeper and richer colors, stunning contrast and ingeniously curved screens, it is unlike any technology you've ever seen, and it delivers a picture that exceeds your wildest imagination.

If you are looking for a gift that the whole family can enjoy long after the Holidays are over, head on over to Best Buy and save $500 off of the LG OLED TV with their everyday price of $3499.99.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just the Start - Planning for the Unexpected

You have been planning for months for the arrival of your new baby. You have assembled furniture, painted rooms, and made sure you did not forget anything for the newest member of your family. You have planned for everything, or have you?

A recent study found that 50% of Americans with children do not have a will. For new parents, planning for the unexpected is always the last thing on their mind, but dealing with the difficult situations head on is often what parenthood is all about. In particular, a will goes beyond just designating who will inherit your assets, it can also designate who will be the guardian of your child should something happen to both parents.

An estate plan is for everyone not just for the retired, and not just for “the wealthy.” Unfortunately, we cannot predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages. In addition, good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they cannot afford to lose anything.

Estate planning does not have to be expensive. If you don’t think you can afford a complex estate plan now, start with what you can afford. For a young family or single adult, that may mean a will, term life insurance, and powers of attorney for your assets and health care decisions. Then, let your planning develop and expand as your needs change and your financial situation improves. Don’t try to do this yourself to save money. An experienced attorney will be able to provide critical guidance and peace of mind that your documents are prepared properly. 

What is an estate plan? It is the making of a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive what you own after you pass. However, good estate planning is much more and should include: 

  • A guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children. 
  • Instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables. 
  • Instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die. 
  • Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits. 
  • Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce. 
  • Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury. 
  • Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death. 
  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees. 
  • Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.  
What is a will? 

A will is the legal instrument that permits a person, to make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after his or her passing. A will serves a variety of important purposes. It enables a person to select his heirs rather than allowing state laws to choose the heirs. A will allows a person to decide which individual could best serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property fairly to the beneficiaries while protecting their interests. Finally, and most importantly, a will safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve as guardian to raise his or her young children in the event of his or her death. 

What is a Power of Attorney? 

A Power of Attorney ("POA") is written document that allows you (the principal) to appoint another person to act as an agent on your behalf, thus allowing the agent to perform certain acts or functions on your behalf. The POA generally terminates when you terminate the POA, when you die, or when you become incompetent. 

A special type of Power of Attorney that is used frequently is the "durable" power of attorney. A durable POA differs from a traditional POA in that it continues the agency relationship beyond your incapacity. The two types of durable POA are immediate and "springing." The immediate takes effect as soon as the durable POA is executed. The "springing" POA does not take effect until a specific event occurs, such as the disability of the principal. Most often, durable powers of attorney are created to deal with decisions involving either property management or health care. Durable powers of attorney can easily and inexpensively handle your affairs after you become incapacitated. 

No one likes to think about their own morality, but you do not want the state to determine what happens to your loved ones and your assets. Knowing you have a properly prepared plan will give you and your family the peace of mind you need. 

John C. Wang

John C. Wang is a founding partner of Salas Wang LLC who concentrates his practice in Estate Planning and Immigration Law. Whether you are married or single, just starting out or looking back on a life well-lived, John can help you create an estate plan that will help achieve your goals for your loved ones today. John holds a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law where he was the International Law Society Vice President and a member of the Intellectual Property Law Society, Student Advocate Program, and the Asian Pacific American Law School Association. 

John also holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. For more information on how to plan, please visit www.easierthanexpected.com

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Beautiful DIY Flowers From Bloominous

Let's face it, weddings are EXPENSIVE.  Many brides have turned to DIY projects to cut back on costs, and actually this has turned into a huge trend.  When it comes to floral arrangements the process of researching, purchasing, and arranging the flowers often ends up causing more stress and dollars.  Wedding planning is pretty overwhelming as it is, and getting beautiful flowers should not add to that stress.  I have recently come across a great website that provides easy DIY floral arrangements kits for weddings and events.  Recognizing this need gap, Bloominous is launched in 2014 to give brides an alternative option for DIY wedding flowers. 

There are three advantages of using Bloominous for a wedding / event:

1. Cost Saving:

• With Bloominous, brides will be able to save anywhere from 30% to 50% off their original floral budget, that means you can get the flowers you really want, for the price you really want.

• Each piece is priced without the typical 300% markup from wedding florists, e.g. $5 boutonnieres, $40 centerpieces, and $50 bouquets

2. Easy DIY:

• Most DIY floral services do not send ‘prepped’ flowers, but ours come cut-to-order, dethorned, and trimmed, ready to arrange, so brides save time AND money

• Each kit comes with step-by-step photo instructions for easy assembling within 10 to 20 minutes per piece, as well as flower care products and design tips.  If you have never assembled flower arrangements have no fear, they will walk you through the whole thing.

3. Quality, Professional Design:

• All collections featuring specialty flowers are designed by florist with 10+ years of experience in event and floral design so you know your special day will look amazing.

• It’s not just the flowers— they help you design the whole look from vases to favors.

This 'florist-at-your-fingertips' experience is not to be missed. Bloominous is making DIY fun, easy, and approachable for anyone who wants to try. This is a wonderful way to save on wedding costs and add a personal touch to your celebration.  You can even plan a little DIY party with your bridesmaids or family to create memories for your special day.  To see all the collections check them out at http://Bloominous.com

Disclosure:  This post was brought to you by Bloominous and may contain sponsored content

Friday, November 7, 2014

Give Your Thin Hair More Volume with Women's Rogaine

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Big hair is in.  No matter how you look at it, when it comes to hair more is better, but if you have thin or thinning hair you might feel like your style options are limited.  I love short hair and and have had short hair for most of my adult years.  The way I like to wear it is stacked and layered and big.  Unfortunately my hair is thin and I have always had to use tons of products to get the look I love.

It didn't even occur to me just how much stuff I use in my hair until I was packing for my trip to Europe and had a weight limit on my luggage.  Let me tell you something, styling products weigh a lot,  I said enough was enough, time to try something different, so I turned to Rogaine. 

 I went to my local Walmart and sure enough it was right there in the hair care and shampoo isle.

I had to do a little searching around but I finally found it at the very bottom of one of the shelves.

Women's Rogaine gets to the root of hair thinning problems and can regrow thicker hair over time.  All you do is apply the foam once a day to your scalp, its really that easy,  I was really excited to start using this product so I could finally simplify my styling routine.

While I was shopping I also picked up some Neutrogena T-Gel shampoo because the dry winter air really takes a toll on my skin and scalp.

When I used the Rogaine foam, I really enjoyed that there was no strong scent or odor to it.  I had never used this kind of product before so it was all new to me.  The foam itself was very lightweight and did not leave any kind of residue or make my hair sticky.  I just styled as usual, that's it.  And because this product can help me grow thicker, fuller hair, I will no longer have to mask the problem with styling products.

Needless to say, my hair looked pretty awesome on my trip to Europe #MoreIsBeautiful #CollectiveBias

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Best Buy is the Place to Go for Action Cameras

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

The weather is getting cooler and Holiday season is just around the corner.  It is never too early to start shopping and Best Buy is the home of the latest cameras and camcorders for all those on your list who love to snap pictures and make memories.  Best Buy's camera selection includes the full line of new GoPro cameras, plus a broad assortment of accessories. GoPro cameras make perfect holiday gifts for everyone, from kids and teens, to gadget gurus. GoPro’s new line of cameras allow you to beautifully and authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life.

GoPro HERO4 Black is the most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.  I got this camera for my husband and he loves playing around with it!

Best Buy currently has the broadest assortment of action cameras from the top brands.  It's really the only place I trust with my electronics purchases and their employees are always so knowledgeable and can answer all my questions.

Best Buy also has new action cameras unveiling soon and the full line will be available at all Best Buy stores. This launch comes in time for gadget guru’s, adventure seekers and family memory makers to upgrade to the latest technology or add them to their holiday wish list. Best Buy will also have the latest accessories and mounts to help you capture immersive footage of the moments that matter most. Be the first to share the new technology with your followers and get the inside scoop on the product features.

Learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Crystal Queen Costume Winner

Good Morning!

Its pretty chilly here in Illinois, a whopping 33 degrees right now which makes this giveaway winner announcement even more perfect.

The winner of the Crystal Queen Costume from Great Pretenders is....


Winner was chosen at random by Rafflecopter and emailed, she has 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sittercity's New Date Night Now for Chicago Parents

Everyone knows that all parents need some grown up time.  Date nights are so important for any marriage or relationship and not being able to find a sitter when you need one should not be the reason you and your partner have to cancel your plans.

Sittercity is excited to offer their brand new service for Chicago parents called Date Night Now, Date Night Now matches top sitters on-demand with local Chicago families.  Planning a last minute dinner date? They work with an extensive team of sitters in Chicago to accommodate even last minute bookings.  The best part is that pricing starts at only $55 for 4 hours of babysitting with no additional fees.  You don't even need to pay for an ongoing membership!  Booking a sitter is really easy, it's just a 3 step process.
Here's how their booking process works:
  1. Visit datenight.sittercity.com and choose the date you need a sitter. This can be last minute or a few weeks away
  2. You are presented with a list of the qualified sitters who would be a great fit.  These sitters are guaranteed to be available for the evening the parent has selected.  For example, there are the sitters available for this Saturday, just click HERE to check it out.
  3. Review the list, choose your favorite and get in touch with the right match.  

Since Date Night Now is brought to you by Sittercity you know you are getting peace of mind because all of their Date Night sitters have had background checks completed and many are reviewed as well.

Currently Date Night Now is only available to Chicago's North side parents, but we hope to expand to new neighborhoods in Chicago soon so be on the lookout!

Special Offer: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom readers can receive $15 off their first date night with the promo code "DIARY15".

*Disclosure:  This post has been sponsored by Sittercity, all opinions are my own