Monday, March 27, 2017

Safest SUVs and Family Cars for 2017

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Blue Springs Ford 

Family vehicles for 2017 


Year after year, family cars are becoming safer. The IIHS tests all family vehicles with a barrage of crash tests and considers the advanced safety features that can be purchased to offer Top Safety Pick+ ratings. In 2015, there were 33 cars awarded the Top Safety Pick+ designation, and in 2016 this jumped to 50 cars.

Ford did particularly well, with the mighty Ford F-150 being one of the vehicles awarded a Top Safety Pick+ for “Large Pickups”. It’s important to note too that crash tests have been steadily getting harder, so this is no mean feat.

So, when looking to purchase a safe family vehicle in 2017, you’re spoiled for choice. We’ve put together a list of some of the safest vehicles available to you today, independently tested by the IIHS and the NHTSA.

1 - 2017 Ford Fusion 

The first 2017 midsize sedan to be awarded the Top Safety Pick+ denomination, the 2017 Ford Fusion can be equipped with a front crash prevention system that has been rated as ‘Superior” by the IIHS. It also managed to ace all crash tests, getting the highest possible score. This beats its high score from last year and sees the 2017 Ford Fusion as a top choice for families looking for a midsize sedan.

2 – 2017 Kia Sorento 

Midsize SUVs are highly popular with families in 2017, and the Kia Sorento is a good choice if you’re looking for one of the safest out there. It got the highest possible score in IIHS testing when the optional front crash prevention system is included. Starting at around $25,000, it’s not too hard on the wallet, either.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Atlanta family attractions: special offers for spring

Whether you are driving or flying to the ATL or having a staycation in your hometown city, Atlanta has many attractions to offer. As you plan your activities, do not forget to browse each website for special offers. Many of the best Atlanta attractions have spring break offers and savings right now.


The Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker Street NW
If you want to visit the Georgia Aquarium in the evening, check out the Imagination Nights offer for 30% off admission after 4pm. This offer is valid Monday-Sunday after 4pm. Subject to exclusion dates.If you have young children, the Me and Mommy weekday offer is a tremendous deal. Georgia Aquarium's Me and Mommy ticket offer provides one adult General Admission ticket and up to 4 children's General Admission tickets (for ages 5 and under) for only only $44.95 plus tax. The aquarium also has Military Mondays and early bird pricing for visits prior to 11 am.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring cleaning tips for busy parents

Do you have the spring cleaning itch yet? Life is hectic here, especially in the spring. Soccer season starts up again and the kids want more time to play outdoors. Also, the sunlight consistently streams through my windows - illuminating dust, sticky kid fingerprints, and crummy floors. I would love to be able to keep up with a spotless home, but the reality of kids and activities just doesn't let that happen.
spring cleaning tips

When I do have some time to clean up the place, I like to focus on one task at a time. Helpful cleaning tips are always welcome - anything to save me time.

Spring-cleaning tips for parents

Toys and art supplies
I get overwhelmed when I enter the kids' messy spaces. It is much easier to focus on one task at a time. One spring-cleaning day may include sorting through the books. Another may be tackling the creative explosion in their art area. By concentrating on a small, themed task, I am less likely to run screaming from the room. Of course, getting the kids to help can (sometimes) be beneficial as well. Just make sure they are prepared for a lot of donating and purging.

Sticky fridge
Mix salt and soda water for an awesome refrigerator cleaner. It's like a facial scrub, but for the inside of the fridge! While things are getting removed for de-gunking, take the opportunity to throw away those hidden items that are well past their expiration date. Re-stock the shelves and drawers in an organized manner.


Baseboards and crown moulding
Our white baseboards and moulding love to collect dust, and I hate to stretch and bend to clean it off. Try this hack: Wrap a lightly damp hand towel around the bristles of a standard broom. Secure it on the broom with a rubber band, then walk your way around the house to wipe the dust away.


Clutter containment
My husband cannot understand why I love to bring home new baskets, bins, and shelves. As our family clutter grows, it becomes more and more important to have a place for everything. Obviously, we do not put everything away neatly all the time; but when it is time to straighten up, knowing where to toss each item is a big time saver.

Vinegar can be your spring-cleaning (or all-year-round) friend. To discover my favorite cleaning uses for vinegar, click over here: vinegar for cleaning

The sun is coming back soon! If you need to clean, do it quickly and efficiently. Then get outside to play.


Monday, February 6, 2017

1st place science fair project for 3rd grade

My daughter and her friend are headed to the district science fair! We are very excited and proud of their first place accomplishment and a smart science project. If you are looking for science fair project ideas for elementary grades, feel free to start with this idea.

Now, each school is different and nothing guarantees a first place science fair win. But I am happy to share the girls' third grade science fair project idea and basic steps. The project was based on their fall science curriculum, which may have earned bonus points with the judges. The project was controlled and fully documented in the science fair project log. In addition, their board was attractive and neat.


3rd grade science fair project


Stupendous Soil Absorption
a third grade science fair project

(that happened to win first place!) 

Please keep in mind that these are basic steps. Don't simply copy; make sure your child learns something as they work!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Parenting Magazine's best family travel tips

Family travel can be a lot of fun and a lot of work but hopefully, everyone ends up with some memories and photos to cherish for years.


Cruising for the first time? Taking non-skiiers to a ski resort? Stumped about spring break? I have shared my thoughts and experiences on a lot of destinations with kid-friendly tips (BalancingMama family travel), but don't just take my word for it.


Parenting.com is an informative and entertaining source for all things family: pregnancy, baby, toddler, family travel, fun and activities, and food. Here are some of their posts that may come in handy when you are in the mood for some family travel:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Peanut allergies: some guidelines have changed

Unless you live under a parenting rock, you know that peanut allergies are quite common in today's schools. A person with peanut allergies could have a mild or dangerous severe reaction. Reactions can cause rash, gastrointestinal issues, and respiratory distress. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, life-threatening allergic reaction that has, heartbreakingly, taken the life of too many children.

peanut allergies

Did you know that recent studies show that pediatrician's may have influenced the rise in peanut allergies? When my youngest was about 9 months old, our pediatrician instructed me to give him a tiny bit of peanut butter around 11 months of age. Then again a few days later if he had no reaction. Previously, parents had been strongly warned to keep all peanut and peanut butter products far away from children until at least age three.

Working Mother magazine shared information about the new guidelines late last week:

"For most babies, you should introduce peanut-containing foods as young as four months old.
The guidelines differ based on a baby’s likelihood of developing a peanut allergy."

Read the full article (Clear Up Confusion on the Best Time to Introduce Peanuts) to understand the guidelines and how to determine your child's risk level.

 red sneakers oakley
To learn more about a tragic peanut allergy death and how you can support the family's movement, follow Red Sneakers for Oakley on Facebook. Inspired by the life of Oakley Debbs and his red sneakers, this movement wants to ensure that no other child loses their life from asthma and allergies.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Ford Explorer: long haul road test

This is my second time reviewing a Ford Explorer Platinum, thanks to the team at Ford Southeast & Performance Logistics. My family used the vehicle at no charge for 11 days. All opinions are exclusively mine (or my daughter's). 

Nine months ago, I shared my thoughts about the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum edition. Our family reviewed the vehicle during a 4 1/2 hour road trip to Charlotte, NC for a theme park and the Great Wolf Lodge. This time, we happily received a shiny new 2017 Ford Explorer Platinum for a much longer road test. Our destination? Sunny Florida for a Christmas vacation with family. 


When we chose a sunny destination this year, Christmas travel became extreme travel. We packed the trunk space full (really full) with gifts, luggage, snacks, and a cooler. We set off bright and early with sleepy children then endured holiday traffic later in the afternoon. Our travel day ended up around 10 1/2 hours from home to accommodations.
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