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Improving Vehicle Air Quality With FRAM®


In our household we fight an unseen battle on a near daily basis. We can’t escape from it and there is little we can do to fix the problem. I’m talking about the battle with asthma, allergies, and the toxins that wreak havoc on the day to day lives of several of our children. Matt and I try our very best to provide the healthiest environment possible for our kids. We want them to thrive and grow up to be happy and healthy adults. We strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle but all the exercise, vitamins, and nutritious food in the world still cannot combat the effects of asthma and serious allergies.     





Ty is affected the most by pollution and toxins in the air. It has gotten easier over the years to manage his asthma and we’ve learned how to cope with his symptoms to the best of our abilities. He doesn’t let it slow him down- he plays sports, he runs track, he swims competitively, he rides his bike. We learned early on to use special filters in our air vents at home, to use allergen reducing bed linens, to make sure all visitors know we are a no-smoking household. We do everything within our power to limit Ty’s exposure to things that will exacerbate his asthma. Unfortunately it’s hard to remove all the risk or all of the exposure to pollution and toxins.    






Did you know that the air inside your car can be 6 times dirtier than the air outside? I was shocked to hear that and immediately thought of how much more pronounced my little kids’ allergies can be after riding in the car for an extended period of time. Amazing how all my hard work to provide them with the healthiest home environment possible might be thwarted by something as small as the air inside the car. I found that to be equal parts disturbing and ironic. The kids spend a lot of time riding in Matt’s car now that our afternoons and evenings are packed full of activities. Matt spends a significant amount of time driving through heavy traffic on the interstate and through our congested uptown area because of the location of his office. He regularly sits in dead stop traffic on the interstate for upwards of 45 minutes during his commute. Imagine how much dust, dirt, and allergens are being trapped inside his car each day and then the kids have to ride around inside it.   






FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filters filter 98% of dust, dirt, and allergens and are the only cabin air filter that use ARM&HAMMER® baking soda to remove odors from the air entering the car through the ventilation system. I normally am not the person who does anything car related in our household but after watching the online installation video and reading the online guide I felt confident in my ability to install the FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter by myself. The online video and installation instructions were very easy to find for the year/make/model of our car and made it simple to understand what steps I needed to take. I was able to install the cabin air filter all by myself in a very short amount of time and Matt was justifiably impressed with my newfound ability.     






While the FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter will not filter out any dust, dirt, or allergens that do not enter the car through the ventilation system (it won’t filter out the stuff that enters the car via an open window or door), it definitely has made a difference in the quality of air the kids are breathing when they ride in Matt’s car. I’m happier knowing the dirt, dust, and allergens from Matt’s commute to work each day are no longer being a threat to my kids’ health and well-being.   


You can visit the website where it is super easy to find the correct FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter for your vehicle. You can purchase the FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter online at Amazon, or at your local Walmart, O’Reilly Auto Parts, or Meijer. Plus you can download a rebate for $3 off! You can find more information on the FRAM Fresh Breeze Facebook page and follow along on Twitter as well.


Do you have any tips for reducing allergens for your family? Leave a comment with your best advice and you will be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card, courtesy of FRAM and BlogHer!


Sweepstakes Rules:



No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1.      Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2.      Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3.      Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4.      For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/1-7/31/2014.

Be sure to visit the FRAM Fresh Breeze® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!




Taking The Purina One 28 Day Challenge

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Purina One, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ONEDifference http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV


When Matt and I first decided it was time to add a puppy into our family we were diligent in our research to help us decide what time of dog would fit best with our family. At the time we had 4 kids- ages 8 and under. We knew we needed a dog that active and playful and a breed that would be protective without being aggressive. We didn’t want a yappy little dog but we also didn’t want a large breed. Matt really was interested in a Boxer but that breed was a little larger than we were comfortable with at the time. After months of consideration we settled on a Boston Terrier. We chose Bailey and brought him home when he was 8 weeks old. Immediately he became everyone’s favorite family member.




Bailey the Boston Terrier was exactly the type of dog we hoped for when we first started the conversation about adding a dog to our family. He was playful with the kids, he was active and loved going on long walks around our neighborhood, and he was also a little snuggle bug who loved to cuddle. He was Mase’s best friend- the two of them were never far from each other.




 Bailey earned the nickname Bailey the Boston Terror for his unrelenting mischievous behavior. More than one time I entered the kitchen to find him standing on top of one of the counters nibbling at the fruit in the basket. He loved to steal a sock or a shoe and hide it. I lost count of the number of toys I had to replace because he ate them. And we’re not even going to talk about the time he ate the Baby Jesus out of our nativity scene. That was….unpleasant. But through it all, he remained the most lovable best friend any of our kids could ask for. 




Now that Bailey is 5 years old we’ve noticed a definite change in his activity level. He no longer sits at the front window to bark at all the people walking past our house during the day. He hasn’t even barked at the mail lady in at least 6 months and that used to be his favorite part of the day. Bailey used to love taking long walks around the neighborhood and just the sound of the front door opening would have him sprinting down the stairs. Lately the kids have had to go force him off of whichever bed he’s claimed as his own that day just to take him on short walks. He sleeps a lot more during the day and I’m fairly certain he believes the teenager’s bed is actually a bed made for a dog.




 For the last year or so about the only thing that can entice his energy level to increase is the smell of bacon. But that gets everyone in my house moving so poor Bailey rarely gets to indulge in the deliciousness of bacon. Unfortunately over the years we’ve gotten into the bad habit of allowing him to eat the leftover table food and he has shown time and time again just how deep his love of people food runs. We have a strict rule in our house about clearing the table immediately after a meal because otherwise we will find Bailey standing on top of the dining table licking the plates clean for us. The kids are the worst for feeding Bailey their table scraps after a meal. And face it- with this many little kids in the house there are a lot of table scraps. It seemed so wasteful to throw them out so we started letting Bailey finish them off. Big mistake.




 Over the last couple of years we’ve seen Bailey’s coat begin to lose it’s shine and his previously very high energy levels continued to decline. We thought he was just getting older but then he began to have digestive challenges and our vet told us it was more than likely related to his diet. Apparently leftover macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and the occasional banana peel is not good for a dog’s digestive system. We knew we had to make a change to help Bailey regain his former playful self. The Purina One 28 Day Challenge sounded like just what we needed to start forming better habits for Bailey.




 The Purina One 28 Day Challenge is a great way to start making changes to benefit your dog. It’s so easy to get started. Simply register, choose which dog food is right for your dog, create a profile for you dog and follow the Purina One guidelines for switching your dog. Then track the changes over the next 28 days, which include bright eyes, good dental health, increased energy, better digestion, a beautiful coat and healthy skin. 


 Bailey completed the 28 Day Challenge about a week ago and the changes we’ve seen have been amazing. His coat has regained it’s shine and he hasn’t had any digestive issues since we began the challenge. He is back to his old playful self- playing fetch with the kids again, greeting us at the door when we come home, barking a greeting at the mail lady each day, and no longer sleeping the whole day away. We’ve started taking long walks around the neighborhood as a family again and it’s been great to see Bailey enjoy greeting all his canine friends again. 




 I highly recommend taking the Purina One 28 Day Challenge for your dog. You can sign up for the Purina One 28 Day Challenge and receive a coupon for $3 off a Purina One bag of dog food



The Ant Invasion In My Kitchen

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hot Shot® Insecticides.
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Having 5 kids means there is a lot of things I have no choice but to deal with in my house. An overabundance of toys slowly taking over the house? I deal with it. A mile high pile of dirty laundry waiting to be washed? I deal with it. A jumble of 30 pairs of shoes cluttering up the floor of the foyer? I deal with it. A monthly grocery bill almost equal to our mortgage payment? I deal with it. But there is one thing I cannot and will not just deal with in my house. Bugs. Any kind of bugs really but I am especially creeped out by ants in my kitchen. The thought of ants crawling around on the counters where I prepare food just makes me feel sick to my stomach. Unfortunately we happen to have a house that backs up to the woods which means we battle ants every single year as soon as the cold winter months morph into warmer spring weather.






First we see them starting to appear in our dining area no matter how many times a day I vacuum. Then they move on to the kitchen. The worst is when I open the dishwasher and find ants crawling on the dirty dishes. I just cannot handle that. Matt has fielded more than one frantic call from a crazy wife in the middle of day due to an invasion of ants. What can I say? I don’t handle bugs very well. So what is the best way to handle the invasion of the ants in my kitchen?






Hot Shot® Insecticides is friendly, approachable and family-oriented brand that takes pride in providing homeowners with solutions that help to keep their homes free of pests. Hot Shot® Ant & Roach Plus Germ Killer is one of the best options I’ve found to help me control the ant infestation in my house. I can feel confident that I’m doing everything I can to keep my kitchen clean, sanitary, and ant free.





In addition to using Hot Shot® Ant & Roach Plus Germ Killer to keep my kitchen ant free, I also rely on Hot Shot® Wasp & Hornet Killer during the summer. We spent most of our time outdoors and with 2 kids allergic to wasp stings I have to do everything I can to keep them safe. Having Hot Shot® Wasp & Hornet Killer on hand makes me feel a whole lot safer letting the kids spend so much time playing outside. Being outside should be relaxing and fun. We shouldn’t have to worry about looking for bees!






Check out the Hot Shot® Insecticides Facebook page for more information and to participate in the sweepstakes of the month. For the month of July is “Who’s the hero?” It’s a fun way to weigh in on who actually does the deed (Mom or Dad) in your house when it comes to keeping bugs from feeling at home.


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hot Shot® Insecticides.



Loving The Life We Live

Matt and I were talking the other day about how much we are enjoying this particular stage of our lives. It feels like the pieces have fallen into place and we are just in a really great place. I swear for the last few years it seems like there was at least one area of our lives that was a real challenge and a work in progress. Either Matt was unhappy at work, or he was working a lot of hours, or the kids were in challenging stages, or money was very tight…. it was just always something. 


But now…. now is good. Matt loves his job. He somehow manages to cram 60 hours of work into a 45 hour work week. Which means he is home for dinner every night on time. That alone has been a huge positive change for our household. Having that extra hour to sit down and be a family has been great. The kids are getting to spend more time with their dad and he is more connected to their lives than he was able to be before when he was working 65-70 hours a week. 







The kids are at great ages. They do not require me to entertain them all day. They play together and have a great time. I can pick up on a whim and take them all out for ice cream in the middle of the afternoon without having to plan around nap times or pack up 100 pounds of baby equipment just to leave the house. I can see the kids personalities really emerging and where their talents lie is beginning to be clear. I love watching them discover new interests and hobbies. Maia recently discovered how much she enjoys cooking so we’ve been spending some time together in the kitchen making delicious desserts. Mase was given a pair of roller skates awhile back and he has spent the last month learning how to roller skate around the house. Zoey is just now finding out how much fun it is to play dress up and Maia has graciously passed on all her old dress up clothes to her little sister. Ty spends most of his time outside playing basketball with his friends, or swimming, or biking, or playing the Xbox with a group of dudes in my family room. I love that his friends feel comfortable coming into my home and that they know they are always welcome. This week we had Taco Tuesday at our house and had 5 extra kids joining us- 3 of Ty’s friends and 2 of Maia’s. I love that. It took a lot of tacos to feed them all but I’m choosing to feel grateful that I really like my kids’ friends and want them in my home. That’s a gift. 


Matt and I have come to the realization that money will likely always be tight with a large family. We just accept it and move on. We’ve paid down most of our debt with the exception of our house and cars. We are careful what we choose to spend money on and we have a healthy savings account now. That was not the case a couple of years ago when we were literally living paycheck to paycheck. That was probably the scariest time in my life. Matt and I argued constantly about money. I still don’t understand how we spent so much time fighting about something we didn’t even have but that’s what financial stress does in a household. I’ve been very blessed that the extra money I make from blogging has taken some of the stress off. Cam’s private school is incredibly expensive even with a portion being paid by his financial aid. We were drowning in the bills but somehow we’ve made it through the dark tunnel to the light at the other side. I feel like I can breathe again.


Personally I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I know a huge part of that is hormones being regulated for the first time in forever. For the past 15 years I’ve been either on meds to get pregnant, pregnant, miscarrying, or postpartum. That’s a whole lot of screwing with hormones. This is the longest stretch of time since we’ve been married that my body has had a rest and I can feel the difference. I’m happy. I wake up happy- partly because all my kids sleep in til after 9am so I get to sleep in too. Because it’s summer time we have no schedule. We can swim when we want, we can get ice cream when we want, we can spend all day in our pajamas if we want. The last one is my favorite. 


We don’t need things to make us happy. That’s been a long learned life lesson for me. Things are just things. Happiness come from within. And for the first time in a long time I am truly happy. 



I’m Not Overprotective- I’m Just A Mom

My parents were really strict when I was growing up. Like really really really strict. I’m talking Catholic strict, y’all. Fortunately for me they were also very deep sleepers or I would have had no fun at all during my teen years. Sorry mom. But when I was young they controlled my environment with an iron fist. Friends had to be vetted and approved before I was allowed at their homes. I was not allowed to do a lot of things that other kids my age were doing. I didn’t understand at the time the reasons for the strict rules in our household. My dad is a retired Army Intelligence Officer. I didn’t get that there were different rules that applied to the kids of AIO’s back then. I didn’t realize how much my dad’s career played a part in how I was parented. I thought my parents were just mean and strict and hated fun in any form. 


Now that I have my own kids I get it. I recently read a post (I’d link to it but the blogger has since removed it for some reason) that resonated with me deeply because I share a lot of the same ideas. I don’t consider myself to be an overprotective parent. I allow my children a lot more freedoms than I had as a child. But I’ve seen what I’m up against with regards to other parents and it’s frightening. It’s especially true with Ty and Maia’s friends. Free access to unrestricted laptop computers in their bedrooms, free access to unrestricted cable tv in their bedrooms, Xbox gaming systems with Xbox Live in their bedrooms, smartphones with all the social media apps and a passlock to keep out parents… y’all, the repercussions of those things are terrifying to me. But that’s not all- I see my kids’ friends wandering the neighborhood alone for hours on end. When they show up at my house I always ask if their parents know where they are- and they never do. What?


My kids think I’m overprotective. They think I go overboard with restrictions. They think I’m ruining their lives. But that’s okay- at least they’ll be alive for me to ruin their lives. I can live with that. And they’ll have so much to talk about in therapy one day. See- win/win. I do not consider myself to be overprotective or strict- at all. These kids should live with my parents for a few months and they’ll see what strict is really like. Hmmm…wonder if I can get my mom on board with that plan? Mental note- ask mom to adjust my kids opinion of strict. But there are some aspects of our daily lives that I am firm about the level of supervision I provide.


The Pool- I’m the mom swimming with her kids or at the very least sitting on the top step watching them swim. You will never find me sitting at an umbrella table reading a book while my kids are in the water. Ty and Maia are strong swimmers. Mase can swim enough to save himself but he still wears a Puddle Jumper float along with Zoey when we are at the pool. Yes there are lifeguards. There are also 35 other kids in the water. I’m not taking the chance that my kid will be the one they miss. It might be their job to watch the pool but it’s my responsibility to watch my own kids. Plus- my kids are fun and I enjoy swimming with them. I would miss out on all the funny stuff they do and new tricks they learn if I had my head buried in a book or my phone.






The Front Yard-  I’m the mom sitting in a lawn chair watching the kids play basketball, or ride bikes, or draw with sidewalk chalk in the front yard. I do not allow Mase or Zoey in the front yard without direct supervision. Yes our street is quiet, yes our house is set back from the road, and yes my kids have been taught to never run into the street. But none of those things guarantee they will be safe unsupervised. They are 6 and almost 4 years old. They are not equipped to make good decisions. I’ve gotten flack from some people in the neighborhood- joking but not joking if you know what I mean- about cutting the umbilical cord. That irritates me. I’d rather not take a chance that a ball will roll into the street and my almost 4 year old will forget herself and run after it when a car is coming. Why would I take that chance with my child’s life?





Sleepovers- I have some really strict rules about sleepovers. It has to be a friend that we know extremely well. We have to know their parents extremely well. Right now the only 2 allowed to do sleepovers are Ty and Maia. The rules exist for different reasons for each kid. With Ty- I know how much trouble teenage boys can get into when they’re together and they require strict parental involvement to make sure they don’t burn the house down. As of now there are 2 friends homes that Ty is allowed to sleep over at- the first is someone who has been his friend since Kindergarten and his mom is super strict. They live in our neighborhood within walking distance to our house. The second is our neighbor. Ty is lucky enough to have one of his best friends live next door to us- and they were best friends before his family moved next door which makes it even better. Maia has one friend she is allowed to sleep over with and she also lives in our neighborhood- a few houses down from us, in fact. I trust these parents. I trust that my kids will be receiving the same level of supervision at their homes as they would be getting at mine. And the trust works both ways. I just cannot in good conscience drop my kids off at some friends home that I don’t know well. After all the things I’ve seen through foster care/social work there is just no way. You never know what is going on behind closed doors of someone’s home unless you truly get to know them on a personal level. It’s not a risk I’m willing to take.


Walking to Friends’ Houses- Ty is allowed to walk or ride his bike within the neighborhood to his friends’ houses provided he take his cell phone, I know where he is going, and he knows what time to be home. After all- he’s a 5 foot 9, 165 pound man-child. I don’t have a lot of concerns about him getting kidnapped these days. On the flip side- Maia is not allowed to walk to her friends’ houses by herself even though they all live in the neighborhood within a few streets of our house. I just don’t like the idea. Either I drop her off or Ty walks her. Yes I am aware it’s a double standard. No I don’t care. There are occasionally going to be different rules for different genders in my house and that’s just the way it is sometimes. So far she hasn’t complained but I’m sure the day is coming.





The Playground- Our favorite playground is a few miles away and part of the Parks & Rec dept so it’s always packed with kids. I’m always amazed by the amount of parents who sit in their vehicles in the parking lot on the phone, or on their tablets, while their kids play. I’m talking 3 and 4 year olds. The park is backed up by deep woods that lead to a major road. I’ve seen people come out of those woods before that probably shouldn’t have been in them. Just because we live in what is considered a very safe suburb doesn’t mean bad people avoid the area. I’m the mom on the playground watching my kids play. I sit on a bench but I’m paying attention and I know where my kids are at all times. 






Screen Time in Bedrooms- I have some serious limits on screen time in bedrooms. As of right now, none of our kids have a TV, gaming system, or laptop in their bedrooms. The laptop is in the family room where any use is supervised. The TV in the playroom does not have cable hooked up to it. The kids can watch Netflix or Amazon shows via the Wii or the Xbox or watch a movie on the DVD player. The only gaming systems we have are hooked up on the playroom TV. Maia has a laptop in her room that has the internet disabled so she can play her SIMS games. The 3 youngest kids have Kindle Fire’s with Kindle Freetime enabled so I have total control over what they watch. Ty has a tablet and I’ve set parental restrictions on it. Maia and Ty both have iPhones with parental restrictions set and they’re not allowed to have a pass code on the phones. They think I’m just crazy strict- especially since I do not allow them to use social media yet. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Snapchat, no Instagram. Period. Too much bullying goes on, too many inappropriate things happen, and there’s not enough supervision. I know we’re getting to the time where they are going to want TVs and laptops in their bedrooms but I’m holding off as long as possible.






I don’t think any of these things make me an overprotective parent. They make me an involved parent. There’s a difference. How strict are you in your household?