Guest Posting at The Southern Institute

I'm guest posting over at The Southern Institute today.
Come join me!
I'm sharing a tutorial on how to help your kids design, make and sew their own handmade plush stuffed animals.

Garage sale finds Friday Edition 36

Welcome to another week of Garage Sale Finds Friday where I share with you some of my favorite garage sale finds of the week.
This week, I scored big time on some vintage awesomeness.
I hit several barn sales and had so much fun digging for treasures!

First up, I found this vintage Schwinn bike.  It's rusty, but it's awesome!
Funny thing, this week everything seemed to come in 2's.  
I found another vintage Schwinn bike just like it, which is how I was able to negotiate this bike down to just $5!  It's pretty rad don't you think?

I walked past this old Pepsi crate twice and was about to leave when I spotted it hiding under a table.
$2 is all it took to get this big guy home.

I've always been partial to vintage license plates.  
I sorted through a huge pile to find these older plates.
The best find was the '57 Washington plate.
At $1 a piece, I couldn't pass them up!

I was so excited when I saw this pendant light for sale.  
Brand new with the tags on it!
It reminds me of something out of the Restoration Hardware catalog don't you think?
Guess how much I paid for this bad boy?
$2, that's it!

Along the side of the road, this gentleman had lined up half a dozen chairs.
This chair in particular spoke to me.
It was sturdy and had really cool age to it already.
I noticed later that the chair's seat had been mended with a strip of wood.  
I made that strip just a little less obvious by painting a strip of black.
Now it looks like it was totally meant to be that way.
I call it my racing stripe chair.

I bought this vintage screen door from the same garage sale as the racing stripe chair.
I saw it and just had to have it.
How often do you see screen doors at garage sales?
Well, this day, I actually saw two of them!
See, I told you everything came in two's that day.

This screen door was in the process of being re-screened (I did the bulk of the work re-screening it), but that new screen made all the difference.  The whole time I re-screened the door I sang Taylor Swift's song "Our Song".  Yep, the sound of a screen door slamming just screams long slow summer days for me.
I picked up the screen door and the chair for $15.

Super fun vintage finds, am I right?!
What did you find this week at garage sales?

Should you buy a Dollar Store pregnancy test?

Should you buy a Dollar Store pregnancy test?

Inside: Do you need to shell out big bucks, or does a Dollar Store Pregnancy Test do the job just fine?

It's not secret that I love to post about the Dollar StoreIt The things you can find there are sometimes scary, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes immensely practical. If you missed any of my Dollar Store Posts, you can find them here: original postPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4wrap up

A Dollar Store Pregnancy Test?

One of the most talked about Dollar Store buys from my list has been the pregnancy tests. Yes, you read that right -- Pregnancy Tests!!! I cannot tell you how many times I've been asked, "Should I buy a pregnancy test at the Dollar Store?" Well, for all you wondering, this post is the long-awaited answer to that question.

I'm a mom of three, I understand how expensive pregnancy tests can get when you are actively trying to conceive and are anxious for positive results. I did a quick search to find out what the going rate for pregnancy tests at our local drugstore (Walgreens) was.  Most are $13-$20.  As my husband used to say "you are peeing on money." 

How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

How do pregnancy tests work?

All pregnancy tests work by detecting a certain hormone in the urine or blood that is only there when a woman is pregnant. This hormone is called human chorionic gonadotropin (kohr-ee-ON-ihk goh-NAD-uh-TROH-puhn), or hCG. It is also called the pregnancy hormone.  

hCG is made when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The amount of hCG rapidly builds up in your body with each passing day you are pregnant.

So, pregnancy tests detect the hormone hCG in your urine, if you are pregnant, you get a positive result, if you are not pregnant, no hCG levels are detected, therefore, giving you a negative result.  Sometimes, the test is taken too early, and there isn't enough hCG in your urine to detect a positive result.  False negatives happen, false positive results however, are quite rare.

How Sensitive is a Dollar Store Pregnancy Test?

Some home pregnancy tests are more sensitive then others at detecting hCG in your urine stream. hCG is measured in mIU's, so I did a little research to see how sensitive each pregnancy on the market is.  The lower the mIU's the more sensitive, therefore, the test will detect pregnancy earlier.  Thank you to baby hopes for compiling this easy to read list.

Test NameLowest hCG detected
BabyHopes 10 mIU Generic Pregnancy Test Strip10 mIU    Buy Here!
AimStrip (aka AimStick) Pregnancy Test Strip20 mIU    Buy Here!
BabyHopes Generic Pregnancy Test Strip20 mIU    Buy Here!
Accuclear Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Answer Early Result Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Clearblue Easy +/-25 mIU
Clearblue Easy Digital (1 piece, blue cap)25 mIU
Clear Choice w/ Cup25 mIU
Confirm 1-Step Pregnancy Test25 mIU
CVS Early Result Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Dollar Store Brand (mini-strip, cassette, & midstream)25 mIU
Early Detect25 mIU
e.p.t. +/- Test25 mIU
e.p.t. 1-Step Digital Test25 mIU
e.p.t. Certainty Digital Test25 mIU
Equate +/- (Wal-mart)25 mIU
Equate Pregnancy Test (Wal-mart)25 mIU
Fact Plus Midstream Pregnancy Test25 mIU
First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test25 mIU
One Step Be Sure Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Right Aid Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Target Brand Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Walgreen Midstream Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Walgreen Digital25 mIU
Fact Plus Cassette40 mIU
Clearblue Digital50 mIU
CVS "Early Result" Cassette Pregnancy Test50 mIU
Drug Emporium Brand Pregnancy Test50 mIU
early Pregnancy test50 mIU
Walgreens Cassette Pregnancy Test50 mIU

How Much HCG Does a Dollar Store Pregnancy Test Detect?

If you can see, the Dollar Store test has a sensitivity of 25 mIU's, which is fairly competitive with some of the other bigger more trusted brands that you will find yourself paying nearly $20 for!

What surprised me is that one of the brands I thought would be more sensitive, (ClearBlue), isn't  ClearBlue Digital tests run around $14.

Is a Dollar Store Pregnancy Test Accurate?

I've had several comments from my readers telling me that they have had success with Dollar Store pregnancy tests.  Most people were quite pleased with the test, and the price doesn't hurt!  

Dollar Store pregnancy tests are well worth the $1

If you find yourself in the market for a pregnancy test, save yourself some dough and head to the Dollar Store.
While you are there you can satisfy your craving for potted meat.
Only kidding!
ps-I have had some readers tell me that Wal-Mart offers their pregnancy tests for $.88.  This may be a good deal for some of you, but for me, it's worth a few extra pennies to NOT have to step into Wal-Mart!

Teen cell phone contract

Inside: a practical teen cell phone contract to help your kids be responsible and give you peace of mind. 

Have you gotten your teenager a cell phone? Are you worried about what that will mean for them or for you? The research doesn't help ease any of our minds. My oldest son Aidan, feels like he is the last kid on earth without a cell phone. In order to help him (and by "him" I mean us, his parents). We decided to come up with a teen cell phone contract. Let's be honest parents, no matter how old they get they will always be our kids. It is our responsibility to help them embrace new responsibilities while giving them the proper protection.

Why a Teen Cellphone Contract

Next month our son will be 14.  He's starting his freshman year of High School in just a few weeks.
Aidan is a great kid.  He loves making music and plays guitar but his passion is being a drummer. Proud Mom video below:

Aidan rockin' out on drums with some other kids to Kryptonite at The Swiss in Tacoma

Aidan is starting to get busier with school activities. He played baseball last year, he's taking on leadership roles at school and has been playing on our worship team at church and will be playing on the youth worship team during youth group.  
While I know that Aidan isn't the last teenager his age without a cell phone, I do realize most kids his age do have access to their own phone. 

Parenting in a Digital Age

Loving parents don't just allow their kids to do whatever everyone else is doing. Whether it is clothing, media, or activities we need to decide if each thing is something that should be objected or embraced. When we were teenagers, the landline was still the primary means of communication (even all you cool kids with beepers still had to find a phone). The biggest questions parents had was do they allow call-waiting, three-way calls, or gasp - even a dedicated line for their teenager.
Today is different than when we were teenagers. Texting has become the primary means of communication with kids now. And while we don't want technology to rule our life, we realize that we need to embrace what it has become in our culture so that our son is able to effectively communicate with his peers. With this in mind, we decided to let our son get a cell phone for his 14th birthday.

How We Created our Teen Cell Phone Contract

My husband and I try to parent very consciously. Making a cell phone contract for our teen where we laid out all of the rules and expectations seemed like the most logical first step.  
I am not one that likes to reinvent the wheel, and really the internet has nearly everything. Because of this, I assumed I could find a perfectly written, well fitting, teen cell phone contract out there somewhere in the great world wide web.  
I did not.
So, my husband and I sat down together, spent several hours brainstorming, writing and rewriting, then reviewing the details with our son. Then we did some more rewriting and came up with the following cell phone contract.
Since I was searching for something like this on the internet, I know many other parents might be too, so I wanted to share it with you. Please pin this and share it with others.  Feel free to copy and paste the following contract and make changes to it to fit your family life. You may click on the title and it will take you to a google document page where it is written, and then request that I send you the file.
teen cell phone contract

Our Teen Cell Phone Contract

I know that having a cell phone to use is a privilege. I understand that my parents love me and want to keep me safe. My parents respect that I am becoming a young adult and want the privilege of having the use of a cell phone. With that in mind, I agree that:

  1. My cell phone must be turned off by my bedtime and placed in an agreed upon location downstairs.  It is my responsibility to be sure the cell phone is being charged when necessary.
  2. During family meals, my cell phone will be turned off or silenced and in my pocket or placed away from the table.  I will not check texts or take calls during meal time.
  3. I will practice proper etiquette when using my cell phone in public places, and be conscious of how my usage affects those around me. I will make sure my phone is turned off or silenced when I am in church, restaurants, or other quiet settings, and I will not place or take texts or calls during those times.
  4. I understand that having a cell phone is a means of communication, and is not a replacement for actual face to face interaction with my friends and family members.  Therefore, when I am with others, I will make the people I am with my priority.
  5. I understand that I am responsible for knowing where my cell phone is and for keeping it in good working condition.
  6. I will obey all rules my school has regarding cell phones usage on school grounds.
  7. I will never text while driving, and will not ride in a car with someone who does.
  8. I will not use my cell phone to take pictures or video of nudity, violence or other unlawful activity.
  9. I will not use my cell phone for malicious purposes, i.e. bullying, spreading rumors/gossip, etc, nor will I send text messages that are vulgar, obscene, or sexual in nature.  I understand that such messages are both highly inappropriate and potentially illegal.
  10. I will alert my parents if I receive suspicious or alarming phone calls or text messages.
  11. I will alert my parents if I am being harassed by someone via my cell phone.
  12. I understand that my parents can go through the contents of my phone at any time, with or without my knowledge.  I agree to surrender my cell phone immediately to my parents if asked.  I will not delete my texting history without permission, and I will fully cooperate in showing my parents the contents of my cell phone, including contacts, pictures, videos, text messages, etc, stored within.
  13. I will always respond to my mom or dad’s texts/calls as soon as possible in the given situation.
  14. When at home, I will use the home phone to make calls. I understand that I do not have unlimited calling and that each call is charged by the minute.  I will be responsible in my cell phone call usage when outside the house.
  15. I understand that my cell phone may be taken away for failing to complete school assignments or homework and for failing to maintain a sufficient grade point average, as defined by my parents.
  16. I understand that my cell phone may be taken away for disrespectful or disobedient behavior, including (but not limited to) back talking, inappropriate sibling interactions (i.e. fighting, hitting, name calling, etc.), and failure to complete responsibilities at home when asked or required.
  17. I understand that failure to follow and respect any of these rules can result in the loss of my cell phone for any length of time determined by my parents.

So what do you think?  We are new at this whole cell phone thing.   Do you think we left anything out?

Please feel free to use the above, but it's bad ju ju if you don't give credit where credit is due.  Feel free to share it with your schools, shout it from the rooftops, print it out and pass it out, just make sure you credit so that people know where to find it.

UPDATE: My son now has a smart phone. See how we updated the teen cell phone contract here.


printable thank you cards

My baby boy turned 7 last week!
Where has the time gone?!

We celebrated with a family birthday party and a friend birthday party.
All that partying left us with some thanking to do.

I think writing thank you notes is a very important thing to teach kids how to do.
Most of my thank you notes are fairly girly, and I wanted Owen to understand a bit about how to actually write a note, so I was thankful when I stumbled upon these {free} printable fill in the blank note cards from Family Your Way.

Tip Junkie also provides a collection of 18 free printable thank you cards that are worth checking out.

This owl from Blue Finch Studios is one of my favorites from the list.

This self mailing notecard from Real Simple posted on Skip to My Lou is pretty awesome too!

Do you have any good free printable thank you cards you want to share with us?

Summer Family Fun: Cricket Spitting

Some of you may know I'm a Hoosier,
an Indiana girl at heart.
Born and raised in the Midwest, I attended Purdue University where I met my husband.

 Every spring Purdue's entomology department hosts their annual Bug Bowl.
Even though entomology wasn't my major, I did take an elective called The Life of the HoneyBee taught by this guy, Mr. Tom Turpin.
It was one of my favorite classes in my whole college career!

During the bug bowl, they have cockroach races
Of course they are pulling tractors.  
It's Indiana!

And more cockroach races.
This all happens at Roach Hill Downs
People can get up close and personal with lots of various bugs.

And they even offer several bugs as a food option.
Choco chip cricket cookies anyone?
So when I saw these crick-ettes at a local toy store, I knew I needed to pick them up for a family game night we were hosting.

You see, one of the most popular events at the Purdue Bug Bowl is their Cricket Spitting Contest.

It's become so popular that they have some pretty serious rules involved with the contest.
You can read more about them here. 

Since I get a fair amount of teasing about my Hoosier heritage, I thought it would be fun to go back to my roots and host a cricket spitting contest.

There wasn't anything too fancy about it, just a chalk line, some crickets and some good old fashioned family fun!

The top three. 
Quite an honor!

Do you have any fun family games your family plays?

Vintage Doors and Windows

A few weeks ago, I heard the sounds of construction just down the street.
I kept my eyes peeled for signs of anything awesome in the trash bin but for weeks, I saw nothing.
I finally got brave enough to approach the workers on site this week when I noticed them replacing all of the vintage 1930's windows in the house.
After a few rusty attempts at communicating in my broken Spanish, I was pointed in the direction of the head contractor who was more than happy to load his trash windows up in my car.
He couldn't believe I would want old doors and windows.
To him, he told me, they are just trash.
Unfortunately, I should have approached sooner.
Turns out all of the interior doors (with original glass knobs) had all been trashed several weeks before.
But I wasn't too late to start picking out windows and he told me I was more than welcome to have the beautiful front exterior doors.
So in place of this weeks garage sale finds Friday, I bring to you, my vision for what to do with all of those incredible vintage doors and windows that are laying in trash piles, or lucky for me, some that are now in my garage!

As an alter
Style Me Pretty

Instead of a barn door
To add character to a new house

As a birth announcement
As a bulletin board
As a floating frame

Or as a menu display
As a chalkboard

So many awesome ideas!
See, they aren't trash!
What would you do with old doors and windows if you had some?
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