Category Archives: Other Stuff

Gardens of Choices this Week

I was trying to think of something I could do this week to get people motivated to get outdoors. It’s that time of year when it is too cold to swim and too beautiful to stay inside. One of my go to places in really nice weather like this is naturally events. There is a never ending supply of those for sure. But are you aware that we also have attraction listings that we recommend? Attractions are defined by us as fixed site, static “things to do”. That could be museums, amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, casinos, malls, etc. You get the idea. Most weeks I concentrate on event suggestions so this week I thought I would shake it up a little. You know, throw caution to the wind, go out on a limb, and take a chance, lol. I think that was a little dramatic, don’t you?

The point is that this week we are thinking outside the box and going with Gardens, Plantations and Estates, one of our most popular categories of attractions. These are wonderful places to spend some time in the nice weather. Almost every one has beautiful gardens that show plants and trees indigenous to that area. Many have outdoor areas for music and children’s gardens. Indoor estates as well as greenhouses are part of many of these garden experiences. The area of the country dictates the architecture of the buildings and the flora of the grounds. It is an excellent way to spend quality time with someone special.

I know that wherever you live there is some beautiful preserved historical estate or some public gardens. I know this because I live in an extremely rural area and we have both of those attractions. So take a look under attractions at the search box above and find out where you can go near you. If it rains, head to a museum, if you have children maybe head to a zoo or aquarium or if you just want to go to a place that all of your friends, grandchildren and next door neighbor can enjoy together,  head to a garden. It is an absolutely terrific way to be outdoors in remarkable splendor. Now what could be better than that as a way to spend some of your weekend!


Souvenir Shopping in the Former Soviet Union

A college roommate of mine sparked the idea for this column. She and her husband adopted two girls from the former Soviet Union a few years ago and now they are planning a trip back to the region. My friend asked me to advise her on what collectibles would be of interest for enjoyment as well as investment while they toured the former Soviet Union.

Matroyska dolls were available for sale outside of the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia (Photo credit: Staff of

My advice is to look for souvenirs—no matter where you are traveling in the world– that unite old world history and culture. The objects that relate to history and reflect the unique qualities of a place are the ones to collect. Here are some shopping tips as you embark upon the trip of a lifetime.

Tallinn, Estonia

One thing that you don’t have to spend money on in Tallinn, Estonia is Internet access. Tallinn, Estonia is a totally wired city where you can utilize free wi-fi anywhere in the city. Tallinn remains ahead of the curve when it comes to offering technological advancements to the masses. As supreme skyscrapers dot the downtown urban landscape, this city has a traditional feel and warm residents. The decidedly urban feel of Tallinn is juxtaposed by an old style town section dominated by antiques stores, handicraft shops, and specialty food cafes. In this once Soviet-occupied city, you can pay for parking with your cell phone and never worry about being out of touch. If you are searching for that great collectible, consider antique and vintage technology items like phones, communication devices, and music players.

St. Petersburg, Russia

When in the historic city of St. Petersburg established on the Neva River by Czar Peter the Great in 1703, there are a few must see sites and must have souvenirs. The must see sites include Catherine the Great’s Hermitage (now a world class art and antiques collection is housed there) and Peter the Great’s famous mansion and country estate called Peterhof.
For the tourist/shopper, buying a matroyska or traditional hand-made Russian nesting doll is a must. The world famous hand-painted nesting dolls are arguably the most popular souvenirs from the historic city of St. Petersburg. Review each painted doll individually, ensure that the dolls fit comfortable inside one another, and look for detailed painting and preferably images of city views. Look for good control by the artist as evinced by the painted brushwork. Make sure your doll is signed by the artist on the underside, too.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, award-winning TV personality and TV talk show host, Visit, or call (888) 431-1010.

8 Things You Should Know About Public Restroom Safety!

Ladies how many public restrooms do you think you’ve visited since you were a little girl? For me I would have to say it’s been thousands! Patiently we stand with our arms (and legs) crossed waiting for our turn and hoping that when we finally get there that the stall door will lock & if we are really lucky there might be even be a little square left for us to use. This is usually the case when we are in high traffic areas or busy venues.
Occasionally we will find ourselves faced with a walk down a long hall to a restroom where there is nobody waiting in line and 10-25 stalls to choose from. Seems like a dream come true right? I guess it could be… You get to pick whatever stall you want, and there is plenty of toilet paper (providing you can manage that spare tire roll they call toilet paper).

The disadvantage to this very empty restroom is your personal safety. Here are 8 tips to keep you safe.

  1. Walk with your pepper spray in your hand.
  2. If possible try to use a “family stall”.
    1. Usually this is a standalone restroom.
    2. They are located just outside the entrance of the large row of stalls.
    3. They have a full size locking door so nobody else can enter.
    4. If the family stall is unavailable, use the cleanest stall closest to the main entrance.
    5. Always glance under the door first to see if the stall is already occupied.
    6. Push it the door open & look inside before you enter.
    7. Make sure the door to your stall moves freely; there are no gaps & the door securely
    8. locks.
    9. If the purse hook is located high on the back of the stall door, consider keeping your

purse on your shoulder instead. You don’t want someone reaching over to steal it.

if you are in an extreme remote location listen for others that might enter the restroom while you are in the stall.

  1. Does it sounds like another woman?
  2. Is she with someone?
  3. Did she go into a stall?

This is a safety 101 reminder… Always try to walk in pairs, let someone know where you are going, and most importantly; Trust Your Instincts!

Remember, safety can be simple!

Tracy Vega, Co-Founder- Simple Self Defense for Women

3 Myths About At-Home Dads

It happened again yesterday.  While updating my information at my doctor’s office, I had three things said to me that totally typify the common response to what I do as an at-home dad.  Once I negate all of these “myths” for whomever I am talking to, they begin to see a little differently.  If I have to do this for each person that I meet, one person at a time, it is worth it for all of the dads out there doing what I do.  Here are the three myths of the at-home dad and why they are dangerous for families.

We Are “Unemployed”

I was updating my information at the doctor yesterday when the receptionist came to the question about my employment.  I’m not sure why they need this information, but I assume they have some reason to ask for it.  She asked if I was still with Tractor Supply Company, and I said, “No.  I’m an at-home dad now.”

“So, you would say you’re currently unemployed?”

“No.  I’m an at-home dad who is not looking for a full-time job,” I replied, “Do you have ‘homemaker’ as a category?  Can I pick that?”

If a woman stays at home with her child, she is considered a “homemaker.”  I know there are a lot of women who hate this label, but it’s really not that bad.  The home is the one place in the world that the ones you love are supposed to feel safe and loved.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of creating that kind of environment?

If a man stays at home with his child, it is assumed by those outside of his situation that he is unemployed.  This has as much to do with the current economy as it does with the aging stereotype that the man needs to be the breadwinner.  The good news is, as the economy improves and unemployment among men decreases, this assumption will become less prevalent among our younger generation.  But I do fear that we will be stuck with the male-breadwinner stereotype for at least another decade.

The male-breadwinner stereotype is dangerous because it is not always the best situation for the modern family.  There are more and more situations where a woman can make more money than her husband because she is more qualified or because there are more opportunities.  There are also plenty of cases where the man is better suited to be the primary caregiver for his children.  There are a lot of women who really want to work because they enjoy it, and yes they love their children to death, but they don’t necessarily have the urge to be “motherly” all day long, and that’s okay.  In the current economy, there are a lot of instances where the jobs available to the man of the house are extremely limited, and having his wife go to work is the better temporary option until the economy improves.  The bottom line is that the old stereotype doesn’t work anymore.  We are outgrowing (or evolving beyond) the male-breadwinner stereotype, and it would benefit everyone to start thinking outside of those boundaries.

The second reason the male-breadwinner stereotype is dangerous is because it puts an unnecessary emphasis on money.  We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness.  We all know that family is supposed to be the most important thing in a person’s life.  Why don’t we live that way?  Why are we still comfortable with dads being absent from the family in order to earn enough money for us to live outside our means? When you say that a man must be a slave to his job to provide for his family, it isolates half of the leadership of the family unit and gives him a competitor for his top priority.  What I mean is that a lot of men have a difficult time with divided loyalties.  It is very difficult to be the dad that you want to be for your family and still be everything your employer is asking you to be on the job.  The work-life balance is extremely difficult, and if we could free men from that, it would probably help improve families in general.  If we could get dads to value family above money and possessions, and if we could get corporations to see families as valuable instead of an excuse to miss work, we could begin to strengthen families everywhere.  I realize this may seem like a pipe dream, but this is something I passionately believe in, and I will continue to write about it as long as this blog exists.

We Are “Mr. Mom”

My conversation with the receptionist at the doctor’s office continued.

“No.  I’m an at-home dad who is not looking for a full-time job,” I replied, “Do you have ‘homemaker’ as a category?  Can I pick that?”

“Oh,  you’re Mr. Mom!” she said as if she thought she understood me.

I smiled and said, “Nope. I’m just dad.”  I think she thought I was being rude.

Everyone loves the idea of dads at home in aprons doing chores.  It’s supposed to be funny, right?  It’s not.  The stereotype (and comedic portrayal of said stereotype) of Mr. Mom is also dangerous.  Thinking that at-home dads should be like mom in proxy is ridiculous.  We are dads.  We might have a list of things that mom wants us to do around the house, but the bottom line is that we are going to have our own style of parenting.  Even the notion that every mom parents in the same way is ridiculous, so how silly is it to think that dads parent in the same way that moms do?

This stereotype also feminizes the role of dad.  It leaves out all of the benefits that a child receives from their father being involved in their life.  Those benefits vary from family to family, of course.  I like to compare parents to apples.  For example, if you take a Granny Smith apple, a Golden Delicious apple, and a Red Delicious apple and put them all three on a table, you still have three apples on the table.  One is known for its tartness.  One has a softer, yellow skin but is deliciously sweet.  And the Red Delicious has a balanced sweetness with an incredible crunch.  They are each amazing in their own way, but they are all apples.  The idea that a dad staying home with his child must behave like a stereotypical “mom” caricature is really limiting in the very same way that saying the household chores are for women is incredibly limiting.  It would be like biting into a Red Delicious and expecting it to taste like a Granny Smith.  We’re all parents.  We all try to work together to make our homes run smoothly.  If we can get away from the stereotype that at-home dads are supposed to be like moms, that frees dad to be just what he is supposed to be – a great dad!  He doesn’t have to fit anyone’s definition; he just has to love his kids, do what is best for them, and take care of his household in any way that he possibly can.

We Are Babysitting (aka We’re Incompetent)

After my doctor’s appointment, I went to the lab to get some routine blood work done.  Again, we needed to update some information in the system, so I was at the receptionist’s counter for a few minutes.  I had my daughter up in my arms, and the receptionist asked my daughter, “Is daddy watching you today?”

“Nope. We do this every day. I’m an at-home dad,” I said as she gave me the look of surprise that is so common when I say this phrase.

I had another conversation today with a mom at the local library, and she made the comment that her husband wanted to be an at-home dad but “he would probably just sleep all the time.” Really?  Why are women (and sadly, some men) not convinced that a man can acquire the same parenting abilities that a woman can when given an equal opportunity to do so?  I will admit, it took me a while to get a good routine going with my daughter, but now we are on auto-pilot and barreling full speed ahead.  I had quite  a learning curve since I spent the first year of my daughter’s life working seventy hours a week.  There was quite a bit to learn!  But once I caught up, I was able to find my own parenting “groove” so to speak.

What I do is called parenting.  It’s the most important job in the world.  Why?  Because I have the power to make or break the future for this innocent child.  It’s true. I could be a terrible father and cause my child all sorts of future issues, or I can be a great dad that is full of love, advice, discipline, grace, acceptance, guidance, forgiveness, fun, etc.

I know not all men feel this way, but that is probably because somebody is not expecting them to.  It is a reasonable expectation for my wife to want me to be a good father.  It was part of what she liked about me before we got married.  Because I love her, I am willing to meet her expectations. If nobody expects a man to be a great dad, then what is he most likely to do?  Not be a great dad.

Ladies, if you don’t expect your man to step up and be a good parent, he never will.  If you are a mom reading this, I want you to stop making excuses for dad.  Don’t let him off the hook.  Don’t cover for him by not expecting him to be a great father.  Work your womanly magic that made him fall in love with you in the first place, and work with him to get back on track.   Start expecting him to be more involved.  Get him up to speed, and help him get more active with your kids.  Encourage him to take charge of planning family activities each week.  Encourage him to spend quality time with each of your kids.  It is not an easy transition for him, but if he loves you, and you begin to make that an expectation (remember, be reasonable), then hopefully, he will rise to the challenge and meet that expectation.

If you’re a dad reading this, I expect you to be a good father!  Stop making excuses.  Stop believing the stereotype.  Step up, and do the manly thing – take care of your family by being a great dad.  Get involved with your kids.  Take over some of the household chores.  Work together with your partner to make your house a home.  Work with other men to end the myth of the incompetent father.  Don’t tell your co-workers you have to “babysit” next time mom is out of town.  Tell them you are spending quality time with your family and there is no place on earth you’d rather be.

First Aid Tips and Advice for Parents Roundup

Spring is the perfect opportunity for families to get up-to-date on all things medical. Whether you have one child or six, a child with special health needs or a typical child, it’s equally important to arm yourself with knowledge on everything from the medications in your cabinet to handling a medical emergency.

Get the Medication Facts

Some children take medication on a daily basis. Others may only take meds on rare occasions of illness. Either way, according to the FDA’s guide Giving Medication to Children, if you give your child a dose of anything, it’s important to know the ingredients, what dose to give, when to give it, and all of the possible side effects. Read the label twice. Many over the counter and prescription medications have not been tested on children, so it is vital to be aware and keep an eye on your child. If she does experience a reaction, call the doctor.

Disposing of Medication

The FDA has created different regulations for the disposal of medications depending on the type of drug. When disposing of medication, you should read the label to see if there are specific instructions. The FDA offers a basic guideline of information on when and how to dispose of unused medication.

First-Aid Know-How

It is extremely frightening for a parent to not know what to do when her child is injured. Being prepared will help both you and your child respond to the situation more calmly. Basic First Aid for Parents from Life123 provides easy-to-follow tips on handling common injuries.

In Case of Emergency

Choking is just one of the scary events that can occur for both parent and child. Most parents know how to prevent choking, but aren’t prepared for what to do if their child does choke. The same goes for children and drowning. All parents should take a first aid class, and keep resources on the fridge just in case, including the Choking Rescue Procedure for Babies, theConscious Choking Guide, and CPR Instructions.

Preparing for Disaster

Being prepared for a disaster is important for both caring for your children during and after the event, as well as helping them to feel safe every other day. Preparing for Disaster with Childrenwill help you plan for that day we hope never comes.

As parents, we want to do the best we can to care for our children, but we often get caught up in the day-to-day business of living and are left paralyzed when a medical emergency occurs. With a bit of knowledge and preparedness we have the power to help save our child’s life.

A credit card with training wheels


Does your daughter ever look at you less like her M.O.M. and more like her A.T.M.? If it seems like every time you turn around you’re reaching into your wallet to give your kid a little cash then the Bill My Parents SpendSmart card is the perfect solution.

It’s basically a pre-paid debit card that also works at ATMs and lets you fund it the from your credit card or bank account. You can add money in on a weekly or monthly basis, or just as needed for her desperate quest for the perfect pair of jeans. You get notified when purchases are made and, because it’s a debit card she can’t spend more than she has, which not only teaches her to make better financial decisions, but also doesn’t risk her credit rating.

It’s taken everywhere Mastercard is accepted and there is a nominal monthly, reload and ATM fee. Best of all, if it ever gets stolen or you see that she’s shopping like a Kardashian you can shut down that card faster than you can say, “OMG!”

So teach your kids how to spend responsibly and keep them out of your wallet.

** NOTE: To make search engines happy, for your sake and ours, please be prepared to add an additional 250 words MINIMUM to this description.  Give it your personal take, add an anecdote… you know, make it snazzy. 🙂

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Bill My Parents, Debit Cards for Kids,Mastercard pre-paid debit card, Pre-paid debit cards, SpendSmart Card



Digitwirl is the weekly web show that offers simple solutions to modern day problems. In 3 minutes, Digitwirl brings busy women the very best time, money, and sanity-saving technology, and then teaches them how to use it, step-by-step. Digitwirl was created by technology lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch, who uses lots of technology to manage her busy life as mom of two and entrepreneur. Become a subscriber to get weekly show alerts and exclusive deals at, or follow Digitwirl on Twitter at @digitwirl.

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The Remington iLight Pro Hair Removal System – Two Week Follow Up and Second Application Info!

Are you curious what has happened over the past two weeks, since I initially brought you a feature about the Remington iLight Pro hair removal system?  Do you think I’ve got good things to say after two weeks?
Honestly guys…this product really seems to be working great!
Can you imagine…6 months of NOT HAVING TO SHAVE your armpits or legs (especially during the summer)?
That means…we could limit shaving your legs, armpits, and other areas (bikini area) to only a few times a year!  OH MY GOODNESS…this could be the answer to ever woman’s prayers!
Seriously, check back in two weeks…when I bring my final update about my 3 application process with the Remington iLight Pro and I will hopefully be showing you pictures of my “ACTUAL” armpits…hair free and ready for SPRING!