Sunday, January 31, 2016

I Hate #WeightWatchers New #SmartPoints

Originally posted January 31, 2016

Maybe I am just getting old and set in my ways but the new Weight Watchers SmartPoints stinks. I've done Weight Watchers for many years off and on and it's like AA ... it works when I work it. I started doing it in 1999 and really enjoyed the boundaries and parameters it set for me ... without rules like "no this" and "no that." It was like, sure, you can have all the junk you want, but (1) you won't lose weight this week (2) you will feel like crap (3) you will use up all your food points and then some for the day on one hamburger, fries and shake! It was never a "diet" ... a diet makes you feel restricted and you want to rebel. Weight Watchers always worked when I would do it right. Then ...

(1) They took away my option for my ActiveLink. It was an activity monitor that clipped on my bra that I paid like $100 for and it was cool because I could plug it in and it would tell me how many activity points I got each day just doing any movement. Yes, I could plunk down another $100 for their new version, but no thanks. If I'm going to nuts on tracking my movement, I'll just find a clip-on fit bit or something and have it sync to my iPhone all cool like that.

(2) They changed the plan AGAIN! AGAIN! I know they have to stay fresh and relevant as a company. I get it! But this is not good. And I cancelled my $44.95 a month plan. Here's why:

I used to get 26 points per day of food points and an extra 49 per week. That extra 49 felt like a lovely safety net. Use them or not. Use them all and exercise and probably maintain your weight or lose weight. Use none or some and definitely lose weight. That's a total of 231 per week and it went by fat, carbs, fiber and protein. It was called PointsPlus.

First of the year they changed it on me. Now it's 30 points a day to make me feel like I'm getting MORE. But I only got 26 extra per week. This is a total of 236 per week. It's called SmartPoints and it goes by calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein. More, right? Wrong. Here's why:


My iced coffee in the morning used to be 4 or 5 points and now it's 8. My Greek yogurt used to be 4 and now it's 7. Who is their DANG MATHEMATICIAN OVER THERE? You can't give me roughly the same amount of points per week (FIVE MORE ... WOO HOO!) and then mark up my food by like 50% and more! Oh, and the points are not consistent from their app and their website.

What WW has done to us is they have given us a slight raise in our paycheck and then made the food at their market cost more. A lot more. Not cool.

Someone I know said they are losing weight more slowly on this plan but that doesn't make sense to me. They are giving you a tad more points but making food values higher, causing you to eat LESS points (food) and it just made me hangry (hungry + angry because your blood sugar is going insane).

So I'm going it alone and I'm scared. It's winter and I'm not walking. I have gained weight and my knees hurt again. Plantar faciitis makes it even more interesting (heel pain when I walk). I'm not very active in winter and so I have to stick with the eating better and that's the hard part when you just want to snuggle up in bed and on the couch with a movie and your kids. At this point in my life I am not wanting six-pack abs and a jiggle-free, skinny body. Those days are gone. I just want to FEEL GOOD and be able to get around well. I'm looking to the future and being able to travel comfortably and literally chase my grandchildren!!!

So what is my plan? You gotta have a plan! It's to log my food in a food journal daily and be honest about it. I have some points calculator options for my points crutch I need. There's an app I'm going to try out. I'll miss being able to scan bar codes on food and getting instant points values but I'll live. There's also something online I can try. I'm going to pretend like SmartPoints doesn't exist. I'm going to use PointsPlus values.

Here's the app I got for FREE (update = never mind! They go by "food score" and my 1/3 cup of half and half has a food score of 1 ... in WW it would be like 3 points ... I'll keep searching and do an update post):

And here's the online calculator that shows the differences (the WW app told me the same yogurt was 7 points, which is quite a bit out of your daily 30 for just a flipping yogurt that's packed with protein!):

I also got the Trim, Healthy Mama book and cookbook so I'll be reading that when I get a chance to see the deal with that. It would be great to transition to that and now have to keep track of points but just learn how to eat in moderation and eat healthy foods with the occasional treat.

So here we go. I kinda feel like I'm dumping a bad boyfriend and have to prove that I can go it alone ... until I find something better. I'll show you, Weight Watchers SmartPoints! What am I going to do with that "extra" $540 this year?!

I'm working on a blog post about Lose It, which is a free app (with paid option for only about $30/year and they run specials all the time). I love the way it keeps track of my steps and yet I don't carry my phone with me everywhere because I'm afraid of giving it a toilet dunk if I kept it in my back pocket, and I don't always have a back pocket! Anyway ... it has more food options to log than WW and I like it better in general and you can change your goals to come up with different calorie budgets in case you are still feeling hungry all the time. So far I am staying the same weight as when I left WW.

Update: I don't log anything now and my weight is holding steady even though I'm not walking much due to my freaking IT band/knee/hip issues. Trim Healthy Mama is kinda complicated but if I could drink a shake a day that would help a lot! Check out my chocolate shake and orange shake recipes here on the blog under the Healthy Living tag!

Please leave me a comment with your thoughts on the plan change or weight loss/health tips in general!

November 2016 update: Weight holding steady but Jessica commented about a $3.99 app called iTrackBites Plus that will track however you like ... so I'm trying the BITES Plus system and we'll see how it goes.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Four Top Tips for Lowering Your Energy Bill

Energy does not come cheap, and with rates always on the rise, more and more homeowners are looking for as many ways as possible to pay less for heating and powering their home. If the idea of saving energy makes you imagine huddling up on the sofa wrapped in all your blankets with the heating system off, you’ll be glad to know that there are a number of different things which you can do to reduce the amount of energy you use, without the need to freeze. We’ve listed just a few for you here.

Solar Panels

More and more people are turning to self-sustaining living, and generating their own energy via solar panels on the roof of their home. Solar panels can be used to power your whole home – which is great if you live in a really sunny area, or you can use them along with conventional electricity to slash your electricity bills. Depending on the area where you live, you may be able to have solar panels installed at a reduced price or even for free as part of schemes to help homeowners become more eco-friendly.

Seal Air Leaks in the Home

Looking for air leaks around the home is just one simple thing which you can do to help reduce your energy bills each month. Weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors can start to become worn and torn, and leaks allow the hot air to escape from the house and let drafts in – making your heating system work harder to keep the property at a comfortable temperature. Sealing up these leaks will help to keep more hot air trapped inside and keep the drafts at bay so that your home stays at the temperature you need without the added price.

Energy Audit

Carrying out a full energy audit of your home allows you to find any areas where energy is being wasted, and rectify them so that as a result, you’re only using the necessary amount of energy needed to heat, cool and power your home. Audits involve doing things such as checking insulation and finding air leaks, and you can either do them yourself or hire a trained professional to help. Many energy providers will send somebody to audit your home for free at your request.

Switch Providers

With the large majority of energy providers not requiring their customers to be tied into a lengthy contract, it makes sense to keep your eye on all of the different providers to see who’s offering the best rates, and switch accordingly. Staying loyal to an energy supplier who is charging more than their competitors are means that you’ll end up throwing money away, so be savvy and regularly check different supplier websites or energy rate comparison sites such as in order to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to. Switching is usually quick with little to no inconvenience.

How do you keep your energy bills low? We’d love to hear your top tips in the comments.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Soon-to-Be Discontinued #JamberryNailWraps Going Going Gone List Winter 2016

Get them while you can, because they're Going, Going, Gone! It's time to make room! Our new catalog is launching in March, which means we have to say goodbye to some of our favorite wraps so we can introduce some new ones. Our Going, Going, Gone (GGG) products will only be available until February 29, so get them while you can — because once they've retired, they're gone forever. 

Here's the deal, though. I chose to go from Professional Consultant with Jamberry to Hobbyist, which means I don't have a team and I don't have a website you can order from. If you need any of these discontinuing wraps, please email me at and let me know which ones you'd like and we can arrange payment via PayPal or Square. I always am sad to see them go and always grab up my favorites!

Don't forget to come see what I'm doing over at Catholic Hippie Mom!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Best Day Ever at #Catholic #Co-op #CrazyProudMom #SharkDissection #FunSmartMomCommunity

Today was my favorite day so far at our Catholic Homeschool Co-op at Christ the King Academy in Kansas City. My kids are really taking to co-op and it's still strange for me to realize that my 6-year-old and 8-year-old took off at recess without even telling me goodbye so they could go to storytime, PE and then Science for two hours straight! It really says something about the families in the co-op ... my kids are learning independence, gaining knowledge in different areas, all taking PE class, making friends and more! We are definitely going back next year. I just have to figure out what I'm going to teach!

This morning was 3rd hour (we only go for 3 learning hours) Drama for Joel and PE for Callie and Michael. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for Sam and Eva and they happily polished brass candlesticks and learned how to cut flowers for the vases. They sang some songs and it was time for lunch. My three oldest go to Mass and I take Sam and Eva with me to run errands at lunchtime. Today was the bank, where I cashed a writing check then promptly spent it on drinks and snacks for co-op. Back for lunch and recess.

Anyway, today was SHARK DISSECTION DAY in 4th hour, a long-anticipated day for middle school science class kids in Mrs. Vickery's class. While Joel was in Music Appreciation class, Callie and Michael were dissecting a shark. Or starting to, anyway. Michael is working on his alone and Callie is partnered up with her bestie Ciara, my awesome friend Jill's daughter. My friend Katie swept the cafeteria for me and the helper in science was out, SO I GOT TO HELP WITH THE DISSECTIONS! My wry son Michael says, "Mrs. McLoughlin, are you helping in this class today?" Tweens!

Keep in mind when I was 15 in high school Biology class, I did not do anything of this sort. No way. I was that kid who pawned it off to my partner. Now that I am old and have given birth and dealt with diapers and making milk come out of my chest, not to mention holding hands of kids getting stitches, including seeing Joel's skull bone once, not a lot grosses me out anymore. Bring it on!

This week we just lopped off the top two fins and did some cutting on the belly. And took silly pictures. I think next week after I'm doing mopping I'm going to help some more in Science! I have to say how INSANELY PROUD I am of these children. ALL OF THEM. I figured some would cave and have an adult do it for them but THEY ALL DID IT, scalpel in hand. They really rock. I have tears in my eyes as I write this ... I am so proud to be part of this group of people!

So then on to PE with my son's awesome Confirmation sponsor, Mrs. DeFeo, who has 10 kids and is totally fabulous-looking and on top of stuff and a great teacher! I'm a helper in that class with Joel (so I got to be in a class with each of my kids today, WHICH AS A HELICOPTER MOMMY, I LOVED!). I don't care if Joel pretends not to know me. I am happy to be in the presence of my teen, is all. I got to figure out how to blow up flat basketballs, do some dribbling and running, and played with the teacher's precious 2-year-old son. I got to attempt to do a push-up. No luck there but I can dribble a basketball!

This ends the GREAT DAY BACK TO CO-OP 2016. Oh, where were Callie and Michael while I was in PE? Oh, they were just in EGYPTIAN MUMMIFICATION with the super-cool Mrs. Ousley!

The kids at co-op hug each other (even the dudes), are respectful to the adults, helpful, kind, go to dances, have birthday parties, go ice skating together, go to Theology of the Body for Teens together, have Airsoft wars. They are incredible and I'm glad I get to hang out with them!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter ... #Funnoying?

Thought you might enjoy seeing our 2015 Christmas letter. I strive for a balance of informing and entertaining without being braggy or annoying. I'm not sure I hit it every year but it gives me a good record of what we did that year so I can pop a copy in our binder. I think I made up a new word for it: it's funnoying. It's fun and a little bit annoying at the same time.

Merry Christmas once again from the McLoughlins! Here’s all the latest for this past year …

            Aron built a cool new front porch on our house this year after doing some traveling to Houston and Arizona. He also worked on a side job of making cabinets from scratch for someone’s kitchen. He also grew a rockin’ garden which yielded tons of green beans, carrots, herbs and spaghetti sauce and salsa. He’s also the car fixer, dishwasher fixer, printer fixer, EVERYTHING fixer and all-around best dad ever. He needs to fish more, though.

            Kerrie is now homeschooling 5 kids while running her businesses (proofreading, writing ebooks and articles, Jamberry and Younique) with family dog Snoopy under her feet most of the time. She also took on the volunteer job of third grade religious education teacher, helps out at co-op and is the proud Confirmation sponsor to longtime family friend Julia.

            Joel is 14 and is currently the Senior Patrol Leader of his Boy Scout troop and has the rank of Life. He wants me to let you know he owns and is responsible with lots of weapons. He enjoys his co-op classes of Music Appreciation, Drama and PE and will be Confirmed in the spring. He’s getting super social with co-op friends at various activities and dances, as well as his Theology of the Body for Teens course. His belated birthday gift from us was his bearded dragon Oliver.

            Michael is 12 and always entertains us with his deadpan humor and brilliant jokes! He’s taking PE, Science and LEGO Robotics in co-op and is making new friends. He takes care of Jiggy the tortoise, who he has had for about 4 years now. He discovered a book series he enjoyed, devoured all 9, and is back on his book-reading strike.

            Callie is 10 and gave volleyball a shot this past fall and did really well with it. She is still the fashion queen of our house, sings well and is hoping for a sewing machine for Christmas. She loves her PE, Science and LEGO Robotics classes at co-op. She is helpful around the house and is an entrepreneur, with her own little at-home massage business (Mommy gives her 99% of her business).

            Eva is 8 and loves her Catechesis, Science, Storytime and PE classes at co-op with her friends and also enjoys lunch and recess. She likes to play My Little Pony, Shopkins and Barbies with her best friend, who is also named Eva. She is a happy girl who is part homebody (happy to sit around coloring) and part lover of on-the-go fun.

            Samuel is 6 and is in the same classes as Eva at co-op and says he is having a good time there. He enjoys all types of sports and shooting Nerf guns and taking Joel’s Airsoft Gun Training Classes in our basement. Sam made money this past summer selling cupcakes Mommy just made for his birthday, lemonade and sand from the sandbox on the street corner in front of our house.

            Springtime found us in Houston, Texas and Galveston Island while Aron traveled there for work and let us tag along. In October we got to go to Eugene T. Mahoney State Park for a week that included nature hikes, Omaha Zoo, Children’s Museum and more. The rest of the year we swam, went strawberry picking, spent time with our wonderful neighbors and other friends and family, saw the Royals Celebration Rally (oh, what a day!), and just had a blast with life in general, appreciating every day!

            As always, you can check out more of the family fun at Have a fabulous 2016!
The McLoughlin Family (Aron, Kerrie, Joel, Michael, Callie, Eva and Samuel)


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Important Traits of a Good Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor to Look For

Everyone gets sick from time to time. Hopefully, you and your family are blessed with good health. Unfortunately, you can never be too sure when you or a loved one will suffer from an illness that will make life miserable. When this happens, it is important that you have an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor to turn to so you can get back on your feet again very soon. There are many of these doctors out there to choose from. Unfortunately, they are not all created equal. Here are some of the most important traits of a good ear, nose and throat doctor that you need to look for.

1. Excellent bedside manner

Bedside manner is something that many doctors are sorely lacking these days. This is why it is important to do a little research about a doctor before you make an appointment. A doctor's bedside manner is most important if this person will be taking care of your children. A visit to a doctor can often be a very scary ordeal for a young child. Therefore, you need to find a doctor who understands this and works well with children. The doctor must be friendly, speak in a relaxed voice and keep the child at ease. There are many doctors who do not have children of their own. These doctors usually lack the subtle qualities that make up a good bedside manner.

2. Many years practicing medicine

You should always look for a doctor who has been around a long time. There is no substitute for many years of experience when you are talking about medical care providers. Try to find an ear, nose and throat doctor who has been practicing for at least a decade. Older doctors are usually better at working with kids. You should be able to find out how long a doctor has been practicing by looking at their website. You can learn more now about an outstanding medical practice by visiting Spring Medical Associates.

3. They explain the problem

Many doctors are so busy that they want to rush you out of their office as soon as possible. They examine you for a few seconds and they write you a prescription and move on to their next patient. You need to find a doctor who sits down with you and explains what is wrong and how you can change your lifestyle to remain healthy. This will benefit you and your family.

The Lovely Candy Company Review #Candy #Yum #GF

Here was my post with my pre-review about The Lovely Candy company, which includes all the links for purchase and information. Now it's time to get down to the REAL review, peeps. The scoop. My honest opinion of this product.

Ah, look at all that lovely candy on my table. Literally, it's Lovely Candy!
Okay, so when this product arrived I was floored at how amazing it was. All the kids and their friends got to try it and also my writer friend Christine, who was over, as well as my husband. They all loved it. I loved it. I could snuggle up with a bag of the Caramels and a good TV show and kill the entire bag in no time. SO YUMMY.

The company sent over 6 varieties and they were all wonderful. Yes, even the black licorice, which is not really my thing but some people love it.

Head to the top of this post and hit the pre-review about the product for the buy link and more information about the company and how they have gluten-free options and other accommodating awesomeness.

I give it 5 Lovely Candy Company Caramels, my highest rating!

Try some!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Moscato and Emergen-C ... Healthy Alcohol!

Okay, so I discovered something cool. Maybe it's been done before but I figured it out on my own and dig it! I RARELY drink alcohol. Maybe some moscato in the summer and every now and then I might try it again but I don't like wine or beer or hard liquor of any kind. Still, I like things to be multi-purpose as much as possible. We've been feeling a little yucky around my house lately and the Emergen-C is free-flowing (miracle product, especially for those of us who are older and slower to heal and get better from illness). I figured, why not mix my moscato and Emergen-C?

My friend Jill's son and my own son (besties) getting ready to leave for a movie (Star Wars). They always have time to pose for a picture!

Any flavor will do and probably you can put it in any kind of alcohol. I imagine something like vodka with an Emergen-C packet would make your hangover not so bad, but I haven't had a hangover since probably 1990, so what do I know?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Shopping for Clothes for Children on a Budget

Shopping for clothes for children can be quite a hit to the family budget. Moving through the new trends, changing of seasons and children growing quickly, we can find ourselves constantly spending lots of money on new items. Although some might think that the only way to refresh your kid’s wardrobe is to get brand new clothing while emptying your wallet, the truth is that you don’t need to spend so much to purchase good, quality products. Finding inexpensive but durable clothing for your children might seem difficult, but actually all you need is to have a little creativity and an eye for a good deal! With the following tips, you will realize how simple it can be to save money on kids’ clothes:

Let’s start with one of the most known ways, which isn’t actually used sufficiently – coupons. Many people know there are some attractive savings to be made with coupons, but most of them don’t use promos, perhaps because aren’t sure how it works or think it’s too much hassle. Actually, on the contrary, it’s super easy! One of the ways is to get the coupons online, which is quite convenient. Just go to a website such as Discountrue and choose the store that you’re interested in – be it Target, Kohl’s or any other shop, and you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. Some retailers are even offering promotional specials via email, where they send you a code or  the coupons directly if you are registered on their sites. On the other side, if you are not a computer person, there is also a way to get them directly at the stores. This is a very easy and effective way of saving money; just keep in mind that the codes might expire, so watch out that none of them go to waste.

Another tip you should remember is to shop sales or end of season clearance sales. Most retailers hold sales that can go from 30% up to 60% off the price, and sometimes even more. You should also easily be able to find clearance racks that offer 50% off and more on selected items. Some might think that these don’t have much to offer in terms of quality or design, but if you make the time and take a good look through the racks you’re sure to find very good deals. Sometimes you can even find brand new items for as little as $1!

Now all these ideas help you buy new clothing for your children in stores, but what about used clothes? You would be surprised at how much you can save this way. With a little patience and attention to details you will get pretty good deals! Many people think that thrift stores offer used clothes that have been worn out, but the truth is you also can find a lot of brand new clothing in excellent condition, sometimes even with the tags still on;you just need to stay perceptive. If you are looking for specific brands, the recommendation would be to go to the places that price the items by gender or size. For example, all kids clothes can be priced at $2, so you can find a used T-shirt for the same price as a never worn before dress – in this case it is clearly more profitable to buy the brand new dress. If you are not so focused on specific brands, then the recommendation would be stores that price their items individually, so this way a no-name, good condition dress would have a lower price than a brand new dress, and of course this would be your best option. To make sure you’re getting the right product, remember to always check your items for stains and look to see if the zippers work and that the buttons are in perfect condition.

The above mentioned tips are only a few ideas you can use to get started. From sales, clearance, coupons to thrift shops and even garage sales, you’re sure to see the results soon enough. You will be amazed about how much money you can save while still dressing your kids in good-quality clothing!


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