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  • 7 Ways to Save Money on Taxes....

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    1. Go green and save some green. You can get tax credits under the Energy Policy Act for reducing your home's energy use. To find out what qualifies, go to energystar.gov. 

    2. As long as you itemize, nearly all of your medical expenses can be deducted, from prescription drugs and doctor visits to surgery. See the full list of medical deductions at irs.gov to make sure you're not forgetting anything. 

    3. You already know you can deduct charitable donations, but don't forget any ticket you've purchased that had a "suggested donation." You can also write off out-of-pocket costs you incur while doing charitable work, like the ingredients used in a dish you regularly prepare for a soup kitchen. 

    4. Certain costs for managing your money that top two percent of your annual gross income are deductible, like safe-deposit box fees, calls to your broker, tax-prep fees, and subscriptions to investment journals. 

    5. Still paying for that pricey diploma? Student loan interest is deductible, even if you don't itemize. 

    6. Send in next January's mortgage payment early - if you make the mortgage payment in the current tax year, you can deduct the interest this year. 

    7. Chin up, unemployed college graduate. If your job hunt leads you to relocate for your first job, keep track of your receipts as you pack up. Your moving expenses are deductible. 

    What recession? Keep your wallet padded with 43 more tips for saving money on clothes shopping, your commute, grocery shopping and eating out, and your energy bill.

     

    PLUS....

    The Mommy Tax: 7 Penalties Paid by Parents on April 15 (And Every Other Day)

    Tax Day is looming, but when you're a parent, April 15 is hardly the only day you pay the price. Having kids is a miracle, and it's wonderful and amazing, but it takes a toll - and not just a financial one (although that, too). Here are 7 ways that moms (and dads) are assessed penalties on days that the IRS isn't even looking.

    Clothes 
    It's bad enough that parents of young kids rarely wear anything but yoga pants, but when those pants then get spit-up, pooped or drooled on, it means one of two things: 1) We'll just stay home today since the only the only other clothing option is a cleaner pair of yoga pants; and 2) Who are we kidding? If every pee stain from a child meant we couldn't leave the house, the fire department would be called in to un-fuse the love seat from our butts.

    Bathroom 
    Brushing your teeth, using the toilet or taking a shower -- if it's in the bathroom, your time as a parent is taxed in the form of never, ever being alone. It's one of those things that's as reliable as death and, well, taxes. Except the Grim Reaper in this case is usually under 42-inches tall and thinks that personal space is a right afforded to everyone except you.

    Body 
    Being a parent - especially in the very early years - often means surrendering your body to that of your child. You simply don't have control of any one of your limbs - or any part in between. Whether it's your breasts to a nursing baby, your shoulders so a little one can get a better view at a parade or your lap at their every whim... because God forbid anyone should ever sit in their own seat.

    Adult Relationships 
    It's always good when parents can find time to spend with those who don't require others to wipe their butts. Except that when you have little ones in your life, it gets to engage in a conversation that doesn't include your little ones.

    Other Adults Relationships 
    Good luck trying to maintain a healthy, uh, relationship with your significant other while there are children present, awake, and able to open doors. Let us know how that works out for you -- especially since you've already removed the locks from the doors after that one time the police had to be called in to rescue your child from the bathroom.

    Dining 
    Your idea of a nice meal used to be a bottle of wine paired perhaps with something containing exotic-looking mushrooms in a sauce covering something else that maybe once swam in the ocean. However, when you became a parent, the tax on you is such that a nice meal becomes filling up on whatever your toddler tossed from their plate onto on the floor while simultaneously dreaming of popping open a beer and watching something on Bravo for a few minutes before falling asleep.

    Time 
    Having time to yourself is taxed from the moment that little one enters your house until the day they leave for college. Aside from the time spent doing the shopping, folding, cooking, carpooling, homework-helping, boo-boo attending, cuddling, nose-wiping and tear-blotting. Calculate the time you spend thinking about your children. It's amazing there are enough hours in the day for the thinking, worrying and planning - not to mention the actual doing.

  • Single Girls Bucket List...

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

     

    Single. It's a weird realization. This notion of freedom pops into your head wielding this large metal sword trying to battle off those nasty feelings of loneliness. Then you think: Because I'm single, I should, like -- go out, right? 

    So what's a single lady to do? Make a bucket list. With time, the pain will ease. And when it does, you'll need to get out there. You deserve it. Thus I present you with 20 things every single girl should do:

    1. Scream into your pillow in the morning.

    2. Fly (or go on a road trip) somewhere by yourself and feel OK exploring on your own.

    3. Be a super duper wing woman and be OK spending your night talking to someone you're not interested in. Value the conversation for what it's worth. You might learn something.

    4. Go on a date with a younger man.

    5. Buy yourself flowers. Trust me, they look JUST as good no matter who puts down the cash.

    6. Go to the bar by yourself. Order something that ISN'T your usual.

    7. If you haven't, make an online dating profile. Even if you don't use it, I PROMISE you'll get some hilarious messages.

    8. Splurge on a pair of heels that make you feel sexy. It'll show in the way you present yourself. 

    9. Go on a day date. I'm talking hiking in the park, trying a trapeze class, going kayaking. A man who will meet up with you during daylight has potential.

    10. Change your own light bulbs and put up your own blinds. Show yourself you DON'T need a man to do around-the-house tasks for you.

    11. Kiss a stranger. Don't go home with him.

    12. Go on a date with an older man.

    13. Spend a LOT of money on a dress or skirt you'll only wear a few times from a store you don't usually shop at. You'll feel like 1,000,000 bucks and it'll show.

    14. Get some new hobbies. You owe it to yourself to figure out what you really like to do so you can find someone that shares your interests.

    15. Train for some really hard physical endurance test, like a marathon.

    16. Go to a bookstore and read for an hour or two. Some calm (sober) alone time will do you good.

    17. Be bold. Turn the tables and approach someone you think is good looking.

    18. Make a bucket list of restaurants and bars to go to where you live. Feel great checking them off.

    19. Go on a date that lasts until 4 a.m., then kiss him goodnight and go your separate ways.

    20. Smile. You're worth it.

  • Need your toddler to sleep better? Here are 7 helpful tips

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Sometimes, when you are deep in the throes of parenting a 2-year-old, you can wonder: Dear Lord, will this ever end? For most of us, there IS a respite. It's called 8 p.m. It's that blessed time of day when your toddler is suddenly quiet and you can peek in, see her angelic sleeping face, and know you have the strength to do it all over again.

    Yes, moms and dads NEED that time from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. So what happens when your good baby sleeper suddenly stops sleeping? Or worse, what if you NEVER had a good sleeper to begin with?

    There are some sleep issues that need to be addressed now so that they might not get worse down the line. Dr. Hannah Chow is a pediatrician at Loyola University Health System who is an expert on kids and sleep. She says:

    "Lack of sleep can cause a lot of stress and difficulty for a child. Kids can have a hard time concentrating, which causes problems in school. There can be physical complications, such as headaches, and it can even cause a child to have a more negative outlook on life." Yep. Sleep matters. So how do we fix common sleep problems? The Stir talked exclusively to several sleep experts to give us insight into the 7 most common toddler sleep issues and how we can combat them. See below:

    1.) Waking up bright and early: "A reasonable wake-up time for a child is anywhere from 5:30-7 a.m., but some children are up before that time wide awake or their wake up time is too early for mom and dad," says Jenn Kelner, a Certified Child Sleep Consultant who runs a business called BabyZzz.

    Solution: "Room darkening shades to block out morning light, white-noise machines to block out morning street noise, a timed light or child alarm clock that changes color when it’s time to get up, and an earlier bedtime. It’s counter-intuitive, but the earlier a child goes to bed, the later they will sleep in." Amen. I saw it with my own kids. Now sleep mom and dad!

    2.) Giving up the nap when they still need it: If your child misses a nap because of older siblings' activities or for some other reason, it actually becomes HARDER for them to nap. Over time, this overtiredness has a cumulative effect, which may cause the child to refuse to nap altogether.

    Solution: "Start an earlier bedtime to help make up that sleep deficit and make it easier to nap," says Kelner. "Get the child outdoors in the morning for fresh air and exercise, very soothing routine before naptime, and leave the child for 60 minutes to give them the opportunity to fall asleep without stimulation. Once the nap has been re-established, bedtime can be moved a little later."

    3.) Difficulties in falling asleep: "Many children have difficultly falling asleep on their own if they have been used to being rocked to sleep, or if they have been falling asleep next to their parents," Kelner says.

    Solution: Make sure the bedtime routine gets the child nice and drowsy. Turn off all electronics 60 minutes before bedtime. Leave the room slowly if they need you. For instance: Day 1-3, sit by the child’s bed or crib until they fall asleep. Day 4-6, move the chair to the middle of the room. Day 7-9, move the chair to the doorway. Day 10-12, move the chair outside the doorway.

    4.) Getting up in the middle of the night: Waking during the night is normal, but it becomes a problem when the child cannot return to sleep unassisted, Kelner says. It's especially hard if the child calls out for mom and dad and everyone is losing sleep.

    Solution: "Have a consistent soothing routine in place to get the child nice and drowsy. Ensure the child is getting enough sleep, as over-tiredness leads to frequent night waking," says Kelner. "Make sure the child is able to self-soothe, and implement some sleep training/coaching if necessary."

    5.) Asking for mom and dad 15 times after "good night":
     We all know that kid (or have that kid) who wants one more kiss, one more hug, one more snack, one more AGH! This is a classic tactic that delays bedtime, which makes the child overtired, which then makes it more difficult for the child to fall asleep the next night.

    Solution:
     "During your soothing routine, set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes, and explain that once the timer goes off, it’s time to say a final goodnight," says Kelner. "Ensure that before the timer goes off, you anticipate what that child may ask for -- so get them a drink, take them to the bathroom, and give the child lots of hugs. If the child is still requesting extra attention, implement some sleep rules with consequences, or simply ignore their requests."

    6.) Inability to self-soothe: Some children have more trouble than others soothing themselves into sleep when they are upset and especially when they wake up in the middle of the night alone.

    Solution
    : "Giving your child a special transitional object, such as a teddy bear or 'lovie' to snuggle and go to bed with during the bedtime routine can help them learn to use this object to help themselves get back to sleep when they wake in the middle of the night," says Jennifer Metter of Jenni June Certified Sleep Consulting in Los Angeles.

    7.) You are co-sleeping without wanting to: This is me. My kids always end up in bed with us and neither my husband nor I can remember how they got there.

    Solution: "Using an uneventful quick and silent return to the bed without payoff can help eliminate this behavior. Sleep consultants call this, 'The silent return'. Consistency is key here," says Metter. "It requires a bit of work and perfect consistency from parent for successful results, but uneventfully and silently returning your child to their bed the moment you notice they are out of it will help teach them to remain there until it is time to wake for the day. Children won't continually do what doesn't work for them."

  • 12 Things You Didnt Know About.....Las Vegas

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

     

    1. The first hotel-casino to open in Vegas was the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino. It opened in 1906, but in 1910 gambling was outlawed in Nevada.

    2. 87% of people who visit Vegas end up gambling at some point.

    3. The Flamingo, one of the oldest establishments in Vegas, opened in 1946 and was named after the long legs of the owner's showgirl girlfriend.

    4. In 1970, 6.7 million people visited Vegas, but in 2011, 38.9 million people visited Vegas.

    5. Visitors stay an average of 3.3 nights.

    6. Over 60,000 pounds of shrimp are consumed daily in Vegas.

    7. Las Vegas means "the meadows" in Spanish. It was named for the fresh drinking water, like an oasis in the desert.

    8. Vegas is home to the largest community of Hawaiians outside of Hawaii.

    9. Certain hotel/casinos skip the number four in all of their floors, because the number four is an unlucky number in Chinese culture.

    10. The fountains and man-made lakes and waterfalls on the strip use something called "grey water," which is reclaimed water from the casinos' sinks, bathtubs, and showers (no, not toilets).

    11. There are about 315 Vegas weddings every day.

    12. The famous millionaire Howard Hughes stayed so long at the Desert Inn that he was asked to leave and ended up buying the hotel.

  • Soldier He reunited with the puppy he saved in Afghanistan

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    hen is the last time you had a good cry? Did you have your dog beside you while you did it? Then grab the tissues, because you're about to get all blubbery when you hear how a soldier was reunited with the puppy he rescued while serving our country in Afghanistan.

    Tom Burright saw a lot of homeless, sick, and starving dogs in the streets while he was deployed, and when he spotted a little ball of fur out there, he knew he couldn't leave her to die. He brought Lyla back to the base, and you know what happened next.

    She became his best friend and morale booster for the whole bunch of guys.

    Not surprising to anyone who has ever owned a dog, really. They aren't called man's best friend for nothing. Dogs give us something people can't; soft ears to dry our tears, and unconditional love no matter HOW hard the day has been.

    For men and women in the armed forces, the bond is particularly close. A dog will often serve as their family and best friend both while they're far from home. The bond they form is unbreakable.

    As Marine Jay Kopelman explained in his 2008 memoir, From Baghdad With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava:

    ... I really like what I am -- a Marine. I like being strong. I like being brave. I like going in first. I want to go in first, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone shoot my puppy.

    So imagine forming that bond with an animal ... and then having to leave them behind when your deployment is up. It's unthinkable, right?

    Tom Burright's little Lyla saved his soul in a warzone, and he wanted to save her, he wanted to bring her home. But he was helpless. He makes a military salary. He didn't have $4,000 to cover the expenses of bringing her home.

    I haven't been in war, but I do have a dog, and the only thing I can relate to is the feeling of watching my beloved boxer/hound mix as she ages. She has stood by my side for 10 years, propped me up when I was down. She has saved me, and I am helpless to do much to help her with her cataracts and her arthritis save for take her to the vet and shell out large sums for the best treatment I can. 

    So now the part that will make you cry. The Internet stepped up. The Puppy Rescue Mission, a non-profit that works to reunited soldiers and their beloved pups, heard about his plight and got it out to caring people who understand the relationship between man and beast. People gave money. Lyla just today made it to Texas, to the loving arms of her soldier.

     

  • 10 ways babies are easier than toddlers..

    Posted by Charli McKenzie



    Here are 10 ways babies are easier than toddlers. Like, way.

    1. Babies just lay there. You can leave your baby alone on the floor on that cozy little mat and go to the bathroom if you like. Or even on the bed! A toddler? Ha! Unless you shut them in a room with literally nothing, you best just take them in the bathroom with you.

    2. Babies are light. Carrying my 4-month-old in the Baby Bjorn? Cake. Carrying my 11 1/2-month-old in the Baby Bjorn? I think I may need to see a chiropractor at some point in the near future.

    3. Teething. I know this is different for everyone, but it seems like the older my daughter gets, the worse the teething is.

    4. Toddlers throw tantrums.
     Remember when you took something away from your baby that they weren't supposed to have and they just kind of stared? Try doing that with a toddler.

    5. No need to babyproof. Everything needs babyproofing. Everything. And can we all just agree that those foam corners for coffee tables are ugly.

    6. Babies don't need much when you go out. The first few weeks of my daughter's life, I barely needed anything when we went out. But the older they get, the more they need. Food, toys, you name it. Oh, and note: Don't ever leave home without Puffs.

    7. For every pound your baby gains, the car seat feels like it weighs a zillion pounds more. 
    Truth.

    8. Babies don't really know what's going on. If you accidentally drop an F-bomb around your baby, ah, it's all right. What do they know? But the older they get, the more they repeat, so yeah. Best watch the cussing.

    9. Babies sleep through a lot. When my daughter was a newborn, she slept through vacuum cleaners, dogs barking, no joke -- a full-on fireworks display in the backyard. Now? Ha! In other news, I seriously need to train my dog.

    10. Babies sleep a lot, period. And seriously -- what's easier than that?

    That said, though. Wouldn't trade it for the world.

  • The most HATED celebrities....

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Go Away! The Most Hated Celebs In Hollywood — See Who Made The List

    They were once loved by the public and had huge fan followings, but oh how the mighty have fallen.

    Star magazine has compiled a list of the most hated celebrities in Hollywood and RadarOnline.com is giving you a sneak peek.

    First up, Chris Brown, who understandably saw a decrease in positive publicity after beating up his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, in 2009. “That night was the deepest regret of my life, the biggest mistake,” he said afterwards. Chris’ downward spiral continued when he busted out a window in the Good Morning America studios greenroom in 2011 and was then involved in a volatile nightclub brawl the following year.

     

    Taylor Swift has been under scrutiny lately — thanks in part to her hectic dating life. Known to write songs about ex-boyfriends, former flame John Mayer said, “It made me feel terrible. I never did anything to deserve that.” This one I feel bad for, I cant understand why so many people dislike her..almost the same amout that LOVE her...I hope she is laughing all the way to the bank!

     

    Perhaps one of Hollywood’s newest introductions to the hated list is Les Miserables star Anne Hathaway, who has acquired what are being called “Hathahaters.” The Oscar-winning actress’ overstated humility and graciousness at award shows have been deemed phony and radio personality Howard Stern took a jab on his show saying, “She comes off like the goody two-shoes actress, and it’s just fun to sort of hate her.”

    ccording to Star magazine, Lindsay Lohan‘s ridiculously entitled on-set behavior with utter unreliability landed her on their list. “Lindsay was like a child lashing out,” her Canyons co-star James Deen said in an interview after working with the embattled actress. “There were days when she would scream and yell and cry and refuse to come out.”

     

    And what would a most hated list be without one of the most hated families on reality TV? Kim Kardashian and mom Kris Jenner who were lambasted for Kim’s lavish wedding to Kris Humphries — a marriage that lasted only 72 days — and the family profited greatly. In fact, a poll with the New York Post put Kim right behind Casey Anthony as the most hated woman in America!

     

    Finally, Gwyneth Paltrow has recently gathered some haters for coming across as pretentious and arrogant. “I’m really f**king good at my job,” she’s said. “People who are interesting and good know that, and that’s all that matters.”

    To browse through Star‘s full list of The Most Hated In Hollywood, pick up the latest issue on newsstands Thursday.

     

     

  • Wedding Message from the skies of Afghanistan

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    A Marine pilot serving in Afghanistan wasn't able to make it to his brother's wedding this week so he made a video from the cockpit of his Harrier jet using flash cards to express his feelings.....

    'Needless to say, it brought everyone to tears.'

     

    Capt Matthew Krivohlavy, with Marine Attack Squadron 231, has been serving with the armed forces since 1998. He filmed the touching two-and-a-half-minute video tribute while flying over Afghanistan.

     

  • 20 Things every mom should know by 40

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    By 40, you should have…

    1. Access to a great therapist, a great dry cleaner, a great hair stylist, and a great lawyer... but mostly a great therapist.

    2. Cellulite that you play with when you sit "criss cross applesauce."

    3. The knowledge that the position I just referred to was once un-PC-ishly called "Indian Style."

    4. Enough videos and pictures of your children to fill a credenza.

    5. A credenza ... or at least know what one is.

    6. Worry lines from every bruise, bump and first day of school that you lovingly freaked out about.

    7. Gray hairs from every tantrum, debate, and negotiation lost to a toddler.

    8. A designer handbag that's so pricey you would sell on Craig's list if you didn't think someone would murder you at the pick up.

    9. A designer for Target item, which you don't like and doesn't fit, but you wear anyway because you had to fight another woman for it.

    10. A drawer filled with mostly unsuccessful creams/scrubs/supplements for your cellulite, stretch-marks, dark puffy circles, and increasingly dry skin.

    11. A cabinet filled with wraps/casts/prescriptions for your bad lower back, arthritic toe, irritable bowel, adult onset ADD, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

    12. Broken capillaries from exfoliating hard enough to erase your crows feet. Freakin' crows feet!

    13. Laugh lines from being a total dork with your kids, and spider veins that your kids affectionately compare to tattoos.

    14. Saggy boobs that have been blown up and deflated with each pregnancy, like a Snoopy in a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

    15. A great foundation (even though you swore you'd never wear one), that's not cakey and covers redness and freckles -- also known as rosecia and age-spots.

    16. Enough success in parenting that you have faith you're kids will turn out ok (Well, maybe with minimal psychoanalysis.)

    17. A bathing suit or shorts that you should no longer be wearing. A fact everyone is aware of, but you.

    18. The ability to pull off heels, flats, or a ponytail with almost anything.

    19. A pair of jeans that are too tight, but you refuse to throw away, because those 5lbs you haven't been able to lose this decade will come off, you just know it.

    20. Spent enough time chasing dreams to know that they can be caught. (oh, I can be beautifully sentimental when I wanna be!)

     

    By 40, you should know...

    1. When people call you ma'am, they're trying to be polite, even though it sounds REALLY rude.

    2. How to cook at least a week's worth of meals. (I mean, if someone had a gun to your head.)

    3. Enough about politics to have a position on healthcare, and taxes even if that position is to not have one.

    4. That you DID become your parents, even though you swore you wouldn't.

    5. How to throw together a bus stop/carpool appropriate outfit in under 2 minutes.

    6. That said outfit doesn't not need to include makeup, shoes or a bra... yes, even pants are optional.

    7. How to make a man happy in 5 minutes or less. (For your benefit... and his, but mostly yours. Hello, there are reality shows to be watched.)

    8. At least one man who knows how to satisfy you.. and hopefully you're married to him.

    9. That as your parents age you need to start checking how much they tip the waitress.

    10. 40 is nowhere near as old as it seemed when you were 20.

    11. That most the celebs you wanted to be like in your 20's and 30's have things that are fake, enhanced or airbrushed.

    12. That said celebs are now nearing or over 40!

    13. It's ok to have the fake hair, fake lashes, fake nails and any other falsie, if you so desire. (see 11.)

    14. Gas is still funny... maybe funnier.

    15. That your parents didn't know any more about raising children than you do.

    16. How to get kids out the door for school in 10 minutes because YOU overslept.

    17. That Spanx are like chocolate or cheese, they make everything better.

    18. You're just like you were in your 20's only savvier and less bendy.

    19. That you can survive on 2hrs. sleep each night for 6 months.

    20. That you can't fight it anymore - You are officially a WOMAN - and that's not such a bad thing to be.

  • Accidental Racist

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

     

     

    Theres a new track from Brad Paisley and LL Cool J called “Accidental Racist,” which is on Paisley’s new album, "Wheelhouse".

    The song is about Paisley’s struggle to deal with race as a white man in the South. The lyrics describe him walking into a coffee shop wearing a shirt that has a confederate flag on it.

    Paisley sings: "I'm just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms/Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn.”

    LL Cool J sings back, saying: “If you don’t judge my do-rag, I won’t judge your red flag. If you don’t judge my gold chains. I’ll forget the iron chains".

     

     

    Is this racist to you?

  • ACM Performances......

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan really kicked things off the right way. Loved that Sheryl Crow and Brad Paisley joined them as well

    LIttle Big Town debut their new song, which might be my new favorite, "Your Side of the Bed"  A little racy...

     

     

    Eric Church did an amazing, stripped-down version of "Like Jesus Does"  and he looked so good without the glasses and hat for once.

    Tim Mcgraw performed with Taylor and he ages like a fine wine..better and better...nice little addition with Kieth in there as well ;)

     

    George Strait and Garth Brooks STOLE the show with their tribute to Dick Clark...I loved Garths Goatee and how great he looked. Cant wait for him to get on the road again!