Woohoo! My first award!

Woohoo! My first award!  I was nominated by Lindsay from Wild Ginger for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!  It was so sweet of Lindsay to think of me!  Thank you!

Woohoo! I won an award!

Here are the Rules:

  • Thank the Blogger that nominated you and link back to their site.
  • Put the award Logo on your blog
  • Answer 10 questions the blogger has sent to you.
  • Create 10 new questions for nominees to answer.
  • Nominate 10 bloggers and notify them.  (I don’t personally know 10 bloggers — I can only think of two right now…)

Here are the questions Lindsay asked me:

What is your favorite fall clothing staple item?

Just one?  And a clothing item?  I love fall clothes.  To be honest, I’m shocked that not shopping this time of year isn’t bothering me.  My favorite clothing item during the fall is a tunic length sweater (paired with leggings, boots or booties, and a scarf, of course!).

What did you want to be when you grew up when you were a kid?

As a child, I hated that question!  I could never think of anything other than a housewife or a teacher so that’s what I would say when asked, but the truth is, I knew that I was meant for something else!  I just wasn’t sure what.  Heck, I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to be doing in life!  I don’t know that accounting is truly my calling, but I can’t really stay at home.  If anyone has any suggestions for me, let me know!

Ice cream flavor of choice…

I love Uncle Bob’s Fudgy Goodness ice cream or Talenti Gelato coconut.

What was one of your favorite things you did this summer?

My husband and I went on our 5 year anniversary to Cancun (WITHOUT the KIDS!!)!  We stayed at the Moon Palace, and it was wonderful!  Maybe I should do a post reviewing our experience…

If you had to live in another state, which one would it be?

Initially, I was thinking California, but they have droughts, earthquakes, fires, and high taxes.  Honestly, I don’t know where I would pick!  We’re so blessed to be surrounded by family and living in our family home that I’m not sure that we could move away.

If you had to extend a television series one more season, which would it be?

Gilmore Girls, and it’s already being done!

What was your favorite subject in school?

School seems so long ago!  I think I loved anything to do with English.  It gave me an excuse to read.  I know that I hated PE in high school the one semester that I had to take it.  I am not good at bad mitten or archery!

If Hollywood were to make a movie about your life and you got to pick the actress, who would you pick?

Reese Witherspoon!  She’s one of Chad’s celebrity crushes so he would get a kick out of it!

Imagine…you become an overnight music sensation, what is the name of your hit single?

Geesh!  That’s a tough one!  Great question, Lindsay!  My song would be “Slippin’,” because it seems as though life is just slippin’ by!

What’s your plans for the weekend?

It’s Halloween!  Friday afternoon is the children’s Halloween parade at their daycare.  I love to attend!  It’s so cute!  Friday evening we’re going to my mom’s for dinner.  Saturday morning, we’ll go get our butchered beef and hog.  Then, I think we’re going to head North to see Mr. Keller’s cousin’s new baby.  After that, we’ll take the Keller Kids trick or treating.  Sunday, I hope to meet up with my friend Abby and her husband!

All right!  That task is done!  Now my whole list of two other bloggers, it’s your turn (if you so choose!)

Rachel with Miles Abroad

Maria with Maria Sangria

Here are your questions

  1. Who is your hero?
  2. If you could live anywhere, where would it be>
  3. What is your biggest fear?
  4. What is your favorite family vacation?
  5. What would you change about yourself if you could?
  6. What makes you laugh the most?
  7. If money were no object, what would you do all day?
  8. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
  9. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your kitchen window?
  10. What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

Have fun!  I know that I enjoyed my first award 🙂

Moms Face Different Rules

Do Moms face different rules?  Should they?  I found myself pondering these questions this evening when I spotted an article on Yahoo! headlined “Mom’s Job Threatened Over Inappropriate Bikini.”  I read the little descriptor below the article and stated “a middle school teacher stands up for her right to post photos of her bodybuilding competitions.”

I found this intriguing because it appears that the article should maybe be entitled something like “Teacher’s Job Threatened Over Sports Competition.”  It did not appear that the issue had anything to do with her being a mom!  The article mentioned that she was a divorced mother of four, and again, I cannot see where this had any bearing on the issue.  This woman was facing censure from the parents of her students because those students found pictures of her preparing for a bodybuilding competition on a social media page.  Interesting enough, she had not even posted the pictures under her real name!  So to recap:  a teacher engages in a sports competition and posts pictures of herself performing in the sports competition.  The teacher’s students find these pictures on social media, and their parents freak out.  Presumably, these students saw pictures of other competitors as well, but it’s only their teacher with whom the parents are angry.  Interesting.

Moms face different rules

Why are moms expected to stay on the sidelines? And who cares if the participant is a mom?

In the end, this issue went to the middle school’s board.  The teacher was found to have done nothing wrong, and the school apologized to her.  The parents will be receiving training on appropriate student web use.  Clearly, this was the correct call, but why is this even news?  And why is the headline “Mom’s Job Threatened Over Inappropriate Bikini?”  I mean, really, what does it matter that she is a single mother of four?  In the context of the referenced article, it really has no bearing.

I love that I am a mother to two beautiful, healthy children, but it does not define me.  I believe that the woman in this article would agree to that, as well.  They are part of my definition and always will be, of course,  but “Mom” is not who I am.  It’s a beloved title, but I am “Sarah Keller.”  Our society needs to work on this distinction, because it’s an important one.  As mothers, we cannot lose who we are in our children.  Rather, we should allow our status as mothers to help us grow.

I absolutely wince when someone other than my children calls me “Mom” or “Little Mama” or something along those lines.  Oh, it’s fine in the first glowing days of pregnancy or childbirth, but after that, I should be “Sarah.”  After all, being “Mom” is just one of my titles.  I am also “Wife,” “Accountant,” “Norwex Sales Consultant (sorry, couldn’t resist, it’s true, after all!), “CPA,” and more.  Not one of this titles singularly defines me.  I am not single faceted; I am wonderfully multi-faceted and uniquely me.

Articles with titles like the one on Yahoo! just make me shake my head.  It acts as though moms face different rules.  That’s crazy.  Their status as mothers should make them no different from any other functioning member of society.  I hate to even state it, but she would have never faced censure from her students’ parents had she been a male.  Neither her status as a female nor as a mother should cause her to face different rules or societal backlash.

No Shopping Challenge

Earlier this month, I decided to do a 30 day No Shopping Challenge.  For me, it’s not purely a no shopping challenge as I still purchased Halloween costumes for my children and a couple of gifts, but I did not purchase anything for me.  Many of you reading this may think this is crazy, but for me, it’s huge to go 30 days without buying shoes, accessories, clothing items, or other unnecessary retail items.

No Shopping ChallengeThis no shopping challenge will help me gain traction on a number of goals:

  1.  Financial Independence.  You can’t get ahead if you spend it all!
  2. Reducing consumerism.  The world only has so many resources, and I don’t need to consume those resources for no apparent reason.
  3. Reducing impulse buys.  Obviously this goes along with meeting my goal of financial independence, but I am finally really training myself to ask, “is this a want or a need?”  Will it change my life for the better or just be a waste?

No Shopping ChallengeWish me luck as I continue the no shopping challenge!  I plan to continue it through November, as well!  My only allowed purchases will be items absolutely necessary for the kids (Shoes!  Their feet grow way too fast), groceries, and gifts.  Even the gifts will be limited this year.  I’ve worked hard all summer long to build a treasure trove of jams, pickles, salsas, and fruit butters, and I plan to use these as gifts were possible!

I think the key to this no shopping challenge is to just think outside the box a little bit.  In the past, my solution to something breaking or an upcoming celebration was to just run out and buy something.  Now, I am stopping to fix things where possible, substituting when fixing doesn’t work, and gifting homemade items.  I thought that approach would be an inconvenience, but it’s actually easier!  After all, I have all of those things in my house already!  Shopping honestly involves more work!

Norwex Launch Party

This past Sunday was my Norwex Launch party!  First, it was a huge success, and I would really like to thank everyone who came out.  I truly appreciate it!

I decided to sell Norwex as an independent sales consultant because I truly believe in the product.  More than 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into our households in the last 50 years, only 200 of those have been tested by our government agencies.  That’s crazy!  I thought that I was being a good housewife and mom when I cleaned our house with Clorox wipes, bleach, Windex, Pledge, and the Swiffer products, but I was wrong!  All of those products contain carcinogens or allergies.  Rather than helping my children, I was exposing their tiny systems to really awful and harsh ingredients.  With Norwex, I can clean with just a cloth and water!  For tougher issues, their products contain only enzymes or natural ingredients.

Norwex is different.  It is a company that is dedicated to turning our homes into safe havens.  It’s doing this by eliminating unnecessary chemicals and plastics.  It’s also constantly improving.  The company just came out with an updated microfiber Enviro Cloth (think Everything Cloth as you can use it for everything!).  This cloth is 14% thicker than the old cloth!  That may not sound like a lot, but listen to these stats:

  1.  The microfiber is 1/200th of a human hair and star shaped.  This allows the cloth to just suck up dirt and water.  It’ll hold 7x it’s weight!
  2. If the fiber were stretched out, it would be 10,000,000 feet long!
  3. Microsilver has been mixed into the fiber.  This microsilver smothers the bacteria that has been trapped in the microfiber, allowing the cloth to renew and cleanse itself of bacteria of a 24 hour period.
  4. The cloth is up to 99% antibacterial!

I’ll bet you can’t say the same thing about your cotton rag!  Plus, these cloths will last an average of 7-10 years if cared for properly.

Norwex Enviro Cloth

Enviro Cloth Cleaning Tips

Norwex is also investing in our environment in other ways.  They have created the Norwex RACE (Race Against Chemicals in theEnvironment) Movement.  This is a movement dedicated towards educating others about the effects of chemical and plastic use on our environment.  Currently, they are also partnering with the Washed Ashore Project which is a non-profit, community-based organization with a mission of educating and creating awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution through art.

Norwex is an inspiring company, and I am thrilled to have joined it.  Every time someone orders one of the items from the product line, I know that I am helping our environment and helping that person make their home a little bit safer!  If you want to find out more information or even wish to look at the product line, please check out my Norwex website:  SarahKeller.Norwex.biz.

Thank you again to all those who came out to support me at my Norwex Launch party.  It really meant a lot to me!


IL College Savings Plans

There was some good news today in my email inbox regarding the Keller Kids’ IL College Savings Plans! The state has actually reduced the fees associated with the accounts! Overtime those quarterly fees and management fees can really add up, and the state has actually reduced the fees by 43%! That’s amazing! Especially for the State of IL!

IL College Savings Plans

College may seem far away for your new baby, but save now! It’ll be here before you know it!

I have copied the email I received below so that you can see for yourself. I also want to highly encourage the parents and grandparents who are reading this to set up a 529 plan for your (grand)child if you have not already done so. The 529 plan allows you to save for college in a tax advantaged account. That’s a big deal when it comes to saving for something over several years. The savings and additional earnings generated can truly make a big difference.


October, College Savings

It costs too much to save for college.

That was the principle driving negotiations to reduce fees for the Bright Directions 529 college savings plan.

I’m pleased to report that we were able to eliminate set-up and quarterly fees. We also slashed management fees by 43 percent.

Had the deal been in place last year, before I took office, the new structure would have meant an additional $3.6 million in college savings.

This is a critical issue in Illinois and across our country. We must be smarter on how we save for college. A college education opens doors that otherwise would remain locked. That is why we must do everything possible to make higher education affordable again.

Bright Directions and Bright Start savings typically can be used at public and private schools, two-year and four-year colleges and universities, and certain technical and vocational schools.

It’s never too early to start saving. Nor is it too late.

Today, more than 400,000 Bright Start and Bright Directions accounts are actively used to save for college. That does not include the thousands more who already used the tool to earn a diploma and avoid crushing debt.

I begrudgingly accept that fees are a part of life. However, I am gladdened that we were able to reduce them. That $3.6 million would have gone a long way to help our families. The new terms take effect Nov. 15.

Michael W. Frerichs

Bright Directions Fees Lowered