Which Mortgage Loan is Best for Me?

When looking to buy a home, there are a lot of things to consider:  how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, 2-story, 1-story, Pool or no Pool.  Deciding on the best loan program isn’t usually the first thing that is considered, but it’s very important in the home buying process.  Some of the main questions to consider:

  • What programs are available with my credit score?
  • Which program requires the least amount of down payment?
  • What program will give me the lowest payment?
  • Do I have to pay mortgage insurance?

No two home buyers are the same, so the best loan for one buyer is likely unsuitable – or even unavailable – to another.  You’ll want to make sure you find a good loan officer to help you make a final decision.

The main loan programs available are:

  • FHA
  • VA
  • USDA
  • Conventional

FHA Loan:

FHA loans are very popular with First Time Home Buyers.  The popularity is understandable.  With a small down payment requirement, lenient credit score standards, and flexible income guides, the FHA mortgage is making homeownership available to a many people who have been stuck renting for years.  The benefits of an FHA loan:

  • 3.5% down payment required
  • Credit scores as low as a 580
  • Past derogatory debt (like Bankruptcies and Foreclosures) require shorter waiting periods
  • Lenient income qualification
  • Is insured and guaranteed by the federal government

VA:

VA loans are for those who served in the military.  VA loans play an important role in helping those who serve and have served to buy a home because no down payment is required.  Other benefits of the VA loan:

  • Mortgage rates are typically lower than Conventional Loans
  • No monthly mortgage insurance required
  • You can reuse your VA loan benefit
  • You don’t have to be a first-time home buyer
  • VA is very lenient on past derogatory credit. You only need to wait two years after a Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, or Short Sale to qualify.
  • Is insured and guaranteed by the federal government

USDA

A USDA home loan is a zero-down payment mortgage for eligible rural and suburban homebuyers.  The program is designed to “improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.” Key Benefits of the USDA Loan:

  • No down payment required
  • Low monthly mortgage insurance fees
  • Lenient credit scores and income limits
  • Applicants must meet income limits of the program
  • Buyer must purchase a home within USDA-eligible areas
  • Is insured and guaranteed by the federal government

Conventional Loan

A Conventional mortgage is a home loan that isn’t guaranteed or insurance by the federal government (like FHA, VA, and USDA are).  This program offers flexible down payment options (as little as 3% down) but requires higher credit scores and is stricter on income and past derogatory credit.  It’s a great option for buyers with higher credit scores and larger down payments because rates tend to be lower than and mortgage insurance is cheaper.  Key benefits of a Conventional Loan:

  • Down Payment as low as 3%
  • No upfront mortgage insurance (like FHA, VA, and USDA)
  • No monthly mortgage insurance with 20% down
  • Loan amount up to $453,100
  • Unlike FHA, mortgage insurance is cancelable with 20% equity.

If you have any questions on these loans program, or if you need help determining which option works best for your specific situation, please call, text, or e-mail me anytime.

Senior Mortgage Banker Ryan Gilliam is a lifelong Arizona resident. He attended Dobson High School in Mesa and graduated from Arizona State University with a Business degree. He’s been in the mortgage industry since 2004 and has always been committed to client education and helping them through the entire mortgage process. 

Mobile: 602.614.0740

 

 

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How to Fly on an Airplane like an Expert with Toddlers and Preschoolers!

Traveling to new destinations is so much fun, but the question is how to get there. Yes, you can drive, but that only gets you so far and it can take a long time. As a family we love to fly, it’s fast and simple once you know what you are doing.
 
First, figure out the logistics of the trip:
 
When to Fly: When choosing your flight consider length of the flight, age of your child, time zone changes, and price of the ticket. When Ethan was 5 months old, we did a red eye from Honolulu to Phoenix. The timing worked well because he was small enough to sleep anywhere and we all slept for most of the flight. That being said, we have found that generally the kids are not going to sleep on the flight for a nap. There’s just too much noise and activity. If they do fall asleep, it’s at the very end of the flight when they have to be still for landing. We shoot for a midmorning or evening flight and just know that the kids won’t sleep well during the day and will need to go to bed early. Midmorning is nice because you don’t have to wake up early to leave, but you aren’t rushed by the end of the day.
 
Where to Sit: We always sit about 2/3 of the way to the back of the plane. We like to be closer to the bathroom (but not too close), but also not in the front where all the serious people sit. It does take a little longer to get off the plane, but we don’t mind because we typically end up waiting for our luggage at baggage claim anyway.
 
Next, here are some great tips for navigating airplane travel with little ones:
 
Show up early: Kids are slow. It’s much easier to navigate the airport, manage security, and find your game without stressing about time.
 
Check your Car Seat with the Luggage and Your Stroller at the Gate: When the kids were smaller, we didn’t put them in car seats on the plane. If you do, then you can take it through security and buckle it in when you board. We always chose to check the car seat but bring the stroller into the airport. The stroller is an amazing tool to have in the airport especially if you have more than one kid or your kids are runners.  You can use the stroller to hold the kids or the luggage and you can check it right at the gate. Just make sure to get a tag before boarding.
 
Have a Plan to Get Through Security: When we go through security, I manage the kids and Victor manages the luggage. This is the most efficient way to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. If it’s just me and the kids, I make sure our luggage is through security and then the kids and I go through.
 
Board with Family Boarding: Many airlines offer family boarding. Take advantage of this. You can possibly board before your ticketed zone, find overhead storage for your bags, and settle the kids.
Meet the Pilot: Many pilots are happy to meet the kids before the flight. My kids started doing this at about age 3 and love to meet the pilot on every flight.
 
Bring Entertainment: Make sure you think about the best entertainment for your child. Here are 10 Great Items to Bring with You! (http://veganfamilytravels.com/2018/09/11/10-must-haves-for-an-airplane-with-kids/)
Go potty: Before you land, make sure anyone who is potty trained and might have to go, goes to the restroom. Ethan has a habit of telling us he needs to go potty when we land and it’s nearly impossible to get to the front or the back of the plane while everyone is waiting to get off.
 
Pick up Your Luggage: After we get off the plane, we had over to the baggage claim. We let the kids stretch their legs, go potty if needed, and take our time. By the time we get there, we hope that our bags are ready and we can continue our adventure!
 
Use these tips to navigate airline travel like a pro! What’s your best tip for traveling with kids?  Please leave us a comment!  We’d love to hear from you.
 

You can follow Vegan Family Travels adventures at www.veganfamilytravels.com,www.facebook.com/veganfamilytravels, and https://www.instagram.com/veganfamilytravelsus/.

Shopping for a home in the Phoenix area?  Click here to search homes and click here to qualify for a home loan 🏠
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School Lunch Bag! How to Prepare for the Cafeteria at School 🍎

Your child may only have 20 minutes to eat.

There will be volunteers to help, but waiting for them costs delicious time!

 Bring food rather relying on school lunch, at least the first couple of days. Waiting in line takes time! Wait until your child is familiar with the cafeteria and with the time allotted before trying out the cafeteria offerings.

 Pack a lunch that your child can easily open. Consider practicing at home a few times to make sure!

 Provide foods that can be eaten efficiently. Cut your fruits and veggies. Halve or quarter your sandwiches.

 Have kids help with the packing process. They will know what’s in their lunch box and can develop a plan of attack!

 Make sure you’re packing something that will look just as nice after being banged around a bit! A beautiful, nutritious lunch in the morning might not be so Pinterest worthy by lunchtime!

                        

Well school has started. Time to get back into a school year rhythm. Back to getting things accomplished around the house. Or maybe time to get your own head back on straight with a nice bath and Netflix binge.

It’s also time to start packing lunches for your kids.

Sure, you could browse Pinterest, which will initially provide inspiration, but will eventually leave you feeling a little… less than. I mean who can keep up with this craziness?

Obviously, this is awesome, but who can come up with these ideas, never mind actually execute them, on a daily basis?

There is absolutely no need to get so elaborate. It adds pressure in an already difficult job. Of course, if you want to take advantage of an extra pot of coffee every so often and get really creative, I won’t stop you.

The good news is that you don’t have to. There are a few things you’re looking for when packing your child’s lunch. You want a mix of nutrients in order to cover your nutrition needs and keep your child’s little belly satisfied the whole day. Learning creates such an appetite!

You want to send your child with a colorful lunch. It’s beautiful, which means it’s more appetizing. Colors represent different nutrients, which means that by giving carrots, kiwis, and grape tomatoes, you’re hitting different micronutrients. This will also help protect them against all those nasty bugs that always accompany the back to school season.

Protein is important for building those muscles as they grow, but it also helps cue the brain into that fullness signal and helps keep your child going throughout the day.

Fat also signals the brain that you’re full. But fat also helps build up the nervous system, which impacts development of fine and gross motor skills. In essence, it helps build the brain!

Carbohydrates get a bad rap these days, but the truth is that the body uses carbohydrates for fuel. Our bodies take fuel that we provide as food and turns it into the only efficient form of energy that can actually be used in the body, glucose. Grains provide fiber and micronutrients that are very helpful to a hungry belly and growing body. The fiber in whole grains helps keep kids regular. The B vitamins help to release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

But, as I explain in this Nap Time Nutrition segment, it can be too easy to make all meals grain-based. They are quick to prepare, travel well, store well, freeze well, and are readily accepted by even the most selective eaters. So, it’s important to plan your day of meals (or week, or month if you’re way more on top of this than I am) so you can have an easy visual of the variety in your nutrition.

Variety is key. In this info graphic, I have broken down school meal options into major nutrient categories to help ensure variety while keeping it simple.

And if you do really want to spice it up and you’re looking for a middle of the road type of creativity, add a note, maybe a sparkly note. Draw a cute picture to add in your kid’s lunch. Or even hit up Amazon for some Kid Pick Forks or Eyeball Toothpicks.

Health & Happiness,
Yaffi Lvova, RDN
Creating Healthy Relationships with Food
If I’ve helped you overcome a nutrition obstacle, please feel free to review me!

 

Want to move but not sure about the schools in other areas of town?  Contact Katie Halle Lambert with Team EvoAZ at Revelation Real Estate for school info in all areas of Phoenix and surrounding cities.
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Should I Test My Child Into Kindergarten Early in Arizona?

Kindergarten…it’s a hot topic amongst Moms in Arizona. We start school here SO early compared to parts of the country. Growing up in New Jersey, we started after labor day so the cut-off dates were different. My Mom also told me that Kindergarten wasn’t as rigorous when I was young.

In Arizona, the cutoff to enter Kindergarten is generally August 31st. Your child would have to be 5 years old by the cutoff date to enter Kindergarten without having to take an early entrance test. However, there is an option in most districts to test in for children whose birthdays fall between September 1st and December 31st. But, is it a good idea?

When speaking with some of the 5,000+ Moms in the MOMnationAZ Facebook Group, it’s a pretty common theme that most would rather have their boys wait to start so they will be older than many other kids in the class. Generally, boys mature at a slower pace than girls and benefit from being older. Girls are more favorable for early entrance because they are usually more mature and advanced. One Mom said, in California the cutoff is December 31st. She mentioned one of her kids that she thought would do great, ended up struggling and the other ended up thriving. It was still recommended to hold them back when they moved to AZ because the school they chose was more rigorous. A few teachers that chimed in said they can definitely see the maturity difference in the kids who are younger vs older. Still, kids will be kids and each are different! Many Moms commented that their kids tested in early and are still thriving years later!

A few things to think about if you want to test your child in early:

  1. Have they gone to preschool in a classroom setting? This helped our daughter tremendously with her knowledge and social encounters. She was reading by the age of 4 and knows all of the topics that are on the list of what they will learn in Kindergarten. She also learned sharing and working with others.

  2. Do they know the items on the Kindergarten readiness sheet? It’s not all just academic. A few of the items are:

    1. Can they put on their jacket or backpack themselves?

    2. Do they separate well from their parents?

    3. Can they open their own snacks and lunch?

    4. Can they wipe their own butt? HAHA. Mine is still learning!

     3) Think about the future:

    1. They will be the last to drive in their grade. Since you can get your license at 16 in Arizona, I considered this a non-issue. She will still be able to drive almost 2 years in High School.

    2. Boys may be smaller than others in their class and have a disadvantage in sports.

    3. Girls would be entering high school at 13 years old which is not comforting to some parents, especially their Dads.

You’re probably wondering what to do if you want to test your child in early. Here’s the process that we went through. Each school district may be different so do your research! I would start planning at least a year ahead to prepare your child. Start researching schools and their policies and talk to other parents with kids in that school.

  1. I called the school district office in March to ask when they would be doing the early testing. The lady put me on the list and called me in April to schedule the test.

  2. Send in payment for the testing (if applicable). It was $30 in our district.

  3. The day of testing (in June), we checked in in the library and they had coloring sheets for the kids. Our group was mostly girls and one little boy. When it was time to go back, the teacher had them line up and go to a different room. They observed who separated well and who listened to directions.

My Daughter’s Review of What They Did in Testing (Varies by District)

  1. They were instructed to draw a circle and write their name inside the circle. Then, they had to place a sticker above their name and then cut out the circle.

  2. She said they did some practice with identifying letters, but didn’t fully explain.

  3. The teacher read them a book and I’m guessing that she was watching to see how they sit still and listen.

  4. Afterwards they colored a caterpillar and started to cut it out.

  5. She specifically told me that she listened when the teacher said to push in their chairs.

About a week and a half later we got the letter that she was accepted into Kindergarten! The teacher does evaluate each early entrance child at 30 days to determine if Kindergarten is a good fit.

Our district does a 3 day Kinder Camp type of program to get them used to the classroom setting. I highly recommend this if your district offers it! My daughter loved Kinder Camp! I feel this made her first day of real Kindergarten so much easier especially being a little fish in a big sea!

Meanwhile, I’m over here about to cry my eyes out because my baby moved from her wonderful Preschool into Kindergarten!

Jen Duncan AKA The New Build Ninja
(480) 707-7554

Jen Duncan, super MOMmy of one special little lady, fearlessly guiding local MOMs and Dads through the real estate process with extra ninja prowess in new construction.  SEARCH new homes here!

What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up? A MOMs guide to returning to College as an Adult

 It’s a loaded question for many. I mean, in this group, we are all moms. So that means we sometimes lose our identity in the shuffle of caring for everyone else. Being a MOM is the most challenging yet rewarding adventure in the world! That being said, mommas still need their own identity. Finding what they love, where their passion is, and how they want to spend their time. So where do you start? How do you figure out what you want to be when you grow up?
Well it turns out that there are actually counselors who do just that! They talk with you, learn about you interests, needs and wants. Then work to partner with you to find a degree program to meet your personalized needs. So cool right! Best part is that some of these counselors have worked in the education industry for years and actually help you navigate to resources you may not have known about prior. So if you are considering finding yourself and what you want to do, get in touch with an experienced counselor today! 
That’s not all, did you know some school counselors help you with not only the figuring your life part out, but also with everything else. From figuring out your finances, scholarships, and other funding sources you may not be aware of. To preparing for success within your program. Heck the good ones even show you resources about what potential job outcomes you can earn with your degree, salary ranges, etc.
Sound like something you might be interested in? Contact your very own boss mom University Development Counselor today!
 
Important Questions When looking for a School
Accreditation?
Modalities offered?
Class size?
Class length?
Cost per credit hour?
Support provided?
Resources available?
Scholarships available?
 
Cheri Ramo is an awesome College Counselor, doting military wife and ninja-MOM of three beautiful ladies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWESOME home for sale in Ahwatukee brought to you by EvoAZ.com! Here’s Katie Halle Lambert presenting this amazing opportunity on Cox Cable broadcasted in California and other parts of Arizona.  MORE INFO and PICS here

Tips to Reduce Energy Consumption with Central AC Use in Arizona

TIPS TO REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION WITH CENTRAL AC USE

Home heating and/or cooling, depending on where you live, are your largest home energy consumption activities. Here in Arizona it is certainly home cooling. Here is our extensive list of tips to greatly reduce your energy consumption via central air conditioning. You may not be able to use all these tips but you could certainly employ a number of them.

THERMOSTAT CONTROL

A house that is slightly cooler than the outside feels far more comfortable than you might think. Relative temperatures can go a long way. So when it’s 100 degrees outside there is no need to try to create a 60 degree environment inside. 77 or 78 degrees Fahrenheit is only slightly above ideal room temperature and can be plenty comfortable when it’s far hotter outside. Your AC system will not need to work as hard to maintain that kind of temperature.

Use Digital Thermostats – they are more accurate and can be programmable to set different temperatures for certain times of the day.

Dial down your thermometer a couple degrees at night – cooler evening temps make for a better sleeping environment and it easier for your system to bring temperatures down a bit more in the cool night air.

Dial it up a few more degrees for times of the day when there is usually nobody home. A cold house does not keep you cool if you’re not there.

Don’t position heat-producing appliances, such as televisions or lamps, near the thermostat. The added heat can fool your thermostat, causing the unit to run longer than necessary.

CRANKING YOUR THERMOSTAT WAY DOWN DOES NOT SPEED UP HOW FAST YOUR HOUSE COOLS DOWN!!

Don’t do this. It does not work. AC units only have two settings – off and on. When your thermostat detects your house has warmed too far past your setting the AC unit kicks in and will run until the thermostat detects the house has cooled enough. Cranking it farther than usual means it just runs the same but probably for longer since you’ll have a tendency to forget to turn it back up, meaning you’ve let it run too long and consumed more energy than you needed too.

CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING MAINTENANCE

The central AC unit is the largest energy draw. Old and poorly maintained equipment draws far more energy.

Replace old air conditioners with a modern high efficiency Energy Star unit – they use a lot less energy (up to 40%)

Choose the right size air conditioner – too small a unit will struggle to keep up and run constantly, too large a unit will cool your home too fast and frequently be turning off and on while not doing enough to reduce humidity.

Check the air filters on your AC system – replace them on schedule. Dirty and clogged filters cause the system to work harder, using more energy.

Schedule a yearly maintenance with your HVAC contractor to ensure your units are running at peak efficiency.

Keep your air conditioner out of the sun – install on shady side of house or at least have it protected by shrubs or a partial wall or fence

REDUCE SOLAR HEAT INPUTS

The sun will heat any object it shines upon and that includes the inside of your home. These tips will help reduce solar heating as well as save your flooring and furniture from fading.

Close curtains on windows facing the sun

Install thermal liners on your curtains – they reflect more of the heat back out the window

Install window tinting on sun facing windows – residential tint film is designed to cut UV rays substantially

Plant trees and shrubs around your house – their shade will help keep the house cooler

Paint your house a lighter color – darker colors absorb solar energy, lighter colors reflect it away

Make sure your attic is properly ventilated, your roof absorbs a lot of heat. Vents in the eaves allows hot air to escape. Consider adding a ridge vent or attic fan.

REDUCE OTHER INTERNAL HEAT GAINS

Besides the sun there are many things and activities around the home that produce heat.

Turn off pilot lights on gas furnaces and fire places – you don’t need them during the summer

Cook outside – It’s summer, enjoy the BBQ as much as possible on hot days

Install compact florescent bulbs, they produce a lot less heat than incandescent bulbs

Turn off appliances – even unplug them. Many TV’s, CD players, satellite TV receivers, stereos, cell phone chargers and other electronic devices draw power and give off heat even when turned off.

Keep your fridge and freezer full – more food in your fridge and freezer means it won’t warm up as fast when the door is open. Also all that thermal mass stays cooler longer and the fridge does not have to work as hard to keep it cool. When the cooling system is running on your fridge it is producing warm air in your home.

Take shorter showers and vent off the warm moist air – open a window while showering.

Reduce clothing dryer use – hang clothing outside if you can. Don’t use the dryer during peak daytime temperatures, instead use it early morning or in the evening. And keep that lint trap clean!

Don’t use the dryer setting on your dishwasher. Instead open the door and let them air dry.

DIVIDE YOUR HOUSE INTO ZONES

Large buildings employ zoning to more efficiently manage cooling and heating. You can do the same in your home. Most modern central air systems will employ automated zone control systems. Some home systems may employ two or three different central ac units each cooling a single floor of the house. If your system does not have these sorts of zone controls built in you can try these tips.

Have your HVAC contractor install zone dampers into your air duct system.

Close off empty and unused rooms – close doors, windows, curtains and vents. There is no need to cool this space as much as the rest of your home.

If your central AC uses separate thermostats for different floors (or zones) of your house, adjust temperatures according to usage patterns in those parts of your house.

Use small room AC units in your more lived in areas (living room, bedroom). You can let the rest of the house remain a few degrees warmer, reducing central a/c use which can offset the costs of the extra unit.

KEEP THE AIR FLOWING

Use fans – they circulate the air around and moving air help your bodies natural air conditioning (evapo-transpiration) work better.

Turn fans off when you’re not in the room. Moving air cools your skin, moving air with no skin nearby cools nothing, it just eats electricity, and the fans’ motor is producing a little bit of heat.

Re-Arrange your furniture – make sure chairs and sofa’s are not blocking air flow from your HVAC vents.

REDUCE HUMIDITY IN YOUR HOME

Ridding your house of excess humidity will help make your family feel more comfortable. You may even be able to set your air conditioner above 78 degrees when using a dehumidifier combined with fans. Your body can stand a couple extra degrees if the air is drier and moving around.

Use a dehumidifier to take water out of the air- turn it on when the temperature rises.

As mentioned above (reduce internal heat gains), minimize showers, baths and boiling water while cooking to reduce humidity inputs into your home.

INSULATE AND PLUG AIR LEAKS AROUND YOUR HOME

Trap cold air inside as much as possible. Letting it leak outdoors mean you have to cool more of it to replace those cold air losses.

Weather-strip, seal, and caulk leaky doors and windows and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

Seal air ducts – leaky ducts mean you push less cool air to where you need it. Have your AC contractor test and seal your duct work.

Increase attic insulation – insulate your attic to at least R-30.

Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans sparingly – you’re pumping out your cool air.

WATCH OUT FOR THE “REBOUND EFFECT”

If you follow many of the tips in this article you will certainly reduce your energy consumption and save money. Depending on where you live and the size of your home those savings could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. A nice chunk of change for most anybody. Be careful though not to simply use the money you save to buy more energy consuming devices or turn your AC down a few degrees thinking you can now be cooler while spending the same as you did before. In energy and conservation economics this is known as the rebound effect.

Brought to you by Armer Air Heating and Air Conditioning 

Contact us for questions, AC inspections and maintenance.

(480) 290-2977 – armerair@gmail.com

 

Ahwatukee Home for Sale
Stunning views! Luxurious custom home in a private, gated community in the Ahwatukee Foothills.

Need a little life balance? Bye bye DIY!

Your life is probably just as busy as mine.  There’s work…and maybe you run a business or two.  Kids, pets and significant others appointments, school and other activities.  Then there’s laundry, keeping the house tidy and well stocked, groceries, bill paying, vehicle maintentance and meal prep.  Someone’s got to make sure the bills are paid, the insurance is current and prescriptions are filled.  The landscaping, home maintenance and pest control needs to be kept up.  Every year the taxes have to be filed and maybe, just maybe this is the year you are buying or selling your home.

Phew… I’m tired just thinking about it.  Are you?

Are you feeling defeated?  Like there isn’t any balance?  Either your house is clean or you get to spend time with your kids?  Either you eat healthy meals or the laundry and landscaping get done.  Doesn’t it get a little stressful around tax time when turbo tax isn’t working right or you aren’t sure about the deductions?  Then there’s the house… did you disclose appropriately to keep your butt out of court in the future?  Did you price the house right?  Stage it appropriately?  Do you know where to market and how to market?  Is that stranger really interested in your house or are they casing the joint and seeing what you have for a security system so they can rob you blind later?

Now I’m not only tired, I’m super stressed.

Back in the day, it was cool to DIY.   Your parents probably changed their own oil, did the landscaping and taxes, etc.  Most likely they were always sick, tired and really grouchy.  Do you find yourself following in their footsteps thinking this is just “life”.

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Everyone has the same 24 hours and you aren’t going to get it all done.  It’s just impossible.  The key to balance is leverage and the key to leverage is mindset.  Change your mindset, change your life.  You don’t have to follow in your parents footsteps.

Automate everything that you possibly can.  Set up automatic bill payment online, get on auto ship programs for the products you love (I LOVE Melaleuca auto ship), add recurring events to your calendar and set it to remind you for things like vehicle registrations, call the AC guy for the yearly tune-up, oil change reminders,  etc.

Pay experienced professionals what they are worth to handle some of the things you just aren’t experienced in, good at or the things that just don’t please you to have to do.

Hire a landscaper, a house cleaner, a professional tax preparer, a mechanic, a pest control person, a handyman and a professional real estate Broker.  Hire a professional that preps meals or at least gets your groceries delivered to your door.  Hire a kid from the neighborhood to walk the dog.  Pay these people what they are worth.  You get what you pay for here…do not forget that old saying.  I cringe when I see people make the mistake of hiring the least expensive person.  THEY ALWAYS wish they had hired a true professional in the end.   It ALWAYS costs you more when you go cheap.

Trust me, you do have the money.  Budget for this.  You’ll be more happy.  You’ll have more time. You’ll be more productive at work or in your business.  Life all around will be more enjoyable.  You’ll spend more time with your family.  At the end of the day, it’s all about enjoyment.  Stop doing the things you hate to do and are not good at and kills your time.  Leave it to the pros that do it every day.  You’ll thank me and yourself later.

Here are a few of my favorites:

House Cleaner

Mechanic 

Mobile Pet Groomer 

Grocery Delivery

Landscaper 

Tax Prep

Pest Control

Pool Guy

Real Estate Pro

Good luck achieving the balance!  It is achievable.

 

This awesome Mesa Historic Home is for sale!  DETAILS HERE 

Energy Bill Savings Tips for Arizona MOMs

As MOMs in AZ, there’s lots we have to think about and energy efficiency certainly is at the top of the list.  It’s not only important for a comfortable home environment for the fam, but it’s also beneficial to the household budget.

There are several ways to keep the house comfier and the wallet happy during the summer months.  Here are our great suggestions from our MOMs:

  1. Get sunscreens, especially on the windows in direct sunlight.  Sunscreens come in many different sizes ranging from 60-90% sun coverage. They not only help block the heat but also provide some privacy.  Sunscreens can make a really big difference in the overall comfort of your home, and also offer major relief on your energy bill.  
  2. Sunshades are a must and we LOVE the automatic version.  There are many options and colors of shades that are programmable.  Once the sun hits a certain level, the shades come down.  It’s great!  Manual versions are also available and are a bit more cost effective while still offering the savings on the monthly energy bill.  Check out one of our favorite, and very popular, manual sunshades here.
  3. Nest Thermometer! This programmable thermostat learns your habits and saves approximately 15% on your cooling bill. The coolest part is that it can be controlled by your smart phone.
  4. Check out energy rebates and usage programs from SRP, APS and SW gas.
  5. Check your insulation levels.  Having the correct amount of insulation is super important, and at least 90% of AZ households do not have sufficient insulation.  Speak to a professional to determine the appropriate amount of insulation and appropriate R-value. Here’s some more info.
  6. Energy efficient windows are a great investment and will definitely help reduce the energy bill.  When selecting new windows, consider their energy performance ratings with respect to climate and home design.  You can expect at least a 20% savings on your energy bill if not more.
  7. Make sure your “extra” fridge in the garage is up for the challenge.  Higher temperatures can stress it by forcing the motor to run constantly, especially if your garage exceeds 110 degrees.  The energy bill will spike and you run the risk of the machine failing and risking food spoilage.
  8. Service your AC unit ASAP if it has not been regularly maintained.  You’d be surprised how much more efficient a regularly maintained AC unit is and you might even find that it makes sense to upgrade and replace the unit with a higher SEER rating for maximum efficiency.  Be sure to change your AC filters regularly; it may seem small but this helps keep the unit running efficiently.
  9. Speaking of AC units, don’t forget about your ductwork.  This is nearly as important as the unit itself.  Look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and for obvious holes. Don’t want to do the work yourself? Consult a pro.  Ignoring this could mean a 25% to 30% energy loss.
  10. Seal energy leaks around doors, windows, etc.  If you can see the light of day, you are losing energy.  Caulk and/or apply weatherstrip to doors and windows. Caulk to seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets. You can even install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  11. Moving air is cooler that turning on your air conditioning because it creates quick evaporation of moisture from the skin.  Ceiling fans are found in almost all homes in the Phoenix, AZ area and help create a more comfortable environment by moving air.  Don’t think there’s a fan for you? Ceiling fans come in many styles and colors to fit any design scheme!
  12. Go solar! Solar power popularity is on the rise and you can now either purchase or lease the systems.  There are still several options and incentives available for installing solar panels on top of the already big savings on energy bills.
  13. Upgrade to energy star appliances, and don’t forget the water heater.  These appliances save a ton on energy but they don’t slack on performance.  Upgrade your dishwasher, freezer, refrigerator, washer, dryer and water heater.
  14. Keep the fireplace damper completely closed while not in use!  Consider adding glass doors and keep them closed to increase energy efficiency.  
  15. Planting the appropriate trees in strategic places around your home conserves energy and reduces your energy bills.  Be sure to consult a professional as planting an inappropriate type of tree or placing it in the wrong area can be damaging to some major systems of your home including the roof, foundation and plumbing.
  16. Purchase black out shades or blinds and place on all windows affected by the sun.
  17. Consider purchasing a home with North / South exposure.  This is the most optimal orientation in the Phoenix AZ area.  Search Phoenix area homes for sale here.  

Contact me to discuss your energy efficiency level.  I have great referrals for professionals to help with any of these suggestions and love to get to know MOMs!

 

This house just SOLD! Want to see properties just like it? Click the image or visit: http://bit.ly/2tJVI7v

Katie Halle Lambert
Associate Broker
Team Evolution at 
Revelation Real Estate
480-250-0023
www.EvoAZ.com

4 Simple Tips for Organizing Your Playroom (and Life)

Hi Moms! This is fellow Mom and resident MOMnationAZ professional organizer Katy Krupnik of The Tidy Cottage. I love my kids, I love the way they enjoy their toys, but man toys can be a literal pain in the butt (or feet in the middle of the night).

Read on for tips to create a tidy toy room so those pesky toys stay out from under your feet!

1. Pair Down the Duplicates

We don’t even realize that our kids are playing with a lot of the same toys. Our kids don’t need three types of pretend laptops or four different types of train tracks. In fact, if our kids have only one or two options for each style or type of toy it will be less overwhelming to choose what to play with.

For example, this last year we bought my son a train table and it came with a bunch of little knick-knack wooden trees and signs, some tracks that built a bridge and around a mountain. Then my husband bought a box of different train tracks from a garage sale so they would have plenty to play with. So cool right!? Except it was a pain! My kids would get really frustrated and upset every time that bridge fell apart and they would fight over the wooden knick-knacks, and then the different track pieces would overwhelm them. It was such a frustration for all of us! I did not want to hear them running over complaining about it one more time so I took all of the bridge pieces and knick-knacks and non-wooden tracks away one evening, just to see if they would mention it or miss it. And life went on…with less arguing and running to mom complaining about something breaking or someone stealing a little piece, it was awesome!

Pairing down toys to just their favorites and what they enjoy the most is helpful, it eliminates the clutter and focuses in on what your children want to play with – which brings more peace into the home.

2. Purge the Broken and Worn Down Toys


If the puzzle has missing pieces or the wheels are off the car, it’s time to toss the toy. These are only cluttering the playroom or area and add frustration when played with.

Group “like with like” toys. Similar toys should be kept together. All cars together, all little people toys, music toys together, doctor kits together…etc. This will help your kids to be able to play with one type of toy at a time and make it an easy reset for the whole family. Everyone will know where cars go because they will all be together. It will be very obvious if a toy is misplaced, the car will look very funny next to all of the play food.

3. Clear Containers

If your kids tend to throw everything into baskets or bins, store toys in separate clear containers with lids. Kids can see what they want to play with, take it out and then put it back after they are done. They can’t go back to the habit of tossing toys together.

4. Take the Puzzles Out of The Box.
Take puzzles and memory games out of their boxes and put them in clear pencil pouches or ziplock bags with the cover of the puzzle or memory game cut out and placed in the bag. Then you can put the puzzles and memory games in one basket instead of taking up a whole shelf or area in your home!

I hope these tips help you on your journey to tidy the toy rooms in your life, we as Moms deserve to enjoy the wine at the end of the day without sitting on those pesky toys!

Katy Krupnik
Owner of The Tidy Cottage
www.thetidycottage.com

Want to see more organization and home design inspiration? Follow along @thetidycottage on Facebook and Instagram

12 Things to Know About Dealing with Scorpions in Arizona

Our family business has always been bugs. Growing up, my dad owned a pest control business, so I’ve been around bugs my entire life. I can vividly remember when I was little, my dad would bring home jars of scorpions, spiders and all kinds of things that he would catch while out working. He would place them on the kitchen window seal (I’m sure my mother just loved that!) and teach us about them.

While I never did grow fond of our house visitors,  I did learn a lot. Sure, I still run from the room screaming if I see a spider, but running a pest control business in Arizona means knowing the importance of being knowledgeable about all insects, especially scorpions.

The truth is, that no matter where you in the valley, scorpions are likely there. Maybe you are one of the lucky few that have never seen one inside your home, or perhaps, like many of us, you’ve found one in your shoe!

Scorpions tend to come out more when it’s hot, so with the extreme weather we are having, we felt it was important to remind you of the basics in scorpion safety. Being educated and knowledgeable about scorpions, and all dangerous desert critters, is essential to protecting both you and your family:

  1. Scorpions are not malicious and they do not hunt humans.
  2. Most scorpion stings are caused by accident, by being  accidentally stepped on, or by aggravating where a scorpion is sheltering
  3. Scorpions seek warm places, so use caution when putting on shoes, or taking out towels from the closet.
  4. While scorpions are mostly found outside, they are attracted to heat sources inside of homes such as cars, hot water heaters, and attics. Always check storage boxes that are stored in the garage and attic before bringing them inside your home.  
  5. Scorpion mothers have anywhere between 25-35 babies which she will carry on her back until they are ready to survive on their own, at around two months! Yikes! Can you imagine having 25 babies?
  6. If the mother scorpion cannot find food, she will eat her babies. She would have to be pretty hungry though because scorpions can go up to a year without eating.
  7. Scorpions can live up to 20 years but average about 6.  Scorpions can also live underwater for about 2 days. So if you see one in your pool, use extreme caution, as it may not be dead.  
  8. Scorpion venom is a neurotoxin designed to immobilize their prey.
  9. An adult scorpion knows how to control its venom when it stings.
  10. A baby scorpion does not know how to control its venom, so their sting can be much worse. This is why you will often hear that small scorpions are more dangerous than big scorpions.
  11. Everyone is different in how they react to a scorpion sting, but most adult humans will not need any medical treatment. Symptoms will last for several days and include a feeling of pins and needles, numbness, shortness of breath and pain at the sting site.
  12. A sting for a very small child, elderly person, or ill person can be very dangerous and immediate medical treatment is advised.

So, what can we do about these creatures that have been on earth for longer than humans and multiply at alarming rates? Here are 3 proven ways that we recommend to help stay safe, and not just from scorpions, but all kinds of creepy crawlies:

  1. The first and most important thing is to have your home sealed. You can do this yourself or hire a professional. If you look at your doors and you can see daylight underneath, then your house is inviting all types of bugs in. This can be a simple fix at Home Depot. If you have a hole in your ceiling where a ceiling fan was installed, this needs to be patched and sealed! No matter how much pesticides are laid down, if your house has openings, scorpions, and other bugs will find a way in.
  2. Make sure your yard is de-cluttered and free of debris that scorpions can nest in, including keeping your grass is trimmed down. Also, make sure your palm trees are debarked and kept trimmed. Scorpions LOVE palm trees for their moist shade and protection they provide. Do not place any type of shed or outdoor container directly against your home. Place it along a fence away from your home. In fact, do not have anything touching your home; keep a minimum 6-inch gap. This includes shrubs, trees or any vegetation.
  3. Have regular pest control service. Don’t wait until you’re having a problem. If you’re not seeing a lot of activity, think about having bi-monthly or even quarterly service. This will kill off the food source of scorpions which will help keep them away. We also recommend having your attic dusted at least twice a year.

What about the babies? Keeping our littles safe from scorpions is really important, and luckily there are a few easy things we can do:

  1. Do not place a crib directly underneath a fan, air vent or can light. Bugs can come through very very tiny openings and fall from the ceiling if they are residing in the attic.
  2. Do not place a crib directly against the wall as several kinds of bugs can crawl up the wall and into the crib. Some people have resorted to placing glass jars on the legs of the crib – this would be because scorpions and spiders cannot climb slick surfaces.

If you or your child is every stung:

  1. Stay calm and get away from the scorpion.
  2. Some scorpions can make themselves flat so it’s hard to smash them. Try to capture it in a glass jar or throw a cup over it and come back to it later.
  3. Clean the area well with soap and water.
  4. Apply an ice pack or cold cloth to help relieve the pain and stop the venom from spreading.
  5. We recommend calling your doctor or pediatrician as soon as you can for their further recommendations.

Ready to keep your house safe from scorpions? Give Creepy Crawly Pest Control a call at 480-969-2926. Be sure to mention this post!

Special thanks to Jessica Nelson with Photos By Jessica for the photo.