Tax-Free Weekend!

Tax-Free Weekend!

It is officially tax-free weekend here in Texas!!

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Comptroller encourages all taxpayers to continue practicing social distancing and support Texas businesses while saving money on tax-free purchases of most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks (sold for less than $100) during the annual Tax-Free weekend.”

Today I am sharing a quick list of places that are having sales and offering some great deals for tax-free weekend, so let’s get right into it! Click the links below to be taken directly to the store:


Old Navy: Up to 50% off all jeans & tees, plus, up to 60% off kids. Styles from $4. PLUS on 8/8/20 ONLY 50% off all adult & kids active. PLUS so much more!!

Target: 30% off kids jeans Friday and Saturday ONLY + sale on kids activewear, ready-for-school sale, uniform sale, BOGO 50% off women bras

DSW: 25% off select sneakers with code ‘BOARDWALK’ + free purple kids headphones (while supplies last with kids purchase over $29) with code ‘PURPLETOONS’ or blue headphones with code “BLUETOONS’

Academy: 25% off top brands + up to 30% off athletic shoes + 25% off backpacks and lunchboxes + 25% off water waterbottles

Carters: $5 and $6 tees, shorts, dresses + BOGO free shoes, socks, and undies + up to 40% off clearance

Gap: 40% off everything with code ‘FRIENDS’ + extra 10% off with code ‘FAMILY’

Teacher Items

I found some GREAT sales on bulk items on Amazon for teachers! Here is what I found:

Elmer’s Liquid School Glue, Washable, 4 Ounces Each , 12 Count for only $6

Elmer’s Disappearing Purple School Glue, Washable, 30 Pack, 0.24-ounce sticks for only $6.99

EXPO 1944748 Magnetic Dry Erase Markers with Eraser, Fine Tip, Assorted Colors, 8-Count for only $9.99

TICONDEROGA Pencils, Wood-Cased, Pre-Sharpened, Graphite #2 HB Soft, Yellow, 30-Pack for $5.99

Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers, Large, 12 Count for $4.99

Sharpie 25145 Tank Highlighters, Chisel Tip, Assorted Fluorescent, 12-Count for only $5.47

My favorite pens!!

Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens, Medium Point (0.7mm), Assorted Colors, 24 Count for $18.02!

BIC Round Stic Xtra Life Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point (1.0mm), Blue, 60-Count (GSM609-BLUE) for only $5!!

EXPO Low Odor Dry Erase Markers, Chisel Tip, Assorted, 16 Count for $12.49

Post-it Flags Assorted Color Combo Pack, 320 Flags Total, 200 1-Inch Wide Flags and 120 .5-Inch Wide Flags, 4 On-The-Go Dispensers/Pack for $10.62

Bostitch Personal Electric Pencil Sharpener, Blue (EPS4-BLUE) for only $14.28

Happy and safe shopping!

Human Trafficking is Happening Right Next Door

Human Trafficking is Happening Right Next Door

I was scrolling through Instagram when a story stopped me in my tracks. This was what I read:

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PART 1/2: ⁠ “Emily” was 6 months old when she was advertised for the first time on Craigslist to be raped. ⁠ ⁠ Her middle-class family had a film studio set up in their basement. They discreetly advertised that any buyer could come to their home and sexually abuse her. The family would film it, and then sell that video for more money online.⁠ ⁠ When they were eventually caught 4 years later, they said they liked that model because there were two ways to make money: the buyers would pay them to come to their home, and then hundreds more would pay them online for the video footage.⁠ ⁠ Emily was rescued when she was 4 years old and immediately placed with a loving family to begin healing. ⁠ ⁠ We cannot let these vile acts happen to the most innocent among us. We must RISE UP and fight for these vulnerable children. ⁠ ⁠ JULY 30TH is #WorldDayAgainstTrafficking. Text HELPTHEM to 51555 TODAY to join us in the fight this month. Will you stand with us? #RISEUP⁠

A post shared by Operation Underground Railroad (@ourrescue) on

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Every emotion came as a flood as I read that story: anger, heartbreak, sadness…it is just so shocking, horrifying, to know that there is so much evil in this world.

In 2013, the General Assembly of the United Nations dedicated a day to raising awareness about human trafficking, the situations of the victims involved, as well as how to promote and protect their rights. July 30th is the official day that the General Assembly chose to make World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

I cannot sit by and think that others will speak up, others will help, others will spread awareness. I need to as well.

Human trafficking is defined as the “exploitation of a person through force, fraud or coercion for labor or commercial sex against their will. While it is most often associated with commercial sex, trafficking can take many forms, including child labor, domestic servitude and migrant working. Victims include men, women and children from all backgrounds and walks of life. It can happen anywhere: in homes and on the streets, in factories and mines, and on fishing boats and in fields.”1

Five Types of Human Trafficking

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center states that the World Day Against Trafficking of Persons raises awareness for five different types of human trafficking2:

1. Forced Labor – when human beings are forced to work for no pay or under the threat of violence.
2. Bonded Labor/Debt Labor – slavery in which an individual is compelled to work in order to repay a debt and cannot leave until the debt has been paid off.
3. Sex Slavery – when women, men or children are exploited in the commercial sex industry, which may include: prostitution, pornography, erotic entertainment, strip clubs, online escort services, hostess clubs, residential brothels or fake massage parlors.
4. Child Slavery – when children under the age of 18 are forced into child labor, which could be debt bondage, armies, prostitution, domestic work or other forms of hazardous work.
5. Domestic Servitude – when slaves are forced to work in extremely hidden workplaces and have no option of leaving.

The International Labor Organization estimates that traffickers make more than $150 billion in profit annually. According to the latest global estimates, 152 million children are in child labor and 25 million adults and children are in forced labor, including in global supply chains. One in four victims of modern slavery are children.”3

Whether it is the trafficking of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the exploitation of Central American migrants bound for the United States, the sexual enslavement of women and girls in Europe, or the forced labor of sub-Saharan Africans or refugees from the Middle East, desperate families and individuals often feel they have little choice but to risk exploitation in an effort to survive.

UNICEF

National Statistics

  • In the United States, California has the most trafficking reported, followed by Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia.4
  • Estimates suggest that about 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year, most often from Mexico and the Philippines.5
  • In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the US were sex trafficking cases involving only children.6
  • Reports indicate that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in the US were at one time in the foster care system.7

State Statistics

Texas is ranked number two in the country for human trafficking. Dallas ranks second in the state. Human sex trafficking accounts for over 314,000 victims in the state of Texas alone every year, this includes nearly 80,000 who are minors. 400 teens are sold on the streets of Dallas each night.8

One predator can abuse an estimated average of 100-200 children in a lifetime.

In 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 2,108 victims in Texas, 701 traffickers, and 399 trafficking businesses located in Texas. Further, there were 719 sex trafficking cases, 118 labor trafficking cases, 89 sex and labor trafficking cases, and 74 unspecified human trafficking cases in Texas.

While these figures are shocking, they represent only a small glimpse of the whole picture. These statistics indicate only reported cases. Many, if not most, cases are not reported. Victims rarely come forward on their own because they fear retaliation by their trafficker and because they may not even know that they are victims of a crime.

Texas Attorney General – Strategic Plan 2020

North Texas Statistics

The North Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NTCAHT) states that in North Texas, people are exploited at construction sites, farms, homes, restaurants, hotels, factories, and many other places.9

It is not just the impoverished that are sold into slavery and trafficking. According to Traffick911, a Dallas-based organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, the average age at which girls become victims of prostitution is 12-14 years old. And one out of three youth in the United States are at high risk for being approached by a pimp within 48 hours of running away or getting kicked out of their home.

The Collin County Homeless Coalition Point in Time Homeless Census Report (from April 2019) states the five independent school districts that participated in the Homeless Census were Allen, Frisco, McKinney, Plano, and Wylie. The total number of students identified as experiencing homelessness in the five Collin County school districts at the end of January, 2019 was 1,30010. If taking the statistics mentioned in the above paragraph, that would mean that a pimp or trafficker may have approached about 433 children in Collin County in 2019.

According to ChildrenatRisk.org, there are hundreds of illegal massage businesses (IMB) acting as fronts for human trafficking and sexual exploitation. These businesses are often found near some for the wealthiest neighborhoods and can even be found within walking distance of public schools. According to a 2018 Children at Risk analysis, over 35,000 Texas children attend public schools within 1,000 feet of a suspected illegal massage business, including 4,000 PreK-Kindergarten students. Many IMBs are implicated in human trafficking. The women trapped in these places are made to provide sexual services to as many as ten men a day through force, fraud, and coercion11.

So What Can We Do?

There are many ways that we can fight human trafficking and modern day slavery:

  1. Raise awareness! Use your social media accounts to spread the word and share other stories to your feed. Use hashtags like #liveunited, #endslavery, #endtrafficking, #worlddayagainsttrafficking, #riseup
  2. Report! If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is your best resource. Call the hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888 or text ‘HELP’ to 233733.
  3. Report missing children or child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or through Cybertipline.
  4. Join the United Way movement to end human trafficking by texting ‘ENDSLAVERY’ to 51555
  5. Join the fight with Operation Underground Railroad.
  6. Volunteer or get involved with a local anti-trafficking organization.
  7. Demand action from lawmakers and report suspected IMBs.
  8. Join the Blue Heart Campaign.
  9. Know your slavery footprint. Whether it is the clothes we wear, the coffee we drink, or the phones we use to communicate, products that we use or consume every day may have been produced with trafficked or slave labor.
  10. Pray. The power of prayer is incredible! Join others and pray together, pray by yourself, pray with your kids, pray with your church group. God can do amazing things!

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

– Ephesians 6:18 NLT

Sources:

  1. https://www.unitedway.org/our-impact/featured-programs/end-human-trafficking#
  2. https://freedomcenter.org/voice/world-day-against-trafficking-person’s
  3. https://www.unicefusa.org/mission/protect/trafficking/end
  4. https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states
  5. https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/human-trafficking-and-within-united-states-review-literature
  6. https://www.traffickingmatters.com/2018-federal-human-trafficking-report/
  7. https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Trafficking-in-Persons-Report.pdf
  8. https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/covid-19-putting-human-trafficking-victims-at-further-risk-of-exploitation/2372921/
  9. http://www.ntcaht.org
  10. https://www.friscotexas.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18901/2019-Collin-County-Homeless-Report
  11. https://catriskprod.wpengine.com/human_trafficking_near_schools_analysis/
  12. https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/files/divisions/human-trafficking/TXHTPCC-StrategicPlan2020.pdf

Who Is Your Daddy and What Does He Do?

Who Is Your Daddy and What Does He Do?

PSA: My husband is an Arnold fan, thus I am an Arnold fan, so I had to throw that GIF in there…and the fiting title for this blog. Love ya, dear!

My sweet husband, Stephen, gifted me an Ancestry DNA kit for my birthday a few years ago.

To most, this is just a cool way to learn about your genealogy and connect the dots on the family tree. For me, it is my identity.

Prior to meeting and marrying my mom, my Dad was married a few times and had three children. My mom wanted children of her own, but my dad had a vasectomy by the time he met her…so they enlisted the help from a local hospital and a donor. From what I have gathered, the donor was a med student and worked/had his residency at the hospital where the procedure took place. At that time (early 1980’s), artificial insemination was a very hush-hush procedure.

My mom passed away in 1997 when I was 13 years old. My dad told me shortly thereafter about the procedure and I have to tell ya, at that age, it is a hard concept to process and a lot of identity issues arise. I get into all that later. 😉

Fast forward to when Stephen handed me this DNA kit. I was so excited when he gave me the kit to figure out my genealogy and to see what else I could learn. Little did I know that there would be so many other siblings that were also products of artificial insemination, and we all have the same story! It is so crazy and exciting! And to find out my origins as well…y’all…it has been so much fun!

I mean…88% British! The postal service must have lost my invitation to the Royal Wedding!

Aside from learning my ethnicity, I also got in contact with my new blood-related brothers and sister!

So far (ha – seriously though…there could be so many!), I have three brothers and one sister…all from the same donor! I am keeping their identity private until I have their permission to share (Bryan has given me permission). I have already met Bryan and love him! We first met for breakfast around Christmastime a few years ago and we have met up other times as well. He even came to my son’s birthday parade (thanks Covid!) this year. We text often and continue to learn more about each other and catching up on 35+ years that we missed. He is nine years older than me…which makes me think about how many other siblings there could possibly be!

Bryan and I meeting for the first time – December 2017
Bryan came for Troy’s birthday parade!

My sister lives in another state so we have not met face-to-face but we have been in contact and chat with each other via Instagram. It is so fun to see her pictures and learn more about her and hopefully one day we can get the opportunity to meet in person.

Brother #1 recently did his DNA testing and a couple of weeks ago his wife reached out and we’ve been chatting occasionally via text. He doesn’t live too far from myself and Bryan so we hope to all meet up with him soon!

I have reached out to Brother #3 on Facebook and email through Ancestry but I have yet to hear back from him.

My grandfather and I already have a wonderful relationship, so I know that connection. 😉 He is my mom’s father and they live in the next city. I talk with my grandparents pretty much every other day and we get together often. It is so nice to have them near and to be in our lives.

There is only that one connection I am unsure about. It is a female but I am not sure if she is a sibling or a different connection. Hope to find out soon!

I just know there has to be more siblings out there! I mean, if Bryan and I are nine years apart, there must be more. If the donor only *ONLY* gave one of his swimmers a year for 9 years – that would be 9 siblings! But what are the chances that he only did it once a year? Or even for a longer time span?!

So for now, I will continue to foster and grow the relationships with my brothers and sister and wait for new emails and connection updates from Ancestry. And I will keep y’all updated as well!

I would LOVE to hear from you! Do you have an interesting DNA/genealogy/family history story? I want to hear it! If you’re comfortable sharing, please share below or email me! I’d love to hear from you!

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!

Every Friday I will be linking up with Shay Shull of Mix and Match Mama and sharing all my recent fav finds! Today, it is quite the mix, from food to music to sunscreen!

If you blogged about your favorite things, make sure to link up with Mix and Match Mama and myself!

Coconut Bowls

Coconut Bowls was created and inspired by the opportunity to reduce single use plastics through sourcing sustainable coconut shells, while providing jobs for low-income artisans. I love that their bowls are handcrafted by artisans from coconuts that were discarded as waste, they are so beautiful, and every purchase supports sustainability and helps the environment.  I also admire their company and its purpose:

“Giving back is at the core of the Coconut Bowls purpose, and thanks to the incredible support of the Coco Community, who have not only helped Coconut Bowls champion sustainability to millions of people around the world, you’ve helped donate tens of thousands of dollars to environmental charities through Coconut Bowls verified 1% For The Planet commitment. In addition to this commitment, Coconut Bowls has offset all of the carbon from every shipment since the very first order back in 2016.”

Get your own Coconut Bowls here and use code LGRECI at checkout.

Zinc It Over

I HATE wearing sunscreen…especially on my face! I always breakout, it feels awful, it messes with my makeup. THAT HAS ALL CHANGED!! My skin care guru recommend I use sunscreen because I have sun spots, plus were are outside A LOT. Spring/summer = lake around here. Zinc It Over is awesome! I can wear my makeup as usual, then I just spritz this on top and voila! I am covered and protected!

If you want to try it out, click here.

Lakanto Chocolate

Chocolate is always a fav! BUT, with my health issues, I cant consume sugar…so that got me on the hunt for something that I could eat that would satiate my chocolate craving. Enter Lakanto Monkfuit Chocolate Bars! I love them! I usually grab a couple squares and nosh on raw almonds while watching my fav show.

Our boat!

Summer is just better on the lake. My husband is incredible at finding good deals and this boat was no exception! We had been on the hunt for the PERFECT family boat for a couple of years…and ladies and gentlemen…we FOUND HER! We purchased her last year and spend pretty much every weekend on the lake in the summer. She’s a pre-owned (though you wouldn’t know it looking at it) tri-toon and my hubby named her ‘No Plans.’ Which is fitting for this quarantine life we are living!

We have already been out a few times this year and can’t wait for more lake days!

Love Bug Apparel

Love Bug Apparel is by far one of my favorite clothing lines! Aside from it being our dear friends company, I would buy every shirt they own! They are cute, soft, durable, and so super comfy! You can pretty much always catch me wearing one of their shirts! Here are just a few of my favs:

Write the Word

My Write the Word journal is one of my favorites! I love waking up before the kids and writing down the Bible verse for the day and getting a moment to write out my prayers. I love the simplicity of the journal and the space to make it yours. I recently finished my first journal and now starting my second – Cultivate Prayer.

Trolls World Tour Soundtrack

Y’all…we rented the movie and watched it more times than I can count (we had to get our moneys worth!). Now we listen to the soundtrack allllll day. And I’m ok with it! My boys ask Alexa, “Play the new Trolls soundtrack” and we listen day after day! My favorite song is Don’t Slack. What about you? Have y’all been listening to this on repeat??

What are your loving right now? I’d love to hear!

Make sure to link up with your Friday Favorites!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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