Saturday, September 5, 2015

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Best 10 Year-Old Boy Birthday Party Activity!

Like many of you parents out there, I am always in the market for a great kids' party idea. I have gone back to Google to try to find the original link I found giving me the suggestion, but now I can't find it. Though I took the idea and ran on my own with it, these people deserve some serious kudos. If I can find it again, I will definitely post it. But for now, I just have to share how successful this was!

HOLD AN AUCTION USING MONOPOLY MONEY. Prizes can range from a box of Mac 'n Cheese, Goldfish crackers or sugar-free gum, to a book, a killer pair of socks or a flat cap. We are also the family who likes to laugh, so a can of shaving cream, air freshener and deodorant will get them rolling! You wouldn't believe the excitement on their faces and the pride in the items they purchased. They can even trade after it's over. This had them completely engaged for a good 45+ minutes. It was priceless . . .

Some comments from mom's the next day:

"My son came home wearing his new socks that he proudly traded his Goldfish for! He's had them on for 2 days now. Ewww . . ."

"OMG, my son had so much fun, he won't stop talking. The next day, he used his deodorant twice and brought his Goldfish on our road trip!"

Other fun things they enjoyed was a ladder ball tournament and a Washeroo tournament. But the auction was so successful they never had time for the video game tournament! How great is that, that we barely needed electronics and technology for a 10 year-old birthday party!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Follow Up to Making Bronze Olympic Medals

This is a horribly shot video. I'll get it better next time :) One follow-up to my follow-up ;) I did find a bronze foam sheet at Joanne's Fabric/Craft store. It's not quite as nice of a color as how these turned out, but it would save time cutting out the painting steps.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Make Olympic Medals for a 5th Grade Class

Now that I am officially a stay-at-home mother, I am planning to volunteer more at my kids' school. I offered to be a home helper for my 5th grade son's class. Monday morning, I received an email request from my son's teacher asking me to make gold, silver and bronze medals for their Olympic closing ceremonies (the kids have been competing in various academic and athletic events for about a week and a half). The teacher needed 15 of each color (45 medals in total) by Wednesday morning! It's pretty short notice, but I couldn't say "No," right? I did volunteer after all. Watch my video to see how I pulled it off. Let's not mention how I got it done with my daughter's karate class and soccer practice, my son's soccer practice, back-to-school night Tuesday night and my 11 month-old in tow :)

Here's a picture of the finished product:

Watch my video to see how I did it! Share your similar projects. Thanks!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tips for Dealing with Unwanted Email Ads

Do you get wayyyyy too many junk emails trying to sell you something or make you rich working from home? Do you know about the law stating that every piece of soliciting email is required to have an opt-out button you can select so you no longer receive so many annoying ads? I answered "Yes" to both of these questions, so I innocently thought that as a courtesy to these people, I would opt-out of receiving their emails before I reported them as Spam. I spent 20 minutes here and there over the course of about a week clicking on the "unsubscribe" links and waited a week or so for the junk to stop. Next thing I knew, I was receiving more messages than before! So, I found this out the hard way. Hopefully you haven't made this mistake yet and my posting some information here will prevent you from compounding your amount of junk email ads.

1) The longer you have an active email, the more junk you'll receive. Your email address has been "out there" for so long that it's inevitable that it will get sold over and over again to other people and companies buying lists.
2) If you think you can just click "unsubscribe" at the bottom of these ads and that will end that, you are sadly mistaken. What really happens is that when you click the "opt-out" links and even type in your email address to confirm your removal, your email address is actually getting validated so that they know you are a real person with a working email address. In turn, your address gets filed as active and is sold over and over and over again to people and companies purchasing email addresses. Isn't that nice?
3) You can try all you want to report these unwanted ads as Spam, but as long as they are following the guidelines set forth by the CAN-SPAM Act, they will not ever get qualified as Spam.
4) The best thing you can do, unfortunately, is simply ignore them and continue to delete them regularly. If there is never a response, or a click-through to any of their links, the best you can hope for is that you go into an inactive list, where they think your email address is dormant. Eventually, they will stop sending you messages. We hope . . .
5) Basically, there's nothing you can do about it unless you are ok with starting all over again with a brand new email address. If you do decide to start over, you want to strongly consider using Gmail or Microsoft Exchange, hosting by Microsoft. They have the best anti-Spam filtering softwares. They should, right?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Top Airplane Tips for Traveling with a 5-10 Month-Old Baby

We've all seen it. Many of us have participated in it. A parent walks on an airplane with a DREADED BABY!! Passengers are rolling their eyes, trying not to make eye contact, or even worse, giving dirty looks like "How dare you bring that thing on board this peaceful flight!" Many things are running through these poor peoples' heads such as "Oh No! Don't sit by me. This is going to be the longest flight ever if I have to listen to a screaming baby." Trust me. I've been one of those people, but for the past 9-1/2 years, I have been the recipient of these petrified looks. I have also found a way to turn those expressions into joyous smiles and endearing compliments for myself and each of my 3 children at the end of these flights. I've successfully flown babies, toddlers and children on 1-1/2-hour flights to Las Vegas, 5-hour flights to Hawaii, 13-hour flights to Paris, and many more in between. I am here to share my tricks with you.

1) Plan your flight around your child's feeding time, not his or her nap time (though doing both is even better :) It's much easier to deal with a tired baby on an airplane than a hungry baby. Book your flight so that your baby will be ready to nurse or bottle-feed upon takeoff. This sets a calm tone for your flight by avoiding ear-popping altitude pain in addition to bonding with your infant. Who knows? Maybe they'll even fall asleep in your arms and your first 30-60 minutes will be peaceful!

2) Get baby out of car seat so you can check it and put her in your stroller to take to the gate. You can very easily gate-check your stroller so it will be right there ready for you as soon as you land.

3) Check everything you possibly can so that your carry-ons are minimal. Sorry parents. You won't have time to catch up on the newspaper or read your latest book. These little guys are way too busy!

4) Pack a carry-on solely for your baby and a couple of your own essentials (like your wallet - don't hassle with carrying your purse on board, you'll only have 1 arm for baby with blankie and 1 arm for pulling 1 carry-on). Fill it with one of baby's favorite toys, and toys that baby has never seen before. Never bring noisy toys on airplanes! A few suggestions: bath books are great. They are interesting to look at and baby can chew and slobber on them all she wants, some sort of light-up toy: a flashlight, or one of those fans that spin and light up, nesting cups or puppets. I have a couple of brightly-colored silicone cases for an iPhone and sunglasses. Those are great for baby to chew on and you can put random things (including PUFFS) inside them, open and close them, so baby sees something is in there and wants to work for it.

5) Food: your choices here depend on your baby's age. The universal greatest food invention for babies when traveling is Gerber brand PUFFS. You can buy organic if you prefer, so they have options. You may choose any flavor, just try to buy them on sale. They are pretty pricey! But seriously, they are like candy for an infant. You can feed them slowly, one at a time, as long as you'd like while you are flying. Something to note is that this really works if you rarely give your baby PUFFS to begin with. If your child is used to a certain food, there is not much novelty to a can of PUFFS if they have them all the time. The trick for the older babies particularly is to let them work for each bite. Put a few only in your hand and let them grab them and eat themselves. 

6) Get anything and everything you don't want your baby playing with out of their reach as soon as you sit down. The last thing you want is for your baby to find something of interest only to have you take it out of their hands. We all know what happens to babies who are abruptly told "No," right? Screaming Fit!!!!

All of these things combined kill time and occupy your little one like you wouldn't believe. I'd love to hear your own tricks for pleasant travel. Please share with us and happy flying!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hug Your Ambitions

This topic is much broader than I have room for in a single blog post, so expect to see more on this subject as we go. Since I have had children, I have been fortunate enough to find career positions with a lot of flexibility in regards to my schedule. Over the past 9-1/2 years, I have regularly struggled with whether to work in an office or stay at home. I have had several conversations with moms of all career statuses: from full-time homemaker who attended minimal college, to full-time homemaker who has a Master's Degree, to part-time career moms, to full-time career moms and so many in between. My recent "forced" change in employment has caused me to step back and really think about what I want for myself, my career and my family.

When I was in college, one of the deciding factors in choosing my major was the idea of being able to work from home when I had a family of my own. However, when actually given the opportunity and choice to do so, I couldn't pull the trigger. After all these years of planning for the day that I could realize my dreams and "have it all" as far as I was concerned, I couldn't do it. Why is that? What's wrong with me?

I have always wanted to have my own business. I have always wanted to work for myself. I have the work ethic to do so. I am resourceful enough to do so. Then what's holding me back? Fear!! Fear of the unknown. Fear of missing something important. And above all, fear of failure. Starting a new business is scary. There are not only a lot of steps involved in doing so, but there are always going to be your critics. I am not afraid of all of the steps. I am afraid of all those people who don't believe in me or my product. That's what I have to overcome. And you know what? Writing all of this down in a blog only makes me feel more confident, more motivated and less afraid to go after my dreams. 

As I sit typing these words, I am thinking of the people who never ask me how my business goals are coming, or those who don't ask about the products I have spent countless hours and late nights developing. I am thinking about those people who very obviously don't think I can do it. I have to prove them wrong. But that can't be my main motivation can it? Shouldn't I just want to do it for myself because it's a lifelong dream? I say "Yes!" to both of those questions. We have to find motivation to push forward no matter where it comes from. Motivation is motivation and I'll take it from wherever I can get it; from my opponents, to my proponents, to my little driving voice inside of me. So please stay tuned, people. You can hear my journey, every step of the way, and we'll see if I can make this happen!!