Thursday, July 28, 2011

Intermission...More Moving and Packing

So, if you've been paying attention, you are aware that I am packing and moving to our new house! So, please excuse me during this brief intermission...this weekend is the big move, so I don't plan on doing any blogging for at least the next few days....

And I'm hoping to be back on track next week, blogging from our new HOME. :)

Thanks for all of the support! Looking forward to making more memories, reviewing and giving away more stuff and ranting and raving about everything!

Ta-ta for now!

Monday, July 25, 2011

EdenFantasys: Take a Step Out of the "Mom Shoes"

As a mom of many children and a spouse of almost 14 1/2 years, it's sometimes difficult to step out of the "Mom Shoes" and feel sensual or sexy (and that's even truer now that I'm 32 weeks pregnant)....however, everyone knows - or should know - that it's vital for your marriage to take a break from the Mommy Role and be a good wifey, too.



That's why I love EdenFantasys.com! In trying to keep this PG-rated and without revealing TMI, I will tell you that I have had the pleasure of trying out several massage oils and the K-Y Yours and Mine (you know, the fireworks commercials...) thanks to EdenFantasys. I have even tried the Pink, which is ultra-slick and some of the best stuff I've ever used!

Could they be the reason that I'm in the "condition" that I'm in right now? LOL...Okay, I won't blame it completely on them!

What I will emphasize is that if you are feeling a bit out of the loop in the sex arena and you and your man are in desperate need of amping things up in the bedroom, EdenFantasys has everything you need to get out of that slump. When the parents are happy, the children are happy...and to have a happy and healthy relationship, it is vital to keep the sex life going strong.

They have several cool programs on their website that you should check out. One of my favorites is simply earning points while you surf and search their site. The points that you earn while surfing and searching can be accumulated and used as credits toward your purchases. The more you visit their site and mosey around, the more points you earn, the more free stuff you will get. And, I know you all love free stuff!

If you're ready to get that love life in the bedroom kick-started, head on over to EdenFantasys and check them out. 



Gourmet Gift Baskets Summer Fun Care Package Giveaway Winner!

Ewww! I had to manually count comments now that I've installed the Intense Debate commenting system....if anyone knows how to add numbers to the comments with Intense Debate, please let me know!!!

In the meantime, congratulations to the winner of the Gourmet Gift Baskets Summer Fun Care Package Giveaway!!!

To save some time, as my schedule is busy, I'm just going to tell you that Random.org chose lucky number 27 and that winner is:


I am an email subscriber 
 
I'll be contacting you soon!!!


Packing and Moving

Just checking in to say that I will be busy, busy, busy packing and moving this week. Everything is coming down to the wire, but I believe that God has it all worked out for us...

Just yesterday, in the nick of time (and in the midst of me banging my head against the wall, wondering if we were EVER going to find a house), my wonderful husband came back into town (he's working 6 days a week, 12 hours per day out of town, so we only see him on Sundays right now) and found the house that we'd absolutely LOVE to move into. Today, I meet with the owner and we're all praying that everything works out, because our move out date is officially this upcoming weekend (the current landlord has sold the house).

For a family our size, it's been extremely difficult to find a house to accommodate us. We need a four bedroom or bigger, of course, and 4 bedroom rentals are not easy to find, so the search has been tedious!

I'm trying hard not to get excited about this house yet (there is a purchase option, too!)...as soon as I get a definitive answer, I'm posting pics, so stay tuned! And, in the meantime, bear with me! Even though I will be very busy unpacking and organizing, I should be back on track with blogging next week.

If you have a quick moment, please pray for my family! We need all the prayers we can get right now to make it through the next week. Thanks!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Classic and Modern Video Game Consoles

Guest post by Jack Neils

For the past 30 years video games have been a hit with kids and adults alike. Just like sports these games help the competitive ability of a child to grow. Not only does the kid become competitive, but he also learns new tactics and techniques and improves his/her creativity. Video games have been divided into several categories which help develop different aspects of a child’s mentality. The first ever video game console was introduced in 1972.

The Magnavox Odyssey was the first-ever video game console in the world. The invention by Ralph H. Baer was a battery powered analog system. It didn’t have much success as it was overshadowed by the launch of Atari. The ‘pong’ game released by Atari was an instant hit. These games were the only competitors in the market until 1983, when the consoles crashed due to a lack of high quality games and market saturation. Nintendo took over from them in 1985 with their all-time hit game, Super Mario Bros. After Nintendo another Japanese company came along, Sega which took over the market with its high quality 2D games which used ROM cartridges to store games. Sega sold 29 million consoles worldwide.

Next came the era of the modern gaming consoles, started by the Sony Playstation. The first Playstation was released in 1994. It was a great hit with both kids and adults. It was a big jump from Sega and Nintendo in terms of graphics and game play. It had a 12 button joy-pad with analog sticks. The games were released on CDs. The first Playstation sat at top of the market for several years, even with the release of Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn. In 2000, the Sony Playstation 2 was released which had far superior graphics and a realistic gaming experience. In 2001, Microsoft released its weapon, the XBOX. The XBOX was the only realistic competitor of the Playstation and later it did topple the Playstation in America. Soon classic consoles were forgotten and the battle between graphics and game play had begun. In 2002, the XBOX live arena was launched which helped the console become a fan favorite.

In 2005, the XBOX 360 was launched which took over the world, with its real life high end graphics and out of the world gaming experience, gaming enthusiasts shifted to Microsoft’s console without thinking twice. This created a great unrest at the Sony headquarters, who released the Playstation 3 a year later. Even though it was slightly better than the XBOX 360 in terms of graphics, it did not have enough games at that time and the games were not economical. XBOX 360 took advantage of Microsoft’s XBOX Live center, where XBOX owners from all over the world (having an internet connection) could compete, which was introduced by the Sony Corporation at the end of 2006. The first XBOX and the XBOX 360 along with the PS3 came with wireless joy-pads. 

The battle between these two is still on, with the XBOX having a slight edge. Microsoft has also released the XBOX Kinect in November of 2010, which allowed motion sensors to be used as joy pads.

Jack Neils is a father of two lovely kids and is a fan of toys since his childhood days. Today, he has contributed numerous articles on Kids Toys and Educational Toys.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Going To A Baby Shower? Bring A Gift, But Forget The Towel!

Guest blog post by Alan Riley

You’ve been invited to a baby shower. Great idea! The birth or pending birth of a child is truly something to celebrate - particularly if the parents are near and dear to you. Now you have two problems – what to wear, and what to take as a gift. I can’t help you with what to wear, but here are some great gift ideas!

Practical Gifts:

baby hammock
Babies need a lot of things that no one else in the house uses. So, particularly for first time parents, a practical gift can be a real god-send. Some great ideas are:
  • A stroller pram blanket to keep baby warm when you’re out and about.
  • Toys, clothes and books to grow into. Babies grow so fast you always have to try to stay a step ahead!
  • A gift voucher from a baby store – for that nice to have item the parents may not have bought otherwise.
  • A Cuski comforter. These are specially designed comforters that work by having mum/dad sleep with the Cuski to transfer their scent(s) to it. When the comforter is given to baby the familiar scent creates feeling and security and closeness to you.
  • Diapers/nappies, wipes and baby powder – absolute essentials for any baby!
  • Crib bedding: Babies spend long hours asleep each day, so a good crib and crib bedding is essential. Alternatively try a baby hammock. Many babies thrive in the enclosed environment and rhythmic movement a baby hammock provides.
  • A basket, hamper, baby bath tub, or gift pack filled with items such as bottles, soothers (dummies), bottle brush, baby lotions, a baby manicure set, baby wash, moisturiser etc. along with a teddy bear for the baby, and some chocolates for mum and dad. Wrap it all in some clear wrap with a colourful ribbon and you have an inexpensive and practical gift.
  • A Jolly Jumper – a baby exerciser for a child in the pre-walking stage. My kids absolutely loved bouncing and jiggling around in their Jolly Jumper
  • Baby shower books – kids love to be read stories.

Unique Gifts:

If you’d like to give a gift that has a personal touch and may be kept for a lifetime, try:
bronzed baby hands and feet
  • Letters of the baby’s name to decorate the bedroom wall or door.
  • An item personalised with the child’s name such as a teddy, bib, clothes, book, photo frame, towel and washer set, or a personalised photo album for recording priceless memories as baby grows.
  • A voucher to have the baby’s hands and/or feet bronzed for posterity. These 3D sculptures capture every detail of your baby’s hands and feet, come mounted and framed and make a wonderful keepsake to treasure for generations to come.
  • A pair of soft soled shoes and a little box frame to keep them in once the little one has outgrown them, so you can hang it in their room as a keepsake of baby’s first pair of shoes.
  • Something from the year and/or day of baby’s birth. For example, a coin set from the year of birth, or newspapers or magazines from the day of birth.
  • A Birth Plate which records all baby’s birth details. These plates are popular gifts for births, christenings or birthdays.

Gifts For Mother:

Being a mother is hard work! Sometimes the best gift is a little pampering and care such as:
  • A voucher for a back and neck massage.
  • A voucher for house cleaning and ironing.
  • A bathrobe.
  • A skin care gift pack.
  • A nappy washing service, just to make life a little easier in the early days.

Gifts For Dad:

New Dads can get as excited about becoming a parent as new the new Mom. However, with all the focus on mother and the baby, dad is often forgotten. Make him feel part of the excitement with gifts such as:
  • A book on what it means to become a Dad – especially with the first child, Dad often has no idea what has hit him!
  • A Daddy Diaper changing tool box – a special pack of gag gifts for Dad.
  • My Daddy’s Hand Keepsake Medallion – something Dad can carry with him to remind him of his child wherever he goes.
  • Dad’s photo keepsake box.
  • A personalised mug with baby’s name and date of birth .

Economical Gifts:

Of course, there are always those who are a little short of cash who would like to give a gift. Some economical, but effective gifts you can give in such circumstances include:
  • Make a cake or dessert.
  • Present a “friend coupon” for something like “free babysitting”, “free shopping trip”, “free washing service”, or “free shoulder to cry on”.
  • Offer to organise the baby shower!
  • Act as the photographer at the baby shower and present the parents with a photographic record of the day.
Of course, the greatest gift you can give any parent or baby is the gift of your love. And as the song says “what the world needs now is love, sweet love”.

About the Author

Alan Riley is the publisher of www.BeautifulBeddingSets.com, a site devoted to helping people find the perfect bedding for their needs. From JoJo Designs Crib Bedding to ladybug crib bedding, you’ll find just what you need, and maybe even the baby shower gift you are looking for!



Thank you, Alan, for all of the wonderful ideas for baby shower gifts! Don't forget that the QueenMom will be having a baby in September! This is the perfect opportunity for you to run out and find some cool stuff for the new baby!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TheraBreath Review and Giveaway: How To Get Fresher Breath

Fresh breath is a necessity in life if you plan to get close to anyone, right? But, even if you don't get close to anyone...you still want a healthy smile and fresh breath, I'm sure. I'm not going to go into the hundreds of reasons to keep your mouth/teeth/gums healthy, because you should already know that you only have one smile and you need to take care of it. This so very true for your children's mouths, too.

I will say that there have been mornings when I have been corralling the kids, working on getting them off to school, when I've gotten a whiff of some of the worst morning breath of the century!(I'm not even exaggerating!)

So, I had to hunt down the culprit - or culprits - with the stinky breath and send them straight to the bathroom to brush and rinse with TheraBreath.

I have to mention, first of all, that the toothpaste is not as strong as many of the toothpastes that you find over the counter, so my children weren't as turned off at the taste of the TheraBreath. (Which is great! The less complaints around the house, the better!) In addition, the toothpaste does not produce all of that foaminess that regular toothpastes create, so there is less to spit out.

Dr. Harold Katz is the genius mind behind TheraBreath - and I actually learned something new from the Dr.! When reading the mouthwash instructions, I realized that a great deal of bad breath germs were located in the throat...so, the directions noted that you should rinse your mouth out and then gargle (hold your head back and get the mouthwash into the throat area - gurgle gurgle) to get rid of those bad breath germs in the throat.

Funny, I noticed for many years that I could brush my teeth and swish with mouthwash, but I still didn't feel like I had completely fresh breath. No wonder!!! Now, I know the trick to an even fresher mouth - and the freshness lasts longer. The mouthwash, like the toothpaste, does not have a strong taste to it, so again, the children do not complain about it. With TheraBreath, it's not like pulling teeth :) to get them to take care of their teeth.

If you ever get metallic, sour or bitter yuckiness in your mouth, the TheraBreath mouth rinse will immediately eliminate it. 

What I loved most about the TheraBreath system was the lozenges. Apparently, the children loved them, too, because I ended up having to put them up on top of the refrigerator. The two little ones kept asking for the "nannies in the box" - which translates to "the candies in the box". Let me say that these are the perfect little breath mints to keep in your purse, on your desk at work, and anywhere else you might need to quickly freshen your breath up. They have a nifty taste of mint and citrus, which is different, tasty and leaves the smoothest aftertaste for a breath mint - and it even leaves your mouth moist! 

The box is handy-dandy and perfect for reaching in and grabbing either one for the road or a handful to stuff in the purse. Think about it, too: for a family as large as mine...if we go out to eat and then, say, head over to a friend's house for a play date, bringing toothbrushes and a messy tube of toothpaste for everyone is not the ideal situation...and then, where are we all going to brush? The lozenges resolve this issue...just stuff them in the purse (in a zip-lock bag)...they are individually wrapped and don't take up any space at all. Don't feel like carrying your purse today? Pop a handful in your pocket!

The lozenges work in 3 stages: they eliminate the yucky odors and flavors in the mouth, attack bad breath germs with a combination of Zinc, Oxygen and Xylitol, and then they send out a salivary agent that stimulates the production of saliva, which eliminates that dry-mouth issue.

All in all, the entire family really likes the TheraBreath products and hope you like them, too!

Giveway!

And, you'll be able to let me know what you think, because TheraBreath is going to give away a tube of their toothpaste and a bottle of their mouthwash to one lucky Mommy Rantings reader. (U.S. entrants only) TheraBreath also requests that if you have already won a TheraBreath prize on another giveaway, please refrain from entering so that others can try their products.

The mandatory entry is:

Go to their website and tell me something that I didn't mention.


You say you want some bonus entries??? Extra (optional) entries (remember, the more you enter, the better your chances are to win!) Leave a separate comment for each entry. :)

1) "Like" Mommy Rantings on Facebook. (right hand column of blog) 

2) Follow QueenBMomma on Twitter. (left hand column of blog)

3) Subscribe via email (left hand column)




4) Blog about this giveaway - tell me your blog's URL.

5) Tweet this giveaway (you can do this once per day!) (1 entry per tweet -leave twitter name)

6) Link to Mommy Rantings from your blog (leave the link).

7) 
"Like" TheraBreath on Facebook and tell them that Mommy Rantings sent you!
 
8 )  Follow TheraBreath on Twitter.

Winners will be chosen through Random.org and the winning entries will be validated (I will make sure that you did the mandatory entry and the entry # or #'s that is/are chosen). PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN EACH ONE OF YOUR ENTRIES. RUNNING AROUND THE INTERNET TRACKING DOWN WINNERS IS NO FUN!

Thank you to TheraBreath for sponsoring this giveaway! This giveaway will end on 7/28/2011 at midnight EST. I will contact the winner by email and they will have 24 hours to respond before the runner up is chosen. Good luck!


I received products to perform this review. Everything that I have mentioned in this review is my own personal opinions. No compensation was received from TheraBreath.


Last-Minute Summer Reading List for Kids

Guest blog post by Kelly Wilson



It’s never too late to start summer reading. Parents and teachers alike worry that children lose valuable skills and information during the summer break, but research has shown that reading over the summer can help! Use this guide to start a summer reading list for your child to get them ready to head back to school in the fall.

Read By Genre

The easiest way to set up a summer reading list is by genre. The word “genre” (pronounced jon-rah) is simply a fancy word for groups of books that have things in common, usually style or form.

There are several genres that are organized under two basic groups:

• Nonfiction - these books factual and can be about a variety of subjects.

• Fiction - these books contain stories that are made up by the author, and can contain imaginative or realistic elements.

Take Note of Interests

The key to summer reading is to help keep your kids interested, and reading by genre can help you do that. First, take note of your child’s interests. For example, if your son or daughter likes to build with Legos, then he or she might enjoy a book about constructing roller coasters. If your children are anything like mine, they’ll answer “I don’t know” when you ask them what they’re interested in. Skip the question and make a mental list about your child’s interests, and then help them pick out books in different genres that appeal to those interests.


Offer a Wide Variety

One of the great things about reading by genre is that it offers a naturally-occurring variety to what your child may read. These genres are separated under the two basic groups:

Nonfiction:

1. Autobiography/Biography - books written about specific people, these can either be written by a separate author (biography) or written by the person (autobiography). If your child is interested in video games, it might be time to read about those involved in the early stages of creating them.

2. Informational - this genre includes anything you and your kids might want to learn about, including biking, skateboarding, sports, rocks and gems, and space travel.

Fiction:

3. Historical Fiction - these stories incorporate accurate historical settings with characters that have been made up and placed there.

4. Fantasy – this genre is known for magic or talking animals and other impossibilities.

5. Mystery - these novels require the reader to try and solve a problem with clues. A must-read for kids during the summer!

6. Science Fiction – set in the future, these stories contain scientific elements and excitement.

7. Realistic Fiction - these stories are set in the present time with events that could realistically happen to the characters.

Help in the Search

Once you arrive at the library, help your kids search by interest and genre. Ask the librarian for help, or do a library computer card catalog search for what you’re looking for, like “dinosaurs, nonfiction” for example. Then go with your children and teach them how to find the books on the shelves, and don’t forget to sign them up for any special summer reading programs while you’re there!

Kelly Wilson is a busy mom, former teacher and freelance writer. For more information about using informational books to prepare kids to see the dentist, contact Dr. Gregory A. Williams, a Dentist in Tigard, Oregon.

Thank you, Kelly for your contribution to Mommy Rantings! Reading is so important for our children, especially during the summer! Readers: do you have any summer reading tips, tricks or ideas to add?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Honeycat Cosmetics Review and Giveaway!



You know what they say about first impressions...

And then, there is the second impression and the third impression...and Honeycat Cosmetics hits them all!

I'll start with the first impression...when I opened the box, the first thing that I saw was the leopard print tissue paper and the pink (yes, pink!) packing popcorn. An A+ for the first impression.

The second impression was the actual packaging of the products. Anyone in marketing knows that in order to make your products stand out from the next company's products, you have to come up with packaging that not only represents what your company wants to portray, but also creates a lasting impression and creates some type of appeal for your products. As I mentioned, Honeycat hit a home run on the packaging. They also appealed to my nose, and if you're a regular reader here at Mommy Rantings, you already know how quickly I fall in love with products that have delicious aromas!

The cutest packaging that I have ever seen came in the sardine-can looking Foaming Bath Crystals. The third impression was the aroma that came from the can (which was nothing like the nose-burning smell of sardines). A minty, raspberry chocolatey aroma wafted from the bath cystals - it is prrrr-fect for a relaxing soak in the tub.

The next thing I had to sniff was the You Gotta Be Kitten Me shower gel, which was adorned with a pretty pink bow. I immediately picked up the strong, yet soothing aroma of pomegranate - how I love the thick scent of pomegranate! It gets better than the aroma, though. The nutrient-rich shower gel has ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter and sweet almond oil to delicately enrich your skin...and it will last forever (especially if you use it with a bath puff), because a drop makes an enormous lather. More prrrr's.
Frisky Kitty Bath Time Fizzy also has its own unique packaging...and inside, you will experience the soothing aromas of lilac mixed with a little bit of honey and lavender. Some of the ingredients you will find in the bath fizzy are: avocado and sweet almond oils, oatmeal, Goat's Milk and lavender. You can drop the whole entire ball into your bath for a fizzy festival...or you can frugally make it last forever like I'm doing by breaking off pieces into your bath and saving the rest for another time.

Mmmm...but, my most favorite impression of all was the aroma that met my nose when I opened the Warm Milk Martini Moisturizing Powdered Milk Bath. Just listen to the ingredients and imagine the dreaminess that I experienced: Goat's Milk powder, Butter Milk powder, Coconut Milk powder, Sweet Almond oil, Vitamin E and Olive Leaf. Somehow, combined together, the powders create a martini-like aroma with a twist of lime. It's just one of those things that you have to experience for yourself...better yet is the skin-softening creamy milk bath that the powder creates. 

You may be wondering how it can get any better...well, it can! Honeycat Cosmetics prides their company on making products that are both natural (and, you know I love that!) and completely free of animal testing...as a former Practice Manager of a veterinary hospital, that's another major plus in my department!

I even have to mention that I made the ultimate mistake of letting my husband get a whiff of the different fragrances in my new assortment from Honeycat Cosmetics...and needless to say, I'm hiding this box from his sneaky paws! 
 
Giveaway!

And, of course, the moment that you've been waiting for...(drum roll please)...the giveaway! Honeycat Cosmetics has offered to give away one of their scrumptious shower gels to a Mommy Rantings follower!
 
Entering is simple. For this giveaway, all you have to do is:

Mandatory entry: Go to the Honeycat Cosmetics website and tell me which shower gel you would love and why.

Extra (optional) entries (remember, the more you enter, the better your chances are to win!)

1) "Like" Mommy Rantings on Facebook. (right hand column of blog) 

2) Follow QueenBMomma on Twitter. (left hand column of blog)

3)Subscribe via email (left hand column)



4) Blog about this giveaway - tell me your blog's URL.

5) Tweet this giveaway (you can do this once per day!) (1 entry per tweet -leave twitter name)

6) Link to Mommy Rantings from your blog (leave the link).

7) Like Honeycat Cosmetics on Facebook (you'll want to do this anyways!) AND tell them Mommy Rantings sent you!

Winners will be chosen through Random.org and the winning entries will be validated (I will make sure that you did the mandatory entry and the entry # or #'s that is/are chosen). PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN EACH ONE OF YOUR ENTRIES. RUNNING AROUND THE INTERNET TRACKING DOWN WINNERS IS NO FUN!

Thank you to Honeycat Cosmetics for sponsoring this giveaway! This giveaway will end on 7/29/2011 at midnight EST. I will contact the winner by email and they will have 24 hours to respond before the runner up is chosen. Good luck!


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com created by WebBizIdeas.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Braxton Hicks Contractions

With everything that is on my plate right now, including finding a new domicile, moving, 6 kids at home from school for the summer, and a husband - bless his heart - who is working 6 days a week, 12 hours per day, the Braxton Hicks contractions have kicked in. I don't think that the summer heat is helping the situation, either.

It's not unusual for them to start around week 20-30, but they are really coming in now. Of course, this is not something that I get worried about anymore...I've been through pregnancy enough to know how regular labor pains feel - and these are nowhere near that type of pain.

I'm talking about the uncomfortable feeling of contracting in the lower abdomen. No pain yet, just discomfort. For those of you who have never experienced them before or are pregnant for the first time, they may come as a source of nerve-wracking "oh-no's!", but for someone who knows all about the annoying Braxton Hicks contractions, I just take them in stride.

Because, I know that they are just the beginning of a long string of contractions that will finally lead to the real deal. They're doing their job to get that uterus ready for the birth of one of the most beautiful boys in this world. Oh, yes, I am one of those mothers who think my children are top-of-the-line products from some awesome DNA gene pools. Not to brag too much, but the nurses at the hospital usually drool over my babies. Okay, enough about the bragging...I try to make sure that my blog posts have some usefulness to readers, so...

Braxton Hicks Contractions

You may not notice them, but Braxton Hicks contractions actually occur throughout pregnancy...I usually start feeling them, as I said, around the 20th week and onward. They are irregular and painless - two signs that you are not in labor. (Because, as you most likely already know, labor contractions will be regular and painful!)

Stopping the Contractions

I have found, through my pregnancies, that Braxton Hicks contractions can be slowed, reduced or stopped completely by drinking water, moving around, or possibly even laying down for a while. A warm bath and breathing exercises can also help to reduce or eliminate the contractions. Do not underestimate the power of dehydration - regardless of the time of year. Dehydration has been the culprit for my contractions in past pregnancies...and stress has been an issue, too.

Contact Your Doctor

If you are experiencing contractions that are regular, at about four per hour, have lower back pain, you are bleeding or spotting or you see increased vaginal discharge, call your doctor. It may be just another teaser, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?

In the meantime, I will run to drink some more water and get to some breathing exercises. If I'm lucky, the kids will let me rest for a bit this afternoon. :)

Take care!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cash-Saving Tips when Buying Gifts

Guest blog post by Andrew

During special occasions, gift giving becomes somewhat obligatory. Whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Easter Sunday, gifts are bought and given to please the people we love. More often than not, buying presents for holidays and special occasions tend to hurt the pocket.

Are you among the many consumers who have incurred debts because of buying expensive gifts? Are you now dreading the special occasions and holidays because that means you have to hurt your finances further when you need to purchase and give presents? Here are some helpful tips that would help make buying and giving gifts more practical.

Set a budget

It is wise to set a budget before buying gifts. To make it more effective, you have to get the resolve to stick to it. Impulsive buying of presents would not do you any good. Thus, it would be ideal if you would make plans for it. Whenever you drop by the mall, try to look for possible gift items and take note of price tags. This way, you would have ideas about what items to buy using specific budgets.

Intend to buy gifts that you could comfortably afford. There is no sense spending too much on presents and resenting your spending at the end of the day. Try not to impress the recipient of the gift. After all, no one complains about the gifts they receive (at least out of ethics). These days, everyone would certainly understand if others get more practical when giving out gifts.


The combined gift

You may opt not to buy individual gifts for couples or families. It is practical to find and buy a present that they could logically share. For example, you could give a set of DVDs to a friend’s or relative’s family so you do not have to buy each of them a gift. For your nephews and nieces, why not buy them a trampoline or any item they could share?

At times, it may be less costly if you treat your family to a day out instead of to buy them presents. You would be surprised how much you could possibly save in doing so. On a special occasion, you may cook for the entire household and turn the celebration into a feast. That could be a perfect gift idea that everyone could surely appreciate.

Shop around

Of course, nothing would beat the value and advantages of shopping around. Before you buy any present for the holiday or for a special occasion, be sure you shop around to find the best items at the most reasonable price tags. Go out and shop when there are discount offers. Never mind the legwork and the crowd.

Compare prices. At times, different retailers could set different price tags for specific items. Find the shop that sells items at lower prices. You may also consider finding and buying other brands. Do not forget to bring discount coupons you find in newspapers and flyers.

As you buy and give gifts, always remember that it is the thought that would surely count. The presents need not be expensive. Those could be items that are truly useful, without being costly.

Andrew loves sharing his frugal tips online. When he is not writing, Andrew helps people to manage their debt with debt consolidation loan

Thanks, Andrew, for your ideas and tips on saving money on gifts! Dear readers: do you have any tips that you use to save money on all of those "obligatory" gifts???

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keeping Children Safe in the Car

Guest post by Kevin Poon

Not too long ago I came across a blog post that stuck with me. When I still couldn't get it out of my head after quite some time, I realized it's because I felt like I needed to share the information with others, that many people would benefit from the information the same way I have.

The blog post focused on the safety of our children. More specifically, it focused on how safe our kids are when we take them with us in the car or even on an airplane. What struck me is the fact that we all want to think that our children's safety is our number one priority, but how many of us really take the time to think about the amount of their precious little lives they spend in a moving vehicle?

The post, which was on the website for a brain injury attorney in Florida, mentioned one forum the author watched on C-Span. The panel consisted of professional, knowledgeable people with legitimate information and statistics. To give just a sampling of the people on the panel, there was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a representative from the Center of Disease Control, along with people from the Highway Safety Research and the National Transportation safety Bureau. With people like that, you can pretty much guarantee accurate information.

The opening comment for the forum, which also included a variety of doctors, was "If common sense were a reliable guide, we wouldn't need science."

The blog then pointed out that, even though children are much safer in cars today than they were 20 years ago thanks to improved safety seats, we are still losing one child each week to an automobile accident! That's one child each week of every year who loses his or her life in an automobile accident, with many more being seriously and permanently injured. The writer then focused on one tragic outcome of automobile accidents, which some think is a fate even worse than death: brain damage. The statistics that were then listed are heart wrenching and include the following.

Automobile accidents are second only to falls when it comes to accidents causing brain damage.

• Of the 63 children who lost their lives in 2009, 100% could have been saved if child restraints had been used properly.

• The choices we make when it comes to safety restraints are the main factor in whether our child would survive an automobile accident.

• Because it is habit for parents to use safety seats on infants and toddlers, they have a much better chance at survival than our pre-teens who we don't typically use child safety seats on.

The last fact seems to stick out the most. Our babies live while our older children don't. It's a fact that most traumatic injury is caused when a head hits the windshield or door. Pre-teens are often not restrained properly if at all which puts them at greater risk of sustaining injury.

Of course, I watched the C-Span forum myself eventually. They stated how important proper education is for parents when it comes to car seat safety. This education should include ways of dealing with older kids who can be stubborn and who attempt to negotiate everything. To quote the members of the panel, "Safety is not negotiable."

In addition to all this information, I learned a few quick tips from the new 2011 car seat recommendations posted on the American Association of Pediatrics all parents should know:

• Until they are at least two years old or until their weight and height have reached maximum allowed for a rear facing car seat, infants and toddlers should face the back of the car. This information is from the Association of American Pediatricians and is current as of April 2011.

• It is also recommended that children under 4 feet 9 inches between 8 and 12 years of age should use a belt-positioning booster seat whenever they ride in a car.

Thank you, Kevin for this vital information!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Great Vacation Spots for the Family

Guest blog post by Kristine

I grew up with four siblings. That’s five of us all together. We weren’t able to take as many vacations growing up as some other families because of our size, but we did manage to go on a couple of really great ones. One of my favorite trips was renting a cabin in Colorado for a week. The cabin let us be in close enough quarters to hang out with one another a lot, but still provided enough space and privacy for the family. It was great because the cabin was located near the woods and the resort club house, which gave us kids an endless amount of entertainment.

One of the most important aspects of booking a cabin for a family vacation, and keeping it affordable, is knowing when to have your vacation. Most cabin rental companies have a “regular season” that is much cheaper than other times of year like “high season”. These vary from company to company and location to location, but if possible, try to schedule your vacation during this time to reduce the price. Generally, try to stick to late spring and very early fall.

Another issue to keep in mind while planning a family vacation is to decide whether or not the family pet gets to come along on the trip or not. Many cabin rental companies have options that allow pets. Be sure to ask if there is an extra deposit, but most of the time it will already be worked into the rental price.

Here are a few great picks:

Heartland Rentals, Gatlinburg, TN
Heartland Rentals, Gatlinburg, TN – Get a little history in on your family trip. Not only can the family experience the awesomeness of an epic battle field but also the amazing wildlife.

Bear Creek Cabins, Evergreen, CO – Located in the Smokies, this resort offers the greatest and most beautiful views. This is a perfect place to go for prime relaxation.

Georgia Mountain Rentals, Suatee Nacoochee, GA
Georgia Mountain Rentals, Suatee Nacoochee, GA – This location has some great waterfalls close by. I would recommend going on a family hiking trip to a waterfall, and then taking pictures and swimming for some time.

Remember to also book fun activities while on vacation at your family. My family and I went rafting, hiking, and made some tie dye shirts on our cabin vacation! Make sure to look into each resort and see which one works best for your family. Either way, being outdoors with the family is always a recipe for a good time!

Kristine writes for ReadingGlassesShopper.com during the day, and in her spare time, she watches TV religiously. In between episodes of her favorite shows Kristine loves to bake, write poetry, and walk her new puppy.

Thanks, Kristine, for your great ideas for family vacations!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

15 Effective Parenting Tips For Working Moms

Guest blog post by Marina

Mothers tend to put their families first and other tasks second. This comes as natural as breathing to most moms. However, the challenge of keeping a family afloat and being the best parent possible while doing justice to one’s career is not easy. It’s not just the men that bring in the bacon anymore. Men and women have to work and hold multiple jobs at times to provide for their families. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of women are working either part time or full time. The stress of trying to balance it all, especially in the effective parenting department can get to the best of women. Here are a few tips for effective parenting if you are a working mom.



GET OTHERS TO HELP YOU

1. If you have a partner, make sure you divide your family’s responsibilities equally with him. Discuss mutual work and home schedules and make clear lists as to who’s doing what over the week. Synchronize your schedules so that if one of you has an urgent task to complete, the other can take over for the family.

2. Parenting is a big job and it’s hard to do by yourself, even if you have a partner to help you. Drop your pride on the wayside and ask for help. Approach your family and friends who might be willing to help shoulder a bit of your burden. See if your family and friends can babysit sometimes, do your grocery shopping for you, or take your kids to visit their pediatricians and dentists so you don’t have to take the day off.

3. Accept help graciously; if someone offers help, don’t be in a hurry to say no. Maybe you have a lonely old lady living in your apartment building, who has time on her hands. Certainly, use her help, as long as she’s someone you can trust. Even if you don’t know how to use their help at the moment, say yes, and figure it out later. Always remember to appreciate people who help you.

4. Delegate the tasks you don’t find palatable. For example, if you find ironing to be a painful and time consuming task, send your ironing out to the cleaner if you can afford it. However, if you cannot afford to delegate ironing, make sure you buy clothes that don’t need to be ironed.

5. Trade chores with others who might like doing the tasks that you don’t. See if your mother, girlfriend, or sister-in-law is a good cook and doesn’t mind cooking a little extra for your family now and then. Do something for them in return that they don’t like to do, such as paying bills.

6. Get your kids involved in your life, work and responsibilities, even if they’re as young as seven. Kids are creative, energetic and are in need of developing their self-esteem. Delegate small, regular household tasks to your kids; this will help reduce your workload and teach accountability to your kids.

PLAN HOUSEHOLD TASKS IN ADVANCE

7. When you’re loaded with responsibilities at work, and have rambunctious kids at home, you have to plan. That’s the only thing that’ll save your sanity. Make To-Do lists for each week, setting a certain task to be done for every day of the week. Either take care of that task personally or delegate it to someone who can do it for you.

8. Plan your weekly menus in advance, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even if your lunch is going to be chicken salad sandwiches, it becomes easier if you’ve cooked chicken for the night before. By fixing a weekly menu, you don’t have to worry about what to make and whether you have the right ingredients at home.

9. Do your weekly grocery shopping on Saturdays. You can take your kids along and have your older kids watch your younger ones while you shop. If you have really young kids, you can shop for groceries online. Decide on your weekly menu before you grocery shop. Buy exactly the items you need for your weekly menu. This way you can keep an eye on your budget as well.



CREATE TO-DO LISTS AND SET REMINDERS

10. If you have a PTA meeting coming up the next week, or if you have a doctor’s appointment for your youngest this week, you’ll do well to create To-Do lists and set reminders. No one can be perfect. It’s entirely possible to completely forget an important meeting or overshoot the appointment.

11. If possible, invest in a smartphone that allows you to maintain multiple To-Do lists and daily, weekly, monthly and annual reminders.

12. At work, use your Email software to set up reminders for official tasks.

13. Always remember to synchronize your official obligations with personal schedules. For example, you might have your daughter’s PTA on Friday at 12 P.M., and there’s a meeting scheduled with an important client on the same day at the same time. By synchronizing your work and family schedules, you can avoid clashes in advance. You cannot be in two places at once. If you know your weekly schedule in advance, you can get someone to go to the PTA meeting in your place, and attend the client meeting yourself. Either that or you can reschedule your client meeting.



SET BOUNDARIES BETWEEN WORK AND HOME

14. Don’t work all hours, even if you are career driven. You’ll end up neglecting your kids and in the long term, the guilt will drive your career success out of your mind. Stick to your work hours and try to work from home during nights and weekends if you absolutely need to.

15. When you’re at home, focus on your family and do the same when you’re at work. Don’t confuse your boundaries and cross over from work to family all the time. This will only confuse you, and create unnecessary stress.

Marina is co-owner of 1001Shops that offers a wide range of retail specialty products like bathroom etageres, stunning mirrors, console furniture and lot more.



Saturday, July 9, 2011

Decorating the Nursery with Stencils

Guest post by Kieron Casey

One of the most exhilarating, yet daunting tasks, for a new parent is designing the scheme for their baby’s nursery. This is, after all, where their new child is going to spend a large amount of their formative years, so nothing less than perfect will do, right?



This inevitably means a blind panic, trying to make sure every single item in the room fits into the idealised look that you want for your new boy or girl; the crib, cradle or bassinet has to have the comfiest blanket possible, and the walls have to be coated in the most soothing of colors, also. The key is calm, but not drab, so often it is a good idea to accessorise with toys and even quilts and throws. However, I personally have found that one of the best ways to add a bit of sparkle to a room, without being overbearing, is to add a few subtle stencil designs on the wall. These can add a splash of color - and help to make the room feel much more personal and appealing.




The Art of Stenciling

Stencilling, you will be pleased to know, is not solely the domain of frustrated street artists; nor is it a skill that would take many years of studying at art school to master. In fact, stencilling represents a rather simple, yet highly effective, and ultimately rewarding, method of decorating. It can be used to easily add motifs or personalise a room’s appearance – from cowboys, aliens, angels or teddy bears to more wacky patterns – and can easily be added by following a simple set of instructions.


Step 1: Items You Will Need



Before jumping in head first, it is important to make sure you have the following items available – a sponge roller (I find the 4inch ones work best) plus adhesive spray, some acrylics and paints, stencil brushes and index cards and tapes. Also, bear in mind that you’ll need some old rags and newspapers too to make sure paint doesn’t get where you don’t want it - there’s no point in having a beautiful mural if there are unwanted flecks of paint splashed all over the rest of the room!

Step 2: Tape and Paint



In order to protect your room, cover the floor with newspapers and tape around the edges of the ceiling and the walls (the blue painter's tape is the best to use) to prevent any splash back. Once the room has been taped up, it is time to paint the walls in the color of your choice, as the background for the stencils. In addition to a roller, use angled brushes to paint the tricky edges and corners of the wall. Make sure the walls have a smooth finish - patches never look appealing - and if need be, leave to dry and then apply a second layer of paint. These walls will be your canvas!

Step 3: The Stenciling

Cut your stencils in advance from card – if it is your first time, please do not attempt anything too elaborate (unless you happen to be artistically inclined); this is advice I am giving from personal experience! You can also purchase stencil kits, if you are not so artistic.

Once cut to the desired shape, find the place on the wall that you wish to see your pattern and fix it in position using spray adhesive – this allows both hands to be free so your masterpiece can be completed. Note you can use several different stencils or, if you are making a motif, it is possible to move your stencil as you paint.

Avoid Runny and Smudgy Messes

Make sure the paint you use when filling in your stencil is thick and does not run. There is nothing worse in the entire world than a cowboy with a hat that runs into his face. A good way of making sure this does not happen is to dip your brush into paint so as to barely coat it, and then use one of your old cloths to dab off any excess. Make sure that your brush goes right up to the edge of your stencils to ensure crispness in your picture – an illusion which I’ve found can be heightened by using lighter colors in the centre of your image and darker colors around the edges.

Once the picture is complete it is really, really important to make sure that the image is not smudged when removing the stencil from the wall. Leave the paints to dry and be careful not to touch the image. Also, bear in mind that the back of your stencil may well have picked up some excess paint – make sure to wipe it if you intend to use it again.

If you can follow all of these instructions, with a little bit of time and care, you may well indeed end up with the dream nursery you had envisioned!


Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regular on home and family issues including, health design and nursery bedding.



Friday, July 8, 2011

THINK BEFORE YOU BRING YOUR KIDS TO THE MOVIE THEATER

Guest blog post by Dave Taylor

I'm in an odd position as a professional film critic and single Dad; I really want to bring my kids with me to film screenings but believe that the experience of seeing a film in the theater is sufficiently intense that my 7 yo girl has still never been to the movies. Sure, she's watched a few on TV. Well, more than a few. But it wasn't until my other children were 10 or so that I brought them into a movie theater to watch a film.

It's the tip of a cultural myth that's just not true, even though I hear it from lots of parents. The myth is that our children are really adults stuck in a kid's body and that they should be able to enter into the adult world as soon as possible. That's why companies sell pre-teen lingerie and why girl's Halloween costumes for anyone over about five makes them look more like coeds looking to get lucky than kids hoping to score some extra candy.

I go to the cinema at least once a week, and some weeks I've been there four or more times. It's fun and I have no complaints, but what I will complain about are parents who are so excited about going a film that they're dying to see that they drag their kids along, even if it's inappropriate. And sometimes, very, very inappropriate.

I'm reminded of when I saw the incredibly intense film "Saving Private Ryan". Sitting a row ahead of me was a Dad and his ten year old son, who was scared out of his mind and sobbing. At one point the boy stood up and walked to the aisle and the father followed him and told him to sit down, because Dad really wanted to see the film. To this day I regret staying quiet, but what parent wants someone else to tell them they're making a stupid mistake?

This isn't an isolated incident, however. I constantly see children of every age at screenings for films that are PG-13 and R. When I'm watching a film and I'm cringing over the obscenities, crude comments, explicit violence and graphic sexual scenes, I can only imagine how hard it'd be for a child to know how to interpret and understand what's going on.

Turns out that the MPAA ratings are really a guideline and it's up to the theater to decide how far it wants to go in terms of enforcing the rating. A bunch of pre-teens trying to buy tickets for the latest R-rated comedy? Shouldn't be successful. Add an adult or guardian (or High School senior) and they can indeed get in to most screenings. Then again, I don't think it's the job of institutions to parent my children, but my own.

Which is why I am so constantly aghast at watching young children sitting in the theater, watching material that I wouldn't want my college-age children to see, let alone someone in third or fourth grade.

So I ask you, dear Mommy Ranting reader, please be thoughtful about what films are appropriate for your children before you bring them along. Do a bit of research, consider not what they can "survive" but what they'll enjoy and find entertaining. And if you're a single parent, gently ask your ex to respect your wishes in this regard too. After all, we can always sneak out to a matinee while they're in school, at a play date, or at camp, if we really, really want to see a particular film.

-----------------

Dave Taylor is a daddy blogger and film critic at Dave On Film.com. When he's not hanging out with his three kids or watching a film, he's also a popular tech writer and public speaker.

Thank you so much, Dave, for your thoughts on children and movies!

Kid-Friendly Furniture Ensembles

Guest post by Ethan S.

Sometimes it’s just hard to have nice things. Especially when you have young children. In the midst of Crayola, glittery Play-Doh (also made by Crayola), and food stains galore, one must choose one’s furnishings wisely. It is my contention, however, that it is possible to set up your home in such a way as to maximize style and functionality without sacrificing safety and easy-cleaning. Here are a few thoughts:
 
·    Perhaps when you were single (or at least before kids), and spent more time away from home, it was ok to have a load of fragile and ornate furniture pieces that weren’t exactly useful or comfortable. They just looked great, and that was ok. With kids however, this will not do. Consider how you really live day to day. Your home should be a haven for your family, not a museum that they have to restrain themselves within.  Don’t be afraid to make your house beautiful, but do focus on creating a simple, sleek look that will allow for occasional clutter, but not be difficult to clean or fix up quickly.

·     Regarding the messiness issue, try to stick with furniture that is easy to clean and won’t hold stains (because, you will get spills…everywhere!). Look for sofas and chairs that are microfiber, leather, or even acrylic. Microfiber has a great suede or leather look, depending on the color or style, and it’s incredibly soft! My furniture now is microfiber and it’s so easy to scrub out everything from food to ink stains. If you go this route, focus on earth tones or darker colors to minimize the degree to which the stains show up. Leather is a great option I because it’s essentially wipe-up friendly!  The only problem can be scratching or fading, and this is only true is you go with faux-leather (pleather), or a cheaper, painted variety. I suggest that if you go leather, go all the way with it! Acrylic is great for some varieties of furniture (such as outdoor cushions, etc.) but can also be used for throw pillows and other types of more tossable and rugged pieces. And if you are set with your furniture repertoire, then consider different slip covers that are machine washable.

·     Make sure your furniture is sturdy, but soft. Avoid tall pieces with narrow bases or glass table tops. Wood is definitely sturdy and can be just light enough to avoid injury, but if you can manage more plush types of furniture then go with that, assuming it’s easy to clean. Avoid rough edges and sharp metal ridges on boxes, cabinets, or TV tables (these tend to be just high enough to do some damage). If you love ottomans, consider ones that are wide and flat to avoid toppling over (I popped a hole in my chin as a little kid on one of these; but I’m fine now, so don’t worry if it happens to your kid!).  
·     Finally, the biggest tip for making your home kid-friendly is adopting functional and versatile furniture. A coffee table set that fits plush foot rests/kids seats underneath is a super cool option. (Like above)



     Also, you want as much storage as you can get. Additional cabinets and chests built in to other pieces like a TV table, a bookshelf, or an ottoman with a lid top (or even a flip top with a solid wood surface/table on the flip side) are really nice.  

      Area rugs offer a few different functions as well. They protect the wall-to-wall carpet from mess attack, provide a cushion from hard woods, and they enhance a room’s space and tie various themes together.
These were just a few ideas, but if you will simply pad, strengthen, and prepare for disaster you will be off to a good start!
Ethan S. writes on behalf of Design55, a UK-based designer furniture shop, that has a great selection of kid-friendly livingroom ideas

Thank you, Ethan, for your contribution to Mommy Rantings! We love kid-friendly!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Top 8 Awesome Family Summer Vacations

Guest blog post by Jennifer Bell

Yes, you can take a vacation even with a large family on a budget.

Some awesome trips to think about:

Washington DC- Do the whole tourist thing. Visit the monuments, the Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo all are free. Take the train in to add another interesting experience to your itinerary.


Pennsylvania- Hershey offers a factory tour and neat experiences for kids. They even have a theme park. The Amish Country offers the children an opportunity to learn about a different way of life. The land is beautiful as are the arts and crafts they sell.



Great Wolf Lodge Midwest, city and lake trip- Great Wolf Lodge resorts are a mini water park in a hotel. Combine it with a tour of a great city and a lake/camping vacation and you get all the perks a city has to offer plus the peacefulness of a lake getaway.



State or National Park- Some of the best trips are at state or national parks and are free to nominal in cost. Renting an RV or camping is a wonderful way to spend unplugged time with family that can really bring you closer together. Check out what your state offers and take your camera because the views are breathtaking.


Nags Head, NC- Get ready to catch some rays and waves. If you are seeking a beach vacation on the east coast it is hard to beat the white beaches of Nags Head. Family friendly motels, resorts, and campgrounds offer a variety of accommodations. Take advantage of activities offered by the parks service for the best and most affordable adventures suitable for even the youngest of travelers. Don’t forget to go see the Lost Colony the famous outdoor drama depicting the mystery of the first settlers in NC.



Oregon coast Cannon beach area- For folks closer to the Pacific, the Oregon coast is a perfect choice with its quiet, pristine beaches. From Astoria to Newport, the area boasts 80 plus national or state parks and 9 lighthouses for your pleasure.



Mountain destination- Say you would rather put your toes in a mountain stream and picnic by a waterfall than a sandy beach? Then a mountain trip is one for you. Check out the ones closest to you.



Route 66 Road trip- If you have teens or adventurous kids (young children probably will not be up to sitting as long), a considerable road trip may be ideal. One of the best in the country is the trip along Route 66, an 8 state trip from Chicago to LA with the most attractions in Arizona.



Whether you fly, drive, or take a train, camp or stay at a hotel, your vacation for your family of four to 14 can be affordable and memorable.


This guest article was contributed by Jennifer Bell from Health Training Guide. Jennifer is a freelance writer and mother of 2 based in Los Angeles, CA. Check out her site to learn more about medical administrative assistant training and other exciting health careers.

Thank you, Jennifer, for your great ideas for some awesome family trips! 
Where have you taken your kids that is a perfect family vacation? What do you recommend???
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