Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You Scared? Happy Halloween!

I missed out on the fun this year, staying home with the beloved 4 year old, 2 year old and 7 week old, while Dad took the four older children to the House of Horrors in Buffalo. We had a talk with our 6 year old (well, he's seven TODAY, as his birthday is Halloween!) and told him that he could go - only if he's brave, we didn't want him to ruin it for everyone else.

Seems all of my brave children made it through the haunted houses just fine! Maybe next year I'll be able to enjoy some scary festivities, but for now...

It's trick-or-treat night! Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Send Your Child to College Prepared

Sending your child off to college can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. Are they ready? Are you ready? You’ve taken care of your baby for 18 years and are sending them off into the world on their own. By preparing your child for college throughout their lives, you can rest easy when you send them on their way. Follow these tips to be sure that your child will be able to cope successfully without you.

Teach Them the Basics

As your children are growing up, involve them in the day-to-day running of the home. From cooking to laundry, teaching your children these essentials will assist them greatly for life on their own. Woe is the college freshman that doesn’t know how to wash a load of socks!

Get Involved

It has been shown that children whose parents are involved in their education are more successful academically than those students whose parents are hands-off. Help your children study, get involved in their sports activities and volunteer as a classroom aide. When the time comes, help them study for their ACTs and SATs.

Create a Budget

One of the most common troublemakers for new college students is money. This fact isn’t surprising when you consider that children often don’t contribute to the household income or contribute to the family’s bills. Before your children leave for school, sit down with them and help them create a budget. Whether it’s with money earned from a part time job or money gifted to them at graduation, your child will need to stick to a budget if they hope to have any money left at the end of the school year.

Encourage Extra-Curricular Activity

While your child is in middle and high school, encourage them to participate in things outside of school. Whether those things are sports or volunteer activities, college admission counselors love applicants who have a life outside of school. When your child does involve themselves in things outside of school, keep a close eye on their health and their grades. Being too busy can have ill effects on a child’s health and psyche; it can be a fine line to balance.

Back Off

As parents, it can be incredibly difficult to let your children fail. People often learn life’s best lessons through trial and error. While it’s never a good idea to allow your children to make a foreseeable mistake that will harm them in some way, allowing them small mistakes will help them to grow as people.

While it can be tough letting your child go away to school, if you follow these tips you can be sure that you’ve done all you can to help them be successful once they’ve gone into the world. You’ve been preparing your children for this moment for their whole lives; take heart in the job that you’ve done and know that you’ve done it well.

Thomas Masterson is a career advisor and content contributor for, a website providing a list of cheap online schools as well as college rankings for a multitude of specialty programs.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ironic News Stories You Have To Read!

I'm constantly running around the web, reading, researching and socializing. The following stories are surely some examples of: Irony at it's finest that I've run across lately. Sometimes, I wonder...what are people thinking?

Betting It Wasn't Worth It: I had a few laughs when I read this article about a 21-year old who decided it would be worth $100 to lube his body and squish into a baby swing on a playground.

A Halloween Surprise: "Getting into the spirit" of any holiday doesn't mean "spreading the cheer" on an interstate.

You Are What You Wear:If you're going to go out and get drunk on Halloween, you probably shouldn't broadcast it by wearing a breathalyzer costume!

Telling on Yourself: There's nothing like stealing a car, taking a photo with the cell phone that was in the car and then posting it to the owner's Facebook page. Ahhh, yes, Georgia's finest!

Twin Deliveries: Twin new moms give birth on the same day...what are the chances?

Community Service at the Morgue: Looking like death herself...Lindsay Lohan's latest community service sentence seems to suit her.

If you happen to run across any ironic stories in the news, be sure to share them in the comment section!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Have You Seen That Halloween Commecial?

I think it's just the most adorable thing - and my kids do, too!

Is that too cute????

Sunday, October 23, 2011

40% Off Halloween Costumes at Toys R Us

If you're a last-minute person like me, you may be happy to know that your last-minuteness paid off...Toys R Us is having a sale on Halloween costumes this week. Head there and have fun fighting the crowds for 40% off!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

LEGO Kids Fest! (Coming to Cleveland) Giveaway!

As promised, the LEGO KidsFest giveaway is here! If you live - or plan to be - in the Cleveland area Nov 4-6th, you'll want to get in on this one!

I have the hookup for tickets! And, one lucky Mommy Rantings reader's going to get them! Do you want them? Here's what you need to do:

Leave a comment on this post telling me if you live near the Cleveland area or if you'll be visiting and how many children you have. (Don't forget to leave your email address!) Also, tell me what you think your children will like the most at the fest!

Good luck!

(This giveaway has been extended until October 29th at midnight EST)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Days We Remember All Our Lives

Halloween is one of my favorite Fall festivals. Less pressure than Christmas, it is one of those laid back times when Mums get to play and remember their own childhoods, without having to break the bank, or worry about the table decorations. It’s a real kid’s time, and so evocative, with the nip of Fall in the air and the evenings drawing in. With this in mind, I’d like to share my own memories of Halloween, and how one particular event has stayed with me throughout my life.
Scary! But Not Too Scary!
It is often the ‘low input’ events that remain most powerfully with children, and the family in this story made a night to remember with a few simple household ingredients, some candles, and a book. The most powerful force at work was the child’s imagination.
The memory is of a Halloween party held at a friend’s house. It was scary enough to remain in my memory to this day, but not scary enough to traumatize me for life. Parents! This is the correct balance!
Numerous little girls had gathered at Alison’s, and no doubt we giggled ceaselessly and ran up and down stairs for a while. There were treacle toffees and sausages to be eaten, and biscuits cut into the shape of ghosts. There was dressing up and carving pumpkins going on in various rooms, but in our minds this was all just marking time before the Big Event. We knew what was happening when Alison’s Daddy got in from work, and the excitement bordered on hysteria.
Love Your Competitive Dad
Alison had one of those Dads who threw themselves into events like this. We all know them – it’s a competitive thing really. How big and elaborate can I make this birthday cake? How great is my Santa outfit? How complex was that Treasure Hunt? I love Dads like this. My advice is to embrace this competitive urge in your men and other people’s and celebrate it! Alison’s Dad had a particular fondness for Halloween shenanigans, and such was their renown that the whole neighborhood seemed to turn up and leave their children for the evening (even if they hadn’t been invited).
How to set the mood
The games got underway with Apple Bobbing. I have never quite understood the attraction of this game, but it seemed to be traditional, so I played along. After this the lights were dimmed for the pumpkin lanterns to be lit. They glowed in from the darkness, lending the once friendly living room a distinctly spooky air. We huddled slightly closer together and chewed on our bobbed apples warily. Alison’s Dad came in and sat with us around his feet while he read a really quite scary ghost story. There was a gruesome murder, a ghost who came back to haunt the innocent children who had stumbled in on the scene of a haunting, and the inevitable twist with a BANG! at the end that had us all screaming. Having set the tone for the evening, which left us slightly jumpy, the ‘contest’ began. We occupied ourselves with fake blood and face-painting and those who dared entered the lair (the study) which was candle-lit and fake cob-webby…
What’s Under The Towel?
Ok, it’s not the scariest name for a scary game, but you have no idea how scary those words are to six-year-olds hyped up on ghost stories and toffee apples. In a quavering voice Alison’s Dad, who had transformed through the miracle of costume, into a spooky old man, said ‘Come and see what’s Under the Towel…’ Shrieeeeeek! Various kitchen bowls, covered up with tea towels were lined up. Waiting nervously to go into the lair, our trepidation increased as we heard the shrieks of others. Mwahhhaaaahahhahhhaaaa! Under one towel was a bowl of peeled grapes (“Eyeballs!”); under another some cold spaghetti (“Intestines!”); some rice pudding was insect mush, some broken sticks from the garden were bones, a tinned tomato was a heart.  I am sure you can imagine the scene, eyes tight closed and little hands nervously reaching to see what was hidden from view.
Too Grim?
Goodness! Reading this back now I wonder if it all sounds a little too grim for six-year-olds. But in fact I think it fulfills the function of this kind of festival perfectly. Halloween is a festival of the dead, a night when we play with our fears and make them less terrifying through play. Once the festival is over those fears have been faced, looked at, laughed at and returned to where they belong. This is entirely healthy and good for us. Fairytales have the same psychological function, psychologists maintain. A good fright helps us deal with the unfamiliar emotions of suspense and anticipation and teach us that resolution is just round the corner. We challenged ourselves, felt the fear and did it anyway.
All’s Well That Ends Well
As for the party, when things just got too noisy the lights would come on, the living-room would return to normal and Alison’s Dad was suddenly just lovely Alison’s Dad again, hugging us and handing out sweets. Normality was restored, along with our feelings of stability and security. We had survived the Halloween Party! Yay!
I have never forgotten those silly childhood games, and the fun and excitement of Halloween. This time of year always brings back the memories. I still know Alison’s Dad too. I wonder if he’d throw a party this year for my son…
Dee is a freelance writer and proud parent. She writes on behalf of numerous folk, including a kidsHYPERLINK "" clothes site.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Winners Post!

It's time to announce some lucky winners!

I used to pick the winners...and will just announce them, as it saves time. Forget copying and pasting the # that was chosen and then transferring it to a blog trust me, right?

So, the winner of the Jungle Speed game is: Maria T (there is no contact info, so hopefully, you see this post!)

And, the winner of the FREE pair of new eyes is: amjanvrin (and no contact info here, either)

So, I will give you two until Monday to contact me. On Tuesday, I will have to choose new winners!

P's & Q's: 5 Tips to Get Your Child Writing Great Thank You Notes

Any parent knows that getting children to complete even the simplest tasks such as putting pajamas in the clothes hamper or turning a light off when leaving a room is near impossible. How then are we expected to teach wee-ones the seemingly abject habit of writing thank-you notes? Don’t despair. All hope is not lost! In fact, we have some very simple tips every parent can implement into their usual routine to get their kids not only writing the thank-you, but actually writing great thank-you notes (with very little effort on both parts!). There is one caveat though (isn’t there always?!)…. It all depends on YOU. Yes, you, the grownup in this parent-child dyad. Tips can come, and tips will go; but unless the parent chooses to take the initiative, set examples by writing thank yous themselves, are consistent in their expectations of the child, and follow through with consequences if notes are not written – you children will continue to avoid completing this, and all chores, at any cost.

1. Remember the Golden Rule of Parenting : Always be the person you want your child to be. You want your child to write thank-you notes, which means you need to write them too. And make it obvious. When an occasion arises for you to set a good example, such as your own birthday or a holiday, make a big production out of writing your next set of notes. Clear a place at the family’s kitchen table. Set all of your items out around you: notes, pens, address book, stamps, etc. Make an announcement such as “Mommy is taking a time put to write some thank-you’s now, so please let me have a little time to get this done”. Get your child involved: let them make suggestions on what to say, place a stamp on the envelope, or take the finished letters out to the mailbox. Monkey see, monkey do; kids like to emulate.

2. Help kids imagine the emotion behind the gesture. A hard lesson for kids to learn is that they’re really thanking the person not for the gift but the thoughtfulness behind it. “Grandma thought a lot about what to give you this year.” Explain to the child the lengthy process a gift giver goes through to deliver a gift. Explain this to your child as thoroughly as possible. An example might be. “First Grandma had the idea that she wanted to get you something special for your birthday. Then she had to think about all the things you like to do. Then she had to go to the store to find something you’d like. Then she had to choose it, pay for it, and bring it home. Then she had to wrap it special and write a card for you. Then she had to make time to come to your party. Then she had to bring that present with her. PHEW! That is a LOT of work grandma had to do to get you this special gift! Wouldn’t it be nice if you took just a minute or two to write her a thank you for the gift and her thoughtfulness?”

3. Provide children with age-appropriate notecards or paper and help them with the message. For very young children who do not yet write, a crayon picture of the child's choosing created with the gift-giver in mind can be mailed along with a note by a parent saying something like, "Lucy created this for you in appreciation of her gift of a new doll for her birthday." Budding writers can be given the thank-you cards that only require a child to fill in certain blanks. While not as personal, this format encourages a youngster to write a note that may only include the salutation, the gift received, and name, but it's a great first start! Older kids should write thank-you notes on their own; but providing them with their own grown-up style stationery with a monogram or design they help choose will get them engaged and feel as though this is an important step in their maturing.

4. Turn on kids’ creative juices. Another way to get kids more involved in the “thank you” writing process is to ask them to come up with their own unique way of thanking Grandma. A few creative “thank you” card ideas for kids might include: making a video and emailing or posting it, taking a photo with the gift & using it as a postcard or taking M&M’s and glue to spell out your thank you on construction paper.

5. Enforce the “Write then play” rule. You can do items 1-4, but the simplest way to get your children to eagerly write a thank you note for each and every gift they ever receive from this moment forward is to implement one simple family rule: “You must write the thank you note first, and then you may use the gift.” Period. End of story. Believe me, that mandate speeds up the writing process a thousand percent. And if they refuse? Well, I know more than a few hospitals and day care centers that would just love to get your donation of unused toys and books! Seriously, all you need to do is set the rule, and stick to it. Your kid will do the rest. Wham, bam, thank-you sir and ma’am!

We’re eager to hear what works for you! Feel free to start a dialogue or comment below.

Author Bio: J.J. Morgan is a writer for Parchment, a custom stationery boutique and online store catering to celebrity clientele since 1968.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bringing Home the Baby Meals

When we lived down in the "dirty" South, we had two of our children...Dylan and Dakoda, now 4 and 2, respectively. After Dakoda was born, we were blessed with a big surprise. Members of our church set up three weeks of home-cooked meals. Well, there was a night of Domino's Pizza and another of KFC...both of them, we loved! The whole point was that people brought us meals that were ready to eat, relieving us from the burden of planning and cooking a meal. 

Just recently, we were blessed with the same gesture - people bringing ready-made meals for the family - after having Chase. (Our children's school has a Sunshine Committee and they do special things for families...some families are experiencing tragedy while others are welcoming new additions.)

If you are looking for a different way to help a family, whether they are experiencing hardship, sickness or death or welcoming home a new baby, a home cooked meal will always be enjoyed. I can't tell you how much it helped us! Nights of no sleep with a new baby, getting the household back on track with a new little person (especially with 6 kids already!)...and trying to keep things as "normal" as possible...

My husband is wonderful enough to get the older kids up, ready and headed out for school, then I had to orchestrate breakfast for Dakoda and Dylan and keep them and Chase happy all morning...make lunch, more entertainment for the afternoon...the hurricane comes in when the 4 older children come home from school at 3, then it's signing papers and making sure everyone gets their homework done while keeping the 3 younger guys happy. By dinnertime...I'm about flat out tired! Honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner.

Having night after night lined up of dinners was probably one of the best gifts I could have received. And, I WILL "pass it on" in the future, because it's such a heartfelt gesture when you cook a meal and deliver it to someone!

Here are some of the meals that we received, just to give you an idea of how easy you can put together a meal for someone:

A frozen lazagna, french bread, a quick salad

Meat loaf, salad, french bread, potatoes, corn

A broccoli, chicken and rice casserole with (you guessed it!) french bread and Halloween cupcakes

Of course, if you aren't big on cooking and would prefer to bring some pizza or KFC, I'm sure that it will be eaten! In our house, we would never turn down a home cooked meal...or fast food, for that matter!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Designer Hospital Gowns - Labor & Delivery In Style: dearjohnnies Review

It was two weeks before my due date when I received the email from dearjohnnies about working together on a review of their designer hospital gowns...but little did I know that I would be wearing it within hours of getting it in the mail!

If you read the birth story of my seventh child, you will realize that it all came as a surprise. Well, the baby didn't come as a surprise...we knew he was coming! But, his timing was a huge surprise! As I frantically packed my hospital bag a little less than two weeks before the due date, I realized that my dearjohnnies designer hospital gown had yet to arrive in the mail...I was extremely upset...and terribly worried that the representative from the company would be upset, too!

The hospital provided me with what I jokingly referred to as "my sexy off-the-shoulder gown", as only one button out of five on the top of the sleeve worked. Grrr! But, to be quite honest with you, I'm glad that I didn't have my brand new dearjohnnies hospital gown, because childbirth can get unbelievably messy - and I would hate to mess up the pretty gown!

So, did my designer hospital gown come in time?

It just so happened that my dearjohnnies hospital gown arrived in the mail on Saturday - the same day that I gave birth to our precious new addition, Chase. My husband had brought it with him when he came to be with me at the hospital for the delivery (how very thoughtful of him, huh? Not only was he gracefully handling the six children that we already have, cooking, cleaning and everything else that comes along with our household, but he remembered to bring me the package that arrived just in time!)

At first, I had no idea what it was, as it came in a nifty matching bag, in the same fabric as the gown. To my surprise, my gown HAD arrived!

So, after the delivery of our 4 lb 15 ounce, baby Chase, I was able to get out of that wretched "sexy off-the-shoulder" hospital-issued gown and slip into my new dearjohnnies, chic and stylish gown that had all of the buttons that it was supposed to have, as well as buttons down the back, which is so much better than four simple strings that tie on the hospital-issued gown.

The nurses admired the gown, asking where I got it and noting the unique design on the fabric. Some of the nurses had never seen a designer gown before...others had, but regardless, my gown by dearjohnnies caught their attention!

Here I am with newborn baby Chase, only hours after delivery. I had enough time to change into my dearjohnnie gown and move into a new room. (Excuse the lack of face in the pics...I'd prefer to keep the after-delivery "look" private)

You can see that the dearjohnnies hospital gown is a lot more  aesthetically pleasing than the hospital-issued gowns. It is also a lot more comfortable - and the buttons down the back cover the parts that you don't want everyone seeing when you are walking around after giving birth.

You can also purchase a matching robe to compliment and wear over your gown.

Labor and Delivery Like A Celeb!

J.Lo packed up four sets of dearjohnnies when she went to the hospital to deliver.

Bethenny Frankel adorned the Lucy version when she was in labor.

And, you can see even more celebrities who have enjoyed dearjohnnies while in labor here.

So, if you want to feel like a celebrity - and bring a bit of couture to the delivery room, make sure you get yourself a dearjohnnies hospital gown. Also, if you know someone who is expecting, this would be the perfect gift for the mom-to-be! What better way than to make her feel special? Give her the gift of modesty, fashion and comfort all in one!

I was sent a lovely dearjohnnies gown for this review. No compensation was received. All opinions, as usual, are my own and uninfluenced.

LEGO Kids Fest! (Coming to Cleveland)

How many LEGOs can make seven kids happy? Okay, we'll make it six kids, because our little Chase is not big enough to play LEGOs yet! But the rest of my kids...well, let's just say a room full of LEGOs = a day full of fun!

Introducing the LEGO KidFest! A place where kids can interact and put their hands on the displays and not get into trouble! From a LEGO Model Museum to the LEGO Club & Master Builder Academy to the LEGO Activity Area and the LEGO Challenge Zone, this festival is one that children who are aspiring architects - or simply kids like mine who love to build amazing towers! - will love to attend!

Isn't that awesome????
LEGO KidsFest is going to be in Cleveland Nov 4-6! 

This is just one stop in the entire tour that LEGO KidsFest has been on and they will make one more stop in Hartford, CT, so don't miss out! I can just imagine my children's faces when they see all of those LEGOs in one place. Surely, we have a ton of LEGOs at our house, but I don't think we can beat the massive amounts that they will have there!

Here are some of the cool things that attendees can expect to experience:

  • LEGO & DUPLO® Construction Zones
  • dozens of large-scale and miniature LEGO models and displays
  • LEGO Universe
  • LEGO Games
  • group builds Creation Nation and Mystery Murals
  • LEGO Master Builders
  • much more!

Stay tuned for a fantastic ticket giveaway next week!

Monday, October 3, 2011

10 Ways of Crash-proofing Your Teen with Tech

The thought of your teen behind the wheel of a car is a scary one. Not only are you worried about the peer pressure that friends may exert, causing your teen to drive unsafely, but you face the much more serious concern that an inexperienced driver is more likely to be involved in an accident. However, there is technology out there that can help to bring you peace of mind. Here are a few options you might want to look into.

1. Steering-wheel controls. How many accidents have been caused when a driver leans over to fiddle with the stereo? If you want to avoid this type of eyes-off-the-road situation, simply look for a vehicle that has volume and other toggle controls on the steering wheel.

2. Navigation. If your teen is distracted by searching for road signs and trying to find a location he’s never been to, his focus is going to be compromised. A navigation system (either in-dash or portable) can offer up-to-date voice instructions that will safely guide your teen to his destination.

3. Bluetooth. With many states adopting hands-free laws for cell phone usage while driving, it’s not a bad idea to set your teen up with a car that has Bluetooth capabilities (or a Bluetooth headset, at the least). This will help them to keep both hands firmly on the wheel.

4. Hands-free messaging.You’ve probably seen the horrifying ads that caution against texting while driving (particularly for teens).Luckily, there are a number of new technologies emerging to stop your teen from texting in the car. Talk-to-text features can allow for a myriad of hands-free messaging options, from texting and emailing to updating Facebook.

5. HUD. A head’s up display may sound a little futuristic, since you most often see it used in video games and on military aircraft. But displaying an image of the gauge cluster on the lower portion of the windshield means that your teen never has to take his eyes off the road to check his speed or fuel level.

6. Sensors. There is currently technology in the works that will allow for a sort of “auto pilot” (no pun intended) feature for cars, by which sensor input will cause the car to maintain a specific distance from the vehicle in front of it, as well as ensure that it remains between the lines. This could be great for teens still getting used to the controls.

7. Cell-phone monitoring. There are a number of apps for cell phones that will help teen drivers, but the most useful is probably Driver Feedback for the iPhone. This program uses the phone’s accelerometer to track speed, acceleration, deceleration, and even cornering to give you information about whether or not your teen is driving safely. Make it a condition of giving your teen the keys to the car.

8. Blue Link. Hyundai takes teen driving safety very seriously. Their Blue Link system features controls that allow parents to monitor their teen’s driving habits. Geo-fence sets limitations on the areas teens may drive in, while speed limitations and curfews can also be preset. You’ll be informed by phone call, text message, or email when your teen breaks the rules.

9. MyKey. Ford goes even a step further with their MyKey system, which allows you to set controls through the key your teen uses in the car. You can enter limits on both speed and stereo volume (actually controlling the vehicle), or simply have a warning chime sound when certain speeds are exceeded.

10. Breathalyzer interlock system. Worried about drinking and driving? Consider installing a breathalyzer that will stop your teen from starting the engine if he’s been drinking, helping to keep him and everyone else on the road safe.

Carol Montrose is a writer for Cheap Car Insurance NY, where you can find great rates on car insurance. In her spare time she likes to attend writing classes at CSUN, go hiking on the weekends, and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Write a Book and Be a Mom…at the Same Time

Believe it or not you can be a good mom, get things done, spend time with the family, and write a book all in the same week. It can be done, it’s just hard. Of course who ever said that being a mom was easy? Being a mom is hard no matter what the situation; you are the cleaner, the dish washer, the laundry folder, the lunch and dinner maker, the chauffeur, the party planner, the play time planner, the packer, and the human coat rack. You are a lot of things for your family, but you can also be a writer. It can be done.

As mentioned already, writing your own book will probably a challenging job because you are busy and you have a lot of other things you need to get done. The tips that come with writing a book are not like the futures trading secrets course, it doesn’t take much time to figure out which tips will and which tips will not work for you, your family and your schedule.

Here are some tips on how you can get started on your book while still having time for family:

• Outline. Outline your whole book. Honestly not many people can sit down and just have creative juices flow from brain to pen to paper. Because it doesn’t work that way you need to find a time to just sit down and outline your book. If you take the long amount of time it usually takes to sincerely get the outline accomplished, then you will not have to take extra time later to think of the details you could have put in the outline.

• Don’t stop. Many writers will start writing for a few days then stop for months at a time. Don’t stop. It becomes much harder to start and keep going again after you have stopped writing for a while. Also, don’t stop to edit. Editing is something you can save for when you are done writing. Writing is the hard part so just keep plugging away.

• Schedule. Plan out each week and as you are doing so plan out a time when you can work on your book each day. Even if it is just for a few minutes plan it out and make sure it happens. If you are writing, at least a little bit, every day you will think about the story more often and how you can improve what you work on.

Madison Hewerdine is an author who writes about the futures trading secrets course and has a passion for Latin dancing.

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