Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Fever, Anyone?

I am touched to say that I have received a ton of emails now from people (from around the world, believe it or not!) asking if everything is okay with me, my family and Mommy Rantings because articles on Mommy Rantings have slowed down drastically to one per week.

First of all, thank you all for your inquiries! The thought that you care means so much!

For starters, there have been a couple of very important things that I want to bring up and remind you:


1) GIVEAWAY!

Don't forget about the Spring Hairbow and Bowdabra Sponsored Giveaway! Entries are accepted until March 31st, so hurry!

2) WINNER!

I neglected to post the winner of the Conair Scale...

I like Conair on facebook!

Congrats! You're going to love it! (I've sent you an email)


And, now on to the admissions... 

So, as one of my cousins said about a week ago on Facebook, there's recently been a "climate shift". It was snowing in the weirdest places and sunny and 80 degrees, essentially summertime weather, in the north, IN MARCH!

Some people frustratingly SHOUTED their feelings into Facebook World that the hot and muggy weather wasn't going to change their stinky attitudes about whatever they were complaining about.

Others mentioned that the drastic weather change was causing health issues; runny noses, sinus infections, other things flaring up, pollen count high...

And then there were the people - (like me) - who thrive on the beautiful summertime weather - or, rather, LIVE AND BREATHE FOR IT, and "they" were proclaiming that it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, echoing the words of the late Mr. Rogers, and practically singing the entire verse on Facebook.

Whatever way you look at it, the surprise spring weather created a buzz on the social media networks - definitely in my circles, at least. Twitter, LinkedIn - everyone was saying something about it, including me.

Admission #1

Yes, I was doing that. I admit it. I was outside, playing with the children, snapping pictures left and right with my new toy - *ahem* smartphone, I mean. Filming videos, playing with the settings. Uploading to Facebook, uploading, uploading...posting, updating status with, "It's so beautiful outside!" and "we're having fun!" accompanied by videos or photos of the children riding bikes, rollerblading, controlling motorized toys...we had fun and I was soaking up some natural Vitamin D, something my body had been missing and needing for months!

I was simply enjoying life and having fun with the children, because life goes by so fast...sometimes, you have to stop and soak it up and make some memories.

Admission #2

I'll admit something else, too. I got a new smartphone and I'm in love with it. If you don't have a smartphone yet, you should seriously consider getting one! Especially if you spend time on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Stumbled Upon...and you are constantly checking your email...my phone brings it all together for me.Then, if you just happen to LOVE playing games like our family does, there is an app for everyone!

Forget games if you don't play them, the free apps that are available for download go on and on and on! You can customize your keyboard, your wallpaper, you icons, you messages theme and your Facebook and Twitter widget themes. There are organizational apps, like calendars, monthly cycle apps, and financial planners. Anyway, I'm sure you will hear plenty about these wonderfully amazing smartphones in future articles, but I have to say, my husband finally found something that grabs my attention and keeps it longer than my laptop!

Admission #3

Okay, I understand that this might not necessarily fall into the "admissions" category, but I figured I would throw it in. Within the past two weeks, I have experienced the loss of a brand new smartphone (which can be super-traumatic when you realized that there was an app that you could have downloaded prior to losing the phone that would track the GPS location of the smartphone called LookOut Plan B. It can even install remotely, but in this case, something went awry with the remote installation...because the location was never sent back via email).

Also, within the past two weeks, my seven year old son went in for oral surgery, which required several appointments leading up to it, plus several phone calls to square away insurance issues, line up the surgery day, and listen carefully to the instructions for pre-surgery. To make matters worse, Wes could have avoided all of this by simply brushing his teeth like his mother told him to every day. Has he learned his lesson? Time will only tell...

To add to the confusion, but in a good way, my Aunt and Uncle from Ohio were in the area visiting Niagara Falls last week and made plans to come out and visit us! It had been over 10 years since our last time together - far too long! And, you know I had to spend some time preparing the house for company after a long winter of being cooped inside. No, the QueenMom's house is NOT perfect, ever.

So, I guess I don't have to explain any further about how busy life has been or why we've been MIA and Mommy Rantings has taken a break for a moment...we're just fine here and we hope you are too! We're back on track this spring, and I promise to post pictures of our summertime fun soon!



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Hair Bow and Bowdabra Sponsored Giveaway

March is National Craft Month, in honor of National Craft Month, Bowdabra is celebrating the many uses of ribbon.  Each day the Bowdabra Blog adds a new ribbon craft tutorial along with multiple ways to enter their month long giveaway.  Bowdabra is sweet enough to share one of their hair bow making tutorials on my blog.  - Along with give my readers a chance to enter in their huge ribbon and Bowdabra Bow Making Tools giveaway!

To make a spring bow and attach it to a headband you will need the following:

25" of 1.5" White Grosgrain Ribbon
12" of 7/8" Polka Dot Purple Ribbon
Mini Bowdabra
Hair Bow Tool & Ruler
Bowdabra Bow Wire
Headband
Small Flower or Button

Instructions:

1. Begin by placing the Hair Bow Tool & Ruler onto the Mini Bowdabra.  Cut 18" of Bowdabra Bow Wire and fold it in half and place it into the Mini Bowdabra.


2. Next, cut 25" of 1.5" white grosgrain.  Fold the grosgrain in half and at the crease mark place it into the Mini Bowdabra.





3. Fold and press each ribbon strand to create 2" loops on either side.




4. Fold the tails down and create two more 2" loops on either side.


5. Cut 12" of purple polka dot ribbon.  Fold the ribbon in half and at the crease mark place the ribbon face down into the Mini Bowdabra.





6. Fold and press a 1.5" loop and place the tail pointing down.



7. Fold and press a 1.5" loop on the other side with the tail point down.



8. Scrunch down with the Mini Bowdabra Wand.



9. While the bow is still in the Mini Bowdabra, thread the two loose ends of the Mini Bowdabra Bow Wire through the loop at the other end.  Pull the Bowdabra Bow Wire tightly while the bow is still in the Mini Bowdabra.



10. Gently pull the bow out of the Mini Bowdabra. Separate the two loose ends of the Bowdabra Bow Wire and bring them around to the back of the bow and knot.  Fluff the bow and trim the bow tails so that they are all at an angle.





11.  Using the Bowdabra Bow Wire attach the bow to a headband, trim away excess wire.  To hid the Bowdabra Bow Wire in the center of the bow hot glue a small flower or other embellishment (like a button) onto the center of the bow. Your headband is ready to be worn!




Thank you Bowdabra for the tutorial and offering my readers a chance to win prizes on your Bowdabra sponsored giveaway.   You can visit the Bowdabra Blog for multiple ways to enter their contest along with entering right here on my blog post!

Prizes:
Grand Prize – Ribbon totaling in value of $150.00



2nd Prize – Bowdabra, Mini Bowdabra, and Hair Bow Tool & Ruler Suggested Retail: $41.54



3rd Prize – Mini Bowdabra and Hair Bow Tool & Ruler Suggested Retail: $24.11




Contest begins March 1, 2012 and ends March 31, 2012 at midnight eastern time. Winners to be announced April 2, 2012 at http://bowdabrablog.com

(5 entries per person for this post)


1.  Pin this post on your Pinterest board. Please mark the pin with @Bowdabra so that we can easily find it in a search. Please leave a comment below that you pinned it along with your Pinterest name. We would love to follow your boards! (1 entry)

2. Leave a comment below about the tutorial. (1 entry)

3. Like Mommy Rantings on Facebook. Leave a comment below that you did. (1 entry)

4. Tweet about Bowdabra's National Craft Month Giveaway. Leave a comment below with your Twitter name. (1 entry)

5. Visit the Bowdabra Blog and get Daily Bowdabra Blog Updates. Enter your email address in the field on their right side bar and get an email every time they add a new tutorial. Leave a comment below that you signed up for their daily updates. (1 entry)

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. VALID IN THE 50 UNITED STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ONLY. ENTRY IN THIS CONTEST CONSTITUTES YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blackberry Spy Helps You Deal with Your Pregnant Teen

Your teen has made a mistake that cannot be taken back or "solved". The only solution to it is to go through it and let time pass. If your teen has encountered pregnancy in such a small age then it will affect her differently. Many teens get depressed, many take the transition from child to mother seriously and become somber in life.

American population statistics state that every year approximately 820,000 teenage girls get pregnant, concluding that around 34% teenagers have at least one pregnancy before the age of 20. You need to know how your teen takes this situation and make sure she doesn’t encounter any psychological or physical troubles that might cause her or her unborn child danger. With the help of Blackberry Spy, you can ensure that your teen is safe and her thoughts and feelings are monitored.


Find Out What Your Daughter is Thinking

Blackberry spy’s online history log feature can help you keep a check on your teen's online browsing. Your teen might be depressed or worried about her situation and this could reflect in what she searches for online. Your daughter could be asking for help about what to do with the child; take care of it or give it up for adoption. In the end it’s your teen’s decision, and the advice that she could get online might create more confusion for her. You need to help your teen with making this decision, rather than going through the thought process alone and using the internet for persuasion.

What Else is She Going Through?

Pregnancy can change your teen’s thoughts and ideas about her future, and therefore she could be depressed about her situation. Your teen could be looking for abortion or might leave all social attractions and friends after finding out about her pregnancy. With the Blackberry Spy, you can see if your teen is ignoring her friends and events purposely and therefore explain to her how important it is to be normal, or even take her for therapy to forgo any chances of depression or anxiety.

Monitor Texts

Blackberry spy will let you monitor your teen’s texts so you can find out what she talks about with her friends. It will help you realize whether or not she is she is taking the topic of being pregnant serious and being responsible about it - by allowing you check if she’s making plans to drink with friends at the upcoming party. Such activities could be dangerous for the baby and you can then explain to your teen about the grave situation and how she needs to be careful with her actions.

Obviously, whether or not we spy on our children is an option we should seriously consider before we do it. Yes, it's important to give our kids the space that they need, but in today's era of technology, anything can happen, because our children have access to information and advice that wasn't readily available when we were teens. I'm all for spying on our children to keep them safe, are you?


Anima Brad is graduated from university of Yale. She has a natural flair of writing. Her most of the writing revolves around Technology Innovation, and tell the masses how they can improve their business and lifestyle throughTechnolgy. She is Technology lover and a Technology savvy girl. She writes for Spy Blackberry to tell the masses about different Technolgy Application.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Easter's Around the Corner!


If there's anything we love about Easter, it's the candy! The Easter Bunny...well, we love him, too, because he BRINGS the candy...and the baskets full of toys and fun stuff...

This year, the Easter Bunny might just decide to shop for the candy at See's Candies. The yummy chocolates, the adorable basket and box sets, and the lollipops. If you're thinking of making Easter lean more toward the gourmet level of candy, See's Candies has you covered. Don't forget the Decorated Eggs, covered with chocolate and filled with delicious insides like Rocky Road and Peanut Butter or the assorted brittles and toffees or the springtime truffles. MMMmmm!

Easter just isn't Easter with gourmet candies. See's Candies knows this and offers their selection year-round.

This post is brought to you by our friends at Blogsvertise.com.


Mission Tuition - Earn College Discounts While You Shop???

One thing I love about some of my very favorite merchants is how they offer added benefits to basically "talk you into" shopping in their store.

Here's an example: Tops Friendly Market, my favorite grocery store, may not have the best prices compared to Aldi's or Save-A-Lot, but they sure do offer great benefits for shopping in their store. For example, I get a point per dollar I spend, which converts to a certain amount of cents off per gallon when they're running their special gas campaign. So, when I spend $100, I get $.10 off per gallon, but you can let them accumulate through the duration of the campaign, and we've actually made it up to $1.00 off per gallon. And, you're getting an extra benefit for spending the same money you would have spent in their store. However, you're not going to get the gas points if you shop at Aldi's or Save-A-Lot.

Mission Tuition is essentially the same type of program, only you have to purchase through their participating merchants, and you will receive a specific amount toward college costs. I skimmed through their list of merchants and their must be hundreds of stores participating in this program! Circuit City, Sears, Payless, Groupon, PetCo, Best buy, New York and Co., each one listed with a specific percentage "cash back". While Best Buy is only 1% cash back, Blue Dolphin.com Magazine Superstore shows 24% cash back. Either way, like the Tops example I used, if you're going to spend the money in that merchant's store anyways, you might as well get the extra benefits that come along with it! 

You sign up for the Mission Tuition program and every time you shop at one of their participating merchants, and Mission Tuition will deposit your rebates into a college savings account. You won't even miss the money, because you are going to spend it anyways, right?

For those of us who find it difficult enough to financially support our children until the age of 18, saving money for college without even knowing it is a major plus! We all want to know that we can afford to send our children to college! Mission Tuition wants to help us save the money without actually paying out of our already tight budgets into a college savings accounts.

If you know of any other programs like this, please let me know!

This post was brought to you by our friends at Blogsvertise.com.


Become.com - A backwards review

I ran across a website recently and was wondering if anyone has had any experience with ordering through them? The site is called Become.com and they have an expansive selection of products that I love!

For instance, check out the cocktail table with pull up tray selection. Or, the efavormart eggplant satin that will make any table look festive for a mixture of different holidays and occasions. And, since everyone thinks that freelance writers stay at home in their pajamas all day, I might as well get myself gilliganomalley sleepwear, to top it all off.

So, I'm making this review a bit backwards this time...I'm asking you if you have ever heard of become.com and what your experience has been with the site. Leave a comment!

This post was brought to you by our friends at Blogsvertise.com.



Conair Weight Watchers Inspirational Glass Scale (Review and Giveaway!)


With a focus on healthy living and improving our lives in 2012, this review and giveaway fits in perfectly! Introducing the simplistic, yet elegant Weight Watchers Inspirational Glass Scale by Conair.




I see you're looking at the image of the scale and you're wondering what exactly makes it "inspirational"? Well, Weight Watchers and Conair decided that the same things that motivate our children might just motivate us! But, before we get to that, let me tell you about the scale itself:

Weight Watchers scales by Conair are fragile, yet elegant looking at first glance. My initial reaction was to hug my arms around it and keep it at a distance from little children's hands. That was until I read that the scales are made of tempered glass. Of course, that doesn't mean that I don't have to watch over mine, because tempered glass will break, too, however they won't shatter into slices and shards like regular glass would, rather it would be more like chunks of glass if it were to break. I still keep a close eye on my Conair WW58S and have yet to completely surrender it to the bathroom.

Everyone Weigh In!

We all did get some enjoyment out of seeing how much everyone weighed, including the baby, who just started to sit up recently, and was able to fit on top of the scale's 12.4 inch by 12.4 inch platform. We were able to sit the once 4 lb, 15 ounce Chase on the sleek scale and the digital number increased to 19.7, where it stopped! At 6 months old! We weighed everyone, from smallest to biggest, and even the little kids were shouting out the right numbers when they lit up on the 1.5 inch display that will show either lbs or kgs. 

Even though there are long-life batteries and a limited ten-year warranty, we haven't needed to worry about the battery or the warranty yet, and hopefully, we never will.

What Motivates Us?

So, I mentioned earlier that Conair and Weight Watchers decided to implement a motivation system with their scales that normally works for our children. What is the trick? Stickers! Or decals, as they call them.

Some of the inspirational quotes that came with mine are:

"Live the Life You Have Imagined" -Henry Thoreau

"Whatever you believe, You can ACHIEVE."

"Explore, Dream, Discover" -Mark Twain


"I am more than what I do, and more than what I own."

and "determination!"

Then, there are also butterflies and a lipstick kiss to decorate around your chosen inspirational saying. 

Buy It: The Weight Watchers by Conair Digital Scale Model WW58S can be purchased online at Conair and retail around the $29.99 price point. Also, look at retailers like Kmart to see if they carry this scale.


Win It: Before you buy it, you might want to enter to win one free right here on Mommy Rantings! One of you will win the Weight Watchers by Conair Digital Scale Model WW58S!


Mandatory Entry: Have you made any plans for 2012 that you may need inspiration for? Leave a comment to tell me your plans for 2012 and what it would take to inspire you!


Leave one comment for each extra entry and don't forget to leave your email so I can contact you!

Want extra entries? (Remember to leave a comment for each entry!)

1) Like Conair on Facebook.
2) Follow Conair on Twitter.
3) Like Mommy Rantings on Facebook.
4) Follow Mommy Rantings on Twitter.

This giveaway will end at 12am EST sharp on March 19th! Sorry, our international friends, the giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Good Luck!

This review and giveaway was sponsored by Conair. Thank you! No compensation was received and all opinions are truthful.





Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another Winner this Week! Ocean Spray Fruit Snacks

If you missed my review on Ocean Spray Fruit Snacks, I recommend that you check it out! These snacks are delicious!

And, with only one person as an entrant, Kristie, you are the winner! Congrats! You are going to absolutely love these fruit snacks!



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

VueZone System Winner!

First of all, I want to say thank you to all of the entrants...and let you know that I have some more cool giveaways coming!

I know that all of the entrants for the VueZone system are dying to find out if they won. I used Random.org to select the winner at random, and without further ado, Random.org chose:





The LUCKY winner was:


Heather :) · 6 days ago
i would LOOOOOVE this!!!! As a mom of 4 (from 17 to 3 1/2) i just don't have enough eyes & ears to keep up with things that go on around here....especially with the pond & our "house" back there where the teenager likes to hang out with his friends & girlfriend in warmer weather.....hmmmm oh the possibilities!! 
 
You're going to need to contact me within 24 hours to send me your address, etc. (You forgot to put your email on the comment.) :)

Thank you to VueZone for sponsoring this awesome giveaway!










Tuesday, March 6, 2012

10 tips to help single moms through tough conversations


            To simply say being a single parent makes things twice as hard doesn't work, because on top of work, parenting, running the home, and raising your child (or children) you've got to be their coach, mentor, counselor AND parent. You can't be both the mother and the father, but you can embrace being the mother, embrace the single life. That strength and confidence is what your child needs most. While it can always be difficult to talk about certain issues (such as where's Daddy or were do babies come from) it is important not to avoid having difficult conversations. 

While initially a child may be unaware of certain issues, they are incredibly perceptive and will eventually realize certain things are different. Those differences aren't a bad thing, but if they don't understand why and how they are not then that can lead to them blaming themselves (the biggest cause for depression or acting out in pre-teens and teenagers of single-parent homes). Having been raised by a single mother, and working with so many families on a day-to-day basis in senior care, it's pretty simple to see that children really need:

  1. Mommy must be the role model. Be the captain of the ship and sit your child down to talk. They need to know that something is wrong or has changed, why that is and what can be done about it. Sorting out what happened and why it happened will open the door for them to be able to understand and deal with it.  
  2. Mommy needs to be there. Avoidance is a red herring. It solves nothing and skirts the problems under the rug, only making things worse. As a mother your child must never question where they are on your list of priorities. Be there to make a difference in their life...a positive one.
  3. Mommy must listen. Though children are not incredibly pragmatic, regardless the age, they aren't always wrong either. In sitting down with your child you must listen to what their saying, understand why they're saying it and what their feelings are behind what they're saying. Active listening is important to gauge what, how and why your child understands.
  4. Mommy has to manage emotions. When talking about difficult subjects it is easy to allow emotions to get the better of judgement, but your child's emotions will reflect yours (in one way or another). It is imperative that a single parent keep a high emotional intelligence and manage both his or her emotions and the child's emotions. Everything we are is a result of who we were. Single parents shouldn't break down often in front of their children because then their children will understand it to be normal and mimic that behavior. Ground your identity in confidence.
  5. Mommy should be a partner. When dealing with problems that arise a single parent will gain the best support and response from his or her children if they act as a partner instead of a dictator. Working with your child to find solutions or understand situations allows for more communication and trust. Think of it in terms of a pilot and co-pilot. Children can surprise you with their insight.
  6. Mommy needs to share. Stay in control of your emotions, but let your child know what your emotions are, how you felt about the issue, what you think about it and how you're dealing with it or managing your emotions. This will give children a prototype for them to handle their own emotions which is infinitely more productive than suppressing them.
  7. Mommy must collaborate. Work together to find solutions and new things you and your child would like to do in order to overcome the issue at hand, whether it is loss, loneliness, stress or exhaustion. You child will want to help if you've both been honest and upfront in the conversation.
  8. Mommy should help decide. After brainstorming solutions work with your child to decide on the best one. In doing so they'll see that their input is valued and helped improve things, adding more and more confidence to the relationship and your family.
  9. Mommy needs to keep talking. The last part of the conversation is just as important as the beginning. A single parent and their child face many issues that other families don't, but MUST keep communication open. Bounce ideas back and forth about things you and your child can do to communicate more, have fun more, spend time together more. It all comes down to communication, so keep asking positive questions and you'll be able to keep that open line of communication flowing.
  10. Mommy must be the rock. Always finish on a hug (and a kiss if you're affectionate...my mother and I weren't). In having managed emotions and finished on a positive note, you have held your ground as a leader and mentor for your child. Keep being that rock for them to grow, develop and blossom, regardless their age.

            It may take some practice to get the flow of these conversations down, and the steps may not go in this exact order. Do as you feel necessary, but at least do. Just like with paying bills or credit cards, if you do nothing it only gets worse, so nip the problem in the bud and have the tough conversation(s) that needs to be had. It will make your family stronger, your communication better, and give you strength. My mother worked her entire life (until recently) to give me the same opportunities others had. Though things were far from perfect they were the best she could do, and I loved it. I love her. Talk with your children...for their sake. It makes all the difference.


George Shaw is a writer and blogger who focuses on improving family communication with children and seniors. He also helps seniors and their families in Houston via SeniorHomesTexas.com.



Monday, March 5, 2012

Too Many Old Sheets and Blankets? 4 Fresh Ways to Recycle Them Out of Your Hall Closet


If you have kids, you have definitely gone through your share of baby blankets and too many sheets to count. And, most of us end up holding on to way too many of them after the fact, as well. If your hall closet is about to burst from the unused blankets and sheets spilling out, try recycling them and making something completely new. You may end up saving money and getting some useful new household items out the process.

1. Make Dishtowels

Before you turn perfectly good blankets into floor scrubbers, check out the condition of the blankets that you’re not using. Grab a couple that have holes or large stains and cut them into 6x12 inch remove rectangles. Hem the edges with a sewing machine so the fabric doesn’t start to fray and then throw the finished pieces into the washer to remove excess thread. Fold them up and you have a brand new set of wash rags!

2. Make Ironing Board Covers

If you have any thick blankets in good condition, they can be turned into perfect pads and covers for  your ironing board. Simple wash and dry the old blanket and place  the end on top of your ironing board and cut out the shape to make the inner pad. Next, take the cover for your old ironing board and lay it out on the blanket to cut a new cover. Cut it about an inch wider than the old cover and sew elastic around the sides.

3. Make Curtains

If you have sheets that you really love but don’t work on your bed any more (or maybe sheets you have never ended up using on your bed), you can use them to make curtains. If the sheet is thin, you can double up on one side or grab a white or cream sheet to add on for extra light blockage. Just make sure the sheets you choose look clean and are in good condition. You can also take sheets that aren’t in the best condition and use them to cover windows in dirtier areas, like the basement or garage.

4. Donate to a Good Cause

If the idea o making your own ironing board pads makes you groan, you can still put your old blankets to good use instead of throwing them away. If they are in poor condition, try donating them to an animal shelter for use as bedding or during pet transportation. If your blankets are useable, bring them to a homeless or women’s shelter to be put to good use.


This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com. 



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Taking Entertainment Outdoors



Springtime is about to be knocking on our doors and you know what that means – longer days full of extra sunlight, perfect balmy temperatures, and the need to pry video game controllers and television remotes out of the kids’ hands to force them outside. As technology continues to become more prevalent in our lives to fill our need for entertainment it can be hard to convince kids that they can have as much, if not more, fun outdoors as they can inside simulating experiences. However just because they may protest doesn’t mean you should concede and let them stay inside. Instead get them to engage in some good, old-fashioned, outdoor playtime using some of these tactics:

1.      Fly kites

You don’t need a whole lot of fancy supplies to make kites; you just need basic items like paper bags or paper plates, some string, and a little creativity. Handcrafting kites is the perfect rainy day activity and taking them out on the next windy day will be even more fun because the kids made them on their own.

2.      Take a trip to the park

Parks are perfect because there are a variety of activities that everyone can do there. The kids can play on the playground, take hikes on the trails, go bird or animal watching, and if there’s a pond you can go fishing or teach the kids how to skip rocks across the water. With so many different things to do the kids will be occupied for hours running around playing.

 
3.      Build a fort

If you’re worried about your kids being out and about around the neighborhood then let them build a fort in the backyard instead. It can be as simple or elaborate as they want, from using big cardboard boxes to actually constructing a wooden fort, and they’ll have a blast making their own personal play space.

4.      Get together with the neighborhood kids

Talk to other parents or nannies in the neighborhood and set up times that all the kids can get together and play different games outside, like dodge ball, freeze tag, or hide and seek. This not only gets everyone outdoors and playing but is also a good opportunity to get closer with your neighbors.

5.      Go camping

A great way to get kids to begin to appreciate using their imaginations and playing outdoors is by taking a camping trip. Leave all the technology at home and spend time exploring the camp areas and playing games together during the day and sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows for s’mores and telling stories at night. 

Spending time playing outside in the sunshine and interacting with other kids is good for the soul, and too many of our kids aren’t getting enough of it these days. It’s up to you to make sure that your kids don’t fall victim to holing up indoors all day everyday wrapped up in technology.



Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of nanny service. She can be reachable at saradawkins61ATgmail.com.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bowdabra National Craft Month Party

Bowdabra is celebrating National Craft Month in grand style with a HUGE giveaways, blog features, daily ribbon and bow-making tutorials, and link sharing.   What does all that mean for you? P-A-R-T-Y!
The Crafty & Hobby Association (CHA) created national Craft Month in 1994 to celebrate crafting.   In the 8 years since its conception, National Craft Month has grown to be recognized internationally with millions of crafters and craft businesses celebrating creativity and crafting in the month of March.
Visit the Bowdabra Blog each day in March for new ways to enter in their month long giveaway.
In celebration of National Craft Month and the many uses of ribbon Bowdabra is giving away three prize packages.

-First Prize $150 of assorted Morex Ribbon (Includes the gorgeous European Art Fleur Ribbon)
-Second Prize the Bowdabra, the Mini Bowdabra, and the Hair Bow Tool Ruler
-Third Prize the Mini Bowdabra and the Hair Bow Tool & Ruler
Click here to learn how you can enter (DAILY) to win these great prizes!
Bowdabra’s Friends and Featured Bloggers will be sharing a Bowdabra sponsored ribbon or bow-making tutorials on their blog in the month of March.   By commenting on the Bowdabra sponsored tutorials you will have more chances and entries into the huge Bowdabra giveaway prize packages.
How do you know which blogs are Bowdabra’s Friends and Featured Bloggers?  Look for badges like this one!


Yes! Mommy Rantings is a proud friend of Bowdabra’s and I will be hosting a Bowdabra Bow-Making Tutorial on March 21st.  Visit the Bowdabra Blog every day in March to enter their giveaways.  And, of course, make sure to visit me on March 21st for the Bowdabra tutorial and additional giveaway entry opportunities.



The Differences Between Parents and Grandparents That Can Help Your Child

“A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.”- Author Unknown


Parents often find themselves in the awkward position of negotiating rules for their children with their own parents. Each generation has its own set of parenting advice, fads and safety concerns. Odds are good that eventually you’ll have a disagreement with your child’s grandparents about child-rearing, nutrition or safety.

While it’s important to stand your ground on important safety issues and to ensure that there is some consistency between parents’ and grandparents’ houses, not all differences between parents and grandparents are bad. Your child can actually benefit from being exposed to different lifestyles, customs and beliefs. Here are 3 ways the differences between you and your child’s grandparents can actually encourage psychological and intellectual development in your child.  

Critical Thinking Skills

Perhaps your parents are devoutly religious and you’re raising a more liberal-minded child. Or maybe your parents were partying hippies and you’re a hard-working disciplinarian. Being exposed to differences in religious, political and cultural beliefs can actually encourage critical thinking skills in your child.

You might worry about your child’s grandparents indoctrinating her to a perspective that you find offensive or out-dated. But unless your child is living with her grandparents, odds are good that she’ll be more inclined to adopt her parents’ perspective. Being exposed to different viewpoints, however, can encourage her to understand other people’s thinking, to defend her own beliefs and to think critically about important issues.  

Understanding Rules

Although grandparents are well-known for their tendency to spoil their grandkids, some grandparents are actually stricter than their grandchildrens’ parents. While basic rules about how to treat people, honesty and kindness should be encouraged in both houses, some differences regarding manners, bedtimes and television are bound to spring up.

These minor differences in rules can actually help your child become an ethical person. Children who understand that some rules are a result of tradition and some are a result of basic, fundamental codes are better-equipped to make good moral decisions. Further, encouraging your child to respect the rules at both houses can help her to become sensitive to the differences that exist between different people, which promotes tolerance.  

Flexibility

Most parents know that children thrive in a predictable, routine environment. Understandably, then, it can be frustrating when grandparents alter bedtimes, change your child’s diet and otherwise alter the routine your child thrives under. However, an important part of growing in a mature adult is the ability to be flexible. Children should be able to thrive in a variety of environments, and slight alterations in a child’s routine can actually make him more resilient.

Sleeping in a bed with a trundle instead of her usual bed is not going to harm your child. Instead, it may make her better equipped to adapt to a variety of sleeping circumstances and sleep better during the night. Similarly, minor changes in diet simply teach your child to accept and appreciate new and different foods.

Flexibility is also key to having fun. Adults who are rigidly set in their ways struggle to adapt to changes in jobs and family structure and may suffer from depression as a result. Spontaneity and adaptability are both skills your child can learn when she has to adjust to a different environment at her grandparents’ house.

We’ve all heard that in life and in parenting it’s wise to choose our battles. Before you draw a line in the sand with your child’s grandparents, consider the possible benefits to your child of adapting to different environments. The changes that are so stressful to you might actually end up teaching your child new skills that will serve him well in adulthood.  


About the Author: Christobel Edwards became a grandmother two years ago and views this development as an important next step in life. She’s also learning to keep her mouth shut! She loves buying things for her grandchild and recently bought her bunk beds with stairs. This was a better choice than the Captains Bed design as it meant that if her daughter had another child the bunk beds would accommodate both children.

Rush Limbaugh's Shocking Bashing of Sandra Fluke: Obama Calls Her the "Victim"

Rush Limbaugh's bashing of Sandra Fluke, a 3-year Georgetown University law student, was completely uncalled for! And, he went far beyond "uncalled for"...what he said about Fluke was outrageous!

The Scoop

If you haven't heard about this craziness, I'll give you a quick glimpse at the recent news story.  Basically, she was addressing Congress on the behalf of Law Students for Reproductive Justice to state the organization's viewpoint about the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulation. Fluke, a "reproductive rights activist", was taking a stand for women, plain and simple, because we shouldn't HAVE to worry whether our health care insurance will over our contraception or not. (Fluke's statement to Congress last week can be read here.)

In my opinion, it doesn't matter who you are and why you need contraception. Some women need it for medical reasons, while others use it for the obvious reason: to make sure they don't get pregnant. So, for mothers like me, for instance, who have seven children and want to take a break for a while, but don't want to go to extremes and get their tubes tied...what do we do? If our health care insurance won't cover it, then we'll have to figure out how to add the cost of our birth control into our monthly budget.

For people like Fluke's friend, who has ovarian cysts and needs the birth control medication to control them, or another woman who needs it to treat her seizures, contraception is not a choice - it's a requirement!

Her viewpoint has now been turned into a religious and political argument, striking nerves across the country - and even worse: Fluke is being personally attacked and degraded for speaking her mind.

The Bashing

Upon hearing Sandra Fluke's perspective, Rush Limbaugh took her plea to Congress as a ploy to ask the government to fund her college sex-capades. He took it all the way to a personal level; forget the fact that she was representing the views of an entire organization - and women, in general! He called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" and rambled on and on about his assumptions about her personal sex life.

On Wednesday, Limbaugh announced:

"What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."

On Thursday, the fool went even further with his disgusting comments:

"So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch."

Say What?!?!?!

And he isn't planning to offer any type of apology for his insults. Apparently, though, he did take his words back by adding yet another degrading comment: "OK, she’s not a slut, she’s round-heeled", another way of calling a woman "loose".

Another Idiotic Female Basher

Craig Bannister, a pompous looking dummy at CNSnews, also took Fluke's words out of context:


Then, he went on to quote and twist Fluke's estimated figure of $3000 that contraceptives cost a law student in college:

"At a dollar a condom if she shops at CVS pharmacy’s website, that $3,000 would buy her 3,000 condoms – or, 1,000 a year. (By the way, why does CVS.com list the weight of its condom products in terms of pounds?)

Assuming it’s not a leap year, that’s 1,000 divided by 365 – or having sex 2.74 times a day, every day, for three straight years. And, I thought Georgetown was a Catholic university where women might be prone to shun casual, unmarried sex. At least its health insurance doesn't cover contraception (that which you subsidize, you get more of, you know)."

The two obviously uneducated men are not the only people who bashed Sandra Fluke. As a matter of fact, everyone has a pretty strong opinion about the subject matter at hand, including religious organizations and political parties.

Despite the standpoint, religious, political, or ethical, women need access to contraceptives, and they should not suffer financially. Why are we even debating whether insurance should cover contraceptives or not?


But What It Boils Down To...

It seems a lot of people have missed the point completely. It's not about a bunch of college hussies getting their groove on with funding from the good old U.S. government. According to this article, our government sends hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called "aid" money to Egypt EVERY YEAR, but doesn't want to help women be able to afford the contraception that is essential in life, if not a medical necessity! What is wrong with this picture?

Okay, let's put men in our shoes for a moment. How about that? Jump into our shoes for a few days, to the men who wouldn't know the difference between a maxi pad and a pregnancy test, and let's see where you stand on the subject when you see it from our perspective. We not only have to think about ourselves, we also have to think about our daughters. Excuse me for saying it, but men have no business deciding ANYTHING about women's health. Some of us need contraception to regulate our systems and reduce the pain associated with monthly craps. How can men even relate to that? 

Presidential Support

Thank goodness there are men in this world who support women! President Obama actually called Sandra Fluke to ask her if she was OK after the verbal (and emotional) beating that she sustained. He also told her to pass on the message to her parents that they should be proud of her.

Also, Georgetown's president John J. DeGioia backed Fluke up. He wrote in an email:

“She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position – including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels – responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.”

Fluke says They're Trying to Silence Her
  
Name-calling is generally a way to shut someone up, or embarrass them to the point of making them cower away from their standpoint, right? When you call a woman a "slut", she's probably going to do one of two things: she's going to cower away and hide from the confrontation or she's going to slap you, spit in your face and continue to stand her ground. 

I applaud Sandra Fluke for not cowering - for continuing to stand up for what she believes in, what the Law Students for Reproductive Justice believe in, and what women, in general, need someone to fight for. Fluke says that the verbal assaults were "an attempt to silence me and to silence women in general from speaking out about their reproductive healthcare needs.

"What has been made clear," she said, "is that women will not be silenced on this issue, and neither will the men who support them."

My Opinion & Repercussions


If you feel like I do, you'll be happy to hear that Rush Limbaugh is already getting pounced on. Sleep Train and Select Comfort, two sponsors of his program, yanked their advertising during the program, saying that the things that Rush Limbaugh said did not align with their values. Next to walk were the basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Quicken Loans.

However, here's the deal...curiosity killed the cat. Although "bad press" is not necessarily good, it can sure stir up the curiosity of people, attract them to the show to see what this idiot says next, and that's good for ratings, right? Viewers increase, ratings go up. And, what do advertisers look for? Shows with ratings. Don't watch his show. Don't give him any airtime in your house. He is seriously a sicko.

I don't think men should be able to have any say AT ALL on the subject of contraceptives! Why should they? It's not their bodies! Until "they" come up with a way for men to be the bearer of children and monthly visitors, they need to sit back and let the women vote on female-only policies and mandates!

I am disgusted that the female bashers whom I talked about earlier are even given airtime on television, and especially all over the Internet, for their degrading and asinine comments and I can't wait to watch the beat down that they get for letting their mouths run without thinking of possible consequences. I'm always telling my kids, "Think before you speak." That pertains to big-mouthed idiots on the television and radio, too.

I can tell you right now: the issue of health insurance coverage for contraceptives isn't going down without a fight between extremists across the country.

And, what do you bet Sandra Fluke is going to use her law degree to sue some people, stay in the spotlight to gain more exposure, and then start vying for a seat somewhere in government?


Friday, March 2, 2012

Evenflo's Big Kid Amp Review

It never ceases to amaze me how excited little people get when a box comes in the mail...and it's adorable to see the reactions when something for them is in the box! This time, it was Evenflo's Big Kid Amp. The bright red color and sleek appearance had my boys ready to give it a whirl immediately, right in the middle of the living room floor!

A sleek red one for any child!


I'm not going to bore you with the importance of keeping children in safety seats in vehicles, statistics on how many children are hurt each year from not being properly harnessed, or why older children still need to be in a booster seat while they're in the car...because you already know the answers! So, I'm going to skip right to the chase and tell you the reasons I love the Big Kid Amp.

Seat Comfort

The first thing I checked was how comfy the padding felt, because when you're riding around with kids in tow, if they're uncomfortable, you can forget about a smooth ride. There is plenty of soft cushion for your "big kid" on the seat of the Big Kid Amp and the padding is also removable for easy cleaning.

Cool blue for your boy!


Armrests

The armrests, although many are hard and not-so-comfy, are referred to as "Softtouch" arm rests, and are sturdy, yet foamy feeling for children who like to hang on while you're driving.


Cup Holders

One issue that has always been a problem with car seats is the cup holders - they usually aren't big enough for many of the sippy cups that we bring with us! I immediately noticed the elastic-y, flexible, grippy cup holders that can accommodate any size sippy cup. I love that!

A hot pink one for your girl!

Installation

Installation is fairly simple. The Big Kid Amp comes equipped with the tandem belt and clip, and the seat is supposed to be used with a regular car seat belt.

Who Can Use It?

The Big Kid Amp is made for children who are 40-110lbs and up to 57 inches.

Where Can You Find A Big Kid Amp?

You're going to find varying prices for the Big Kid Amp, depending on where you look and which color you like, but I was able to find it at Sears for only $24.99. Keep looking around - you may find a great deal on this sleek, sassy and super-comfy child safety seat for your "big kid".

Evenflo's Big Kid Amp gets a 5 stars from Mommy Rantings for comfort and safety.



I received a product for the purpose of this review. There was no monetary compensation for this post.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ocean Spray Fruit Flavored Snacks Review and My Blog Spark Giveaway!

Not all fruit snacks are created equal. I say this because there are some that are really soft and chewy, but have little to no taste, while others can be hard and difficult to chew, but they taste delicious! Then, there are the ones with fruity juices in them - my kids LOVE the juicy ones! But, wait! There's one that has the flavor of the juicy fruit snacks without the juice.



We had the opportunity to try out Ocean Spray Fruit Flavored Snacks. The kids said that they tasted just like the fruit snacks with the juice in the middle - they loved them! As a matter of fact, we were sent 6 boxes of the Berries and Cherries and I don't think they lasted two days in this house! (I even caught my husband sneaking them by the box!) They also have the "assorted fruit" flavor.

The Healthy Part

You can put Ocean Spray's fruit snacks on the "healthy snack" list, because they'll give your children their daily dose of Vitamin C and they're made with real fruit juice. Aha! And, kids don't know that the fruit snacks are good for them!

GIVEAWAY!

Did you say you wanted to try them for yourself? Here's your chance!

Ocean Spray and My Blog Spark have offered to giveaway Ocean Spray Fruit Snacks to one lucky Mommy Rantings reader! Here's what you need to do:

1) Leave a comment - What do you look for in a fruit snack? (Don't forget your email!)


Want extra entries? (Remember to leave a comment for each entry!)

1) Like Ocean Spray on Facebook.
2) Follow Ocean Spray on Twitter.
3) Like Mommy Rantings on Facebook.
4) Follow Mommy Rantings on Twitter.

This giveaway will end at 4pm EST sharp on March 7th! Good Luck!

This review and giveaway was sponsored by Ocean Spray and My Blog Spark. Thank you! No compensation was received and all opinions are truthful.


5 Signs of Spring: Spring 2012 Style Watch

\Bright colors and floral prints are popping up all over department stores and fashion runways alike, which can only mean one thing - spring is right around the corner! It’s time to pull out the shorts and sundresses, unbury that sandal collection and, of course, do a little shopping! Before you hit the mall, take note of these five popular looks and you’ll be able to tackle all of the Spring 2012 trends without breaking a sweat!

Pastels

Soft, pastel hues are spreading like wildfire this spring. Look for soft sorbet-like shades of green, yellow, pink, blue, and orange to add an element of feminine detailing to any look. Color-blocking, in which you contrast two sections of solid colored fabric, has already proven to be popular this season. If you’re afraid you’ll look like a giant Easter egg covered in pastels from head to toe (trust us, you won’t!) try a pastel handbag or clutch. Faux croc skin bags have been all over the runway this spring in an array of pastel shades.

Feminine Details

Femininity is queen this spring but that doesn’t mean she isn’t fiery. The Roaring ‘20s are ablaze in modern form with lace, sequins and fringe alongside pleated skirts, reminiscent of the ‘50s and the popular cat eye sunglasses of the ‘60s. Floral prints, pastel colors and pairing dress socks with heels all fall into this prominent spring style.

Bold Patterns

If you’re looking to stand out this spring, this vibrant trend is sure to be right up your alley. Geometric patterns in bright and colors are making their presence known this season. Think Missoni meets tribal prints, in shades of orange, blue, green, red, yellow, and brown. Tops, dresses, even nail polish designs in these bold patterns are already proving to be popular.

Earthy Inspirations

Show your love for the outdoors this spring with an earthy color palate and tribal details. Browns, oranges, and greens are popular colors for the season and have been seen both in patterns and color-blocking. Woven texture has been seen on handbags and accessories along with beads, fringe, and tassels on all articles of clothing. Tortoise sunglasses in retro and cat eye styles are also a popular part of this style.

Sporty Style

In contrast to the delicate pastels and soft lace detailing of the feminine trend, this spring’s sporty style is here to make a statement. Dominant lines, spades, and stripes in strong colors like red, black, and white bring a little edge to the season. Zipper details, perforated fabrics, and sporty heels all work together to complete this look. Athletic embellishments on oversized bags and day clutches are also making their way into mainstream style.


Beth is a fashion writer who loves to keep up with the latest sunglass trends. This spring, white sunglasses (of the cat eye variety, of course!) and dress socks with heels have her heart. When she’s not tracking the latest trends, you can find Beth crafting or curled up with a good book.



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