Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eating On the Run? 6 Tips for Making the Right Choices

Cameron at Chick-fil-A  

Let’s face it: we don’t always have time to cook a healthy meal for our families. Whether it’s because of work, school or other obligations, cooking a full meal three times a day, seven days a week, just isn’t feasible. You may find yourself carting the kids around town only to find yourself deluged with the familiar chorus of “I’m hungry!”

Drive-thru fare may not be what you want for your children but it may be unavoidable. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional Happy Meal, you can make the right choices with a bit of forethought. 

Here are six tips for making the right choices when eating on the run with the kiddos:

Plan Ahead

If you know that you and the kids will be spending the day running errands, plan ahead to stave off the hungries. Pack a cooler full of chopped vegetables, chunks of fruit or even granola bars and yogurt cups. These light snacks can keep your children full enough to wait for a proper meal until you can make it home. Small bellies can easily be filled with a granola bar and a few pieces of fruit!

Take Time to Read the Menu 

When you do find yourself at the nearest fast-food restaurant, take time to read and understand the menu. Instead of a breaded chicken sandwich, order your kids one that is grilled. Rather than a side of fries, look for a side salad or apple dippers. When you’re at the drive-thru, avoid fat-laden beverages like milkshakes and opt for a bottle of water or two percent milk instead.

Supersized Portions 

Did you know that a regular sized portion at a fast-food restaurant is actually larger than an actual serving size when it comes to caloric content? There is never a time that it’s okay to super-size your meal! For a startling example, one order of super-size fries at McDonald’s packs a whopping 610 calories. A moderately active toddler needs between 1,000 and 1,400 calories per day. One pit-stop at McDonald’s could give them more than half of their daily caloric intake requirement!

Skip the Buffet 

Buffets are popular because you can get in and out as quickly as if you were going the fast-food restaurant. Many people are more apt to make unhealthy choices at a buffet that at almost any other restaurant. If you must stop at a buffet, choose the salad and fruit bars over the carb-laden hot foods bar.

Make a List

When you’ve got the time, sit down with your computer and make a list of the healthier choices at the restaurants nearby. All of the popular fast-food chains have menus online that are very easy to find. Keep the list on your car’s visor so that you can refer to it whenever you need to. Doing so will save you time from having to scrutinize the menu every time you stop for lunch.

Undress Your Food 

When you pull into your local Burger King, Subway or McDonald’s, think about ways that you can undress your food to make it healthier. Skipping sauces, opting for no cheese and even choosing flatbread over regular can help save on fat and calories. Who wants Big Mac sauce finger-painted all over the back seat anyway?

You obviously don’t want to take your kids out for a quick meal on a regular basis but, when it can’t be helped, knowing how to choose the healthiest options is in everyone’s benefit. One of the best things you can do is to choose healthy options for yourself! Remember that you are the best example for your wee ones.

Renee Varney is a freelance blogger and occasionally writes for a site she loves using to find local Food Deliveries using their Chicago Delivery directory. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

5 Apps Moms Can’t Live Without

Playing with daddys smartphone
Busy moms know better than anyone else how hectic life can be. Smart busy moms take help in any form that it comes in! If you’ve got a smartphone, help is only a tap away. From tracking your gas mileage to entertaining toddlers, there are tons of great apps out there geared towards moms who can do with a bit of assistance. 

If this sounds like you, here are five apps that you can’t live without:

1. Grocery IQ

Do you think that you spend more time in the grocery store than you really need to? An extended grocery shopping trip with a toddler in tow can be a hassle. This app will cut down on your shopping time drastically. Sit home, make your list, get in the store and get out of the store; it’s that simple! You can add things to your app by scanning barcodes, manually entering the barcode or typing in the name of the items you need to purchase. The app is so customizable that it borders on insane! Be sure to check out the coupons tab to print coupons out for the items you will be buying before you leave the house.

2. Moo, Baa, La La La!

Do you frequently find yourself needing to keep your toddler entertained? Long waits in the doctor’s office and too long car rides can quickly bore your children to the point of misbehavior. This app, like the popular board book of the same name, allows your children to read the book with narration or without. Your children can also hear specific words read out loud simply by tapping on them. The app is a great one if you need to keep your toddler entertained so you can get something accomplished.

3. Pat the Bunny

Very similar to the well-known, tactile children’s book, this app will read to your child or allow them to read on their own. You can even record yourself reading the story! As your children read the story, or have it read to them, they can paint the page that they are on. By simply swiping their finger across the screen, the illustrations will come to life with color.

4. Every Day First Aid HD Lite

It’s the rare mom who doesn’t have to deal with a scraped knee or a bruised elbow. Do you know what to do if your kids suffer injuries that are a bit more serious? With this application on your mobile device, you’ll be prepared for virtually any emergency. The information is very well organized and concise. The app is perfect for the busy mom on the go.

5. Car Care   

As a mom, you may find yourself driving for the better part of the day. Whether you’re dropping the kids off at the sitters, picking them up from school or making sure they get to their lessons on time, you can feel like you spend more time in your car than you do in your home.

Car Care is a fantastic app that lets you track fuel economy, sends you service reminders and allows you to transfer data back and forth from your iPhone to your computer. No matter what type of fuel you use, you can calculate your fuel’s performance with this handy app and, as a bonus; you can rest assured that you’ll never miss another oil change thanks to the handy reminder feature.

If you spend more time doing for others than you do for yourself, you can count yourself among one of the millions of busy moms in America. Downloading these five apps onto your mobile device will not only save you time, but could save your sanity as well!

Jenny Wilkes is a full time mom and part time freelance blogger for as well as a regular poster on Forum. They helped her move their family into the new house with ease!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saline Ambassador - Sharing Some Boogie Love!

We're right smack in the middle of the sniffling, coughing, aching, wheezing, fever and chills season...and just this past Saturday after an anticipation-filled week of waiting, I received the tell-tale green box that many other Saline Ambassadors have been anxiously awaiting. It was chock full of everything Boogie Wipe!

Temper tantrums and tears...

I'm going to give you a little insight into our exclusive Saline Ambassador Facebook group. When the announcement went out that the first round of boxes were going to be delivered, a whole group of anxious ambassadors started running to their Fed-Ex delivery truck each day to see if the box arrived. One by one, excited ambassadors started to announce the receipt of their long awaited box...Many of us shed tears, threw temper tantrums, stomped our feet, and essentially acted like our toddlers when we realized that our bright green, can't-miss-it box wasn't on the Fed-Ex delivery truck each day.

As the Facebook group members updated their creative statuses to share their party ideas (one was a party in the park!) and other ways to spread the word - and create an awareness - about the items in the box, like photos of invitations to parties and stickers, the anticipation grew thicker...

You could literally feel the anticipation growing as more ambassadors received their boxes and others who had yet to receive their boxes compared their geographic location with others who had received their box...wondering how someone in the same town could get their box while others were still waiting. As more and more people received their boxes, parties were being planned, stickers and invitations were being printed and ideas were being tossed around to help other ambassadors figure out how to effectively promote our (and our children's) favorite Boogie Wipes.

Why We Love Boogie Wipes

So, what's all the hype about? What kind of product could have moms running out to the Fed-Ex delivery truck and hugging and kissing the delivery man as he hands over a notorious green box? (Bet that makes some people out there want to work for Fed Ex, huh?) How could a bright-green, boogie colored box have parents around the entire country peeking out their windows each day in hopes of a special delivery? What is it that has this Facebook group is buzzing about? Parties in the park? What could possibly be inside this box?

If you're not aware of Saline's amazing product, Boogie Wipes, you're going to want to run to the store and check them out! Why do we love Saline? Well, of course, it's because they've come up with the softest, most soothing tissues for runny, sore noses - Boogie Wipes! What makes them the best for little (and big) noses? 

As you see above, Boogie Wipes come in little single-use packets for easy portability (they also come in mini-baby-wipes type packaging), and they all smell fab, but if you would rather not have an aroma stuck to your nose, you can get the unscented Boogie Wipes. I can tell you from experience, though...when you have a sore nose  and stuffy sinuses in the middle of spring from the colds and the allergies, that light scent of grape or menthol is super soothing.

Then! Rather than rubbing rough, dry tissue (and I don't care if they're coated with cocoa butter and aloe), Boogie Wipes are wet and soft, infused with natural saline, aloe and vitamin E (yes, the vitamin that protects body tissue from damage!). So, as soon as you use one, your nose feels immediate relief and the relief lasts.

The BEST part of Boogie Wipes, though...

As a mom or a dad, the last thing you want to do is wipe your little one's sore nose with any type of tissue. I can tell you that my little ones start fighting the tissue at a young age, we're talking months old, and that's because they learn at a young age how rough a tissue feels on their sore little nose. The BEST part of Boogie Wipes is that you can forget the guilt and apologies that come along with wiping your child's nose. As a matter of fact, my children get excited about using the Boogie Wipes.

And, they can't wait to share sample packs with their friends and teachers at school. So, let the Boogie Wipes parties begin!

Have fun, my fellow Saline Ambassadors!

I am a Saline brand ambassador, and although I was provided a big green box of sample Boogie Wipes to share with our party and potential future Boogie Wipe lovers, I was not required to write a post on Mommy Rantings. All opinions are exclusively based on experience with the product and no compensation was paid for this post.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Unique Gifts for Mother's Day from the Husband - How EdenFantasys Can Boost a Marriage

Okay, so this is definitely a little out of the box, but why not think out of the box for your wife on Mother's Day and get her something from Bring that flame back this Mother's Day, somewhere between running around after (and with) the kids, tending to the everyday demands of life, and trying to balance the needs of a marriage amidst all of the chaos.

Eden Cafe  

Add Something to the Marriage on Mother's Day

And, as a woman (and mother) who has been married for 15 years now, I'm well aware that it takes time and effort to keep a marriage strong and healthy. That's why on Mother's Day, husbands should do a little something special for their wives...and add some sugar and spice to the marriage at the same time. Forget the thoughtless acts of going to the nearest convenience store or supermarket to find the best bunch of flowers at the best price and a generic Mother's Day card to accompany them.

No! Your wife deserves more thought than that! The mother of your children??? Come on!

Now, I understand that there are women who expect flowers and chocolates on Mother's Day....and some unique gifts from the children that were made during art class at school.

There are the mothers who want to kick back and be catered to (that's me!) on Mother's Day.

AND, there are also women who are...let's just say "sensitive" about their sensuality, so this is obviously not the perfect answer for every wife on Mother's Day. However, I would place a bet that there's something in their store that she would love! Lotions and candles with yummy scents...

Then, there are the women who would knock their husband out for doing some online shopping at a store like EdenFantasys. To those women: take it from me, you're missing out! (Honey, you can shop there for me anytime!)

For the Rest of the Women...

But I also know that there are plenty of women out there who would be excited to receive a gift from EdenFantasys. (Don't let the fact that she hides the excitement from you deter you.) And, I'm not saying that you have to go and buy the craziest, far-out product in their line-up - here's where "it's the thought that counts"...

I'm talking about a good, old-fashioned massage on Mother's Day after the kids go to bed (doesn't that sound nice, ladies?), complete with the help of this message therapy kit.
Massage Therapy Kit

What makes this one so special? You can give her a choice of five different natural essential oils infused with vitamin E (so good for the skin!):

  • Serenity 
  • Pleasure Garden 
  • Sweet Almond 
  • Healing Blend 
  • Soaring Spirit
This set is only $27.99 - but don't just buy it and forget it! Make sure you give her that well-deserved massage the night of Mother's Day when the little tigers have settled into bed. That intimacy and obvious display of love is definitely a marriage booster on Mother's Day.

beeswax aromatherapy candle

Add a romantic touch with one - or a few - of the specialty beeswax aromatherapy candles, (which happen to be marked down from $13.99 to $6.00 right now) and you may just win a Husband of the Month award from your wife when the night is said and done...or a reward of some form or another...that part's up to you!

Good luck finding the perfect gift for that special lady on Mother's Day, but don't forget that quality time with her - and making her feel special - can also be just as important as the gift. 

Thank you, EdenFantasys, for the gift card code! All opinions expressed in this post are not influenced by the gift card. I have worked with EdenFantasys for a couple of years now and love their products!

Pillsbury and #MyBlogSpark Giveaway Winner Announcement!

Drummmmmrrrroollllll please!

And the winner of the Pillsbury and #MyBlogSpark Giveaway is:

Miss Carli from, you are the winner! I have an email coming out to you now. Congrats! You're gonna love the gift pack!

Kidz Bop 21 and Kidz Bop Ultimate Hits (Review and Giveaway!)

There are many things to be said about music and children.

With seven children in the house, there is usually someone playing music somewhere in the house. One thing is for sure in our house...the children, including our sweet four (almost five) year old and our two year old son were even jammin' out to the songs on the Kidz Bop CD's.

I almost collapsed laughing when I realized that the two little guys knew all of the words to some of the songs...apparently learned while listening to music with their older siblings. Because Kidz Bop, if you live under a rock and have never heard of these CD's before, pick popular songs that the kids are listening to on the radio and then they have a group of kids sing the songs for the CD, rather than the original singers on the radio. It's popular pop songs meets children's karaoke, in a way.

We received Kidz Bop 21 a few weeks ago, and when my husband popped the CD in, all of the children started to dance around and sing to it. It's an immediate party in my living room! 

Kidz Bop 21  

Kidz Bop 21 is already available for purchase, and features the following songs:

  • Party Rock Anthem
  • Moves Like Jagger
  • The Edge of Glory
  • Good Life
  • Without You
  • Fly
  • Hello
  • Many More!

Kidz Bop Ultimate Hits

Kidz Bop Ultimate Hits will release on May 8th (yes, I already received my copy!). A usual, my children were ecstatic to get it in the mail and couldn't wait to pop it in and sing along to the following hits:

  • Hey Soul Sister
  • Single Ladies
  • You Belong With
  • DJ's Got Us Falling In Love
  • You'll have to buy it - OR WIN IT - to find out more!

Now, my kids want to take the CD's in the van when we go places and "jam" to their "tunes" as we "cruise"...


And, now your kids can jam out to their tunes with Kidz Bop, because TWO lucky Mommy Rantings readers will win a fresh-off-the-press copy of the yet-to-be-released Kidz Bop Ultimate Hits, right here! Your kids are going to love it!

Two winners will be chosen randomly from the comment section below. Here's how to enter:

1) Like Mommy Rantings on Facebook. (mandatory entry)

You said you want more entries?

2) Leave a quick comment to tell us how your kids react to music. (one entry)
3) Subscribe to Mommy Rantings newsletter (top left hand corner of the site, under Pinterest button). (one entry)
4) Tweet this giveaway. (one entry)
5) Share this giveaway on Facebook (there's a handy share button at the top of this post). (two entries)
5) Blog about this giveaway (five entries)

Leave a separate comment for each entry.

Please be sure to post your email address in your comments so I can contact you if you win!

This giveaway will end on April 30th at midnight EST. Good Luck!

We were provided Kidz Bop Ultimate Hits and Kidz Bop 21 CD's to review, as well as the CD's for giveaway. No compensation was provided for this review.

How Stay-At-Home Parents Stay in the Business World

Just because you’re home with your kids now, doesn’t mean you’ll be forever sequestered in your house. Or perhaps working from home is exactly what you want. In either case, you still need to be able to compete with your on-premises counterparts for jobs, raises and promotions.
Even if you currently work from home now--no small feat when you’ve got a brood of young ones threatening mayhem with mustard on a daily basis--the marketplace is changing almost daily. So how do you beat out job candidates who probably don’t have any gaps in their resumes for things like childbirth or being a dad? 

Fortunately, pursuing new skills, a career or in a new field or that degree you’ve always wanted is far more accessible these days thanks to online educational programs. No longer do you have to drop off the kids with a sitter and drive across town to sit in class every other day. Online courses covering a multitude of areas are available and you can earn full certifications and degrees while sitting at your own computer. (Sometimes even with one eye trained on the kids.) There are lots of programs to choose from, but several fields in particular lend themselves well to online study.

Degrees in Education

Dad working hard
Believe it or not, you can become a licensed teacher by taking online classes. You’ll have to do your student teaching outside in a traditional classroom, but much of your coursework can be done online. If you already have that licensure, you can improve your credentials by earning an online masters degree or taking required continuing education courses online. 

Business and Accounting

You can find numerous opportunities for online education in the field of business. Many programs will allow you to earn certifications such as Six Sigma, which are great to add to an existing degree. You’ll also find complete degree programs available online for business, finance, accounting, and other areas. You can train to become a bookkeeper or a CPA. Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degrees are also extremely popular online options as well.

Medical Careers
Working Mama

Careers in health care lend themselves well to the hybrid model of online study paired with hands-on field experience. Nursing is one area where you can do a significant amount of your coursework online before your hands-on experience at a local facility. You can also study at home to become a medical coder or a medical transcriptionist, and then work professionally from home as well. Some schools offer online degrees in health care administration, or classes that can improve or help you renew your existing credentials.

Information Technology

A natural place to learn computer skills is, of course, online at a computer. You’ll gain plenty of hands-on experience right at your own desk as you become certified in the use of specific programs, or in web design or in programming. To gain the actual certifications you’ll need to pass the industry standard exams, but that’s a small price to pay when you’ve been able to complete your coursework online. You can even earn entire information technology degrees online.

The Next Step

Before you commit to any courses, spend some time exploring your options, and don’t sell your current skills and past experience short. You may think you’re limited because you’ve only worked in retail. That might be just the foundation you need for a career in marketing. A past in veterinary care? Could be the perfect background for a future in health care. Like any schooling, online education requires hard work and dedication. You’ll find yourself working at odd spare moments—during nap time, or while the kids are enjoying a video. And, as usual, probably still making sure everybody gets what they want while you sacrifice. But the hard work and persistence will pay off you’ve got that certificate or diploma and you finally get the job of your dreams, something you really want. 

It’s about time, don’t you think?

Jennifer Hayes is a mother of three and a part-time financial advisor earning her accounting online degree from the comfort of home. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Activities and Ideas for the Kids

Happy Earth Day!

It doesn't take a lot to teach your children to embrace Earth Day and celebrate it. With these strange weather patterns, obvious air pollution, and most of our everyday activities wreaking havoc on the only planet we can call home, we better teach our children how to take better care of our Earth!

Here's some quick and easy things you can do this afternoon with your kids to celebrate Earth Day and teach them a little something about giving back to the only planet we have:

  • Take your children out in the yard/neighborhood and pick up trash and rake old leaves into bags - a little neighborhood clean-up.
  • Plant something in the yard - you know that plants are great for the air that we breath (and our air is a big part of our Earth). You can plant some pretty spring flowers or go all out and plant a tree.
  • Gather up all of those cans and bottles that have been collecting around the house and take the children to the recycle center to return them.
Or, you can check out some teacher resources for Earth Day activities here:

Whichever way you decide to share Earth Day with your children, just be sure to remind them that we are in charge of taking care of the Earth - and it's the only one we're going to get!

5 Things to Do Before You Drive Cross Country

Every situation is a learning experience in our home. This summer my daughter and I decided to take a cross-country trip to see my parents in Northern California. It would be the first time we took a long road trip together, and I wanted to make sure we had a plan. While preparing for it, I got the idea to include my daughter in the planning. I could only imagine her all alone, and stuck on a road someplace. This was the perfect way to teach her how to avoid that type of situation, so I made it a priority to educate her on the planning process.  

Before the Trip Before going on the trip, I told her we needed to plan for the trip. I explained how important it was to be ready for anything. Then we made a list of what was necessary:
  • Plan a route and an alternative. Don't rely on GPS. Bring maps. Then, tell someone exactly where you are going.
  • Bring a cell phone that is charged and charging devices for the vehicle.
  • Dress comfortably for the trip but make sure you keep layers of clothing in the car for temperature changes.
  • We took the vehicle in for an inspection and oil change to ensure everything was working properly.
  • Fill up the tank near home and then plan to stop when it gets to 1/3 of a tank.
Preparing the vehicle before you hit the road is important. We did this, then started to plan for the worst.

If Something Happens on the Road The next step was to plan for a breakdown. As two people who are unfamiliar with vehicle mechanics, I stressed the importance of these steps. There are many things you can handle on your own, but having the right plan in place can help you deal with those unexpected situations.

1. Call for help immediately. 911 is a must in emergencies.  
2. Run the vehicle minimally to keep temperature comfortable. Keep windows open a bit.  
3. Stay in the car. If you have to get out, use the passenger side door.  
4. Keep the hazard lights on.
5. Use flares if you have them, but use them when you think help is on the way.
We talked about the various types of problems that could happen, such as sliding into the ditch or an engine failure. I made sure she understood that it was best to get help and using a cell phone to contact a towing service, or another professional in these situations, is never a bad option.

Survival Equipment Though we were taking major roads to our location, you never know what could happen along the route. I wanted to make sure my daughter knew what to do to plan for survival in the car. As I like to say, "It pays to plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark." 

Here is what I shared with my daughter.  

1. Have an auto survival kitin the car. Hands down, this is the most important item - and you may want two!
2. Have a box of items you may need in the backseat, including water and nonperishable food to last two days.  
3. Have flares in the vehicle along with fluorescent road markers.
4. Have blankets, a small shovel and chains for the tires in cold weather.  
5. Have a secondary way of charging a cell phone. We have a solar battery charger that we bring with us as well.  

All of this is important to have and not something to avoid. 

I talked to my daughter about the importance of always ensuring your vehicle can protect you in the event of being stuck. I do feel that with proper encouragement and hands on learning, you can prepare your child for a worst case scenario.  

About the Author Having been through a tornado, plane crash, tsunami evacuation, and over 40 years of bitter winters, Duncan Morrison has some experience with assessing the potential for a disaster and preparing for it. To him, an auto survival kit and an emergency home kit are essentials tools. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of emergency preparedness and survival planning with others. He also loves spending time with his family and friends, including his dog Sammy, and working out.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Honeymoon vs. Familymoon

"Are We There Yet?"

Murphy Family Cruise

Traditionally speaking, kids are not part of the honeymoon package. After all, a honeymoon is for the new couple to spend time together without other distractions to weigh them down. But these days, so many people have children from previous relationships that jotting off to Acapulco without a care in the world isn’t as easy as it sounds. Frankly, bringing the kids along for the honeymoon can be a terrific solution. Some couples do this for practical reasons; having the kids in tow means they won’t have to leave them with someone else. But honeymooning all together can also give a new family an opportunity to build relationships with each other.

The Ideal Balance

Kids on Key West
One approach to planning a honeymoon with your kids is to look for destinations that offer activities that will suit everyone’s needs. Look for activities for the whole family as well as activities that parents and kids can participate in separately. You’ll be able to make new memories together as a family, as well as have some separate adult time for yourselves.

Finding the perfect place for this all to happen may be easier said than done, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. For example, many cruise ships and resorts offer this kind of vacation package. You can enjoy swimming, beach time, meals, or other family events together. Separately, your kids can participate in supervised activities while you two lovebirds have the honeymoon time together you’ve dreamed of. Be sure the child supervision you expect is clearly covered before you book.

Bring a Sitter Along

Another approach to the familymoon is to bring a responsible family member or friend along to watch the kids. Maybe your parents would enjoy taking your kids to the beach during the day while you and your new spouse hit the spa, and then join you for dinner and a family-friendly show in the evening. Another popular option is to have your parents keep the kids home with them for a few days while you enjoy your honeymoon alone, and then have everyone join you on your honeymoon for family-oriented activities.

Kid-Friendly Destinations

Some vacation spots seem to have been made for families with kids. Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida are two that easily come to mind. These parks as well as the surrounding hotels will have suggestions for nanny services and supervised children’s activities, so you and your spouse can have some time alone.

Beaches resorts in the Caribbean offer supervised programs for children through age 12. There are also teen hangout areas for the older kids. They create a perfect opportunity for the adults to slip away for some alone-time.

A Hawaiian getaway can provide a similar environment. Look for hotel resorts that have kid’s camp activities. The Grand Wailea on the island of Maui offers kids’ workshops and supervised activities from the morning until late in the evening. The Hilton Hawaiian Village at Waikiki Beach features Camp Penguin, a day camp program for kids ages 5 to 12.

The Familymoon

Wedding rings
Bringing your kids along on your honeymoon may not be the romantic ideal you wanted, but it doesn’t have to spell disaster. With some ingenuity and an upbeat attitude, you can make your honeymoon into a special time for all the members of your new family. You’ll build new memories together and set the foundation for years to come, and isn’t that what marriage is all about?

Have you experienced the Familymoon? We'd love to hear what you have to say about the Honeymoon vs. the Familymoon! Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Wendy Fernandez is a traveling reporter and in her spare time she blogs for a site she highly recommends checking out if you're planning a honeymoon or just a vacation to an exotic place. They have all sorts of guides to help plan a trip to Bali or Las Vegas.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Should You Toss Your Teen the Keys?

"Can I take the car?" 

New Drivers

These are perhaps the dreaded words a parent of a new driver can hear. On one hand, you want to give your teen some freedom. On the other hand, you think about all that could go wrong and what effects that could have on your insurance rate - hopefully, in that order. Every state has some form of graduated licensing system that should give you at least a little peace of mind. It basically allows your teen driver to obtain on-road driving experience while minimizing risks. General provisions of a graduated license include:

• A certain amount of adult supervision (gotta love those words) required during the learner permit period.
• An extended learner period.
• Seat belt requirements for all passengers plus the driver.
• Restricted hours of driving during the initial driving period after the learner permit period.
  Restricted number of teen passengers permitting in the vehicle during the initial license period.

Even after they’re legal--and the DMV did say so--there are still a few things you should consider.

Talk To You Teen

Yes, at times, talking to your teen can seem like you’re talking to a wall, however, a discussion about his or her driving privileges should get their attention. Go over your rules for driving, not just the state’s. Ask that they repeat your rules back to you whenever you ask them to.  Your teen will no doubt think this is a bit excessive, but they tend to think that about any rules you dish out.
Communicate that any and all driving privileges can be revoked at your discretion. If getting a ticket or getting into a crash doesn’t scare them, losing their right to take the car might.

Creep in the Car

Drive With Your Teen

A surprise shot-gun call by mom or dad is a great way to monitor your child’s driving ability.  While tagging along announced may seem like the cat is out of the bag, most teens will reveal their inner driver sooner rather than later. If they’re on their way to pick up their friends and head out for ice cream, even better. This is a terrific time to check out their attentiveness, concentration, etc. Having friends in the car will give you an opportunity to at least get a glimpse of their driving skills when you’re not there. Don’t like what you see? Invoke your rules and pull the keys if necessary.

Monitor Your Teen

Some car companies now offer a system that will monitor teen driving usually placing a limit on speed. If you’ve got a new driver and you also happen to be in the market for a new car, you might want to consider putting that on your must-have list along with the lower lumbar massage feature. Another option is to have a GPS system installed in your vehicle that offers supporting software. Once activated, you can monitor the location of your car at any given moment from your home computer. It's up to you whether or not you let your teen know they're being monitored, but doing so might give them an extra incentive to be careful. And probably give them the creeps which might give you a chuckle.

Get Real Behind The Wheel (Altamont Raceway)

Insure Your Teen

While having another driver in the house to pick up your youngest from soccer or get milk when you’ve got something on the stove is a tempting thought, the increased premiums you’ll pay for adding an inexperienced driver to your policy will give just about any parent pause. But there are a few things you can do to keep those rates in check. Ask your agent about a good student discount. Insurance companies figure if a child is responsible enough to get consistently good grades, they’re probably responsible enough to obey the laws of the road. Look into teen driver safety classes.  You will have to cover the fees for these classes, but the result may be priceless. Another option is adding a speed monitoring device, or governor to your car. 

And finally, consider what car your teen drives. You’ve got to figure that they’ll be living at home and driving the vehicle you give them for at least a couple of years. A car with the latest safety features will cost you less in insurance for everyone in the family, and may be well worth the investment.

Author Sandy Landsford is an accountant and blogs for, a site where you can get cheap car insurance. Get a quote today! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dealing with Divorce: Making it Easier on Your Children

Going through a messy divorce is easily one of the most stressful and upsetting things an adult has to deal with in life. However, when there are children involved, the situation can become even more difficult, as it is not only the feelings of the adults that need to be taken into consideration. Witnessing first-hand the breakdown of their parents’ marriage can have a huge and lasting impact on a child, so it is vital that the situation is treated sensitively. In order to make sure that the process of a divorce is not a traumatic experience for a child, their feelings must be kept as a priority.

Whatever the reason behind a divorce, most people who get to this stage would agree that it is for the best and indeed, in a household with children, the separation of two parents who are constantly arguing can be a positive step towards removing conflict and confrontation from the home environment.

Honesty and Trust

The first step in dealing with divorce, as with so many things involving kids, is that honesty is always the best policy. Speak to your partner about breaking the news to your children and set some ground rules about how the flow of communication will go. Ideally, you should both be present at the time the news is broken and avoid arguing or making it seem like someone was at fault. Many family law solicitors will be able to offer a mediation service if you think you need some guidance, but if at all possible it is better to do this in the comfort of your home, away from third parties.

No Blame
Most importantly, make it very clear that whatever the reasons for your divorce, your children were not at fault. Children will often blame themselves, so work with your spouse to really drive home the fact that your kids didn't have anything to do with your decision to split. Encourage open questions from your children about the divorce and answer them as honestly as possible. However, steer away from telling them about arguments or other adult issues which they don't need to know the details of.

Prepare them for Changes
When major life changes are on the horizon, as there invariably are when two people divorce, give your children plenty of warning and allow them to prepare themselves for the change. This might be as minor as missing Saturday swimming to spend time with the other parent, or as major as moving house or changing school. Kids need time to assimilate the impacts of these changes to their lives, just as adults do, so talk things through with them and make sure they understand what is happening and why.

Be Consistent Parents
Whatever you do, keep up the team-parenting goals as much as you can, even though you are now working separately. Household rules, such as bed times and chores should be maintained, regardless of whose care the child is under at the time. Don't be tempted into a 'best parent' competition by buying them treats, taking them on expensive days out or allowing them to do things or behave in a way that you previously wouldn’t have let slide. Your kids only want to spend time with you and will not thank you for making them the subject or your anger, jealousy or bitterness towards the other person.

Divorce needn't be a negative life change for your children. As much as you will feel relief from getting away from tense, angry situations, so your children will thrive in a place they can be calm and relaxed. Make home a safe environment for them and try to ignore your feelings about your former partner during the time you spend with your children.

This guest post was written by Francesca who is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys writing about a variety of subjects. She currently writes on behalf of Abneys family law solicitors.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to Get Ready in 10 Minutes

On those mornings when you realize you slept through the alarm, or your kids are running wild and the dog just left a mess on the floor, you need a simplified routine. Or, maybe you feel like you’re running late every morning and you need a quick and easy way to get out the door. I have some tried-and-true tricks to avoid being very late!

Your morning routine is heavily influenced by your nighttime routine, so getting some things done at night will drastically improve your mornings. Here are some tasks to start working into your nightly routine:
  1. Pre-pack your bags: Get into the habit of packing your bags the night before. Whether that’s your purse, your work bag, your kids’ backpacks, or the diaper bag. Even if you aren’t pressed for time, it’s much easier to forget things in the morning. Make sure you have your essentials back in the bags and they’re packed and ready.
  2. Plan for lunch the night before: Pack lunches for school or pack a lunch for work. If you make this a part of your nighttime routine, you won’t be stressing over preparing a meal in the morning. Grab it from the fridge on your way out, along with your breakfast. Your meals for the day will be taken care of — no extra morning time required!
  3. Prep the coffee pot: No explanation needed - pressing brew while you scramble to get things together is a heck of a lot easier than measuring amongst the madness!
Being busy is no excuse to walk out of the house looking like a total slob. Here’s a 5 minute beauty routine!
  1. Skip a Hair Washing: Not only is skipping a wash really healthy for your hair, it’s a super time saver! If you haven’t tried dry shampoo yet, you’re missing out. It freshens your hair, adds volume, and removes oil. Pull your hair up into a ponytail, add a headband for a polished look, and bam — great hair in under a minute.
  2. Make a Go-To Outfit: Don’t waste time trying to figure out what to wear, but also don’t throw on a thoughtless outfit. You should mentally have an outfit that you can always throw on when you’re pressed for time, that looks totally great. A blazer, jeans, and flats (or a wrap dress if your work dress code requires) is easy and works for pretty much any season. You’ll look totally pulled together and polished! Remember: You don’t necessarily have to trade comfort for beauty either :-)
  3. Minimize your Makeup Routine: Instead of skipping your makeup routine all together, use some time-saving products to make it a super quick one. Tinted moisturizer, a makeup stick for blush, eyes and lips, and some mascara should cover all the basics. These products offer coverage, color, and some definition for your eyes, and should take about a minute or two to apply. Easy!
BAM! You should be out the door, looking pulled together and on time. Or, close to on time at least. And, get more tips on How to Get Ready in 10 Minutes.
Author Bio: Sarah is a writer for Handbag Heaven, she loves sharing fashion tips with savvy women everywhere! When she is not sharing style advice on the best oftote bags and fashion handbags, she is reading, cooking, and spending time with her husband.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What to Expect and Where to Find Help When Breastfeeding

You have decided to embark on the journey of breastfeeding but you have reservations. For a new mom, breastfeeding can be largely intimidating as it is completely foreign and you have no idea how your body will work and react. Are you going to be able to breastfeed? Is it going to hurt? What should you expect from baby? How can you be sure baby is getting what baby needs? These are all questions the new mom wants to find answers for due to navigating uncharted waters.

Is Breastfeeding a Real Possibility?
Simply put, breastfeeding is a commitment that you make to your baby and to yourself. Sometimes, it will be inconvenient and sometimes you might not want to deal with the round-the-clock feedings in the beginning or during grown spurts. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it and sleep whenever you can when baby feeds during the night. Nap when baby naps.

If you need help, look to your family and friends. They will be more than happy to help where they can, especially if they have kids and know exactly what you are going through. The only time you might not be able to breastfeed is if you are on antibiotics that could be harmful to baby, in which case if you want to breastfeed, your best course of action is to pump and dump in order to keep up your milk supply.

Does Breastfeeding Hurt?
The simple answer is no, it is not supposed to hurt. There are various reasons as to why breastfeeding might hurt, but when everything is normal and done correctly then no, breastfeeding does not hurt. There are only a handful of reasons that can cause pain while breastfeeding with the most common culprit being a bad latch from baby. If baby has a bad latch, what happens is that your nipple can rub up against the roof of baby’s mouth. This causes soreness, bleeding, and cracked nipples. If a bad latch is your problem, find a lactation consultant to talk to about what you need to do to fix the problem. Lactation consultants can be found through organizations like La Leche League or your local hospitals and birthing centers.

Other issues that can cause pain during breastfeeding include clogged milk ducts, yeast infections, or mastitis. Clogged milk ducts occur when milk is not expressed thoroughly and your milk builds up causing a clog. Clogged ducts are tender to the touch, and the best way to get them out is to massage the painful spot while baby nurses. Baby’s suction will help break up the clog and pull it out. Warm compresses can also help. If you think you have a yeast infection or mastitis, see your doctor as soon as possible to get it treated.

What is Expected in Breastfeeding?
For new moms, a learning curve is not uncommon, especially if you have to deal with anything that is not quite normal. C-sections, multiples, and premature births are all births that are considered outside of the norm. In a normal situation, once baby crosses the placenta, hormones are triggered that cause the release of colostrum from mommy’s breasts. Then baby latches on without any issue and ingests the colostrum to encourage the first bowel movement and to receive mommy’s antibodies. The only thing you may worry about is whether or not baby is getting enough milk. This can be done by weighing baby before and after feeding to see how much milk baby actually takes in. Scales that are sensitive for that purpose can be found at the doctor’s office or with a lactation consultant. Keep in mind that breastfeeding can be different and sometimes complicated whenever breastfeeding is combined with anything out of the norm.

What About Special Situations?
When you have a C-section, it is sometimes difficult to breastfeed due to the tenderness of the incision site.  As a result, you may have to learn alternative positions to hold baby in during feeding. The best position is what is called the football hold. Baby’s feet go parallel to your side while on his back in the crook of your arm. Your hand holds baby’s head where the breast is fully accessible to baby. From there, baby is encouraged to latch on. This may feel awkward at first, but it does get easier.

Alternatively, you could choose to pump if holding baby proves to be too difficult, and instead, bottle feed breast milk to baby until you feel strong enough to attempt breastfeeding. Multiples are another special situation because multiple babies have to feed off of the only two breasts you have. While this may seem an insurmountable obstacle, just remind yourself, there have been plenty of twins that survived throughout history before formula was ever invented, and they did not all have wet nurses.

In the beginning, your breasts will feel so full and engorged, but remember, this is a good thing! An abundance of milk in the beginning assures you that your body is capable of making enough milk to nurse more than one baby. You may have to cycle feeding times or learn how to hold one in each arm so that they can feed at the same time, but it can be done. Patience and practice will make it happen. If you need help, search for a lactation consultant at your local hospital or birthing center and they will be more than happy to help you breastfeed in any situation.

This guest post was written by Tanya Allsop. Tanya owns and writes for , a website dedicated to breast pump reviews , buying guides, and breastfeeding information. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Puppies and Toddlers: Making It Work Without the Headache

I have to confess it was always a lifelong dream of mine to raise my baby with a dog. I had every plan to adopt a puppy as soon as my baby learned to walk and let them grow together. But life to hold of that dream and the reality of knowing how to make that work stopped me with the birth of every child, that was until my son was born.

Being my only natural born son I couldn’t dismiss the constant nagging in the back of my brain that kept saying, “A boy and his dog.” I know it sounds funny but the truth is many moms are just like me and desire to have a puppy and a toddler.

I’m here to tell you it can be done without the headaches and exhaustion many complain about. All it takes is a little bit of planning and some intentional choices.

Preparing for Puppy During the Toddler Years

Before you bring your puppy home it’s critical to set up a designated puppy area that will not only keep your puppy in but also keep your toddler out. I found the durable plastic play fences are the perfect solution. You can set these play yards up anywhere that is convenient, your puppy cannot escape and your toddler can’t collapse it trying to get in.

I recommend purchasing the play yard and setting it up several weeks before you get your puppy. Toddlers are VERY curious about new toys in their space and this puppy area will be no different. If you have it set up for a few weeks it will lose it’s newness and your toddler will move on to other toys. During this time you can teach your little one that it’s not a toy and they have to leave that space alone.

I also recommend when possible setting up your puppy area in a room separated by a door for those times you don’t want to have to worry about whether or not your toddler is sticking his fingers in the fence to be chewed on!

Preparing Puppy for Safe Toddler Play

The next step in headache free puppy/toddler years is to intentionally plan all your puppy interactions in a way that will be laying a foundation for safe toddler play. You don’t want your puppy to jump on, bite or harass your baby.

The best way to do this is to never allow your puppy to jump, ever. When you approach the fence tell him to sit and don’t give him any attention until all four paws are on the floor. Then placing your hand on his chest before petting him will help you prevent unwanted jumping.

Additionally it’s best to only let your toddler and puppy spend time together when the puppy is sleeping. This will prevent accidentally teaching unwanted behaviors of jumping and biting as your puppy tries to “play” with your baby.

As soon as your puppy has settled in start working on home dog training with a few basic commands and expectations. This will help prepare your puppy for more disciplined obedience as he grows.

And finally, be patient. There is no rush to let your toddler and puppy be free running buddies. A few controlled interactions each day during sleepy time will start that wanted bond without the hassles of chaotic play.

Raising your toddler with a puppy can be done with no headache and no hassles. Just take the time to plan, prepare and then follow through and you will soon be watching your boy (or girl) and his dog running in the field.

About the Author:

Mikki Hogan lives in NC with her husband, kids and canine companions. After struggling with her disobedient dog, online training was the answer. Whether working with dogs or homeschooling kids Mikki shares her experiences to help parents just like her.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Evenflo Contest!

 Evenflo wants to know: Think your baby’s got bounce?

Evenflo has just released their new ExerSaucer Jump & Learn, and they are looking for moms, dads and caregivers to submit videos of their little tikes jumping – in or out of an ExerSaucer.

For a chance to win an ExerSaucer Jump & Learn Jam Session and $500 towards higher education (children 4+ months to walking age will be a natural in this contest, because let’s face it…babies love to jump!).  

From Evenflo:

Just like the prize package, the new ExerSaucer Jump & Learn line is designed to help ‘jump start’ baby’s future by helping him reach his developmental milestones with new jump and spin actions that strengthen neck, back and neck muscles. For parents who can watch their cute, little kangaroo jump all around, this is their chance to have ultimate bragging rights.

At the end of the contest, the video with the most votes will win, so it is important to share your submitted videos with friends and family to help ‘jump start’ your own chances of winning! Come back daily to vote on your video, see other cute competitors, and learn savvy parenting tips and tricks on the EvenfloBaby Facebook wall.

Entry into this contest is as easy as 1-2-3: 

1)      Visit the EvenfloBaby Facebook page “ExerSaucer“ tab (  
2)      Register, accept contest terms/conditions and upload a short video of your child jumping in or out of an ExerSaucer (videos should feature children 4+ months to walking years of age, and be less than 3 minutes and 80 MB)
3)      Vote! 

Evenflo’s ExerSaucer ‘Jump Start’ Video Contest is open NOW and closes at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 30, 2012. No purchase necessary to win. (Please don't enter on Mommy Rantings! Be sure to follow the steps above!) Good luck!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Are We Toying With Our Children's Health?

Are you ready to go back to the good ol' days of children playing Duck Duck Goose and Mother May I in the backyard? It seems that those type of children are almost completely non-existent, and we've replaced them with children who are dependent on technology and toys that require batteries, or better yet, electric outlets.

It may seem so much easier to keep an eye on our children when they are locked down behind the Wii, Playstation or computer, but the truth is, even if our children have turned in outdoor play and exercise with education television and games, they can be facing some detrimental statistics.  

Toying with childrens health

Source List:

Journal of the American Medical Association

Is It Better Online?

I Love Internet :: Social Media Week Milano :: Il Festival della rete
Are you one of those people who smiles brightly when the conversation turns to URLs and search engines, but you’re secretly resistant to making the Web your go-to source for your family’s needs? If so, you’re not alone. Many people have had trust issues with the Internet. But thanks to improvements in browser navigation and software security, it’s easy to get past your fears and join the 21st Century which, by the way, is where your kids hang out.

Here are a few online tasks you should embrace:

Video Calling

Skype Alone in a Movie Theater  

How would you like to see your friends and family instead of just their words or the static pictures they attach to their emails? Enter Skype. Install Skype on your computer and you can talk face-to-face with anyone no matter where they are in the world. It’s real-time and it’s really cool, plus it’s super easy. What’s more, Skyping, as it’s called, is free! Go to to sign up.

E-Discounts and E-Tickets

While you may use your computer inside your home or office, the Web can help you and yours see the world, or at least more of your neighborhood. Use the Internet to find local activities, movie listings, dining discounts, even travel deals. Find out what’s happening and be there on time and ready to enjoy it.  Check sites including and to make travel plans, and for dining and other discounts, and for movie listings and e-tickets.

Shopping Online

Christmas shopping with Katie over IM.  (and just look at this dude)  

The fact that Cyber Monday is almost more popular than Black Friday says it all: people love to shop online. Almost every big retailer out there has an online store. The selection is usually larger than what’s in the physical store and you’ll save money because you won’t use gas driving from place to place looking for what you want. And controlling a couple of kids standing next to your computer is a whole lot easier than controlling them in a mall.

Bill Pay

Forget about writing checks and maintaining a check register. With online banking you can pay your bills in a fraction of the time and the bank does the calculations and maintains the record for you. You can even schedule automatic monthly payments for bills including utilities, loans, even cell phone bills. Seriously, do you have time to go to the bank and wait in line for a teller to help you?

Online Education

If you have a job or a family or both, online education is a life-saver. You can pursue new skills or training, or even the degree you’ve always wanted while you study at your own pace and often at your convenience. Many classes and programs allow you to simply log-in to the e-class and begin. That’s a lot easier than traveling to a campus several times a week and it’s cheaper. Some courses even provide all the materials needed online so you save big on books. 

Remote Business

Sick of commuting and lunches and dry cleaning? Want to see your kids while they’re still awake? Think about working from home. Lots of businesses these days are using remote employees, both on staff personnel and independent contractors. If you think you’re disciplined enough to work from home, consider a job as a virtual assistant, a call center rep, a medical transcriptionist or medical biller, a tech support specialist, even a writer or editor. These are just a few of the positions that are available to online workers.

Nicole Morgan is a mother of two and a career counselor who blogs for where you can find information about aacsb online mba programs

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