Here is a link to a terrific podcast - it will be the first in a series titled "Making Cents." (click on the link and then the button on the right) I'm going to straight up tell you that the information that will be presented in these podcasts is super insightful, informative, and valuable. This guy - Doug - is a friend of mine, a fantastic financial planner, and full of wisdom. I learn some little golden nugget every time I talk to him. And the best part is...I can vouch for the fact that he actually lives out what he talks about - that it works and he is a great personal example. He's extremely up to date on all the nuances of the stimulus package and everything else that might be beneficial to you and to me. I recommend listening to these podcasts as they continue to be produced. This first one is especially pertinent to home owners and future home owners - which covers you and just about everyone else. Find some time and listen.
Found this article which is a seriously long list of uses for vinegar in and around your home - 9 pages long!
Check out this blog by three dads (www.beingadadaintbad.com)- I think it is so cool that a few fathers have come together to blog from a daddy's perspective about parenting.
This has apparently been highlighted on several news networks and other places, but somehow I missed it and just happened to stumble upon it. It's a great site for deals and coupons, with savings from over 1,000 stores. I looked into a few things and thought, "hey, this is actually a really great deal." For instance, this morning I was looking at The Children's Place. They are currently running their "Monster Sale" online - where all sale products are reduced to half price. Then, there is a coupon code at brads deals which will further reduce the price 15%. Here is one great deal for example:
With the hot weather finally here, our family's plans include hitting the pool, the pool, the pool! The American Red Cross website has safety tips and precautions for every conceivable manner you might be enjoying the water this summer, whether boating on a lake, swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, water parks, or a backyard pool and more - check it out and be safe!
If you aren't familiar with lilaguide, you might find it a helpful resource. Self-tagged as the "word-of-mouth survival guide" it is chock full of information - baby gear, shops, activities, groups, services, restaurants and more are listed and then reviewed by real parents. It's available for tons of different cities nationwide, including several right here in Northern Va. Click here to see if there's one for your city.
On Sat. June, 7th there will be a "Celebrate Mama!" celebration held in D.C. It's basically a big carnival of expo booths that brings together local products, services, and organizations that cater to mamas. Each location has entertainment, crafts, raffles, and on-site services sprinkled in throughout the event. Goodie bags will be given out to the first 250 families. If you can't make it to this one, there will also be a celebration held in Vienna this fall - and if you want to participate as a vendor or just get your info. in their gift packets, here is the information. Otherwise, check the website for more information about locations near you and ways that Celebrate Mama! can help market your business.
I found this handy little site called Mother Talk. Basically they host reviews for lots of books and other items like music, movies, etc.... It is difficult to know which books are actually worth reading, so this might be really helpful if you've heard of something and want to hear more. Or, in the case of just wanting to find a great new album for your tot or book for you, this might help get the ball rolling towards making a good decision. Have fun!
I never really thought about having a personal will until my children were born. Mostly, I'm interested in having a document that would specify who would take care of them in the event that their father or I couldn't. Many parents have probably considered this without acting on it due to the cost of hiring a lawyer. A friend recently pointed me toward this site: legalzoom.com. I don't have any real experience with them, but the concept is interesting enough to consider. It helps you to quickly and affordably create reliable legal documents online from home or office. Besides wills and living trusts, their services include business documents, real estate documents, trademarks, patents, and copyrights.
Here's a great opportunity! SCORE! (located in the Northpoint Village Center) is hosting a community-wide spelling bee. The spelling bee is completely free of charge and open to kids from K-10th grades. The winners have the chance to WIN UP TO $1500 in college savings bonds! Here's what you need to know:
Saturday, March 29th
Mott Community Center
12111 Braddock Rd
Fairfax, VA 20124
registration is free
call (703) 464-9300 or visit SCORE! at 1424 North Point Village Center before March 29th.
If you are unfamiliar with SCORE! Educational Centers you may find it a great resource. Their mission is to deliver academic progress in a fun learning environment to inspire kids grades Pre-K through 10th to love learning.
When I was in college I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland to work with some youth and children. It was the easiest thing in the world to fall in love with that land and it's people. I remember the names of some of the teenagers I met: Marten, Sean, Fergal, Ronan, Nile, Friar, Ryan, and Sheena, Rosemarie, Fiona, and Rosheen. I myself bear an Irish name - Patricia, after my grandmother who was so named for being born on St. Patrick's Day. If you are currently considering baby names, you might find it interesting that Irish names have gained popularity in the States - among all the top names for 2007 you can find Aidan/Aiden/Aden in the first spot followed also by Connor, Logan, Liam, Ryan, Keegan, Sean, Riley and Finn for boys and Kaitlyn, Brianna, Keira/Ciara, and Riley popular for girls. For a considerable list of Irish names, check here courtesy of BabyNames.com.
Here is some FYI on the real estate market in Reston.....I know with recent dips in the economy, people have had this on their minds. So, my friend Scott Montgomery who is an agent for Keller Williams, and who also lives in Reston, had his team send some current market "good news" information our way:
Here's what Scott has to say about the Reston area: "Reston's numbers are staying put! This is a great indication of how the area sustains its value. With the great education system, proximity to Washington D.C., and suburban lifestyle, Reston continues to be a great place to buy and live. Being a Reston resident myself, I truly believe in this area as both an investment and a place to begin a family. My children have a backyard to play in, a safe neighborhood to run around in, go trick-or-treating, and grow up! I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."
If you are interested in more information about the real estate market in Reston right now, check out www.TheRealEstatePost.com. You'll find a ton of information, some really helpful people, and even some great blogs - fun too! Did you know that one Reston address was voted #7 of all tackiest Christmas displays in the state? (you can see a picture).
Scott would love to help you out as well, so feel free to contact him. He's got some great expertise, is a local, and can help take out some of your stress with buying or selling right now and cares that the process should be easy and successful for you. Plus, he's about to be a father again, this time to twins! So he understands the concerns, worries, needs, and limited schedules of parents!
Postpartum depression is the most common complication after pregnancy and can occur as much as a year after delivery. For those of us who have never experienced it, it remains difficult to understand how hormones can so overrule and push against natural mothering instincts and nurturing, but for those who have had this - it remains just as difficult to understand and also to communicate and therefore to reach out for help and treatment. This post is as much for the friends and families of those affected, to encourage you to help any friend, relative, co-worker, or neighbor who may show signs of postpartum depression. To read more and learn about the symptoms and available resources, read this article from Babycenter. You might also read Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields. And finally, please visit jennyslight.org - and bookmark it for revisiting later as the website is still in it's own infancy. Jenny's Light is a non-profit organization which arose from the tragic death of two children at the hands of their own mother suffering from PPD.
Maggie Tales instant storytime offers a great solution to waiting in lines, riding on planes or in automobiles, awaiting food at restaurants or any time your fidgety child needs something to grab their attention. The digital children's books, available on your computer, can also be downloaded to your iPhone, iPod, Sony PSP, Smartphones and more. The Storytime library is updated weekly with new content for ages 2-8.
I had an individual contact me who knew of another person who was in need of some help - specifically a person with ALS who needed some additional office help from home. It would seem the simplest thing to pass the word and find another person who was both in need of some extra work and interested in helping another person. But, often things like this aren't as easy as they appear and rely on forums and other means of communication which either are or aren't already in place within a community. So, I did my best to recommend some means of getting the word out and tracking down the right person, but I'd love to hear your ideas on going about something like this. I'm sure we all would like to feel that we are part of a community that isn't so closed off to each other that it becomes difficult to circulate needs and information.
Feeling like you need a little inspiration? (and I'm not talking about finally being inspired to potty train your child) Missing your college and career days - or at least missing the adult stimulus of interesting ideas and big thinkers? Then take a few minutes to check out this site, TED - where you can watch "inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers." Search themes related to technology, entertainment, design, business, science, culture, arts, and global issues....or search by those which are rated most inspiring, most funny, jaw-dropping, etc.... Have fun reviving your brain and having something more interesting to talk about with other moms at the bus stop besides what you had for dinner last night and whether or not jr. ate it.
There's been lots of talk about this site, and I can see why - it's great! Looky book allows you to view picture books from cover to back! You can enjoy the books on site, read some reviews, and decide whether you want to purchase it for your own home library. And it's free! So long as you have your laptop and internet access, you can take a library of books for the kids with you wherever you go. There is nothing quite like the feel of a good book in your hands, but this is an awesome resource!
I like the idea of these Bright and Beyond card decks...I've eyed them over at various times, but haven't tried them myself yet, still I hear good things. The marketing really focuses on enhancing development and intelligence - but I think that the truly attractive quality is that sometimes there are just days when as tired moms, we completely run out of ideas. Or maybe that is more like everyday and on a few sparkling occasions we surprise ourselves by mustering up a good idea? Either way, these decks, sorted in age groups from 0 to 9 years, provide a fun solution - just pull out a card, read it and engage in something easy, interesting, new, and educational. Or let you kid pick a card before bedtime and have something to look forward to for the next day!
While I can't say I made any specific resolutions this year, there are many things I'd certainly like to do better. I read this article from iVillage - ten simple mom-alutions and how to keep them, and thought - gee, I'd like to do them all! My biggest momalution is just to be less distracted by things that just don't really matter.....what's yours?
I love this site because it is just a great helpful resource. When you can't call an expert or a friend and you need to know.....or if you've just got a moment to browse and learn about how to do fun and useful things, just click on over to eHow. And if you've got some great hidden skills, you might want to make your own post and share with the rest of us. Too bad that despite my husband and his best friend's great attempts to pull apart my dryer and make it work again, it remains lifeless for another several days until the repair guy gets here!
I love these and I'm sure that at some point I will try to get hold of some for my girls. This educational product called VersaTiles "combines the captivating challenge of a puzzle with the purposeful practice of a workbook." One of the things I really like is that kids can do it themselves with immediate feedback when they check their answers, so they can correct their work on their own. And, the entire thing seems more like a fun game then work! I know that teachers have used these in classrooms to reinforce learning and that some home-schooling families have also used these with great success. You'll have to check out the site to get a better grasp of just exactly what these are and how they work( they aren't just for math, either). But, I definitely think it's worth taking a look at. Plus, you'll love the Cuisenaire site (the company that makes VersaTiles) for a ton of other really cool educational products.
I honestly have a friend whose accelerator got stuck while she was driving down the road with her three beautiful kids strapped into the back seats last week!!! Miraculously she was able to eventually stop the car without anyone getting hurt. Still, it got me thinking about car safety again. Did you know that it is estimated that 2 out of every 3 car seats is used improperly? The American Academy of Pediatrics has an extremely comprehensive guide here that will provide the answers to any questions you might have and provide you with information you may not even be aware of! If you have children under 12 yrs. of age, please read through this. I wish you all safe traveling!
There is so much available to kids via the internet these days, and it can be difficult to discover and sort through it all. If you are interested in locating a few to bookmark for your kids, try checking out kidsites.com as a useful resource to get you started - because I know moms just don't have time to surf the web searching for something that is appropriate, educational, and fun. Also, check out my own list in the right column under "sites for kid fun." These are sites that I love, my kids love, or we both love. And, if you have kids who are a bit older than mine and have discovered some really great sites that might be helpful to other parents and kids, please feel free to let me know so I can add them to the list!
Here is a list of 2007's top ten unsafe toys found right now on store shelves, compiled by Don Keenan, of Keenan's Kids Foundation, who is a child advocate and attorney. Also, if you are a mom who is worried about toys imported from China and have decided to avoid them, here is a site sent to me by my friend Kim, which may also just simply prove helpful in choosing gifts for your little loved ones this Christmas. Here is where you can go to find all recent recalls too.
Here is a website that I like.
I won't say that I stand absolutely one-hundred percent behind everything that is said or claimed here or that I've managed to put all the stuff that I really do agree with into practice. But, I know that all of us are trying to do our best to raise healthy children and there is lots of stuff here to consider and resources to help. So, go ahead and give it a look. Don't freak out about stuff, just keep putting one foot in front of the other towards living healthfully.
Have you noticed that these "prepare your dinners ahead of time then take them home to your freezer" joints are popping up all over the place? I mean, I have to admit it is a great idea, and I know several people who take advantage of this. In my FYI column under help for mom, I had already listed four different options pretty nearby - but I just discovered another one right here in Reston! Dinner Zen. Go figure! So, if you've been hiking it out to Ashburn or somewhere and would like to cut down the commute and try a new menu, give it a shot! Cut it out totally by using their delivery services! Why not? After slaving over that gorgeous bird and scrumptious pie for Thanksgiving....give yourself a week or two off! (They have Thanksgiving specials too!)
We still have those long winter months ahead. When your children tire of their new Christmas toys and are trapped inside by the cold weather, what can you do for fun? Think crafty...or let someone else do it for you. Kids Craft Weekly will supply you regularly with great ideas. If you aren't the kids craft type or have trouble getting those juices flowing, this might be a really useful resource. It's written by a mom just like you!
While there are so many creative ideas for tackling that great sentimental chore of storing/preserving/cherishing your child's artwork....eventually the overwhelming evidence points directly to the fact that you just can't keep it all. Here's a few ways, though, that I liked to help hold on to those priceless moments and special talents:
I've just received a package that I couldn't be more excited about! It is a program for learning that I am enthralled with so much so that with all the endless resources and learning tools and books out there, I am recommending you check out this one! It is so very unique, easy, brilliant, helpful, and appealing. I would love to tell you all about FIve in a Row in this post, but I think it is best captured and explained by the website. What I ordered was Before Five in a Row, tailored for preschool aged children. While it is also used by homeschooling parents, this would make an awesome summer resource for kids enrolled in school throughout the year. With over 50,000 testimonies to the simple but extremely effective nature of this resource, you'll want to check it out. "Five in a Row produces extraordinary results for ordinary moms in the real world." You and your children will never look at books and reading the same way again.
There are a few sources I've used personally to cultivate a disciplinary plan for our children. Here is one that I found to be easy and effective when used consistently. I have heard many positive responses from other parents as well. As a matter of fact, it was recommended to my own parents by a psychologist who was working with them when they adopted a troubled child a few years ago. 1-2-3 Magic is so simplistic in it's nature, that you'll be tempted to disbelieve it could ever work....but I think that you'd be surprised. Whether you feel like this is your "style" or not, some of the underlying premises - such as a commitment to consistency - would be beneficial for any parent looking to communicate successfully with their children. We've all heard parents counting aloud to their children....and getting nowhere. Well, here is how to do it right and get results!
I love this Curious George Mix and Paint game from pbskids.org. It is fun to mix the colors and paint the pages... it can be used to teach colors, color mixing, and certain skills which are developed when kids try to guess what color will result before they mix them. Hope spent a good while with this one and loved it!
Here is an amazing resource I was turned on to by another mom I met at that great playground behind the Home Depot... what's it called? (we only know it as the "home depot playground" of course). Anyway, Our Kids is spectacular on all accounts, exempting the fact that it isn't free.
But, if you are up to $24 per year, you'll get your hands on the most thoroughly compiled resource for activities, events, and more happening for kids in northern Va, Maryland, and D.C. You'll get a newsletter each week via email which includes: weekly picks, special events, a daily calendar of events, now playing list for local family theaters, free family related classified listings, occasional free goodies, and advanced notices of consignment sales, ticket sales, and upcoming events. It's everything you could ever hope to be aware of happening with someone else having done the research! Fantastic!
Not only did a friend recently direct me to this website, but I also came across it in a great book... hmmmm, is that a hint? In either case, you may be interested to learn that the FDA does not require companies to test cosmetics and personal care products for safety, including children's product lines.
Here is a website that may be useful for those of you who are interested in taking invested steps towards avoiding exposing yourself and your family to potentially harmful and toxic substances as much as you can. Skin Deep is the largest integrated data resource of its kind. You can type in any cosmetic/personal care product that you regularly use and see a toxicity report. Or you can do searches, such as looking for sunscreen which is both least toxic and most effective.
I've been meaning to post about this site for a while because it is fabulous! Nutrition Data is a place where you can analyze any food or recipe for complete nutritional information. You can do a nutrient search to find foods that rank well for a specific nutrient or meet specific needs. You can do searches on fast food facts from a ton of restaurants. You can calculate glycemic load, inflammation factor, and omega-6 to omega-3 ratio for any food, create recipes and it will help you make them healthier, and a whole lot more. Seriously, you can't get any closer to having your own personal nutritionist!
While going green is the very "in" and trendy thing to do right now, my goal in writing these posts has simply been to bring our habits to our attention. What you do with what you know is up to you and your family, though this probably is one band wagon worth jumping on after all. So, finally and briefly I'd just like to encourage you to keep the wheels spinning and educate yourself and others a little more on the subject of planet earth's health.
If you need a beach read for the summer, why not pick up a "go green" book from the local bookstore - you'll look hip and smart reading it, and will likely be that much more inspired by your enjoyment of the outdoors to employ some earth-friendly practices you'll learn about (just make sure you get a good book, check your sources).
Here are a couple of websites you can visit with your kids EPA's Environmental Kids Club and this Kid's Recycle Page, although there are plenty others out there, too. Plant something as a family this summer and renew your wonder at the majestic, mysterious, and amazing process of growth and vitality in nature... teach your kids to appreciate, cherish, and nurture their own tiny plant or garden and then widen the horizon and tell them that the whole planet is their garden.
I remember learning the 3 r's in primary school - reduce, reuse, and recycle. Growing up, my family participated in these practices from time to time, but I'd still be the first to say that I am a full-fledged guilty consumer with the best of 'em. But, I've been meaning to start leading my own household in becoming more conscious and eco-friendly.
Not only do I want to do my personal part, but I want to educate my children to be people who are mindful, active, and hopeful about caring for the world we live in, the other people we share it with, and making responsible and better choices. I'd like for my children to be giving people rather than greedy consumers. I'd like to be better about that myself. So, finally I've begun to pull myself together and make some of my good intentions see fruition - beginning last month with recycling. I kicked laziness out the window and found a great, easy site just off of Reston Parkway at Hunters Mill Rd. which receives all manner of materials.
Now my family is regularly recycling plastics, glass, and aluminum along with newspaper and paper-board - plus I know what to do with all the extra old phone books we have lying around among other things. While I haven't managed to develop an attractive situation in my kitchen for this, like saving for one of those new fancy, but pricey, recycling trash cans, we've made it a priority and so two or three paper bags for separating recyclables now crowd around the regular can. This is just a start, but there are lots of ways that any family can easily begin to "go green."
I'll continue this series of posts with a few other ideas to get you started, And if you're ahead of me and have already been making earth-savy decisions, then please accept a humble thank-you from me and my children... and do share!
Here is a great site to check out: Moms on Edge, self acclaimed "products for peace, quiet, and good behavior." There are some really cute things which may turn out to be really useful as well. My two personal faves are the double-sided time-out mat and especially the adorable Goodnight Stoplight, which teaches kids about staying in bed at night. Other great items include the Share Square, potty training targets, and squeaky clean bathtime dice.
With accidental injury being one of the leading killers of children under the age of 14, it is worth taking the extra time and effort to educate yourself and put good habits into practice. Safe Kids Worldwide is the first and only worldwide non-profit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury - and it is based right here in D.C. Their website offers safety tips, news and facts.
In our fast paced lives, we are often tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety. I, for one, have carried a hot beverage in one hand and my baby in the other arm before and Maddie has made it up the stairs before I even knew it a couple of times. On the otherhand I am mad crazy about the car seats being installed and used correctly and double-check every time. Yet I know that consistency is the best policy when it comes to preventing accidental injury, taking time to prevent accidents before they happen.
Okay... so the western commercial business world has gone ga-ga over the market of babies and parenting. Moms are officially "hot" according to Hollywood and in the past few years we have become totally saturated with products that cater to the world of parenting and our deep seeded desires to be the best, most-equipped, and most-fashionable parents.
I don't know about you, but particularly with the wide-reaching potential of the internet, I find it way too easy to become very overwhelmed by all the product and information options available. Someone needs to get a reign on things and get moms the information that they actually need in a concise and helpful manner.
Well, I haven't found the perfect solution yet, but as a helpful start I recommend about.com. It is a great place to go to learn about products, read buying guides and reviews, product recalls, price comparisons, hot items, and more. Check out their parenting and family and baby product sections.
Here is a fantastic website for finding any kind of children's book you may desire. You can search by holiday, season, even letter of the alphabet and it will pull up a list of books for you to choose from.
If you've got something in particular in mind, or even some vague leaning - here's a helpful tool right at your fingertips - thebestkidsbooksite.com
I love this book called Baby-Gami: Baby Wrapping for Beginners by Sarvady, Drillings, and Milne. It would make a great gift for any new parent or parent-to-be. The book is a series of instructions and diagrams that run the gamut from cocoon type swaddles for newborns to wearing older babies in slings. Or you can branch out into more specialized wraps such as the "Picnic Wrap," the "Glamour SLing," or the satin and tulle "Gift Wrap." Plus, there is advice from exerts and real parents, tips on baby-carrying and baby-soothing and even a rundown of items not to wrap your baby in.