Friday, December 18, 2009

Responsible Pet Giving During the Holidays

A perfect Christmas morning: little children diving into a big pile of packages. It is ultimate chaos. What could possibly make it better? A new Christmas pet?

Each year, begging children, and commercials showing a new puppy in a box under the tree, inspire people to give pets as gifts. Why not?

Although the magic moment with the camera might happen, what happens right after that? The new animal has just been brought into ultimate chaos, which is a terrifying experience for the animal. Not only that, but the physical environment is extremely dangerous, and it is a day when all the people are going to be distracted most of the time. The new animal is very likely to eat something that could make it sick. Scarfed tinsel, ribbon, or packing material may require emergency surgery, or even cause death. A bite into a light cord can cause electrocution. You might even step on a pet playing under wrapping paper. Because the people are distracted, it is likely that the new pet will soil a carpet, which is going to make somebody mad.

Read the rest of this article on

Friday, November 20, 2009

12 Days of Holiday Organizing

It's that wonderful time of year again: the holidays are almost upon us. We know it arrives at the same time every year, and yet it continues to sneak up on us. Your holiday preparations can be less stressful if you create a holiday countdown to halt the holiday madness.

Create a budget for your gift purchases and stick with it. This will determine who is on your gift list, and how what you will purchase. Then make a detailed gift list and keep it with you in your purse, briefcase, or planner for quick reference. Write down a few ideas for presents, based on the preferences of those on the list and hints they have given you throughout the year.

Day 11 - SLOW DOWN
Utilize slow times to run your errands so that you won't burn out. Shop for groceries in early mornings or late evenings (not during lunch hour or after work), visit the malls during your lunchbreak while others are at work or in the classroom, and try to avoid standing in line if at all possible. Take bottled water and a snack for quick energy.

Start stocking the freezer for quick meals. Just double a recipe every day this week and you'll have instant leftovers. You'll thank yourself in the busy days to come.

Learn how to screen incoming interruptions to eliminate stress at work and at home. Use voicemail, caller i.d., and email filters to avoid chaos creators.

Hire a babysitter or mother's helper to watch the kids while you shop, wrap gifts, or visit your favorite day spa.

Delegate simple decorating and gift-wrapping tasks to others. Small children love to help by adding bows or gift tags to presents, while visiting grandparents can polish silver or press linens.

Multi-task whenever possible so that you can play and work at the same time. Watch tv while polishing silver, or listen to classical music while ironing table linens. Try to avoid isolating yourself from the rest of the fun while you're working on your to do's.

Day 5 - GAME PLAN?
Create a game plan for your holiday meal. Cook rolls, stuffing, desserts, and meats in smaller portions for easy heat&serve dinners on the big day. Focus your efforts on family time not kitchen duty.

Take an inventory of the linen closet so that there are no surprises as you serve the turkey. Is your best tablecloth stained, or did Uncle Bert's cigar burn a hole in one of your damask napkins? Maybe it's time to assemble paper and plastic ware for the big day instead. (Sometimes it's better to lower your expectations of a perfect tablescape than to spend all your time washing dishes in the kitchen. I doubt anyone will call the Entertainment Police!)

Consider having an open house rather than trying to squeeze in several parties. Invite everyone to visit one home at staggered times for some good cheer. This can work on the "big day", too, especially if all the in-laws live in town. It sure beats driving around all day from house to house to see those you love!

Order take-out or pull a prepared meal from the freezer for a stress-free meal today. Let the oven rest for tomorrow's big feast.

Start the morning with easy preparations in the kitchen, leaving other items for the last minute. Chop vegetables, mix dips, then assemble snack trays for munching. Put the turkey in the oven, set the table, and bake pies. Leave candles, music, and last minute preparations for later. Leave the house to take a stroll around the block, enjoy a bubblebath, or listen to some relaxing music before your family or friends arrive. Enjoy yourself-- you've earned it!

And the day AFTER Christmas, make next year's "to do" so that you won't have to work so hard again! Shop yearround for gifts, decorations, and cards for those you love. Keep a running list of things you need, should not do again, and tips for making things easier on you and your household. Getting organized for the holidays is truly a process, not a product, but with some effective planning you can enjoy the journey. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

When School-age Children Are Sick

It never fails. One of your children gets sick when your spouse is away on business and you have a full schedule. To complicate matters, it can be difficult deciding when to keep a child home and when to forge ahead business as usual.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the typical child has 6 to 12 illnesses a year ranging from mild to severe. Illness can occur throughout the year, but tends to cluster in the winter due to flu season. These illnesses can seem to spread like wild fire affecting other students, teachers, and family members. Sometimes even minor illnesses require the child to stay home just to prevent the further spread of a contagious disease.

In addition to consulting your pediatrician and school nurse, these tips can help you decide whether to keep your child at home for some of the most common sick symptoms:

Click here to read this article

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cardboard Box Costume Ideas for Halloween

Some adorable costumes have come to light using little more than a cardboard box, some paint, and lots of imagination. Here are several ideas to choose from. Happy Halloween!

All of the costumes listed here use a cardboard box.


1 large box
1 small box
gray hooded sweatsuit
silver spray paint
gray, white, or black gloves
silver face paint
4 plastic milk jug lids
aluminum foil

Seal one end of box with silver duct tape. Leave other end open. Do this with both boxes. Spray paint silver, let dry. When dry, cut circle out of small box so when placed on child's head, the hole will be there for his/her face. Cut open ends off or fold inside box. Follow above instructions for large box, then cut holes for arms. Wrap milk jug lids in aluminum foil, then glue lids on box in front, along bottom as control knobs. use markers (or paint if you prefer) to draw horizontal lines across the front of the box for effect. Paint face silver.

Too see the rest of these great ideas visit

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mummy Cookies

Ask your Mummy to bake some mummy cookies for you! These little guys are all wrapped up and just waiting to be eaten. Covered in frosting and white chocolate, they're just too cute to be scary.

What You Need

1 roll of sugar cookie dough or your favorite homemade sugar cookie recipe
1 medium-sized gingerbread boy cookie cutter
"Red Hots" candies or other round candies for eyes
canned vanilla frosting
white chocolate almond bark

Getting Ready

Gather ingredients for the cake according to box directions.

Make sure that children use pot holders and have some handy wipes or a sink nearby to wash hands.

Now you are ready to start making mummy cookies...

The get the instructions go to

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Harvesting and Storing Herbs

I am not going to pretend to know the proper technique for every herb out there - there are far too many! But, over the years I have gathered many harvest and storage tips that have worked for me and many other gardeners.

My first tip is to be brave! So many people that write me are afraid to cut back their herb plants. Herbs are very tough with the right conditions. It's often what you least expect that hurts them-such as overwatering, too much fertilizer or too rich of a soil. Many herbs, such as lemon balm, mint, chives, sage and oregano maybe cut within two or three inches of the ground and will grow back within no time for another harvest! If you are in doubt, you can cut back by half to be cautious.

Gather your herbs, using sharp kitchen or gardening shears, in the morning after the dew has dried. You will also catch the peak flavor if you harvest just BEFORE flowering, but don't let this deter you from harvesting if you have missed that time frame. You can dry the flowers for wreaths and dried arrangements and use the leaves for cooking. If you live in a zone that freezes be sure to allow your herbs a month and 1/2 or so before frost to grow after you harvest and before the first frost.

For more on freezing, drying and storing your herbs go to

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cut Your Future Holiday Bills in Half

Most of us have a certain number of holidays that we celebrate each and every year. That means quite a number of extra "gifts" will need to be purchased for family and friends.

Here's how you can get the best bargains on holiday merchandise, and how you can save quite a bit off your "gift" bills.

Here's What Happens

Every single year, about a month and a half prior to any "major" (popular) holiday, most retail and department stores offer holiday related merchandise. For example, you'll probably find:

Halloween Costumes - October
Santa related decorations - December
Autumn and turkey decor - November
Hearts/Candy assortments - February

As each holiday approaches, the majority of the general public rush to buy these high priced "holiday" gifts a few weeks or days before the celebration. Stores expect this. They love the holidays.


Simple. Hundreds and thousands of eager shoppers will come through their door and spend, spend, spend.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Cardboard Tube Scarecrow

This fun recycled craft made from a paper towel roll and scrap fabrics and felts is an adorable project for Fall. Gather the kids around, pull out the craft supplies and get cracking on your own scarecrows!

You will need

cardboard tube from paper towel or wrapping paper
straw doll hat
felt: tan, peach or cream, light blue, orange, and brown
3 buttons
2 pink sequins
2 small wiggle eyes
2" piece of skinny black chenille
1" foam flower
1/2" brown pom pom
white craft glue or hot glue gun

Editor's Note: We used hot glue as it adheres so much quicker than white craft glue. However, if you are making this project with small children, you may want to use white glue or even a glue stick. You may also do the gluing for them if using the hot glue gun.

To get the instructions and a printable version, visit the Cardboard Tube Scarecrow craft on

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Getting Organized for Halloween: 10 Spooktacular Tips

Ghosts, witches, goblins and black cats... yes, it's Halloween once again. Here are 10 tips to ensure this holiday is a fun one for your and your family.

Make a checklist of everything you'd like to do for Halloween--such as making/getting costumes, having a party, attending a festival, carving a pumpkin, getting some scary books or videos at the library and taking the kids trick-or-treating, safety precautions, and baking pumpkin pie.

It's time to pull out your tried-and-true Halloween decorations from year's past. If they're not in one organized place this year, be sure you put them all in one organized place for next year when you're done with them.

Using the Web and your local newspapers, find out what Halloween festivities are happening in your area. Schedule some outings for your family and enjoy the season. Apple picking, pumpkin picking and hay rides are popular this time of the year.

Search through your TV listing and make a schedule of all Halloween programs and cartoons you wish to watch. If the family can't be together when a particular program is airing, video tape it and watch it together later on.

To see the rest of these tips, visit Getting Organized for Halloween: 10 Spooktacular Tips on

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Crafts: Plastic Cup Crow

So many scarecrow crafts, but what about the crows? As autumn rolls in and farmers work on their harvest, the crows will be looking for free goodies. Make this cute little crow to celebrate fall!

Plastic Cup Crow

What you need

2 small plastic cups (bathroom size)
2 cotton balls
2 medium wiggle eyes
1 red button
scrap of orange craft foam
scrap of orange construction paper
Acrylic craft paint: black and goldenrod
white craft glue

Go to for instructions and a printable version of this Plastic Cup Crow craft!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fall Fun for Kids

Looking to make some sweet fall memories with your little ones? Here are some great ideas to get your family laughing, smiling and enjoying each other's company during these crisp autumn days.

Hit the trail. Kids love to be outside. The out-of-doors is a huge playground and children are naturally attracted to it. Exploring some of the hiking trails in and around your community is a great way to spend time together.

While you're walking...

Collect leaves. Take them home and arrange them on a piece of poster board measuring approximately 17 inches by 12 inches. Smooth a piece of clear contact paper over the poster board on both sides, laminating the board and leaves. Now you have a special placemat to use for the remainder of the season.

Contact your local library to ask where you can find a guidebook on local flora and fauna. Take it on your hike and try to identify as many different trees, plants, and critters as possible.

To see the rest of this article, visit Fall Fun for Kids on

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Clay Pot Scarecrow

Clay pots are probably one of the most versatile mediums for crafts. This adorable little scarecrow proves that statement without a doubt! This is an absolutely charming Fall craft that looks great in your kitchen, dining room, or even on the porch!

You will need:

3 1/2" clay pot
Acrylic paint: White, Brite Red, Liberty Blue, Midnight Blue
Brushes: #8 flat and #2 long liner
Strip of thin denim fabric: 9 1/2" x 2"
Strip of red checked fabric: 7 1/2" x 2"
1" button
Jute twine: about 3 yards
Raffia: about 100 pieces, 2" long
Polyfil: fist size piece
Ultimate Craft marker: Black, fine
Pink chalk, rouge, or lipstick to rosy cheeks
Glue gun and glue sticks
Osnaberg fabric (or use muslin) - 10" circle, cut with pinking shears if possible

Use any size clay pot and adjust accordingly!

Click here to print the pattern. Resize on your printer to fit your project.

Visit to get the instructions and a printable version of this craft.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Caramel Apple

This craft is quick and easy. Elementary aged children will enjoy this project, with a little help from a grown up!

You will need

Artificial apple
Craft stick
Acrylic paint: Honey Brown
Glue Pot with glue sticks
Gloss finishing spray

What you do

Spray the apple lightly with gloss finishing spray to give it a shiny finish.

Insert a craft stick in the apple. Dip into a hot pot of melted glue. Quickly tip it upside down and let the glue run down the sides a bit. Not too much.

Let the glue cool and harden completely. Paint the glue area with the Honey Brown acrylic paint.

More You Might Like:
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pumpkin Cake Balls

Dressed in bright orange and green, these little pumpkins will look charming decorating a party table. Add an icing face to them and they'll turn into jack o' lanterns, making them a irresistible favors for your Halloween party guests.

What You Need

1 box white cake mix
2 container vanilla frosting
1 package of orange candy melts
1 package of green candy melts
black paste food coloring
mini pretzel sticks

To get the instructions visit Pumpkin Cake Balls on

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dress Your Child For Less

Summer is winding down and school will be starting in a couple of weeks. Our children have outgrown most of their fall and winter clothes and sometimes they can look too worn. Trying on old clothes is a hassle, especially if you have younger children and buying a new wardrobe each year can hurt the wallet. Try these helpful tips on for size.

1. Find the Forgotten - As the need for warmer clothes arrives, try on the least worn clothing items first. You know the ones. They are the forgotten at the back of the drawer or closet. Dig these out to wear first. They will probably be the best looking ones. Put them in the dryer for a few minutes to get the dust off and wrinkles out. As you put these clothes on, look for little things that could easily be fixed like loose buttons or dangly strings. Check the hems for any unraveling. Ask yourself if you can get a few more wears out of the clothing.

2. Spuce Them Up - Do some of their jeans look a little shabby? Spruce them up by adding cute iron on patches to any worn spots. Your local fabric or craft store will have an abundant supply or various patches that children adore from dinosaurs and airplanes for boys to ladybugs and sparkly flowers for girls. My favorite is adding cute butterflies to the back pockets or making a scene down one pant leg with bugs, ants and caterpillars.

3. Lengthen Them - Are the jeans not quite long enough but otherwise in good condition? Add on fabric at the bottom to make it flare or my favorite, add a vintage looking fabric at the bottom to give it a whole new look.

4. Do some of the shirts have stains? Don't worry! The layered look is in style. Another fabulous solution is to dye the shirt to the color of the stain. You will have a new shirt for just pennies! If you don't want to fuss with messy dyes, give your child an iron on the he can design himself with crayons or markers and iron it on for him. Children love to wear clothing they "design" themselves.

5. Swap Clothes - Make sure the items you receive will not be wanted back. This keeps bad feelings at bay if an article of clothing gets ruined from rough play or stained. Organize a "swap". Meet in a centralized location with several families and friends. Keep clothing separated by family and let the swapping begin!

6. Consignment! Consignment! Consignment! Do I really need to say anymore? Consignment stores are a great place to find gently used clothing for cheap and makes this a very frugal option.

7. Sell Them - Consign your own gently used items that can no longer be worn! Check with your local consignment store for requirements and rules. I have found the best ones are the ones that give you 60% of the profit! Beware of the consignment stores that pay you upfront. Look for the consignment stores that pay you as your clothes sell. You get more money for your clothing if you ride out the season.

8. Budget it Right - Try to use only the money you make from consigning to buy new clothes. If you use this as your budget guide you won't spend unnecessarily on items not really needed.

9. Shop for school clothes on tax free days. What you can buy on these days varies from state to state so check with your city's Chamber of Commerce to find out the regulations.

10. Shop Bargain Stores - I have found many name brand clothes with minute problems like an upside down tag, that can't be sold in retail stores for little cost. Shop here for great prices. However, keep your eyes open for stitching problems that can cause the fabric to unravel. This may not be worth buying.

More You Might Like:
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Teaching Your Child the ABC's of Money
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School Allowance Advice for Parents

What do good schools and well thought out allowances have in common? Both teach your child a vitally important life skill: reflective thinking. Kids are naturally impulsive. Learning how to reflect before making a decision - learning to think in terms of choices, alternatives and consequences -- is a great life skill for kids to learn. Stanley Greenspan, M.D., one of the country's leading child psychiatrists, says that children who develop the ability to think in terms of choices and consequences are likely to grow into teenagers and adults who "can solve problems and assess and evaluate their own impulses and desires." Teens and adults who never develop this skill are "limited to their immediate and often impulsive reactions to events."

What do we mean by a "well thought out allowance?" It's been our experience that many parents simply haven't a clue when it comes to their kid's allowance. They don't know when to start, how much to give or what the purpose of the allowance is in the first place.

Since back to school time is rapidly approaching, here are answers to the four most common questions we get from parents about allowances.

Q: When do you start giving your kids an allowance?

A: There's no magic age. Start an allowance when your child becomes interested in money and using it to buy things. This is usually about age six. But if there are older children in the house already getting an allowance, don't be surprised if your five year old asks for an allowance. For your child's first allowance, look at the piggy bank recognized as a Parent's Choice Award Winner that has four transparent chambers and four slots, labeled Save, Spend, Invest and Donate.

See more of this article on

Monday, August 31, 2009

Autumn Garden Chores

Autumn is the time for garden clean-up! I know it seems like a droll chore, but it really isn't. Any work you do now, while it's cool, will make for an enjoyable spring and summer.

Clean all of your garden and yard tools, then wipe them down with some 3 in 1 type oil on an old rag. Store them in your garage or shed together where you will easily locate them in the spring.

As your potted plants finish up, rinse out your pots and set them out to dry-then store them together for the winter in a sheltered location. If you want to clean any that may have had disease or just look a little rough, use a solution of water and bleach. Do use gloves and do this outside though! Dump the dirt from the pots in a pile and add chopped up leaves, plants you've pulled up and grass clippings. Even if you don't normally compost you can do this in a corner of your yard without much effort! The items will decompose if you dampen them now and then, and turn them with a shovel. You can add vegetable and fruit peelings too!

Gather up your lawn ornaments that you think won't weather well, and store them as well, again cleaning them first.

Take one flower bed at a time, and cut down anything that has finished blooming. If you don't do this you'll have a mushy mess in the spring. Some exceptions are plants you want to reseed, but many of them have scattered seeds, so even they can be cut down. Also any plants that are still blooming should be left to enjoy! Remember too, you still have time to move daylilies, oriental lilies, irises, peonies, and many other plants.

Planting bulbs and moving plants is a good thing to do at the same time so you can visualize where you want everything as you plant. Also, compare bloom times and try to stagger these if possible.

I like doing these chores as we get into fall instead of waiting and having to rush to get it done all at once. It makes for an enjoyable autumn season, and it's a great excuse to get outside in the yard!

What's Related
Bring in the Garden
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ooey Gooey Apple Crispies

Traditional rice crispy bars with a twist! Get the kids involved in making these treats. Pair them with a glass of milk for an after school snack or sneak them into their lunchboxes for a sweet surprise.

What You Need

15 oz box apple ring cereal
16 oz bag large marshmallows
3 tbsp butter or margarine
non-stick cooking spray

To get the instructions and a printable version visit Ooey Gooey Apple Crispies on

Friday, July 31, 2009

10 Steps to Conquering Back to School Spending

As the summer sun warms the thick August air, the real heat for parents of school age children is coming from back to school spending. With the price of everyday necessities burning a hole in your wallet, you will be relieved to know that there are many effective ways to cut the cost of those expensive school purchases. From sneakers to scissors, these 10 steps will help you stretch your school supply budget and still send your kids off to school in style:

1. Make a complete list. Include clothing and school supplies such as scissors, notebooks, backpacks, lunchboxes and all the other specific items each child will need. If you already have a supply list from your child's teacher, use this list when making the master list. If you do not already have a supply list, ask the school to provide a generic list of items that children in the relevant grades will need. Many retailers offer these lists in their stores. Call ahead to see if your local Wal-mart or Staples has the list for your child's school and grade.

2. Take inventory. Include both new and used items you already have in the house. You will be surprised at how many supplies you can check off your list just by going from room to room. Items like scissors, backpacks and rulers may not need to be purchased again for this school year. You can also use items you already have to spruce up inexpensive supplies. For example, if your child wants the expensive decorated folders but the plain ones are on sale for 5 cents, he/she can decorate the inexpensive ones with stickers or stencils you already have at home.

To see all the great money saving tips for back to school spending click here

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coffee Filter Sunflowers

Some of my favorite crafts are ones created with items that are often found around the house. This big, beautiful sunflower is a great example. All you need are coffee filters, crayons, scissors and a glue stick!

What you need

5 (per flower) - basket type coffee filters
2 - crayons (yellow and brown)
1 - pair of scissors (or safety scissors for small children)
1 -Glue stick

To get the instructions for this adorable coffee filter sunflower click here

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dill-Licious Recipes!

Dill is one of the most popular homegrown or store bought herbs around. Whether you harvest fresh dill from your garden or purchase fresh or dried dill at your local grocer, you'll enjoy these Dill-licious recipes!


Baked Egg Scramble

6 large eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk -- or cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 large tomatoes -- diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon fresh dill -- finely chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese -- plus 2 tablespoons, divided

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly grease quiche dish or shallow baking dish. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Stir in green pepper, tomatoes, basil, and dill. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over bottom of prepared dish. Pour egg mixture over cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese melts and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.


Cucumber Dill Dip

1 medium cucumber
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped OR
2 tsp dried dill, crushed
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced

Peel, seed and finely dice the cucumber. Using a colander, squeeze out any excess water from the cucumber chunks. Place in a bowl and blend will with the pepper and dill. Blend in the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover and chill. Makes about 3 cups of dip.

Dipper suggestions: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Radishes, Carrots, Onion Crackers

Dill Snack Crackers

1 package ranch dressing dry mix
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dill
1 box oyster crackers

Stir together all ingredients except crackers. Add crackers, mix well and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.

To see the rest of these great dill recipes click here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Building a Basic Backyard Sandbox

There's no doubt about it, kids love sand. Digging, burying, sifting, pouring, shaping, smoothing, and shoveling! Building a sandbox is actually easy enough that the kids can be quite involved in the process. This is an ideal project for Grandpa or Dad and the kids. A sandbox can bring forth hours of fair weather entertainment for your kids. All you have to do is build it, and they will come! To build your sandbox, you will need the following materials and tools:


3 8'- long 2" x 6" cedar boards
4 1" x 2" -18" wooden stakes
40 square feet of WeedBlock Landscape Fabric (can be purchased by the roll)
25-30 50-lb. bags of play sand (we used 27)
4 #10 sinker nails
4 2-1/2" galvanized screws, rust resistent


sledge hammer
electric screwdriver
staple gun
saw (optional)

Visit for instructions on how to build a backyard sandbox

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is it Really Possible to Balance Work and Family?

Many times women feel overwhelmed and stressed by trying to balance family and career. Just last year, many people discussed whether Sarah Palin would be able to keep a sense of balance between being the vice presidential candidate and having five children. Have you ever heard someone say that about a man? Here are a few ideas to help you keep it all in check:

Routines are extremely important: when you do the same thing over and over again, not only do you get really good at it, it becomes second nature. You can have several sets of routines for your entire day. It is helpful to write down everything you do, or need to do, to get to bed at a decent hour, to get out of the house in the morning without rushing, to get dinner on the table quickly and easily. I suggest writing out lists of what needs to be done at each section of your day. As we get older and more forgetful, it is helpful to have a reminder of what needs to be done. When you are rushing around, it is easy to forget something important.

It's okay to say "NO": we hear this all the time, but do we practice it? As women, we are people pleasers and we don't like to upset others or feel like we have let someone down. Instead, we need to feel that way about ourselves. Think about how upset you would be if you add one more thing to your "to do" list. Say no for your children as well, don't let them be involved in too many activities.

To read the rest of this article about balancing work and family click here

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dog Bites: Prevention is Key

Summer is the time when most dog bites occur, and children under age 15 are the most likely victims. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400,000 children each year seek medical attention for dog bites. American Humane urges parents and dog owners to learn how they can help keep their neighborhood children safe.

"Any breed of dog may bite. And even family pets, not just dogs that are unknown to a child, have the potential to bite," said Dr. Bill Torgerson, DVM, vice president of Animal Protection Services for American Humane. "Relationships between kids and animals can be so positive and meaningful - on both sides - it would be tragic to discourage that because of fear. At the same time, the worst thing that could happen is for a child to get hurt."

According to American Humane, adults - both dog owners and parents - play the most important role in keeping children safe and ensuring that the interaction is positive for both the children and the dogs.

To prevent dog bites, adults should teach children:
  • Never to approach an unknown dog or a dog who is alone without its owner, and always ask the owner's permission before petting it.
  • Never approach an injured animal - go find an adult who can get it the help it needs.
  • Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or has something it likes - like a bone or toy - because it may feel the need to guard it.
  • Don't poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog - the dog may not realize you're just playing.
  • Don't chase or run from a dog.
"Adults need to realize that children must be supervised whenever they are playing with any dog because children often don't realize what their actions say in 'dog language.' Babies and young children should never be left unattended with a dog, not even the family pet," Torgerson said.

Read more of this article: Dog Bites: Prevention is Key

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fun at the Beach Survival Kit

If you live near a beach, whether it be the ocean or a lake, it's a great way to enjoy time with your kids and keep away the boredom bug. If you don't live near the water, but are planning a vacation to the beach, here's a list of items that are a must have!

This is probably the most important item in your beach bag. Make sure that you have sufficient sunscreen protection for yourself and your children. The sun's ultraviolet rays are at their strongest during the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., so limit your time in the sun during those hours. Choose a sunscreen lotion that is at the very least 15 SPF, more appropriate for children is an SPF of 30 or more. Be sure to adequately apply the sunscreen to all exposed skin, including ears, nose, and neck. Speak to your doctor about sunscreen and babies under 6 months of age. Don't forget your lips! Bring along sun protective lip balm with an SPF of 15 or more. An Aloe based after sun lotion is a great way to soothe your skin after a day in the sun, apply after your day at the beach.

Protective Barriers
Sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays, sun hats with brims, and beach umbrellas are all wonderful items to have along for added protection. Babies under 6 months old should wear protective clothing, a brimmed sun hat, and if possible, baby sunglasses that protect from harmful UV rays. Babies should not spend a lot of time in the sun, but when they are, keep them protected! A frist aid kit with band aids, an antibiotic cream, and other essentials is an excellent idea as well.

Chairs & Blanket
There are chairs made specifically for the beach, they sit low to the ground and fold up neatly, often they include a handy shoulder strap. Don't count on the beach having chairs for its guests! A blanket is another nice thing to bring along. Not only is it comfortable to sit on, but it's a welcome comfort from the hot sand on bare feet.

Read the rest of this article and get our checklist for your Fun at the Beach Survival Kit!

More You Might Like:
Summer Photo Tips: Photography on the Beach
Make a Summer Beach Plaque
Coloring Pages : Fun Time : Beach
Summer Safety and Sanity for Families on the Go
More Leisure Time

Thursday, June 18, 2009

eBay vs. Garage Sales

I've never been much of a believer in getting rich having a garage sale. I've had a few of them but the cash I made was never even close to paying for my time and effort.

There are just too many disadvantages:

*deciding what to charge on each item
*making price tags for them
*spending two days in my garage

The longest time we've ever lived in one house was 13 years. When we decided to move, I had a gigantic garage sale and gathered things from every corner of the house. I decided that whatever didn't sell, I would haul off to an agency that would help others. I didn't want it back in my house and didn't want to move it to another state.

I sold an entire dining room and everything I thought I could live without and don't think I even made $500.

(Discover the other side of the coin by reading Garage Sale Survival TipsHow to Avoid Yard Sale Junk, My Junk Your Treasure, Turning Trash Into Cash, Yard Sale Etiquette, and Yard Sales: Money Makers & Savers)  

We have now lived in our present house for 12 years. In the past 10 years I have contributed to the annual church garage sale because all I had to do was put things in boxes and let someone else do all the work. It forced me to find things to get rid of and helped the scouts, so I was happy to do it.

Two years ago I participated in two garage sales with my daughter, and loaded up my Yukon XL about five times. I probably made a total of $200 from both sales and still hauled off one entire carload to the women's shelter. The best thing about all that was sharing the experience with my daughter!

Then someone introduced me to eBay. I have a pig cookie jar that was given to my parents when I was born, so I decided to do a search on "pig cookie jar." I couldn't believe it when my own little pig showed up in an auction for about $100. I printed off the information and tucked it inside the pig so that my kids would not NOT to throw it away after my funeral!

I recently reviewed a program to help people reduce their debt and find "multiple income streams," at home. The first thing they discussed was selling on eBay. They recommend that you start out by elminating unwanted things you have at home and discovering your niche.

Maybe you're into computers or antique glassware. Find out where your interests lie and earn money on it from home.

To read more of this article go to eBay vs. Garage Sales on

To see more frugal ideas, visit Thrifty Thursdays.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Chronically Stuffy Nose May be a Sign of Allergies

A stuffy nose is very common in young children. The most usual reason for this is that the nasal passages are quite small in children, and it doesn't take very much to block them.

However, in situations where this is recurrent, like in your daughter, one has to consider allergies. Allergens (something that causes an allergy) such as dust mites, cat or other animal dander, can irritate the nose resulting in chronic nasal congestion, and sometimes a chronically runny nose. This is referred to as "allergic rhinitis". Typically, the symptoms are worse during the winter months when everyone tends to spend more time indoors. Additionally, there is usually a history of allergies in the family.

To read the entire article visit A Chronically Stuffy Nose May be a Sign of Allergies on

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bird Watching Tips

Bird watching is a fun, inexpensive activity for families. You can reserve a special space for bird feeders anywhere in your yard, and throughout the year watch the variety of birds that come to visit. Here some tips for feeding the birds:

*Buy inexpensive feeders; many are under $5.00, and the birds just love them. You can also make tray feeders out of scrap wood and place them on the ground. Get creative! Try this simple craft for making feeders out of one liter soda bottles.

Try different things and see how the birds respond. Many will eat sunflower seeds placed in a hollowed out grapefruit placed on a nail head on your deck. This is a great "experiment" for the kids. They can record their findings in a notebook, and keep track of which birds show up during the different seasons.

To see the rest of these great tips, visit Bird Watching Tips on

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dad Rocks Salt Dough Paperweight

Be creative and make this very special and useful gift to give to your dad. Show him that he is special by making this adorable paperweight from salt dough and pea gravel.

What You Need

1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
cookie sheet
1/2 cup pea gravel

To get the instructions, visit Dad Rocks Salt Dough Paperweight

Friday, June 12, 2009

First Aid for Cat & Dog Injuries

As we ease into the warmer months, even our backyards can be a hazard to our dear animal friends. Whenever a cat or dog is injured it should be taken to the veterinarian as quickly as possible. However, there are some things which can be done to ease the distress and pain first.

Objects such as fish hooks can become embedded in an animals skin. Cut the hook free from any fishing line, but leave enough line attached to ensure the hook is visible (especially if covered by fur). If the hook cannot be easily freed, gently ease it through until the barb is exposed. Cut off the barb with wire cutters or pliers, then ease the shank back and out throught the original incision. Clean and dress the wound and take the animal to the vet immediately.

If the hook has entered the eyes, mouth or ears DO NOT attempt removal. Take the animal to the vets immediately as an anaesthetic may be required.

First find the wound, then using small scissors cut away the fur and clean with warm water containing a little antiseptic. If possible, cover the wound with a pad of clean cloth (i.e., a folded handkerchief) and bandage it to hold pad in place. These wounds should be seen by a vet as soon as possible and they can turn septic.

With cats the first sign of a bite may be an abscess or swelling and it may become listless and off its food. Bathe the swelling with warm water and mild disinfectant and take it to the vet immediately.

Locate the source of the bleeding, cover with a pad of clean cloth and bandage and visit the vet immediately.

If an animal's limb is at an awkward angle it may well be broken. Gently ease the leg into a comfortable, more normal, position and, using a piece of wood roughly the same shape as the limb as a splint, bandage gently but firmly to support the broken bone. Visit the vet immediately being as gentle as possible.

Immediately remove collar, if any. Hold the animal's mouth open and try to remove the offending object. Place an object such as a spoon across the corners of the animal's mouth to prevent the animal's jaw closing. If the dog has swallowed a ball, try to get your fingers behind it and hook out.

Even if this action has been successful, do not let the dog eat or drink, keep it warm and visit the vet as the throat could have been damaged and need professional attention.

Never leave an animal in a car on a hot day.

If a dog does get overheated, take it to a cool place immediately and, using sponges, towels or any other available material, soak it in cold water. Wrap cold, wet towels around its head and body. If possible give it ice cubes to suck. Take it to the vet immediately.

There can be several reasons for an animal limping. Examine the affected leg from the paw upwards for swelling, heat and obvious pain. Look for cuts, grit, thorns or splinters, especially in the pad.

Remove any foreign bodies that will come out easily but go very gently to ensure nothing is behind. Clean any cuts in cold water. Do not attempt to remove glass or anything which is firmly embedded as slivers may be left behind, the animal should be taken straight to the vet.

If the leg is swollen bathe in hot water and mild discinfectant and go to the vet.

If there is signs of a septic wound apply a hot poultice made from hot kaolin paste (available from chemists) on a bandage. This will reduce the inflammation until it can be seen by a vet.

If your pet shows any of the following symptoms it is a possibility it could have been poisoned. This can be as a result of eating a poisonous plant, pills, solvents etc.


Lack of co-ordination, convulsions, coma, shivering, tremors, drooling, panting, vomiting, diarrhoea or burns to the mouth.


If your pet is in a coma take it to the vet immediately. Try to find out what your pet has swallowed. If a toxic substance such has solvent, the container's label may give an antidote. If you think it was a corrosive poison such as acid or caustic soda, wash its mouth out with milk or water by holding the animal's mouth open and pouring in the liquid. Call a veterinarian or animal hospital immediately. As long as your pet is not convulsing or unconscious, let it drink as much water as it wants, this will dilute the poison. Take any remaining toxic substance and/or packaging with you to the vet. If you are not sure what it has swallowed taking any suspected items. If you pet has been sick, take a sample with you.

If an animal is stung by a wasp or bee it is usually around the mouth area. If the sting is on the skin rub in an antihistamine ensuring the cream is kept away from the eyes and mouth. However, if the sting is inside the mouth the animal should be seen by a vet immediately.

Get a printable version of First Aid for Cat & Dog Injuries or find more pet related articles on

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Find Your Best Friends in a Playgroup

From board meetings and deadlines to board games and diapers, I transitioned from a public relations professional at a university to a full time stay-at-home mom. Quicker than I expected, isolation and loneliness set in as I spent my days at home with a toddler and a preschooler. Realizing that I had to find other children and at-home parents nearby, my solution was to start a playgroup.

Since then, I have had two more children, founded three more playgroups and a homeschool group, and have written a book. But I would have to say that the most important result from my early playgroup efforts is that my children and I have made lifelong friends! You, too, can find your best friends in a playgroup and enjoy getting out of the house. Picture weekly playgroup sessions and impromptu playdates, someone to talk to about parenting issues and something to do besides sing nursery rhymes and change diapers!

So what are we waiting for? Let's get started!

To save you some time, you may want to look for an existing group in your area first. Contact local churches, libraries, YMCAs and hospitals in your area. Most support groups for parents meet in locations such as these. Surf the Internet for an existing group. Web sites such as, and feature directories of playgroups and parents' groups sorted by city and state.

Check the community calendar of your local newspaper. Many groups advertise their meetings. Join a local chapter of one of the many national organizations for at-home parents, such as MOMS Clubs (Moms Offering Moms Support), MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers) and Mothers and More.

There are also organizations for at-home dads, working parents, parents of multiples, etc. Although many of them require fees, they are nominal and they cover a variety of services, such as playgroups.

If you can't find an existing group to join, start your own playgroup. Follow these steps and soon you and your child will be making new friends!

Read all the ideas for
Finding Your Best Friends in a Playgroup on

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Backyard Camp

Any parent looking for a unique summer camp experience for their child should consider the possibilities of organizing a Backyard Camp in their community.

The Backyard Camp is a fun, creative and extremely affordable summer camp program that has been in existence in Teaneck for many, many years. The commitment of time and resources on families to organize and plan is well worth it when they see all of the fun their children are having.

How does it work?

A Backyard Camp is a parent-organized, summer camp program that alternates between different neighborhood backyards. A teacher and assistant, hired by the families are responsible for providing opportunities for learning and play.

Parents participate in every other way from managing finances to driving on field trips. Parents along with the teachers help to create the atmosphere of the camp.

Why do it?

There are several reasons to start a B.Y.C. One very practical reason is financial. Full service camps run into the thousands of dollars for just one child!

To learn how to organize a Backyard Camp visit

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Growing Butterfly Bushes

What is a butterfly bush? Does it really attract butterflies? Buddleia does indeed attract many varieties of butterflies including Fritillaries, Western Tiger Swallowtails, Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals. The bush has blossoms in white, red, pink, yellow, purple, blue and maroon that cover the entire bush. They look much like lilac blooms and are honey scented. Red varieties may attract hummingbirds!

The butterfly bush was brought to England in the 1700s. It is a native of China where it's called summer lilac. Butterfly Bushes come in many varieties and blooms from midsummer through September. It grows best in fertile, well-drained soil. However, it's very drought tolerant and will survive in some pretty tough situations. In fact, in some places it's considered invasive, so it's recommended that if you live in a natural, wilder area it's best to pull up any volunteers rather than let them spread. The bush can grow from 5 -10 feet and it has a wide, arched branching. You'll need about 6 foot between bushes when spacing.

It's recommended that you cut back the bush each year in winter-in cold climates this would be around November. How close you cut it depends on where you are. If you have a lot of heavy snow it's better to trim back to around 3 foot or so and mulch. If your snow if light then even a foot is okay. It will grow back the next season, and it helps keep it under control. If you do not do this, then at least prune well each year and remove the old woody branches. In warm climates you may cut it back after blooming to encourage a second bloom. Deadheading the blooms can also extend the bloom time, so it's worth the effort.

The butterfly bush needs full sun but will grow in light shade if that is what's available. They are great grown on their own, or in the very back of a border. Of course they are perfect for a butterfly or hummingbird garden. It can be grown from seed though it is a challenge. Pre-chill the seeds for 4 weeks before sowing. They need light to germinate so very lightly cover. They will take up to 90 days to germinate. The easiest way to obtain is from a purchased plant, or stems that have been cut and rooted.

A note if you've never grown butterfly bushes. They do look dead first thing in the spring and some branches die, but wait until May and June to see how it's done over the winter. If there are some dead branches, simply trim them off. In climates like Michigan and other Midwestern states it dies back, and growth only comes from the new wood, so you will have pruning to do in the spring.

Buddleias also make pretty cut flowers. Cut when half the flowers on the stem are open, but before they begin to fade. These should last about a week in a vase, with a conditioner and the water refreshed now and then.

I planted my first butterfly bush this spring. It was growing beautifully, now in the last few weeks it is turning yellow in stem of the leaf.I have giving it plant food 2 time this season, it is in full sun, mulch is around the plant, and the plant looks ready to bloom, but I think leaves will be dead before that. Any advice would be appreciated. ~Hummingbirdcole

It could be spider mites, and if so, try spraying the leaves, especially the underside, with a soap spray. Catherine, the Herb Lady, had shared her spray method and I put it here: spray.html.

Also, make sure it's getting water, but not TOO much-- you don't want it wet all the time, but don't let it get bone dry either. I wouldn't feed it any more this season, just try the spray.

More You Might Like:
Growing Sunflowers
Butterfly Herb Gardens - A Magical View
Butterfly Garden Stake
More Flower Gardening

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Fruit Kabobs

For your next trip to the beach, pack these easy to make fruit kabobs into your cooler for something healthy to munch on. Who says that fast food can't be healthy or nutritious? Kids will love to make this easy fruit recipe!

What You Need

Assorted fruit pieces of your choice (choose from the following):

watermelon, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew
deli turkey, cubed
cheddar cheese, cubed
bendable drinking straws
wooden skewer

To see the instructions visit Summer Fruit Kabobs on

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tornado Alley - The Children's Rooms

I love my children dearly, but I struggle with teaching them to be more orderly in their ways. They thrive on routine - on knowing when things will happen - but their rooms often look like a tornado has passed through. I could continue to pick up after them until they move out, but I don't think my future daughters-in-law (or son-in-law) would appreciate that. Instead, I've tried to organize their rooms in such a way that it is easy for them to keep things picked up.


I've noticed that the younger the child, the more space they need. Cribs, toddler beds, dressers and other items work best against the wall so that there is an open space in the middle of the room. This open space works well for beginning walkers to get their "land legs" and also for playing with big toys (large connecting bricks, sorting cups and shapes, chunky people in playhouses, etc.) I asked a few friends how their children's rooms were set up and found some very similar answers.

Karen, from Georgia, is expecting her 10th child in December, and her three youngest (5, 4 & 2) share a room. Besides a bed each child also has a steamer trunk to hold clothes. Tammy, from Washington, has 7 children. In the baby's room, besides a crib and dresser, is a rocking chair and changing table. Cheryl, from Texas, has 7 children in three rooms. She has a child's bed and baby bed in one room along with two dressers. Corina, also in Texas, has 5 children. The oldest 3 share a room with a futon bunk bed (sleeps two on the bottom and one on the top,) a dresser and a chest of drawers.

As their toys get smaller (and fewer) other furniture can enter the room: shelving units, tables, vanities, sofas, bean bag chairs, etc. Older children can be quite creative with their room arrangements if given the chance. Beds can protrude into the middle of the room and desks or trunks can be placed at the foot. A bookcase can be placed at a 90 degree angle to a desk in a corner creating a nice work station. Remember Karen, the soon-to-be mother of 10? Her 6 oldest sons, ranging in age from 8 to 17, share a room (yes, a large one.) In this room you will find 3 bunk beds, 6 steamer trunks, a weight set, a sofa and chair, a stereo and a floor lamp. If her sons are anything like mine, you'll also probably find a couple of piles of books and school papers, LegoĆ¢ villages (which are not to be disturbed) and assorted plastic bins full of "collections" and various toys. (Okay, I'll admit, the bins are only half full - the other half is spread across the floor!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Taking a Road Trip with Your Baby

To Grandmother's house we go! And you'll be in the car for five whole hours how can you make the trip enjoyable with a baby along?

Learn about it
There's no question: Marathon car trips with a baby on board take a good amount of planning and organization. But it can be done - and yes, it can even be fun!

Planning the trip
In the hustle that precedes a trip, it can be easy to let things happen, instead of make things happen. Be proactive in making your trip decisions. Contemplating these questions, and coming up with the right answers, can help make your trip more successful:
  • Does your baby sleep well in the car? If yes, plan your travel time to coincide with a nap or bedtime so your baby can sleep through part of the journey. If not, plan to leave immediately after a nap or upon waking in the morning. Don't fool yourself into thinking your baby will behave differently than usual in the car just because it's a special occasion. 

  • Is it necessary to make the trip all at once, or can you break it up with stops along the way? The longer your baby is strapped in the carseat, the more likely he'll become fussy. Planning a few breaks can keep everyone in a better frame of mind. 

  • When estimating an arrival time, have you factored in plenty of extra time for unplanned surprises? A diaper explosion that requires a complete change of clothes or a baby whose inconsolable crying requires an unexpected 20-minute stop are just two of the things that can easily happen. 

  • Do you have everything you need to make the trip pleasant?
To see the rest of parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley's tips, go to Taking a Road Trip with Your Baby on

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kid's Craft: Easy Visors & Shades

Sun protection is very important, every parent knows that. While kids don't worry about such things, they will have a blast making their very own sun protection with these fun sunglasses and visors.

You will need

Foam visors and sunglasses
Foam alphabet stickers
Foam stickers in other shapes (flowers, stars, animals, etc)
Glitter glue (optional)

Note: If not using foam stickers you can still use foam shapes and white craft glue.

For the instructions please visit Easy Visors & Shades on

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keep Going When Motivation Takes A Hike

What's the hardest thing about exercising at home? If you're anything like me, it's simple lack of motivation. Before I became a mother, I belonged to a gym. No matter how ambivalent I felt, I knew all I had to do was get myself there and the instructor would take over. Even if I was planning a weight training session, just being at the gym surrounded by other fit and sweating bodies was enough to re-energize me.

At home, I'm more likely to be surrounded by piles of laundry and dishes waiting to be washed. Is it the same in your house?

So what can you do when the motivation slips and you begin to feel that simply getting the house in shape presents enough of a challenge?

The first thing to do is figure out what's causing the problem. Burnout, boredom and failure to see results would be the most likely culprits. Although it's not impossible to suffer from more than one at a time, we'll deal with them one by one.

Burnout happens when you overdo it. You dash headlong into fitness hoping to see results fast. When you see them, you try even harder in a quest for more visible results, greater performance. Soon, you begin to suffer niggling little injuries, unexplained aches and pains, fatigue. Minor infections become more frequent, last longer.Your reasoning goes askew. "I need to be stronger," you think. "If I'm fitter, I'll stop feeling like this."

So you work out even harder.

To see all the other great tips, visit How To Keep Going, When Motivation Takes A Hike on

Monday, June 1, 2009

Recipes for the Grill

Besides the old past times of burgers, brats, italian sausage and hot dogs, there are a variety of other delicious things you can cook on the grill this summer. Don't miss out on these great recipe ideas.

Pork & Onion Kabobs

2 lbs pork tenderloin
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp chili sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp salad oil
1 tbsp minced green onion
1 tsp curry powder
3 medium onions, cut into chunks

Cut meat into one inch cubes. For marinade, combine soy sauce and next five ingredients. Stir in the meat cubes. Cover and refrigerate at least three hours. Stir meat occasionally.

On four long skewers (about 18 inches) thread pork cubes, alternately with onion, reserving leftover marinade. Place skewers on grill over medium coals; cook 20 minutes or until pork is tender, basting meat and onion frequently with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.

To see the other recipes in this feature including:

Turkey & Sausage Kabobs
Barbequed Short Ribs
Chicken on The Grill

visit Recipes for the Grill on

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Early Bird: Waking up too early

Q: "I don't need an alarm clock. Every day my daughter wakes up early - usually before 6:00. Is there any way to get her to sleep longer, or is she just an early bird?"

A: It is true that some children seem to be natural early birds, but only about 10% to 15% actually have a biological tendency to be a complete lark. Another small percentage is somewhat larkish, but most early-rising children are simply waking up early for outside reasons that affect their rising time, and these can be changed.

You may be able to tell if your little one is really a lark is if she:
  • wakes up on her own -- cheerful and chatty
  • is most active and energetic in the late morning to early afternoon
  • sleeps soundly
  • gets tired after dinner
  • goes to bed early and easily
  • wakes up early no matter what time she goes to bed

If this describes your child, you may indeed have a little lark on your hands. Even so, you might be able to squeeze a bit more sleep time in the morning if you make some changes in your child's routines by applying the ideas that follow. If your early-riser doesn't fit the previous description it's likely that she's not a natural-born lark and you'll have good luck encouraging a later wake-up time.

Read more expert advice from Elizabeth Pantley: The Early Bird: Waking up too early on

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Plastic Cup Flowers

April showers bring May flowers, but why wait until May? Create your own beautiful bouquet with goodies from around the house. All you need are some plastic cups and whatever else you have on hand to decorate them with!

You will need

plastic drinking cups
hot glue gun
white craft glue
12" dowel or stick
items to decorate with (beads, buttons, pom poms, tissue paper, paint, etc)

To get the instructions please visit Plastic Cup Flowers on

Friday, May 22, 2009

10 Tips to Help You Save on Gasoline

Gas prices continue to be near all time highs meaning that car travel is taking a larger portion out of each of your paychecks. AAA estimates that the cost of driving a car including all direct and indirect costs has surpassed 50 cents a gallon with that price expected to rise.

Reducing the cost of driving your car can be done fairly easy simply by paying a bit more attention to your car. Here are 10 easy ways to cut the amount of gas your car uses:

1. Purchase your gasoline when it's coolest outside such as in the early morning or at night. Gas becomes denser in cooler temperatures. Since gas pumps only measure the volume of fuel - and not the density - you'll get better overall gas mileage for your money by purchasing fuel when it's cool outside rather than in the heat of the day.

2. Religiously check your car's tire pressure each month (make sure to purchase a good-quality dial-type gauge for yourself -- pencil-style gauges and the ones mounted on the air hose are unreliable according to federal government surveys). Under inflated tires reduce fuel efficiency by 2% for every pound they are under inflated. Under inflation also causes premature tire wear giving your tires a shorter use life.

3. Slow down and drive at the speed limit. Cars use about 20% more fuel driving at 70 miles per hour than they do at 55 miles per hour.

4. Avoid using air conditioning whenever possible. Air conditioning reduces fuel economy by 10% to 20%. Use the air ventilation system instead.

To see the rest of these 10 Tips to Help You Save on Gasoline visit

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Patriotic Water Bracelets

Water bracelets are easy to make and fun to wear. Put these patriotic water bracelets together for the 4th of July or just anytime! Wear them to the July 4th parade and display your craft talent with pride.

What You Need

24 inches of vinyl tubing, 3/8 inch diameter
3 inches vinyl tubing, 1/4 inch diameter
(available at home improvement stores)
1/2 cup water, separated into 2 glasses
red and blue food coloring
2 tbsp. salt
small funnel

For the instruction on how to make this craft visit Patriotic Water Bracelets on

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Daycare Dilemma: When Your Child Cries

Does your child cry when you try to exit the daycare center and head to work? Leaving your child in the hands of another person is stressful enough, but to receive the guilt trip from your little darling doubles the pain. Read our expert's tips on how to ease the transition and make for a smoother morning all around.

Think about it:
As frustrating as this is, when you stop to think of the real reason your child is crying, it may give you a different perspective and a bit more patience. Your little one is crying because she loves you so very much that she can't bear to be parted from you. That kind of love isn't easy to come by.

Don't rush in the morning.
Wake your child early enough so that she can adjust to the day before being whisked off into the car. Give your child something from home to keep in his pocket, such as a picture of the family, a lovey toy or a t-shirt that smells like Mommy.

Schedule five minutes to settle your child at the daycare center.
Ask, "Is there something you'd like to show me before I leave in five minutes?" Show interest in something and try to get your child started in an activity. This brief amount of time can help your child make the adjustment to daycare. (Avoid letting the time extend to longer and longer amounts. Your good bye should be short and sweet.)

To see the rest of parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley's tips and advice go to Daycare Dilemma: When Your Child Cries on

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sandwich Kabobs

Tami Rose, resident Kid's Recipe expert for, shares these two great kid friendly lunches! Kids will love finding these kabobs in their lunchboxes. They are the perfect size for little hands, making a lot less mess to clean up afterwards. Made from all of their favorite sandwich ingredients, moms can rest assured that their kids are eating healthy and not trading with their friends for something else!

Ingredients for 2 Club Kabobs

2 slices of toasted bread
1 slice turkey lunchmeat, cooked
until partially crisp
1 piece of turkey bacon
1 slice of Virginia baked ham
1 slice of American cheese
2 sweet pickle chips
2 Popsicle sticks

What You Do

Remove crust from toast and cut into 4 squares. Roll up lunchmeat, trim ends to square off, then cut into 4 pieces. Cut turkey bacon into 4 pieces, along with the cheese slice into 4 pieces.

Start the layering with a square of toast, then bacon, meat, and pickle. Repeat layers, this time replacing the pickle with cheese.

Best if made the day it is to be eaten. Pack into Ziploc baggie in lunchbox. Serve with a side of ranch dressing for dipping. ** Don't forget to pack an ice pack into the bag to keep everything chilled.

Ingredients for 2 Roast Beef & Cheese Kabobs

1 French or Italian baguette
1 slice deli roast beef
2- 1/4 in. thick chunks of cheddar cheese
2- 1/4 in. thick chunks of Monterey cheese
2 whole black olives
2 Popsicle sticks
fresh lettuce or spinach leaves

What You Do

Slice baguette into 1 in. slices (4 slices needed), and then trim crust and cut each slice into a cube of bread. Roll up roast beef; trim ends to square off, then cut into 4 pieces (you will have 2 pieces left over). Chunk cheese into 1/4 in. thick pieces. Drain olives well on a paper towel before threading on stick.

Start the kabob with a cube of bread. Follow by adding roast beef, one cube of each cheese, the lettuce or spinach and end with another cube of bread. Top each kabob with a black olive.

Best if made the day it is to be eaten. Pack into plastic baggie in lunchbox. Serve with a side of honey mustard for dipping. ** Don't forget to pack an ice pack into the bag to keep everything chilled.

There are a variety of ways to mix and match ingredients to change the flavors of these kabobs so that the kids don't tire of them. Try layering bread, sandwich pepperoni, Mozzarella cheese, a fresh mushroom and a cherry tomato for pizza kabobs or bread, meatballs and Provolone cheese with spaghetti sauce for dipping for a meatballs sub kabob. Get the kids in on the fun! Their imaginations will run wild trying to come up with more and more ideas to create their own "unique" kabobs.

To access a printable version of these Sandwich Kabobs go to