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