Travel Tips

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Organizing & Planning for Travel

Travel Tips For When Mom Has To Travel & Dad Stays Home To Take Care of The Kids

Do you ever feel like you are an octopus and have to have 8 arms to get it all done? Need a few travel tips to help?

We get to have a get away (maybe work…but maybe fun too) and yet we have to make sure everything is in place for our family when we leave.  So we have a lot to do if we want to leave.

That is just the way it is…we are the moms, the coordinators, we run the house, the schedules, the kids, the friends who help…..we do it all (super mommies!!).

When you travel…do not forget:

1) Itinerary of where you are going to be and phone numbers other than you cell (in case your battery goes dead or you lose it)

2) All the phone numbers of anyone involved in helping with your kids to your husband, any friend or family member who is helping. In case there is a hiccup in the plan…so they can work things out.

3) Leave numbers where your husband can find them, for example school, Doctor office, vet.

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4) Prepare meals ahead of time (if your husband doesn’t cook)

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My kitchen sink when I got home. (But the rest of the house was clean)

5) Leave a clean house if at all possible, so at least it will look good when you leave.

6) Make sure you have everyone’s phone numbers with you and you.

A little effort ahead of time can save many a headache during the time you are gone if things are planned out.

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Car Accident

September 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, Health & Safety

My Son Was In A Car Accident. Thank Goodness He is Alright!

wrecked car

My son John on the left was on his way to meet his brother Drew (right), Tim and myself for lunch yesterday.  Drew was in town from TN and we were going to have lunch together after I got off work.

He was sitting in a line of cars as someone ahead was making a left hand turn and he was plowed into from behind by a big SUV. He had a Honda Civic.  It forced John’s car into the car in front of him.  John’s little car definitely was the loser in this.  It will more than likely be totaled…but that is ok. (And by the way he works at Carmax, so he won’t have too hard of a time looking for a new car. LOL

John is going to be fine. He has whiplash and is going to be checked out this morning by a Doctor.  When he first talked to me on the phone when it first happened he said his neck hurt but he was ok. I knew then…it was only going to get worse…and it did.

It just makes me soooo thankful.  I have to think of all those parents who get that call made by someone other than their child…because their child won’t ever make another call.  So it gives me time to reflect..be sooo thankful and say a prayer of praise.

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Computers

I have to admit that over the last couple of weeks I have come to hate my computer.  I think that is because I love it so much!  I know..doesn’t make much sense does it?

I so love working on my blog, twittering and writing articles …and when I am not able to do it, or do it in the fashion I am used to…then I get upset.

My computer has been ill. Yes…it went to the computer hospital for 8 days and I finally got it back Tuesday. It was my understanding that they were going to reload all the saved data they took off for me.  Well…it wasn’t done and what I heard on the phone (and of course it only made sense) was that they couldn’t do anything without my computer and if I wanted to bring it back in they would take care of it.  NO!! I told them….you have had it for 8 days and I need it.

Ok….so for the last 2 1/2 days all I have done is try to reload everything. I have picture folders and files everywhere….I can’t open my Palm Pilot information. I can’t open some other important information.  I am having trouble (started yesterday) with my right click on my computer. I didn’t realize how much I copy and paste and use spell check…until I couldn’t do it.  But sometimes it works?  What is up with that? Oh…and it blue screened 15 minutes before my MomTv show last night. Thank goodness my husband was there to calm me down and get it going again.

I am going to take it back to them today and let them reload it all properly (I did pay for it so to go somewhere else wouldn’t make sense either).

I was going to have another guest post by Stephanie today on Toy Organizing..but guess what..I can’t load her pictures.  Go figure.

I apologize for the lack of post in the last week…and my gripping (if you follow me on twitter)…but I love doing this so much and when my baby (computer) isn’t working right…I hate that I can’t do it.

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Walmart Room Reveal

I finally am able to share my Walmart room reveal with you.  I have had a few issues along the way, but we finally got the room complete and just love it!!

Our journey was so fun to do Tim’s room.  Tim, 16 years old and Drew, 15 years old shared a room.  They made the decision together who would keep the Walmart room and who would have a room in the presently unfinished basement.  Drew decided he wanted the basement room. He calls it his “Man Cave” and loves it.

We used the Walmart Your Zone website to do our decision making.  There were things on the site that we couldn’t find in the stores, and seeing it all in one place and being able to use the virtual room make over feature on the Walmart site made it easier.

Over all we have been thrilled with the Your Zone line. Yes…we really did do the “Happy Dance”. The colors are fun, the products are very reasonable and you can create so many different looks for your teen.  I would have no  problem recommending Walmart and the Your Zone line to any of you.

We got the bed in the store and actually my 16 year old was able to assemble it himself. I was impressed by that.  We ordered the Your Zone desk, comforter and a gadget holder that he can use to keep his cell phone and Ipod in to charge off the site.  There was a problem with the area and a tax change (somehow there was a glitch in the system)  so I could not  order the products  for a couple of weeks.  But  Walmart had several people working on it and I was contacted personally by phone by them letting me know what was going on and that it would be resolved on August 20th.  It was and I was able to order them.  They came within a few days. You can also order “Site To Store” and they will ship the product to the store for you to pick up and that way there are no shipping cost for you to incur.

I do have a couple of concerns with two of the products that I want to share with you.  I pride myself on being honest on my reviews…so all of the good stuff you can believe!! And 99% of it is good..but here is the 1% I feel I need to tell you.

Tim got to work putting the desk together as soon as it came and while he was doing it the shelf broke…he was turning it on an angle to screw in another piece and it snapped. Walmart again was wonderful and told me they would send me a new desk.  When it arrived my husband put it together.    It is a great desk for a student and is a wonderful price, but he said that he had to be very careful putting it together.  The screws were stripping very easily and he couldn’t screw them in as tight as he felt he needed to.  It isn’t wobbly at all though.  He also was very careful when he came to the part where it broke for Tim, it had to be flat instead of the angle you might want to put it at that point (it does tell you to have it flat in the directions). Now that it is up and in the room, he loves it…and I don’t see any problems with it. It does seem very solid.  If it seemed real “cheapy” I would let you know…but it doesn’t at all and I do not see any future problems with it.

The other problem we had was when the gadget holder came (online only) it was damaged.  I had thought I would order another one, but was concerned after seeing this one, that it might not be the quality that I had hoped it to be, so I just returned the one and did not order another one.  If it had not been damaged it would have worked out fine I am sure, but it was not as solid as I had thought it would be.

But with both of those negatives being said…I have to say I would do it all again. I would order the desk and I would order the bed and everything else that is in the room.  My son is absolutely thrilled with his room. He has taken pictures on his phone and sent them to friends to “show off” his room.

I have been so impressed by the selection, products and the great prices.  It makes it possible for most any of us to remodel a teenagers bedroom for very little money.  Who doesn’t like that?

Thank you Walmart, Your Zone for making this possible.  Thank you also for offering my readers the chance to make over a room themselves.  I can’t wait to see the make over room of my winner!!

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Toy Sorting and Organizing

September 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cleaning, Playroom

Toys can become overwhelming. Your kids get them for Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and any special occasion. How do you tell Grandma “No more toys?” Plus the fact that we love buying them ourselves and watching our kids open them or be surprised by them right? So does that mean we never get rid of them?
Heck no! Other wise your toy room can also look like this. Toys everywhere and no room for the children.

So what do you do?
You need to sort the toys just like you sort through anything.
Follow your 5 sorting tips:
1) Keep
2) Donate
3) Store
4) Move to another room
5) Throw away

You can choose to do this with your child present or without your child there.  I personally do most of my sorting when my kids are not there.  But I have done it both ways. I do have to say that I have never (honest) had one of my kids come back and miss something I threw away.  They know I cleaned and they are usually so happy with how things look that they aren’t upset at all. 

If there is something really special that your child loves and wants to keep…then you can let them keep it. If your child wants to have one keepsake box (and you have the room to store it) then limit them to that box. Even as they grow…only that one box, so if they fill it with toys this year – then next year when they want to add something special they will need to take out something to make room.

The other big thing with cleaning up and getting rid of extra toys is simple: The kids almost feel like they have new toys. There are toys they haven’t seen in months or forgot about because they were buried at the bottom of a toy box. Now they have new batteries and are on the shelf and all of a sudden it is fun to play with again.

Think about it: Do you appreciate your things when you can get to them…remember where they are and can use them…or would you rather have a whole bunch of “stuff” that isn’t usable because you can’t find it.

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Decluttering the Toys

September 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cleaning, Guest Post, Playroom

Decluttering The Toys

by Stephanie Calahan

She has some great advice and was wonderful to offer me two guest posts on kids and organizing.
Please read Stephanie’s post as she offers her thoughts on helping kids to sort through their toys.

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Elmo

‘Disappear’ Toys or Ask Your Child to Choose Which Ones to Give Up?


One of my Twitter friends @CarlaYong posted this question

“A question for the Moms out there: better to ‘disappear’ toys or ask your child to choose which ones to give up?  A bit more info on my Q: DD just turned 4YO & has previously willingly given up toys to younger friends & does get attached to everything!

I am asked this question frequently, so I thank Carla for the blog post inspiration!  Keep reading for my reply.

When my son was about 2 years old, we started teaching him how to make choices about his belongings.  He was very into picking toys, books, clothes, etc. that could go to another kid that did not have as much as he did.  He was excellent and empathetic, and we thought, “Wow, this is going to be easier than we thought.”

At about the same age he was a complete and total Elmo fan. He had all kinds of Elmo things.  There was one in particular — it was a simple stuffed Elmo.  Nothing fancy to him, but Elmo was his best buddy and went everywhere with him.

Well, over time, he of course lost interest in Elmo.  When he was about 5 years old, we were in his play room in the basement going through his things.  Out popped Elmo.  Since he had not played with stuffed toy in at least two years, I suggested that Elmo should go to a new home.  This is somewhat of how the conversation went…

NO!!!!! he screamed, quite passionately.  “I don’t want him to go….” he whimpered

So I tried to reason with him first…

But D, you have not played with him in a long time.  Do you really think that you are going to play with him again?

He then looks at me with those loving, pitiful eyes that only your child can get away with…

“Momma, I’ll play with him now that I remember him.”

OK, reason did not work like it used to.  He is now old enough to have learned that “things” hold some kind of emotional value.  Elmo represented his first best buddy.  Elmo was comfort and fun times.  Elmo was before school work….  This would require a totally different strategy… how about greed?

OK, but what if we sold Elmo at the resell shop and he will go to a little boy or girl that really likes him?  You can take the money and get something else.

“No, I don’t want Elmo to go to someone else.  He is MY friend.”

AAAHHHH!!  I had it figured out now.  I could do a lesson on friendship and still de-clutter.

But how do you think Elmo feels?

“What do you mean?”

Well, have you been a very good friend to him lately?  I mean, think about it D.  Elmo used to go with you everywhere.  He played with you and visited cool places with you and stayed in your nice comfy bed at night. Now look at him.  He is in the cold basement in the back of a dark cabinet!

“Oh no!  I have been a terrible friend.  I am so sorry Elmo.” he cried hugging the toy.  “Mom, I don’t want Elmo to feel sad.”

It was at that point that he acknowledged (to himself) that he really would not play with Elmo anymore.

OK, I tell you what… Ms. Jeannine has a little boy who LOVES Elmo now.  How about we drive over to her salon and we can give her Elmo for her little boy.  That way, you know where he is going and you know that he will continue to be loved.

“OK.  Can we do it now?”

So, we drove over to my friend’s salon and while we were parked, my son had a tearful goodbye with his first best friend.  We then walked into the salon and he talked with my stylist and explained that he wanted her son to have him.

She was touched—you could tell that this was a difficult parting for my son.  She even teared up a bit.

As we drove home, we stopped by Dairy Queen for a little treat.  As we ate our ice cream he was already giggling and talking about other things.

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I told this in a story form because I think it is important to see how this technique can play out in a situation with your child.  By personifying Elmo – by giving him feelings and making him more like a live person – my child had a totally different way of looking at the situation.

Yes, the drive to the salon took more time than I had originally allotted for that particular project, but my son learned so many good lessons:

  • Empathy – thinking of how his actions could make someone else feel.
  • Charity/Generosity – thinking of how my stylist’s son would enjoy playing with the toy.
  • How to Make Difficult Decisions – it was not easy for my son to make the choice he did, but by helping him learn to make that choice at 5-years-old, other more difficult choices at a later age would be easier to make.
  • Mom Was There for Him – because I did not take the toy out behind his back, or tell him that he had no choice…because I took the time to help him make a decision his way and gave him the respect to say goodbye to a good friend and understand his feelings.

Overall, I’d say that was worth it for me!  Since then, we have had other challenges when it is time to let things go and as he gets older, I use more of the techniques that I use with my adult clients.  But this, by far, is one of my favorite de-cluttering stories.

How would you have handled this situation?  Do you think I took it too far?  What are your thoughts?  How have you helped your child let go of things?  I know my Twitter friend would love the tips and my other readers would too.  Please share in the comments section below.

To your success!
Stephanie
@StephCalahan

You can hear more from Stephanie at her business blog or her family/home blog or get social/network with her!

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Celebrate Chocolate Tuffles Review

September 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews & Giveaways

Truffles inside
Eating yummy chocolates and losing weight? Ok…something just doesn’t seem right here does it? I LOVE chocolate and I seem to always be trying to lose weight (I’m sure the same is true for many of you) so when asked to sample these Celebrate chocolates (see disclosure) I jumped on it! (who wouldn’t…it’s chocolate after all!)
The first hint that these were going to be good was when I was told to watch my mail because this is “chocolate that Does melt in your hand” as she put it in the e-mail. (I thought that was cute). Above is pictured a box with the classic celebrate and the one on the right is the creation celebrate box.
cherry truffle
This is the cherry truffle. There is a pretty printed design on the truffles.
inside cherry truffle
Here is the yummy insides.
What I noticed about these chocolates was that they really were good. I did not get the feeling I was eating some kind of “diet” chocolate. I will tell you what…when you are hungry eating a piece of this actually does help. Because I knew I couldn’t eat all of them at once…I did savor each piece. There was no after taste or pasty feeling left in my mouth. I was actually sorry I only got the 2 small boxes sent to try because I would have enjoyed more! LOL
inside almond
This is the cocoa covered almond. It was very good, although I have to admit that if I had to choose, I would pick the truffles before I would pick the almond…but that is just me.

The premise of these chocolates that are made with Avocado, Macadamia nut, and Hemp seed oils. Here is the write up of how these help you lose weight straight from the Celebrate site.

“When you savor one or two Celebrate Chocolates about 20 minutes before a meal – when your stomach is not full – it passes more quickly into your intestinal track. There, as it is digested, along with the natural cocoa oils, it begins to tell your body you are beginning to get full.
Somewhere in the middle of your meal you will notice your appetite fading away. As a result, you eat less.”

To Purchase Your Own:
Go to Celebrate Chocolate Truffles and order them for fast delivery or look for a retailer selling them near you.


To Win:
You will win the 2 boxes as pictured above! (can’t you just taste them now!)

1) Go to Celebrate Chocolate and tell me what the percentage of cocoa the dark truffles have. Then come back here and comment. Your e-mail address needs to either be on this post or easily accessible.

For Extra chances to Win:**Each of these HAS to have a separate comment written please. (I know its a pain, but other wise you won’t have as many chances if you don’t.)

1) Subscribe to my blog with the feeder or by e-mail. 5 extra chances.
2) Blog about this giveaway for 5 extra chances.
3) Follow me on Twitter
4) Follow me on Facebook
5) Follow me on Linked In
6) Fav me on Technorati
7) Stumble Upon me Either add me to your favorites, or write a review.
8) Tweet out this giveaway up to 3 times per day.
9) Add any of my 3 buttons to your sidebar and come back to let me know.

See….lots of ways to enter to win!

This Contest Ends Monday Sept. 17th at 11:59 pm est.  *THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED*

This contest is open to US mailing addresses only. Only one person from home can enter.

You will have 48 hours to respond to my e-mail if you win to be eligible. If I don’t hear from you then I will go on to the next winner.

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Sorting Keepsakes, Heirlooms and Memorabilia

001

This is the statement I hear time and time again. I have to say that I am not immune to it either. There are always things that are special from our loved ones, that we do not want to part with. I am not saying you have to part with all of it either. But there needs to be a limit to what you keep.
The problem lies when people can’t get rid of any of it. If it isn’t something that you are able to have out and enjoy to remember those who gave it to us, owned it before us or made it…then why keep it?
I will tell you what my husband said to me just today as we were going through a box of his departed fathers belongings…(I posed the same question to him). He said,….”So that I can keep it packed in a box and every 10 years or so go through it and remember it.” But really…think about it. Is that really worth the space it may be taking up?
I suppose if you have the extra storage space for it…that would be fine, but many of us do not have the space.
It is the memories we want and cherish usually more than the actual item.

So what do you do?
1) Evaluate how important it REALLY is.
a) Do you love it? Or do you feel “obligated” to keep it?
b) Can you use it or display it?
c) Is it valuable?
d) Do you have room for it?

2) If you decide to keep it you need to decide:
a) How can I use it?
b) Do I have room to display it?
c) Do I have room to store it?
d) If I think its worth something, then how will I get that value out of it?

3) If you decide to store it you need to decide:
a) Where?
b) Why?
c) How will this benefit me in this box? (Limit yourself to 1 box per family member)
d) Does it bring a positive memory? Let go of things that bring a negative memory.

How can I keep the memories without keeping the item? Here are some ideas.
1) Take pictures of it. Works for artwork too, pose your child with their pictures & take a picture of them.
2) Take small items and use in a display or shadowbox or display cabinet.
3) Pictures can be made into jewelry. Here is an Etsy site that I think is great.
4) Make it into a quilt. (Watch for an upcoming review and giveaway of one of these!)
5) Make a memory notebook or album. You can use pictures or small items in it.

You do not have to have the item to have the memory.

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OGIO Backpack

ogio backpack
I have to tell you that my son was sooo excited for this review! He looked at several backpacks that could have been reviewed from OGIO and he picked “that cool one mom” backpack. The OGIO company was nice enough to give us one to review . What I was happy about with the OGIO Mastermind  was that the straps were wide, and heavily padded. He complains every year about his backpack straps hurting and they almost always break before the end of the year. He has over a mile to walk to school everyday and with all of the stuff he always carries I know that he is happy with these straps, as am I.
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The quality of this backpack is seen from the straps to the interior.
Here is the description of the different pockets straight off the site:
Back panel side entry padded laptop sleeve / Front vertical file organizer / Large center storage area / Power cord and mouse storage / Four large exterior pockets / Neoprene top grab handle / Heavy duty reinforcements / Airline ticket sleeve / Weatherproof fleece lined audio pocket with headphone exit port / Sliding sternum strap / Deluxe organizer panel / Fits most 17″ laptop / Laptop sleeve 17″h x 13″w x 2″d

As you can see this backpack can be used for kids, but there is no reason that an adult could not use this one!
Tim with Ogio backpack

To Purchase Your Own:
Go to OGIO to purchase. By the way…this company has sooooo many other products! There are golfbags, luggage…you really need to check it all out.

To Win:

1) Go to  OGIO and find the tell me the 2 other colors this backpack comes in.  Then come back here and comment.  Your e-mail address needs to either be on this post or easily accessible.

For Extra chances to Win:**Each of these HAS to have a separate comment written please. (I know its a pain, but other wise you won’t have as many chances if you don’t.)

1) Subscribe to my blog with the feeder or by e-mail. 5 extra chances.
2) Blog about this giveaway for 5 extra chances.
3) Follow me on Twitter
4) Follow me on Facebook
5) Follow me on Linked In
6) Fav me on Technorati
7) Stumble Upon me Either add me to your favorites, or write a review.
8) Tweet out this giveaway up to 3 times per day.
9) Add any of my 3 buttons to your sidebar and come back to let me know.

See….lots of ways to enter to win!

This Contest Ends Monday Sept. 14th at 11:59 pm est. THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. ANY ENTRIES AFTER 11:59 pm est on Sept. 14th will not be eligible.
This contest is open to US mailing addresses only. Only one person from home can enter.

You will have 48 hours to respond to my e-mail if you win to be eligible. If I don’t hear from you then I will go on to the next winner.

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My Trip To MARS!

September 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Conference, Blogging and Social Media

Car loaded with Troy Pattee, John Andrews, Jeff Holden and John Kim ...can't see Jyl Pattee or Lucretia Pruitt

Car loaded with Troy Pattee, John Andrews, Jeff Holden and John Kim ...can't see Jyl Pattee or Lucretia Pruitt

I drove to Detroit to go to a tweet up with people from MARS advertising, Whrrl, Collective Bias and #GNO. I had a great time and was so glad I went. A group of us went across the street to get some pizza afterwards. I had a car there, so drove several of them to their hotel…and then got lost getting back to mine…at almost MN. LOL

I had a wonderful time. Thanks MARS advertising, Whrrl, Collective Bias, #GNO for having a great get together and making me feel so welcome.

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Laundry Room Organizing

September 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cleaning, Decorating, DIY, Laundry room or Bathroom

I tour of my laundry room.  You can really add a lot of space to your laundry rooms. Look up…look at any wall space that may be available.  Even if you have a closet for your washer and dryer..look at the space above them. There may be one shelf, but could you add a couple of shelves above or below?

Dress up your laundry room with fun colors!! Its a easy, inexpensive and can make your laundry room feel a little cheerier to go into!

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