Friday, March 30, 2007

Want Some Cool Easter Crafts and Activities...You Found the Right Place!

Easter is coming soon...are you ready? I'm always on the lookout for new and fun things to do with the kids at Easter. I came across this Easter Fun Pack the other day and was so excited about it! It has some really cool and useful stuff like:

* Easter Games and Activities

* Easter Crafts to do with the Kids

* 6 Step-by-step face painting instructions to turn your little cutie into an Easter Bunny!! (photos come with it - makes it a snap)

* 16 Coloring and Activity pages that you can print out for your child to create an Easter masterpiece!

It's fun and affordable - $7 for the entire pack! Click here to check it out. It's an immediate download, so you and your kids can start the fun right now!

Happy Easter!

p.s. Do you want a FREE preview?? Here's a coloring page from the Easter Fun Pack. Just click on the "Easter Bunny with Basket" under the Coloring Pages category. It's our special gift to you!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sibling Rivalry - What Can You Do?

Sibling rivalry is common among children. Many times when introducing a new baby into a family, the existing child will display feelings of jealousy. Even established families, with two or more children, frequently deal with rivalry between siblings. For example, I had my first two fairly close together (21 months) - they are opposite sex siblings and they FIGHT like cats and dogs.

As a parent dealing with this rivalry, you should not expect your children to overcome sibling rivalry and jealousy overnight. This is something that usually needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis, especially as your children grow older. My brother and I grew up almost as twins (he's exactly 1 year older) and we fought and fought and fought (I know the fighting between my two is God's way of paying me back). we grew older, we really grew to appreciate the other's strengths and companionship. We became friends in high school and have remained close ever since.

One way to help your children overcome their feelings of jealousy is to spend special time with each child individually. By sharing in quality time with each child on a one-on-one basis, you let them know that they are not in competition with each other. This can be very tough to arrange - especially if you have more than 2 children, but it is worth the effort!

When you are forced to referee, allow each child a turn to speak. Listen to their opinions and give each child equal time. Many times sibling rivalries can be easily resolved by just offering an ear. Frustrated children may not always know how to express their frustrations without becoming irritated. Teach them to use their words to express their feelings to you and each other.

Above all, never take sides. The last thing you want to do alienate one of your children and give the other one the idea that you are more partial to him than the other. This will only lead to even more sibling jealousy and just escalate the situation even more.

Lastly, help your children by offering them a simple solution. Even better, offer them questions to make them think about the conflict and come up with their own solution. This will help them work on their problem-solving skills and people skills at the same time. After all, isn't the goal to raise a confident, independent individual?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Easter Ice Cream Nests

This is the perfect kid-friendly dessert. Guaranteed to be a hit!

20 milk chocolate mini-eggs unwrapped
½ cup miniature marshmallows
1 tablespoon Light corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ cups corn flakes (crushed)
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate syrup for topping

Lightly grease 6 muffin cups and set aside. Microwave 12 of the 18 chocolate eggs (make sure they’re uncovered) in a microwave-safe bowl for about 1 minute (or a little less) and stir. If not fully melted microwave another 10 seconds.

Combine the butter, corn syrup and marshmallows in another bowl and microwave for about 15 seconds, stir until melted and add the melted chocolate and cereal to it. Mix the mixture well. Press mixture into the bottom and sides of the muffin cups to form a “nest” shape. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour. Remove the nests from the muffin cups very carefully and let stand at room temperate for approximately 15 minutes.

Place a small scoop of vanilla ice cream inside each nest, top with another unwrapped chocolate egg and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's Spring!

What a great morning for a walk! Strolled the little one over to the sitter's house and am enjoying a nice brisk walk home. It's great working from home!

p.s. Remember to take time to smell the flowers :)

Monday, March 26, 2007

You CAN Fight the Middle Age Spread

This is it...the magical year - I'm turning 40 this fall. I'm starting to see it and maybe you are too. The Middle Age Spread!

Is this just a fact of life? I have many friends over 40 who tell me that it really is a turning point in your life emotionally AND physically. Is this something that I can fight? Are exercise and diet enough to ward off this impending doom? According to weight loss experts, it’s all in the metabolism. When you hit middle age (somewhere in the 40 range), your metabolism changes. Your body somehow puts on the brakes.

There is hope, though. Here are some tips that can help speed up your metabolism when you reach that magical age :)

The main ingredient in increasing your metabolic rate is to increase muscle mass (which burns more calories) and, at the same time, reduces your body fat. This is not to say you should pump up your muscles to such an extent that you redefine your body image; but it is a well known fact that without exercise, you lose muscle not fat. Therefore, if you wish to avoid the middle age spread, begin an exercise program which is appropriate for you. Try walking 20 minutes a day, and work up to a mile or more. If you enjoy swimming, this is another very healthy exercise which can shed those pounds. More importantly, these exercises speed up your metabolism which yield a higher rate of return. In other words, more calories will be expended after your exercise routine is finished.

Perhaps the most important key to keeping your metabolism at a higher rate is to eat low-fat foods. Combined with strong doses of protein such as fish, and leafy green vegetables, a healthy and balanced diet has proven to be the best method in which you can burn fat and gain additional energy. Leans meats, chicken and low-fat dairy products can be very beneficial in burning calories. While it is true that not everyone’s metabolism is the same, it is also true you can maintain the same metabolic rate in middle age as you did in your early adult years. A proper diet is the key.

Emotional Well-Being
Try to remain stress-free. Yoga can be a great stress reducer! It will not only improve your emotional state, but your physical being as well. We all tend to eat when stressed or depressed - that's where the term "comfort food" came from. Maintaining a balance within will deter you from eating and snacking unnecessarily.

While fighting the middle age spread may sound difficult to achieve, it doesn’t have to be. If you exercise, enhance your diet with nutritional fat burning calories, try to keep your stress level to a minimum, you can be feeling lean and mean just like you did in your twenties!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tips On Avoiding Yeast Infections

We've all had them...we all hate them...yeast infections. If you have managed to escape the joy of one of these in your lifetime, then consider yourself very lucky! Those of us who haven't been so lucky...listen up! You know what a pain it is to get rid of one, so why not avoid one before it even starts?

Try these tips and you may just cut down on those nasty infections:

  • Perfumed soaps are a no-no. They don’t lather well, but they make you skin smell great. After a week or so, you notice an itch down below that you can’t seem to get rid of. Itching turns to redness which becomes inflamed almost overnight. Perfumes may be okay for the rest of the body, but they irritate the vaginal area. Candida albicans, the fungus that causes yeast infections are allowed to grow out of control when the good bacteria of the vagina are decreased by the perfume in the soaps. Use a non-deodorant soap to clean this delicate area and rinse thoroughly.
  • Avoid antibiotics when possible. Antibiotics, when taken for the full ten day course, cause vaginal yeast infections. One infection is cured, but another that is just as painful crops up. What to do? Eat yogurt. The live bacterial cultures counteract the effects of the antibiotics. As soon as your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for you, load up on the Dannon! Actually any yogurt will do. One container a day should be enough.
  • Shed the wet clothing. Fungus and other kinds of bacteria love moist, wet places on the body. They are ideal spots for growth. After a day in the pool or a hard workout at the gym, change out of those damp clothes as soon as possible. You may not feel wet in the vaginal area after a workout, but if you are sweating heavily everywhere else, you are damp there, too.
  • Tighter is not better. Tight fitting underwear and pants increase the heat in the vaginal area. There is no way for air to circulate and keep the genitals cool and dry. Loosen up, literally. Choosing cotton underwear over nylon will absorb the wetness and keep it away from the body. Pants don’t have to be baggy, but they should have room to breathe.
  • Put away that vinegar and water. Many women feel the need to cleanse their vaginal area after their menstrual period. There are several kinds of douches and sprays on the market for that purpose. My gynecologist told me that there was no need to use anything but plain soap and water to clean the vaginal area. Using a cleansing product internally upsets the acidic environment of the vagina, wiping out the natural bacteria.
Vaginal yeast infections are not life threatening, but they can interrupt your daily life. Pass these tips along to the young ladies in your household too. If they begin to follow these simple tips and incorporate them into their daily hygiene regimen, they can live their life hopefully yeast-free!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thumbs Up Thursday - Lessons from the Scrapbook Page

Thumbs Up Thursday is here and I've got a great one for you. Tasra with Lessons from the Scrapbook Page has got it all together! Tasra has a lot of experience to offer her readers of this blog. She's an author, a podcaster, a personal discovery coach and speaker.

One particular post that really hit home with me was A Simple Strategy to Help You Organize Your Life.

Just last week I was struggling with some inner turmoil (falling into the rut of being a SuperMom and losing my identity). It took a swift kick in the butt from my really good friend to put me back on track and start getting back to ME.

Tasra does the same thing in this post with an inspiring video to back it up! It's about 6 minutes long - take the time and watch'll help YOU get back on track.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This Designer Rocks!...or Rather Splats!

Lindsay at Splat Designs specializes in designing custom Blogger templates. She's got some really great work and she's got a great portfolio that you can check out on the site!

As you can see above - she's having a contest for a free custom template and I want to win that free on over to Splat Designs and check it out.

p.s. She has some really cool FREE stuff too :)

7 Cardio Exercises - 7 Days of Fun For Your Kids!

We have become a sedentary society. What with all the T.V. shows, computer programs, and video games available now, it’s hard to get kids (and ourselves) up and moving anymore. That’s one big reason why childhood obesity is becoming more and more prevalent.

Now that the weather's getting warmer, getting your child in shape doesn’t have to be such a fight. Here are 7 ideas for 7 great days of workout fun for your kids. Why don't you join them and make it a family affair?

  1. Tennis. If your child isn’t into traditional team sport, then tennis is a great alternative. It gives a great cardio workout while also working various muscle groups and improving hand-eye and overall coordination. Plus, even though your child isn’t necessarily working on a team, tennis is a great way to meet and socialize with other kids.
  2. Hacky sack. This is a simple cheap way to get your kids up and moving. It also teaches coordination, balance, and helps your kids socialize and work together in a group to accomplish something. Plus, unlike most group sports, there are no teams so children are trying to beat their old records instead of trying to win.
  3. Dance. Sure, you can enroll your child in dance classes, or you could just turn on the radio a couple times a week and make up silly dances to go along with the songs. This not only encourages movement, balance, and coordination, it also work out kid’s brains by getting them to be imaginative. We do this ALL of the time in our household. It not only gives us exercise, but lets us blow off some stress from the day at the same time!
  4. Video games. These have gotten a bad rap in the past few years, physical video games have come a long way since the original Nintendo. Now there are tons of products available that get your child to stand up and move. One popular game series is Dance Dance Revolution (this is especially popular with our neighborhood girls). There are also games on the new Nintendo Wii system that encourage physical movement. These are a fun entertaining way for your kids to get a workout while they play video games.
  5. Soccer. There’s a reason there are so many soccer moms around - because these moms know that soccer is a great way for children to get their heart rate up, improve their footwork skills, learn teamwork, and have fun at the same time. Plus, if you’re worried about the problem of intense competition, there are many areas with leagues that don’t keep score. This has been and still is a great way for your kids to stay in shape.
  6. Swimming. Doing laps is a great way to get an aerobic workout without causing a lot of wear and tear on your child’s growing bones and joints. It’s fantastic and increasing endurance and stamina. Plus, a pool is a great place for them to hang out, play, and meet new kids in the neighborhood during the summer.
  7. Jumping rope. This is a great workout whether it’s done the traditional way, or the newer more faced paced version. This can help your child meet new people, and some areas even have it as a competitive sport.
There you go - 7 ideas make for one great week of working out. Get out and have some fun!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Rotten Sneaker Day!

Today is National Rotten Sneaker Day.

WHOOPEE! EVERY day at my house is Rotten Sneaker Day...and it's not just the boys, mind you...the girls contribute their share too.

We have the best time with the youngest - when she was a baby and I would change her diaper, I would grab her feet, put them to my nose and say "Pee-You!" When she was really young, she would she got a little bit older, she would giggle...and a little bit older, she would let out a huge guffaw! Now, she is forever taking her socks and shoes off (she comes by that honestly - I love walking around in my bare feet too), she lays down on her back and sticks her feet in the air..."Smell my feet mama!"

What does this lovely little anecdote have to do with Rotten Sneaker Day? She has REALLY SMELLY FEET! No doubt due to her REALLY SMELLY SNEAKERS!

So, as a tribute to this lovely holiday, I will take all of the yucky sneakers in our house and put them in the washing machine. If that doesn't help - I will have to resort to throwing them away in the trash ...I couldn't subject anyone else to the nasty hand-me-downs.


Need Some Alternatives to Easter Candy?

Every year moms try to decide what to give their kids for Easter. No doubt the kids would prefer candy and chocolate, but if you're feeling that the kids are getting too much of a bad thing on a daily or weekly basis, there are some other alternatives to put in Easter baskets this year.

Fill their baskets with some of these:

  • Fruits and cookies
  • Mini boxes of raisins and low fat candies
  • Hand puppets - they can make their own play!
  • Stuffed bunny rabbits and jelly beans (no fat and low in calories)
  • Brightly colored plastic eggs with coins inside each egg (kids love money!)
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Small toys from the dollar store
  • Bubbles
  • Books (all ages love these)
  • Puzzles
  • Scrapbooking kit and disposable camera
  • Snack size packages of Goldfish crackers
  • Play-Doh (brings back memories, doesn't it?)
  • Sugarfree gum for the older ones
  • Packages of baseball cards (or in my house Yu-Gi-Oh! cards)

There are lots of alternatives to filling the baskets high with unhealthy creative and use your imagination!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Does Your Family Have a First Aid Kit?

Whether it’s the recent rash of violent storms which have plagued our country, or unavoidable accidents in the home; having a first aid kit is essential to treat anyone in your family at a moment’s notice.

Does your family have a first aid kit? If not, you can either buy a kit already equipped for home use or take a little time to put one together. Here are some items you will need:

  • Bandages of different sizes, including triangular
  • Tape, preferably adhesive
  • Alcohol wipes (which you can buy by the box)
  • Antibiotic ointment or creams (Neosporin)
  • Disposable Ice Packs
  • Disposal latex gloves
  • Gauze pads of various sizes (including a roll of self-adhesive gauze)
  • Tylenol, Advil and Aspirin
  • Ipecac
  • Antihistamine
  • Epinephrine
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Safety Pins

While you may have most of these supplies in your medicine cabinet, it is a safety measure to be able to access these items if they were in one container. If there was an emergency, such as the recent rash of snowstorms and hurricanes in the U.S., this would be the first item you would need to grab as you exit your home. Perhaps your child fell off his bike and is badly hurt, having this kit immediately available can same him a great deal of pain until you rush him to a hospital or clinic.

You can also add to the kit any items you feel necessary. Maybe some things you didn’t have in the past when confronted with a home accident, sudden illness, or child injury. If your local community offers a one day course on first aid, which also includes CPR training, it would be a good idea for the entire family to participate. When faced with any life threatening situation at home, at least you will be prepared and have whatever you need to assist your loved ones.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Inexpensive Easter Gift Ideas for Kids

As kids, we loved Easter, right? It was especially fun not only coloring Easter eggs but hunting for them in the morning. Mom always found neat places to hide them.

We used to have baskets every year - the Easter Bunny would hide them and we would have a ball trying to figure out where they were hidden.

Easter has come a long way since we were kids! Everything seems to be large and very expensive! It doesn't have to be that way. You can still provide a really good time for the kids without breaking the bank. I've put together 7 inexpensive ideas that will bring a smile to the little ones' faces on Easter morning:

1. For your younger children, you can put together an Easter basket filled with homemade cookies; Easter coloring books and crayons; and, of course, a small and inexpensive chocolate Easter Bunny.

2. Another favorite treat for kids is the very popular marshmallow chicks. These have been around since we were kids, and these are sure to be a hit with yours, too! You can add these to a small basket; take different colored tissue paper and cut them into strips to make a nest; line the basket; add the chicks along with a small bag of jelly beans, and some chocolate Easter eggs.

3. If you want to cut down on the number of sweets your child eats, you can buy an Easter basket and some straw, and fill it with little toys from the dollar store. You may even want to include a few kids’ books as well.

4. How about an Easter basket filled with cookies shaped like eggs and bunnies. You can use different color icing to decorate the eggs and bunnies. This is one gift your kids will love!

5. How about making a bunny cake! Have the entire family participate in molding, shaping and icing the bunny. Let your imagination run wild with this fun activity. Or you could make girl and boy bunny cakes for the kids and present it to them on Easter morning. What a surprise that would be!

6. String up jelly bean necklaces and bracelets for your kids to wear. Tell your kids there is an island where visitors are greeted with jellybean jewelry.

7. You can purchase inexpensive bunny ears for your kids to wear. They can hop around the house while hunting for those Easter eggs. Make a game of it.

Okay, I've started with the first 7 ideas - now it's YOUR turn. Leave some comments and let's build this list to help all moms out this Easter!

This is all lots of fun, but please remember to share the REAL REASON why we celebrate Easter!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What is Your Filing Status?

In my tax-paying lifetime, I've been just about every category of filing status as you can be. It CAN be very confusing to determine what your status might be. To begin with, your income tax filing status is based upon whether or not you are single, married, or widowed. It is important as it pertains to the correct amount of tax being deducted from your paycheck. Let’s go over each filing status to give you a clear picture of your options.

According to the Internal Revenue Service:
* A single person can claim single status if unmarried, divorced or legally separated.
* If you are married, you and your spouse may file a joint return.
* If you are married, but wish to file a separate return, you can.
* To claim head of household, you must be unmarried and pay more than half the cost of maintaining the home for you and a qualified person.
* If you are a widow or widower, and if your spouse died in 2006, you can use married jointly as your filing status for 2006. Note: The year of death is the last year for which you can file jointly with your deceased spouse.

While there are new tax changes every year, the filing status seems to be the same. To determine what type of filing status is best for you, talk to your tax professional or visit the IRS site online here. However, it should be noted that the information supplied by the IRS may take quite a bit of time to read and digest.

It's true what they say, “there are only two things you can count on in life; death and taxes.”

Get a jump on filing your taxes by gathering all of your papers and make an appointment with your tax professional today!

Friday, March 16, 2007

St. Patrick's Day is Coming! Can You Get Your Kids to Eat Their Greens??

Brought to you by Kid Approved Meals

Take time this St. Patrick's Day to get some green foods into your kids (and, no, I'm not talking about cupcakes with green frosting). ;) Create an entire "green" meal for your kids, in honor of the leprechauns.

Here are some ideas:

  • Broccoli with Ranch dressing (or Green dressing)
  • Sliced Kiwi
  • Avocados
  • Asparagus
  • Green apple slices
  • Green grapes
  • Cucumber slices
  • Peas or Snow Pea Pods
  • Green Beans

Have fun with it, come up with some other "green" ideas and forward them on to me...I'd love to add to the list!

Be proud of your kids for trying new foods, especially if they are normally picky eaters.

We hope you enjoy your green meal!
(And, thank you, again, to Kid Approved Meals for giving us the ideas!)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thumbs Up Thursday - Busy Mama's Guides

This week's Thumbs Up Thursday goes out to Kristy Shreve Powers - she's definitely a Busy Mama! She provides Busy Mama Guides as blog posts. They come in small increments so they can be read and digested easily and quickly - before the baby has time to pull that lamp down on top of himself!

One particular post that caught my eye was this one:
Kristy Shreve Powers: Busy Mama's Survey Question: Do Your Kids Watch TV?
Thought provoking stuff - check it out and also check out the comments left by quite a few people.

You want my take on TV for kids? Well - I grew up watching TV. Sesame Street had just come out...Mr. Rogers was very popular...and who can forget the ever-popular Electric Company? Love Morgan Freeman to this day! All of these shows I mentioned are educational shows too. I think there can be fair balance between the good stuff and the crap on TV.

We limit our older 2 kids to one hour per day on their own - they usually make choices like That's So Raven, Digimon and the like. The rest of their TV time is spent with us as a family. We'll watch American Idol, Survivor or some other popular Reality Show.

The younger one takes delight in watching Sesame Street (love it!), Dora and Barney. When she was 2-1/2 years old, she started counting to me in Spanish. We're not a bi-lingual household, so I know she learned it from Dora. That's pretty cool! I can appreciate the things that she learns from these educational shows - like counting (in English and Spanish), colors, letters, songs and some good solid values. A lot of us are not fans of Barney, but you've gotta admit he does teach a lot of great stuff!

Let me know your thoughts on TV watching - I'm curious to know what you do in your house!

p.s. - I'm still up on the Top Momma site - thanks to all of you who have been voting for me :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day 2 - Top Momma!

Alright! My goal was to last a day and I steps, right?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, go HERE and see my pic on the front page of the Top Momma website. You stay on this front page by people clicking on your pic. Check it out and vote for me :)

Okay - next got it, stay up there for today!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Please Vote for Me!

I'm a Top Momma!

Click Here and click on my picture to vote for me.

The goal is to stay on the front page for as long as possible. I'm shooting for a day :)

This Toy is My Nemesis!

Does anybody have this game - 20 Questions???

This thing is amazing - think of anything and it will guess it in 20 questions. It's really FREAKY!

Y'all May Think I'm Crazy...

I think my previous post needs a little explanation. I was just playing around with "Mobile Blogging." This is pretty cool...I take a pic with my cell phone camera, type some text and send it to post on my blog...neat, huh?

So, you may be seeing some "mobile" stuff from me here in the near future. A way to get a little more up close and personal...

breakfast of champions

Gotta get that caffeine

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Heads Up - ALL Entries Due Tomorrow

Just wanted to give you a heads up - all entries for the Mom's Niche Recipe Challenge are due TOMORROW, March 12th!!

If you've got a favorite entree or dessert - get it in to share with the rest of us.

Top Entrees will be listed in the 3/14 Mom's Niche News for everyone to try. The desserts will follow in the 3/28 issue. All GRAND PRIZE winners and their winning entry will be featured in our special Easter issue of Mom's Niche News on April 11th.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Creamy Homemade Au Gratin Potatoes

What better comfort food this time of year than potatoes? Try this recipe and let me know what you think...

4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, sliced into rings
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes, just until slightly tender (do not over boil). Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly butter a casserole dish and place half of the potatoes in the dish. Top with the onion slices and the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Mix the flour and salt in a separate bowl and add the milk, stir together until smooth. Then add the milk mixture to the butter and cook until mixture starts to thicken. Stir in cheese and quickly stir until melted. Pour cheese over potatoes, cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil.

Bake approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden and bubbly.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Easy Crafts for St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is March 17th!!

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here ( a week from Saturday to be exact). Want to have some fun with your kids?

Here are some easy St. Patrick’s Day crafts for you to try:

1. Buy green construction paper and trace shamrocks from either a coloring book or a template online, and make a string of shamrocks to hang in your home.

2. You can’t celebrate the day without hats! You can easily make St. Patrick’s Day hats by using construction paper. While there are tons of templates available online, you can accomplish this task easily. Take two pieces of green construction paper and tape them together forming about a 14” long piece. Fold it into a circle and tape one side to the other. Take another piece of green construction paper to make the top of the hat by using a paper plate to trace a circle. Cut it out and use clear tape to attach it to the top of the hat.

Next, you’ll need to make the brim of the hat. Again, using green construction paper; cut out a larger circle and apply glue so that the hat will attach itself to the brim. Finally, you need the buckle to place just above the brim of the hat. For this you can use brown construction paper and cut a wide strip and glue or tape it to the hat.

3. In addition, you may want to assist your kids in making a rainbow Jello mold. You can even make a pot of gold using yellow apples! Or how about the old standby; cupcakes with green icing, with a shamrock cookie on top! (You could also go the easier route and make the Pillsbury already cut and bake style with the shamrock - just as much fun with the kids...and the cookies ROCK!)

There is no end to the many creative and imaginative ideas you can incorporate when engaging in a fun activity such as decorations for St. Patrick’s Day. Put on some of your favorite festive music, dance around and have a great time!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ever Had Caffeine Withdrawal? Learn to Recognize It!

Millions of people worldwide use caffeine every morning to give themselves that extra boost they need to start their day. In fact, caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, even more than alcohol. I, for one am guilty. I started drinking coffee actually pretty late in life (I was about 25), but now I'm hooked! The only times that I cut off my caffeine intake were the 3 times that I was pregnant. Right after the baby was born - right back to it.

The problem is, too much caffeine can not only leave you feeling buzzed; it can cloud your mind when it starts to wear off and may cause permanent physical damage by increasing your heart rate. While the healthiest option is to stop using caffeine altogether, cutting off your supply can cause a host of withdrawal symptoms.

Caffeine is a stimulant, it wakes you up and helps keep your mind sharp. This means that if your body is used to caffeine and stops getting its daily dose, you’ll likely be tired and find it difficult to concentrate. Many people who abruptly stop caffeine find themselves barely able to stay awake and even harder to stay on track. They often make more mistakes at work.

Caffeine withdrawal can cover a wide variety of physical and emotional symptoms such as:

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
* Loss of concentration or focus
* Headaches - usually a dull, generalized pain rather than anything sharp and focused.
* Muscle soreness or stiffness
* Chills
* Hot spells.

Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms
* Irritability
* Restlessness
* Depression
* Feeling of anxiousness

Everyone’s response to caffeine withdrawal is different. It depends on your own personal physiology as well as how much caffeine you were consuming per day. Symptoms can range from annoying to debilitating. If your symptoms are mild, you may be able to quit cold turkey. For those with a severe addiction, suddenly stopping caffeine intake may be unbearable.

The best way to avoid these withdrawal symptoms is to slowly cut down on caffeine instead of quitting cold turkey. While pain killers may take care of some of the problems, there is no magic pill or any other cure for withdrawal symptoms besides time. If your symptoms are minor, you may be able to quit all at once, but it your symptoms are severe, you should decrease slowly for your own safety.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Taxes - Should I Hire Someone?

It's that time of year again...

I'm sure you've seen the commercials touting tax preparation software. In fact, have you seen the commercial promoting the do-it-yourself tax software wherein the husband says, “Uh Oh…?” Apparently he runs into a problem, and his wife picks up the software box and says, “Hello, can you help us?” Funny; but true. All too often, we think we can save money by preparing our own taxes, but then the “Uh Oh” factor rears its ugly head.

So the question is: Do I need to hire a tax professional?

The answer is: it depends.

Check out some of the reasons why you would hire a tax professional:
* If you are not fully familiar with how to prepare taxes.
* If you do not understand the tax code in your state.
* If you have to itemize your deductions.
* If you do not want to deal with the IRS one on one.
* If you own a business.
* If you don’t understand the questions on the tax form.
* If you have stocks, bonds or other mutual funds.
* If you’re retired and are unsure of your tax status.
* If you’ve researched online, but are more confused by the answers than ever.

There are so many things you may not be aware of that can save you time, money and a headache that won’t quit by hiring a tax professional. Perhaps you’ve always had your taxes done by a professional who knows you, the state of your finances, and who is better equipped to handle your taxes. Quite frankly, if this is case, you are better off.

With tax laws constantly changing, isn’t it better to put yourself in the hands of someone who is knowledgeable in this area, than stressing over what and how to do it yourself?

While some people have the innate ability to use the tax software available successfully, there is an old adage that says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

On a personal note: I hire a tax professional. Why?
1. I answered "yes" to almost every one of the factors listed above.
2. It saves me time and headache.
3. The money is WELL SPENT!

What are some of the reasons that you use (or don't use) a tax professional?

Friday, March 02, 2007

The "Bootie-Shakin' Trash Can"

THIS is what happens when you have a 3-yr old in the same house with a 9 and 11-yr old...

A couple of months ago I was shopping in Costco with my mom-in-law and Little Livvie. We walked down one aisle past a trash can and it opened up by itself. COOL! We sat and looked at it (and played with it) for a few was stainless steel and around $40. It was JUST what I needed since the older kids had broken the other stainless steel trash can that cost me $70 about 6 months before.

This is the coolest trash can - it has a sensor (an "eye") that knows when you are approaching and want to throw something away.

We got the trash can home, put the batteries in and began to test. When the older kids came home from school, Livvie just had to show them this new invention that was going to change our world. In fact, we became the talk of the neighborhood with this trash can. We realized that most times when the taller people just walk by, the can opened up. (Side note - my Little Livvie loves to dance around the room to music and shake her BOOTIE.) She began walking up to the trash can, turning around and shaking her bootie. Being 3, she's a little short to reach the sensor, so we would wave our hand in front of it and she thought she was opening up the trash can by herself.

One evening, a couple of nights after purchasing, our neighbor came over to check out what all of the buzz was about. We had to show her this wonderful new addition to our lives. As she was walking out the door...Livvie in all of her 3-yr old wisdom said "Hey Carla, look, it's the Bootie-Shakin' Trash Can."


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thumbs Up Thursday - Play Library

It's Thursday - time for another "Thumbs Up." This week's nod goes to Play Library.

Play Library is written by Kerri Aldrich and Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei. They write about everything and anything that might be fun to do with your kids, or that your children might find entertaining, as well as share bits of news and information that might be helpful for parents and caregivers to know. Play Library : Two mommies chatting about kids’ toys, games, books, and just fun stuff to do.

Here are some of cool posts from Play Library that you must check out!

Strawberry Shortcake Dance Dance Revolution - this is the ultrapopular interactive video game - throw Strawberry Shortcake into the mix and your young ones will have as much fun as the older ones do!
How to Make Balloon Animals - Cool video!

Also - Some great categories - I couldn't even choose a particular post:
Nostalgia Toys
Baby Things
Board Games and Other Games for Kids

Lots of great information...check it out!