Friday, June 29, 2012

Review of Shielo Complexion Face Scrub

I am always looking to try new facial care products, and I especially love exfoliating cleansers. Somehow, my face never feels truly clean unless I exfoliate. So needless to say I was excited to have the opportunity try Shielo Complexion Scrub.

Exfoliating lifts the dead skin cells off to make way for the younger and healthier looking skin that was hiding underneath. There is really nothing like it, as far as I'm concerned, to help me feel fresh, soft, and clean. Some exfoliating products are harsh and irritating, but Shielo Complexion Scrub is quite gentle. According to the product information on the tube, it should be rubbed gently on clean skin, then rinsed off, one to two times per week.

Shielo Complexion Scrub is an anti-aging product, and I'm all over that. Helping to smooth away fine lines and wrinkles, this scrub also encourage cellular regeneration. It contains allantoin and jojoba microspheres, as well as aloe vera juice. What this amounts to is a product that gently scrubs the skin's surface, even helping to eliminate blackheads, while soothing and comforting it as well.

I'm really happy with this skin care product. Before this review, I had never heard of the Shielo brand. Now that I've had such a positive experience with the Shielo Scrub, I will definitely consider Shielo products in the future. If you want your skin to feel baby smooth (who doesn't, right?), you really should be exfoliating! And if you think exfoliating products are too harsh for your skin, give Shielo Complexion Face Scrub a chance. Use a small amount and rub gently, and I think you'll find that this product is very kind to your skin.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful...

...for the cute peasant top I got on clearance at Macy's a few days ago, which was the perfect thing to wear on this almost-100 degree day. And for the summer dress I also got...although there were 3 dresses I actually wanted, I restrained myself and kept it to one.

...that Bethany's feeling much better. Leave it to my kid to get strep throat in the summer (I believe one or two of them had it last summer too), but at least those antibiotics work quickly! And I'm grateful that I realized within a day that it was strep and got her into the doctor right quick!

...that so far no one else has displayed any symptoms of strep throat. I'm knocking on wood as I type this!

...that I didn't have an actual heart attack when I found a massively HUGE beetle in my basement bathroom the other night. OMG. I was shaking so badly. I've never seen a bug that big in my house before. I couldn't step on it because I could just tell it would be super crunchy (yuckyuckyuckyuck!!!!!), so I got it to crawl on a piece of toilet paper and flushed it down the toilet. Thank goodness! My friend Tina actually asked me if I took it outside and set it free. Maybe if I had been thinking clearly, I would have grabbed a jar to put it in so that everyone would believe me the next day (I was the only one awake). But then again I was so afraid that if I left the bathroom it would crawl away and I wouldn't be able to find it, and then I would be forever terrorized by the thought that there was a giant beetle on the loose in my house. I'm still terrorized by the thought that there could be more. But anyway, I'm thankful I survived and that I disposed of  the monstrosity without incident.

...for Connor's Lego class at the community college, because he is really enjoying it, and also that his friend is in the class with him.

...for my friends who have been helping me cart my kids around this week, because as it turns out I can't be at multiple places at the same time.

...for the peaceful, pleasant hours I've spent on the college campus this week while Connor was in class. I've had fun with Lucy & Mattie, visited lots with my friend, enjoyed some delicious Butterfinger flavored coffee, and was able to read in solitude today because I didn't have to take any kids with me.

...that our a/c has been kicking butt...although we will pay for it dearly when we get our next bill!

...that as insanely hectic as life has been lately, I've still been finding small moments to really relish summertime, friends, and family.

...that I was able to re-schedule a play date with Lucy's friend, who was originally supposed to come over when Bethany was still contagious. And that Lucy is so so so excited for her friend to come over!

I could keep going, but I really must get busy! What are you thankful for today?

Please don't forget to enter my Dry Idea giveaway!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Conception Woes

The following is a Guest Post by Cor

My sister-in-law has been having a ton of trouble conceiving.  She and my brother have been trying for about two years now unsuccessfully.  This past year they began undergoing testing to try to figure out if they have any fertility issues. It turns out that she had a reduced quantity of eggs, and the small amount that she had may not have even been viable.  For a while they toyed with the idea of adoption, but ultimately she decided she really wanted to be able to carry the baby herself.  We just started the process of researching egg donation and so far it seems to be the best option for meeting her needs. Before this I did not realize that there were two different types of egg donation.  One is a frozen egg, which is what I pictured, an egg bank full of little frozen tubes of eggs.  This is the cheaper option(by almost $10,000!) and provides her more of a donor selection.  Then there is the fresh donor cycles where the donor and the recipient much have there cycles matched up, and the egg is immediately fertilized upon removal and then transferred.  The success rates were still very promising for the frozen donor so that seemed to be the best choice for them.  She is going to begin the hormone therapy sometime this month and right now we are just in the process of screening donors.  It kind of a strange idea, we are reading these descriptions about girls 5'4 130 lbs, Caucasian, blond hair, green eyes,  bachelor's degree in social work, etc, etc. and its like trying to guess what kinds of genes will be passed along to their new little baby.  Of course half the genes will be coming from my brother, but it is still just a strange and kind of scary idea.  There is an Atlanta egg donor who seems to be a good match though, and they are 99% positive they will be going with her.   I really hope this works for them, because they deserve all the happiness in the world and I know they will make amazing parents!

Book Review: Clean Break by David Klein

My latest summer read, Clean Break by David Klein, takes place in cold, wintry New York. When Celeste finds out her husband has a gambling problem, and the violent tendencies that he's kept hidden from her throughout their entire relationship suddenly burst to the surface, she knows their marriage cannot be saved. Then a stranger, Jake, witnesses an incident between Celeste and her estranged husband, Adam, and he ends up becoming entangled in their lives far more than he bargained for.

Jake is involved in a complicated, failing relationship himself, and that relationship ends up playing a role in his involvement with Celeste and Adam. All of these characters make questionable judgement calls, make decisions that could be considered unethical, and are forever changed by the end of the book.

What struck me most about Clean Break is that it portrays, in a realistic way, how just about anyone could find themselves in the right situation to make choices that they normally wouldn't think themselves capable of. If push came to shove, would you be able to do the "right" thing, even in the most desperate situations? And is the "wrong" thing sometimes actually the "right" thing after all? Life is complicated, and the big decisions are often tempered by a million shades of murky grey. It's easy to judge how others live their lives, but no one can ever know the internal, personal battles people are fighting when they make what could seem like horribly wrong decisions. Would you...pull the trigger? Call the police? Hide the evidence? Tell the truth? Stray from your marriage? Hurt someone you love? It's easy to give the "correct" answer when you're not standing in the midst of disaster and conflict, torn in many directions.

At 373 pages, Clean Break is a pretty quick read with a compelling story line and a thought provoking story.  There are also some good discussion questions at the end, which I really appreciate now that I've been involved in a book club!

To learn more about David Klein:

Visit his website: http://www.bydavidklein.comLike him on Facebook: him on Twitter:!/byDavidKlein 

I received a complimentary copy of Clean Break. All opinions are my own.

So What! Wednesday

I'm linking up for So What! Wednesday!

So What! if...

Connor has been spending a lot of time crafting homemade "weapons" in the backyard. I told him it's a relief to know he could take care of himself if he's ever stuck on a deserted island.

A couple days ago a friend's Facebook post gave me the idea to limit my kids' television and computer usage to evenings in the summertime. We did it for two days, and then Bethany got sick (strep!) so our TV is now on 24/7 as she convalesces on the couch.

Last week the garbage men didn't pick up our yard waste, so it has been sitting at the curb for a whole week. Once in awhile they just skip right past our court. Hopefully it gets picked up today!

The first thing I heard this morning, as I was lying in bed just waking up, was the garbage truck outside picking up recycling, which we never did get out this week. Now we will have to get creative with our recycling stuff for the next week since both our bins are totally full. 

I ran outside in my nightgown when I heard the garbage truck and at least got our trash to the curb in time.

I'm so afraid Connor is going to get strep and he won't be able to finish off the week at his very expensive Lego class. 

I think my homemade pizza is better than any store bought pizza.

At every moment of every day, I have more things to get done than I could ever possibly get done, even if the days were twice as long and I got half as much sleep. I'm in a constant state of prioritizing. This is most apparent in the category of house keeping. Somehow things like cleaning the floor and organizing the coat closet keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list.

I really need to get on planning overdrive for our road trip, which is going to be here before we know it!

I need a pedicure. Like, desperately. Another thing that keeps getting pushed to the bottom of my list. 

I have a crazy number of emails in my inbox. I think I would feel like I lost 10 pounds if I did something about that.

I have been depending on the kindness of my friends this week an awful lot, thank you friends!

What are you saying So What! to this week?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ENDED Dry Idea Giveaway!

I have the hardest time finding deodorant that I like and that does what it's supposed to do. I'm picky about scents. I have a sensitive nose and many smells give me headaches, or just don't sit well with me if I have to live with them wafting around my body all day long. Lady-like or not, I perspire. A lot. The older I get, the hotter I am (I'm talking body temperature here people!) on a regular basis. Therefore, I spend quite a bit of time being uncomfortable if I feel like my deodorant isn't working properly. I've spent a lot of money on "clinical" versions of certain brands of deodorant, but I hate the hefty price tags, and honestly, I'm still not totally satisfied with them. I always stuck with solids, mainly because I have no patience to wait for a roll-on to dry. That is,until Purex Insiders offered me the opportunity to try out Dry Idea Advanced Dry 24 hour antiperspirant and deodorant roll-on.

After using Dry Idea for over a week, I've had a few revelations. For one, I don't mind the roll-on at all. It dries very quickly. And it has the added benefit of not leaving behind any clumpy white residue. Also, I tried the Powder Fresh scent which is not a smell I'm usually real fond of. However, the Dry Idea powder scent is so mild that it it doesn't bother me - in fact it's a pleasant smell. We're in the midst of a hot, humid summer, so this deodorant has really been put to the test. It's working far better than I expected. Some days I've felt the need to re-apply - but with temps in the '90s, that's to be expected. I prefer Dry Idea roll-on to most solids that I've tried, and I've tried quite a few!

For more information about Dry Idea, be sure to visit them on Facebook! Right now Dry Idea is hosting a Sweepstakes with $1000 in prizes! The first prize is $500, and there are 10 2nd place prizes of $50 each! Click this link to enter the sweepstakes: Enter Dry Idea Sweepstakes. Good luck!

In the meantime, you can enter to win a 3.25 ounce Dry Idea AdvancedDry of your choice (roll-on, clear gel, or invisible solid)! Just enter on the Rafflecopter form below! Please note that the contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Dry Idea provided me with a sample of Dry Idea AdvancedDry, as well as the prizes for this giveaway. All opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Give LunaDisc a Kickstart

Have you heard of Pocket Discs? They're crocheted discs, safe for indoor play because they are soft, and easy to fold and stuff in a pocket or purse. Because no machines can crochet in a circle, Pocket Discs are hand crafted under Fair Trade practices by Mexican and Guatemalan artisans. This means that the 400 families who work to create Pocket Discs are working for wages above the typical local rates, among other socially responsible guidelines.

Now the creators of Pocket Discs want to take this fun yet simple toy to a new level by creating the LunaDisc. Essentially, the LunaDisc is a Pocket Disc with the addition of LED lighting, allowing the fun to continue after dark.

To get this new venture going, LunaDisc is turning to Kickstarter, a fund raising initiative for creative projects. It is an all or nothing endeavor, meaning if LunaDisc doesn't get the full $50,000 it needs to purchase necessary supplies and get the product off the ground, they get nothing. In other words, your credit card won't be charged for your contribution until the goal has been met. Different pledge levels are rewarded with Pocket Discs and/or LunaDiscs, with the top contributors being treated to a trip to Guatemala to see where the LunaDiscs will be made. A successful Kickstarter campaign for LunaDiscs means that an additional 400 families will be able to work to create them, which will help their impoverished communities.

The pledge deadline for the LunaDisc Kickstarter project is August 5, 2012. Already they are over one fifth into their goal with over $11,000 donated so far! No amount is too little, but remember that all pledges of $10 and more will earn a reward (free shipping for U.S., $15 international).

My Love Affair With Summer

Not long ago I was lamenting my lackluster feelings of summer blah. I'm happy to report that I'm now happily in summer love again. Love, love, love. All it took was a few days of sublime summery perfection. I am still insanely busy, but I don't see that ending until after Bethany's birthday (August 20), so I'm just rolling with it as best as I can. Hopefully we'll have a couple weeks of rejuvenation before the school grind begins again. Probably something else will come up by then, but whatevs. In the meantime I'm enjoying the moments of bliss between the chauffeuring, nagging my kids, appointments, planning, work on the blog, duties as preschool President, trying to make sure my kids' brains don't turn to rot, etc. etc. etc.

Saturday was dance recital day, and I was filled with pride as my girls took the stage. Lucy did a ballet routine, and Bethany was in a jazz number. They worked hard and it was obvious in their performances. This was their first year at a new studio (new to us AND new-new) and I was impressed with how well the show turned out. Lucy was just in the matinee performance, but Bethany was in two Saturday recitals, so it was a super long day. But I enjoyed watching the show two times, and seeing my girls up there dancing brings me to my happy place. I wish the pictures were clearer, but I did my best with no flash.

My little ballerina, Lucy

Bethany, my Dancing Queen

Dance recital time always brings with it all kind of crazy chaos, and this year was no exception. But it's a chaos I know, this being Bethany's 7th dance recital and Lucy's 2nd. I'm no Dance Mom, but it is fun having dancing girls.

We've also been spending a lot of quality time with friends, and enjoying the beautiful weather. My heart is full.

Lucy resting in my friend's backyard & waiting for the fireworks show to begin
Airborne Mattie, entertaining everyone while we were waiting for the fireworks.
Connor concentrating on not burning his fingers with a sparkler
Killing time at the community college while Connor was at his Lego class

I think this is my favorite picture of they day!

A nice lady walked by & offered to take our picture. Thank you, nice lady!

Could she get any cuter??

Mattie wanted to take a nap in the wagon after we went for a walk around the block

I hope you are having a fabulous summer so far too! I can't wait to see what the rest of the season holds for my family and me. I trust it will continue to be awesome!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch

I am a big fan of historical fiction, because I like to learn about different periods in history in an interesting and engaging way. I had never heard of The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch until I was offered the chance to read it, and its sequel, The Dark Monk, via BzzAgent.

Centered around a town executioner in 17th century Bavaria, The Hangman's Daughter is a mystery set in a time when women were still commonly burned at the stake for suspicion of witchcraft. When orphans start turning up dead with strange markings on their skin, the local midwife becomes the scapegoat, in the hopes of avoiding a huge scandal and mass hysteria that could very well end tragically with a widespread witch hunt. But the hangman takes up her cause and, together with an accomplice, works to find the true answers to the mysterious events happening in their town.

At times this was a very frustrating read, because the world was simply not very just, to put it mildly, during the 17th century. Dangerous prejudices abounded and often lead to unfounded accusations and, ultimately, torture and execution. Anything that was not understood by most people was immediately under suspicion. For example, midwives knew of herbal remedies to help with many different ailments. Although others commonly sought these remedies and advice from the midwife, they also felt scared and confused by her abilities and knowledge. Even children were not safe from wild speculations, especially if they associated with the midwife, as they did in The Hangman's Daughter.

The dichotomous hangman is probably my favorite of the richly portrayed characters in the book. He is lethal, but also one of the most compassionate, caring, intelligent, and clear thinking citizens of the town. Although they are considered to be social outcasts, the hangman and his daughter are clearly ahead of their time.

I love that Potzsch is a descendent of a long line of Bavarian executioners, the Kuisl family (same as in the story), and that he was inspired by genealogy and family lore to write The Hangman's Daughter. I look forward to reading The Dark Monk to see what mystery befalls the hangman and his family next.

Right now, The Hangman's Daughter is only $3.99 for the Kindle edition or $7.20 in paperback on Amazon. I enjoyed the book, even if I was a bit tense throughout most of it!

I received a complimentary Kindle copy of The Hangman's Daughter thanks to BzzAgent. All opinions are my own.

Reading Eggs Review

Description: Description: LogoI try to help my kids keep their brains in tip-top shape during the summer months. So far I've been slacking a little, but they have started their summer workbooks, and Lucy has been working hard on an Online Learn to Read program called Reading Eggs.

If you've had a kindergartener in the past decade or so, you are well aware that kindergarten is a whole new ball game these days. By the end of the year, Lucy had some pretty good basic reading skills under her belt. The last thing I want is for her to lose that over the summer. What I want is for her reading ability to increase while she's on hiatus. For this reason, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review the Reading Eggs program.

Reading Eggs is designed for children 3-7 years of age. A 12-month subscription costs $75, which works out to only $1.40 per week. There is also a 6-month subscription available. If you're unsure whether Reading Eggs is right for your child, you can sign up for a FREE 14-day trial, and no credit card is required. 

Here's a brief rundown of how Reading Eggs works once you've registered your child:

  1. Sign in with your username and password.
  2. On the next page you will see your child's name and current lesson. Click Start Reading, right under the lesson number.
  3. Click Enter on the left side, under Reading Eggs.
  4. Click My Lessons.
  5. At this point, you will be taken to whichever map your child is currently on, where you can choose the next lesson for your child. It is set up like a colorful board game with 10 lessons on each map. When each lesson is complete a new egg hatches, revealing an animal or character. At the end of each map, there is a short quiz and your child earns a "diploma" before moving onto the next map.
  6. Earn eggs along the way for use in other activities on the website!
Besides the maps with the reading lessons, Reading Eggs offers other fun activities too. On the left side of the page you will see a menu with other options, for example the Playroom,  Reggie's Shop (where your child can "spend" accumulated eggs), the Arcade (where your child can "spend" her eggs on playing games), and Driving Tests, where your child can take reading tests. Some options are locked until a certain number of lessons have been completed - another incentive for your child to keep working!

The best thing about Reading Eggs, hands down, is that Lucy loves it! It's fun. There are no arguments when I tell her it's time for her to do her lessons. In fact, I would like her to do one lesson a day - but she usually goes beyond that and does two or three. Furthermore, it is very user friendly. I don't have to sit with her and go through each question with her. With her limited computer knowledge, Lucy is able to get through her lessons with very little help from me. I sign her in and open the first lesson for her, and she takes off from there. This is nice because she wants to be independent, and Reading Eggs helps her feel that she is.

Lucy is currently on map 5, out of 12. So far she is really motivated and enjoying herself quite a bit! Making learning fun is so important, especially for kids just starting their academic careers. I am very happy with Reading Eggs, and I highly recommend it! I've noticed that Lucy seems much more confident in her reading since she started the program. If you're looking for something to help your child continue learning during the summer months, or complement school lessons during the academic year, check out Reading Eggs!

I received a trial membership to Reading Eggs. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Having kids is like gambling with germ warfare on a continual basis. I can't count how many times they've turned up sick less than 24 hours after a visit to the mall play area. Hand sanitizers are part of my arsenal, always, and I think they do help - along with hand washing. And probably not licking the play equipment or eating tempting looking snacks found on the ground helps too. Because if there is a strep infection left lingering on a molded plastic tree, leave it to my kids to find it and invite it to take up temporary residence in their throats.

As a busy mom who doesn't have the time or inclination to deal with sick kids, and who definitely doesn't have time to catch their ickies and be down for the count herself, I have a few tips for keeping my kids healthy. Of course they don't always work, especially considering that they are out of my care several hours of the day and schools are breeding grounds for all kinds of yuck. But we do our best!
  • Train the kids to wash their hands. This sounds totally obvious. But like I said, three of my kids are at school for several hours a day during the school year. And when mom is not around to nag remind them, those house rules you thought were ingrained in your children could very well fall by the wayside. I like to throw in some scare tactics and gross realities, and also remind them how much they hate to be sick and go to the doctor. 
  • Train your kids not to stick their fingers in their mouths. This is a biggie. Every time they stick their fingers in their mouths, they are giving the germs free access to hop right in and make themselves comfortable. Again, I like to employ some scare tactics. Like, reminding them that some of the kids playing in the play area (or wherever we happen to be) might not have washed their hands last time they pooped. 
  • Have hand sanitizer handy for times when we can't get to soap and water to wash our hands. Now, I am not a nut about this. But I do think we should all wash our hands before we eat, particularly in public places. I also try to remember to make my kids wash their hands as soon as they're done playing at indoor play areas, etc.
  • Make sure your kids get plenty of sleep. Their immune systems are so much stronger if they're well rested!
  • Make sure your kids have their regular check-ups. Lucy, for example, used to get sick at the drop of a hat. Turns out she has asthma, and with the low-dose steroids she now takes in the nebulizer every night before bed, she never gets sick. Seriously. No sick visits to the doctor since she started taking this medication in January. Which might be normal for some kids, but not for her! That way she's avoided needing any other medications and she's not spreading her illnesses to everyone else in the house anymore either!
  • Make sure your kids have a decent diet and get plenty of exercise. Healthy bodies are stronger and more capable of fighting off sick germs.
My little disclaimer here is that actually, I'm not a germophobe. I just really hate to see my kids sick, and also dislike the inconvenience of everything grinding to a halt because someone isn't well in the household. What are your tips for keeps your kids healthy?

Thankful Thursday

I'm taking a moment out of my currently hectic life to reflect on all that I have to be thankful for this week...

I'm thankful...

That Bethany & Lucy's dress rehearsal went off without a hitch. Although I put the wrong color tights on Lucy after all. 

For our air conditioned house, especially in the 90+ degree weather we've been having.

That at least one of our vehicles has air conditioning that actually works, and that I could drive the girls to the dance rehearsal in it.

That one of the moms from dance told me about sock buns last week, and I was able to figure out how to do it in Lucy's hair. Bethany doesn't have enough hair, but I still managed to pull off a pretty decent bun for her too, albeit not a sock bun.

For my mom coming to pick Lucy up from dress rehearsal after she was done with her number, so she didn't have to sit there until almost 10:00 with Bethany and I.

Watching my girls dancing up on stage. I am in awe every time I see it, especially because I don't think anyone  could have paid me to get up on a stage and dance when I was a kid.

For basketball camp at the high school that Bethany has been going to this week with some of her friends.

That Bethany's end of the year/5th grade graduation party she had with some school friends a few days ago went smoothly. Nothing broken, no terrible messes, and I don't even think anyone cried. 

For my father-in-law's pool. If the summer continues to be this hot, we'll be spending a whole lot of time in it.

That I got Connor in the Lego class session I wanted, and that his friend got in too. Which means more driving around like a maniac next week. Wheeeee!

 For flip flops. I need some new ones because mine are pretty beat up, but I still love them. There is no better shoe for hot summer days.

For a fun Bunco night a few days ago.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Place to Call Home

I remember many  years ago when owning a home seemed like a far off dream. I had a rather scattered childhood, right up into my early 20's. Sometimes I had nothing more than an orange vinyl bean bag chair or a couch to call my bed, and I often counted on the hospitality of family, but I always had a roof over my head. Nonetheless, I longed for the day when I would have a stable home of my own.

Now Chris and I are onto our second house as home owners. It is a relief to have a feeling of stability like I never had growing up. Things have worked out for us, and we've been fortunate. I know there are people out there who feel like I used to feel. Like it will be impossible to break the cycle of living on someone's couch or in their spare bedroom. Like they'll never have a place to call their own. Like they'll never be able to shop for their own furniture or pick out paint colors for the bathroom. And maybe like they'll never be able to afford to live on their own.

There are many options across the country for low income housing. This is a way to make moving out of the parents' basement a reality for many people, especially families who need space of their own and find it awkward to infringe on others. Low income housing has a pretty bad reputation, I'll admit. Many people equate it to living in the ghetto. But not all low income housing deserves this negative distinction. And for many, it is a stepping stone toward something better. Many websites are dedicated to helping people find low income housing that is right for them. You can search by city and find other valuable information as well, like important resources and answers to frequently asked questions. Finding anything is easier in the digital age, and it is so helpful that there are websites dedicated to providing this sort of information.

So What! Wednesday

I'm linking up with Life After I "Dew" for So What! Wednesday!

This week I'm saying So What!

...if today is dress rehearsal day for Lucy & Bethany's dance recital and I have not yet sewn the straps on their costumes! I like to fly by the seat of my pants around here!

...I did not buy new tights for the dance recital. I think we already have the right color, and we'll find out for sure at the dress rehearsal!

...Bethany told me last week that her jazz shoes are too tight and I'm making her suffer with them through the recital. Those suckers are $40, and by the time the new dance session starts in the fall her feet will have probably grown again!

...I am going on and on about dance this week. Don't worry, I'm not done yet!

...I am dreading the dress rehearsal, which is sure to be epic in length, and I have no idea what my kids are going to eat while they are stuck backstage for like 4 hours because I sure don't want them messing up their costumes! I know dress rehearsal is necessary, but logistically it sucks!'s in the 90's here in Michigan and I LOVE it.

...every time we go swimming at my father-in-law's house, we bring our dog and drag her into the pool at least once to cool off. She protests a little, but I know she feels a lot better!

...I've noticed that Mattie is about a million times sassier when all the kids are home. And boy can she do sassy like none other!

...sometimes Mattie is SO SASSY that I just want to throw my hands up and give up. Good thing her sweet moments and cute face more than make up for the sassy times.

...I'm supposed to be avoiding sugar. I don't think I'm doing a very good job.

...we got a new to us hand-me-down exercise bike and I'm enjoying changing up my exercise routine. I like to read while I'm riding it because it's too much effort to move it in front of the t.v. every time. Plus I'd just rather read, in general.

What are you saying So What! to this week?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Funding College

We have a bit of a "joke" in our family. Only, it's not really a joke because it's totally serious. It goes like this, and is said with a bit of a laugh - ha ha! As if we're trying to convince anyone listening that it's spoken in jest.

"These kids better get good grades in high school (ha ha) if they want to go to college, because if they don't get scholarships they'll be out of luck (ha ha ha)!"

The truth is, the kids better get good grades in high school so they earn decent scholarships. And they're going to college. End of story! College is not that far off, and at this point in time I can't envision saving enough for one semester, let alone for four years - times four.

When I was in high school, searching for scholarships was much more complicated than it is now. Of course there was no internet, so we pretty much relied on what the school counselor shared, or word of mouth. Now, the internet gives us an advantage. I will probably turn searching for scholarships into a full-time career, starting in about five years. Or, alternately, we can move to a state that offers free college. I wonder what the residency requirements are? At this point, I'm thinking finding scholarships is the more realistic option.

There are websites, like, dedicated to helping families find appropriate scholarships. You can search by category, deadline, or the name of the scholarship - in case you have a particular one you're looking into. Information is provided about each scholarship, including links to the website affiliated with the scholarship, and, when available, a link to apply. The website also has featured scholarships, a list of 100 scholarship tips, and a list of other resources that could prove to be useful as well.

While I'm glad that we have a few years yet before we need to start worrying full-force about college, I'm also glad to know that there will be resources available to us when the time comes. Are you better prepared than us for your child's college education, or do you plan on utilizing as many scholarships as you possibly can?

Everyday Victories

Everyday Victories logo
Thank you to P&G and Kroger stores for celebrating “Team Mom’s Everyday Victories”! Please visit the P&G's event page to play games, win money off your next Kroger trip and more fun!

As you may have noticed, I tend to ramble on quite a bit about how much I love summertime, and how I can't wait until summer break, and that I live for warm weather. I do love Michigan, but sometimes I think it gets harder and harder every year to get through the cold months.

Today, I'm patting myself on the back for surviving another year of school, and for enduring another Michigan winter. Yes, I know it was a mild winter - but winter is not summer, any way you spin it! I made it to summer break, my favorite time of year, fully intact.

Lucy finished her first year of elementary school and thrived in all day kindergarten. Connor made it through third grade with flying colors. Bethany successfully completed elementary school. They all worked hard throughout the year and had great report cards. They've had great times with friends and participated in after-school activities as well. Together, we made it through early mornings, lots of homework, playground drama, shuffling extra-curricular activities, projects and reports, and so much more. We made it to school on time every single day, even when we had to bundle up in boots and hats and mittens, in large part because they did a great job staying on task every morning. I'm so proud of my kids, and need to spend more time focusing on how great they are and less time thinking about the multiple reminders I gave them to hang up their jackets and put their dishes in the sink.

Our reward, the way I see it, for getting through another hectic year of school, is summer break. I am so happy and relieved that our reward is finally here. At least for a few months, we get to pretend that the long cold days of winter are but a bad dream.We get freedom to spend our days as we see fit, to wear skirts with no tights and open toed shoes without freezing to death. About the only downside I can think of at the moment is the constant need to shave, but that is a very small price to pay - and I'm more than willing to pay it! Products like the Gillette Pro Series razors and Pro Glide shaving gel can help to make that chore a little more bearable. And then, of course, I also have to remember to moisturize daily now that my bare legs are on display for all the world to see. No one wants to see dragon scales, least of all me!

Even though small, everyday victories sometimes might seem unimportant, those little achievements are the building blocks for the big ones. Leave me a comment and share: What is a recent everyday victory that you are proud of?

Hurry in to Kroger and Kroger Banner Stores for P&G’s big sale event, June 10–23!
At Kroger and its banner stores, more than 30 of your favorite P&G brands are at HOT sale prices through June 23, including Tide, Charmin, Cascade, Pampers, Crest and Olay. Look for tags with special prices throughout the household needs and health and beauty aisles, and be on the lookout for even bigger offers – like getting serious dollars off when you buy a bundle of products.
Before hitting the store, visit P&G’s event page on
You can play games like basketball, track and gymnastics to win money off your next Kroger trip, download digital coupons, print a shopping list, and learn more about P&G products!
And as part of this event, consider trying one of these fab products from P&G:
Vicks Nature Fusion, Charmin Basic, Downy Unstopables, and Swiffer Duster Extenders!

I was selected for participation in this campaign as a member of Clever Girls Collective.

My Michigan Memory: Perfect Spring Days

I'm linking up with Mrs. Weber's Neighborhood for My Michigan Memory! Local Michiganders, head over and enter to win a total awesome prize: a Hudsonville ice cream party for up to 75 people! Please note that the winner must be willing to host her party within a one hour drive of either Detroit or Grand Rapids. If you are a blogger and want to link up your own My Michigan Memory post, you can earn extra entries in the contest!

Some years, like this one, springtime in Michigan is lovely. Summer is not officially here for a couple more days, but already we've had some really fab weather. I hate chilly, wet springs - but this year I've been loving springtime!

Recently, the kids and I packed some snacks and picked up my mom to spend a beautiful spring afternoon at a local park. Local readers might recognize it as George George park. It's really clean, and well-kept, with a nice picnic pavilion and good play equipment. Bethany moaned and groaned a little, because she is getting to that age where everything is boring unless she's with her friends. But I think she eventually got over that and actually enjoyed herself!

Sonic is nearby, so when we left the park we stopped and got 1/2 off slushies for everyone. It's always good to have a little bribery leverage when you know at least one of the kids is going to loudly protest when it's time to go!

Summer is still my favorite, but this year I've learned to love springtime just a little more than usual!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Parlez-vous Francais?

In high school, my favorite class was French. I loved it. I loved my teacher, I loved conjugating verbs, I loved memorizing and reciting Noel, de Theophile Gautier. The language came pretty naturally to me, and not only did I loved the class, I pretty much considered it to be an easy A.

When I went away to college, I started out as a French major. I found my college courses to be much more challenging, but I still loved French. I had become accustomed to having the same teacher for all my years of high school French, and switching to a new professor was different. I adjusted and did fine, but I remember feeling a bit like I was out of my element. I don't exactly know what I planned on doing with a degree in French, but maybe I thought of working with a translation agency, or something similar.

But happened. I came home after being away for a year and went to the local community college for a few semesters. I was already beyond the top level of French offered at the community college, so I was no longer able to take classes. By the time I transferred yet again, this time to the university from which I earned my degree, I felt like I had been out of French for too long to pick up where I had left off. So my dream of becoming fluent in French came to a halt. I wish I had done something to keep my French skills fresh until I could once again start classes. But I didn't.

So now, almost 20 years later, I remember a smattering of French, but I wish I knew more. It's not too late for me. My brain isn't a fresh absorbent sponge like it once was, but if and when I decide to put my mind to it, I can learn again. Becoming fluent in French is one of the goals on my Life List. Someday...

Are you fluent in a foreign language, or do you wish you were?

Saturday, June 16, 2012


The first week of summer break is behind us. I'm feeling kind of, well, less over-joyed than I thought I would be feeling. My immediate sensation, the day after school let out, was of a great weight being lifted from my shoulders. I guess I still feel that, but I also feel like it's not long enough! Break just started and already I want more. We have so much going on, which I love. But it also puts this pressure on me, like there is no way I'm going to get to do everything I want to do this summer. Not even close. Then before we know it, we'll be back to school again.

This past week has been crazy with all kinds of stuff. Friends and sleepovers and chauffeuring and meetings and doctor appointments and phone calls. There is no end in sight. Carefree days of summer? Hmph, not hardly. We have someplace to be just about every single day. I have to-do lists running through my head 24/7 -yes, even in my sleep! 

My head is buzzing and it won't go, in case you don't know.

I spend my life anticipating summertime. That's kind of sad, and I'm working on living in the moment more. But summer is my season, without a doubt. I love the warmth and the freedom. I love bare feet, sleeping in, and eating outside. I love swimming and the smell of sunscreen and relaxed bedtimes for the kids. I love bathing suits and beach towels hanging on the gate and more time with my kids. My love for summer knows no bounds.

This year is a little different. It's more of a transition, since three of my kids were in school all day. I was getting pretty used to spending my days in relative quiet, with just Mattie. Now my house is loud pretty much all the time. Like LOUD. People are talking to me, or at me, all the time, usually more than one at a time. The kids want to spend more time with their friends, which means things are not as simple as they used to be.

So. I'm not really sure why, but I don't feel quite myself and I don't feel quite YAY! happy. I am still more than glad that summer break is here. And I have tons of great stuff to look forward to. We will have a fabulous summer. I need to work on thinking less in terms of AFTER_____________, then I'll be happy/relaxed/whatever. For example, dance recitals are next weekend, and after that I can have fun. No, no, no! There is a whole week between now and then, and despite parties, basketball camp, dress rehearsal, and dance recitals, we are going to have a good week! We are going to enjoy this 2nd week of summer break, even though it's going to be busy, maybe even hectic.

Are you gung-ho thrilled for summer break? Or are you going through a little bit of a transition period too? I'll be fine, I just need to I don't know what. But yeah, it's all good.

A Fresh Look

The fact that my kitchen needs a makeover is no secret. It looks like it's stuck in a time warp from another decade. There are so many things I'd love to do with it, starting with gutting the whole thing. But if that's not an option, I'll settle for:
  • New counter tops
  • A new sink and faucet
  • Re-stained cabinets with new hardware
  • New oven, microwave, and fridge
  • Window treatments on the windows that have been bare for three years now
The counter tops are blue. I don't think I need to provide any further explanation. They're just not my cup of tea. At all. And if I'm going to get those replaced, I might is well replace the sink as well, which is white porcelain and a total pain to clean, not to mention way too small. Then there's the accompanying faucet, which is basic and boring. I've never liked the color of the cabinets, nor do I care for the dated brass hardware that adorns them. Our built-in microwave has been serving as a bread box ever since it died, over a year ago. The oven doesn't match the other appliances, and the stove top is ridiculously difficult to keep clean. And the fridge got really banged up when we moved, plus it's just not big enough for our family. Luckily our neighbors aren't right on top of us, what with the naked windows and all.

I'm not exactly sure what kind of look I'd like to go for in the kitchen, just vastly different from what we have now! To start with, we already have a nice new sink ready to be installed -just as soon as we get around to picking out new counter tops. There are so many different types of faucets to choose from, it's enough to make my head spin. I want something that looks nicer and is more utilitarian, like a 12 inch spout reach kitchen faucet. That would make doing dishes a little easier.

Changing the lighting in our kitchen would really give the room a new look. Right now we have a ceiling fan, which is okay. But something more dramatic might be a nice change. I've seen chandeliers that look like candles. That would definitely be something different. A look like that would be more common in a dining room setting, but I love seeing chandeliers in more unexpected places as well.

Our bedroom needs an overhaul too. Maybe that would be an easier room to start with! It needs some organization, a little flair, and maybe some new bedding. One type to look into is faux silk collection bedding. Finding just the right set is no easy task. Nonetheless, a bedroom makeover would definitely be less complicated than a kitchen makeover.

If you could choose one room to re-decorate in your home, which room would it be?

This post is brought to you by Become: Shopping Your Way.

Friday, June 15, 2012

ENDED Giveaway: PottyCover

Potty-CoverDid you read my review of PottyCover disposable toilet seat covers? Maybe you'd like to try them for yourself? If so, it's your lucky day! Because thanks to the folks at PottyCover, MichiGal is giving one winner a six-pack of PottyCover toilet seat covers! Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In My Travel Bag: PottyCover

When I was a kid, I remember being horrified by public restrooms, particularly those rustic, non-flushing rest stop toilets that made me want to gag. I would hold it until I thought I would burst, pretending I didn't have to go, just to avoid using a nasty public restroom. Now that I'm a mom, public restrooms are unavoidable - when my kids have to go, they have to go. That doesn't mean I'm not cringing sometimes, and reminding them incessantly to not. touch. ANYTHING.

Once in awhile, we'll come across a public restroom with a disposable toilet seat cover. Even so, they only cover the top of the seat, they're made from ultra thin paper that tears easily and that moisture seeps right through, and they slip and slide all over the place.

How many times have you wished you had a handy spray bottle of bleach in your purse after getting a look at the toilet your child is sitting on? Kids hold onto the sides, their clothes touch the front. So even if you happen to find a public restroom with flimsy paper toilet seat covers available, you still can't wait to get home and disinfect your kids pants, which are bunched up against a toilet that has been used by countless people, many of whom can't seem to quite make it into the bowl, if you know what I mean.

Luckily, there is something better available, and it's called PottyCover. These are disposable toilet seat covers, available in a six-pack, and individually wrapped. That way, you can easily toss one in your purse and know that it will stay clean and intact. PottyCover goes over the sides and the front of the toilet, as well as the toilet seat itself. No more cringing when your toddler grabs the side of the toilet to climb up onto the seat! The covers are made from a plastic-coated, non-woven fabric. This provides a waterproof layer between your child and the toilet. The front and side flaps of the PottyCover help keep it in place, so there is no worry about it falling off as your child squirms around.

Available from Amazon at $5.99 for a six-pack, PottyCover is a bit of a splurge - considering how often my family uses public restrooms! However, I will definitely be bringing a pack or two when we go on our big road trip this summer. I will save them for particularly grungy restrooms, think gas stations and rest stops in the middle of nowhere.

Please note that PottyCover toilet seat covers cannot be flushed. They must be disposed of in a trash receptacle. Also, they are also now available at buy buy Baby stores, as well as Bed Bath and Beyond. For a list of stores and more information, visit

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch


A fresh start. A clean slate. Starting over.

Sometimes life is such a disastrous mess that it seems like the only way to fix things is to just begin all over again. To rip up all your notes and re-write the book. But being in a plane crash and suffering from amnesia is probably not the ideal way to go about it. That's what happens to Nell Slattery, the main character in best-selling author Allison Winn Scotch's latest novel, The Song Remains the Same.

Nell wakes up in a hospital after being in a devastating plane crash, with no memory of who she is or anything that has ever happened in her life. She is surrounded by well-meaning family members who think it might be best for all parties involved to re-write Nell's history, without cluing her in. Nell, for her part, decides this might be the perfect opportunity to recreate herself.

As Nell follows clues and struggles to unearth her memories, she finds that listening to a play list of her supposed favorite music ends up becoming a bridge to her past, helping to chip away at her amnesiac wall. What secrets have her loved ones kept from her? Little by little, Nell uncovers the truth, and along the way does her best to heal old wounds that won't stay buried.

The Song Remains the Same is an engrossing, quick-paced novel that reminds us that no one ever really knows how they will react in the face of trauma and disaster, and that trying to bury our problems, without dealing with them, never works out in our favor. Even if we happen to become inflicted with amnesia.

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for...

Being able to attend Bethany's last field trip of elementary school last week. And that she still wants me to go on her class field trips. Wonder how long that will last?

Watching the whole 5th grade do a choreographed dance together on the last day of school. They have performed this dance before, at the Talent Show and during school, so it wasn't my first time seeing it, but I still think it's a pretty awesome thing they got to do.

School's out for SUMMER!!! Need I say more?

Beautiful weather.

The gorgeous rose bush in front of my house that blooms straight through to Thanksgiving.

My house being clean for one glorious day. That day is done, but its memory lives on.

A lovely visit with Chris's family over the weekend.

The new apple tree that Chris's step-dad and uncle just planted for us in our backyard last weekend. I vow to NOT KILL THE APPLE TREE! I can't wait to have apples growing in my own backyard! 

My own homemade carrot cake. It's good, I must admit.

That Chris put up a clothes line for me in the backyard. I am so ridiculously excited about this! I have my second load of laundry drying on it right now. I have visions of saving us tons of money while enjoying the fresh scent of line-dried laundry. Ahhhhh.

All the dates are falling into place so nicely for our upcoming road trip. I have a lot of planning to do! Happy planning!

What are you thankful for this week?

ENDED Giveaway: $25 Wholesale Costume Club Gift Card!

Recently I reviewed a Princess Leia costume. Lucy loves her new costume, and for once we actually have someone's Halloween costume planned out well ahead of time. I'm really happy with the costume too. It is a welcome addition to our repertoire of costumes and dress-up clothes.

Thanks to Wholesale Costume Club, I am able to offer one lucky winner a $25 gift card to pick out a costume of his or her choosing! I know Halloween is a few months away, but honestly, does it ever hurt to be ahead of the game? And plus, maybe your kids are like mine and enjoy playing dress-up year round!

Use Rafflecopter to enter! Please note that the contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Thank you to Tomoson for this opportunity and to Wholesale Costume Club for providing the prize to the winning entrant!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Take Good Care of Yourself

I've been blessed with pretty darn good health throughout my adult years. Besides during pregnancy, I've hardly needed to see a doctor since high school. Like most people, I hate doctor visits, so of course I consider it a very good thing that I have had little need for them. Plus there's the fact that since I became a mom, almost 11 years ago, my own needs have slipped further and further down my list of priorities. Lucky for me I've been healthy, because things like regular check-ups were just not something I made time for.

Then about a year and a half ago it became clear that I had some medical issues that needed my attention. Suddenly I was in a position where I had to make myself a priority, which for some reason did not come naturally to me. Why is it that us moms tend to brush our own needs under the rug? Another thing my issues brought to my attention and made very clear is that it's a lot easier dealing with these things when you have medical coverage. There are many Michigan plans available, as well as plans for residents of other states, for anyone not fortunate enough to have a job that offers health insurance. Click here for further information. This never really seemed all that important before, when I just took my good health for granted, but now it seems more important than ever. There is only so much information one can gather from websites like before seeing a real live medical professional becomes essential.

Also, I'm not getting any younger, and the older I get the more likely I am to have even more health issues. I've been trying hard to take better care of myself by eating better and exercising more, and that's a huge step in the right direction. As busy as I am taking care of my family and dealing with everyday life, I have to make sure I remember to take the time and make the effort to keep myself high up on my priority list.

So What! Wednesday

Once again I am linking up for So What! Wednesday!

This week I'm saying So What! if...

I get a little single-minded when I'm on a mission. Which means I am sometimes less than patient with my kids. Either you're with me or get outta my way!

Lucy has to do curtsies in her dance routine, and she does them in the silliest most awkward way, so I've been trying to coach her on how to do it correctly. However, I'm fairly certain she's going to revert back to the awkward curtsy for the dance recital. Who cares? There are few things cuter than little girls at dance recitals, no matter how much they mess up!

I killed our printer by trying to feed photo paper into it. Oops.

I climbed a ladder and got on our roof the other day to try to fix one of our shutters, and then I could not get back on that ladder to get down. Just could NOT do it. So I climbed in through the bathroom window. Should have just done that in the first place!

I've been writing down everything I eat for a doctor's appointment I have tomorrow, and sometimes I just don't eat because I don't feel like writing it down. I should do this all the time!

Sometimes I just crave quiet. And sometimes I get really crabby when that is not a reality.

Losing weight is like impossible for me. I don't get it. 

I'm thrilled to have the kids home for the summer, but I have to get used to the constant cacophony. 

I've been really busy in the real world, and thus my blog has suffered the past few days. 

I brought out a bunch of super cute hand-me-downs from Bethany & Lucy that finally fit Mathilda, and she refuses to wear them. Diva!

It's taken me forever to write this dinky little post because my kids keep needing stuff!

What are you saying So What! to this week?  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Onto Bigger Things

I feel like I'm running full force toward the edge of a cliff, wanting nothing more than to Stop! Stop! Stop! yet at the same time excited for the inevitable free fall ahead.

Bethany is now officially done with elementary school. I remember, growing up, that feeling of the end of an era. It came every time I moved, at the end of 5th grade, at the end of middle school, at high school graduation. Promises are made. Hopes hang in the balance. Nothing will ever be the same again.

We'll keep in touch. We'll always be friends.

This is not my life.

Bethany is excited, but sad too. She cried at the 5th grade award ceremony. She cried on the last day of school. For months she's been ecstatic about leaving elementary school and moving onto middle school, anxious to grow up as she always has been. And then I guess it hit her: that knowledge that this phase of her life is over. That she won't be in this building anymore that has become so comfortable. That she will no longer know all the teachers and most of the kids. That she might not even have classes with some of her friends.

This is not my life.

Bethany  has a lifetime of new beginnings ahead of her. She's just learning that new beginnings, while exciting, are usually bittersweet as well. Change is a good thing, and, of course, necessary. Kids need to learn adaptability. They need to be able to make new friends. They need to learn, again and again, how to make the uncomfortable tolerable at first, and then, eventually, comfortable.

This is not my life.

The thing is, I like Bethany's friends. I know their parents. I'm in the comfort zone, and I like being here. I know something right now that Bethany doesn't really get yet. Soon some of her friends won't be her friends anymore. They will drift apart. They will have different classes and meet new friends. Middle school will simply not be the same. It can't be the same, it shouldn't be the same, but a part of me wants very much for it to be the same. I just want to grab onto the edge of that cliff and hang on for dear life.

This is not my life.

Nowadays kids have tools that I didn't have as a kid. They have email and cell phones and texting and Facebook (we're still holding out on that one...). There will still be drifting apart and new friendships, not to mention middle school drama, but it's easier for them to stay connected. That gives me hope. 

This is not my life.
Change is exciting and fun, and I feel that for Bethany. But I also feel a little sad. My first born is done with elementary school. I'd say it's been a success. She is congenial and outgoing and has more friends than I can keep track of. She is independent and full of ideas. She's creative and she works hard. I don't think that middle school is ever easy, but I do think that Bethany will love it. I just wish I could take away the painful part of this transition, although I know it wouldn't be as much of a beneficial learning experience without the inherent pain. 

I'm holding in my tears, because this is Bethany's life. She is going to be just fine. More than fine, in fact. And so am I. After all, I get to live this vicariously three more times...

Fun With PicMonkey

Have you heard of PicMonkey? It is a new photo editing website and I am in LOVE! Right now, everything is totally free and there is no registration required. Of course that means make sure you save all your pictures, otherwise they will disappear from PicMonkey as soon as you close the page or upload a new photo. Also, it's really so awesome that I have my doubts that it's going to remain free. So go take advantage of it while you still can!

One of the neatest tools is the collage maker, where you can make a Facebook banner for your Facebook home page. I haven't done it yet, but how cool is that? I have a million things to do around my house, but instead I've been puttering around on PicMonkey. We  have Photoshop on our computer, by the way, but I find it so daunting! PicMonkey is way easier!

I'm sure I should probably learn Photoshop too, since I know there is a lot more that can be done with it, but for now I'm going with user friendly. Because PicMonkey is really user friendly. From the home page, just choose "Edit a picture" or "Create a collage" and follow the easy directions from there. The edits are almost all on a simple sliding scale.

Here are a few things I've done so far. It's been a pretty big week for Bethany, so I'll let her be the subject of the day!


I liked the first picture (of Bethany by herself) a lot before I started playing with it, but now I like it even more. The colors are so vibrant and I like the option to add text.

The second picture was already cute, but since the girls are sort of obsessed with mustaches, I thought I'd have a little fun with it. You can also add hats or sunglasses.

The last picture came out so dark, I thought it was a total bust. But I was able to brighten it up and add the film reel effect to kind of go with the imperfections.

I was using Picnik to edit pictures and make collages, until the site shut down a couple months ago. So far I think I might like PicMonkey better. I especially love that you can make your own collage layout, if none of the prefab ones are the right fit for your photos.

How do you edit your photos? Do you have a favorite website, or are you well-versed in Photoshop? Have you tried PicMonkey yet?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Facebook for the Tween Crowd?

Have you heard the rumors that Facebook is considering allowing accounts for kids under 13? Bethany has been bugging us for YEARS for a Facebook account, and it's true that many of her friends are already there. So far we have resisted. Our arguments against her being on Facebook have been that 1)It's against the rules, and 2) She spends enough time online and texting to begin with, and doesn't need another excuse to spend even more time tethered to an electronic device.

What Facebook is proposing, so I hear, is connecting the accounts of kids under 13 to their parents' Facebook accounts. Presumably that would make it easier for parents to monitor what their kids are doing online. I'm sure Bethany will get wind of this, and then it will be time for yet another Facebook discussion. Otherwise known as Bethany begging and pleading and telling us that EVERYONE is on Facebook.

I'm not sure yet how I feel about this. I still think she spends more than enough time plugged in. But I would be more willing to allow her to have an account if the Facebook rules change AND her account is connected to mine. I would have to have full access to her account, no exceptions. Following is an informative infographic put together by uKnowKids, where you can go to monitor your child's online presence - include social networking, photos, and smartphones. I've not signed up with uKnowKids, but according to their homepage, it is FREE.

What do you think? Do you allow your child under the age of 13 to have a Facebook account? If so, do you specific rules regarding their account? Or if you haven't let your kids on Facebook yet, would it change your mind if Facebook changed its rules?

Also, feel free to share this infographic on your own blog by copying and pasting the code below!