I love entering giveways!

Especially when I win!

Here's hoping!

Sweeps4Bloggers (always reliable) is giving away a $50 gift certificate to Mommy Makeup.

Baby Loving Mama is hooking up a gift set from Wanchai Ferry which includes two meals, bowls, chopsticks & placemats.

Laura Williams Musings is featuring a GoPicnic ready-to-eat meals giveaway. (I wish I'd known about this company before our trip to Cali!)

Jolly Mom
is rockin' with a big Plan Toys EcoTown giveaway.
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Guide to a Healthy Home & Growth Chart

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read (and re-read!) the What to Expect guides written by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. Most moms I know can say the same. I can guarantee that when you see the phrase "What to Expect When..." you instantly know you're in for full disclosure, valuable information, and the straight-out truth. So when I heard that Clorox and Heidi Murkoff were teaming up to help moms keep their homes healthy, I just had to get in on it.

If you're a new mom, or a mom of an under-five year old, have I got a goodie for you. It's a downloadable Guide To A Healthy Home, brought to you by What To Expect and Clorox. Just click on the previous link, and you'll be brought to a page at Clorox.com specifically tailored to new moms. (Um, that's pretty cool in and of itself.)

As the proud mom of two kidlings under 5 years-old, you can bet your sweet bippy that I spend lots of time fighting off the inevitable germ infestation. Referencing the Guide to a Healthy Home is really an excellent way to do that.

I thought I might share a bit of my own hard-earned wisdom, too.

Keeping all feeding paraphernalia clean, sterilized and separate from our dirty dishes made a huge difference for my kiddos when they were infants. My son's allergies made cross-contamination a serious concern, but also, I just felt better knowing that I had one less thing to worry about.

As toddlers, I got them excited about brushing their teeth by allowing them to choose their own brushes, (appropriate) toothpaste, and then we worked up a routine. There are songs and silliness and you know what? My kids love to brush their teeth! Still, it's important to remember to rinse those brushes thoroughly and store them upright to dry. (This helps prevent bacteria from forming in the bristles.)

Now that my daughter is four, and at that stage where helping Momma is still pretty desirable, I put her to work with Anti-Bacterial wipes on her larger toys. (Knowing that she'll get bored eventually, I still take on the tedious task of finding, cleaning, and sorting through the various excess toys, and wiping all of that junk down!)

The What to Expect Guide to a Healthy Home even includes a handy Growth Chart, which I definitely recommend if you're the kind of mom who needs a visual aid! Perfect for one-month through five-year olds, you'll love all the great tips for keeping your home and kiddos healthy.

I'd love to read any of your own tips... Please share them with me!

In the interest of full disclosure:
*I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Clorox and the What to Expect Guide and received a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.
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Guest Article, School Supplies and Clothing For Back to School Season

This is the time of year for buying school supplies, rearranging schedules and everything else that goes along with getting back to school. Many children are anxiously awaiting their first day of school. Some of them are dreading it with every fiber of their being because they will not have new school clothes and school supplies are not affordable for them.

When you are at the school supply store, give some thought to those who do not have the ability to buy clothes, books, folders and backpacks. There are many families who are struggling just to feed their children. Buying school supplies is difficult and sometimes an impossibility. Teachers often have to purchase classroom supplies on their own. Not every school is able to provide enough to satisfy the needs. If you can help students and teachers in any way, you will find there really are benefits to giving. Following are a few different ways you can contribute.

• Look through your children's closets for clothes that no longer fit them. Donate these items to a family you know that needs them. Local churches are great places for finding out which families in the neighborhood could use some of this kind of assistance or you can take the clothes to your local charity. If your children wear uniforms, donate them back to the school.

• When you are shopping for shoes, take advantage of the “Buy one pair, get the second for half-price” offers. Donate the shoes to charity or ask teachers to give them to students who need them.

• School supplies are discounted this time of year. Spend a few extra dollars to get some pencils, paper and notebooks for kids who will show up to school without them. Start a neighborhood school supply drive to encourage others to give as well. Most teachers will be happy to hand these out to children who need them. Throughout the school year, ask the teacher to let you know about students who need supplies for school. Encourage friends and family members to do the same thing for their children’s classrooms.

• Give of your time by volunteering to tutor a child once or twice a week. The time you spend with a child who needs some extra help will be remembered and appreciated. You can make a difference in the life of a child who might otherwise find themselves falling behind.

• If you are able, volunteer some time to be a classroom helper. It can be very hard for a teacher to help every child who needs it, especially when they have 30 or more students to teach. You can help in other ways as well. Organize the class party, make copies for the teacher, be a guiding hand when students get unruly… The ways your presence in the classroom can help are limitless.

• Establish a carpool program in your neighborhood. Rising gas prices and tight schedules take their toll. A community carpool can take the edge off and give parents -- including you-- a break.

• If your children ride the school bus, offer to spend a day or two a week on the bus. You can help the bus driver by quieting loud and active children. Engage the kids in songs and stories. This keeps them occupied and gives the bus driver the ability to pay attention to the road without having to worry about what is going on behind them.

When people think of students dreading the upcoming school year, they usually laugh it off because many times, the dread is all about having to do homework and “wasting time” in the classroom when they would rather be playing. But many kids are dreading school because they can’t afford the clothes and supplies they need or they are struggling with a subject and anxiety overtakes them. If you can help by donating time, school supplies or money, you will find that making others happy in this way makes you a happier person, too.

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On that note:

Speaking of Back to school, here are some goodies for your young'uns. Kid's Activity Calendar is giving away a pretty nice kit of activities around the letter 'A'. It's never too early to give them a head start. With school beginning in just a few short weeks, you still have time to help them get prepared.

This pack includes:

Fun alphabet snacks that start with the letter A
Letter A coloring sheets
Letter A search worksheets
Letter A trace sheets
Letter A flash cards and
Game of out of the week idea around the letter A

You can download them for free from this page.

I also want to give a shout-out the The Household Planner, Tashia Calhoun. She's got two great free back-to-school printable lists for ya! Just click here. Thanks, Tashia!
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O'Joy Recommends: Back to School

It's my very first "Back-to-school" as a mom! Wowza! So of course I have to do an O'Joy Recommends! Here are just a few ideas about where a newbie mom like me can get started, and maybe help the verteran moms, too. This year, according to CNN Money, parents are going to be spending even less this year on back-to-school shopping, and getting more creative about where and how they do spend their precious dollars. Meanwhile the supplies required by equally cash-strapped schools are getting longer and longer. My kindergartner even has to supply her own tissues and paper towels! So without further ado:

There are plenty of great bags out there, at every price. The younger set loves those character bags, and I've got to say that Toys 'R Us, with it's huge selection and awesome price, ($14.99!) is the place to go.

If your children are a bit older both looks and durability are of greater concern. I just don't think you can beat Land's End for quality. I especially like the $24.70 School Uniform Classmate StudyHaul backpack. It comes in 11 colors and is perfectly sized for 8 - 14 year-olds.

For the most budget-minded of Mommas, I highly suggest you visit School-bags.com; a backpack wholesaler, the prices for these bags are phenomenal. Check this organizer-style one below for just $9.99!

I am pretty impressed with the eco-friendly and super-cool styling of Kids Konserve Reusable Waste-free lunch kit. At $42, it's not exactly a steal, but the set will actually last for years and years, and save all kinds of money on paper napkins and plastic baggies.

The Kids Lunch Set from Tupperware is a great buy at $19.50. The insulated bag includes the sandwich keeper and two small snack cups, as well. Add the ingenious Banana Keeper and their lunch will be as fresh as when it was packed.

Your best bet for those crazy-long supply lists handed to you by your kids teachers is to head over to EZSchoolSupplies.com A lot of schools will actually upload the list to the site to make your job even easier. If your school has signed up, 10% of the purchase price will be donated back to the school. Nice...

Another great all-in-one shop is AfterSchoolStore.com I especially dig the School Supply Kits, sorted by grade. The $19.99 5th grade kit, for example, includes:
• 1 glue stick
• 1 large eraser
• 1 pencil sharpener
• 1 pack crayons (set of 48)
• 1 pack facial tissue
• 1 pack index cards
• 1 pack pencils (set of 12)
• 2 red correcting pencils
• 1 pack wide-ruled paper
• 1 pair children’s safety scissors
• 1 pencil box
• 3 pocket folders
• 1 1in. 3-ring binder
• 1 ruler (standard and metric)
• 1 set flashcards (multi/div)
• 1 set washable markers (set of 10)
• 2 spiral notebooks of wide-ruled paper
• 1 zippered pencil case

Try to do that anywhere else!

Those mall staples like Old Navy and The Childrens Place are perennial favorites because the basics never really go out of style, and the prices are just right.
I love Cookie's Kids Department Store for the truly excellent pricing, and there is nothing quite so valuable as a good resale store like Still Hip, in Brooklyn.

Thanks for spending time at another O'Joy Recommends. Just one more thing, I urge you to consider those who won't be having a back-to-school-shopping trip. Please stop by Backtoschoolclothes.org, and sponsor a child. It could be a great way to teach your children about philanthropy, an awesome church group or club activity, or just a way to feel like you've done your good deed for the year.
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Guest Article, Want Help Around The House?

Want Help Around the House? 9 Strategies for Developing a Household Chore System

Parents serve as a child's first and most consistent teacher of essential life skills. Written by Professional Organizer and mom of two, this article delves into seven critical strategies for teaching keeping your home organized and running smoothly by teaching your children home management skills that develop self-sufficiency and self-esteem.

You know how it is ... You come home to find the house a mess, backpacks in front of the door, the kids are screaming at each other, clothes strewn everywhere, dirty dishes in the family room, more dirty dishes on the kitchen table. And the moment you ask for help, a bigger screaming match breaks out.

You know your children need to be responsible and self-sufficient, but life happens. You vow to implement a system, saying to yourself "I'll get around to it later". But in the real world, later often never comes.

Studies show that children who perform household chores during their school years attain more success in adulthood than those who do not. Follow these simple strategies and you could soon be hearing ... "Mom, Can I Help Around the House?"

1. Assume the role of teacher

Children learn to read, write, add and subtract from their school teachers. A parent's role as teacher and mentor of essential life skills and home management is equal in importance.

2. Commit yourself for the long-haul

Consistently send the message to your kids that you're in this for the long haul. You will be rewarded by their commitment as well.

3. Provide age-appropriate tools and instruction

Give your child every opportunity to succeed by providing the right tools for the job, ample instruction, modeling how you want the job done, a timeline for completion, and provide plenty of opportunities for practice.

4. Model the Behavior You are Teaching

As the cliché goes "actions speak louder than words". If your children consistently see the adults procrastinate in their responsibilities, then the children learn to do the same.

5. Get Buy-in by Involving Your Kids in Designing a Chore System

The more involved your children feel in the process, and they feel that their input is valued, the more ownership they will feel for the assigned tasks and the overall success of the system.

6. Create Non-negotiable House Rules

Without ground rules, how can you expect your children to know what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable behavior? Rules provide the boundaries children need to help them learn and practice acceptable behaviors.

7. Normalize Home Maintenance Routines

Every family member should have responsibilities to help family life run smoothly. Set the precedent that performing family chores is as normal as brushing their teeth.

8. Acknowledge How Their Contribution Helps You

When your child learns how much their contribution helps you, you are actively reinforcing a child's desire to contribute more. It not only boosts their self-esteem, but it also develops their sense of service to others.

9. Be Consistent in Your Discipline

Child experts agree that sending mixed messages to children with inconsistent discipline creates the most resistant maladapted behavior of all.

These nine strategies will help give you guidelines and strategies for implementing your own household chore system where every family has an age-appropriate role in home maintenance.

Article Tags: Household Chore System, Help Around, Household Chore, Chore System

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com


Janet Nusbaum (AKA the Organizing Genie), WAHM of two, is an Organizing Consultant, & Author of 'Mom, Can I Help Around the House? A Simple Step-by-step System for Teaching your Children Life-long Skills for Pitching in & Picking up'. Grab a FREE CHAPTER of her book & household chore system at http://www.KidsandChores.net . Get even more organizing & family management help by visting her blog: http://www.TheOrganizingGenie.com
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Guest Article, Teaching Children Manners

How to teach your child etiquette and to act like a prince or princess in public instead of a holy terror.

If your child doesn't act like a prince or a princess at times when you need her to behave, try using a few simple parenting techniques to help your child learn positive behavior patterns.

Positive behavior is learned. Make sure you model the way you want your child to act. As an example, if you want her to be quiet (talking in whisper voices instead of yelling voices) during a movie at the theatre, talk to her before hand that when we talk loudly or chatter during a movie, other people can't hear and it is annoying to them to listen to children talking while the characters in the movie are also talking. Mommy and Daddy are not going to talk during the movie and we expect you not to either. Then stick to it! You could also talk about one of their role models and how they would behave. For example, Princess Cinderella talks in her quiet voice when she is out in public.

Reward positive behavior and discourage negative behavior. For example, have an incentive, like a small gift, for good behavior. If your little girl talks during the movie, she does not get the incentive. If she is quiet for the first 30 minutes, she gets to her very own popcorn. After she eats the popcorn, if she speaks in whispers for the next 30 minutes, she gets a small toy after the movie, etc. Set clear expectations before hand and then stick to what you say. If she doesn't "earn" her prize, don't give it to her. Make sure you have set realistic goals for her to reach so she can succeed and learn that good choices lead to positive reinforcement.

Many parents have a hard time taking their young children to the grocery store. Kids get bored, wander off, and get in trouble. A great way to keep them occupied and engaged is to give them their own list (if they can read) or have them help you pick out items you need. Next on our list is apples, which apples do you want? Then have them get a bag, fill it up, and put it in the cart. You would then say, next will you help me find the aisle that has birthday cakes? After shopping, let your kids unload the cart and help bag the groceries so they are not asking for the candies that grace the sides of the checkout line.

Restaurants are also a dreaded outing for parents with young kids. Usually kids act out due to boredom. A child's attention span is extremely short. Again, set clear expectations before arriving at the restaurant. Model correct behavior yourself and tell them what their "hero" or "princess" would do in a like situation. Explain that they are expected to act as a princess would at the restaurant. Bring quiet and activities for them to occupy their time and involve them in your conversations so they don't get bored. If they have bad manners or cry out and act up, take them out of the environment. Go out and have them sit in a time-out for one minute per year old they are. When they calm, tell them what you expect and take them back in. It will only take a couple times for them to learn. Most kids will be so shocked and embarrassed that you actually took them out of the environment, when they get back, they will not want to act up again. For good behavior, you will want to reward them immediately with descriptive positive praise and affection. Say something like, "You are being so good at the restaurant! You didn't even cry and scream once. We are so proud of you and know that we can take you to do special things in the future because you are acting so grown up!"

As you can seeFeature Articles, a few simple techniques can help transform negative behavior into positive behavior in your children.

Article Tags: Positive Behavior, Have Them

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com


Shelby Strong is a stay at home mom of 2 girls and a boy. She is also a small business owner of an at home business called My Cute Dressups. Visit her site at http://www.mycutedressups.com/. She has seen the immense benefits princess dress up costumes and boy costumes has made in the life of her kids.
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Going Organic, (in a gastronomic way)

Looks good, doesn't it?

If you are trying to eat more health foods, organic is an excellent an option. When you are looking for a way to encourage better farming practices and to make sure that you and your family eats better, you'll find that looking into organic grocery shopping can help you in both fields. Consider the health and community benefits of organic grocery shopping.

Check out this video from the Renegade Health Guy:

What does a food being labeled organic mean? Put simply, organic foods are those certified to have been produced under specific growing conditions. Organic foods don't have food additives, fertilizers, sewage sludge, or pesticides, in accordance with very strict standards. Most countries will not allow growers to call genetically modified fruits or vegetables organic. You'll find that organic meats have not had antibiotics used on them or growth hormones. For more information, please refer to OrganicFoodInfo.net.

Is there a local resource where I can find organic foods? The easiest place to begin when searching for organic foods is your supermarket. There's usually an organic foods section. But please, don't end your search there. Community-backed agricultural programs which give you an interest in local farms and joining a co-op in your area are great ways to access organic foods. You can find one near you at the Co-op Directory Service. During the summer months, you should visit your local farmer's markets, too. Try Local Harvest to find out the when, where, etc.

There are lots of options for healthy eating using organic food shopping. Be sure to take advantage of all the many, many (I promise!) options available in your local area.
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Sisters are doing it for themselves

Natural homemade beauty recipes, (What were you thinking?)

Nature is the newest trend in skin and hair care. For years, we’ve been putting toxic chemicals into our bodies that build up and make us feel tired and sick, regardless of whether we eat them or if they seep though our pores. And people are finally catching on that natural is better.

Most stores now have a line of “natural” beauty products. Unfortunately, they often come with a big price tag attached too. Often times many of these products are not actually “natural” so it does pay to do your homework to make sure you're not just throwing money at a label. (Seriously, don't get sucked in by buzzwords...)

Fortunately, making beauty products yourself isn’t too difficult. So if you want beauty products that you know are natural and are also inexpensive, here are 6 quick and easy recipes you can make at home:

Moisturizing Face Mask
Eating good food helps give you the right nutrients you need to look good. You can get more of these vitamins and minerals by putting the good stuff right on your skin.

Combining a mashed carrot, mashed avocado, and a beaten egg with a few tablespoons of honey creates a great face mask that provides vitamins, and improves the tone and texture of your skin. Just stir well, apply, let sit for about 15 minutes, and then wash off with cool water.

Remove Blackheads
Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda into your liquid soap. Rub gently and rinse with cool water.

Lighten Circles under Eyes
To lighten dark circles under your eyes, wrap a grated raw potato in cheesecloth and apply to eyelids for 15-20 minutes. Wipe off residue.

Silky Hair
Many people pay a lot of money for a conditioner that will actually makes your hair look and feel good. Here’s a great natural recipe to save you money and help your hair.

Just mix an egg yolk with a tablespoon of castor oil (I know!) and apply to hair. Let sit for about ten minutes and rinse out. You can use this every so often as a conditioning treatment for healthy shiny hair. If you like being experimental, you can try mixing other kitchen items, herbs, and natural items with eggs for healthy, shiny hair. (But, despite what you may have heard, I really don't recommend mayo on your hair, unless you like smelling like salad dressing, then by all means...)

Hand and Foot Cream
A quick face mask will help make you look great in not a lot of time, but hands and feet require extra care.

Use ½ cup of olive oil mixed with natural sea salt and massage into your hands and feet. Leave a few minutes to soak and then rinse off with warm water. A bit of peppermint oil, or lavender oil can help soothe your mood as well as your feet.

One last one! (In video format, even!)

When it comes to natural beauty products, these recipes are just the start. You can find hundreds of different combinations in natural beauty books, magazines, and on the internet. Or you can go to your kitchen cabinet and make your own special creations. Have fun with that!
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Whatever happened to going outside?

Nature – The Ultimate Playground for Kids

Every year parents spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on toys and activities for their kids. While lots of these things are great for keeping young minds and bodies active, many of them are unnecessary. Sure kids need structured play, but they also need “free” play and this is ridiculously easy to do when the world’s largest playground is right outside your back door. Why not let them play outside? (Okay, okay if you live in an urban-area apartment building, you can always check out your local parks & rec for outdoor goodness.)

Every toy, book, and TV show that comes out has been designed and redesigned several times in order to make it educational and entertaining for children. The great thing about nature is that, while being entertaining and stimulating to the imagination, it’s also educational. Nature can teach children the basics of science, economics, and creativity.

It’s cheap. Depending on where you live, exploring nature is usually pretty inexpensive, if not free. It may mean going out in your backyard, local park, or perhaps going to the local nature center or state park (which usually have low cost fees or memberships). This way, you don’t have to pay for expensive toys, jungle gyms, or memberships to expensive entertainment centers, but you still get the benefit of stimulating and educational play.

It makes them think. Lately there’s been a trend in education towards inquiry based learning. Researchers have found that if students explore and experiment to figure out answers on their own, they’re going to learn better, and retain more information. It also helps them develop skills to be able to learn things on their own later. What better environment to learn things than out in nature? There are lessons for kids of all ages to discover about the world around them. (Grown-ups, too!)

It may even help the world. Everyone these days is trying to be more green and more environmentally conscious. What better way to help do your part than to get your children interested in their own planet; right now when they’re young and impressionable? What might be a fun time for them now just might be a future hobby, career, or world saving invention.

It’s fun. While it’s easy to forget, childhood isn’t just for learning about how to be an adult, it’s also about having fun. Nature gives kids a chance to use their imagination and be free to just be kids.

While unstructured play outside is great for kids, you can also find a lot of places offering structured classes and learning sessions for kids that focus on the natural world. Check your local park, zoo, or museum. There’s a good chance they have classes you can sign up for, and since many of these places are not for profit, they’re usually affordable as well as informative. My two kidlings just finished up three-weeks of free swimming lessons offered by the Staten Island parks & rec.

Across the world, there are millions of dollars being spent to help promote sending your kids outside to learn from Momma Nature. That’s because spending time in the outside world is so important for developing minds. It can also be a great escape for you as well. (Okay, so my kids aren't old enough to venture out on their own just yet, but Lord, knows, I'm ready!)
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Eco-Friendilizing, Try It!

Some Easy Ways to Make your Home More Eco-Friendly

We all want to do our part to protect the environment, but without a large paycheck, that can be difficult, if not impossible. But doing your part doesn’t have to be hard. You can eco-friendilize and it doesn't even have to hurt!

Use less water. (Ah-hah!)

Saving water is all about small steps:

- Shut off the water while you brush your teeth
- Take showers that are a minute or two shorter (get a cool timer from The Shower Manager)
- Only flush the toilet when you need to (okay, ick... remember in Meet The Fockers..."when it's yellow, let it mellow..."?)
- Only run full loads of laundry and dishes
- Buy from sustainable producers. These are farmers, ranchers, and other producers that use techniques that pollute less and use less water. You can do some research online or ask at your local organic market to find these products. (Erg, okay, that seems hard, but no harder than say, googling how to breed goldfish, or other randomness...)

Use less energy. (Okay, that's kind of a "no, duh." But hey, you never know!)

If you don’t have the money to buy a hybrid car or convert your house to solar power, ( huh, like anyone we know) you can make a big difference with small changes.

- Buy energy efficient appliances. They may be more expensive, but they totally make up for the increased cost in lower energy bills.
- Unplug chargers & countertop appliances when you’re not using them. They use up power even if they're not on.
- Put devices with remotes, like T.V.s, VCRs, and stereos, on a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using them. These devices use a lot of power to run the remote receiver even when the device is off.
- Turn the air up, or down! A few degrees won't make any real difference to you, but a pretty substantial one to the environment (and your wallet!)
- Turn off the AC off altogether! Open up your windows and let the outside in...
- Walk or ride your bike for short trips. (refer to this post about the awesomest bike, ever)
- Buy local products. It takes energy to transport food and other products across the country. Buying local not only supports your local economy, it helps them use less energy.

When it comes to saving energy and water, it’s a great idea to get the kids involved. You can even make it a game. Have them track how much water and electricity everyone is using. You can compete to see who uses the least water. You can often count on your kids to help keep you on track when given the task. (Seriously. Kids love to call out their parents.)


Most of us know the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, but when we work on conserving, we often leave reuse out of the picture. While you can find tips on how to reuse common products from other people, what you need most is creativity. (Okay, I know it's not that easy, but hear me out.) With a little thought there are many items around your home that can be reused – DLTK has oodles of fun crafts to make with toilet paper rolls. And old yogurt containers can be cut into strips to make plant labels. Old food jars can be refilled with homemade foods or can make great impromptu vases. You get the idea, right? No? Okay, here's a little help, courtesy of About.com

Use environmentally friendly products.

When you go to the grocery store, you probably see more and more “natural” or “eco- friendly” products every time. There are generally two big problems with these products: 1. Just because they’re more natural than regular products, doesn’t mean they’re entirely natural. 2, They’re often expensive.

If you want inexpensive, natural, safe products, why not just make them yourself? Vinegar is a great way to clean and disinfect glass and other surfaces. Need to remove stubborn stains? Just add some baking soda to your vinegar cleaner. Pioneer Thinking has a great list of other natural safe home-made cleaning recipes & products.

We all knowing that going green means "better for the environment", but it’s also better for you. Conserving resources also helps save you money, which you know, is pretty dang awesome.

Go ahead, eco-friendilize something (or someone!) in your life.
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My Best Friend is getting married

and I am totally gonna make her do this!

How flippin' awesome!
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Read and Share Toddler Bible Book Review

Those old, old stories have been retold with the youngest in mind. Shorter, simpler, sweeter and accompanied by charming illustrations (that bring to mind Sesame Street muppets.) The Read and Share Toddler Bible by Gwen Ellis, with Illustrations by Steve Smallman has been a categorical hit with my two year old.

I have to be honest here. I was skeptical at first about the value of a toddler-aimed bible. The short attention span of 1 to 3 year olds can make any undertaking difficult. Wandering minds and squirmy bodies have accounted for more exasperated sighs in my house than anything else.

However, with the Read and Share Toddler Bible, the question of how to bring God's word to my little one without losing him has finally been solved. My son especially enjoyed the story "Adam and Eve and the Sneaky Snake" and hissed through it along with me. At the end, parents are reminded to explain about "no-nos", and reassure the kiddos that they are still loved despite their disobedience. Lil' Man really seems to have been following along, and threw his arms around me to assure me that he loved me too. That sweet moment alone more than made up my mind. Featuring 40 oft-told biblical stories, the Read and Share Toddler Bible is an item I would call a must-have for the Christian family. For a closer look at the story, click here: Flip Book

After each story, in fact, is either a discussion tip, short activity or easy craft idea to help reinforce the object lesson of each story. (Hmmmm. Maybe this might help the grown-ups, too!) For example, after reading the story "A Little Boy With Lunch" the author, Gwen Ellis, exhorts you to pray over a tasty meal of fish sticks, and give thanks when done. As often as the kiddos eat fish sticks, it had never occurred to me that it would be a great way to tie in a story about God's abundance.

There 's even a bonus 1 hour-long companion DVD included with this bible, featuring 3 minute versions of 14 of the stories portrayed in the same appealing animation as the book. To be honest, the DVD was a bit old for my two year old son, but perfectly suited to my 4 1/2 year old daughter. After Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden, LivvieBug exclaimed, "Ohhh. That's too bad;" in a genuinely commiserating tone.

In the end, I have to say that I highly recommend the Read and Share Toddler's Bible, though I'd save the DVD for the next stage!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a copy of Read and Share Toddler Bible by Gwen Ellis to review by Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and objective review. I did not take payment from the publisher or author of this book beyond a copy of the book in question.
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