10 #wedding #trends for 2015

If this is the year you tie the knot or (plan the tying of someone else’s knot), you know the wedding planning landscape changes constantly. Thanks to social media, you really can’t read literally everything and still be on task to plan an upcoming ceremony. Luckily, we can show you the latest trends for 2015, and you can personalize them to your tastes.

  • Outdoor venues. Outdoor venues like farms, parks, and country homes make for the most magical wedding photos, and provide lots of space for your guests to mingle. If you select a venue that combines some indoor space with some outdoor space mitigates risk of inclimate weather, and accommodates guests’ needs for indoor comforts.
  • Nautical motifs, Think coral, driftwood, sea glass and pastel shades of blue and green. Perfect for a beach or coastal ceremony, this theme works year-round. Consider creative sea-worthy fabrics like burlap, terry cloth, or canvas.
  • Outdoor lodge theme. Perfect for an outdoorsy couple, or a ceremony in the hills or mountains. This motif uses wood and stones with wildflowers – picture a log cabin weekend getaway. Plaids and quilts of every pattern work beautifully with this setting.
  • Woodland fairytale. If you loved Maleficent or Frozen, this is for you. Incorporate local tree varieties with roses, peonies, ferns and vines. Use twinkling white lights in the evening for easy enchantment.
  • Ombre color scheme. If you don’t want a theme, consider the ombre color trend centered around your favorite color. Collect some paint sample cards at home improvement stores  for a free starting point.
  • Not just music-entertainment. Weddings are trending away from mostly dancing to offering entertainment for guests like games, fortune tellers and photo booths. Once you select your venue, ask for recommendations of entertainment services that can provide these amusements.
  • Your personal hashtag. Since guests will be snapping pics throughout the day with their phones and wifi-enabled cameras, agree on your personal hashtag with your future spouse. Post your hashtag throughout your reception venue so your guests share their photos with you, too, on Instagram and Twitter
  • Changing stations at tables. The table is no longer just a place to sit and eat. Make sure your guests can charge their phones at tables throughout the reception area, and be sure to plan for iphones and android phones.

14 ways to survive the big family meal with your kids

Whenever there’s a big family get-together, it’s exciting and it can all be overwhelming for small children. It’s difficult to predict where your child’s over-stimulation will result in a meltdown, and parents all over the country silently pray that it won’t happen at the big holiday dinner. Here’s a few tips to help decrease the odds:

  1. Keep your child on his regular schedule the day of the gathering. This can be difficult with errands and visitors, but try to keep the main events on schedule, like nap time and meal times.
  2. Tell your child what to expect. Don’t assume that they remember last year’s gathering. Explain where the gathering will be, who will be there, and what you will do once you get there. Do this more than once, and answer your child’s questions as they come up.
  3. Choose a family-friendly home or restaurant. Things will go much more smoothly for everyone if you choose a restaurant where the staff is trained to accommodate children, or the house you’re meeting at is already childproofed.
  4. Have realistic expectations of your child’s behavior. The younger your child is, the earlier they will tire in the evening. Younger children also have shorter attention spans, so expect to see signs of boredom if there’s nothing but adult conversation going on.
  5. Discuss your expectations of their behavior before the event. Explain to your children that you expect them to stay seated and use an indoor voice. Teach them an acceptable way to interrupt adults talking if they need something, such as raising their hand or saying “excuse me”. Rehearse this with them at your family table.
  6. Pack some table-friendly activities if you’re eating at a restaurant. While restaurants spare you the cooking, they require children to wait for the meal to be served, and waiting is not their favorite activity. Bring along some coloring books and crayons or a small container of Legos or Ponies.
  7. Don’t let your child get too hungry. Hungry children quickly get cranky, so bring along snacks like crackers, cheese sticks, or fresh fruit. Don’t pack sugary treats, because the post-sugar-rush crash can be ugly.
  8. Let your child wear something comfortable. Once you cute some cute photos in the smocked dresses and bow-ties, let your children change into some play clothes for the rest of the event.
  9. Plan for your child’s needs. If your child needs a high chair, plan ahead. Call the restaurant ahead of time to let them know, or let the hostess know you’ll be bringing one. If your child has special dietary needs, let the hostess know or ask the restaurant ahead of time what the menu choices are so you have time to think through what your child should eat.
  10. Consider hiring a sitter to help with the children during the event. This sounds like a luxury item, but children will enjoy having someone to play with and you’ll enjoy having an extra set of hands. Check out sites like Sittercity or Care.com if you’ll be in an unfamiliar area.
  11. Most tweens can handle sitting at a kids table. This makes the meal more fun for kids and adults if space is available.
  12. Pay attention to signs that your child is becoming overtired. Children who rub their eyes, yawn, start to put their heads down on tables, or become fussy are becoming tired. If you’re in a private home, let the kids be excused from the table  If you’re in a restaurant, it’s time to start wrapping things up.
  13. If your child displays unacceptable behavior, quietly stand up and take your child from the table to someplace quiet. If your child is upset, sit next to them and let them calm down. Once your child is calm, explain to her that the behavior she was engaging in was not acceptable. Discuss what she can do instead (you may not throw things, but you may color in your coloring book). Do not attempt to discipline your child at the table in front of everyone. When you return to the table have the child sit next to you (if she wasn’t before), until you know she’s gotten the message.
  14. Know when it’s time to leave. Don’t keep children out too late, especially if it’s a school night or if they displayed challenging behavior during the meal. If it’s been a smooth experience, quitting while you’re ahead is never a bad idea.

13 ways to entertain #kids during bad weather

Fall and winter will inevitably bring rainy days that keep the kids indoors and often cancel outdoor events that serve as energy-busters. Staying inside all day is not the treat that it can be for adults, because typical bad-weather activities for adults like napping and reading are horrifying to most children. Here are some strategies to help everyone keep their sanity when the weather doesn’t cooperate:

  • Make sure they have rain gear. Kids can actually go outside in the rain, assuming they have adequate rain wear. Rain brings all sorts of interesting phenomena, like rivers rushing in the street gutters and raindrops popping onto the umbrella. Before the kids head outside, make sure they know to take off their wet outerwear and boots in a spot you designate so they don’t track mud throughout the house. Caution them from crossing the street, even if they are old enough, because driver visibility will be lower than usual.
  • Use the rain as a teachable moment. Ask your kids open-ended questions about the rain to get them thinking and sharing: where is the rain coming from? How is rain good for us (even if it cancelled the baseball game)?
  • Make a simple rain gauge. Locate a clear container, such as a glass or plastic jar. Place it outside in the rain, and have the kids write down the time the jar began to collect water. Set a timer for one hour. When the time is up, go back outside with the kids and retrieve the jar. Bring the jar inside and measure the water level with a ruler. That measurement is amount of rain that fell in an hour. Congratulations – you just sneaked some math learning into your day!
  • Look at the weather radar map for your area. Show your kids how you enter your zip code, and a map of your immediate area pops up with areas of rainfall highlighted. Find an animated weather radar map so they can see the rain moving through the area. Ask them what this map indicates: will we get more rain later, or less?
  • With rain comes a drop in temperature, so try a fun and easy cooking project like the gourmet hot chocolate recipe at AllRecipes (remember that children must be supervised in the kitchen whenever the stove is used)
  • Catch up with far-away family members with web-based communication apps like Skype or Facetime – this gives your kids a chance to show off their rain gauge and hot chocolate to Nana.
  • Push the movie envelope beyond the latest DVD release by introducing your kids to classic children’s movies like E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial and movies you loved when you were a kid, like Mrs. Doubtfire. Let older kids have a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings film Festival.
  • You and your kids can still get some exercise indoors with video games like WII Sports and Just Dance, or a round or two of Twister. Consider having lunch at a restaurant with an indoor play-scape in your area, like Chik-Fil-A.
  • Local museums make great rainy-day field trips, because they are educational and unhurried. Check out museumsusa.org for all of the museums in your area.
  • If you want your kids to get some reading in, try a visit to the local library so they can pick out something new to read. If you have more errands to do, check out an audiobook that you can all listen to in the car (rainy days mean traffic delays, so allow yourself extra time to get to your destination).
  • Make your kids’ favorite board game more epic with a high stakes tournament, and the overall winner gets to delegate their least favorite chore to Dad or Mom. Many board games have educational value, like Cranium for Kids and Apples to Apples Junior
  • Raid the recycle bin and let the kids build things from the cans, bottles and boxes (make sure cans have no sharp edges, and don’t let them play with glass items). If you live close by to an appliance store, call and ask if they have any refrigerator boxes you can take off their hands. Your kids will be thrilled with the box fort/castle/space station.

If you have a covered patio or porch, let your kids do a messy art project on it like fingerpainting or playdough, or whip up a batch of homemade moon sand, which will do well in the damp air.

Trial piece for a client – Sock-Eating Monster

BOTL!
BOTL!

There once was a monster, so quiet
And socks were all of his diet

Each winter is hard on my feet
Because the monster has plenty to eat!

My mom is irked – she wants to know
Where in the world all my socks go

He eats wool and he eats cotton
He eats them clean and when they’re rotten

My dad thinks it’s actually the dryer
My sister keeps telling me I am a liar

But I know he’s under my bed, past the blocks
He sits there alone and he eats all of my socks!

My $5 face serum

Grapeseed-oil-bottle-benefits

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “New Skin.”

I’m in my forties, which means I deal with both both dryness and acne. While doing some research on cystic acne, I came across some items about grape seed oil, and how it can both moisturize and help with acne (you can check out a lot a good reviews at Makeup Alley here).

I found a HUGE bottle in the baking aisle of our grocery store for $5 – not a high-risk experiment – and I’ve been applying it to my face every night with a cotton ball. I love it! Light, smells fine, and I think it is relieving areas of redness in my skin!
Try it for yourself!

#blogging101 – can I have an easier question??

I hate the question
“Who am i?”
The hell if I know!
I try and try

I know I’m a grownup
I’ve got some ID
I’m my son’s mom
And I know he loves me

I’m no longer dating
I’m somebody’s wife
And it’s really great
But I still need a life

To earn some money
I’ve started to write
Will I be successful?
Maybe I might.

I run and I knit
We’ve a cat and a dog
And this year on WordPress
I’m starting a blog

It’s kind of a journal
And kind of P.R.
To help out my writing
And pay for my car

I need it for car pool
To drive everyone’s child
Funny, ’cause my past life
Was a little bit wild

So WordPress, you asked me
To give this a go
About who I am
But I don’t.. really.. know …

5 apps to keep your house clean

Hoarders_114f2c_4083764I am a big believer in not cluttering my mind with unnecessary thinking (that sentence sounds stupid but bear with me a second). Let’s face it: certain subjects just aren’t very deep, like cleaning the house.

Cleaning the house is important. It helps every member of the family function more efficiently. It keeps us all healthy. It allows us to socialize in our homes without fear of the authorities showing up later to take our children. But it’s not something I like to think about a lot. I just want to execute the tasks and move on.

But there are people that think about it a lot, and I love that: I can use the wheels they’re created to get where I want to go. I especially like the daily lists/schedules/systems that many of these domestic specialists have come up with.

Since it’s a new year, I’m shopping for a new housecleaning app.  Here’s the five I’ve narrowed the hunt down to:

1) Motivated Moms ($5.99, iTunes, Amazon Apps, Google Play) – this is the app I have used for the past 2 years. It’s a daily checklist of housecleaning chores. You can also add custom tasks and delete tasks that aren’t relevant to your life. This is not an app as much as a yearly subscription to their service, but it gets great reviews.

2) Brightnest.com (free, Google Play and iTunes) – I love this site so much, I made it my browser home page. You take a brief quiz on your home situation, and the site automatically suggests short but useful projects, complete with the amount of time required. True, it’s not a daily list system, but you can schedule the projects it suggests for you. This should be a great booster for the days you get though the daily routine chores.

3) House Cleaning List (0.99, Amazon Apps and Google Play)  – This is the app I’m going to test drive this year, since I can run it on my Kindle. No need to re-purchase each year, and you can add custom tasks as well.

4) Unf^*% Your Habitat ($1.99, iTunes and Google Play) – based on the Tumblr blog of the same name (if your an iPhone user, you’ll need to look for “Unfilth You Habitat”. This app is getting good reviews, and if you’re kind of sick of the cutesy-momblog genre, this may be what you’re looking for. Please note that the f-word may appear from time to time, but you’ve probably already gathered that.

5) Chore Checklist Lite (free, Google Play store) – If, when it comes to housekeeping, no price is too low, check this one out. It’s the daily pre-written checklist. plus you can add your own custom tasks, which is everything I would need. There is a paid version that features things I would never use, like the statistical overview of which chores you’re actually doing.

Please note that I am not listing any iPhone-only apps.