Archive for February, 2010

Earlier I wrote an article entitled “Do we value our teachers, or are they expendable?” concerning legislation, effective this year, which effectively eliminated contract dates, RIF recall rights and Seniority protections for teaching professionals. Some considered this legislation “punitive” backlash for teachers who led a protest at the capital last year to oppose massive budget cuts to public schools. Since that time, teachers, parents and concerned individuals have led protests for these unfair practices. There have been some new developments…

Arizona Education Association (AEA) is currently lobbying for SB1299 which is sponsored by Senator Linda Lopez. If accepted, it would repeal these policies. HB 2226, which is being introduced by Representative Lauren Hendrix and will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday of this week (February 24), would repeal these punitive policy provisions and then reinstate them. AEA will be present at this meeting to testify. Representative David Schapira will also be introducing an amendment to HB2226 which would eliminate the reinstatement of these punitive laws, effectively repealing them instead.

If you would like to support the amendment, contact committee members.

You can also show support for education in Arizona by attending the March4Schools Day of Action on March 4, 2010 at 4 p.m. This enormous community outreach action will bring thousands of education supporters statewide together to share their stories and concerns about the impact of legislative funding cuts to their schools with the voting public. It is hoped that this effort will bring attention to the anti-education legislation taking place.

If you would like to attend as a March4Schools Day of Action participant, it is asked that you wear a t-shirt (that can be purchased online) to present a unified front in support of quality public education for every child in Arizona. To join in and be a part of this event, check out what activities will be available in your individual local.

Weigh in with your thoughts on how our teachers are being treated from a legislative standpoint. Are they expendable? Or do we value them and want them to stay?

For more information: Download the AEA March4Schools Day of Action flyer.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Events, General, newsworthy | No Comments »

Are you the greenest Mom in America?

February 21st, 2010 12:12am

the greenest momChildren’s Orchard is looking for the “Greenest Mom in America” with the winner will receive a $500 Children’s Orchard gift-card. Times are tough right now and it can be a challenge to come up with the extra means to spend on your kids, especially as they are quickly growing out of their clothes or wanting to follow the latest trends. Children’s Orchard is an upscale resale retail store that sells gently used designer clothes in an upscale retail environment—they pride themselves on being green by reducing waste, recycling old clothes and selling them to moms to reuse!

To enter the contest, just follow these simple guidelines…

  1. Get Creative! Show what you do to live a green lifestyle
  2. Post your entry on Children’s Orchard Facebook Fan Page starting 01.15.10
  3. Comment to Share your entry & get more ‘Like’ votes
  4. The entry with the most votes by 4.5.10 wins $500 to Children’s Orchard!

Good luck everyone and may the “greenest mom” win!

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Events, Family and Home, free stuff, General | No Comments »

Kids parties out of control?

February 20th, 2010 11:44pm

I love celebrating birthdays with my kids. It is so much fun to be able to rub elbows with their friends and just have a crazy good time! I loved that the hardest decision was how to coordinate the schedules of their four friends that would be coming. Pirate parties, princess dress-up parties, spider-man parties…we’ve had some real fun!

Of course, that was when they were 4.

Now that I have an almost 9 year old and her circle of friends (not to mention the social ramifications of said “circle of friends”) has increased exponentially, I have to admit that the upcoming celebration had me somewhat panicking. Who do we invite? Just her friends from church? But then the two friends that go to school with her will talk to their school friends and everyone will wonder why they weren’t invited too. What about her basketball friends? Will her dance friends find out and feel excluded? Before I know it, the guest list has started to top the fire martial’s capacity limit on my home!

And lets admit, the gifts are definitely fun to receive. But amidst the daily clutter of accumulated papers, books, toys, clothes, and everything else that somehow winds up in neglected piles all over the house and most especially in their not-so-large bedrooms…who really wants more “things” to have to organize and maintain?!!

With large party numbers, it is financially  unrealistic to look at a paid venue. But isn’t it also totally unrealistic to invite everyone that your child knows for fear of alienation? YES to both questions!

Alas, my salvation is at hand in the form of one of my much wiser and more experienced friends that discovered the solution. She told her daughter to pick two friends and they would spend the better part of a day doing activities like pedicure/manicures, build-a-bear, jewelry shopping, movie, lunch or whatever struck her daughters fancy (within a predetermined budgetary constraint, of course). They had an absolute blast and no one she knew had any hard feelings at not being the “one” selected. On the contrary, they wanted to hear all about it! It was a smashing success!

I am anxious to give this one a try. In this day of financial crisis, what are some of your ideas for helping your kids celebrate while not breaking the bank or alienating their social crew? We’d love to hear your success stories! Visit our forum on this article and give us your thoughts!

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Family and Home, General, Parenting Tips | No Comments »

If you are searching for that perfect valentines gift for a techno-mommy on your list, we’ve got a winner for you! We have stumbled across an iPhone app that is truly a mommy-tool calendaring wonder! The TotalBaby app definitely makes our MyTime Calendar recommendation list!TotalBaby iPhone Application The TotalBaby Application is a calendar and event tracking solution for kids and babies whose application is limitless!

Developed in 2009, this application was the brain-child of ANDESigned, LLC and is truly inspired work. It allows you to track multiple children from birth to whenever! To better explain this application, I will use my own family of 4 children as an example. Each child was entered with all their birth information and a current photo. I was then able to enter all their vaccination information through a slick interface that allows you to record by vaccine, date and even be as specific as the time of day. You can also make notes at each vaccination entry about how they reacted, doctor recommendations, etc. Next, I was able to enter all the doctor visits I wanted to for each child. For most of my children, this included just the well-visit check-ups for which I entered their measurement info and any pertinent doctor advice I wanted to keep track of. But I have one child that has had health conditions that necessitated specialists so I was able to enter these “sick” visits as well to track exactly when he went and what was discussed.

Total Baby is the most Complete Baby Logging and Tracking Application available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

But it doesn’t stop there! There is a wonderful diary entry area for each child where you can use pictures from your iPhone gallery or snap one for immediate use and couple it with any information you want to include. This is great when your child says or does something funny or memorable and you want to remember it but may not remember at the end of the day to write it into your journal. This app lets you jot it down right as it happens! There is also a milestone area…you title each entry so you can track when they took their first step (with photos!), first words, first smile, or even their first day of school! How about those parent/teacher conferences, concerts or special assignments? Yup, you can record those too! This area also comes with a timing feature so you can track the exact moment you want to notate through a handy drop-down menu that deafaults to the current moment!

If you choose, you can email the TotalBaby reports. Just specify dates or "all data" and you get a well organized synopsis of your child's history!

This event timing is one of the coolest features. Total Baby combines 13 separate timing and tracking functions into a single complete solution. You can track events for each child like diaper changes, bottle feedings/nursing (even which side they nursed on and for how long!!), naps, bathtimes, and one of my absolute favorite features (because I have multiple children to track) is the ability to track doses of medication. For instance, if I have more than one child that requires medication, I can track exactly what I give each child (time, quantity and specific medication) so I know exactly what they’ve received and when they are due for another dose. This is invaluable for sleep deprived mothers who may or may not have the ability to trust their memories at two o’clock in the morning.

To wrap up our review, all this information is literally at your fingertips! So when your friends ask you “so when was she born?” or your doctor asks “how many wet diapers did he have today?” or your child asks you “what did I do when I was 2?”. Not only is it easily accessible but you can also back up the files as well as email them (choosing all information or just specific dates)! We have looked at several other baby/child tracking apps and this one truly shines above all the rest. For only $4.99, it is a totally fun app that is so practical every mom should have it!

Our only complaint (and we had to reach to find a complaint with this app!) was that a growth chart would be very helpful to have in addition to the growth recording abilities it now has. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this feature will be included in future updates!

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Calendaring Tips, Family and Home, General, Parenting Tips, product reviews, Technology, Time Management Tips | No Comments »

Fun Valentine crafts for young kids

February 8th, 2010 6:38pm

Valentines Day is about showing other how much we care about and appreciate them. This is such a wonderful holiday for helping kids to think outside of themselves. To consider and show appreciation for the talents, abilities, and importance of others is a difficult but very important skill we all struggle with. Sacrificing time and energy (rather than just mom and dad’s money) to create these messages of thankfulness helps children (and adults!) show a spirit of true consideration. Are you scrambling for some fun, low budget ideas for helping your kids make this Valentines Day truly memorable? Well, we’ve got a few winners for you!

Buying Valentines Cards is certainly easy and sometimes affordable. If you’re little one is working on writing their name, it can be a great way to practice this skill since they will have to write their name several times over in one sitting. If this is a skill you are working on, it can help if you have fairly large valentines cards so that they will have room to write (early writers rarely have the control and coordination required to write very small). It might also help if you draw a line if one does not already exist so that your little one has a reference as they practice their name writing. Without the guidance of lines, you may find this to be a very unproductive and frustrating practice time.

But for those who have mastered their name writing and are looking for a fun alternative to the standard “card”, we suggest a “Valentine’s Mouse”. This little critter requires very little cost for a very fun outcome! The materials you will need are:

  • colored paper
  • red/black marker or glitter glue
  • pipe cleaners
  • bag of Hershey Kisses
  • glue/tape

Take the colored paper, fold it in half, and begin cutting half-heart shapes along the fold (this will ensure your finished heart will be symmetrical). These small hearts will be glued to the bottom of the Hershey Kiss to form the “ears” of our mouse. Next, take a pipe cleaner and curl it around a pencil. The will be taped to the bottom of the Hershey Kiss as well and bent to resemble our mouse tail. Next, take the marker and make eyes (using a black marker) and a nose (using the red marker or red glitter glue)  for your mouse….and voila! You have your very own valentine critter to deliver!

For a fun surprise for a teacher, parent or grandparent…consider giving them a “heart attack”! This is a simple, easy and inexpensive craft that is lots of fun for the giver and truly memorable for the receiver. First cut as many hearts as possible from several different colors of paper (the more sizes and colors, the more fun!). Next, take a marker and write on each heart something you like, admire, or a special memory about the person. If you have children that are not writing, special pictures are also wonderful. Again, the more, the merrier! Take the finished hearts and tape/post them all over the person’s bathroom, bedroom, front lawn (be aware of sprinklers!), office or any other space that the person spends a lot of time in. The key to success here is to not get caught posting the hearts! When the person returns, they will be greeted with their “heart attack” of special messages from their children. This is a wonderful way for kids to learn to “count their blessings” and be truly thankful for this special someone by remembering all the things they love about them and writing them down. The best reward is the look on the person’s face when they enter the room!

Whatever crafts you decide, make sure you take the time to explain why this holiday is so important. Help your kids remember that showing someone you love and appreciate them is truly one of the best ways to not only make their day, but also make your day a little brighter!

Do you have some fun crafts that have worked well with your family or classroom? Share ’em! Visit our Teachers Forum under classroom activities!

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Crafts, Events, Family and Home, General, holiday activities, Teacher Tips | No Comments »