Casual Blogger Network is a dynamic group of blogs that are geared towards women. We use a combination of several social media platforms to actively engage our audience. Our network is comprised of five main sites: Mormon Mommy Blogs, Leelou Blogs, Green Jello with Carrots, Casual Blogger Community, and Local Community HotSpots. When you work with the Casual Blogger Network, you are building connections with Social Media Savvy Bloggers. Our bloggers help generate authentic conversations about your brand throughout the web. Our bloggers have a powerful voice that will have a tremendous impact on the visibility of your company. w w w . c a s u a l b l o g g e r n e t w o r k . c o m
4 Tech Know 7 Blog Spotlight: A Sorta Fairytale 12 Get More Pins on Pinterest 16 Baby Style 35 Summer Fun in Utah Valley 25 10 Things to do in DC This Summer 29 And Then we Dive... 33 Just for Clicks 15 Top 10 Kid Websites 22 Mom Approved Kid Apps 10 Totally Legit Horoscopes 20 Craft: Zone Chore Chart 39 Just Some Blogs that We Adore 41 Tips for Effective Time Management
Finding time to stay sane this summer.
Twitter - we’ll talk you into using and loving it.
Great pictures, good stories, fun times. Mandy’s fairytale.
Top ten tips to get the most our of Pinterest.
Celebrities pave the way for great kid clothes.
Events and prizes for anyone visiting Utah this summer.
There’s lots to do in the DC area, here are our suggestions.
Jumping off bridges can be symbolic (and scary).
These are a few of our favorite things.
Get a few minutes of peace and quiet while you’re kids play.
These apps will keep your offspring happy.
These predictions are spot on, I tell you.
Keep up with kid chores this summer with this fun chart.
We like these blogs because they’re pretty.
Cover image courtesy of flickr creative commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/preppybyday/5076899310 Table of contents photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/weedwhacker2525/5441656865
NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: It â€™s summer! You know what that means, right? Kids. Pool. Lemonaid. Sunburns. This issue of the Casual Blogger Magazine is all about what to do this summer on and off the internet. We have tips to keep up with blogging as life gets taken over by summer activities. We also have suggestions and ideas on how to keep kids busy and doing chores. This issue is also packed with our usual great info and funny stuff. Sit back, relax, and read this next to the pool with some sunscreen in hand.
MAGAZINE CREDITS: Supreme Ruler Divine: Melissa Bastow Master Technician of Awesomenicity: Caroline Bingham Wise One of All Things that Matter: Veronica Johnson Uber Chief of Chiefly Things: Elisa Scharton The Essential PB to the J: Julie MacDonald 3
C A R O L I N E
B I N G H A M
Do you feel rushed all the time? Do you feel like youâ€™re always super busy, but you never seem to get anything done? Proper time management skills are important for everyone, because we all do many different jobs over the course of a day. Follow these tips to help increase your productivity, which will give you more time to relax.
Take Time to Prepare & Make it Fun
Define Priorities & Set Goals
Allow Time for Flexibility
Order doesn’t happen overnight. Make a plan, and stick to it! Remember: having the right supplies ready to handle the day is just as important in saving your time.
Priorities are things that NEED to happen. Goals are something you WANT to happen. Be realistic about each. Make small, manageable goals as opposed to big ones. For example, instead of saying you want to re-do the backyard, break it down into small goals such as pruning the trees, and pulling weeds in a specific area. Small, daily successes are the key to finishing large projects.
You have to leave yourself room to breathe. Every day, small emergencies pop up that require your attention. You cannot have every minute scheduled, otherwise, you’re at a disadvantage from the moment you wake up in the morning.
4. Rule of Three
Aim to accomplish three things each day. Sometimes, we’re not going to finish everything on our lists, and that’s okay. As long as we do the most important things first, then we have spent our time well. (And yes, those three things can be Wake Up. Have a Shower. Get Dressed…. You have to start somewhere!)
5. Budget your Time
Set time limits! Break up housework into 15 minute chunks. Clean the kitchen for 15 minutes. Organize the pantry for 15 minutes. Spend just 15 minutes on Facebook or reading a good book. When you know that you’ll only be doing a specific task for a limited amount of time, all your energy and focus can be spent on that one item. You’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish in such a short space of time.
photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notahipster/4457794763/
written by Veronica Johnson
let’s talk about
Twitter is often described as micro blogging, but it’s more than just that. Much of the reason behind the popularity of twitter has to do with the social networking side of it. It’s a useful tool for making both
It’s a great place to make and receive trusted recommendations. There is a huge online community of people all over the world just waiting to hear from you.
business and personal connections. Are you looking for people who share a common interest or hobby? Twitter’s got you covered. Trying to reach the target audience for your product or business? Turn to twitter. Got a question? Send it out on Twitter and see what comes back.
So, now you’re wondering, “Where do I even begin?” There’s so much information out there and things are changing and improving each day. But here are a few tips to help you dip your toe into the stream of information that awaits.
Selecting a Twitter name. Keep it short and sweet. Twitter only allows for 140 characters, and your name will take up space. Especially if someone is retweeting something you have said.
Who should I follow? Follow anyone you are interested in: friends, acquaintances, businesses, interesting people. Start out slow. Follow people you know and who know you. Then as you get more comfortable you can find and follow more people based on your interests.
Listen and Interact: Twitter is not your personal diary or your travel log. It’s all about conversation.
What should I say and how often should I say it? Readers will value quality over quantity. Tweet when you have something to say. Don’t have anything to say? Read through your twitter stream and look for things you can chime in on. Ask a Question. Answer a question. Share a tip, idea or joke. Don’t look at Twitter as an obligation, but rather an opportunity to share and connect.
Be Yourself: As with any type of social media, you should be yourself. You are looking to connect with people who are interesting and similar to you. Pretending to be someone or something you’re not won’t get you anywhere.
Last but not least…..remember this: Twitter is public and searchable. Don’t tweet things you wouldn’t want your mother or your employer to read. Go ahead and take a crack at Twitter. You might be surprised! If you find that you like it and want to stick around, you can follow me @SavvyVeronica. Let’s be twitter friends, because as Clark Gable said in Gone with the Wind, “You should be retweeted and often and by someone who knows how.” …..or did he? 8
If youâ€™re using Twitter as a tool for growing an online business, or you just want to increase your visibility, this infographic from NJI Media has some great pointers to incorporate into your tweeting practices.
NJI Media is an award-winning interactive agency that specializes in website design, web development, User Experience (UX) design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), multimedia production and online communications strategy in the Washington DC area. With their team of sharp-minded strategists, visionary creative designers, technology fanatics, and analytics junkies they provide services to some of the most high profile political, corporate and non-profit organizations across the country. Read their blog: http://njimedia.com/blog or visit their site: http://njimedia.com
have a FREE PRINTABLE, our treat.
Click on the image to download and print this free high resolution 8x10â€? printable, courtesy of Peonies and Poppyseeds. www.peoniesandpoppyseeds.com 11
w w w. a s o r t a f a i r y t a l e b l o g . c o m Name: Mandy Blog: a sorta fairytale What is your blog about? family, photography, & being a WAHM Tell us a little about yourself: I’ve lived in Washington State my whole life. It’s very pretty here, but it is true, it rains a ton. But I guess we have to be grateful, cause that’s what makes everything so gorgeous. How long have you been blogging? Since October 2007 Why did you start blogging, and why do you keep doing it? I started this blog several years ago, as a way to keep family and friends updated on life. After the birth of my son in January 2010, my blog sort of evolved- a way for me to journal my thoughts as a new Mom, important milestones, and lots and lots of photography!
One of our favorite posts on “a sorta fairytale” is this one about the importance of having self portraits on your blog:
Take pictures of youself. It’s important. When I started blogging years ago, I hardly ever had pictures of myself on the blog because I was always behind that camera. When I started to gain more readers, make more friends, put myself out there in the blogging world more - I realized that I needed to step it up a little bit with photos of myself. And here’s why: When people visit your blog, it’s like they are taking a step into your world. They are reading stories about you, your family, your kids. They’re seeing pictures of your home, your city & your loved ones. It’s super important to let your readers/peers/friends (whatever you want to call them) see WHO you are. Being able to put a face to the words & stories makes a huge difference when you’re getting to know someone. Of course, there are the skeptics out there that like their privacy, and I definitely understand this - that is why we have the option to make our blogs private - by invitation only. But by having a public blog, you’re allowing people to get to know you on a personal level, and trust me - they want to see who you are. I have made some incredible friends through my blog (examples: here, here & here). And even though I met these ladies through the internet first, I felt like I had already known them for years. And that was in large part because they weren’t shy about letting their readers see who they were by posting pictures of themselves. You get my point, right? Now onto the awkward stuff. I’m sure a lot of people think that putting pictures of themselves on their blog might seem vein or self-absorbed. But that really isn’t the case for most of us. Obviously, you don’t want to OVER-do it with the selfies, but don’t be shy about it, either. Also, most of us don’t have photographers following us around, not that I’d want that anyway, but you know what I mean. It’s hard to get photos of ourselves. I know that I’m super picky about having my picture taken, it has to be my idea and on my terms. So if you’re like me - taking self portraits are a challenge. However, we all have timers on our cameras right? I also have a remote & a tripod, which I admit I never use. But if I did, that would be a great way to do it. If you don’t have a camera, you have a camera on your phone, right? See... no excuses. :-) If all else fails, just hold your camera out at arms length. That’s what I do most of the time. Cause well, I’m too lazy to get my remote & tripod. Or even ask someone to take a picture for me. But hey, it works.
Read more from Mandy and see her amazin 13
Donâ€™t be afraid to look RIGHT into the camera. That is after all, how most people see you when youâ€™re talking to them. be real.
All text and photos copyright asortoffair ytaleblog.com
n g p h o t o s a t : w w w. a s o r t a f a i r y t a l e b l o g . c o m 14
by Janet Thaeler
You’ve probably already discovered that Pinterest is a great way to get more readers to your blog (and it ’s true). Take it up a notch by blogging with Pinterest in mind. Here are our top ten tips for bloggers to get more traffic from Pinterest:
Add words to your images. Instead of just putting a beautiful image of your latest fruit dip recipe, add words such as “The best fruit dip recipe EVER,” to not only tell them what they ’re going to get, but to entice them to click.
Stack your images. Long images do better than side-by-side images because they take up more room on the page. Pinterest resizes anything wider than 554 pixels. Don’t go longer than 5,000 pixels or people will have scroll up to like or repin (which discourages them from doing it).
Create ‘How To’ or ‘Instructographics’ that show how to making a craft, recipe or other content that has several steps. It ’s a subtle way to market your post. We created a graphic for PinAlerts that shows how to sign up and use the tool.
Brand your images. Some claim putting your domain or company name on your images discourages repins. We think it makes it harder for someone to steal your popular images and send the traffic to their blog instead of yours.
6. 7. 8. 17
Research what is being pinned from your blog. You can manually track this by typing your domain in www.Pinterest.com/source/yourdomain. com but you won’t get all of the results. We created a new tool for Pinterest to help. Go to PinAlerts.com and sign up to get an email whenever anyone pins content from your blog or any blog you want to track.
Study the popular and other categories on Pinterest. Quickly getting many repins improves the chances your images will show up on a categor y page. If it does you’ll get more repins and followers. Make sure your blog home page has pinnable images. A blog button might be great for a sidebar but way too small for Pinterest. The last thing you want is for people to pin your header. Pinterest will shrink it down and destroy its awesomeness. Time your pins. According to research the best time to pin is Saturday mornings. Most pinning happens before getting the kids off to school or work, at lunch and in the evenings.
Pin correctly. A big mistake many pinners make is that they pin from the home page and not from a specific blog post. Click the post title so you’re on the exact post you want to pin. Otherwise you’ll frustrate people who want to get that killer recipe, only to be taken to a blog’s home page where they will have to search and search for it. Add a Pin It button to your blog. If you’re on Wordpress, check out The Pinterest Traffic plugin which has a lot of extra features. It adds a Pin It button to ever y image, with a choice of button styles. You can position the buttons wherever you want next to each image.
Learn more at http://www.jvzoo.com/c/16457/4137 (cost: $17). You can see it on our blog at PinnableBusiness.com.
Janet Thaeler is an online marketing consultant and pro blogger. She runs a blog network called Bucks2Blog and her own blog is Newspapergrl.com. She recently started a Pinterest marketing blog at PinnableBusiness.com.
The other day we came across this jello cookie recipe on one of our favorite blogs, I Heart Naptime, and had to try them right away. THEY WERE YUMMY. And lots of fun to make. And also, really easy. And that combination, dear readers, is called perfection. Get step by step instructions (with a printable recipe and photo tutorial) here: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/jello-cookies You can also find other great recipes, decorating tips, craft ideas, party ideas, and lotâ€™s more on I Heart Naptime:
Recipe and photos courtesy of iheartnaptime.net. All rights reser ved.
I looked into t h e
stars & now
I k n o w y o u r f u t u r e.
by, Melissa Bastow
It ’s no secret, hallucinogenic lipstick is all the rage. But you really shouldn’t use it on your boss, ok?
You will look fabulous for two days this month. But the rest of the days you’ll just be plagued with a large growth.
Uh oh, it looks like someone’s going to be preggers! Plan for extras - because it’s triplets.
You will develop a sudden, and slightly violent, aversion to the color fuchsia.
The bumble bees of happiness will pollinate your flowers of goodwill while the lambs of world peace frolic in your field of togetherness.
Sometimes you dream about being a famous ballerina well guess what, sister? WISH GRANTED.
You’ll get the crazy notion that pantyhose are actually comfortable and start wearing them to bed.
A song will be written about you. It will become instantly and internationally popular. It will be about your elbows.
I think it ’s time for a new job. Maybe you should go for something in the burger flipping arena?
The world is ending. Get a grip. We’re all going to die anyway, there’s no need to freak out.
On an Australian Walk About you will come across the man of your dreams. Then you’ll realize that you were severly dehydrated, and it wasn’t a man at all but a kangaroo.
You owe me $5. Remember that time I bought you a snow cone and then you just threw it at that cute guy? When we were 14? 20
There will inevitably be a day in the next 3 months where you just need to plug the kids into something. After all, it is summer vacation for you too. But with all the scary stuff out there you can hardly let the kids go wild on the internets. Hereâ€™s a list of our favorite kid-safe websites (with pros and cons) that will gaurantee you a few minutes of summer solace...and possibly even a nap. by Melissa Bastow
#9 http://eduplace.c om
unbr w w w. f
a i n. c o
Funbrain has a lot of great learning games, but it’s hard to navigate their site for little ones who can’t read yet.
Eduplace is amazing as far as learning games go. You can pick the curriculum and everything! However it requires some parent involvement. Scholastic has some great games and information pages about kids’ favorite books. What better way to encourage reading this summer than to let your kids play games about their most loved characters. I mean really, no child under 10 is ever going to get enough of Captain Underpants. On the negative, this site doesn’t have as big of a variety of games as other sites. But it still rocks pretty hard.
. n ic k #6 www
# 7 h tt p :/ /d is n e y. g
o.c o m
Kids love Disney characters and can check out the huge assortment of games & videos here. But I don’t like the links to buy stuff - my kids like to ”shop”.
Nickelodeon is great - Spongebob, I love you. But I don’t love all the video clips and other mindless games here. It’s really fun for awhile though.
w w. #4 w
#5 www.moshimonsters. com My kids love Moshi Monsters and can spend hours playing the games & making friends. But talk to your kids about personal info & the internet before they play.
Sometimes even I like to play Poptropica (much to the children’s dismay). It’s lots of fun, adventurous, but could use some more sounds.
://pb #3 http
s k id s. o r g
PBS Kids is my ultimate standby when it comes to internet games. I know everything is safe & educational. But my older kids get bored with it.
Lego Ninjago is totally rad for two reasons: a) Legos are awesome and b) Ninjas are even awesomer. The combination equals perfection.
National Geographic Kids is my number one recommendation for your kids this summer. The content is extremely engaging, even for little ones. Plus, all children are obsessed with animals, right? Give them a half an hour on this site and they’ll be entertained, informed, and inspired to learn more. My personal favorite part of this site is the “Panda Cam” where you get to watch a couple of young panda bears in real time as they eat and play in China. But my kids go more for the games, videos, and animal facts. And get this, there #1 http://kids.nationalgeographic.com are hardly any ads to distract from the fun!
SUMMER F U N Bring your family and friends to Utah Valley this year for some of the biggest events in the country! Nestled in the Wasatch Mountain range of the Rocky Mountains, Utah Valley’s stunning mountain backdrops offer limitless recreational opportunities. Favorite destinations include Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort, Thanksgiving Point, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah Lake, BYU and UVU. Easily accessible, Utah Valley is located just 30 minutes south of the Salt Lake International Airport and 5 minutes from the Provo Airport to historic downtown Provo. Visit UVTogether.com for event information, giveaways, and fun things to do. Find out why people love Utah Valley! A great event this summer for young girls and boys everywhere is the Princess Festival at Thanksgiving Point from June 19-23 & 26-30. The Princess Festival is the ultimate fairytale experience because being a princess is more than glitter and ribbons. A true princess is willing to make a difference in the world by using courage, compassion, and grace. Join our princesses on a journey through exciting interactive adventures as they learn to care about others. • Your little princesses/princes will have the opportunity to join in 6 different captivating adventures at their own pace and choosing. • Each adventure is between 15 to 30 minutes long for a total of 1.5 to 3 hours. • For more information about the festival or to purchase tickets visit UVTogether.com
There’s nothing more fun than running together in the Utah Valley Marathon on June 9. Register for the Utah Valley Marathon, Half Marathon or 10K and experience the majestic beauty of Provo Canyon with a fun-filled finish in historic downtown Provo. • Course includes majestic mountain scenery, cascading waterfalls and Provo River • Perfect for beginners and offers a potential personal best time for experts as one of the fastest spring marathons • For more information about the marathon and to get ticket prices visit UVTogether.com
Experience one of America’s biggest and best patriotic celebrations this July 4 at Stadium of Fire. This year’s event features America’s quintessential rock’n’roll band, The Beach Boys, reunited with founding member Brian Wilson on their 50th Anniversary Tour. Join 50,000 spectators to celebrate and honor our great nation at this premier patriotic event in Provo, Utah at Brigham Young University’s LaVell Edwards Stadium. • Bring the whole family and enjoy the entertainment, tributes to American freedom and patriotism • Sing along to “Surfin’ U.S.A,” Surfer Girl,” “Good Vibrations” and other timeless classics • And, of course, be amazed by the tremendous fireworks display • For more information or to purchase tickets visit utahvalley.com
Listen to tall tales together at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival Timpanogos Storytelling Festival from August 30 to September 1, the largest storytelling festival in the west. In the shadow of Mt. Timpanogos, you’ll hear tales of triumph, love, comedy and adventure for three exciting days. • Some of the nation’s best known storytellers unite with other tellers, both young and old, for celebrations of music and merriment, but mostly stories. • Forty thousand listeners of all ages gather to hear the echoing fables and cannot help but to become a bit wiser, a bit more human. • For more information about the Storytelling Festival or to purchase tickets visit UVTogether.com
U tah valley G iveaways : To make your visit even more enjoyable we have several prizes and vacation giveaways all year long at UVTogether.com. Track your pace at the Utah Valley Marathon with a Garmin watch. Attend the Princess Festival in style with a one night stay for 2 and a $50 gift certificate to the Princess Festival gift shop for costumes and more. Read your favorite story on a Kindle Fire and get ready for live entertainment at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. And one lucky person will win the Utah Valley Vacation Giveaway! By creating a video, 2 minutes or less about why you want to visit or why you love Utah Valley, you have the opportunity to win a vacation package that includes the following: • 4 hotel rooms for 3 nights (Bring your friends and family) • $1,000 in Frontier Airlines Fly-Bucks (Now serving the Provo, UT Airport), • Admission for 16 to Thanksgiving Point Gardens and Museum, • A $200 gift card at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort • And a $400 Voucher to Seven Peaks Resort or Provo Beach Resort. The video with the most likes by noon MST on September 19, 2012 will win this free Utah Valley Vacation Giveaway! So make sure you tell your friends to vote for your video.
For free information and help with planning your trip (visitor guide, lodging, events, restaurants, etc.) contact the Utah Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau at 888-396-UTAH (8824) or visit UVTogether.com
Take the Gargoyle Tour at the National Cathedral - Explore the whimsical and grotesque that decorate the National Cathedral. Tours are given on Thursday and Sunday (check schedule) and include a slide show and an outdoor tour. Bring your binoculars and see if you can spot Darth Vadar on the Northwest Tower! Admission is $10 per adult, $5 per child, or $30 per family. www.nationalcathedral.org/about/darthVader.shtml
Become a Junior Ranger - The Junior Ranger program is a fun FREE way for kids to learn about the National Parks. Kids complete booklets and earn badges, pins, and patches as they tour the national mall and beyond! Simply visit the ranger station or visitors center to get started. Visit the Junior Rangers online for a full list of participating parks. w w w. n p s. g o v / l e a r n / j u n i o r r a n g e r. c f m
Visit the Botanical Gardens - The Gardens offer free 45 minute tours. Check with the Visitor Desk when you arrive for times, or explore the beauty on your own!
Head to the Zoo - Visit the Pandas, head over to the Great Ape House, or see the newest addition to the lion family (seven cubs!). Check out what’s going on before you arrive with the daily programs, or download the printable Family Guide before your visit! http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Education/images/FamilyGuide.pdf
The National Museum of the Marine Corp - you will get a marine’s eye view of American history at this museum. Enjoy interactive self-guided tours and see what it means to be a marine, you can even try on their packs! Outside of the museum, you’ll find a playground and a picnic area to enjoy!
Go on a Pirate Adventure - Set your sails, and shiver your timbers! Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake is fun for kids of all ages! Join this real life adventure and transform into a swashbuckling pirate, read a treasure map, then defeat the smelliest and rottenest pirate in all the seven seas! Tickets are $19 per person. www.chesapeakepirates.com/home/homeindex.html
Dinosaur Dig - find a fossil, build a dinosaur, go on a guided tour, or sign up for Dinosaur Camp! http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~gdouglas/index.html
Rock Creek Park - view the night sky at the Planetarium, feed the critters at the Nature Center, or go on a hike. Don’t forget to earn your junior ranger badge while you’re there! http://www.nps.gov/rocr/planyourvisit/naturecenter.htm
Eat a Cupcake - With so many cupcakeries to choose from, you can’t go wrong! Georgetown Cupcakes, Hello Cupcake, the Red Velvet Cupcakery, Sprinkles, Baked & Wired, Crumbs... really, the options are never ending! www.hellocupcakeonline.com • bakedandwired.com www.georgetowncupcake.com • www.sprinkles.com www.crumbs.com • www.redvelvetcupcakery.com
See a Giant - the Awakening at the National Harbor is a huge sculpture of a giant struggling to free himself from the ground. Kids love seeing how tall they are in comparison.
p h o t o c r e d i t : h t t p : / / w w w. f l i c k r. c o m / p h o t o s / r a s t e r / 7 2 7 7 0 4 7 9 8 8 /
FORMERLY P H R E A D • w w w . f o r m e r l y p h r e a d . c o m June 2, 2006
meet me a t c a m e r a t h r e e Dear McDonald’s, You are cordially invited to get over yourself. I recently took a road trip with my children, and road trips are the ONLY time I let my kids eat at your establishments. I saw the Super Size Me, and it grossed me out no end. I only eat your cheeseburgers now because the infant I’m currently incubating wants one. But I digress. I understand that since the hard-hitting reporting of your french fries NEVER CHANGING THEIR CURRENT STATE and such resulted in a hit on your business. Even so, let’s get something straight: People do not patronize your ‘restaurants’ because they are looking for a fine dining experience. They go because that’s where their kids want to go. What does this mean? It means you should put a playplace in every one of your ‘restaurants’ (okay, maybe not in Park City or Vail, but all the others). Allow me to illustrate: I’m in the car with my children driving across, let’s say, Illinois, and we’ve been driving for atleast 2 & 1/2 hours without stopping. It’s time to stop for not only a bathroom break, but also for lunch. We see a billboard with nothing but your Golden Arches indicating that we should prepare to exit the freeway to get our toy (that happens to be accompanied by “food”). The kids are getting both restless and excited. We find the ‘restaurant’ and park. Kids are practically running because, hey, they need the exercize after all that driving, and when we get inside...No Playplace.
Instead, you’ve recently remodeled with a fireplace and a lounging area, a khaki motif complete with high tables surrounded by barstools. Are you freakin’ kidding me?! You are not A Fine Dining Establishment. You’re not even Starbucks. Your mascot is a clown. My kids want, nay, they NEED to run and jump and crawl around in colorful plastic Dining Establishment. You’re not even Starbucks. Your mascot is a clown. My kids want, nay, they NEED to run and jump and crawl around in colorful plastic tubes. (But not the ball pits because we all know about the psychos that throw their used hypodermic needles in there to give the kids diseases.) Give a mom a break. While we’re at it, please review the hiring of the staff in Creve Coeur, Missouri. The girl that took my order was, amazingly, sleeping while working. I know, it sounds absurd. And it was. I was waiting for the mix-up...waiting...and there it came: Orange Juice instead of Orange Drink with the Happy Meals. When I brought it to her attention, she rolled her eyes to the high heavens and told another girl that I said Orange Drink but meant HiC. Um, excuse me? Who calls it Hi-C??? It is Orange Drink. From McDonald’s. McDonald’s Orange Drink. That’s what it’s called. That’s what it’s always been called. We don’t need Sleeping Beauty to get all huffy and act as an interpreter for the obvious. Please. Just a place for kids to play. And bring back Grimace. Fondly, jennyfivetina
is a humor
columnist and blogger. She lives in Germany with her husband, and four small children who call her “Mother”, “Mommy Dearest” and on special occasions “Your Royal Highness”. Catch up with her at
annievalentine.com, or you can send her an email at
Photograph found here: www.flickr.com/photos/spaceshoe/6230395710
by Annie Valentine
It’s a funny thing about jumping; no matter how prepared you think you are, the fall always knocks the brevity right out of you. The summer before my 18th birthday was a hot one–in more ways than one. Being from the wet side of Washington State, it wasn’t uncommon for most of us to come from non-air-conditioned homes/cars/work places. When the temperatures hit the nineties, kids with weak, western Washington blood running through their veins got desperate. We did the only intelligent thing, bridge jumping. Because obviously throwing yourself off a large structure and falling tens of feet to the rapid cold water beneath was so much more refreshing than, oh say, swimming. Perhaps I’m using the term “we” a little too inclusively here. My cousins and friends would go bridge jumping while I sat on the river’s edge, dipped my toes in the current, and clapped at their bravery. This would be because I’m the world’s biggest wimp (according to my cousins). I spent most of the heat wave that summer listening to chicken calls and trying to defend my intelligent terror. But temperature has a funny effect on people who are bored and overheated. It only took a week or two of peer pressure before I found myself, one hot July afternoon, standing at the railing of a very high, very industrial looking bridge. And they said I wouldn’t jump. Honestly, I think the only thing that actually got me out on the ledge was watching my skinny little 14-year-old cousin shimmy over the railing, step two feet out onto the large metal beam that ran suspended beneath the bridge by some sort of engineering magic, and plunge to his (not quite) death without so much as a whimper. I remember putting my cold hands on that sun-hot railing and swinging my right leg over to
straddle it. Getting the other leg to agree to this move was more of an effort, since it seemed to think that we shouldn’t mess with dry land. Once I finally had my entire body on the unsecured side of the bridge, it was just a matter of forcing my rubbery legs to step down to the lower beam. (And yes, I probably should have used the restroom before I got up there.) Longest. Step. Of. My. Life. Finally there I stood, seventy (okay thirty) feet from the rushing water below with nothing to stop me from going back but my pride. I had no idea how the fall would feel; exciting? Elating? Terrifying? Would I hit that one rock everyone warned me about and die? Would I feel like a bird or a stone, and which one was better? A breath, a whisper, a step and… SMACK!! No one told me I should jump feet first, straight like the arrow. By the time I landed I was in a sitting position, and holy moly but that river spanked me like a naughty school girl. That was, inevitably, my one and only plunge. We fly to Germany in 72 hours and I feel once again like that girl on the bridge. I can look down and see the water, cool and refreshing and exciting and scary. But standing here I’m still a world away from the fall. What about the language? The food? My children’s happiness? Will there be friends, or decent grocery stores, or English movie theaters? Will we miss The Office and college football and Sunday dinners with the family? Some of the answers will be yes and some will be no, but still I feel compelled that this jump is exactly what my family needs right now. Here’s hoping this time I land on my feet.
by Allison Ulrich
S U M M E R FA SHION TRENDS FOR TOTS! For the latest fashion trends people often turn to celebrities for inspiration. But some of Hollywoodâ€™s best trend setters are their children, wearing the newest fashions in smaller sizes. . But beyond these fashion trends no one can ignore the importance of high-quality clothing thatâ€™s soft, comfortable, and durable for an active baby! Here are five celebrity baby fashion trends to look for in the spring months ahead.
With the warmer weather T-shirts with fun designs and messages will be out in full force. The Pluto line of baby clothing incorporates pop culture, history and other smart messages with designs on T-shirts and onesies. Violet Affleck, the daughter of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, has been spotted wearing Pluto. The line of clothing can be found at Ella & Spencer or buy directly on etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/plutokids
Matching T-shirts with kicks in bright spring colors from Converse is another hot trend. The popular shoe brand comes in infant and toddler sizes. Mason Disick, son of Kourtney Kardashian, has been seen sporting the classic line of shoes. Check out their new summer line at www.converse.com
Bright Colors and Bold Prints
Alyson Hanniganâ€™s daughter Satyana Denisof is a fan of the ultrasoft Splendid clothing line. Super-fine jersey knit and other cotton blends keep playtime both stylish and comfortable. Satyana is often seen wearing bright colors and bold prints, a hot trend for the warmer months ahead. www.splendid.com
Punk Rock Style
Some celebrity parents take children’s fashion a step further by developing their own lines. Singer Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Mini line is available in Target stores. The clothing has a punk rock style mixed with Japanese inspired elements to give kids a unique look. Stefani’s sons, Kingston and Zuma Rossdale, have both been seen proudly wearing their mom’s designs. See the whole clothing line at www.target.com
High Fashion Brands
Big name designers are also jumping into the world of children’s fashion. Most recently, Diane von Furstenberg released a line of girls clothing for Gap Kids. The launch party brought out a host of celebrities and their children including Molly Sims, Milla Jovovich and Tiffani Thiessen. Jovovich’s daughter, Ever Gabo, wore a bright blue and white T-shirt dress from the new line at the event last month. www.gapkids.com
“It’s fun to see fashion trends among
because their parents are usually clued into the latest styles,” said Sera Johanas, owner of Ella & Spencer, a popular online baby clothing boutique. “Beyond fashion it’s important to look for high-quality clothing that’s soft, comfortable and can handle an active baby.”
To make the chart I simply used a couple posters from the dollar store, some craft paper, my printer, and my Cricut cutter. Once I had everything all glued where I wanted it I had the poster and name tags laminated. Then I simply added some Velcro tape to the names and the poster. Done!
The zones are not divided by square footage, but by the degree to which they get dirty. Such as, our Zone 3 covers the most ground, but bears the least amount of traffic and “mess of life”. Mom circles tasks in each zone to do that day, then kids can check them off with dry erase markers.
Once a week, on Monday, I rotate all the names to the right. (Unless nobody is paying attention… then I just put my hardest worker on the dirtiest zone… hah!! Sneaky me.) The kids know to clean their zone for a few minutes each day or to clean anything that has been circled.
The “room deliveries” portion of the zone reminds them that after all the zones are clean, the kids have to collect their pile of what-nots that inevitably builds on the stairs during clean-up time. The magic ticket there is that THEY HAVE TO PUT THOSE THINGS AWAY where they belong.
We f o u n d t h i s t u t o r i a l e x a c t l y h e r e : h t t p : / / a n g i e i n t h e t h i c k o f i t. c o m / 2 0 1 2 / 0 4 / z o n e - d e f e n s e - c h o r e - c h a r t. h t m l
All instructions and photos courtesy of Angie Archibald of
h t t p: / / a n g i e i n t h e t h i c ko f i t. c o m
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The Casual Blogger Magazine summer 2012 issue covers all things summery and bloggy. And even other stuff. Written by bloggers for bloggers...