A New Place, An Impromptu Sleepover and Barbie and the Secret Door

I participated in an In-Home Party Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mattel.  I received Product samples to facilitate my party and a promotional item to thank me for my time. #BarbieSecretDoor #MC #Sponsored

RetailPage_SecretDoor_MainImage-3b_tcm718-113192Addison has been dying to have friends over to my apartment since I moved two weeks ago.  I surprised her Friday by picking up two of her friends for an impromptu sleepover.  She was just giddy!  I took all three girls and hit up the store for some supplies.  They wanted popcorn (or course!) and chips.  At least they had apples and yogurt with their nuggets for dinner.  We had to have sparkly pink plates to eat snacks on too.  They had no idea I had surprises waiting for them at home.

Barbie and the Secret Door Dolls and FriendsWe haven’t moved most of Addison’s toys of yet, so it was super exciting to not only have Barbie’s to play with, but to have NEW Barbie’s to play with.  I had to commander the dolls long enough to get the girls to finish dinner before I turned them loose with snacks and Barbie and the Secret Door.

My child may or may not really like watching herself on Youtube.  I asked a simple question and now there’s a 2 minute Youtube clip of what she thought of the movie and her Barbie and the Secret Door goodies.

After finishing the movie, the girls took turns with the sticker books, Barbie Magazine and the Barbie and the Secret Door book.  While one messed with activities, the other two were acting our scenes from the movie with their dolls.  It was too cute!  Even our dog, Fenway, got in on the action.  He may have been a forced participant.

Barbie and the Secret Door - Even the Dog is in on itAs a parent, I thought the movie had some good lessons for the girls, mine in particular.  While Addison isn’t skipping her royal duties for more preferential activities like reading, we do struggle with what she wants to do verses what she needs to do.  We chat a lot about responsibilities to  me as her mom, to her friends and to herself.  Back to School is an especially difficult time for us as she’s coming off of the freedom summer allowed her.

Barbie and the Secret Door Travel ToysThe girls would’ve stayed up playing Barbie’s all night if I had let them.  They even had them out playing on the car ride back to their houses Saturday.  Needless to say, Barbie and the Secret Door was a big hit!

You can visit the Barbie and the Secret Door website to learn more about the DVD as well as purchase a copy for yourself (the DVD is also available in store at many retailers too!)

Do you have a Barbie lover?  I know a lot of us collected them as kids.  Maybe you still even have some of your dolls stashed away somewhere.  What are your favorite memories of Barbie?

Posted in Entertainment, Reviews | 4 Comments

Party Fun – Strawberry PopRockTini

Enjoy your Strawberry PopRockTini, but please drink responsibly!

Strawberry Pop Rock MartiniIf you follow me on Twitter, you couldn’t help but notice that I spent last weekend in Atlanta catching up with my blogging buddies and some amazing PR gals at #TypeACon.  We always have at least one amazing theme party, and this year’s theme was Come As You Are (The 90′s).  The amazing parties always have “signature drinks”.  This year, we had The Caucasian (White Russian) and Nerdtinis.

During one of our Meet and Great sessions with some PR reps, I picked up some Pop Rocks off one of the tables.  They were part of a catchy little promo one of the PR companies was utilizing.  I forgot about the Pop Rocks until I got home and started unpacking.  When I found them, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.

Pop Rock Martini - PopRockTini - OverheadDespite the fact that they pop and crack as soon as they hit your tongue, you can rim a glass with Pop Rocks.  Of course, you could still make a PopRockTini without rimming the glass, but the extra PopRocks look cool and their just fun too.

Pop Rock Martini - PoprocktiniAn immersion blender (or stick blender, as some people call it) is the bees knees for making drinks like this.  It’s way less messy that dragging out the traditional blender, and you can quickly rinse and move on to making a different kind of drink without having to really wash anything.  Check out how easy this is…

4.7 from 3 reviews
Party Fun - Strawberry PopRockTini
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • PopRocks Candy
  • Strawberrys
  • Pinnacle Strawberry Shortcake Vodka
  • Milk
Instructions
  1. Combine 3 or 4 fresh strawberries, 4 ounces of vodka and 2 oz of milk.
  2. Blend well.
  3. Slice a strawberry for garnish.
  4. Run the strawberry around the rim of the glass to wet it.
  5. Dip the moist rim into the PopRocks to rim the glass.
  6. Add a small scoop of PopRocks to the bottom of the glass.
  7. Pour the strawberry/vodka mixture into the glass.
  8. Garnish with additional PopRocks.

Clearly, you could make this with any flavor of PopRocks, just change up your fruit and vodka accordingly!  If you like this recipe, be sure to Pin it for later, and follow me on Pinterest for more awesome recipes, crafts and more!

What flavor of PopRocks would you make into your own special PopRockTini?

Posted in Recipes | 14 Comments

Looking Back To January – My How Things Have Changed

As a participant in ZonePerfect’s Blog Forward Challenge, I have received complimentary product and/or promotional items from ZonePerfect.  This in no way affects my ability to share our honest thoughts and opinions on the product.  I am free to express all thoughts about ZonePerfect in a positive, neutral or negative fashion.

Life QuoteWarning:  Things are about to get heavy.  If you just want the goodies Zone Perfect gave me to giveaway, feel free to skip to the last paragraph.  If you’re a regular reader, you might want to hang through the whole story though, as I’m dishing on some details of my life that will effect the site, at least in some ways.  Either way, here we go…

Back at the end of January, I talked about my goals for 2014 and how one of them was to find more time for myself.  Boy, I had no idea that this would be how I would do it… Two weeks ago I moved out of my house of 10 years, left behind my husband of 15 years and started a schedule which has my children with me half of the week and with their dad (do I still call him my husband?) the other half.  It’s been the hardest decision of my life, only second to something that happened a few years ago (and that’s a story for another day), and is not a decision I made lightly or without weighing and reweighing the consequences and collateral damage.

I felt it only fair to tell you all that this was going on, mainly because I am big on transparency and the reality of everyone’s life not being perfect, but also because for the entire life of this site, I’ve talked about my husband, our family and our home.  Now my home is a 2 bedroom townhome apartment in another city.  I’ll be adding more to the For The Home section of the site as I work my way through decorating my new space.  You can be guaranteed that it will all be budget friendly, because let’s be honest… separation isn’t cheap.

So, back to my goals and where I am…

1) Maintain – I’ve mostly maintained my weight.  I’ve added a few pounds, but only a few and I am working on getting those back off now.

2) Eat – This has been harder for me in the 3rd quarter than it has all year.  Zone Perfect bars have made it more convenient to eat on the go, especially for breakfast, but I’m still a little scattered and sometimes forget to even grab them before I run out.

3) Endurance – Yeah, so we’re just going to skip this one…  With the upheaval in my life, running has taken a back seat.  Once we get in a groove with our new routine, I hope to get back on track with this.

4) Me – Clearly, I’ve worked on me.  I’ve spent a lot of time looking at not only what I need, but what’s best for all of us.  I will have some much needed me time in the coming weeks, though not the way I would’ve imagined it back in January.

For those worried about my kids, believe it or not, they are taking this better than the adults are.  As long as they get to see both of us, don’t have to change schools and still get to see their friends, they are fine with whatever we do.  They just want us to be happy too.  Plus, they think it’s pretty cool to live in two places.  We’re all surviving

Giveaway – ZonePerfect wants to help you survive those last few hectic months of the year with a Well Being Essentials Kit (pedometer, tumbler, lip balm, hair ties, hand sanitizer and box of ZonePerfect bars).  To enter, just click below.  No need to comment or any of that, just a click.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Current Giveaways, Giveaways, Life in General | Leave a comment

8 Free COFFEE Printables

I make no bones about it, I’m a coffee-oholic.  I’m decorating a new apartment, and of course there will be a coffee bar.  What’s a coffee bar without some cute signage?  I whipped up a few coffee printables and decided to share them with you.

8 Free Coffee PrintablesThere are two different sets of coffee printables.  They could be used as a group, mixed together or just a single printable on it’s own.  To download, just click the link to the printable you’d like, right click on the image that opens up and “save as”.  The coffee printables are sized for 8 x 10 frames.  I suggest printing on card stock or photo paper for the best results.

Free Coffee Printables Collage 1A yawn is a silent scream for coffee {in brown}

But first… coffee {in brown}

There is always time for coffee {in brown}

Coffee <br> {in brown}

Free Coffee Printables Collage 2A yawn is a silent scream for coffee {in pink}

But first… coffee {in pink}

There is always time for coffee {in pink}

Coffee <br> {in pink}

For the non-geeky readers out there, the <br> is code-speak for “break”.  You can amaze your friends with your knowledge of techie humor with the coffee <br> printable, but the others are pretty fun too.

And because all good coffee comes with conversation, let’s chat.  How do you take your coffee?  I take mine black sometimes and with creamer others, but never with sugar.

Posted in Crafts, For the Home, Life in General | 10 Comments

Ten 10 Minute Meals {Have Dinner on the Table in a Flash!}

If you have kids, and I know most of you do, you’re lives are busy in general but dinnertime is a whole other world of busy.  Believe it or not, there are tons of recipes out there for 10 minute meals – you just have to take the time to find them.  A little irony?  Spend time to save time.  I’ve spent the time and now you can save it.

Ten 10 Minute MealsFrench Bread Pizza from Picture-Perfect Meals

There’s something to be said for making pizza at home.  While it’s certainly not a 10 minute meal, one of my favorite recipes ever is my Grilled Pear, Goat Cheese and Panchetta Pizza.  When you make your own pizza, the options are endless.  You also have the unique ability to customize everyone’s pizza to their personal likes and dislikes.

French Bread PizzaYou can get the full recipe for French Bread Pizzas at Picture-Perfect Meals.  They have TONS of other delicious recipes on their site, so be sure to look around and check those out as well.

Sweet Potato Pasta with Lemon Sage Sauce from Lemons To Lemonade

Whether you’re gluten free or not, this pasta deserves to be on your menu.  I love everything about this recipe, the fact that it’s gluten free is just a bonus.  The sauce is light and made from all fresh ingredients, a real win in the flavor department.  The fact that it’s a 10 Minute Meal is just an added bonus!

Sweet Potato Pasta with Lemon Sage ButterAlso, it’s orange!  Who doesn’t want to eat orange pasta for dinner?  If you don’t have sweet potato noodles, I think spinach or really any other pasta would be just as tasty (though, I really want the sweet potato noodles!)  You can grab the full recipe at Lemons To Lemonade.  You can also find out where to get those awesome noodles at from the site, as well as a variety of recipes categorized by dietary needs.

Low Carb “No Chop” Chili from I Breathe… I’m Hungry…

Most people don’t associate “10 Minute Meal” with chili.  Melissa at I Breathe… I’m Hungry… has my heart with her short cut techniques.  Prepared salsa is a fantastic way to cut down and prep and cook time for chili.  You can even go for fresh prepared salsa to avoid fillers, or go with organic salsa if that’s your thing.

10 Minute ChiliIf you want to get crazy, you could even grab some salsa verde or a peach mango salsa and really change up the flavor.  I bet this would make some killer nachos!  Stop by I Breathe… I’m Hungry… for the full recipe.  Melissa also has a Gluten Free Low Carber e-cookbook available on her site.  It’s only $10, and based on what recipes I’ve seen, totally worth it.

Butter Beans with Tomato and Chorizo from Stonesoup

This recipe probably isn’t one you’re going to get the kids on board with (who knows though!), however it’s one that I am in love with.  While it’s simple, there is a TON of flavor going on in there and a variety of textures too.  Some of my favorite meals are the simple ones.

Butter Beans with Tomato and ChorizoIn addition to getting the full recipe at Stonesoup, they also have a great beginners guide to seasoning that discusses the art of simple seasoning.  Most of the recipes on the site are 5 ingredient recipes and many are 10 minute meals too!

Mexican Couscous Express from Recipe Tin Eats

At one point in my life, I think I was addicted to couscous.  I forgot how much I loved it until this past weekend when I was served a cold couscous salad in a catered lunch.  I’m sorry I’ve forsaken you, couscous, but I see our relationship redeveloping!  Recipe Tin Eats has inspired me with this fresh take on Mexican.  It’s healthy, it’s bright, it’s flavorful and it’s fresh!

Mexican CouscousYou could easily change up the ingredients in this to suit your individual tastes, and I think I might even throw some grilled chicken strips in with mine.  Get the full recipe at Recipe Tin Eats and check out their awesome recipe organizing app while you’re there.

Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza from I Heart Naptime

I know that I’ve already given you a great pizza idea, but for those who prefer a thinner crust, this is an excellent way to make a pizza.  Just like before, this is a super versatile way to make everyone happy at dinner.  Heck, if you have one thick crust lover and one thin crust lover, you can even accommodate both!

http://www.iheartnaptime.net/easy-bbq-chicken-pizza-recipe/This recipe in particular is also a good use of those grilled chicken breast strips I mentioned above.  These types of recipes are a super food way to incorporate your kids in dinner making too.  Get the recipe for this particular pizza at I Heart Naptime.  In addition to recipes, I Heart Naptime also has a pretty cool craft and home decor section you should check out when you stop by.

Gluten Free Enchiladas from Flippin Delicious

First, can I just say how much I love that the sauce Flippin Delicious uses in this recipe is homemade?  I also think this would freeze beautifully, so you could totally make a second batch to toss in the freezer for later.

10-minute-enchilada-IMG_0384Did I mention that these are gluten free too?  You can grab the full recipe at Flippin Delicious, and check out all of the other gluten free recipes they have too.  There is even a recipe for Gluten Free Blueberry Donuts.

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp from Cooking with Cakes

I love the whole post that goes with this recipe almost as much as the recipe itself.  Cake and I, we could be friends.  Anyway, back to the food… I adore shrimp and they are a great “stock up” item for the freezer when you find them on sale.  They are uber versatile, cook quickly and aren’t terribly bad for you either.

10-Minute-Sweet-Spicy-Shrimp-Overhead-3.13 You can have instant rice going while you cook your shrimp, and tada!  Complete meal in under 10 minutes.  You can get the full recipe at Cooking with Cake.  There are many, many other amazingly beautiful recipes on the site, so be sure to look around!

Lasagna Stew from 10 Minute Meals

I love Italian, even if it’s the Americanized version of it.  I love how simply this is, and you could even pre-cook your meat mixture and freeze it in individual portions, allowing you to make this for the whole family, or just one or two bowls.

lasagnastew1webwebIronically, before I started looking for 10 minute meals, I didn’t know that 10 Minute Meals existed.  Well then.  Clearly if you like the idea of 10 minute meals, you’ll want to grab the recipe for this Lasagna Stew, then grab some other 10 minute awesomeness.

Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas from Dashing Dish

Last, but certainly not least, these Quesadillas are protein packed without the meat.  Full of flavor, but quick to the table, you can even serve this as appetizers at your next Cinco De Mayo party.

bb-quesadillas-mainI think some diced red pepper and maybe a little cilantro would make delicious additions.  You can also always do a topping bar (guacamole, sour cream, etc) to give your family a way to individualize their quesadillas.  You can grab the full recipe at Dashing Dish.  Dashing Dish has lots of “healthy alternatives” recipes.  Look around and see what you might be able to change up in your favorite recipe to make it a little better for you.

If you guys enjoy reading these posts/using them as resources for recipes, please let me know.  If there is enough interest, I will start doing a weekly themed recipe round up and share some of my favorite finds from around the web with you guys.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Posted in Food, Recipes | 7 Comments

Grab Your Cats, Get Them Instagram Ready… It’s Meow Time!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Meow Mix through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Meow Mix, all opinions are my own.

It's Meow TimeHands down, dinner is Kitty Kitty’s favorite time of the day. As a stray-turned-house cat, Kitty Kitty isn’t one to stay inside while we’re at work. He loves to roam and hunt and sleep in the bushes while we’re out for the day, but come 4 pm or so, you’ll find Kitty Kitty waiting patiently on the front porch or in front of the garage door, just waiting on us to come home. Even on the rare Saturday that we never leave the house, Kitty Kitty comes and goes at virtually the same times. He may not wear a watch, but that cat can tell time.

Kitty Kitty Meow MixImmediately upon exiting my car, I’m greeted with the chipper “meow, meow, meow” I’ve grown to love. And it’s a good thing that I love it, because he has no intentions of stopping until I’ve filled his bowl inside with Meow Mix. He loves the variety with the seafood middles. We stick with the dry stuff, as it seems to be his favorite.

The kids love to spend the time loving on Kitty Kitty immediately before and after his dinner. We “meow” back and forth with him… it’s like our own little conversation. I guess he’s most loving then because he feels most connected to us in those moments. Feeding time is really one of the few chances you have with a cat to truly care for them and have them acknowledge it. It’s definitely the best bonding time for all of us. Thinking about the Meow Mix, it really feeds our delightful moments together.

Kitty Kitty It's Meow TimeMealtime is definitely Meow Time at our house. We joke that living with Kitty Kitty is like living in a Meow Mix commercial. The conversation is just a steady stream of “meow” in varying pitches. You know the classic jingle, right? Check out Ashworth’s EDM Cat Remix…

Can your cat bust a move to Ashworth’s EDM remix of the classic Meow Mix jingle? Maybe you cat has moves that would put these cats to shame? Create your own Meow Mix remix at http://meowmix.com/itsmeowtime and let your cat dance the night away! When you’re finished, make a video with you and your furry friend remixing the classic Meow Mix jingle. Submitting your “It’s Meow Time” video could win you and your furry friend a trip to Hollywood to make a Meow Mix music video!

Many will enter, but only one (plus their furry companion) will win that trip to Hollywood, there will be many more winners thanks to the It’s Meow Time singing cards in specially marked packages of Meow Mix. Meow Mix fans who find a Meow Mix jingle-singing card can win up to $100! That will buy a lot of catnip and squeaky toys!

Posted in Life in General | 4 Comments

Family Friendly Charlotte Eats at Buffalo Wings and Rings

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  Neither #CollectiveBias or the advertiser influenced my opinion of the restaurant in any way.  I only recommend places that I love and places that I will go back to myself. #WingsAndRings

Great For Families #WingsAndRings #CollectiveBias #ShopMy family is a hard to please bunch.  I’m not going to lie… going out to eat can be a challenge for us when we try to all go together.  I don’t want to go anywhere too terribly loud, the kids don’t want to go anywhere that they have to be terribly quiet and the sports fan in the family, well… he really doesn’t want to miss his favorite games.  Finding a balance is hard.  When #CollectiveBias offered the opportunity for us to check out Buffalo Wings & Rings in South Charlotte, I almost passed (despite the offer of free wings and rings.)  Going out with our kids is not generally the highlight of my weekend.  (And yes, that sounds way worse than I really mean it to.)  I want to be able to go out with the kids and enjoy a nice meal, but most moms know – that is a challenge.

Buffalo Wings And Rings - Charlotte, NC #CollectiveBias #shop #RingsAndRingsThe South Charlotte Buffalo Wings & Rings has a really nice location.  The area isn’t terribly busy (which is hard to find in South Charlotte) and though we went a little earlier than the normal dinner rush, there were plenty of people coming in to enjoy the food and sports.  I took that as a good sign.  There were several families who came in right after us and a few who were already dining when we arrived.

Buffalo Wings And Rings #CollectiveBias #WingsAndRings #ShopThe layout inside was really nice, not too crowded, and offered a variety of seating options.  With kids, at least for us, a booth is always best.  It was a little overcast and cool, otherwise I think we would have opted for the patio.  While the furnishings were dark like most traditional sports bar set ups, the overall space was very light.  I hate eating in the dark.  The volume level really surprised me… not too quiet and not too loud.  I never felt like my kids were being too loud or that they were disturbing anyone.  That’s a rare feat for my kids.

If you want to watch baseball, basketball, golf or pretty much anything else, you can watch it all from your seat.  Our vantage point gave me easy access to 10 different screens.  If I wanted to look to the side a bit, there were several more.  I even caught my daughter gawking at a football game.

Buffalo Wings and Rings Appetizers #shop #CollectiveBias #WingsAndRingsWe couldn’t settle on an appetizer (I could not come to a place call Wings & Rings and not get wings and rings), so we went with the sampler.  The kids love the fried pickles, as do I, but my daughter particularly loved the potato skins.  I would say they were perfectly cooked.  Not over done, just right.  And of course, the onion rings were delicious!

Girl Eating Potato Skins #CollectiveBias #Shop #WingsAndRingsMy daughter took wings & rings to heart, well at least the wings part, and insisted on boneless wings for her dinner.  The boys is more of a “kid-food” traditionalist and had mini corndogs.  Peach Habanero Boneless Wings had my heart as soon as I saw them on the menu.  None of the food disappointed.

Buffalo Wings and Rings Food #RingAndRings #CollectiveBias #ShopKnowing that my kids have a thing for dessert, I succumbed to my daughter’s request to order the Chocolate Lave Cake.  My girl knows her food.  It was so good that I had to make both kids take a “dessert time-out” at one point.  I was afraid if I didn’t, they were going to eat so much so fast that they would be sick.  We couldn’t have us getting uninvited back.

Chocolate Lava Cake #BuffaloWingsAndRings #Shop #CollectiveBiasWhen we’re in the area, Buffalo Wings & Rings will definitely be on my radar for a family friendly dinner that everyone can agree on… even if it’s on Sunday and there’s a game on!

Do you have a sports enthusiast in your family?  Do you have a hard time getting them out of the house on Sundays (or Thursdays or Saturdays…)?

Posted in Food, Reviews | 7 Comments

What Do You Want To Protect? #IAmProtective #CollectiveBias #Shop

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertisers.  All opinions are mine alone and are not influenced by #CollectiveBias or the advertiser.

Protect #IAmProtective #Shop #CollectiveBiasIf you ask a mother what they would protect at all costs, 99% of them are going to say their children or their family.  Don’t get me wrong, I am protective of those things, but my friends… I guard them with my life too.

The saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child”… well, that’s not really our living set up anymore.  In general, people don’t rely on their “village” like they used to.  I like to think that I still do.  My children have “aunts” that aren’t really aunts.  I’m not related to these women by blood, by marriage or by any other means that tie us together outside of our friendships.  We’ve picked each other as our village.  They have helped me raise my children in various ways, they’ve been there for me to argue with, cry with and to offer advice when I needed it – even sometimes when I didn’t want to hear it.

My friends are my village and I will protect them fiercely.

Just like they have been there for me with my children, with my life, I have tried to be there for theirs.  I am also Auntie to their children and hope to be there to see them go off to college, get married, and do all of the things my own children do.

178946_4541242942216_1566151754_n (2)I am a cheerleader for my friends in their personal and professional lives.  When things aren’t going the way they should for them, I will do anything I can to fix it.  Sometimes that just means being a sounding board, sometimes it’s just giving advice and sometimes it’s standing up for them to other people.  Anything they ask, if I can make it happen, I will.     I protect them and support them because they are important to me.

1923488_1064374531757_7522_n (2)For my kids, I protect them by doing things like carrying life insurance on myself.  I always worry about having enough life insurance to protect them if something were to happen to me.  I think “how much life insurance do I need?” is a common question for parents.  I hope to have them set up with a college fund soon too.

In the way of protection, those aren’t things I can offer my friends, but if I could I certainly would.  There are lots of other people I can’t normally offer protection either, but Protective Insurance is giving me a chance to change that.  During the Alabama/Florida game on 9/20, Protective will donate $1 (up to $10,000) to the Nick’s Kids Charity when people simply tweet #Iamprotective or use the hashtag with a post on Instagram or Facebook.  And if you feel inclined to do so, you can visit Protective’s website to learn more about the campaign and share what you’re protective of.

1098041_10201604583138562_740970067_nWe’ve stuck together through thick and thin, and will protect each other with all we’ve got.  What are you protecting?

Posted in Life in General | 10 Comments

When Do You Break Down and Get Your Tween a Phone?

When do you break down and get your tween a phone? I get asked that question a lot and while I don’t really consider myself to be a parenting expert, for some reason people think I have the answers. Truth is, I just have a lot of opinions and yes, I’ll share them with you now.

When Do You Break Down and Get Your Tween A Phone*Tween cutie provided by Kate @ My Mommy Brain.  She has 5 girls.  Pray for her?
 

Having a phone is a big responsibility. It’s a little piece of pricey technology that can get lost rather easily, so it’s important that your child’s mature enough to take on the responsibility before you make the decision to get your tween a phone. When Rosie was eleven and started dancing four nights a week and on Saturdays, we decided it was time to get her a phone, but it was basic and she could only call the numbers we programmed. She also didn’t have the ability to text or go on the internet. At that time, she only needed it for emergencies.

Last year at thirteen, we decided she was ready for an iPhone. She had been playing games on her Kindle and was already starting to kik her friends, so we figured she could handle the responsibility but the phone came with lots of rules. First, we got the passwords to everything. Second, we were allowed at any time to monitor her social media. Third, we didn’t want to buy a new phone so it had to stay in an Otterbox or Life Proof case (that’s presented itself to be a challenge as she likes all the cute flimsy cases).

Truth be told, Rosie’s almost fourteen and the phone is often a sore subject. It’s too easy for kids to bully these days. It’s hard to turn off and it can be dangerous with predators out there (and yes, they do find your kids.) So, here are a few things to consider before you break down and get your tween a phone.

• If your child is like ours and spends a great deal of time away from home, you may want to consider basic phone service for your tween. But honestly, they really don’t need all the other features.

• While you’re buying time before a smartphone purchase, monitor their iPad and Kindle use to get an idea of the apps their using and the kids they speak with on a regular basis. They can dip their toes into the world of social media pretty easily that way. Have open discussions about what’s right and wrong before you give them an unlimited data plan.

• Do your research on all the social media apps the kids are using. Discuss the pros and cons of each one with your child. Be open and honest. If you’re not sure, reach out to your village of moms and ask. We’re all more than happy to share.

• Once you decide they’re responsible enough for a phone, set ground rules. You need to have a time that the phone gets “checked in” so they can turn off. You also need to be sure to have all the passwords and access to their accounts.

• Openly discuss cyberbullying with your tween. Many kids experience bullying issues in grade school. They’re magnified once they can get online and even more when there’s a phone involved. Make sure they know how to identify these kind of behaviors before you get your tween a phone.

• Talk about sexting. Yes, I know you just gasped, but there are 12 year-olds sending topless pictures. Be realistic and discuss openly with your child why they never want to do it before they have access to the technology. And, be sure to set the rules for what happens if they do.

So, when do you break down and get your tween a phone? Honestly, that’s up to you. Hopefully, I’ve given you enough fodder to make a logical decision that works for your family. Just remember, once they’re introduced to the iPhone world, they’ll never want to go back.

Deb Clem-Buckert is a lifestyle and parenting blogger that lives in the Midwest. She’s an entrepreneur, Dance Mom, avid tennis player and dog lover and she’s been known to pin too many chicken recipes. Mom to Rosie, 13, Deb was Babble’s Top 100 Reader’s Choice Winner in 2012 in the parenting category. She has a collaborative book project coming out in January 2015. You can read her each week at http://www.debcb.com

Posted in Parenting | 19 Comments

Crafting Simple Clay Jewelry With Whimsey Box #Sponsored

I know… I know… You guys are probably tired of hearing about subscription boxes.  Sorry, but I love them!  Most I’ve checked out so far have been beauty related, but Whimsey Box is for the crafters!  Now, to be clear, I am a subscriber and links in this post are my referral links, but Whimsey Box did send me a free box to check out and I am in love!  Check out my Whimsey Box project…

Whimsey Box - Simple Clay JewelryFun, right?  I’ve never made jewelry before and really wouldn’t have tried it had it not been for my Whimsey Box, but now that I know how easy it is, I think I’m hooked!  The project was super easy, start to finish and my Whimsey Box came with step by step instructions (with awesome, clear and easy to follow pictures) and all of the tools and materials I needed to complete the project.

Whimsey Box InstructionsI took pictures of my work, step-by-step, to share with you guys, but then it seemed silly to post them when the insert instruction pictures were virtually identical.  I was really impressed with the instructions (if you can’t tell!)  All of the materials were identified on their own card, so no guessing what something was for, and I love the fact that they even went as far as making sure I had a razor for a nice, clean edge.  The materials were brand name, high quality stuff.  That always makes me happy.

Whimsey Box Supplies Jewelry MakingI have enough clay left over to make another 6 or 7 necklace/earring sets (shhh… someone is getting jewelry for Christmas).  At $15 per month for the box, I think it’s a pretty good deal.  Plus, if you refer your friends who are interested in signing up, they get $5 off their first box and you get a $15 credit (yay, free box!)

Making Simple Clay Jewelry with Whimsey BoxThe hardest part of the project, at least for me, was being patient while the pieces cooled after baking.  I lack patience in a major way, especially when I’m excited about a project.  Actual craft time invested in this project is about 20 minutes.  Of course, with baking, cooling and glue drying, it was done a few minutes here and there over the course of two days.  I started it Saturday and had completed jewelry to wear out and about by Sunday afternoon.

Like most subscription services, Whimsey Box is curated, meaning you set some preferences in the beginning and that helps determine what comes in your boxes.  Intrigued?  You can check out Whimsey Box through my referral link and earn a $5 credit toward your first box.

Are you a crafter or lover of projects?  Does Whimsey Box seem like something you’d enjoy?

Posted in Beauty & Fashion, Crafts, Reviews | 3 Comments