30.9.12

Online Gaming Fun with Reel Cash Critters on Gamesville (Review)

I have a secret love of online games and love trying them out. One of the online places I love playing games is on Gamesville. They have such a huge variety of fun games that are free, so it has served as great entertainment for many years. When I was given the opportunity to review the new an improved Reel Cash Critters, I jumped at it an couldn't wait.
How do you play Reel Cash Critters? The concept of the game is actually quite simple an similar to how a slot machine. With the Gamesville Gold Account, I was set to play with 30,000 GVs, which is the currency used to play the game. You can use as little as 5 GV per game or as much as 1000 per game, depending on how many lines you want (1, 2, or 3) and how much you want to win. The more you bet, the more you can win. I'm one of those people who likes to go all out with betting, so I bet the maximum most of the time!
Yup, it is easy, but also fun! Once I got started, I quickly wasted away an hour and was so excited when I won 1000 GV at one time. I started chatting with some Gamesville members who were playing Reel Cash Critters. You can click on "See Pay Table" to see how much each of the symbols is worth. When you get 2 or more of an item, you win! Occasionally players win cash prizes an one of the girls I was chatting with won $5 today! Someone else told me about the Battle games in which players can win much more GVs and/or cash money. Of course I had to see what the battle was all about, so I joined in. I won 12,000 GVs, which was about how much I had lost earlier in the day! I can't wait to try out the cash battle tonight, too.
I have to admit I was worried the game would be plastered with little kids, but you have to be 18+ to play Reel Cash Critters! This is a definite plus and I was able to actually have a good chat with the other members, mostly women my age and older. We had so much fun chatting and playing the game. They were also more than happy to give me game tips and encouraged me to keep trying. It's so awesome when you find a community like that to join and I cannot wait to sign on and play again later!

Join Today!
Want to give Gamesville and Reel Cash Critters a try? Use the Mom Spark Link to register and get 10,000 FREE GVs!
Be sure to Follow Gamesville on Twitter and "Like" Gamesville on Facebook to keep up with all the latest games, sweepstakes and announcements!

This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. I received a Gamesville Gold Membership and compensation for my time investment and work on this campaign.

Find The Perfect Hotel & Great Prices With Room 77

Thank you to Room 77 for sponsoring my post. Room 77 is an intelligent and easy to use hotel search engine that allows travelers to find and book the best rates from across the Web in one fast and simple search. 

I love traveling with my family, but every once and a while it sure is nice to get away without kids! My husband and I celebrate our anniversary every year in December by going on a small trip for the weekend. You cannot believe how excited I am about this trip and it really couldn't get here soon enough. After a year of school, doctor's visits, MRIs and all the joys of being a stay at home mom, this trip is well deserved!Two nights without kids waking up early, without them trying to pile over us in bed and interrupting our conversation mid-sentence is pure bliss for parents and Room 77 is helping this dream to become a reality!




Room77 is an amazingly powerful search engine, helping people find the best hotel prices across the internet. I was excited to put Room 77 to the test to see what kinds of deals I could fin. Even though I want our vacation to be nice, we are still on a budget, so I have to plan accordingly. We wanted to plan our trip nearby just in case something unexpected happened, so we are going on a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. On the Room 77 site, I just typed in the location where we wished to travel, the dates and how many people would attend. I was also able to find AAA Hotel Discounts since we are members!

I found the best deal for rooms at The Chattanoogan for only $117 per night, which just happens to be my favorite hotel in Chattanooga! The regular hotel rate is $175+, so this really is an awesome deal. Unlike other hotel search engines, with Room77 there are no hidden fees. It tells you exactly how much you can expect to pay after taxes and a total for the days you wish to stay. I love knowing exactly how much I will pay ahead of time instead of owing even more than planned from the beginning.

I hate to admit it, but when we are on vacation, this is the perfect quiet time to get some work done. Many hotels charge absorbent rates for wi-fi, so I used the Room 77 search option to find only hotels that offer free hotel internet. The Chattanoogan has free wi-fi an many other amenities which I absolutely love, including room service!
A picture from our last trip to Chattanooga! We rode to the top of a mountain on the Incline Railway!
I think getting away is important for all parents. We want to keep our sanity after all, right? Never wonder whether you've gotten the best deal on your hotel room again. Check out Room 77 when planning your next travel adventure!

Disclosure: I was selected for participation in this campaign as a member of Clever Girls Collective.

28.9.12

Learn More About Staying Healthy With the Life...supplemented App


As someone who was always sick as a child, it is very important for me to live healthy and do what I can to keep my body stress-free, happy and thriving! When I was pregnant with Josiah, that was the first time I'd taken daily prenatal vitamins and, after only a month, I felt amazing. I've never been so healthy and since then I have learned more about other supplements and ways to be healthy! WannaBeWell also seeks to help others live healthy and that's why they created an amazing app called Life...Supplemented!

From my own experience, finding the right supplements can be overwhelming. There are so many when you go to your local drug store and it's hard to know just where to begin! The Life...supplemented app helps with this and much, much more! You can learn about different supplements and how they help make your body healthier by clicking on the "Library". In addition, you can keep up with the supplements you currently take, including reminders for  when it's time to purchase more and directions for taking them correctly. I currently take a daily vitamin as well as echinacea and calcium since I do not like milk.
My Wellness scorecard from the Wellness Quiz!

In addition, you can create your very own personalized Wellness Coach! I made mine wear a matching red workout suit! Each day he offers important advice, such as "Make sure to eat a healthy diet, take supplements as needed and exercise regularly! I love being able to click on my app to see what new advice or educational message my Wellness Coach may offer each day. Plus, I can earn trophies for accomplishing the tasks given each day! Since I ate healthy today, took my supplements and did exercise, I was rewarded for my hard work with a well-deserved trophy. It's nice to feel rewarded for all the hard work and dedication being healthy can! This has definitely help me want to be healthy and serves as a reminder for why I really want to do this for myself and my family.

The Supplement Resource Center has so much information about vitamins and dietary supplements and, unlike trying to figure out what to take at the drug store or through reading pamphlets that seem as if they are in a different languange, the Supplement Resource Center breaks everything down for you in very easy to understand words and terms. I love that I can easily access this from my iPad when going to the store. By clicking on "Blog" there are thousands of articles to help others make educated decisions, too. I read some great articles on reducing salt intake and also improving my sleep routine, both of which I need help with. For sleeping, I bought some melatonin to try out and am hoping this really helps establish sleeping habits. My fingers are crossed for this one!

By the way, did I mention the Life...supplemented app is completely FREE? You can click the image above or the link to download it. You can also get it on your iPad through the app store. The Life...supplemented website has even more fun and educational  information. You can test your health like I did to find out if you are an AlphaWELL or an OhWELL.  When I took the quiz, my results say I am a WELL, which means good scored across the board with some slip-ups. Yes, I do like my sweets, but I eat in moderation and make up for it with all the veggies and fruits I eat. You can also access the Supplement Resource Center on the website. Take the quiz and let me know how you score!


“I wrote this blog post while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Lifesupplemented. As a thank you for participating, I received a $25 promotional item, and a $25 donation was made on my behalf to Vitamin Angels.”

27.9.12

Dark Shadows Blu-Ray Combo Pack Giveaway!

I remember watching the reruns of Dark Shadows with my dad when I was a child and we also enjoyed the remake of the show in the 80s! I am a huge Tim Burton fan, so when I heard the Dark Shadows movie was remade, I was so excited! I had no idea it was a parody and now I cannot wait to see it. Johnny Depp outdoes himself in every Burton film I have seen. We just watched Edward Scissorhands recently and, though Johnny Depp is not in Beetlejuice, that is one of my favorites also.

To celebrate the Warner Brothers release of Dark Shadows on DVD and Blu-Ray, Partnershub has an awesome new Dark Shadows blog app with some fun activities, such as the "Are You Creepy Enough? Quiz" and your own HorrorScope! Take a look for yourself and enjoy:

To further celebrate, we have an awesome giveaway for Children Teaching Mama Readers!

One Lucky Reader Will Receive the Dark Shadows Blu-Ray Combo Pack!! This includes the Blu-Ray, DVD and a ultraviolet digital copy! There are some awesome special features included, too. This a must-have for any Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fan!

26.9.12

Trying the Crest Oral-B Pro-Health Clinical Plaque Control Regimen #CrestSponsored Vlog

This is our first year trying out homeschooling and, as a last-minute decision, we are learning quickly just how much dedication it takes. Establishing a routine is very important for our kids and something to which we are quickly adapting. One of the most important routines we have is keeping our teeth and gums healthy by brushing every night, flossing and using a great mouthwash. Thanks to Mom Central, I was able to participate in the Crest and Oral-B Pro-Health Clinical Plaque Control regimen to keep my teeth pearly white, free of plaque and gums healthy!

I received these awesome items to help aid my regimen:

  • Oral-B Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss
  • Crest Pro-Health Plaque Control Toothpaste
  • Oral-B Pro-Flex Toothbrush
  • Crest Clinical Mouth Rinse


 I loved these products so much, I have a video to share with you about my own experiences with these products. Keep in mind that I have been sick with the flu for the past few days, so I am not looking my best, but at least my teeth feel amazing! Without further ado, here it is:

I wrote this review while participating in a blogger review campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Crest and received product samples to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central Consulting sent me a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Moving To A New Home

Moving houses is always a difficult task, especially if you have a family to look after at the same time. There are so many different things to think about: will you have nice neighbours? What theme do you want to design your house around? Should you have a guest room or a study? How will you coordinate the move?

There are a few key things to consider when moving to a new home. While these aren't the only factors to keep in mind, they definitely will make the stress of moving far easier on your family (and especially on the little ones).

Plan, plan, and plan some moreThe key to orchestrating a move that is relatively stress-free is to plan ahead, and plan as much as you can. If you are moving one month from now, try to pack a little every day and have a packing day on the weekend so everything isn't done at the last minute. Book the movers in advance, and make sure that you still have the keys to your house for up to a week after you move, just in case you forget any tidbits or you want to fix your old home up for the next owners. If you are buying new furniture as well, ensure that you arrange for beds to be delivered to your new home on moving day - you don't want to be sleeping on the floor, after all! It's all in planning the detail, but attention to detail is what will save you from a mountain of stress on moving day!

Window-shop before you buyRemember when you were buying property and you looked at all the sections, including listings in real estate, Armadale, and real estate, Ellenbrook? Well, buying furniture is much the same. If you're a little bit uncertain about what theme you want to decorate your house with, window-shopping at different furniture stores is your best source of inspiration. Furniture stores always have layouts and designs for every room in the house, so why not begin by looking at these? Get catalogues from every store and circle the items you like, then gather the family around with a cup of tea and talk about what you think would be the best for your new home.

Make the move easier on the kidsIt doesn't matter what age your kids are - moving will always be difficult. Make the move easier on them by talking to them every step of the way, and tell them about all the great things they will find when you move to your new neighbourhood. Also, get them involved in decorating their room and ask for their opinions; they'll be far more comfortable moving to a room they picked out for themselves.

Anita Broome is a writer and mummy who absolutely adores going to open homes. She's currently studying a course in property and hopes to be a real estate agent one day.

This is a guest post brought to you by Sienna Wood.

24.9.12

Back To School With U By Kotex Tween Products #KotexMom

School is officially back in session and the kids are having a great year so far! While Josiah is homeschooled, Ry has enjoyed being back in school with all of her friends and is super happy that softball is back in season, too. She can already hit a home run and can outrun all of us, that's for sure! I was a tomboy just like Ry when I was her age and was always running around the neighborhood with all the boys trying to beat them at basketball and every other sport. I remember the first time I heard the word 'period'. One of my friends started having cramps and backaches for the first time. Our favorite teacher, Mrs. Oxford took her aside and told her all about getting her period and the signs that it would be starting soon! That's the first time I really thought about getting it and just how embarrassing it would be if I got it at school for the first time!
Thanks to U by Kotex, back to school time doesn't have to be scary for girls. If they have had their period or even if they haven't just yet, they should be prepared. There are some great ways to prepare our girls so they are ready just in case their period decides to show up at an inopportune time. Here are some tips:

  • Let them know what to expect.  Have a nice talk with your daughter to let her know what to expect when their period is nearing. There are signs (the cramping and such) she can look out for. Once she does get her period, she can track it each month to estimate its arrival and be prepared. 
  • Pack an Emergency Kit! You never know when your period will show up. Tracking can give you a good idea, but it's just an estimate. That's why it is best to be prepared with products. Ry has a pencil case and many other girls carry cosmetics cases, so I let her pick out one at the store. It's inconspicuous and so are the pads from U by Kotex. I put a few in there along with some lip gloss and other items I knew she would enjoy and put them in the pouch of her bookbag. This way it is there just in case. It can be her emergency kit!
  • Let her know you are there. Moms and daughters have a special bond. I love letting my daughter known I am there for her when she needs to talk. Period talks are so important and I want her to not only feel comfortable asking questions, but to also be ready when the time comes. 
  • Show her helpful products! Another thing I remember worring about as a tween, when wearing a pad, if others could tell. The ones we had back then felt like a diaper because they were so HUGE! I remember them rubbing my legs to the point of being sore, too. It was horrible! I would hate for Rylee to have an experience like this and thankfully she doesn't have to.  The U by Kotex pads are small and easily fit into her emergency kit, too! 
How have you prepared your own daughter? Or how will you in the future? Check out the Kotex website for some amazing tips so you can prepare for a talk with your own daughter. There are many useful tools and sections with helpful information that really helped me out with our talk.

I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

20.9.12

Witchy Lawn Inflatable Giveaway Event

Halloween is quickly approaching! Decorating yards can be a tedious task, but not with a lawn inflatable. Simply plug it in and let it inflate for an instantly spooky yard! The Three Witches & Cauldron Lawn Inflatable measures approximately 6' high x 50" wide. Made of weather-resistant vinyl that can be used indoors or outside! The power cord is 52" long, so you have plenty of room to reach an outside outlet.
The Witchy Lawn Inflatable inflates when plugged in and deflates when unplugged. Made of Nylon, Plastic and Metal. You also get 8 stakes, 4 tethers, 1 Spare Bulb and 1 Spare Fuse to keep your Witchy Lawn Inflatable looking awesome for the years to come! Mom Powered Media wants to help one lucky reader decorate their yard this year! Please make sure you read the Giveaway Rules before you enter! Giveaway is open to US and Canada! Ends on 10/14 at 11:59pm! Good Luck!

19.9.12

Okay, I Admit It: I Am NOT The Perfect Mom... Far From It, Actually!

Yesterday, Jen from Life with Levi posted the picture below on her Facebook page. For once, someone posted a picture supporting all parents and their decisions instead of lashing out and thinking one way is the best way. Unfortunately, as soon as it was posted, the snarky comments began. The focus was taken off of the support of parents to a comment war about circumcision with more judgement that I've ever seen in the past.
granola babies
Here's the thing, folks, I may not agree with the way some people parent and the decisions they make, but I try not to judge anyone. Some of my friends formula feed while others breastfeed. Some friends have circumcised their sons and others haven't. Do I stop talking to them if I disagree? No, they are my friends and they do have the right to make their own decisions (as long as they aren't illegal, of course).

So, with all of that said, I know I am not a great mom and their are many wrong decisions I have made over the years... and I will make many wrong decisions in the future, I am sure. Here are many reasons I am a crappy mom:

1. I didn't take my prenatal vitamins every day.
2. I had a cup of coffee almost every morning when I was pregnant.
3. I circumcised my first son.
4. I gave up on breastfeeding my first son after only a week.
5. I supplemented with formula with my second son.
6. I have not vaccinated my 3 year old other than the ones they gave him as a newborn... and don't plan on it in the near future.

Great Baby & Toddler Gift Ideas For Special Occasions

As a parent, it is very important to me to look for eco-conscious alternatives when purchasing items for my children. Since we live in a rural mountain area, there really aren't any local shops nearby with eco-friendly products unfortunately, so we do most of our purchasing online. I am sure many of you can relate. Purchasing online often actually saves me money and, when I purchase from Babe-Equip, I can receive free shipping when the items equal over £49.99!

If I have learned anything over the years, it's what items and toys babies and toddlers will love! That's why I have put together some gift ideas.

Here are some of my suggestions for great baby and toddler gift ideas:

Strollers Accessories To Keep Baby Warm
We like using our baby carrier, but sometimes it's not possible. For these times, we use our stroller and, with the upcoming cold weather, warm stroller accessories are a must! Cosie Toes, Cocoons, and footmuffs are perfect for keeping baby warm.

 

Eco-conscious Wooden Toys
I love purchasing toys for babies and toddlers! Wooden toys are the way to go because they are eco-friendly and long-lasting. We have several great wooden toys in our house and many of them are either Melissa and Doug or EverEarth! Both of these are favorites with my boys. These make great presents and always please. The walker in the picture is perfect for babies 18 months and older!

Balance Bikes
When my oldest, Josiah, started showing an interest in bikes, I did some research and found that wooden balance bikes were the perfect way for toddlers to improve balance and prepare for learning to ride a real bike. The Kiddimoto Kurve is the one we purchased with the Union Jack print. Josiah loves it!

Training Potties
We have used cloth nappies with both children and highly recommend parents giving them a try. However, now that Liam is getting older, we've started the potty training process! He is so resistant, but there are some great potty training products that can help the process, including travel potties for the upcoming holiday season when we are in the car so often. This may not sound like a go-to present, but we gave Liam his for Christmas and he was thrilled to receive such a big boy item! 

What products or toys do you recommend as presents for babies and toddlers? Liam's birthday is coming up soon and I need some help deciding on what else to buy!


Five health tips for children

No matter a child’s age, special attention must always be given to their health and overall well-being.  It is a parent’s job not only to ensure the health and safety of their child, but also to teach that child about healthy habits and why such habits are so important.  Here are five health tips for children that will help.

#1 Eating right

It is no secret that a healthy, well-balanced diet is the key to growing up strong and healthy.  Maintaining healthy eating habits is important far beyond childhood and can help ensure a long, healthy life.  First and foremost, parents need to learn what a balanced diet is before they can teach their kids.  Healthy diets include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plenty of protein, and lots of fluids.  

Once parents know what a good diet consists of, get the kids involved.  Start each day with a healthy breakfast that will refuel the body and provide plenty of energy.  Then, let the children help plan at least one meal each week.  This is a good way to let kids learn what foods are healthy and which ones aren’t.  And remember, kids learn by imitating their parents, so set a good example by eating right!

#2 See the doctor regularly

Routine medical check-ups are essential for staying healthy.  Often, parents make the mistake of only taking their child to the doctor when he or she is sick – that’s a big mistake.  Regular medical, dental, and vision examinations will identify any potential problems and help children to stay healthy.  Vaccinations are also a good idea, as they help save lives through the prevention of many diseases.  Parents concerned about the possible risks and side effects of having their children immunized should talk to their doctor and never be afraid to ask questions.

#3 Banking the baby’s cord blood

Banking a baby’s umbilical cord blood isn’t a frequent presence on “top health tips for kids” lists, but it should be.  Unfortunately, cord blood banking isn’t as universally known about as doctors would like and many expectant parents just don’t know how critical a matter it actually is. A baby’s umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells, which can be used to treat a number of diseases including cancer and Sickle Cell Anemia.  Even when there is no obvious indication that a child is sick or will become ill at some point, the cord blood could ensure its survival at some time in the future. It can be carefully stored and preserved for future use by that child or any relative.  Parents may also opt to donate the cord blood for public use by suitable recipients.  If parents want to learn how umbilical cord banking works they should consult their doctor before the baby is born.

#4 Healthy choices do matter

Good personal hygiene and making healthy choices often means the difference between getting sick or hurt and staying healthy.  Parents need to help their children develop good personal hygiene skills and encourage making healthy choices everyday.  Parents should emphasize things like proper hand washing before eating or handling food, coming in from outside, and after using the restroom.  Other healthy choices include not touching the face and avoiding close contact, wearing a helmet when cycling and a safety belt in a vehicle, applying sunscreen, and brushing their teeth.  The list is endless and the more a child is taught, the healthier he or she will be.

#5 Staying active

An active lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle.  Parents should lead by example and include children in their exercise activities.  That means taking the kids on a walk or bike ride and other similar outdoor activities.  It is a good idea to get between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity every day, or several smaller sessions equaling that time.  Parents can encourage more activity by limiting television and computer time and encouraging the kids to play outside at least once a day.

18.9.12

Educational Fun For Kids With the VTech InnoTab 2 (Review)

In our home, I'm pretty strict about the types of games and electronics allowed at our house. Most games and gaming systems out there aren't really aimed at education, but the new VTech MobiGo 2 we reviewed last month and the VTech Innotab 2 are great educational systems for kids!

Josiah is always wanting to play on my tablet and I've wanted to get him something similar, but with educational aspects. The VTech InnoTab 2 is the perfect solution and I finally have my tablet back all for myself. The new Innotab 2 has many new features in comparison to the original Innotab that make it better than ever. I couldn't wait for Josiah to receive this one and, sure enough, he absolutely loves it.

One of Josiah's favorite aspects of Mama's tablet is taking pictures and now he can do it, too, with the InnoTab 2's built-in digital photo and video camera that rotates so you can take photos and videos of yours and of others! In the picture below, you can see how easily the camera rotates.
 In the picture above you can also see the rubberized edges to help kids grip so they don't drop it. Paired with some of the other InnoTab 2 accessories, including the case, it can withstand much more play. I know my kids are always dropping toys and they end up breaking. I definitely don't want that to happen with the InnoTab 2! I can tell just by holding it just how durable it is.

There also hundreds of educational apps to download, which gives kids a huge variety! In this picture you can see some of them and there are many on sale or even free!
Just like the MobiGo 2, you can use the Learning Lodge to purchase apps and, my favorite part, you can keep up with your child's progress. As they improve their skills, the Learning Lodge takes notes, so you know how they are doing. Josiah has been working on his alphabet and will start learning to read very soon. This is something the InnoTab will be great for, with animated e-books, and I can keep up with his progress!  Suitable for 3-9 years, both of the kids can enjoy playing with it, too. This is an item that will receive much play over the next years considering Liam just turned 3 and Josiah is 5.

Additional Features Include a video player, 2Gb onboard memory and an SD card slot expandable up to 32 GB, a microphone and much, much more! I just cannot say enough about the awesome InnoTab 2! This would make a perfect gift, especially for the upcoming holidays, and retailing at only $79.99 it is so affordable! I suggest getting a bundle of 4AA lithium batteries because kids will constantly want to play. It's best to be prepared!

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for VTech. I received product samples to facilitate my review.

September Extreme $400 Cash Giveaway Event


Welcome to the September Extreme Cash Giveaway! Children Teaching Mama is a host this month with Oh My Gosh Beck!, Life With Levi HotCouponWorld, For Him and My Family, The Frugal Free Gal,  Money Saving Lisa and other awesome blogs to give all our readers the chance to win a $400 cash prize!
This giveaway runs for a whole month, so you will have plenty of time to get through all the entries. There are also daily entries available so be sure to come back every day to grab as many entries as possible!
Giveaway is open worldwide and ends October 15th at 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

17.9.12

Eye Protection for Kids: Help Ensure Healthy Eyes with These Tip

Beyond the Eye Exam: Some Tips on How to Protect Your Child’s Eyes
Of all the things you do to protect your children, guarding their eyes is one of the most important. In addition to taking them for an annual eye exam starting around age three, there are other measures you should take to protect your child’s eyes and ensure they’re healthy for years to come.

Protecting eyes from the sun
Unlike adults, kids’ eyes aren’t fully developed and therefore don’t have the same ability to combat UV radiation. That’s why it’s crucial to arm kids with eye protection before they head outside to play. Invest in sunglasses for your child, and if they’re not prescription sunglasses, make sure you read the labels carefully. You should choose a pair that block out both UVA and UVB radiation. Wearing a brimmed hat will also help shield your child’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. 

Protecting eyes during TV, computer and video game use
As any parent knows, kids can easily spend hours in front of the TV or computer. Whether they’re watching their favorite shows or playing video games, electronic media can be all-consuming for kids and in turn, cause extreme eyestrain. Insist on frequent breaks away from the TV or computer so their eyes can rest re-moisturize. It’s also important to keep the room well lit and make sure your child is sitting at reasonable distance from the screen. All of this will help reduce eyestrain which can lead to headaches and eye fatigue. 

Protecting eyes while reading
Reading for extended periods of time can also lead to eyestrain. Ensure your child is reading in a well-lit room and discourage them from lying down while reading. Sitting up with the book propped up on the child’s lap or on a table at a slight distance will help reduce strain on the eyes. If your child is farsighted, make sure they always wear their eyeglasses while reading. 

Remember the little things
In addition to taking these steps toward eye protection, remember to schedule an eye exam every year, and ask your child’s teacher if he or she has noticed your child squinting or struggling to see the chalkboard. If your child wears glasses, make sure they’re always being worn and check that the eyeglass frames fit properly and are comfortable. Taking all these measures will set your child up for a lifetime of healthy eyes and proper eyesight. 

Links sponsored by LensCrafters.

15.9.12

Welcome Our New Review Bloggers

Since the new school year has begun and things have definitely been busy around here! With school, doctor's appointments and everything else going on, it was time to admit it: I need help! There are some days I just don't have time to write posts, reviews or giveaways, which I really dislike saying. This is why I decided to add 2 new review bloggers to Children Teaching Mama. This means more posts AND more reviews/giveaways. I was limiting the amount of items I accept, but now I don't have to be as picky.

We had so many great applications, so thank you so much for applying if you did. This was quite possibly the hardest decision I've had to make with my blog so far. After spending all of last weekend on picking 2 review bloggers, I finally did it. Here's a little bit about them:

Sara from Mommy Summers

Mommy Summers 

Sara is a SAHM to a beautiful 18 month old daughter. Her blog, Mommy Summers, has a little bit of everything, as her job as a Mama includes a little bit of everything! She just recently started TTC again and her blog was originally written when she was trying to conceive her first, so she's going back to her roots!

Anne from Zephyr Hill Blog 
Anne is a cloth diapering, home schooling, hobby farming and just all-around busy mother of 5 wonderful children and is expecting another in January! She is the creator of the Zephyr Hill Blog and works from home as a professional naming consultant through her business Discovery Naming Service.

 Join me in welcoming our new reviewers! You will see their reviews and giveaways in the near future. Have a great weekend!

Annual Holiday Gift Guide: Sponsors Needed

Can you believe there are 99 days until Christmas? The year just flew by and I cannot believe summer is over, fall is almost here and winter is not far behind. Last year we celebrated the holidays with our first ever Holiday Gift Guide with Happenings of the Harper Household. We had such a great time that we've decided to do it again this year. The only thing different? We want to make it bigger and better!

We already have several awesome giveaways and reviews planned for the gift guide, including a baby food maker, breast pump and much more. I don't want to give too much away, but trust me, you are going to love this gift guide.

This year the gift guide will begin on November 1st and will continue until December 31st! That gives us 2 entire months of fun.

We are still looking for sponsors, so if you are interested in having your product featured in our Holiday Gift Guide as well as in a Sponsor Spotlight post, just email me at childrenteachingmama@gmail.com and I will give you more info! This event is a great way to spread the word about your business and/or product.

Are you as excited about this event as I am? Only 1.5 months until the big event begins!

14.9.12

Value Yourself As a Blogger

I was inspired to write this post because I just read another post on Social Dialect about participating in blogging contests for free. It's true that when I first started I was excited to get any kind of opportunity to work with a business or brand, but it's time we all started valuing ourselves as bloggers so we can set a high standard.

Yes, we all have to start out somewhere, but when posting for other brands and businesses, never do so for free. This not only devalues yourself and your blog, but also means sponsors and businesses will expect other bloggers to post for free, too. It's a lose-lose because you are setting up your future as a blogger. Post for free once and they will expect it again and again.

It's time businesses value us as bloggers and, for us to get the respect we deserve, we need to value ourselves first! I admit that when I was new, I was much more likely to post for free, maybe for the possibility of winning a prize or gift card, but it seems like this action has backfired since I often receive more emails wanting the same.

Here are some helpful hints for getting paid the money you deserve:

1. Set a minimum value for review items. If you don't want review items under a certain amount, don't be afraid to say so. Set your standards for businesses.

2. Include a Policies page on your blog. Make a policy page with your disclosure, as well as your review/giveaway policies. This way you can always have it there for reference if a company asks.

3. Watch how many do-follow links you use. Many companies will ask for do-follow links, but keep in mind that you can be penalized for this. Many bloggers are hesitant to use do-follow links for other companies because of this possibility. In fact, many businesses and blogs have already been penalized for purchasing these links.

4. Remember that time = money. You should be paid by your time. For reviews, you are paid by receiving the product. For sponsored posts you should be paid an amount based on your stats, followers and Page Rank. If you are writing or advertising for someone else, you are working for them and should be compensated!

5. Stand your ground! If you charge XXX amount or a a certain minimum amount for review items, don't accept less. Some will inevitably not respond or comply, so don't get discouraged. I've had companies say no only to contact me a week or so later to say they changed their mind. They want to see if they can bargain with you and will shop around to find lower prices. Don't compromise your standards.

Do you value yourself as a blogger? I know starting out can be frustrating, believe me! I have been there and never thought I would get bigger reviews, but be confident, stand firm. In time your blog will grow and your house will be full of goodies to review... maybe even too many.

12.9.12

Buying Beautiful Rugs For Every Room Of The House

In the past, we have always lived in apartments and houses with carpeting. I was so excited to move into our current home because of all the hardwood flooring. The only place that has carpet is the finished basement. However, I didn't take into account a few things: the floor sure is hard when you fall and the floors look a little bare.

As I have mentioned in the past, we live in a cabin, which means there are lots of open spaces and everything is wooden! Our living room, kitchen and dining room are all connected like a studio apartment area. Once we moved in all of our furniture, it started too look like home, I knew something was missing. We started looking for rugs online and I luckily stumbled upon World Rugs!

I found several beautiful rugs and even though I originally only wanted to purchase one rug, I ended up buying several for the entire house. Our furniture in the living room is a dark green, so I wanted something to match. I started searching for square rugs and found one that I absolutely love named Tones, with several brown colors that would look great in our cabin!

After I had my living room complete, I wanted to purchase a rug for our bathroom. In our old home house, the bathrooms were very small, but now we have a double vanity, shower and a jacuzzi tub, so we needed something a bit bigger. I happened to find some very unique modern rugs and fell in love with the rectangle Fusion print rug that is just my style.
I love this rug!
My kids have fallen on the floor a few times and end up with bumps and bruises. It's no fun for them, so I looked at  kids rugs for their bedroom. They spend a great deal of time playing in their room. I wanted something that wasn't too childish so they could use it for several years and I also wanted it to match the blue bedspread and curtains. When I saw the blue View rectangle rug, I knew that was the one for them.

I was so impressed with the selection at World Rugs. I looked at so many rugs before finding their website that I'd all but given up hope! Now I am so excited and cannot wait to receive my new rugs. They will get here right in time for me to show them off at Liam's birthday party, too.

Do you need rugs for your home? Click on one of the links above and let me know which is your favorite!

Join Cesar Savory Delights & #ShareTheJoy Of Being A Dog Owner

We adopted Jack and Lucy from a local shelter about 5 years ago now. They were adorable little puppies, brother and sister, looking for a nice family. We happened to find them through an internet ad and they have been with us ever since. There are so many things I absolutely love about my dogs that it really is hard to decide on just one. I think they are the cutest dogs ever, but I know I'm a little biased.
Jack & Lucy vegging out in their little house.
Jack and Lucy may be brother and sister, but they each have their very own personalities. Jack is a Mama's boy and is very protective of his family. Both of the dogs serve as our own personal alarm system because of their super-hearing. They know when someone is approaching our house before anyone else does! This does sometimes backfire, though, especially in the middle of the night when we have animal visitors, but for the most part, this is quite helpful.

We are a silly little family who loves to joke and play around. Lucy and Jack are exactly the same way, so they fit in perfectly. Lucy has a talent for showing her moods more than any other dog I've ever seen before. She loves to play and we all know by her expressions what kind of mood she is in. Take a look at this picture:

She loves to stick her tongue out and roll around when she's a happy pup!

Both Jack and Lucy are lovable and always ready to cuddle, kiss and love on anyone, adults and children. We have completely bonded with our little dogs and can't imagine life without them!

Cesar wants to celebrate the wonderful relationships between people and dogs by hosting a week-long Twitter event called the #sharethejoy 10,000 Savory Delights Twitter Giveaway. From September 5th until September 12th, dog lovers are invited to join @CesarCuisine in sharing your own joy of your dog's companionship in return for free Savory Delights meals!
Lucy just finished her entire dinner! Doesn't she look like she is smiling? I think so!

How To Participate In The Twitter Giveaway
  1. Create a tweet sharing why your dog means so much to you and tag and follow @CesarCuisine
  2. Include the hashtag #sharethejoy in your tweet
  3. Encourage your friends and Twitter followers to #sharethejoy with others to receive their own complimentary meals from CESAR® Canine Cuisine
  4. @CesarCuisine will follow-up to gather shipping details and reward 5,000 dog lovers with two complimentary Savory Delights™ meals.
Our dogs love to eat, as most dogs do, but it is obvious when they particularly life a food. We usually feed our dogs when we are in the kitchen eating, too, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This way the kids get to spend a little extra time with the dogs and they aren't begging us for food! We were sent a variety of Cesar Savory Delights meals to try and our dogs couldn't wait! I mixed the food with dry food and they absolutely loved them, so we know yours will, too! There was no begging for our food anymore because they ate every bite of their Cesar Savory Delights meals. I love that these meals are very healthy, too, and have delicious ingredients for our little doggies. They sometimes need to be a little spoiled, right? They especially love the Filet Mignon Flavor with Bacon and Potato in Meaty Juices. It even sounds yummy!

Be sure to "Like" Cesar on Facebook to keep up with all the latest info and promos!
Go to the Cesar website for valuable coupons!! 
 
 I wrote this review while participating in an ambassador program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Cesar and received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

11.9.12

Soft and Strong: Vote In the Charmin 2012 Election & Win Great Prizes


Both of my sons, Liam and Josiah, are very close and enjoy playing together, but they are also very different. I've watched their personalities develop since birth and am amazed at how much they've grown. I've also changed as a parent and my parenting methods have evolved over time. For example, I've learned that sometimes I have to be a soft parent and other times it is better to be strong and stand my ground.

I think being "soft" is most appropriate when my boys need me the most. Josiah's feelings get hurt very easily and I know I sometimes have to handle him with care. When my children, friends or family members are feeling down and sad, it's best to be soft, to give them love and let them know they have someone who is there for them. Sometimes my children have bad days when nothing seems to go right and that's when Mama is there to comfort them and to let them know the next day will be much better. I'm much better at being soft that at being a disciplinarian, which is when I have to be strong.

There are times, almost every day, that I have to be strong for my family and my boys. We have just started homeschooling and this has definitely put my patience and dedication to the test. Trying to teach a 3 year-old and 5 year-old is not at all easy and I must be very strict about the amount of time we spend on schoolwork. Otherwise, the little monkeys would think they could hop up and play any time they want. We have to stay on schedule and go to sleep on time and get up early in the morning. This is not always easy for me since I'm not a morning person, but I have to do it for my children. There are also times when brothers fight and I have to let them know it is inappropriate. This is another time I have to be strong, let them know they cannot hurt each other and know they they shouldn't do it again.

When are you soft and/or strong with your family?

Speaking of Soft or Strong, it is time to vote for your favorite Charmin: Ultra Soft or Ultra Strong during the Charmin 2012 Election. I, personally, prefer Ultra Soft, and have I buy it every time! Charmin® Ultra Soft is designed with absorbent cushions that allow you to use less versus the leading value brand. Charmin® Ultra Strong’s enhanced DiamondWeave™ texture delivers a clean you will notice, with the softness you expect from Charmin. Do your part and vote for your favorite!
How To Vote:
First, "Like" Charmin here:


Then, go to the Facebook App to and cast your ballot for Charmin Ultra Soft or Ultra Strong. Also, be sure to join the great TP debate and share stories on how they "enjoy the go"! As always when voting, every vote counts! Not sure which Charmin to vote for? Go to the Facebook page, watch the debate videos and take the online quiz!

Your Chance To Win!
In addition to voting, Facebook fans also have the opportunity to win weekly prizes, including t-shirts, an entire year's supply of Charmin and more!! We go through so much toilet paper in our house that this would be such an awesome prize!

Which Charmin is your favorite? Either way you can't go wrong, but I know we all have favorites! 


Disclosure:  I was compensated for this blog post as part of the SocialMoms and Charmin blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. For more blog posts on this topic, click here.

Carter's Halloween Boo-tique Outfits & $50 Gift Card Giveaway

My boys are very active and know how to make the most out of every day. Even as babies, they were always on the go. For this reason, I have to be very picky about the clothes I buy them. I want clothes that are long-lasting, made for play, confortable and don't cost me a bundle. This is exactly why I love Carter's! I always find great prices and fashionable clothes for babies and children, which why this is also my go-to brand for baby shower presents and gifts. I have actually saved all of Josiah's Carter's baby clothes for Liam and, after all these years, they still have so much wear left in them, we'll be using them for the next baby, too.

It just so happens that one of my favorite holidays, Halloween, is coming up very soon and Carter's has the most adorable Halloween clothing.The weather is always a bit chilly during the fall season and Carter's clothes are not only soft and durable, but cozy and warm, too! This is the perfect combination for your little one this fall.

Whether online or in-stores, make a statement that’s sweeter than candy with cute and cozy costumes and trick-or-treat tees for your baby’s first Halloween. Costumes choices include a lion, ladybug, pumpkin and more!
Liam wants to be a lion this year, so when we were looking at the Halloween costumes on Carters.com, he picked out this adorable costume. You can just tell from the picture it is super-soft, too.
 Want an adorable costume for your little sweet pea? Look at this adorable Flower Costume from Carter's.
This is such a cute little costume! Wish I had a little girl to dress up in this one.

 Carter’s offers a variety of spooky styles pj’s featuring 2 and 3 piece sets featuring skeletons, spiders, pumpkins and more.  Carter’s ensures warmer and cozier bedtimes this fall. Don’t miss out on 50% off of Carter’s pj shop!

I have several Carter's pj's, including a few Halloween sets, that both boys have worn over the years.The one below has to be my favorite and it has been worn by both kiddos over the years!
Baby Josiah in his Carter's Boo Pj's!
Carter's also has a variety of tees and outfits for boys and girls to celebrate this Halloween! I love polka dots, so this Polka Dot Pumpkin Dress immediately caught my eye!
Isn't this one so cute?
Complete the look with accessories, all those sweet little extras at prices to make you smile!
 
Josiah thinks spiders are the perfect decoration for Halloween, so when I saw this shirt, I knew he would love it!

 Josiah has a variety of Carter's outfits and I just happened to find a picture of him in a Carter's Halloween shirt from a few years ago that says "Daddy's Little Monster". Shop Carter’s Halloween boo-tique for a spooktacular selection of costumes, tees, and playful pjs for babies and kids.
I know I am biased, but isn't he adorable?
Find a store near you so you can start shopping for Halloween outfits, too!
"Like" Carter's on Facebook and follow Carter’s on Twitter to discover the latest great deals, exclusive events and offers for your little ones!

Now that you've seen some of the clothes Carter's has for your little ones this fall season, are you ready for a giveaway? 
One Lucky Children Teaching Mama Reader Will Win A $50 Gift Card To Carter's!

10.9.12

Business Tips For Self-Employed Moms

The idea of working from your own home is always wonderful; sadly, sometimes the reality doesn’t necessarily live up to the dream.

Organization
Most moms choose to work from home so that they can spend more quality time with their kids - also how many people really like commuting to a corporate office on a daily basis.  Obviously, the type of work or careers that can be pursued from the home base might be limited, but with a little imagination, then working from home can, in fact become a practical solution for many.

One of the first tasks is to realize that working from home necessitates good organizational skills.  The home worker is responsible for his or her own bookkeeping, timekeeping and tax.  For some moms the easiest option is to use an umbrella company.  These companies take the hardship out of accounting and also will help prepare the correct paperwork for the IRS.  The companies will claim a small commission percentage but the home worker can also have peace of mind that their tax affairs will be in order.

Expenses

Major corporations all claim allowable tax expenses and any freelance worker can do the same.  Once you’ve decided to work from home then a trip to the local IRS office might be a good idea in order to discover which working expenses can be offset against tax.  A small notebook or software program is essential in order to mark down how much has been spent on work computers, work related ‘phone calls and other necessities.  Remember to keep all receipts for expenses as they are the proof that not all payment received is profit and that some has been spent to further the business.  The umbrella company of choice will be able to help detail your bookkeeping and will also be able to offer advice.

Childcare
The US government publication IRS 503 lists the different claims that can be made by self-employed moms and it’s a good idea to try and read this publication in order to see whether working from home is a financially viable option.  Some of the same rules that apply to childcare can also relate to ‘dependent relatives’ so if mom or dad need care then these expenses may also be tax deductible.  One of the bonuses of using an umbrella company is that they can advise the working mom about all of these issues so that the mom can concentrate on her fledgling business.

Planning
The key to working from home is to make sure that the planning of the proposed business has been worked out in advance.  Make a business plan where the details of target income and projected expenditure can be mapped.  Ensure that the business has a separate business account and even if online banking is preferable, ensure that you receive paper copies of everything.  Set up separate lines of communication that will be used solely for business purposes rather than by the rest of the family.

All of this hard work will reap dividends and will allow the self-employed mom to sit back in the future and enjoy the fruits of her labor.