Sales Tax Holiday 2017

Have you heard about the Sales Tax Holiday? This one-time sales tax holiday occurs at various times in the year and includes clothes and school supplies. In states like Ohio, just in time for peak back-to-school shopping!!!

Click here for more details and to find out if and when your state is participating!

Mark your calendars & happy saving!

P.S. Ohio’s Sales Tax Holiday is Aug. 4-6, but many other states participate as well and have other dates. Click the link and save some money.

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One moment = 17 seconds

Did you know that? I didn’t. But apparently, I had been using the “one moment!” phrase so often that my five year old counted how long a “moment” was. Oops!

I was very thankful that in this “moment,” he got up to only 17 seconds as I am well aware that many of my “moments” last much longer.

A parenting phrase that I learned long ago {and clearly omitted from my vocabulary} is one that I do believe is key to helping kids understand the importance of your time and, in essence, what time is.

When your minion asks you to come over or do something while you are cleaning/working/sneaking Easter candy, etc… rather than saying, “one moment,” use the following phrase:

When I am done with ___________, then I will come look at ___________.

This phrase is important for kids since they:

  1. are learning the concept of time;
  2. feel that what they are showing you is important and they value your opinion;
  3. realize that you have projects you are working on that are important too; and
  4. learn from your example.

If you continue to let your children believe that a “moment” is actually 7 minutes, don’t be surprised when you call them to dinner and they don’t come right away. They think they will be there in a “moment,” your definitions are simply different.

My eldest has actually started using the phrase in her vocabulary and, honestly, it works nicely. “When I am done reading this chapter, then I’ll come play.” {So far, she uses it at appropriate times.}

Little children, however, have no concept of time. Our minions are learning how to tell time and I definitely have been called out on my kids more and more.

“Mommy, you said we would leave in 2 minutes, but you are still talking to Miss K.”

Yes. Yes I am. So, the next time my little one asks, my response will be: “WHEN I am done chatting with my friend, THEN we will leave.” 🙂

Have a great day!

Making Fitbits Work for Mom

My husband bought me a fitbit HR last month before a trip to Canada. I absolutely love it, BUT it does not count my “mom” steps!

You know… “mom” steps. Simple things like holding a baby, pushing the stroller, or pushing a shopping cart. Essential things that all moms must do.

Here is how a fitbit counts steps {from fitbit itself}:

Fitbit trackers have a finely tuned algorithm for step counting. The algorithm is designed to look for motion patterns most indicative of people walking. One condition for a motion pattern to be recognized as a step is the motion must be large enough. The algorithm implements this by setting a threshold. If a motion and its subsequent acceleration measurement data meet the threshold, the motion will be counted as a step.If that threshold is not met, the algorithm won’t count the motion as a step. Other factors can create enough acceleration to meet our threshold and therefore cause some over counting of steps, such as riding on a bumpy road. Equally, it’s possible for the algorithm to undercount (not meet the required acceleration threshold).

In plain english, your ARM MOTION and foot step must be involved in order to count.

The problem each “mom” step has is that each of these require our arm to be stationary. I discovered that each walk with the stroller was not counting! That means that literally thousands of steps were not being counted each day. No fair!!! I wanted to reach 10,000 each day like I had on vacation.

At first, I blamed my children’s little legs for slowing me down. Then one evening, when I realized I had less than 200 steps to go before hitting 10,000, I started reading my book while pacing my floor. After about 10 minutes of walking {way more than should be necessary}, I gained 42 steps! My arm was holding the book rather than moving with my steps. Grr…

So, I started testing the various tasks I did each day and discovered that with my fitbit on my wrist, my “mom” steps were not counting.

{Yes, I know these are very much so first world problems, but I wanted that little burst of pride I got when my fitbit vibrated to alert me I had achieved my goal. Shallow, yes. Still, what I wanted.}

How to resolve this and make my steps count!

I thought about putting the fitbit on my ankle, but

  1. Fitbit does not recommend this
  2. I don’t know if I would realize if it fell off, wasting money, and
  3. I didn’t want to look like a mom on house arrest.

So, I tried my belt loop. This worked really well!!! The first test was a biggie – the zoo! I easily achieved 2,500 just walking to an exhibit in the back. Great!image

New problem… I don’t always wear pants with belt loops. I do wear workout gear a couple days a week. Hmm…

Solution! Fasten the fitbit around one of the tank top sleeves. It’s not the most attractive, but it counts the steps and I will definitely be aware if it falls off.

Now, ALL of my steps count each day. Take that fitbit! #momwin

I am posting this as this was simply something that I was not aware could be an issue  and so I figure if I didn’t know, other mamas might not either. Don’t get frustrated, simply figure out a solution that works best for you.

Have a good day!
andrea-sig

Modesty Shorts: What they are and where to get them

Back-to-school shopping is right around the corner! There is no denying it: Little girl outfits are totally adorable. The frilly skirts, the polka dots, the ruffles!!!

When they are young, girl skirts have built in shorts to prevent underwear flashing while little girls hang upside down on the monkey bars at the park. However, it seems that when they hit school-age, these shorts are no longer a part of the skirt and it’s simply “I see London, I see France” for all to see! You know, at the exact age where sitting criss-cross applesauce is expected daily.

If your little fashionista loves dresses like my second minion, you were introduced to this dilemma earlier. For us, our eldest wasn’t incredibly into dresses, so underwear flashing was rarely an issue until she entered kindergarten when she had a uniform that thankfully included skirts with shorts attached!

Now, both girls are in school and my second minion especially can be seen in a dress or skirt daily. The solution we came upon a couple of years ago and have rarely since was what we call modesty shorts.

These are amazing little shorts that girls put on over their underwear and under their skirts/dresses without the bulkiness of that regular shorts can cause.

In school shopping last year, I was on a mission to get a few pair since BOTH my girls were going to be in school. I was very sad to learn that these modesty shorts are not sold in many places. I went to Macy’s, JC Penney, Target, and a variety of other stores with no luck. When I would ask an employee, I would be directed to bike shorts – at $12/each, no thank you! This is not what I want.

Why is it so hard to find a simple pair of shorts to hide my daughters’ underwear?!?

Luckily, my mother-in-law found some at Kohls and called us. We went out that night and bought a few sets. {You can find them in the store or online at Kohls.com.} These are referred to as “bike shorts” or “playground shorts” but are very different from the other stores. I swear they are “modesty shorts.” 🙂

When we checked out, I mentioned to the cashier that I had been searching and searching for these! She mentioned that the other place she knew of with them was Von Maur – but even these are 2T-4T. Seriously?!? No where else? You can look online, but they will come with a hefty price tag.

To me, it should not be so hard to try to preserve our children’s innocence and modesty. I want my girls to be able to go out and do cartwheels and play duck-duck-goose without showing their underwear {or more!} to anyone close by.

So, for those of you looking for these magical underwear hiders, I encourage you to shop Kohls as they appear to have the best price. You can easily get a set of three for $9.99 in various colors {though we stick to the black, white, and grey as these are NOT to be shown off :)}. Add their ever-easy-to-find coupon and save more. The Children’s Place has “Cartwheel Shorts” for just under $4/each.  Old Navy {online ONLY} has some for $5/each as well. Again, there are others online, but some sell for more than $22/each. No thank you.

Plus, it shouldn’t be so hard to help our girls stay modest. Please, please, please department stores, sell these IN STORE so people know they exist.

Have fun this back-to-school season and feel safe knowing your lil’ girl is covered 🙂
andrea-sig

Shop Amazon and Give to Your Favorite Charity at the Same Time via AmazonSmile!

Have you heard of AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at Smile.Amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.” – AmazonSmile, emphasis added by me.

I am not an in-store shopper so much {outside of groceries}, but online? Yes, please! I just purchased some discount printer ink and some school supplies at Amazon. Now, it’s not always the best price, and when it isn’t, I don’t buy. But when it is, I simply add to cart and proceed to checkout!

AmazonSmile then automatically gives to the organization of MY CHOICE – in my case, Heartbeat International – and then a portion of my spendings goes directly to Heartbeat without my needing to do anything further!

You simply go to Smile.Amazon.com and the site will walk you through the process. Here, you will select the charity of your choice. Again, there are nearly a million from which to choose! And that’s it! You can shop and give at the same time! I love it! As I hope the charities do too! 🙂

Have a great day!

Review: Columbus Main Library Kid Space

The Columbus Library has re-opened after a year of renovations! We explored it today and here is my official review.

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The renovations did a great job of incorporating a new contemporary feel into the original early 1900s ambiance. Sadly, though, with all the renovations, the kid-space fell flat.

Now, I am not saying that it is not a good space for kids, simply that in comparison to what it was, it lost a lot of charm. My minions loved going to the “castle library” and playing with the various interactive play spaces it had. Now, it barely has any!

The new kid-space contains books for ages 0-9 and has a nice layout. The bathrooms are kid-sized {which the minions loved!} and they provide plenty of seating for reading. Unfortunately, they dropped the elements beyond books that little minds require to learn.

Elements NOT brought into the new library kid-space from the old:

  • Dramatic play space. The library used to change out this space monthly to reflect various themes such as a restaurant or post office.
  • Puppet show area. It was a simple stage and basket of puppets and any time we were there, kids were playing here expanding their imagination.
  • Light wall/Magnet board for kids to practice letters and numbers. According to one of the librarians, this is coming soon.
  • Private story time space. I didn’t know this was necessary until we attempted to attend a story time {see below}.
  • Creative play space.  Where are the blocks?!? Simple toys encourage little ones to get creative!
  • Kindergarten assessment center. They had a great center before renovating that told you what a kid is expected to know and then offered little games in order to assess your child. I personally loved this and it didn’t take much space at all.

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So, what IS in the new library kid-space?

  • Tons of books! The organization is fantastic and, let’s face it, we are at a library and this IS the purpose of a library.
  • A lot of computers and tablets. While I do understand the purpose, this was one of the only interactive pieces with which kids could play. I do not go to the library for media time and the number of tablets and computers with little other option was a turn-off for me.
  • Story time. The idea of having this as the first thing you see upon entering is appealing until you realize that one person speaking in a very open space is not very conducive for hearing well. Add to that the kids in the space who are NOT involved in story time and it makes a difficult task of asking preschoolers to focus.
  • Kid-sized potties + a family bathroom. This was a nice touch showing that they put a lot of thought into how to make things easy for parents.
  • Five toys. Literally one puzzle and four toys for toddlers. That’s it. A librarian said they rotate them out, but it seemed like a tease.

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I know that a lot of thought and preparation went into this huge renovation. The hours spent are seen through all the details in the construction and the items that were selected are top-notch. However, in comparison the the old kid-space? I vote for the old.     

With my personality, I am very quick to ask questions. The journalist in me I suppose. Or the nosiness… One of those two, that’s for sure!

I talked with two librarians and was ensured that this was the only kid-space in the library. There are a few elements still in the works such as a smart-board and a light board. They are open to hearing from parents/care givers as to what they can do to make it a better space. This does not mean that every idea will be accepted of course, but feedback is welcome.

I wish I had more positive feedback to give, but sadly, I was very disappointed in the kid-space renovation at the Columbus Public Library downtown. Compared to others in their own network such as Karl Rd., Whetstone, New Albany, it simply falls flat. Not to mention Westerville! If you want to engage kids at a young age to be actively involved at the library, you have to have those intentional elements in order to engage.

I still encourage you to check it out and let me know your thoughts. One great addition is that the library opens to the Topiary Garden in the back. This was a nice walk for the minions and a picnic in the park is always a plus!

Have a great day!

Why he matters

I know we live in a world where women can do anything and we don’t need men in our lives, but in my world, I do. I need my husband.

People often compliment the activities that I do with my children, but the reality is that my husband found many of our favorite things: Art for Kids Hub, the Metro Parks Explorer Program, and the perks of the Westerville Library to name a few. Now, yes, I probably would have been able to find these items if I were looking, but I wasn’t. He was!

When a weekend occurs like this past one where I was simply out of commission due to sickness, he tells all the kids that mommy is off limits and then takes over all the duties. He typically has to tell me to go nap so the kids actually do let me have quiet 🙂 In this time, he plays with them, cooks for them, and even cleans up.

Most importantly, my husband supports me and my decisions with all his heart. He listens to me and speaks truth in love. We have amazing conversations and some really nonsensical ones. {Those are the fun ones!} And I never feel judged by him. All I feel is genuine love and support.

Without him, I would probably go crazy. He is my outlet. He lets me escape family life to simply be with my girlfriends. He is so incredibly thoughtful of our needs in any decision he makes. He is mine and I am his and I am happy about that.

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Now, I’m not saying this to gloat or spark jealousy by any stretch of the imagination. I simply feel that in article after article, couples aren’t experiencing this. As I am a mom, many times in these articles, the husbands play the role of dunce who can’t do anything right nor do they give any support to the mom. I just want people who read this to know that respectful men exist. They do teach, love, and support their families.

There is no magic lesson as to how to achieve a happy balance as I know that we were very blessed to find one another and we just happened to click with one another. But I do know that talking openly with each other about expectations has been very helpful for us.

I have several friends with great marriages and radiate the same happiness. I also have some friends who have had some very sad marriage stories.

To me, it’s all about respecting one another – not just as husband and wife, but simply as humans.

Perhaps if more stories/shows/articles promoted the happiness that does exist within marriage, there would be less cynicism regarding marriage in our culture. And maybe, if we can simply get back to a world where we respect each and every person, the world will be a happier place.

Have a nice day!
Andrea-sig