Take Advantage of Free 2011 Reading Programs During the Summer

In just a few short weeks, kids will be out of school for the summer (some already are).  While kids are counting down the remaining days they have left in school this academic year and can’t wait for those summer days, many parents are counting down the remaining days for a different reason.  How can they keep their kids occupied and make sure they don’t lose all of the academic strides they made during the year?  One way is to take advantage of summer reading programs. [Read more…]

Inexpensive (Cheap) Date Night Ideas for Parents

Psychologists and marriage counselors champion the benefits of establishing regular “date nights” for married couples that have children. It’s a matter of keeping the romance alive in your relationship, reminding yourself that you’re still an adult, and—let’s call it what it is–sanity! We can only hang out on Sesame Street so long, and then we need adult time.

There are two problems with this for most couples with children—time and money.  Time as in “who will watch the kids while we’re gone”, and money as in most of it is spent on the kids.

The solution to the time problem is a babysitter, an inexpensive one!  The answer to the money issue is finding ways to have a good time that won’t cost too much.  Truth be told, most entertainment oriented activities have gotten prohibitively expensive.   Concerts, theater tickets, amusement parks, comedy clubs and even a night at the movies are largely beyond the financial means of couples with children, especially as regular outings.  But there are ways around all of it. [Read more…]

What Does Mom Really Want for Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and restaurants are gearing up for the rush. Traditionally, Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants, followed by Valentine’s Day.  Having worked in the restaurant industry for several years, dining out on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day is something I always avoid.  Though it may seem like a treat to take mom out to eat, waiting in line for hours only to be seated in a cramped space surrounded by other diners, only to have slow service by the waiters and chefs because they are backed up does not sound like a good time to me.

As a mom of three little ones, ages 6, 2 and 1, (yes, the last two are only 17.5 months apart), I would like a non-traditional Mother’s Day gift.  I am not asking for a meal out, or a diamond necklace. (Have you ever noticed how many jewelry commercials there are around Mother’s Day?).  In fact, this year I am asking for something completely free—time.
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Make Your Own DIY Household Cleaners For Pennies

I don’t love cleaning. OK, I kind of despise it.  But what I always hated more was the idea that I was using chemicals in my home that were possibly damaging to my family and/or the environment.  And the fumes just give me a headache.

So, years ago, I swapped out some of the cleaners I regularly bought for natural ones I mixed up at home.  I used ingredients that could often be bought for a dollar or less… and were already in my cabinets anyway.  Since then, there has been an explosion of natural cleaning brands on the market.  Some are great, but they tend to be pricey.  I find that my homemade cleaners work as well, if not better, than many of them.
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My Son’s First Major League Baseball Game

My son has been officially indoctrinated into the world of baseball. A couple of days ago I took him to his first Major League Baseball game.

My Dad has a friend with season tickets for the Yankees.  He, my Dad, asked me if I wanted to go and bring my oldest daughter, 11, to the game.  He was going to take my niece, 5, as well.  Our oldest isn’t a big fan of sports so my son got the call (see that, a baseball-like reference?).

To put some things in reference, my son is 4 years old.  Since the weather has been getting slightly warmer he’s been taking an interest in baseball again (over the Winter, life was more about being a ninja or a samurai – I guess that’s a cold-weather profession).  He’s been carrying around his baseball glove, carrying around MY baseball glove, and I recently got him a new Mets had since his old one was getting too small (this meant getting one for our youngest daughter, 21 months, because she would keep trying to take his – she adores him).
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Is a House Cleaning Service Worth It?

This past weekend we did something we’ve never had done before – we had a house cleaning service come! What made us decide to let some strangers come into our home to scrub our toilets and such?  I’ll tell you…

We’ve always taken care of the home ourselves.  For most of the time, that meant cleaning an apartment.  Back in July we bought our first home.  For the Summer we were good at keeping up with the chores, since my wife and I were both home to do the work or watch the kids while the other did the chores.

But since the Fall, when my wife went back to work (she works in education so she works during the school year), we’ve found it harder to keep up with keeping the place clean.

Not that it was a pig-sty, mind you.  I’m not talking an episode of Hoarders here.  But little things like dusting all over and cleaning behind and under everything were getting tough to complete.  We were starting to notice some dust bunny’s in the corners even. [Read more…]