Thursday, December 16, 2010

Looking forward to 2011

For years, my kids have been the focus of my life. Even while I worked full time, I made being with my kids a priority, bringing work home and staying up late so I could attend a winter concert or a soccer game.

And about that soccer - while all of my kids played, my middle daughter played at the most competitive level. This meant weekends traveling to soccer games all around the area, plus out of town tournaments that consumed family vacations. She also had practice several days a week, meaning late or disrupted dinners. Though I coach recreational soccer, travel soccer took over all our lives.

As you can see in the accompanying photo, plenty of parents show up for soccer games. In fact, when I didn't show up, people would question me.

Now my kids are getting older; the oldest is a sophomore in college, and next fall, the middle daughter will start college and the youngest will go to high school. Though my kids still mean the world to me, I think that next year, my husband and I will have more free time to pursue our passions.

I have often crammed exercise into times that are convenient for my kids, going to the gym early in the morning or late at night. I truly hate exercising at these times, but I don’t have any other time. If I am not spending my weekends driving three hours to a soccer game, I can take long bicycle rides, and maybe even train for the marathon. I don’t know if I can actually run a marathon, but training may be enough.

2011 will also be the time when we go through our house, getting rid of long outgrown toys like a play kitchen that as been abandoned for years. The books that the girls no longer need can be donated to a local literacy program, but I want to keep the special children’s books that I read to my daughters before putting them to bed.

There is one small wrinkle in the plan. My soccer-playing daughter has friends in college and the parents would actually drive to college to see the soccer games! They went to games that were six or seven hours away. My daughter does plan to play soccer in college, but I have to put the kibosh on this weekend spent watching someone else have fun. I think we deserve a break.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network blogging program, for a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
Oprah Winfrey NetworkThe New Oprah Winfrey Network

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Vegetarian Toothpaste

It may come as a shock to most people, but toothpaste typically contains detergent. It also often contains a host of other unhealthy things, like synthetic colors and flavors. But Dr. Sharp’s line of natural toothpaste has organic botanicals, no fluoride and is vegan to boot. As someone who avoids the gelatin in marshmallows and chewy candy (it’s meat!) I can truly appreciate a vegan toothpaste.

Of course, you are not supposed to eat your toothpaste, but it does go in your mouth, and fluoride toothpastes contain warnings about kids under age six using. The Dr. Sharp toothpaste is safe for kids to swallow, and the strawberry cream kids line offers a nice child-friendly flavor. If your kid has a more sophisticated palate, she can try the mint, or even the green tea flavors.

Dr. Sharps’ paraben-free paste contains no sodium lauryl sulfate or alcohol. The eco-friendly toothpaste packaging is printed with soy ink

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday tech shopping tips

Hanukkah is here and Christmas is right around the corner. If you check the list of almost any teen or tween, you will find tech toys listed. But before you shell out money, consider a few things:

1. Find out if the household is Mac, PC, or both. There is nothing more disappointing than unwrapping a gift that your computer system doesn’t support.

2. If you are buying for a niece, nephew, grandchild or friend, check with the parents before buying a tech gift. Maybe they don’t want their child to have a laptop, or a KindleKindle. And if you want to buy an iPhone, for a kid, make sure the family has AT&T.

3. Check the return policy before buying any tech items. Some store or websites might charge a restocking fee, or refuse to accept returns of any tech items. Others require a gift receipt, which you can include in the card. And if you are sending a gift from a store, not a website, make sure that the recipient can return it if need be to a store where he lives.

4. Many people think their kid is advanced, and can handle a game or toy designed for a much older child. But age recommendations should be carefully considered. A young child may not be able to manipulate small buttons, or understand the complexities of a video game designed for an older child.

5. When buying video games, pay attention to the ratings. If your nephew requested a violent video game, check with his parents before buying it.

6. If you are buying a tech toy at a store, try it out before buying to see if you like it. Try to put yourself in your grand daughter’s shoes – is this appropriate and fun for her? If you are buying online, read reviews from a neutral site like Dr. Toy.
Finally, see if you can find a non-tech accompaniment to the tech toy, to further the fun. If you are buying a drawing game for a computer, include a sketch pad and craypas. If you are buying a Wii football game, give a real football as well.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible for a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate click here.
Staples Holiday GuideHoliday Tech Gifts