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Cleaning up with the kids – tackling kid-made summer messes

 

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Summer vacation does have it’s ups and downs. I love doing things with my family and backyard barbecues. On the flip side I hate the heat and humidity and my kids constantly whining that they are bored and have nothing to do.

I had hoped when my kids got older they wouldn’t be so bored during summer vacation with their friends to hang out with. Sadly most of my daughter’s friends have jobs and no one is around for her to hang out with. She’s looking for a job too but so far hasn’t found anything. I hope she finds something soon because she’s driving me bonkers with her constant complaining about having nothing to do. I give her suggestions but like a typical teen she doesn’t want to listen to her parents because our ideas are “lame”.

When my kids were younger I had a “Box Full of FUN” that I would take out on rainy days or summer days when it was too hot and humid to be outside. I would fill the box with crafts, crayons, coloring books, small indoor and/or hand held games and more.

When it comes to things like crafts kids tend to make a mess. During the summer months little ones tend to make even more messes with ice pop drips and bringing sand into the house after a day at the beach.

Here are some great tips from Debra Johnson, national cleaning expert for Merry Maids (Merry Maids can also be found on Facebook). Debra has simple solutions for moms and kids to conquer the sandiest and stickiest messes this summer.

The Ice Pop Drips

Ice pops are always a fan favorite once the weather warms up – but when the frozen treats start melting all over the carpet or furniture, they are not always a favorite to clean up. Johnson explains the best home remedy for removing an ice pop stain from upholstery or carpeting is to dampen the stained area with dish washing liquid solution. From there, place a white terry cloth towel over the solution and run over the towel with a hot iron – this will help transfer much of the stain to the towel.

Get the kids involved: An easy way for kids to help keep their hands clean and the floors dry is to make a DIY ice pop holder. Johnson suggests parents help their kids cut a hole in the bottom of a cupcake wrapper and place the wrapper around the base of the ice pop stick – use multi-colored or printed wrappers to make it fun and personal. This will catch all of the drips and drops and keep kids’ hands (and moms’ floors) from getting sticky.

Surviving Rainy Days with Glitter

On rainy summer days, keeping the kids entertained indoors is a survival coping skill, and many times, the best forms of entertainment involve glitter, glue, paint, and markers. A day of arts and crafts can be fun for the whole family, but leaves a lot to clean. Cleaning up glitter can be a nightmare, but Johnson has some simple steps to help contain the sparkly mess. She suggests spreading paper or plastic over the table before starting any craft projects – hopefully most of the glittery residue will stay on the paper, but prepare for some spillover.

Get the kids involved: Make DIY lint rollers with the kids so they can own the cleanup responsibility. Help them create a loop of tape, sticky side up, that fits loosely around their fingers or hands so they can tap the sparkly surfaces and capture any glitter that got left behind.

Sticky Season

Neighborhood lemonade stands and juice boxes are summer staples, but there’s no avoiding the spills when the kids are running in and out of the house for refreshments. To help prevent the spill area from being sticky, Johnson says the best trick is to wipe up the lemonade or juice immediately – first with a paper towel and then with a wet microfiber cloth, soaked in warm water, to ensure no residue is left behind. If the juice spill occurs on a cloth surface, rub the wet area with ice cubes and blot the area with a dry microfiber cloth.

Get the kids involved: Turn the cleanup task into a team project and get the kids involved by having one person rub the juice stain with an ice cube while the other pats the area dry.

Sand-y Days Ahead

One fun way to entertain the family during the long summer days is to plan a day at the beach. However, before leaving the beach, make sure to use a towel to dust as much sand off of the kids’ feet as possible, to avoid tracking the sand inside. Johnson also recommends keeping a bottle of baby powder nearby. The baby powder helps remove moisture from the skin, making it easier to wipe the sand off before it gets into the house.

Get the kids involved: Before entering the house, Johnson encourages kids to do a little dance on a door mat with bare feet –taking four or five steps on the mat will transfer the sandy soil from their feet to the mat, instead of from their feet to the floor. This will keep debris out of the house and help prevent any scratching of the floor.

Water, Water Everywhere

Warmer weather means kids are spending more time in the water – whether it’s jumping into a neighborhood pool, splashing friends with the garden hose, or running around on a slip ‘n’ slide. However, water activities lead to wet swim suits and soggy towels that can leave marks and water stains throughout the house. Once the kids are done playing in the water, Johnson recommends parents entertain the kids outside for five to ten minutes before heading back into the house, allowing enough time for swim suits to dry.

Get the kids involved: To make it easier for the kids to help prevent any slippery messes, Johnson recommends setting up a towel tree by the pool or placing a laundry line in the bathroom on which kids can hang their swimsuits and towels to dry completely.

I learned the baby powder trick many years ago. It works GREAT! We always bring along a travel size bottle of baby powder when we go to the beach. We just tuck it into our beach tote bag and when we are read to leave we put it all over our feet. It works great!

When it comes to messes, do you have any special cleaning tips you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. I always love to hear from my reader.

Sandy Foot

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this (with permission) for the benefit of my site readers.

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Phyllis Harris Design’s original and customizable illustration prints

 

Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs

Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs

Last year when we had our condo listed on the market we had to remove EVERYTHING from our home to make it look more spacious and so potential buyers could picture themselves living in our condo with their things, not our things. That meant removing artwork and photos from the walls.

Blank walls drive me nuts!!!!!!

After we ended up taking our condo off the market (after the whole mortgage fiasco) we never put things back up on the walls. My husband still holds out hope that we can try selling our place again, and why mess up the newly painted walls with holes from hanging artwork and photos. As for me, I don’t hold out hope. I just want to see stuff back up on the walls again. I hate staring at blank walls all the time.

I have slowly been hanging up some photos using tacks, not nails. The holes are not as big and they hold the weight of the photo OK. I still have others I want to hang back up but they require nails so I’ll have to sweet talk my hubby until he gives in.

I love having family photos all around my home. I also like to display unique and/or whimsical pieces of artwork around my home. We do have some nice pieces of artwork (not original) of landscapes like a huge garden painting and a New York City skyline wall decal. The rest of my pieces are whimsical and fun because they fit my personality. I also like artwork with nice quotes on them.

I don’t hide the fact that I like cute things. My desk is covered in toys and I still have most of my books from when I was a child.

I recently learned about an award winning illustrator named Phyllis Harris. She’s illustrated over 30+ children’s books. In addition her adorable illustrations have also appeared in numerous children’s magazine publications such as Highlights, Jack & Jill and Humpty Dumpty.

Phyllis launched Phyllis Harris Designs a year ago. It’s an online shop that features 60+ of Phyllis’ colorful and whimsical illustration prints. The prints can also be personalized making them a great gift and addition to any child’s room or nursery.

Her illustrations are sold around the globe with tremendous sales in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, Australia and New Zealan.

Her designs also won her the Red Tricycle’s prestigious ‘Totally Awesome Awards’ in the ‘Wall Art & Accessories’ category, (http://awards.redtri.com/2012/room-decor-accessories). Phyllis was also featured as a top contender in the ‘Martha Stewart American Made Contest’ in 2013.

Phyllis’ illustrations convey messages of hope, joy and childhood innocence. Each print can be customized with the child’s hair color, hair style, ethnicity, name and even a inspirational quote. All prints are signed by Phyllis.

Check out just a small sampling of her sweet designs.

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Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs

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Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs

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Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs

 

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Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs

I received her “Bear Hug” print to review. It’s adorable! It’s very colorful and it makes me smile every time I look at it. The print features several bears hugging each other.

These prints would make a fantastic baby shower and new baby gift. The designs would work with any decor. If you happen to know the theme of the child’s room there are plenty of options to choose from (Giraffe for a zoo theme, Pig for a farm theme, Ballerina for a girl’s room, Boy and dog for a boy’s room…).

I love that they can be customized too. What child doesn’t love to see something with their name on it? It makes it that much special.

Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs - This is the same print that I have.

Photo Credit: Phyllis Harris Designs – This is the same print that I have.

As an adult I love the designs. I think anyone who is truly a child at heart will fall head over heels in love with these designs. I only have one of them (Bear Hugs) but there are four others that I would like to own some day. After all, I do have plenty of wall space at the moment. LOL!

At the heart of Phyllis’ designs is her personal mission to give back to children in need and children battling serious illnesses. She is in partnership with Children’s Mercy Hospitals and clinics in Kansas City, MO. Children’s Mercy Hospitals is an award winning children’s hospital that treats over 500,000 children every year. Yes, you read that correctly – 500,000! It breaks my heart to think that so many children have to be treated for illnesses. And that is just through one hospital system.

Phyllis Harris gives 5% of every print sale to Children’s Mercy to help fight to save these children’s lives. If you would like to learn more about Phyllis’ charitable partnership please visit www.phyllisharrisdesigns.com/GIVING_BACK.html,

Whether you are looking to add some artwork to a child’s room or nursery, or you just want to add a bit of whimsy and childhood innocence to your own walls, check out all of Phyllis Harris Designs at www.phyllisharrisdesigns.com.

You can also check out Phyllis’ adorable illustrations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Kimberly

*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Five Simple Activities For Summer That Keep The Brain Challenged

The brain is not meant to stop learning over the summer—in fact, studies show that when school closes during the summer break, students’ brains can actually lose information acquired during the school year.

And to make matters worse, after a period of time spend not actively learning, it takes much longer to get the brain back into the momentum of learning, which means students actually start the fall off further behind than where they left off in June.

Luckily, this backward momentum is easily avoided with some simple summer activities that combine fun with a little mental stimulation.

Here are five simple summer activities that keep the brain challenged:

Play a New Board Game. Not just for rainy afternoons inside, board games are actually great learning tools.  They help kids develop broader thinking abilities such as strategy, planning, and action-consequence relationships. Try out a new game and learn the rules together, rather than playing from the familiar rules of a favourite game.

Keep a Journal. Start a journal this summer to write down daily thoughts, fun and exciting events, and observations about daily life.  Or, try writing a short story, a little bit at a time. You can even have multiple people contribute to the plot. At the end of the summer students will be left with a great memento, and stronger writing skills!

Solve a Puzzle. Like board games, puzzles are great downtime activities that keep the brain challenged. Whether playing Sudoku, Crosswords, search-a-words, or the traditional jigsaw variety, puzzles are a fun way to challenge the mind and learn skills such as persistence and problem solving.

Pick up a Controller. Despite the propensity for kids to zone out and disengage for hours at a time, there is actually a lot going on cognitively when playing video games.  Studies have shown that game play can improve hand-eye coordination, problem-solving abilities, and even grown certain areas in the brain. Like board games, invest in a new game (or borrow one) to ensure kids’ grey matter is being extra challenged.

Read. The simplest way to ensure that the cerebellum is firing on all cylinders this summer is by reading. The act of reading activates certain parts of the brain (language), which keep those areas growing. Any reading works—comic books, novels, non-fiction, magazines, blogs… they all help build vocabulary and keep the brain stimulated. Plus, reading can easily go everywhere you do, no controllers, patch cords, outlets, or batteries necessary.

Oxford Learning provides supplemental education services across North America. It offers programs for young people from preschool through university, and its cognitive approach goes beyond tutoring to ignite a lifelong love of learning. Find out more at http://www.OxfordLearning.com.

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New Feature – Fresh Air Friday? #FreshAirFriday

Today is a picture perfect day - weather wise that is. The sky is blue with a few white cloud scattered about. There is a gentle breeze. It’s in the high 70′s with no humidity (or at least none that I can feel), which is a far cry from the dark, rainy and miserable weather we’ve been having here in New York. If it could be just like it is today all summer long that would be a dream come true (I am not a fan of heat and humidity).

I just came in from spending about a half hour outside on my balcony. I’ve been trying to make an effort to take a break from the computer around lunch time and just sit outside on my balcony. Either I’ll read, rest my eyes (and doze off!) or find something else to do. I find that I am less frazzled when I take a break and get some fresh air. I also saw on TV that you should get at least 10 minutes of sunlight on your arms and/or legs every day to help your body create Vitamin D. I get sunburned just thinking about the sun, however I have been making an effort to stick my legs in the sun for at least 10 minutes a day.

A few weeks ago I participated in a focus group with The Motherhood and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Myself and other mom bloggers have been discussing ways to encourage families to get outside more often. Not only for health reasons but also to re-connect and stay connected with your family (this means ditch the electronics!), develop awareness of our environment, have fun and to create memories that will last a lifetime. After all, your kids are going to remember the time you flew kites down by the river more so then they would what show was popular that year or what their favorite Nintendo game was at that time.

Some of my most precious memories growing up mostly involved outdoor activities, from camping and fishing to riding bikes and catching Fireflies/Lightening bugs.

During the first focus group I came with the idea of creating a weekly feature on my site called Fresh Air Friday. Every Friday I would post something to do with getting outdoors with your family. It might be a craft, a scientific experiment, game, tips or a variety of other ideas. I might write about a local park, or maybe interview someone who is involved with the outdoors. It would be something different each week. The whole idea is to encourage my readers to turn off the TV, power off the cell phones and enjoy the outdoors with your family, whether its at a national park or you own backyard.

I even came up with the hashtag #FreshAirFriday. :-)

Some additional ideas I have include;

-  Weekly reader question/questions and answers. I’m not an expert but I can answer them as well as maybe research the question a bit further and if possible find an expert to give an expert’s answer too.

-   Weekly reader tip, craft, recipe or ???. Readers can submit their best tips, games, craft or anything else that would help get families  outside or other kinds of tips/suggestions. I can pull one (or more) and post them on Friday. I would give full credit to the person who submits the tip, including a link to your website if you have one.

-   Contests. I would love to hold contests that help promote families to get outside. I would have to find some sponsors but I would love to do it.

-   Reader submitted photos. I would LOVE to share photos of real families (and not stock photography families) enjoying the outdoors.

This is where I need your help. I would like to hear from my readers about the idea of a weekly Fresh Air Friday feature. Is this something that you would enjoy? Or dislike? Would you be anxious to see what I would come up with week after week? Or would you dread Friday posts because of it? I would love to know your honest opinions. You can either leave me a comment in this post or e-mail me directly at SheScribes “at” Optonline “dot” net. Please put Fresh Air Friday in the subject line just in case your e-mail ends up in my SPAM folder. That way it would be easier for me to see it.

If you are all for this idea I would also love to hear from my readers about the types of things you would be interested in me posting about. Is there something about being outdoors that you would be interested in learning more about? Do you have questions or concerns about getting your family outside and enjoying nature? Do you have children? Do you feel like your children get enough “outdoor” time or are you concerned that they are not getting nearly enough?

All of your feedback is very important to me. If this is something that readers would really be interested in then I want to really do this right. In addition, if you have something you think might make for a great Fresh Air Friday feature, please reach out to me too. If you have a fun idea, great tips or even expert advice feel free to reach out to me. Of course I will give you full credit (and link back to your site if you have one). I’m also open to the idea of reviewing products and/or services that would encourage families to get outdoors and/or hosting giveaways (just in case any PR or companies read this).

Thank you for your time. I’m looking forward to your feedback.

Kimberly

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Celebrating Spring with a Snapfish Party

I am obsessed with taking pictures. I take pictures almost every day. I love taking pictures of my children (much to their dismay – you have to love teens…). They grow up so quickly that I want to be able to remember all the little moments as well as the big ones. I also like taking pictures of my pets when they do something cute or funny.

When we’re out and about and I have my camera with me, watch out! Plan on stopping numerous times why I try and snap the “money shot”. My husband jokes that I’m the only person he knows who’ll take 200 pictures of the same butterfly. What he doesn’t understand is that I’m hoping to capture a few impressive photos. The rest of just delete (thank goodness for digital cameras).

I’ll share some of my favorite pictures here in this post. Sadly these pictures are wasting away on my external hard drive. It’s a shame too. That is why I love being able to share them with my readers. It’s nice to “see” them again.

I would have to say that 95% of my photos never get seen outside of my immediate family. Once I show photos to my husband and kids they get transferred to my external (one of many) or burned on to discs. It’s almost as if I shouldn’t bother taking photos. But the fact is that I LOVE taking pictures. I just don’t know what to do with them after I take them. 

My husband gave me a photo book for Christmas 2010. Since then I have become hooked on photo books. We have several in our bookcase. I make up photo books for my trips to LA, the kids, our family, “the year in review” and so forth. They are fun to look at over and over again. I love how you can add text, group photos together and create a truly one-of-a-kind book. They are much nicer then traditional photo albums. We have about 30 photo albums that we barely look at. We look at our photo books all the time.

Photo books make great gifts. They are fun to give to the grandparents filled with photos of the grandchildren over the year. They are also fun to give to your friends. I had the idea of giving one to a childhood friend of mine with photos of us through the years. That would be a fun way to take a walk down “memory lane”.

I have always wanted to get a few of my photos made into a canvas print so I can display them around my home. I love how they look. Framed or unframed they really make photos come alive. Ideally I would love to have a family portrait done on a canvas print.

For some odd reason I tend to take better nature and animal photos then I do my children. I would love to have canvas prints made up of my entire family. 

I really need to get my photos off my hard drive and on to something that showcases them so that I can proudly share them with family and friends. This is why I am super excited to announce that I was asked to host a Snapfish at home party to help celebrate Spring with family and friends. I cannot wait to share my photos with everyone as well as explore all the fun ways we can share out beloved photos with one another.

I was actually looking to Snapfish to create invitations for the party. I wanted to order but I’m not sure if they will arrive in time for me to mail them out to everyone. Plus I’ve already spoke to everyone so an invitation at this point might be redundant.  My daughter’s birthday is coming up. While I was looking for invitation for this party I found a few my daughter might like. We just need to finalize what she wants to do for her birthday. 

Snapfish offers so much more than just copies of your pictures. They have jewelry, home decor, office products, stationary and more.

When people think about photos on every day objects they often think about mugs, calendars or mouse pads. Snapfish does offer these products but they also offer t-shirts, aprons, posters, “skins” for your smart phone or laptop, playing cards and ornaments, to name a few.

Father’s Day is coming up soon. I saw a few things I’d like to create for a Father’s Day gift. I love the desk organizer and desktop calendar. I think I’m going to use Snapfish to make those up for my husband for Father’s Day.

Did you know that you can have your Snapfish order sent to your local Walmart, Duane Reed, Meijer or Walgreens for pick up? I didn’t know that. That is great to know. We have a Walgreens a few miles from where I live.

When shopping on Snapfish look for the icon that says “Pick up in store” and you can have your order ready for pick up the same day you order it in most intances. Some of the products include posters, photo books, cards and of course prints.

My Snapfisih party is scheduled for May 6, 2012 at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. I’m going to share the party with my readers through photos and possibly video. I’ll share with you the fun ideas we come up with plus anything I learn to help bring you photos out of hiding on hard drives and out for everyone to see and enjoy.  I am super excited about this. I’m very passionate about photography and I’m excited to see how Snapfish can help me to showcase my favorite photos for all to see.

For more information about Snapfish visit www.Snapfish.com. You can also “like” them on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/Snapfish) and on Twitter (@SnapfishbyHP).

Kimberly

*This is a compensated post, however as always I only choose to work professionally with companies that I would recommend personally.

 



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