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Friday, November 25, 2011

To Shop or Not to Shop? That is the Question.

If Socrates were still around, I think he would have asked that question today.  I answer with a joyful, “Shop.”

In my family, it is a tradition to shop at some point on Black Friday.  We shop not because there are sales, but because Christmas is in the air for the first time of the year.  The Peppermint Mochas are being sipped while the carols are played overhead.  There’s just something about the hustle and bustle of people searching for the perfect gifts for their loved ones that I just love.

How do you answer the question

Contributed by Miranda G. Popp, Editor of Today's Family Every Day
Photo source: She Knows Parenting

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is the day to embrace the blessings we've received and to give thanks for them.  It makes no difference whether they're big or small, today is the day to recognize them all!

Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours!

Photo source: The Online Business Blog

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

M and N’s Custom Monogrammed Gifts Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

MandN luggage photo
Can you imagine strolling that luggage into your in-laws’ house this season?  Jaws would definitely drop, and you could win your very own set (there are more patterns to choose from) in today’s giveaway from:

You can find M and N’s Custom Monogrammed Gifts in Crestwood at: 6334-2 W. Highway 146, by phone 1.888.716.1740, or here on Facebook.

Three ways you can enter, just leave a separate comment for each thing:
-be a follower of Today’s Family Every Day (one entry)
-visit M and N’s Custom Monogrammed Gifts’ website and tell us your favorite item (one entry)
-Like M and N’s Custom Monogrammed Gifts on Facebook (one entry)

*This giveaway ends at midnight on 11/29/11.

See Official Rules for details.

Update: Our winner is robysenn1 (comment #5).  Congratulations!  We have emailed you regarding your prize.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 10 Gadgets for Holiday Road Trips

Some of these gadgets might keep the “Are we there, yet?” questions at bay during this holiday season’s traveling with the kids.

1. Snack Container
A signature trademark of a kid-friendly car is a Hansel and Gretel-worthy crumb collection on every surface. If you can overlook this completely annoying parenthood perk, I applaud you; otherwise invest in some creative cups. Munchkin offers an ingenious design with handles and no spill rubber top--two for under $7. Sporting a similar design but with an attachable rope (and additional solid top) is the Spill-Proof Snack Buddy Cup from One Step Ahead.
2. Window Shade
Getting on the road is tough enough; stopping to shade a sunset shouldn't be on your list of priorities. Grab a light-cutting window shade to curb the brightness. Measure your windows and buy the widest shade possible, making sure you have enough visibility in your back and rear passenger windows. Check out your options at Great Baby Products for window shade reviews.
3. Lacing Toys
Kids above age 3 (who don't suffer from motion sickness) will work on lacing boards for hours. Growing Tree Toys has a fantastic range of simple lacing activities from necklaces and ABCs, to complex connect-a-dot boards. Bring a bucket to set in your child's lap so that she can contain the blocks without dropping them on the floor.
4. Finger Puppets
For the dramatic types in your crew, a set of finger puppets can be a space-saving lifesaver. My favorites are high-quality puppets that tell a familiar story, like Thumbelina or the Frog Prince from puppet master Folkmanis, but folks on a budget can definitely afford IKEA's popular set of circus characters or animals for just $4.99.
5. Favorite Music
Not your favorite music, mind you. Junior may not appreciate the vocal stylings of Rihanna for hours on end (and, honestly, you shouldn't either). Enjoy some traditional Disney favorites and throw in some award-winning movement songs from Hap Palmer and Joe Scruggs to keep the mood kid-friendly. Bring on talk radio when it's time for a snooze.
6. Bubbles
So what if you have to clean up the residue later! Bubbles are total fun for all ages, especially when the road seems never-ending. Unless you have an older child, mom or dad needs to commandeer the liquid and blow them toward the back. The best bubbles on the market, hands down, come from Gymboree. These bubbles float forever, and the solution never dries out.
7. Barf Bag
Close to 30% of people are susceptible to motion sickness, and kids are no exception. The barfies can strike at any time--there's no guarantee that your child will or won't get sick on a road trip. Prepare for the worst by investing in a few leak-proof barf bags with fun pictures printed on the outside and show your child how to "cough" into it if his tummy starts to hurt. And bring an extra couple of towels just in case.
8. Neck Pillow
This is a tricky one. Your younger child may or may not like the feeling of something so close to her neck. Try it on short stroller trips ahead of time to practice. If your kiddo will wear it, she'll be far more comfortable during naps. Pillow companions like the Dora neck pillow attach to the straps of your car seat or stroller, making it a bit more accessible.
9. Small Baking Sheets
This ingenious idea from Family Fun keeps the ever-present I-dropped-it-on-the-floor wail at bay. Use a conventional (but smaller) lipped baking sheet as a drawing, magnetic, and keep-it-all-in-one place surface. Glue one or two layers of foam shelf paper on the bottom to make it less likely to fall and affix white contact paper to the top for the drawing surface. Turn it into multiple activities by attaching magnets to buttons for checkers or bingo games.
10. iPad
No, I'm not a fan of hours of screen time for little eyes, but during a road trip this godsend is a total catchall. From apps for all ages to music and movies, the iPad is the perfect device for tiny travelers. Let your kiddos learn letters with Starfall or everything nursery-rhyme cooky from Duck Duck Moose. When all else fails, strap it to the seat and watch a movie.

This list is courtesy of Ashley Grimaldo who comes from a long line of penny pinchers and enjoys blogging on money-saving tips and advice for frugal-minded parents.  She has been featured among such media outlets as Redbook, The Chicago Tribune,, and CBS News-Houston.

Photo source: Babble

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for Our Loyal Dog

anita's thankful post IMG_0754_1

My oldest son was only 3 when he decided he wanted a dog. As an overwhelmed mother of three under age 5, I said, “when you are 5, you can get a dog.” Fast-forward almost two years, and my son started talking about his upcoming 5th birthday and how he was going to get his new dog. He was holding me to my promise.

I tried to talk him out of it. “How about a new bike for you birthday?” His response, “That would be great – a bike and a dog.” I tried that with many different bribes, but he always added the dog. I decided to just go for the dog. We drove to a house in Henryville, Indiana, to meet puppies that were a mix of Australian Shepherd and Black Labrador Retriever. My son chose a puppy that looked like a Lab with a touch of white on his chest and the only one of the seven with dirt on his nose. He named him Max within five minutes of loading into the van. They were inseparable, and Max was a confidant in times that my son felt no one else cared. Max has felt charged with the responsibility to guard my children and our house with fierceness for 12 years.

My son is now 17, and his dog Max is at the end of his life as he has bone cancer. We are thankful that Max has been a part of our family for so many years. I have had many pets, but this one has been thoroughly integrated into our everyday family life. I know many of you have had similar experiences with saying goodbye to a beloved pet, how has it been for you? Share some of your thoughts and ideas here. What are you thankful for?

Contributed by Anita Oldham, Editor of Today's Family and Today's Woman magazines.
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