Navigating the Wild World of Motherhood
Wow, yet another blog post about video games. Can you tell I’m the mom of boys or what? In my house, 2012 is the season of wacky dudes with equally wacky names. Trigger Happy, Terrafin, Stump Smash and Ghost Roast are just a few of our new family members. That’s right, MommyQ is living in a Skylanders wonderland.
Welcome to Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. It’s expensive, highly entertaining and all the rage. Cool molten lava dudes cough up fireballs, clumsy trees smash stuff and spit out balls of wood…hmmm…there’s a lot of spitting. What’s funny about this game is in the Adventure mode, which is supposed to be relatively peaceful, you can walk around smashing innocent sheep. My four-year-old find that to be beyond hilarious.
It’s cool because you can drop a new character on the Portal of Power and send it right into the video game. It springs to life with a weird giggle and a grunt. Of course, there are tons of them so it’s an endless money pit. Although it is very unique and lots of fun to play. The game pieces also serve as memory chips so my kids can take their Skylanders to a friends house and play. Kinda cool concept.
Have you met the Skylanders yet? Who’s your favorite character?
If the oddly amusing sounds of laughing and snorting pigs along with the melodious hum of cawing birds echoes in your ears, you’re no doubt an Angry Birds fan like me. Well, not me, but my boys. Who knew a few furrow-browed birdies could be so darn entertaining?
This ridiculously addictive game has broken all sorts of unbelievable internet records. It recently became the first game in gaming history to be downloaded over 500 million times. In fact, the uber-successful maker of this game, Rovio, has gone on record stating that users “on average log about 5 million hours of Angry Birds play time daily. More than 266 billion levels of Angry Birds have been played and close to 400 billion birds have been catapulted at the dastardly pigs.”
And just in time for Christmas, a whole new (or “nuther,” as they say in Texas) Angry Birds egg-stravaganza awaits. You can now get a new “Wreck the Halls” edition for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Mac. For Christmas, Rovio has released an update with 25 new levels and several other added features. The Angry Birds “Wreck the Halls” update can be downloaded in the App Store. I hear you will meet a new Angry Bird and if you’re good enough, possibly King Pig. Gee, I hope he’s wearing a Santa hat.
Every so often I need to get crafty. I subscribe to Craft Gossip, so when I need to crack a smile, I always get my fix. Thanks to Craft Gossip, I found these rice krispie critters on the Disney Family Fun website. Wouldn’t they be a fun addition to a birthday party? They could double as decorative touches & party favors. Perfecto!
Worms are delicious — when they’re our bookworms made from crispy rice and marshmallows. Make a batch for Read Across America Day (March 2), and your child can sink her teeth into a treat while devouring a good book.
• crispy rice cereal treats
• fruit leather
• plastic wrap
• googly eyes
• pipe cleaner
1. Whip up a batch of crispy rice cereal treats, using your favorite recipe.
2. Using buttery hands, mold the rice mixture into worm shapes (ours are about 5 inches long).
3. Add three strips of fruit leather to each worm, securing the overlapping ends of each strip with a dot of water.
4. Wrap the worms in plastic wrap, then add two googly eyes.
5. Loop a pipe cleaner around the worm’s neck and twist it together at the top. Curl the ends into antennae.
If you haven’t heard about NEA’s Read Across America program, it’s an amazing initiative to help motivate children and teens to read. NEA’s Read Across America Day, NEA’s national reading celebration takes place each year on or near March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Wouldn’t these worms be a super way to celebrate?
If you haven’t heard the buzz about this new doll, I’ll break it down for you. Breast Milk Baby is a doll that allows little girls to simulate the act of breast-feeding. And as you can imagine, this toy is creating waves of controversy as it will soon be available in the US. So what’s the big deal about another doll? I mean, we already have plenty of dollies that eat, pee and poop. Well, it could be the vest with sensors to trigger nursing or the suckling sounds or the fact that little girl can loosely experience latching. Pick one. Here’s a recent article from ABC News.
Today, I spoke with FOX 7 about it and shared my thoughts as not only a mother, but a mother who happens to know a lot about baby products. I even posted something on Facebook about my impending interview, which created its own little swirl of debate. This is a controversial doll for many reasons. Instead of exploring the obvious, I thought it was far more interesting to hear reactions about the doll from dads. After all, dads shower their daughters with gifts. Will they buy Breast Milk Baby for their daughters? One dad added his two cents to my lively Facebook discussion by posting the following:
“Don’t want to drag another ‘party’ to the discussion unknowingly… But having had this very discussion today…. It’s not about sexuality or nourishment as much as it seems to be about the publicity of it. Should be private and between a mom and child, not public and out for display for everyone to share. I think public display kind of sensationalizes it. Back to the doll – is that the right WAY to send the message or teach our children? My girls will never own one of these, but you can bet they will know everything they want and need to about breastfeeding and discretion.”
Bravo, daddy! I think he illustrates great points and let’s face it, dads are an integral part of parenting, so why dismiss their feelings? Many dads seem to be annoyed by the doll, because they feel young girls don’t need to experience something reserved for grown women. It’s simply too much, too soon. Other dads think there is a shady sexual undertone that just makes them feel slightly ill. Loving daddies might not want to imagine their sweet little girls as mothers quite yet, especially with all of the valid fears of teenage pregnancies.
Weigh in, dads! What do you think about this doll? Will you buy it for your daughter?
Summer is best known for relaxing poolside, sipping a frosty beverage and enjoying lazy days. Wait, it is? Then why is my summer a completely chaotic, unorganized journey of madness. Okay, it’s not that bad. Not yet. As the mom of two youngsters, pool safety is a major concern. And getting my little guy (who has the mentality of a stubborn teenager) to willingly wear floaties or a life jacket is a battle.
I kept seeing these little cuties at the pool with nifty flotation devices. After some online research, I found out they are called Puddle Jumpers by Stearns. It’s like a life jacket combined with floaties with an adjustable strap and buckle in the back. It’s not a bulky or uncomfortable. Shockingly enough, I ordered one for my youngest son at the beginning of the summer. Yeah, I’d normally do it three days before summer officially ended. Anyway, I bought it at Leisure Pro and we took it for a test drive today. LOVE IT.
Here’s more about it:
- The Patent Pending design allows free range of motion and great stability while in the water.
- Choose from the green frog, the orange smile, the blue lion and the red ladybug.
- The Puddle Jumpers life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard- approved, and is also a great confidence builder for kids who are just learning their way around they water.
They sell them at Target and Toys R Us, but I found the best selection and prices online.
What’s your favorite summer toy for 2011?
Remember when hanging your child’s name in wooden letters became standard procedure in the nursery? I loved them, but was totally appalled at how expensive they were. So, I decided to do them myself. I pranced my very pregnant self into Hobby Lobby and feeling overly confident in my own new DIY Martha Stewartness, I proceeded to buy a ridiculous amount of stuff. With a basket full of paints, stickers, tiny wooden doodads and thingamajigs, I realized they only had 2 big wooden “E”s and I needed three. It was craft chaos. Long story short, I finished those letters TWO YEARS LATER. But my real point is isn’t it funny how you think a Do-It-Yourself project will save you money and it ends up costing the same if not more?
Well, drop that Prada screwdriver, you diva! Here are 9 Helpful Tips for Saving on DIY Projects from consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch:
1. Big Box Vs. Small Stores
For the frugal consumer, shopping smart is always a logical first step. When you’re shopping at the big-box like and Lowes, there are always deals going down.
The two heavyweight retailers are highly competitive and both stores offer price matching with an additional 10-percent discount on identical products advertised at a lower price at any competing store. Both stores also post weekly sales, discounts and rebates on their websites so you can be prepared before you hit the store. Not to mention, you can always find for these home and garden giants.
On the other hand, locally owned home-supply stores, like Ace Hardware, often provide email sign-ups that allow you to receive special deals on the same items you would find at the big-box stores. While you may not be able to purchase sheet rock, the smaller places may carry everything from plumbing supplies to finishing notes for your home.
2. Tester Cans and Used Paint
Next to buying a nice area rug, painting is probably the easiest way to change the look of a room. Unfortunately, home improvement stores are aware of this and they like to make you pay for it. There are definitely ways to get around the high prices though.
If you only have a small space to paint, there’s no need to invest in a whole gallon of paint that’ll inevitably take up space in the garage or closet. Ask about small tester cans that can often be found for $5 or less in a variety of colors.
The word is starting to get out on used paint, too. When people order large amounts of custom paint, they often order too much. This paint gets returned to the stores, but the merchant can’t put such cans back on the shelf with the rest of the paint. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might be able to get gallons of paint for around $5. Not all stores will have used paint, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
3. Buy Lumber in Bulk
Working with lumber can be intimidating. It requires precise measurements and cuts, or you’ll end up wasting money and materials. Prices vary by lumber grade and wood type, so be aware of what materials are required to get the job done.
4. Generic Vs. Name Brand
There’s an incredible variety of nails and screws available, but how much of a difference is there really? nails and screws are often up to par with the name brands, but cost significantly less. In some cases, the only difference between a generic and the brand name is the box!
The same can be said for pipes and plumbing fixtures. Unpackaged fixtures in a bulk bin can have the same quality as their packaged counterparts on the shelf, but cost much less. Longevity is also something to consider when working on a plumbing project. Copper pipes and PVC pipes typically give you the most bang for your buck, lasting up to 60 years.
5. Caulk Singles
Caulk certainly won’t be the most expensive item on your home improvement list, but it’s useful for patching up holes and sealing cracks. Often when people buy a tube of caulk for a small project, they end up making a mess of it and throwing half the tube away.
If you want to keep some caulk around for projects that spring up, try out some caulk singles from General Electric. Much like the fast food ketchup packet, they’re enough for one project and cut back on waste and mess. Watch for coupons to home centers like the Home Depot that offer General Electric’s caulk singles.
6. Government Rebates
Now that warm weather is finally on the way, you can replace your old windows and doors with more energy efficient ones. While it’s a big project, it may be worth it when you save on heating costs next winter.
In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the federal government is continuing to offer tax credits when you install certified windows, doors and skylights. The credits aren’t as generous as last year, but you can still get 10 percent-off for $200 worth of windows and skylights and a rebate of up to $500 for doors.
7. Buy Reconditioned or Rent Power Tools
It’s hard to justify buying an expensive power tool, especially when you know you’ll never use it again. If you live the DIY credo, Home Depot rents such power tools as power washers, paint sprayers, chainsaws and buff sander. By renting, you’ll get the professional finish you want without having to cut corners on expensive equipment.
Many power tool manufacturers have online outlets where they sell reconditioned tools at a discount. These tools are certified by the manufacturer, so you have a guarantee they’ll work. You can save even more when you use a Bosch Outlet coupon or a Bostitch Outlet free shipping code for discount power tools.
8. Used Hand Tools
The garage sale may still be king for finding good deals on hand tools. Many people don’t enjoy inherited tools and are willing to part with them for next to nothing, compared to new tools. Wrench sets, hammers and screwdrivers made by quality toolmakers like Craftsman and Stanley can stand the test of time and are as good today as they were 30 years ago.
9. Working Together
No one escapes a little home maintenance from time to time. If you and a neighbors are working on similar projects, sharing the cost of renting a wood chipper or cement mixer can save both of you time and money.
While skilled friends and family don’t necessarily enjoy manual labor, they can be coaxed into it with the promise of good food, drink or a labor exchange to be named later. Working with friends gets the job done faster and is usually much more fun.
As a media expert source, Andrea Woroch has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. Follow @AndreaWoroch on Twitter to receive daily savings tips!
In honor of SXSW, the annual music, film and interactive conference in Austin, I’m gonna treat everyone to some balls. Okay, that sounds bad. I’m talking about the newest trend in baked goodness – Cake Balls and/or Cake Pops. It seems the cupcake may be tossed from its tiny throne and a sassy, smaller, chewier champion will be crowned. Behold, the Cake Ball.
Even Starbucks is getting on the Cake Ball action as they recently introduced Cake Pops. They brag that this little chewy pop of yummy is under 200 calories too. Perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth who just wants a nosh. So if you live in Austin, Texas, or you’re in town for SXSW, I urge you to stop by one of many hip trailers for a “Keeping it Weird” experience. And if you want a little cake orb, visit Holy Cacao.
My hubby surprised me with Cake Balls from this bakery for my B-Day. I must say, they were totally adorable. You’ve gotta keep ‘em refrigerated, so plan ahead. I don’t suggest eating one cold. And don’t expect a cake consistency when you bite into them. They’re much chewier like brownies. I was impressed with ‘s circular goodies and they’d be a HUGE hit at a kid’s party too. My boys went wacky for them. Cake on stick? Come on.
is a gourmet dessert trailer offering unusual items such as Cake Balls, as well as providing a true Austin experience. The Cake Balls are available by the dozen and easily customized for special occasions. Get a load of the names: Velvet Cake Balls (red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting), Brass Cake Balls (peanut butter cookies mixed with chunky peanut butter, then dipped in chocolate and topped with crushed peanuts), and my fave, Rabbit Cake Balls (carrot cake mixed with cream cheese, dipped in white chocolate and coated with crushed walnuts).
The Holy Cacao trailer is located at the iconic South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, alongside Torchy’s Tacos (gourmet tacos) and Man Bites Dog (gourmet hot dogs). Eat on, SXSW friends. Eat on.
Images: Holy Cacao
What happens when it’s 23 degrees outside and my son needs a homemade Valentine’s Day card box? MommyQ resorts to doing a craft project with her MacGyver skills. That’s right, folks! I made this card box with random stuff I found in the house, because I refuse to go out in this ridiculously frigid weather. It’s not perfect, but I’m nice & warm and didn’t have to spend a dime. It took me about 15 to make it and it was so easy!
- Wooden puzzle box
- Wrapping paper
- Decorative tape
- Scotch tape
- Red ribbon
- Yellow craft paint
- Coupon book
I used an old puzzle box that was already painted yellow and blue. I covered the removable sliding lid with black & white, polka dot wrapping paper. I used tape to adhere the paper to the lid, making sure to pull the tape tight at the ends. I don’t want to paper to start ripping when my son slides the lid open and closed. I found an old red ribbon, which I cut down to fit the box. I remembered my ultra-awesome role of Damask decorative tape from TapeSwell and used that to decorate the box. Wow, decorative tape is the BEST for stuff like this.
Keep in mind, this box is for a little boy to take to school, so I didn’t want it to be too girlie. However; I wanted to add something with hearts. My true Richard Dean moment occurred when I saw a coupon book sitting in our pile of mail. I flipped through it and just loved the Dunkin’ Donuts ad for heart-shaped donuts, so I cut out the pictures and used them as my hearts. Nothing says love like donuts, right?
Tell me about your ‘MacGyver’ moments as a mommy!