Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hair Flairs - Pro Hair Tinsel

Sponsored by Tomoson.com
Some times it seems like I'm always the last one to get in on a new trend.  A friend's daughter was over recently and she had sparkling accents in her hair which she received at a local hair salon. Of course, my girls loved it and wanted to have it accents too.   So when I was asked to try out Hair Flairs - Pro Hair Tinsel, I was happy to oblige.

I received a package of the sparkling pink and sparkling gold to try out.  My girls were very excited and I think the hardest part of putting it in was getting them to hold still.  Still it was easy.  The packaging includes step by step directions with photos to help you figure it out and you can even watch a video on their website.  

Hair Tinsel simply ties into your hair.  You can shampoo, blow dry and style your hair, even using a curling iron or flat iron up to 400F.  You do need to take a little extra care when brushing though so as not to pull the strands out.  The strands can last from 1 to 6 weeks depending on how experienced the person is who ties them in.  The more you practice with it the easier it gets and the better you get at it. I think I botched the first tie as I didn't get it tied close enough to the hair line but even so it still lasted in my daughter's hair for around 4 days.  When I went to do my oldest daughter, I found I had figured out the knack of tying it close to the scalp.  The girls loved the effect. If you are wanting to do your own hair, it is easier if you have someone to help you. It's not impossible to do it on your own, but it may be awkward.

This is not just for kids though. Many women don't want to damage their hair with all the harsh chemicals that are in hair dyes but would still like to add some oomph to their style. Hair Flairs - Pro Hair Tinsel is a great alternative.  Sublte enough to wear every day or also great for special occasions like proms, formal dances, girl's night out, weddings etc.  


Hair Flairs - Pro Hair Tinsel retails around $12.00 a package.  There is a lot of tinsel in the packaging and as you only use 5 for accent or 10 for a full hairstyle, the tinsel goes a long way.

Thank you to Hair Flairs - Pro Hair Tinsel for the opportunity to try this really fun product!

GIVEAWAY

Best of all, I can offer TWO of my lucky readers an opportunity to try out Hair Flairs - Pro Hair Tinsel for themselves.  Open to US/Canada Ends October 12th.



Leave a comment for each entry you complete.

Mandatory Entry:

*  visit Hair Flairs - Pro Hair Tinsel and tell me what colour you would choose

Extra Entries

*  Follow In the Mommy Trenches on Google Friend Connect
*  Tweet this giveaway up to once a day (just use the retweet button)




*Note:  I was not compensated in this review other than being provided with a sample of the product in order to conduct the review.  Thank you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Oh Where oh Where Has Zeemaid Gone

Those that know me as a particular chatter box may well be surprised to hear so little from me this week. As you know I celebrated a birthday this week.  Thank you for all the good wishes I received on Monday.   While I was very spoilt by my family pretty much all weekend as I had a birthday dinner with the inlaws on Saturday, a birthday barbecue with my side of the family on Sunday, then a lovely dinner out with friends I had to wait until my actual birthday on Monday before I received my last gift. 

In the morning on my actual day, my daughters were surprised that daddy had told them we wouldn't be doing a whole celebration.  He told them we had been doing that all weekend.  Despite the fact that we had done celebrations, I was a trifle disappointed with his attitude.  After all, he has never once had to be responsible for doing anything special for my birthday.  Every year, it's been my mom who gets my cake as we usually have dinner and cake at her house, followed usually by a birthday dinner at his mother's.  This year things were a little different as it wasn't until the last minute that we knew we were doing anything with my family.  Even dinner out with friend's was planned at the last minute.  I was determined I wasn't going to be the one doing the planning so I kept out of it and have to admit I was relieved when he pulled something together on such short notice. 

Anyways, my daughters decided they would surprise me themselves and they did.  As soon as they got home from school they headed up to their rooms where they planned a party for me.  When the time was right, I was escorted upstairs to E's room where I got to sit in the place of honour and open my "presents".  I was very pleased to receive a hand drawn card from E and just as pleased to discover the large Hello Kitty stuffy that had hastily been wrapped in tissue paper.  Not to be outdone, O offered up his favourite stuffed kitty cat and liked it so well that he promptly ran off to find something else to stuff into the box to give me. 

As I looked around at my kids, I recognized these moments as one of the benefits of being a mom.  Never mind that they weren't real presents, it was more fun watching their excitement as they showed their love for me.  They were so eager and so assured of themselves that what they had planned for me was special and it really was.

Of course, I was just as pleased when I got my "real" present from my husband and it's that present that's primarily been the reason for my lack of posting this week.  As I've said before, I'm an avid reader and now he's just given me more reasons to keep on reading.

So far, I absolutely love it
The screen doesn't glare, so it doesn't irritate my eyes at all and it loads up and turns off easily.  The battery seems to last a long time.  Apparently I can sync it with my smart phone (don't know why I would want to) and it's light and easy to hold. It comes with a 100 free books right off the bat.  Although a lot of these are classics and ones I had read already. (Of course)

The only hard part is that we really can't afford for me to be constantly buying new ebooks even though some books start as low as $0.89.  Still it would be a charge on the credit card and there's no getting away from hubby's eagle eye on that.  So I've had to scour the ebook section on my local library website to borrow.  Unfortunately, a lot of people obviously read ebooks because so many are unavailable to read.  I don't get this.  It's a digital copy, why do they limit it to one reader at a time?  When you consider how many people live on my island who have access to the ebooks, and there are apparently only 2500, you can imagine how long the wait list can be.

Having said that though I love it and I felt absolutely hip and cool when I sat in the coffee shop drinking my latte and reading it.  Because while technology is out there and I see so many people with Iphones etc... I don't think I've seen one person out wandering around with an ebook reader. 

I think I've read 6 books since I was given it on Monday night.  Of course, 4 of those books were relatively small ones but you can understand why I haven't been posting much this week.  My smart aleck 4 year old even said to me... "Boy you sure don't like daddy's present."

What do you think of Ebooks readers?  What are you reading right now?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Crayola Products - Review and Giveaway


I have always enjoyed using Crayola products and one thing I have learned is that quality counts. I have tried products from the dollar store only to find the crayons that don't color, the glue doesn't glue and the felts are either already dried out or almost there. 

As part of Crayola Canada’s Mom Advisory Panel, I was recently sent these three products:


Repositionable dry-erase decals that allow kids to decorate and create on almost any flat surface! Decals peel easily from sheets and stick to most walls, metals, windows, fabric, plastic, notebooks, mirrors and more (4+, $10.99)
My kids really had a blast with the peel and stick dry erase decals. They worked exactly as the packaging said. You stick them to a dry surface and let the kids colour away AND it does actually wipe off easily with a soft cloth. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and how much fun my kids had with it. There were three in the package so it worked out perfectly for my three. They each got their own decal and they each created their own masterpiece.


My only caution to parents would be to make sure you have paper or something down on the floor where you have the decals stuck because if your child is as enthusiastic as mine was for wiping away the crayon, you will end up with wax bits on your floor which then can get tracked around leaving marks. While I did end up with a bit of mess to clean up, it did clean up quickly and easily. I am informed by the care instructions on the packaging that
"The Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons are designed to wash from skin and most children's clothing. If you have difficulty removing the marks with a soft dry cloth, then use a soft cloth with mild soap and water. Do not use ammonia or other cleaning solutions, as they may cause the surface to become cloudy. Abrasive cleaners may scratch the surface. For best results: Remove crayon marks from walls as soon as possible with soap and water. Wash clothing in warm or hot water. Melted crayons may cause permanent heat-set stains. Check pockets for crayons before placing clothing in dryer. Stain Advisement: Keep away from wallpaper, painted walls, unfinished wood, carpeting and other materials that cannot be laundered. "
Like I said I had no problems cleaning up for me and while the kids do tend to travel over a bit from their decal onto the wall, if you clean it right away there should be no staining.

20 Broad line Pipsqueaks markers, 5 wacky tip markers, 2 themed sticker sheets and one sketch pad; portable set (3+, $10.99)                With the Pipsqueaks, I always enjoy these because they are the exact right size for little hands. This particular package set was convenient in that it comes in it's own plastic carrying case, which holds the felts nicely in a tray but also holds a colouring book. Add to that some very nice colourful stickers and you are all set to take this kit on the road. My oldest daughter has dance class so I popped this package into my bag and it was all ready for her siblings to sit and colour while they waited for her. Even though I am sure the kids don't appreciate the organization as much as I do, I am sure they appreciate having all their colours laid out so they are easily visible to them. The colour book is made of nice thick paper so it stands up to my 3 year old's repetitive scribbling in one spot.



A simple, one-step project and craft tool that eliminates the extra steps, mess, waste and frustration that typically comes with school poster projects. Five different assortments cover a broad range of poster and sign-making graphics, and special effects include peel-and-stick letters and numbers, pockets and stencils, all designed to peel off easily and stick on firmly, again and again. (8+, $5.99)

I was particularly excited about the Re-Stickems and while my kids would have dived into them immediately I wanted to save them for a bit until we had a really good idea for them.  Fortunately, it didn't take long for inspiration to strike.  My kids love playing restaurant and are always making menus for us to "order" from so I decided we should make a Menu we could actually read.  The Stickems worked really well on the poster board I had and true to their word, they lifted up easily when we needed to straighten out the lettering.  With a variety of sizes, numbers and symbols there are a lot of options for this prodcut.  I even stole one number from the set to adorn a birthday card we made for the neighbour.  Not just for kids crafts though, the quality and ease of use make this a great accessory to any project!






As always you can visit Crayola.ca for tons of craft ideas and projects.  Plus Crayola.ca has just launched the Story Studio, the updated version of Crayola's Lights Camera Color.  It's an easy to use interactive online program that allows kids to upload their photos and transform them into colouring pages.  Kids can even have a photo of themself changed into a charactization which they can then create their very own story starring themselves.  Specially marked packages of Crayola products contain an activation code which allows you to print your projects. 

THE GIVEAWAY

Crayola has graciously offered to provide one of my readers with a Repositionable Dry-Erase Decal to try out for themselves.

TO ENTER

Mandatory:
  • Visit Crayola's website and come back and tell me one product on their site you would like to try out.
Extra Entries (leave a comment per entry):
  • Follow In the Mommy Trenches via google friend connect
  • Follow In the Mommy Trenches on Twitter @Zeemaid
  • Tweet about this giveaway once per day and let me know.
Contest ENDS October 2, 2010  Open to Canada only.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my (cough) birthday and now that I am (cough) years old I'd like to think I'm above all the fuss of making a big deal of it.  Still, I couldn't let my day go bye without one birthday song at least.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Get My Gloves Girls... I'm Going In!


It's Day 3 of the SITS Girls get Back to Blogging Event. Today we are supposed to highlight post titles we are proud of.  If you'd like to participate and earn opportunities to be entered, go here.


Originally Posted April 23, 2009
Seriously, if you don't hear from me tomorrow.. send help. You might want to start looking over by the washing machine.. that foot sticking out from under the mound of dirty laundry, just might be me. Or I might be in the back bedroom suffocated by the smell of urine soaked crib sheets or I might have my head in the oven, passed out from cleaning it. Those fumes are deadly.

Not there... try by my desk I might just be under it clutching school newsletters to my chest crying silently while muttering "no more, no more, I don't want to volunteer, I can't bake 200 cupcakes for tomorrow, just no time, just no time."

On second thought... never mind. There's no way I want my house to be plastered all over the news from the search and rescue team. Just leave me there. Eventually my husband will find my body. Possibly when he's looking for a clean shirt. Hopefully, he'll mourn me and not just my super mom cleaning abilities and multitasking organizational skills. Hopefully, he'll be crying and saying..."my poor dear wife.. I should have cleaned the bathroom more." *sob*

A girl can dream, can't she?


THIS BLOG DELAYED FOR CLEANING.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Romance and Passion - Repost


Today is Day 2 of the SITS girls back to blogging event.  Today's prompt is to repost something you wish more people had read.  If you are from the US you can participate in this blogging event and have the opportunity to win an Electrolux washer and dryer.  Check here for the details.

I had a hard time choosing what to repost.  In the end I opted for something from my beginning days of blogging as few people read anything from that first six months or so. I haven't edited it, it's exactly as it was when I wrote it.

Originally posted November 14, 2008

I haven't had much of a chance lately to work on my story. I did pull up a page the other day and liked what I had read. It's suprising, isn't it, that we are own worst critics. When I am writing I struggle over every sentence. I know what my story should be about I just falter in getting it down line by line. I keep searching for a better more clever way of saying what is quite often just the mundane. Yet, when I look back at it after some time away, I realize that it's not bad writing. I would almost not recognize that those words came from me.

Sometimes though, I feel that I should give up my reading. If I put as much time into my writing as I do my reading, I'd be published by now. I LOVE to read. I am passionate about reading and many days if it wasn't for reading, I don't think I'd make it through these mommy days sane. My husband is always teasing me about how much I read. Sometimes, I can finish a novel in two or three days. No, my kids are not neglected but sometimes my housework is. I just am creative in how I get my breaks. When we are having quiet time and my daughter picks a movie, I read. When I'm stirring soup in the pot, I read. When I'm going potty.... I read. *L*

I will be very sad the day that my two youngest stop napping because it will probably be the end of afternoon tea and a book. Occasionally, I do feel that this is a problem in my life yet when you are so ingrained in these kinds of habits, it's hard to imagine giving them up. I digress though.

The reason why I thought maybe I should stop reading was that sometimes you get caught up in other people's stories that it's hard to think of your own. Kind of like watching too much t.v. makes your imagination rusty. I may actually be curbing the creative flow in me. Do you think that could be true? I wonder.

The other thing about reading that is starting to bug me is the sex. Don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful sex life with my husband (yes, honey you can gloat) and I'm definitely not disappointed in that area. It's just that sex in novels are so over the top. We're talking the average novels here, too like Nora Roberts etc. When I was younger I would read harlequins and dream of the day when a man would passionately pull me into his arms and devour me.

Now almost 10 years married, the passion is actually better than it ever was in the beginning, but there is no way my husband is ever going to throw me over his shoulder and stride off into the bedroom and ravish me. I'd feel silly and more likely to be concerned about his back. Neither is he going to let's say throw me over the "edge" with just one touch. (Sorry Honey).

If that happens in your relationship then I say WOW, you go girl! But from what I gather from most women I know, they don't experience that kind of romp in the hay. Many women lead very satisfied sex lives but do they really live it romance novel style? (If you do, let me know)

Do we really need these vivid sex scenes? Does it not make your life seem somewhat inadequate? (Who really does it 5 times a night?) Can your man really live up to the standards set in these novels? So why is it that we feel we need to read this stuff or have it written for us in this way. Is it just that the writer is using creative license in putting more colour and feeling into it? You tell me?

For me, I want the romance of it, the wining and dining, the two lovers meeting, overcoming the obstacles together and finally getting together. I really don't care if they wait till the last page to have sex. All I want is to witness their first kiss, that's romantic in my book. Save the rest of it for the bedroom, their bedroom. The one we're not usually invited in. I rather go live my own sex life thank you very much.

Cheers,

Zeemaid
In the Mommy Trenches

***BTW the picture I used in this post is from a book called "Claiming the Highlander" I couldn't figure out who the author of the novel is but I "borrowed" the picture from.. www aromancebook.us Thanks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's All About Me - Repost

This week the The SITS Girls are holding a Back to Blogging event.  If you'd like to play along simply click here for the daily prompts and full details.  If you are lucky enough to live in the US by participating you are also eligible to win a new washer and dryer from Electrolux. I'm not eligible but I decided to participate anyways.

The first prompt is to republish the first post you have ever written.


******
It's All About Me  April 1, 2008

Wow! I am finally joing the ranks of the bloggers. Why not, I say. I have plenty of opinions to share and many things to rant about.


For my first post I'd like to really expand on the About Me and maybe give a quick synopsis of my life so you will know where I am coming from.

Starting with my username, Zeemaid. I used to be addicted to SIMS and after I found all the little cheats and made my characters incredibly weathly I decided to create a maid character so she would clean up after the little slobs. She would have to be, of course, French because they do call it a French maid's uniform. So by now you're getting the drift (I hope). Just think about it. *L*

Three children later and I really feel like I am "Ze maid" some days so I adopted the username much to my husband's delight. HA!

Ideally this blog is will impart my wisdom and insights into parenting. But most likely it will be full of the ups and downs and frustrations of being a mom of three children under five.

I have three wonderful children. (mainly when they're sleeping) I experienced a brief period of infertility (2 years) before we conceived our first child (see my article on helium at http://www.helium.com/items/201917-relax-happen-youre-trying if you'd like more information on how we overcame infertility.)

Baby number two happened without too much difficulty and baby number three just couldn't wait it seemed. My daughter was eight months old when I became pregnant with our son. So my life has been a little crazy. Especially given that my son was born at a whopping 12 pounds, yes naturally, and he almost died in the process. He's hale and hearty now but it was a tense time.

Add to that that my husband was fired, without reason, from his job just 7 weeks before I was due with my son. The entire time he was off was spent panic stricken trying to find a new job or buy a business. Which he did, buy a business that is, in another town. So I had my baby, we put our house up for sale and I had to keep my house tidy, YIIII! Then my sister-in-law, who was also expecting came down with pneumonia and menigitis and went into a coma after delivering her baby pre-term by c-section. So we had to take our house off the market and help out family. The baby is great. She was in the hospital for 3 months and is now at home with limited mobility and sad to say, she may never recover fully. Her health issues now are many and complex.

So the last year has had it's challenges. I went through a bad phase emotionally before Christmas time and my husband finally decided to drag me off to a homeopathic outfit in Vancouver called Ubiquity Wellness Centre. Also to deal with my high blood pressure, an after result of the birth of my son. They basically told me what I already knew but it was nice to have someone else confirm it. I basically tired, that is my body is exhausted. They've given me some supplements to aid my stress and digestion and recommending a whole list of foods that I am sensitive too. I have had to eliminate dairy, wheat, flour, gluten, and sugar. It's been incredibly limiting because even people with celiac get to eat more than I do. But I've struggled throught it and the good news is that we've almost eliminated my headaches. I'm due to go back for a follow-up next week. That is if I can get someone to work for me.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I also work full time evening shifts. I own a video store with my sister-in-law and have for the past 4 years. I had in the past cut back my hours and before my third child was born, only worked two nights a week. However, we are struggling financially (my video store that is) and it has become necessary but me to come back to work full-time to save on employee wages. Hopefully this won't last long. I've been finding it a bit of a stretch to look after the kids all day and then work till 9 or 10 at night.

Although if I had to work this is the way to do it. I get the best part of the day with my kids and only miss 2 hours of their day before bed. That's better than a lot of working moms get.

I should also mention that I live with my in-laws or rather we share a home. At first they lived downstairs, we lived up but now because of her health problems we've moved down this last week. (Add that to a full time job) So we've squished a family of 5 into about 1100 square feet while they get about 1800. Am I bitter? Not really, it does irk me sometimes because I've a real lack of storage and moving the house in and around works and kids was more than a little stressful.

I just feel like we are finally getting our lives back to normal. However, there are several unresolved issues.

  • my husband is suing his employer for wrongful dismissal. Trial is in June
  • we still need to sell our home and move to the other town so my husband won't have to commute, especially with the price of gas.
  • I need to figure out what to do with my video store with my sister-in-law and my future involvement with it, particularly if my family decides to move.
So that's my life in a nut shell at the moment. Hopefully I haven't come across as overly whiny. I think I've managed to get most of that out of my system in the last few months. :)d

So stay tuned for my next instalment.

Zeemaid

 
All I can say is wow.  I think I sounded really upbeat in the writing of all that but looking back I definitely know I was stressed and struggling with the whole situation.  That was a really tough period in our lives. 
 
The upside of all that is is that we've come through the other side.  My SIL has regained her mobility and while she still has a lot of health issues is able to look after and care for her family and you would hardly know she has had anything wrong with her to look at her. We praise God for that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Smart Food or Smart Marketing?

Have you tried the Dempster Smart Bread or Wonder Bread Invisibles?  Do you think it's really healthier or at least healthy enough?  I'm not sure.  I mean the marketing is pretty convincing but then isn't that their job?  The advertising tells us that they've added more vitamins and nutrients but then again the main ingredient is Enriched White Flour..not whole wheat or plain white but "Enriched".  I am supposed to feel less guilty feeding my kids this version of white bread but I really don't.  After all, no one knows I'm buying enriched white bread, as far as everyone at my kid's school knows is that it's regular white bread and I look like some kind of junk food, sugar loaded, noncaring kind of momma. There is also the fact that enriched doesn't compare to good ol 100% whole wheat grain. 

It's kind of like Nutella.  They have this warm and fuzzy commercial that tells you not only is Nutella delicious but that it's a vital part of providing your child a healthy breakfast.  Well, hold on now.  A delicious cocoa, hazelnut spread that is not only good for me er my kids but provides them with a rich source of vitamin B6, iron, calcium, and potassium as well as extra protein and fiber.  Well back up the bus, I'm climbing on board. 

And I did.  I went out and bought myself a jar of this manna like substance and all I can say is that anything and I do mean anything that tastes this good cannot possibly be that good for me.  I probably ate the whole jar in two days a week. When I look at the ingredient list why am I NOT surprised to read Sugar as the very first one followed by modified palm oil. 

What the hell is this modified palm oil and why does it have to be in EVERYTHING and just how bad is it for me?  Inquiring minds want to know... really!

I once knew a lady in a baby group that weaned her child straight to cows milk because formula contains modified palm oil and as a nurse there was no way she was feeding that to her 8 month old baby.  I mean she's a nurse.. she should know, right?

I've googled it and one side will tell you it's a by-product that has no nutrional value at all but they have nothing better to do with it and so they toss it into our food.  If that's true, I'm really, really scared.  On the other hand apparent "research" says it's not harmful.  Are these the same researchers that say BPH in baby bottles aren't harmful? 

Let's take processed cheese.  There is a darling little gal who instructs her daddy on how to make the proper melted cheese sandwich all the while assuring him how good it is for her because it has lots of calcium in it.  Precious moments.  Now my kids love Kraft Cheese singles and so I cling to the warm fuzzies of this commercial with all my being and tell myself that it's okay, they're getting lots of calcium and after all none of my kids have a weight issue, they are actually a little on the skinny side so what's the harm.  And when my daughter comes home telling me that someone commented to her on how unhealthy that cheese was in her sandwich, I told her not to worry.  Momma's looking after her and because she eats lots of fruit and other healthy things a little old processed cheese slice won't hurt it.  Still... it's processed.  How good for you can it really be?

What are our real options for feeding our kids these days in this world of hyper marketing?  Yes, I can go back to basics and make everything from scratch and some days I do that.  In the interest of saving some money and making healthier snacks I often talk myself out of buying things that I can make myself.

Let's get real though.  I am often too lazy busy to break out the mixer and whip up some delicious snacks never mind clean up the mess afterwards.  So it's not long before I'm back in the store roaming the snack aisle.  I read labels trying to look for healthier alternatives to the high sugar, high fat options only to find even many low sugar items contain palm oil.  Sure I could buy all organic like Kashi, but when Dad's cookies has a two for one special at $3.99 and I'm looking at a $5.00 box of Kashi cookies which hold like maybe 12.. I'm sorry but this cost concious momma probably will go for the cheaper option.

Well I could go on and on about this topic and probably already have too long.  What are your thoughts on all this?  What unhealthy foods do you feed your children?  Do you feel just a wee bit guilty or could you care less about it, your kids are healthy what more is there to worry about?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lord, I'm Thankful

Lord, I'm thankful I have a roof over my head even though I really want to paint my house and can't afford to.

Lord, I'm thankful I have a loving husband who works hard for me and our family even though we might not always see eye to eye on everything.

Lord, I'm thankful I have three beautiful, healthy children even though they drive me crazy a lot of the time.  I could have still been struggling with infertility and crying my heart out.

Lord, I'm thankful I have a wonderful MIL who loves her grandchildren with all her heart and willing to open her pocket book to help us to send our daughter to dance school.

Lord, I'm thankful that I have wonderful parents that blessed me and my family this past weekend at a local fair when we didn't really have the money to go.  They went with us and we all had a grand time.

Lord, I'm thankful that E didn't make me get into that Hamster Ball at the fair.  I don't think I could have made it to the post and back.

Lord, I'm thankful for fresh corn on the cob smothered in butter and salt. Enough said.

Lord, I'm thankful that O loves to sing the ABC's.

Lord, I'm thankful that this day is over. The kids were really awful today. 

Lord, I'm thankful that E is a bright and energetic, passionate child and will be in school fulltime tomorrow, giving us all a little peace.

Lord, I'm thankful that J is a strong and independent child even though she drives me crazy when she tells me she won't listen to me.

Lord, I'm thankful that I have this blog to vent out my frustrations and feelings and that it has remained anonymous from 99 percent of my friends and family.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Magnificent 12: The Call - Giveaway

As you all know by now, I am an avid reader and so when I get an opportunity to check out a new series, I jump at the chance.  Add to that the opportunity to host a giveaway for a signed copy to one of my US readers, well I just can't refuse.

Harper Collins is excited to announce the release of  THE MAGNIFICENT 12: THE CALL, the first book in a hilarious new fantasy adventure series by bestselling author Michael Grant. 

SYNOPSIS:


Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.

And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means. An evil force is on its way, and it’s up to Mack to track down eleven other twelve-year-olds in order to stop it. He must travel across the world to battle the wicked Pale Queen’s dangerous daughter, Ereskigal—also known as Risky. But Risky sounds a little scary, and Mack doesn’t want to be a hero. Will he answer the call?


BOOK TRAILER


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MICHAEL GRANT is nothing like Mack MacAvoy. He travels all over the globe, he has a bit of a sarcastic streak, and he secretly suffers from belonephobia, a fear of needles. Seriously: Do not invite him to a sewing bee. Or a tattoo parlor. Okay, fine, maybe he’s a little like Mack MacAvoy.

Michael is the New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series and has written a total of 150 books (yes, you read that right: one hundred and fifty). He wrote most of his books with his wife, Katherine Applegate (K.A.), but the action-packed thrillers in the Gone series are all his. As is his newest series, the Magnificent Twelve, in which he delves into his inner (or, some might say, not so inner) child to create Mack, the unlikeliest of heroes. When Michael isn’t busy writing, he likes to travel, stare blankly at the TV, waste hours clicking aimlessly around the internet, listen to rock music and sing along in a nasal voice, complain, and go out to eat.

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THE GIVEAWAY
 
CONTEST DETAILS:

(1) Official SIGNED HARDCOVER BOOK of THE MAGNIFICENT 12
-Winner must be in the US and have a non PO box shipping address
-Winner must respond to notification email within 3 days of it being sent or new winner will be chose.

TO ENTER:

**  MANDATORY ** Visit the Official Website, come back here and tell me one thing you learned about this book series.

Extra Entries (leave one comment per entry):

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Contest Closes:  September 13th midnight, PST 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sign Language

I've been asked by Kathleen Thomas to share this article on Acquiring Sign Language.  Once you have had a chance to read the article, I'd love to hear your own experiences with either using or teaching sign language to your young children. 

Early Childhood Education – Acquiring Sign Language


One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility – and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled – primarily the deaf.

At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities – and if current trends continue, it's likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Signing Before They Can Speak

A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:

"...by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children
can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children
can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces
frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves
before they know how to talk." (Glarion, 2003)
The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).

The Best Time To Start

Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.


Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Zionsville educational child care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of Indiana educational day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.