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Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
If you haven’t already ordered your holiday cards, it’s not too late to get some great shots of your family to create a fabulous card commemorating your year. Don’t worry about trying to book a session with a professional. Shots taken with your point and shoot camera in the comfort of your living room or in the backyard your kids love to play in will capture their spirit just as well as a pro would.
What else do you need to know about getting great photos of your kids? Rather than turning to the professional photographers, I queried some of the top bloggers who spend lots of time looking through the camera lens to capture great shots of their kids for blog posts. Here’s their advice on how to get the best shots, what to wear, where to go, the best time of day for photos (not during naptime!), and more!
- Bribe your children with whatever they want if they promise to wear what you want them to wear and smile like it’s the best day of their life! —Jenn Quillen, The Rebel Chick
- Young kids? Schedule around naps, because we all know how crucial naps are for their moods! Hmm, that might work well for all the subjects in the photo! —Rajean Blomquist, RajeanBlomquist.com
- Eat after the photo. Bring extra clothing for little kids. If you must bribe with treats, give something non sticky like a cracker. DON’T do what I did and bribe my toddler with a tube of mini M&Ms. What was I thinking?! Her mouth and hands were covered in blue dye for the Christmas photo! —Jill Berry, Musings From Me
- Embrace the idea of a candid shot. Kids don’t want to sit and pose over and over again, and candid shots can showcase little personalities in a fun way. —Roo Ciambriello, Nice Girl Notes
- Kids feed off of mom and dad’s attitude. Make it FUN. Fake it if you have to. Talk with each other. Joke with each other. As a photographer, the favorite family photos that I have taken have been the ones where the family members are interacting in a real way. The kids end up forgetting that the photographer is even there. —Lolli Franklin, Better in Bulk
- If you can’t get a good group shot, make a collage with individual shots. —Kelly Whalen, The Centsible Life
- Have a sense of humor. ‘Perfect’ family shots come with the frame. Replace it with a photo that shows your family’s personality. — Robin Elton, Simple.Green.Organic.Happy
- Comfortable clothes, snacks and a relaxed attitude. Try shots from different angles too – up high, waists down with little hands holding something special. — Hillary Chybinski, hacscrap.com
- Get outdoors, at twilight, for best lighting. Coordinate, but don’t match. Be comfortable and let your kids personalities shine through! —Melissa Angert, All Things Chic
- 1) Clean lens of the camera with a proper lens cloth. 2) Make sure kids are well rested. 3 ) Take the shots on your largest and highest resolution it will give you a lot to work with later allowing you to crop and edit. —Sherry Aikens, Super Exhausted
Now that you have these great tips, know you don’t have to spend a bundle of money on stylish holiday cards that match your family’s personality. Sites like Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and MyPublisher are looking to appeal to parents who haven’t yet ordered cards by offering substantial discounts made available through their email newsletter. Subscribe to keep up with the best deals on cards to order yours at a discount.
Mother taking family photograph on winter beach via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Savvy online shoppers know to search for deals, price matching policies, and coupon codes before they start shopping and to make purchases, they shop through services that return a percentage of their money as credit towards a college account or rebates. Offers for free shipping, discounts on purchases, buy one get on free deals can be found if you know where to look or if you subscribe to your favorite retailer’s email newsletters.
Parent and blogger Lisa Frame, from A Daily Pinch, says she loves finding discounts when shopping online. “It helps that I get newsletters from my favorite etailers who always offer great deals,” she says.
Frame subscribes to newsletters sent by favorite stores such as Lands’ End, Lane Bryant, Kate Spade, Sephora, Macy’s, and Coach. Even high-end stores like Neiman Marcus offer email newsletters. Frame is no stranger to the store’s evening dashes” where she’s “grabbed some steals and saved tons of money.”
In addition to keeping up with current discounts, Frame also maximizes her spending by turning to eBates, RetailMeNot, and her family’s Upromise account. “Between those three, I save money or get money back into my son’s college account. Either way I’m saving in the present, or saving for the future.”
Recently, Frame spent $180 while shopping online through Lands’ End’s site and will be getting 6% back through eBates. After completing holiday shopping, she’s received as much as $90 back from eBates at the start of the new year.
Frame is not the only savvy shopper out there. According to research conducted by ZenDeals, a site that aggregates valid coupons on the web, she’s among the 90 million people who use online shopping promo codes to make her money count.
Besides the sites that Frame uses regularly, these two new websites are also worth taking a look at:
- ZenDeals— This new service helps solve the problem of shopping frustration and wasted time by providing shoppers with 100% guaranteed-to-work coupon codes for hundreds of top online retailers. No more sifting through a multitude of sites and trying different codes. ZenDeals makes it easier to find the discounts you’re looking for faster.
- Blue Kangaroo— Blue Kangaroo scours the Web and uses its direct relationships with more than 1,600 brands, daily deal sites, flash sale and coupon sites to aggregate all deals into a single location and sends daily deals and brand offers to your inbox. The site uses technology that gets to know a consumer’s preferences in order to organize deals based on shopping preferences so the best deals and offers are immediately accessible. Blue Kangaroo also sifts through Yahoo! and Gmail emails for relevant offers from your favorite retailers.
Young Asian woman gives online shopping education to her daughter via Shutterstock
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Sunday, October 28th, 2012
As parents, safety is always on our minds whether our kids are online or using mobile devices but it’s difficult to know exactly what to do when there are so many things to be wary of. There isn’t a one size fits all model for all families, nor is there a guidebook featuring a flowchart of instructions to help parents educate their children about the risks and rewards. Instead, the best thing to do is to have open lines of communication.
Being involved in your child’s on and offline lives demonstrates that you care. I know it seems obvious but actions speak louder than words. If you show interest in what they’re doing, kids are more inclined to feel accountable to a parent who is plugged in, rather than checked out. Even if you can’t stay a step ahead of them, staying in step and learning along with them is perfectly acceptable.
But how do you keep up?
It can be tricky since technology is always changing thanks to new devices, different operating systems, and risks that develop each and every day.
Here are 3 simple things that you can do to make sure that even if you aren’t an early adopter, at least you aren’t a technological dinosaur:
- Ask your kids. Let’s be honest. Our kids love it when they know more than we do, so exploit this at all costs and ask them to teach you something new on whatever device they love. Perhaps you’ll bond over Assassin’s Creed or Mario Kart, learn about a new social music service, or learn text lingo so you can stop spelling everything out which is so last year.
- Rely on your village. Ask fellow parents about what websites, apps, and video games are popular in their house to get an idea of what is popular. Not only will you get an idea of the hot age-appropriate titles, but probably some insight about pros and cons of each, along with issues regarding technology such as limiting screen time.
Family on a sofa with the computer via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
September 19 may have been designated No Text On Board Pledge Day, the national day for anti-texting and driving, but texting and driving can always wait. Before you get behind the wheel and think about picking up the phone to send that text, take a second to consider that you’re 23 more times more likely to be in an accident while texting.
The National Safety Council reports that texting while driving is the cause of more than 100,000 car crashes that resulted in injury and fatalities each year. Did you also know:
- 97% of teens know that texting is driving is dangerous
- 75% of teens indicated the texting while behind the wheel is common among friends
- 43% of teens admit to texting while driving
- 89% of surveyed teens expect a reply to a text or email within 5 minutes or less 77% of teens reported seeing their parents text while driving
Texting while driving takes a driver’s eyes away from the road and puts the focus on the phone. It may only take an average of 5 seconds to send a text but texting drivers are 23 more times more likely to be in an accident.
Besides the dangers of texting and driving, parents need to model proper cell phone use and provide real examples about why this is such a dangerous behavior. Teens that are reaching the driving age can’t be expected to put down the phone if mom and dad are texting behind the wheel.
How can parents broach this very important topic as a family? Here are 4 ways to work together to prevent texting while driving.
- Start the conversation in your family about the real consequences of texting while driving. Do your driving teens really know the potential consequences of texting? Talk about the stats. Be honest about your behavior. If you do text behind the wheel, own up to it and tell them you’re going to stop. Discuss how you can work together to ensure that everyone is safe while driving.
- Provide real live examples. Invincible teens with an attitude of “this will never happen to me” should watch the powerful 10 minute Don’t Text While Driving Documentary with real live examples of how a single text changed people’s lives forever. It features the story of girl named Ashley who died the day before her high school graduation because of a single text. It tells the story of a young man who crashed his car into and killed a cyclist while sending LOL. It shares how one teen hit a tree while texting and was declared dead at the scenes three times.
- Model proper cell phone use by putting down the phone while in the car. If it’s tempting to grab your phone, put it in the back seat or in a place where it isn’t easy to get to. If you’re still tempted, enable safety features like AT&T Drive Mode or Safely Go to block texts from coming in while the car is in motion and prevent you from sending them.
- Pledge to never text and drive. Take the pledge as a family by visiting ItCanWait.com and pledging with a single click. Share your pledge on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word and get others involved in this life saving initiative.
Teenage girl texting on cell phone while driving via Shutterstock. Statistics courtesy of AT&T and National Safety Council.
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Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
As you look around your house at the items your kids have outgrown or toys that don’t hold their interest, do you think about listing items on eBay? If you’ve ever thought about listing them on eBay but haven’t, it’s never too late to get started nor does it have to be daunting. With 100 million active users, eBay is the place to buy and sell but it also supports its community by providing learning opportunities for novices and experienced sellers alike. From the content rich selling resources, YouTube videos featuring top rated sellers, and Parent Panel Ambassadors, eBay ensures that everyone learns how they can turn the items from their home into found money.
For the past year, eBay Parent Panel Ambassadors have learned tips about eBay and honed their selling techniques. The Panel is comprised of 22 blogging moms and dads who share their eBay experience through their blogs as they work, parent, and confront challenges of having enough time to do it all. While some dabbled in selling prior to working with eBay, others were quite experienced at creating listings, and others were brand new.
In the course of the year, all of the Parent Panel Ambassadors admit to learning a lot about eBay and want to share their knowledge with those who are about to jump into selling. Here’s some helpful advice from 7 Parent Panel members who have overcome the hurdle of creating their first listing.
Sommer Poquette from Green and Clean Mom recommends taking a class or finding an instructor in your area. Certified eBay Education Specialists are “educated and trained by eBay to show you how to sell, ship and make money….teach you everything you need to know!”
Mom Endeavors’ Sara Wellensiek of Mom Endeavors offers two tips: start small and do some research. “For your first few items, try something you’re ok with not getting as much money for,” says Wellensiek. “So, start with items that aren’t a high dollar amount and don’t have a high emotional connection for you!” She also recommends using eBay’s Getting Started Page, the Seller Information Center, and reviewing the Seller Policy Pages. Not only will these resources help new sellers avoid making costly mistakes but can aid you in pricing your item competitively to reach top dollar.
Not sure what to sell? Melanie Edwards (ModernMami.com) suggests visiting eBay’s Selling Inspiration House to find top selling items you already have in your home. “Sometimes you just have to give it a try and list an item you no longer need, without giving it too much thought. You might be surprised and find that it actually sells well!”
What about what to sell and when? Little Tech Girl’s Kris Cain believes timing is everything. “If you have something that you want to sell, sell it while it is still hot,” she advises. “Don’t hold on to it until potential buyers have lost interest because they have moved on to the next hot new item.”
When you’re ready to list, make it easy. Smarty Pants Mama Caroline Murphy uses the free eBay Mobile App to create listings in under a minute. “Right from the mobile app you can take the picture, enter a description, select a price and determine shipping,” Murphy explains. “Just think while you’re sitting on the soccer practice sidelines, you could be making money. Bring a tote bag full of items you want to sell. With the app from you ipad or smart phone you can get all those items listed before practice is over!”
“Pick up some flat rate boxes and ordering free flat rate padded envelopes. Then find things that fit in them,” encourages Brittany Van der Linden of Mommy Words. Use them to clean out your closet because “those envelopes will easily fit a small pair of shoes or kids’ outfit”
But what if you’re shipping larger items that won’t fit in flat rate boxes and envelopes? Single Mom on a Budget, Jill Bender, recommends buying a scale from eBay before you get started. “I didn’t buy mine on eBay and I spent more than $40,” Bender confesses. “Right this very moment there are several shipping scales that weigh over 60 lbs that have $3.25 bids on them and 10 minutes left.”
eBay logo via eBay
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