ABCya


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ABCya!  ABCya is an educational site that we found for Xavier and he loves it.  He’s outgrown Nick Jr. so this site is the replacement.  The site has educational games and activities for Kindergartner’s through fifth grade, and has become the leader in on-line education for kids.  One of the great things about the site is that you don’t have to create a username or password to access it.  The site was created by teachers and it’s goal is simply to assist parents and children with education.       


The site has math and language arts as well as basic computer skills. Many of the kindergarten and first grade activities are equipped with sound to enhance understanding. You can found holiday activities in the grade sections as well. 

Xavier has become astute in navigating the site.  We use it primarily for spelling, math and occasionally game play.  The site makes learning fun.  There’s Bingo to help with spelling and math.  There’s an app for sight word recognition, learning the coins and how to tell time.  

ABCya.com has been featured by Apple, The New York Times, Disney Family Fun Magazine and Fox News and has received many awards.  I understand why.  I suggest that you introduce your child to this site.  They will love learning in a creative and fun way. 

                                                                    

Virginia Beach Parade of Lights


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Virginia Beach Parade of Lights

Live in the Hampton Roads area?  If you do, please add the Virginia Beach Parade of Lights to your list holiday activities.  I’ve decided to make it annual trip for my family, it’s such a wonderful sight to see.   It’s a great family outing if you’re in the area and want to entertain the children for an hour or two.  They have more than 250 animated light displays and 100,000 plus visitors to view them annually.  




                                      parade of lights



It’s the only time of year that cars are allowed on the boardwalk.  You can order hot chocolate, popcorn and hot dogs for your trip or bring your own goodies to munch on while you watch the show.  Each car is provided a free CD of holiday music to get you in the mood as you cruise.  You can drive at your own pace and hop out for a picture or two.  The Parade of Lights is sponsored by McDonald’s.  Approximately 30,000 cars make the trip each year. There are displays to be enjoyed by everybody.  Drive slowly, you’ll find displays on both sides and in front of you. 



                                       things to do in Virginia Beach





You can find fish jumping out of the ocean, dinosaurs, Santa, soldiers and the list goes on.  I look forward to seeing these great displays, but most importantly I look forward to seeing my grandchildren in awe of the lights.  Isn’t that what Christmas is about?  The excitement and the looks on little faces.  We’ll be taking Zarriah for the first time this year.  She’s enjoying the lights on the Christmas tree, I’m sure she will enjoy the displays as well.  I’m getting excited myself.  I love bringing joy to my grandchildren.   





The lights will be on display until Wednesday, January 01, 2014.  The event has been named American Bus Association’s “Top 100 Events in North America”!  Our family likes to go on Christmas Eve if we have Santa’s cookies baked.  Otherwise, we head out Christmas evening.  Mark your calendar this year.  Your kids will love it.    


Great Find – Mother and Grandmother’s Bracelet


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We found the perfect gift for your mom or mother-in-law.  I designed this mother/grandmother’s bracelet at Pearls by LaurelThe center pearl is, Zarriah’s birthstone, August and the Sapphire is Xavier’s and mine, September.  I love it. 

The price is excellent, $33.90 for the 3 stones which includes shipping.  The bracelet is handmade from Swarovski pearls (not fresh water pearls) and rhinestones.  It’s also made in the USA.  You can order sizes small – XX large.  For those who have a high PH, the company offers an alternative silver component which prevents the silver from touching the skin and causing a reaction.  I would recommend measuring your wrist to ensure a proper fit.  If the size is off, the company will resize for free.  In addition to free resizing, if the bracelet breaks the replacement is free.  This company vigorously stands behind its work.   

You can design the bracelet on-line using up to 6 pearls; otherwise, you must contact the company.  The site is easy to navigate and designing the bracelet is quick and easy.  You just drag the pearl that you choose to where ever you wish to place it on the bracelet.  You can play with it until you’re satisfied with design/color placement. 

If you click on this link, Pearls by Laurel and make a purchase of more than $20.00 you will receive free shipping.  This is an elegant gift that every mother or grandmother would love.  It’s a great gift for Christmas, Mother’s Day, birthdays or just because.  If you get in a bind for a last minute gift, you can order up to December 17 for delivery by December 24.  They have Priority Mail shipping for $6.95. 
                                                                  

Is Your Teen Sexting?


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                   Just Say No to Sexting

Is your teen sexting or participating in the “hook up culture”?  Statistics show that 22% of teen girls and 20% of teen boys have sent nude or seminude photos of themselves over the Internet or their phones.  Why, they don’t think about the repercussions.  They want to show off their bodies.  Thinks about it, girls today are built like brick houses.  They want to entice the guys
they’re attracted to or they think they’re proving that they’re committed to the young man they’re dating.  In reverse, boys think it’s cool to approach girls via text using sexually graphic content.  Social grace is nonexistent.  There are sites set-up to give examples of how to send a sexting message. 

Times have changed and Teens are Sexting.  We live in a world that revolves around modern technology and it’s here to stay.  The teens don’t realize that the person they sent the picture or text to is now in possession of material that can prove damaging down the road.  Too many times we have heard about the text or image being sent to others or being posted on a social networking site.  Once it’s sent, you can’t retrieve it.  Both teenage boys and girls have forwarded the images to others.  They in turn have passed the image on which has lead to humiliation in school, parties or other social situations.  It’s hard to undo the damage.  If it’s not misused immediately, it can be used to damage the person down the road.  People are revengeful.  

Many teens have said they felt pressured by their boyfriend or girlfriend to send the picture.  Teen pressure is not unusual.  They feel the same pressures with drinking and doing drugs.  Sexting is just another social pressure.  What can you do to prevent your teen from sexting:

  • Set aside time to have a serious discussion on the damaging affects of sexting.
  • Let them know that they’re in control of their body and reputation.  They should never allow anyone to pressure them into sexting.     
  • Give them an example.  A great one would be the beautiful and talented Vanessa Williams.  She posed nude in college and the photos came back to haunt her when she won the Miss America Pageant.  She resigned her crown as a result.    Don’t want to use Vanessa Williams, Google to find other examples of teens who have been harmed. 
  • Set rules on phone use.  Kids need structure and guidance and a cellphone shouldn’t be an exception.
  • Discuss the meaning of privacy and intimacy.  Would they want family members or friends to see the photo?  If not, they shouldn’t want the world to view it either. 
  • Discuss dating etiquette and what’s acceptable.  You set the rules or assist your teen in setting rules.
  • Discuss the legal ramifications.  Since I am not an attorney, I would suggest that you consult a family lawyer in your state for advice. 

                                                             

Hunt Club Farm Christmas Displays

 

 

Hunt Club Christmas Displays

The holiday season officially starts for my family Thanksgiving Day.  The tree goes up and we’re planning holiday activities.  My daughter lives in Virginia Beach, VA.  A mile down the road is Hunt Club Farm.  They sit on 23 acres and cater to children all year.  Each year we take the grandchildren to see the Christmas displays.  Their displays are amazing.  They are full of automated elves, soldiers, reindeer and everything else you can image.  It’s a child’s delight.  Here are some of the displays from last season: 

 

Virginia Beach Hunt Club farm

 

It’s a great place for photo opportunities as you can see.  My granddaughter is not into picture taking for some reason.  She doesn’t like to cooperate for the camera, so I’m hoping I can get a few good shots.  This is my grandson last year in front of their Christmas tree.  Amazing how much he has grown in a year.  Precious I might add. 

 

If the weather is nice we move on to the Petting Zoo.  This is Mr. Llama.  He was on display last year.  The great thing about the Petting Zoo is you never know what animals you will come across.  The have great displays there too.  Last year they had an adorable little building that housed Santa.  Xavier was a little shy, but he gave Santa his wish list.  

 

We end our trip at the fire pit roasting hot dogs and making S’mores.  They have a stand that sells the hot dogs and buns and everything needed for the S’mores.  The roasters come with the package.  You can pick up hot chocolate or apple cider to wash it down.  If you live in the Hampton Roads area, plan a trip.  It’s a great way to start the holiday season and makes great memories for the kids.  

 

 

Calendar Gift Ideas


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2014 Calendar

I just made a calendar for one of my daughter’s Christmas gifts at Shutterfly.  I had so much fun going through pictures and finding ones that fit perfectly into each month of Xavier and Zarriah.  Although it’s not clear, this is the cover of the calendar.  The picture was taken at Zarriah’s Christening.  About 20 family members from my daughter and son-in-law’s side of the family attended.  The picture is a beautiful memory. 

This calendar will make a beautiful keepsake.  I’m thinking of making another for my office.  For January I selected a picture of Xavier playing in his first snow.  It was a great moment, January 2009.  My daughter and her family were visiting for a week-end and it snowed.  Xavier had just turned 1 the previous September.  I had a great time watching him play and trying to figure out what that white stuff was.   

                                                                 

                                                                       

How could I leave out Zarriah’s first birthday party, August 2012, and her looking at the clown.  OMG, it was hilarious.  The pictures brought back so many memories.  I’m hoping the calendar will do the same with daughter and son-in-law. 

I’ve been thinking of this calendar for years as a gift, but never made the effort to complete the calendar.  Finally in 2013 I do just that.  The Shutterfly site is easy to navigate.  To cut down on time, I would suggest that you go through your pictures and make a note of which ones you would like to use for what month.  If you’re like me, you have thousands of photos to choose from, so it can become time consuming. 

Shutterfly is currently offering free shipping.  Use Promotion Code SHIP30.  Also, new customers get 50 prints free.  The free shipping offer ends 12/23/13.  This is a great idea for your mom, a friend or yourself.  The calendar comes in 2 sizes:  8 x 11 and 12 x 12.  I choose the 8 x 11 for $21.99.  The 12 x 12 is $29.99.  They have numerous designs and layouts to choose from.  Check it out. 


                                                                    

Toddler Girls Garanimal Sets


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Garanimals Baby Girls' 2 Piece Graphic...
We found these adorable 2 piece Garanimal sets at Wal-Mart on-line.  I’ve been a big fan of Garanimals since Xavier was a baby.  I purchased these for Zarriah to knock around in on the week-ends or lazy days.  They’re great for everyday play wear and adorable enough to head to the mall or grocery store when you have to run errands. 

I have found that Garanimals hold up well on the playground, lounging around the house and through the wash.  This I’m so Sweet set include a fleece top and pants, so Zarriah will be nice and toasty this winter while playing with her Disney Princesses. 


Garanimals Baby Girls' 2 Piece Graphic...

I fell in love with the Double the Fun set too.  This set is made of fleece as well.  Both will look adorable with a pair of sneakers or flats if your heading to the mall or grocery store.  I purchased both sets for $7.76 each.  I ordered additional items, so I was able to get free shipping to my house.  I love a bargain, especially when I don’t have to pay a fortune for cloths that my little sweeties will grow out of in months. 

Great Find – Melissa and Doug Deluxe Standing Easel


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Melissa and Doug easel

Christmas is around the corner and Mother 2 Mother is in search of great finds.  I purchased Melissa and Doug’s Deluxe Standing Easel for my little Picasso Xavier for $57.00.  As a Prime member, shipping was free.  Xavier loves to paint, so this will be a perfect gift for him.  The easel is listed as one of Amazon’s 2013 best gifts for kids.  I agree. 


The easel includes extra-large chalkboard, dry-erase board, and easy-load paper roller.  You will need to buy the accessories kit for an additional $27.00.  The kit includes: 

  • 4 Bottles of Poster Paint and 4 Spill-Proof Paint Cups
  • Easel paper roll, chalk, paint brushes, dry-erase marker and eraser

  • The easel alone usually runs around $80.00, so this is a Great Find.  If your child enjoys drawing and writing, I encourage you to check out this deal and have Santa deliver this great gift Christmas Eve.  Your child can look forward to hours of entertainment on those cold, snowy, winter days.  This item is appropriate for ages 3 and up. 

    Free Letters To Santa


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    letters to Santa

    Stop, don’t pay for that letter to Santa.  Christmas is around the corner, and every child dreams of writing a letter to Santa with his wish list.  This year I will be helping Xavier write a letter to Santa and I’ve found the perfect site, The Christmas RegistryIt’s free.  I’ve seen sites that charge as much as $9.95 for a child to write a letter to Santa.  Personally, I think it should be free too.  I know that everyone is looking to make a profit, but off the dreams of little children. 

    This site doesn’t have a profit in mind, only the happiness and excitement of the holiday season and helping to make a child’s dream come true.  It’s full of activities for children which includes games, crafts, and recipes from Mrs. Clause.  One of my favorites during the holidays is Candied Almonds.   They have the recipe on the site.  I’ve made this recipe with pecans when I didn’t have almonds on hand.  Are you interested in making a gingerbread house?  Here’s a link to making a, Gingerbread House, the site has step by step instructions.

    I played several of the games while I was visiting.  Xavier who is 6, will enjoy the Crazy Santa Racer game.  I rather enjoyed it myself after I figured out how to play it.  I’m looking forward to playing it with my grandson.  Another game that I enjoyed was the Match Game.  Children will have to remember where they’ve seen various pictures to make a match.  

    A few additional things about the site and the letter to and from Santa.  You will be responsible for composing the letter and the reply from Santa.  The site does give suggestions to help you compose the letter; however, the return reply will be sent via email rather than through the post office from the North Pole.  Possible drawback, but remember the site is free.  You can look at things from another perspective, Santa is now technically savvy.  Sending an email cuts down on the number of trips that his elves have to make to the post office to mail letters and emails are much faster.  After all we do live in a technological world.   Don’t want to write a letter, it has a message option.  Santa can also reply with a message.  Oh, the letter to Santa is delivered directly by one of Santa’s elves, so you won’t have to make a trip to the post office or worry about it getting lost in the mail.   I like the idea of having direct access to Santa via elf.    

    There’s a Wish List section.  You can help your child enter their wish list to Santa.  There’s also a Naughty/Nice Meter that you can play with.  It ranges from 1(Naughty) to 10(Nice).  This meter can keep your little ones on their toes during the holiday season.  You can adjust it accordingly. 

    Lets talk about setting up the accounts because it can be confusing.  You must register as the adult since you will be controlling your child’s activities on the site, but you must also create an account for your child.  When I was logged in as the adult, I was unable to access the games, recipes, or crafts.  It seems that only the child can access these activities.  Since they can’t cook alone or prepare crafts without assistance, this was somewhat confusing to me.  No worries though, the Activities Area is appropriate for children of all ages.  

    All in all, I think the site is great for composing a free letter to Santa and allowing the kids to play games.   I also like the Naughty/Nice meter.  Take a few minutes to check it out. 


    Note:  This review is my opinion, I was not compensated in any manner for this review. 

                                                                                          

    The Benefits Of Reading To Your Child


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    To prepare your child for academic success, expose them to books early. Studies have shown that reading is one of the keys to academic success. Xavier and Zarriah love for me to read to them.  I’ve started a library for both.  I’m all for downloading books and apps, but I love seeing shelves full of books in the children’s rooms too.  It’s amazing how far we have come with technology. 

    I read to my daughter when she was a child.  Her love for reading stayed with her.  As a child, she loved Strawberry Shortcake, The Berenstain Bears, and any classic bedtime story. As she got older she continued to read for hours. One of my fondest memories was our book fair excursions. We would plan a day where I would meet her at college and we would spend hours at the local book fair. Later we would discuss our finds as well as the latest happenings on campus over dinner. I do believe that our mutual love for books helped to create a strong mother – daughter bond.

    My daughter was an honor student, a member of Who’s Who in America, and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. I believe that her early exposure to books helped her to excel in her academics.  Start reading to your child at an early age.  It’ never too soon.

    reading to your child



    I’m hoping that our love for reading will be instilled into Xavier and Zarriah.  I know that habit must be taught, and it starts at home.  It’s a great way for toddlers to learn word associations.  I ask Zarriah, who is 2, to point to cars, ice cream or whatever happens to be on the page.  She loves both hardback and books on the computer.  Xavier, who is 6, still loves for Mawmaw to read to him.  He’s now reading to me as well  now.  Here, he’s reading his iPad.  We also download books to his Kindle.   

    early childhood development

    We’ve taught Xavier how to access various sites on the computer.  He’s astute at navigating the notebook, laptop, Kindle and iPad.  Zarriah mimics everything her big brother does.  He has taught her the ABC’s, she can count to 10, and she knows various colors.  Our preemie has come a long way.  She just turned 2.  

    Other Benefits of Reading to Your Child:

    • Reading together creates a bond.
    • Reading helps to build a child’s vocabulary.
    • Your child will learn to follow a story from beginning to end. (You won’t be able to fool them if you try to skip pages. If it’s one of their favorite stories, they will know it by heart).
    • Your child will have an appreciation for writing.
    • Builds a strong foundation for academics.

    Reading Tips:

    • Start reading to your child as early as 6 months.
    • Select reading material that interest your child and is appropriate to his/her age group. Toddlers love bright colors and books that are simple.  Board books are perfect.
    • Use different voices and pitches (vary your tone) when you read. Young children usually prefer to hear the same story over and over.
    • Purchase a personalized book for your child. They love reading about themselves.  I had a personalized book made for both Zarriah and Xavier.
    • PBS has great programs where they focus on words, spelling, and their meaning. Check out you TV Guide for time slots and programs.
    • Have your child turn the page when you’re reading paper or hard back book. This gets them involved.
    • Allow your child to ask questions, and be sure to ask your child questions about the story.
    • Allow your child to select books from his or her age group.  This will work with buying in a store or downloading. 
    • Take them to the local library for story hour.
    • Set an example. If your child sees you reading, they will follow.  I read my Kindle while my Xavier is reading his Kindle or iPad.   
    • Don’t substitute books on tape. The true bonding experience and benefits come from you taking the time to read to your child.


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