Archive For The “Steady On The Homefront” Category
Family Scholastic Adventures is thrilled to partner with Comcast regarding Internet Essentials for this back-to-school season. While this is a sponsored post, the thoughts, opinions and content expressed herein is strictly our own, as always.
With summer vacations wrapping up and Back-To-School sales popping up, it is easy to get lost in the flood of 1st Day of School pics and 49₵ packs of crayon deals. Returning our kids to class comes as a barrage of emergency forms, health physicals, club selections, classroom supply lists and fundraisers. And while we are printing schedules, emailing teachers, downloading registration forms, selecting classes, setting reminders, browsing coupons and pinning lunchbox ideas, it is clear to see how essential the internet is for the rituals of returning our kiddos to school.
Toward the end of last school year, our household PC died… which meant I no longer had printing capability. Mind you, I still had my smart phone, a tablet AND my laptop… but in all my genius, I couldn’t figure out how to print from any of those to my household printer, which left me running back and forth between the library and community center just to print things like my resume or the summer camp registration form. And while I had full access to my email, research, job banks, social connections… those few months left me highly frustrated, feeling like I was at such a disadvantage. I can only ½ imagine how difficult it must be then, to not have home internet at all. Fortunately, for six million Americans, they no longer have that frustration thanks to Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which offers highly subsidized internet connectivity and laptop/PC’s to low-income families across Comcast’s footprint. That’s millions of families who now have access to all things internet… healthcare options, job boards, email, government websites, and news. Students gaining access to school sites, research, tutoring and academic enrichment. YOUTUBE!!! Seven years ago, Comcast established the Internet Essentials program, which was designed to close the digital gap for low income families. This program has enhanced the lives of school-age children, families, those receiving HUD housing assistance and, as of recently, veterans, marking Comcast’s 2nd largest eligibility expansion.
As we head into the new school season, think of the academic paths for those children who qualify for this program. David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast calls us all to action by saying, “Awareness of this program is the secret sauce.” By visiting http://internetessentials.com to learn more about the program and by sharing this article and link… we can help make a true difference in the lives of neighbors, students, single-parents, , veterans and more.
It was a great honor to meet and sit with Mr. Cohen as well as U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando to learn more of their partnership and aligned goals in working with Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. Having Monique and Jocelyne join David Cohen on a multi-city tour spreading awareness about Internet Essentials continues to drive home the twin’s collective message of “fighting for equality, in sports and life”, as stated by David Cohen during our media event.
There are millions of individuals, families and vets still without the same convenience of connectivity, the access to information we so readily have. Please share this information including the link to apply for this service at http://internetessentials.com/apply.
$9.95/ month plus tax for home internet service
No installation fee
No term contract
No credit check
Highly subsidized laptops/PC’s for purchase at affordable rates
Free learning resources (topics include online safety, employment resources, education)
With such an amazing platform and mission, it is of no surprise that over 3,000 Comcast employees and counting have joined together to serve as volunteer Internet Essentials Ambassadors. During a recent Ambassador’s Appreciation employee event, four ambitious and dedicated ambassadors were honored for their excellence in spreading awareness and helping their local communities take advantage of the program. In honor of their recognition, they each received 10 laptops (along with 6 months of free Internet Essentials access) to distribute within their own local communities. While the ambassador program as it stands today is made up of Comcast employees, we can each be local contributors by raising awareness, sharing the link, and requesting the free printed materials to distribute within our own communities at no cost and with no shipping fees. It’s almost an unofficial extension of the ambassador program, whereby we can make a big difference in our small communities.
Many thanks to Xfinity for providing us a hands-on demo of products and services and sponsoring this post. While we were compensated for this article, the opinions and thoughts expressed herein, as always, are strictly our own. This post may contain affiliate links. #XfinityMoms #Hosted
We are IN the age of the future, you know… that Sci-fi picture with robots and gadgets and all. Yup, we’ve made it. Our cars may not fly yet but our homes are becoming more and more of the dream home with all technology to keep us connected and the fun gadgets to keep us fidget free. Dream home or real home… we all want to feel connected, feel secure. As part of my sponsored Xfinity tour of the Philadelphia Magazine Design Home 2017, I had a chance to explore these tech options that do just that… keep us connected; keep us safe.
From the #XfinityApp to #XfinityHome, and #X1 to the new xFi , security is a hot topic for Comcast Xfinity. In an all-out attempt to significantly improve customer experience and connectivity, Xfinity has integrated all their platforms for the ultimate tech experience, security and ease.
Xfinity Home provides multi-functional security features such as live feed surveillance (perfect for keeping an eye on pets for those long days going from work to the soccer field), real time notification (ideal to ensure our children come through the door after school), 24/7 security camera options, and thermostat, lighting or appliance remote adjustments. All this at the convenience of an in-home touch pad, your X1 remote or via your mobile tech/online. Whether sitting on the field, stuck in traffic or lounging at the beach… you can stay connected to your home, pets and loved ones.
Xfinity Apps hosts a series of apps to take this tech on the go. We have actually used the Remote app to control our tv with our tablet when the batteries died in our remote (and we were too lazy to get up mid-show to change them). #TrueStory Features like turning outside lights on after dark and managing your Xfinity preferences are also convenient functions of the apps. If I had to choose only one, it would be Xfinity Stream to stream shows, movies and data to all your devices. Individual apps allow you to download the exact functionality you need and save on device space. Here are the apps avail:
- Xfinity My Account – pay your bill, manage appointments, view or edit your WiFi Network name or password and troubleshoot your devices
- Xfinity Stream – Delivers all of your TV, all in one place. Stream live TV and Xfinity On Demand contact on any device, at home or on the go. X1 customers can also stream or down their cloud DVR shows to your device to watch anywhere
- Xfinity TV Remote and X1 Remote – Allows you to control your TV with your mobile devices
- Xfinity Connect – Provides access to features including Comcast.net email; call logs and call forwarding, Universal Address Book; also includes complimentary Voice2go access, letting customers take Xfinity Voice with them on the go virtually anywhere
- Xfinity Home – Allows you to manage and monitor your home security and control remotely
- Xfinity WiFi – Shows a map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots available in your area
- Xfinity Mobile – Allows you to view data use and call logs in real time; manage payment options, switch back-and-forth between data options or add additional lines; upgrade, downgrade or order a new device anytime from within the app
Take advantage of Xfinity X1 for all your tv viewing pleasures. Check the weather, listen to music, catch the score while watching another program or browsing. This is probably the most well-know of the Xfinity products and services. We had written about X1 while preparing for summer last year and you can check out our summer tips with Xfinity X1: Ultimate Summer Survival Tool to include more about Xfinity. The search feature is unique in that you speak into the remote control, searching by channel, actor, genre or program title. The Kids Zone program is specially designed to ensure parental controls around parent-specified appropriate content – and remains my favorite feature of all time.
Two new (and very exciting) Xfinity mentions: Mobile Service and xFi. With tv, devices and home security all buttoned up, the only thing Comcast was missing is mobile technology… but not for long. We are excited to share that Xfinity customers will soon have the option to select mobile service as well, with NO line access fee. And what’s more is that Xfinity Mobile will allow you the flexibility to switch between data options (at no cost / once per month, per line). This is the ultimate cost-effective family option not to mention the integration into the largest 4G LTE network utilizing Comcast’s 16 million WiFi hotspots nationwide. Coming soon!!
And the Xfinity xFi – the much needed tool to managing all of the above. Imagine all of these devices and all of these services integrated and talking to each other. Surely you could set features and notifications for different functions (outside lights on at dusk) but with xFi you can set profiles to manage different functions at different times. So for example, you can arrange for internet connectivity to be shut down for the night for your children but still have tv access on your devices, all by setting up profiles. Take a look at the video clip below of Jeff with Comcast Xfinity describing the new xFi technology and the conveniences it will provide.
All that and a giveaway too…
Click below to enter this fabulous GIVEAWAY sponsored by Xfinity. *** PLEASE NOTE: Winner does NOT need to be an Xfinity customer to use this Amazon Tap – however it IS compatible with Xfinity Home app.
Thank you again to the Xfinity team for sponsoring our tour of the Philadelphia Magazine Design Home 2017. What a wonderful reminder to make our living space purposeful, no matter how large or small. Functionality of our homes has a lasting impact on our daily lives which includes that of our entire family and extends into our mental and creative spaces. Being mindful of such will ultimately have a positive impact on our children’s development, engagement and academia.
Xfinity partnered with me to bring you this post. Follow #XfinityMoms on all social media for more information and tips. Swing by the blogs of my #XfinityMoms fellow bloggers for their personal experiences and insight utilizing Xfinity services & products. Be sure to enter the giveaway which closes midnight on May 22nd, 2017. Good Luck!!
With the holidays approaching, here are a couple tips for managing the existing piles of toys that never seem to make it in toy box, while new ones are on their way. This article was republished to offer a refresher on these toy tips.
Thank you, Pley for supporting our blog and mission. This is a sponsored post by Pley although all the suggestions, opinions and text expressed herein are strictly mine.
Are you faced with toy box overflow while your munchkins circled everything thing in the Toys R Us catalog for this year’s holiday wish lists? We’ve got solutions that go beyond donating old toys.
Now, don’t get me wrong… we love donating our outgrown toys to a variety of places like our local Ronald McDonald House Charity or our neighborhood thrift shop. I’ve passed down tons of cute things to smaller children in our family… but sometimes you’re just not ready to part with things.
Suggestion 1: The quarterly or semi-annual system. With different playsets, bath toys, puzzles and what-not, one winning solution for our house has been to select several items for use later. We’ve done this with Barbies, Playdoh, Strawberry Shortcake, crafts… pretty much anything that has a “long shelf life”. What do I mean by long shelf life for toys? I won’t put away a toy or play set with the intent to use it in the summer if after only a couple months my child could outgrow it. We know she’ll love barbies 6 months from now, and 15 months from now, so to collect them and put them in temporary storage (closet, bin, basement) for several months isn’t a wasted investment. Certain bath toys had a much shorter expiration date and weren’t put away while some of the mermaid barbies were perfect for this. The idea is that in a few months the older toys are brought out of storage and given new life. It felt like Christmas again when my husband pulled out the GI Joe’s from the yellow bag pictured above and the same for the blue bin with cards, games and such, pictured below.
Suggestion 2: Play with your child and their toys. When a parent literally gets on the floor to play Star Wars or Transformers with their kiddo – the toys suddenly become new again. Along these lines… think up creative ways to play with old toys. Maybe Barbie and Polly Pocket are spectators for a Rock’em Sock’em Robots match. Or perhaps giving toys a makeover with Playdoh. Dad and Via are playing Barbie theater in the picture below.
Suggestion 3: Car caddy. Take some of the less popular toys (preferably non-noisy) and arrange into a toy tote for the car. Perfect for car inspection lines, bank drive-through, far away day trips, etc. Also handy for grabbing something to occupy for post office lines, waiting for a hair cut or the forever-long start of a parade… because goodness knows you need to arrive an hour early to secure a spot. *Sigh* Best part – at the end of the trip, with arms full of groceries, mail, packages, empty cups, loose shoes… the toys STAY in the car.
Suggestion 4: The rental system. Yes, rent toys instead of buying them. Amazing new concept with Pley.com that offers a whole new way to managing toy overflow. Pley is a subscription based company where for as low as $19.99/ month parents can rent toys. They offer fast turn-around and FREE shipping. Create an account, select your toy list and once a toy arrives and is played with, just return it for another on your list. Pley offers a growing selection of toys to include over 400 Lego sets. Wonderful concept that saves money, cuts down clutter and is helpful for the environment. (Photo credit: Pley.com)
Suggestion 5: Re-purpose. Old or outgrown toys (or too much of a good thing) can be reused as decorative pieces. With a little hot glue, lots of magic can happen. For instance, take a favorite small toy or doll and create a shadow box to hang in your playroom. Outgrown character toys or mobile figurines are perfect for a decorative peg board for coats/bags. The same can be done to jazz up a plain lamp or perhaps curtain tie-backs. You might want to resist the urge to go overboard and hot glue all the stuffies to the ceiling… true story – I was twelve.
Bottom line – toys are important and as much as we hate to stub our toe on them or threaten to throw them all away… we can’t. And shouldn’t. Instead we need to find variety in managing them. We need to teach our children to respect their toys (playing with them, cleaning them and putting them away). With just a few simple systems, our children can enjoy all the benefits – yes educational benefits – of free play and quality time with parents/siblings while we manage the toy surplus.
With the holidays approaching, it’s the perfect time to consider your current toy box situation and the various solutions to managing clutter, new toys and sentimental belongings. Let us know what your toy trick is?
#Sponsored article from NCI International whereby we were compensated for this review and given a product sample for the purpose of reviewing the Super Wubble. Affiliate links are utilized in this article. All opinions expressed herein are strictly my own.
So now that we’re a week past the Labor Day holiday, we’re in the swing of this right? Well, mostly. Personally, I JUST finished all the Back-To-School forms and paperwork due on the first day. And we missed the deadline for buying lunch this month. Oh well, but with immunization charts up to date and sharpened crayons who can complain?
The first week back is always pretty much the same: couple of worksheets, cover the books, the ridiculous parent forms, box tops from the summer and half eaten lunches because the kids are too busy talking the entire lunch period. All good. Then the second week comes and it gets serious quick. As worksheets become workbooks and calendars fill with project dates, conferences, practices, games, meeting times, fundraisers and everything else we get flooded with in a 14 day time period, we need to work towards keeping grounded. Especially as our children grow into older grades and their responsibilities are greater, we need to be mindful of our household stress barometer. Surely some stress is good and sometimes we all need a swift kick in the rear to get over a hurdle, but everyday life should not hold this pressure. Setting the environment and the expectations is important for a healthy and successful academic year.
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind, now that the school year is back in full swing:
- Set a place for notices, signatures and forms. Keeping these items handy for reference and being able to quickly sign and return forms will elevate some burden and proactively keep the family on top of events and deadlines.
- Keep a family calendar. Ensuring everyone is on the same page will allow for better communication among family members. Perhaps if one child has an upcoming game, a sibling will be willing to cover his/her chore with the idea that later the favor is returned. Mutual respect, cooperation and collaboration are wonderful things to build into your household culture.
- Respect independence and independent needs. Each child will likely have very different needs when it comes to schooling, friendships, activities and home life. Knowing and respecting these differences will enable your household to run more smoothly and the respect reciprocated in terms of additional assistance, open communication and less resistance (we all know that preteens are prone to resistance).
- Lastly, keep your sense of humor. The power of laughter is hugely underestimated. Take time to listen to the funny things that happen in your child’s day. Make time to be light-hearted or silly with your children. Between running back and forth to practices and activities, homework and pet responsibilities… at the very least find a few minutes to truly relate to your children, whether it is through their favorite songs or some other means of being a kid again.
This article was sponsored by NSI International on behalf of the Wubble Bubble Ball. While compensated for this article, the opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. The Super Wubble Xpandium Bubble Ball provides one of the easiest and silliest ways to have fun with kids and let some stress go. The Super Xpandium Wubble is made of “super-thermo-stretchtacular stuff” to be quite technical but is food safe and medically safe, not that you would eat off of it or use it in the case of an emergency. It comes with a battery operated pump and blows up to 36 inches.
Here’s Your Chance to Win a Wubble!
What we love about Wubble: Unique and light-weight, this bubble ball is fun to bounce around the yard and toss to other players. Just a fun way to romp around the yard. It is easy to catch, throw, kick or bounce. Love the translucent material, kinda neat that you can see through it.
What we don’t necessarily love: It is marketed for indoor and outdoor play, but I’m not so comfortable with indoor play because the ball is so light-weight and a little unpredictable I fear something getting knocked over. And it entices some rough play… not great for my family heirlooms and decor. Take that play outside, please. Also, we had difficulty blowing it up with the enclosed battery-operated pump. Their website indicated that when this happens, the batteries may need to be changed… this is VERY likely our problem as we are super low on batteries and had to steal the remote control ones for this review. Sooooo I’m not surprised if the juice was a little low on those puppies. In any event, I had a manual foot pump (as part of an exercise kit) and it worked with no problem.
In any event, something like the Super Expandium Wubble Bubble Ball, could certainly add an element of fun and silliness to otherwise stress-induced time of year. And while keeping organized and informed is important, so is the concept of letting go. Cheers to a successful and happy return to school.
This is a #sponsored post by Para Kito, whereby we were extended products to sample and review. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own and honest in expressing our endorsement. This article may contain affiliate links.
Those of you who know me, know I’m not much of an outdoors person. Really. I mean, I don’t know how on Earth I got all these freckles being I’ve always kinda disliked being outside. It’s not the weather so much, although I truly hate snow, ice and the cold… but what keeps me in is the fact that for some reason the mosquitoes really enjoy me. I can be sitting with 10 other people, and I’m the one attacked… repeatedly. And to make matters worse… I’m allergic to traditional bug sprays (I guess its the DEET) and even nontraditional remedies like Skin So Soft with Avon. What’s a girl to do but avoid the outdoors. As a mom, I dart between car and front door when unloading groceries, I decline barbecues, and delegate all weed pulling to less likely victims. Well at least the weed part works in my favor. 😉
Now in all honesty, I’m not much of an athlete, okay, okay… not at all. And should all mosquitoes suddenly become extinct… wishful thinking (and as a side note: per Deborah McMaster who asked the experts at the Bug Fest 2016 at the Academy of Natural Sciences, the mosquito’s purpose in life is to be food for other bugs and animals… go figure.), anyway it is not likely that I would suddenly take up tennis or any sport for that matter. But it would be nice to be able to walk around the park with ease, enjoy corn on the cob on the back deck and yes, dare I say… go hiking again. Um, yes… once in a far off blue moon, long long ago… I enjoyed hiking and still very much enjoy nature trails and the thrill of unexplored discovery.
And then… along came Para Kito… a French made, all natural mosquito repellent. Glory Days!! Wait… not so fast… so you see I’ve actually had this product for months now, telling myself I needed to give it a try, which of course meant i needed to brave the bugs long enough to give the product a true test. (PS – so sorry to the brand that it has truly taking me this long!!) With that said, today was the day, despite 95 degree weather. A promise to my little girl for some scooter fun meant it was time.
I can truly attest to the Para Kito’s effectiveness. With the blazing sun, it was no wonder that my fair-skinned ginger didn’t last more than a few minutes outside. Already feeling confident that this repellent was working, I took to the garage (the worst place for those pesky mosquitoes) and tackled some clutter… it is recycling week after all. What a relief to be able to do what I needed and not worry about getting eaten alive. As you can see from the pictures below, the Para Kito repellent is a velcro band with replaceable repellent pellets. The pellets’ active ingredients consist of the following:
Citronella Oil 34.0%
Rosemary Oil 22.0%
Geranium Oil 21.0%
Mint Oil 10.0%
Clove Oil 2.5%
And a hint of Peppermint Oil at 1.5%
Victoria, having my genes, is also prone to insect bites. Don’t know if she has same allergy to DEET because I never bother to use it. Anyway, she wore a band during her play activities this afternoon. And she packed it to take to the pool for a late afternoon swim, you know those pests love dusk. And good thing to know, these Para Kito repellent pellets are waterproof. Awesome!
Obviously there’s so much to gain by going outdoors with your children. The world has so much to offer in terms of exploration, science and history and creativity. As a Girl Scout Leader, I’m thrilled to have this product to get me through things like hiking and overnight camping… I was dreading this as you can imagine. But for the rest of summer and heading into autumn, I look forward to simple activities like sidewalk chalk and long conversations with neighbors. I still hate the evil necessity of sunscreen… but hey one victory at a time. I can’t endorse this mosquito repellent enough… life changer!
So much for delegating the weeding though. 🙁 #LosingTheWarOnWeeds
Much gratitude to Xfinity for providing us a hands-on demo of products and services and sponsoring this post. As always, the opinions and thoughts expressed herein are strictly our own. This post may contain affiliate links. #XfinityMoms #Ad
We are all transitioning into summer mode:
√ Summer Camp registration
√ Summer wardrobe inventory
√ Summer reading lists & contests
√ Summertime day trip plans
√ Sunscreen, pool memberships, beach tags and bathing suits – check, check, check
Yep, we’re ready and excited to take on the summer months, so much so that some parents are completely checked out this last month of school. But even with all that excitement we still need a plan or at least some sort of back up strategy. Since not every day is beach balls and sunshine, we need a few tricks up our sleeve to keep the “down time” productive and engaging… okay okay, maybe just to find a sane moment in our day. Here are a couple of suggestions for those occasions:
- Have two or three EASY games handy, preferably with all the pieces. Make sure they are games not over-played… after all you want a “Yeah, THAT one!” reaction and not a “Not AGAIN, Mom” moment. I’m thinking classic games like Connect Four, Sorry, Trouble or Tapple. Easy set up, easy play and easy clean up. Keep a few in immediate reach.
- Stash a couple pieces of large poster board or tri-fold presentation board in a closet. Whipping these out screams BLANK canvas. Have a couple of creative ideas ready but allow children to use their imagination and have fun. Offer them felt to make an interactive, felt story board or suggest cutting it to create a puppet theater. Maybe throw in a new pack of crayons or markers or stickers… nothing like new supplies to get excited about your project (and I’m not just talking about the kids here. lol).
- Have a summer play list ready. With Xfinity X1 you can do a smart search for your family’s favorite movies, shows or actors. In my case, I searched our family favorite channels to see what was coming up. Below you can see some of the programs we intend to catch. If you can’t watch it during the air time, you can DVR record it to watch with the Xfinity TV app on your mobile devices. This is great for vacation viewing or those ever-so-annoying shore traffic moments. Xfinity = Flexibility. Love it.
- The Revolution – Military History Channel
- Mighty Ships – Smithsonian Channel
- The Real George Washington – National Geography
- Brain Games – National Geography
- Untamed & Uncut – Animal Planet
- The Ultimate Predator – National Geography Wild
- Myth Busters – Science Channel
In those moments of sibling tension or (dare I say) boredom, be decisive. Have your “go-to” play list in mind and perhaps be prepared with a few engaging questions to get your audience on board. “Alligator versus cheetah… who’s team cheetah?” This is better than asking each child what they want to watch and chancing that they cannot agree on a program… or worse, they agree on Sponge Bob instead of something a tad more educational.
And speaking of summertime and TV – let’s be real, sometimes kids just needs their shows… their silly, nonsense, laugh-out-loud cartoons and shows (even if it is Sponge Bob… #NotAFan). AND let’s really be honest – sometimes we just need that 23 min episode to buy us a moment in the kitchen, in the bathroom, for the laundry, whatever. Listen, I don’t encourage a Netflix mega-binge event and instead encourage parents to be mindful about a full length feature BUT a few cute cartoons here and there can bring joy and contentment to any household. Using Xfinity’s Kids Zone technology offers piece of mind with its secure search features for children to independently select their TV content. And what’s better is the Xfinity Voice Remote that my daughter can more easily use on her own to explore and select her shows. Just watch that 23 mins doesn’t turn into 123 mins.
A quick shout out to the Xfinity team for last week’s demo of Xfinity Apps, Xfinity Home and Xfinity X1 with all its features surrounding ease of use, convenience AND security. Xfinity has really stepped up their game in terms of customer focus (yes… they’ve heard the complaints and have responded), as well as, safety measures, this includes online and search security as mentioned with the Kids Zone but also technology that allows families to keep an eye on their home or pets while out & about or vacationing. So many features… too many to include here in a single post but what we have included is a fabulous GIVEAWAY sponsored by Xfinity. *** PLEASE NOTE: Winner does NOT need to be an Xfinity customer to use this Nest Learning Thermostat – however it IS compatible with Xfinity Home app. Enter the giveaway below.