Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wondering where 'Mom of 3 Girls' has gone?

I've made the move over to Wordpress!! My custom URL (http://www.momof3girls.net) is up and running over on the new site, so if you've ended up here - please come and join us there.

Some of my subscribers seem to have been lost in the move (Google Reader seems to have handled it ok, but I think Bloglines hasn't), so if you haven't seen a post from me in the last few days, please head over to the new site and re-subscribe. I'd love to see you again... :)

And thanks for all of your help and support during my recent WordPress issue - everything is back up and running over there, so come on and see! :)

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wow, I didn't think I'd be back here again - but it's only temporary...

WordPress seems to have 'lost' my blog - at least something has gotten very messed up in the past 12-14 hours or so. If you've tried to access 'Mom of 3 Girls' since the evening of April 14th, you probably have been redirected to the WordPress installation page. This has been very frustrating to me, since while I did recently upgrade to WordPress2.5, everything was working perfectly with it for several days, and I'm not sure where or how the connection to my WordPress database was lost.

I'm in the process of trying to figure out what happened and how to fix it - but for now I've directed my URL back here to my former Blogger home so that I could update all of you who might be wondering where I disappeared to. I will keep trying to get things working back at my usual 'home' and hopefully will be back up and running soon. Thanks for your patience and please stay subscribed and keep me bookmarked - I will be back, I promise!! :)

Update: Well, I've tried everything I can think of, and Ron just spent over an hour with it too, and so far nothing's worked. I've posted a question on the WP support forums but have only managed to stump the one brave soul who's attempted to help. Thank you for your comments and e-mails - we're pretty sure that it's a database issue, so I will be calling the hosting service tomorrow (they haven't yet responded to my e-mail from earlier today). As a last resort, I guess I will try to rebuild it from my backup, but I'm hoping that the database itself is ok and just the connection between it and WP has been lost or corrupted somehow.

I'll keep you updated... I'm debating as to whether to post new items here (like Wordless Wednesday) or just wait until I can get WP fixed - right now I'm leaning toward waiting, but wow do I miss being able to blog! :(

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Monday, February 11, 2008

So what is Feedburner all about anyway? Feeds and RSS - Part 3!

Here's a question - are you reading this post on my blog site, or through a feed (either via e-mail or in a reader)? I'm actually very curious, so please answer in the comments. Thanks! :)

Ok, if you don't have a blog, then you might want to skip this part because it probably won't mean much to you. On the other hand, this might be a very good time to start your own blog - you know you want to! Go ahead, I'll wait... Well, no I actually won't, but please come back and read the rest of this when your blog is up and running, ok? And leave me a comment so I can stop by and say 'hi' (and subscribe, of course!). I love meeting new bloggers!

What exactly is Feedburner and why should I use it?

Hopefully if you've already read Part 1 and Part 2, you can answer this question for yourself. But just in case, here's a (very) quick explanation.

Feedburner is just one of the many tools out there that allows you to make subscribing easier for your readers and to keep them coming back by helping turn them into subscribers. It also gives you access to information about your subscribers (and readers) so you can see where they're coming from, where they're going when they leave your site, and helps you give people a quick and easy way to keep up with your blog or site.

This all sounds great - so how do I sign up?

The place to start, of course, is at Feedburner.com. And all you need to get started is your blog or site's URL (web address). In this case, I'm going to use one that I created just for testing and demonstration purposes - at http://debsothersite.blogspot.com. And no, there's nothing there, so don't go off looking... It's just a quick blogger template that I threw together so I can test out various things without ruining affecting this blog.

image

Ok, off we go. We have our URL all set and we're ready to get started. Type it into the box, and click the NEXT button. Feedburner will then search to find your site's feed. If it finds more than one, it will ask you to choose which you want to burn. In the case of the website that I entered, I ended up with two options:

image

You can see that each of these options include either the 'Atom' or 'RSS' that we've seen before. Basically, there is little difference between the two - they are just two different standards that have been created for feed syndication. In this case, I left the default option (Atom) chosen and hit the NEXT button.

In the next window, you can choose the title for your feed (doesn't have to be the same as your blog title, although it'll probably be less confusing for you later on if it is) and the actual URL of your feed. Remember back in Part 1 where we talked about knowing your feed URL? Well here is where you get to choose a portion of what your actual feed URL will be. Again, it's probably best to choose something easy that relates to your actual blog name or URL.

image

Note: If you don't already have an account registered with Feedburner, it will ask you to create one at the bottom of the above window. This is pretty painless - you just need to choose a username and password and enter your e-mail address. If you already have an account, but aren't logged in, the same window gives you an option to log in as well.

At this point, you have two choices - you can activate your feed, or you can cancel. Obviously if you cancel, you can ignore the rest of this post. But if you go ahead and choose 'Activate Feed', then Feedburner will burn your feed and then you should see this screen afterward:

image

Let's stop for a minute and look at what you've now got. Your new feed URL is shown in blue. And Feedburner has very helpfully set you up with some default settings for your feed - we'll get more into what those are all about in a little bit.

I've burned a feed, but now what?

image

When you click on the NEXT button, you are taken to your main user page. This page will show you all of the feeds that you have burned (you can burn as many feeds as you have blogs or sites), how many subscribers each feed has, and how many visitors have been to your site that day. Since this feed was just burned, it has no subscribers and no visit data has been collected yet. This is a good page to bookmark, so that you can come back and check your feeds later on.

Go ahead and click on the title of your new feed (this is the title that you chose earlier). Feedburner takes you to your 'Feed Stats Dashboard' page. This is where the magic happens - where you can see your subscriber and reader statistics, change your options and settings, sign up for feed advertising (if you're so inclined), or let the world know about your wonderful new site so they can all subscribe. :)

image

See the five tabs across the top? Right now the 'Analyze' tab is chosen by default. Normally you'll see information about your feed and your site. However, you won't see statistics for your own site right away - you have to set them up first.

I want to see statistics! You said I could see statistics! How do I see statistics?

Ok, ok. First of all, click on the left side of your dashboard (see above screen shot) where it says 'Site Stats'.

image

Then click where it says 'activate site stats now' in blue.

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By default, the first four items on the list are checked - these are things that Feedburner will always track for you. You have the option to add other items as well - just click on each checkbox. If you're not sure what something is, you can click on the little 'i' icon (if you see one) for more information. This is also where you decide if you want Feedburner to just track information for your feed, or if you want to track site statistics too. If you check the box under 'For my site, track:', then you will need to add some html code to your site's layout, but don't worry - it's pretty simple and Feedburner helps you through it.

Note: It's always good to make sure that the 'Exclude visits from this computer' button is checked so that you're not skewing your site stats by the number of times you visit your own site. :)

Once you're done choosing options, click the SAVE button.

image

If you chose to track your site statistics, you are now prompted to choose your blogging platform in order to get the HTML code to put on your site. I can't speak for anything except Blogger at this point, but it should be fairly similar for any of the others, I would imagine.

When you choose your platform, Feedburner opens a window that walks you through exactly what to do with the HTML code - they do a really good job of explaining it, so I'm not going to duplicate efforts by going through it again here.

So I'm all set up - what do I do now?

This is where it really gets fun. Remember those 5 tabs at the top of your dashboard window? These are the different areas of Feedburner.

  1. ANALYZE is pretty self-explanatory - this is where all of the statistics that you've just set up will appear once Feedburner starts receiving information about your feed and your site. You'll see options down the left side of your screen where you can click to look at different types of information, under both 'Feed Stats' and 'Site Stats'.

  2. OPTIMIZE is where you can change your settings and configure how your feed is set up. There are a variety of services that you can choose from - I'll highlight a few of the ones that I like, but go ahead and try them out to see what works for you.

    'BrowserFriendly' is a good way to make it easy for your readers to subscribe, by utilizing a 'one stop shop' kind of approach, so it doesn't matter what internet browser they're using. You can add a personal message to your newly subscribing readers here aswell, and you can choose which feed reader options to give your subscribers. It's probably best to give a lot of options, since you don't want to drive people away if you don't include their favorite reader to make it easy for them.

    'FeedFlare' allows you to add options at the bottom of each post - and there are a ton of user developed scripts to add custom Flares as well (click on 'Browse the Catalog' to see them all). This is a good place to experiment and see what you like and what works well for your site and feed. You'll have to add HTML code to your site for this as well, but again - Feedburner walks you through it pretty well.

    'Summary Burner' allows you to just publish a summary of each post instead of the whole thing - requiring your subscribers to actually click through to your site to read the actual post. Again, this gets fuzzy in terms of what you want to allow or not, but the option is there.

  3. PUBLICIZE is where you can set up e-mail subscriptions for your site and choose fun buttons or widgets for your site. You can even show off your subscriber total. Remember our friendly little orange RSS button? Here's where you can find one to put on your site to make it easy for readers to subscribe. Or if you don't like the orange button, there are other options as well. Feedburner walks you through adding the code to your site's template.

  4. MONETIZE is where you can sign up for Feedburner's ad network if you want to allow advertisements to be placed in your feed. I can't speak for how much earning potential there is by doing this - I've had one ad campaign for my feed and earned a whopping $0 from it. So decide for yourself... I do like that Feedburner allows you the option to review and choose whether you want any particular ad campaign - but there aren't always campaigns available either. I've only had the one so far and I've been signed up for several months. I'm not looking to earn money this way though - I did it more out of curiosity than anything else.

  5. TROUBLESHOOTIZE is (along with being a made-up word) Feedburner's help or support area. Look here for some general tips and tricks to try if you're having problems. It also contains the link to the Feedburner Forums where you can go for more involved help if you need to.

I know I went through this kind of fast and that there's a lot of things to take in and consider here. If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or e-mail them to me and I'll answer them as best as I can, either here or in a future post. I'm planning at least one more part to this series - to talk about the whole issue of full/partial feeds, so stay tuned (and subscribed!). Or if there are any other blogging/technical questions that you have - I'll try to answer if I can! Or at least point you in the direction of where to look for answers.

I'm going to leave you with one final tip, which is so blatantly obvious and practical that I think many people never consider it:

Don't forget to subscribe to your own feed!

Yep, you read that right. There are a lot of benefits to doing this - other than just boosting your subscriber count by one of course. :) You can see how your feed actually looks in a reader to see which of the options that you've chosen are ones you like or don't like. You can play around with different FeedFlares and other settings to see how you like them. And, you can see exactly when your posts are published to your feed - it doesn't happen immediately after you hit 'publish, but the time delay can vary. I've seen my posts appear in my reader very quickly after published sometimes, or even up to a half hour later. If you're subscribed to your feed, you know exactly when each post has been published.

For more information on using feeds, here are some good resources on Feedburner. If you know of anything that I missed, just let me know and I'll add it!

MamaBlogga's 5 Steps to Getting Started With Feedburner (this is what I used when I first started - it's a wonderful guide!). Also her related post, 7 Ways to Master Feedburner has some great information once you've gotten set up as well.

Feedburner Forums

The Official Feedburner Blog

The Feedburner Help Center

Feedburner for WordPress: The Basics Nobody Told You About

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Newsflash - I actually finished something!

Back in November, I won a contest over at Pediascribe for a beautiful baby blanket from iHemstitch. After looking at the wonderful designs, I decided to pick a 'boy' themed design and give the blanket to Mary for her baby boy (wow, was it tempting though to go with something 'girly' and keep it for us!). I chose to crochet the border on the blanket myself - figuring that since it's been years (approximately 6-1/2 to be exact) since I've finished a crocheting project (or any other, for that matter), a smaller one like this would be a good way to get back into it.

And having a deadline didn't hurt either. :)

I didn't have a chance to start working on it until right after Christmas. That gave me a bit less than a month until the baby was due. Well, baby Eric came early - but since we still haven't made it down there to visit yet, I guess I'm still 'on time' - because I finished the blanket this week!

I thought I would share how it turned out, since I'm rather proud of it, and I promised Karen that I would post pictures. I chose the triangles and arches pattern for the border - which involved 3 rows of crocheting.

Here is the blanket 'before' (while trimming off the excess edges and then after it was trimmed):

iHemstitchBlanket_001

iHemstitchBlanket_002

Here's a close-up of the 'hemstitched' edge - you can see the tiny holes that the crochet stitches go in:

iHemstitchBlanket_003

The first row (single crochets) and the start of the second row...

iHemstitchBlanket_005

Second row done:

iHemstitchBlanket_004

The second row (bottom) and the start of the third row (top)...

ihemstitch-lastrow_001

And.... done!

iHemstitch-Done_004

ihemstitch-lastrow_003

Now we just have to stay healthy enough - and hope for good weather for next weekend - so that we can go down to visit and see baby Eric, and give him his new blanket. It was fun to work on something blue for a change... :)

Thank you Karen and thank you to Kendra from iHemstitch!

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Contest round-up #23 - UPDATED

Here is this week's contest round-up! :) As always, contests that I've added or updated since this was originally posted are shown in blue.

Bloggy Giveaways will be on hiatus for a couple of weeks while Shannon is in Africa with Compassion International. There are a few last giveaways that you can enter - she'll be picking and announcing winners when she returns. Giveaways will resume on February 19th. These last few giveaways are great ones - you could win a Boca Beth backpack set (enter by today, February 9th), one of two $30 gift certificates to 3ButtonsN2Bows (enter by February 10th), or $54 in Marvel Heroes games, DVDs and books from Brighter Minds Media (enter by February 11th).

Over at 5 Minutes For Mom you could win one of three copies of the book Unlimiting God by Richard Blackaby, one of ten Safety Magnetic Memo Boards (enter by February 16th), or an Oreck XL Ultra vacuum cleaner (enter by February 28th).

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Also, keep the dates March 7th through March 14th in mind - it's the Ultimate Blog Party 2008! Sounds like a great time and a wonderful way to both get your blog noticed and to meet a ton of other bloggers!

Check out An Island Life and An Island Review for Kailani's giveaways this week! You could win Look Better Naked ($29) and a soy candle in your choice of scent ($8) from Allizon.com (enter by February 10th), a long-sleeved Sushi shirt ($26) from Apples ‘n’ Oranges (enter by February 12th), or a silver 'Become' necklace from Hazelnut Cottage (enter by February 14th).

Momsational is having several giveaways right now. You could win a $30 gift certificate to Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream! (enter by February 14th), a set of toys from Baby Jamz (enter by February 11th), one of 5 copies of the Brain Quest DVD Game (enter by February 10th), one of 5 sets of great organic fruit snacks from FruitaB├╝ (enter by February 12th), one of five copies of the Aristocats DVD (enter by February 20th), one of five copies of the Dora The Explorer: Undercover Dora DVD (enter by February 15th), or an Triumph Advance Deluxe Convertible Car Seat (enter by February 18th).

Mamas Like is giving away Wriskey key ring (enter by February 9th), a medium variety box of hand-made chocolates from Red Thread Confections (enter by February 10th) or one of two shirts from Emily Allyn (enter by February 11th).

At Mom Views you could win one of several great prizes - a set of ThinkBlocks (enter by today, February 9th), one of two Haba Little Garden Pegging Games (enter by February 13th), or a pair of Pediped shoes (enter by February 11th).

It's the Birthday Blog Party over at GoodyBlog! This week you could win $250 worth of SpaFinder gift certificates! Head on over to enter before midnight ET on February 15th.

Success For Your Blog is holding a giveaway where you could win a 8GB USB Flash Drive! Submit your best blogging tip to enter before February 10th. My best blogging tip would have to be to treat your blog as a community and get to know your readers. Visit their blogs if they have them, respond to comments by e-mail as much as possible (I don't do this nearly as much as I wish I could!), and make your site someplace where people want to come back to visit. You can meet some wonderful people this way!

Are you thinking of starting a new blog, or changing either to a different blogging platform or a new template or design? If so, check out The Big Bloggy Move, hosted by After a cup of coffee and SortaCrunchy. New designs, sites or what have you will all be unveiled on February 11th. I was hoping to join them, but my technical consultant/graphic designer (my hubby) is running behind, so it'll be a while yet for a new site or design for me.

Metropolitan Mama is giving away a MyVitalFiles Home Filing Folder System - enter by February 11th for your chance to win.

Check out MomReviews - you could win a $30 gift certficate to Baskin Robbins! Enter by February 11th.

Weary Parent is giving away an Insignia Pilot 4GB Video MP3 Player (enter by midnight on February 13th).

Over at Love Shak, Baby you could win a cubino chair from Mason & Matisse. Enter by February 13th.

MyMommysBracelets.com has partnered with other WAHMs and online boutiques to offer a great Valentine's Day giveaway - check out all of the great prizes and enter before February 14th!

Check out mod*mom to find out how to win one of 10 publish-your-own professional books from blurb. Enter by midnight on February 14th.

Photo Contest at writefromkaren.com

It's time for the next photo contest over at Write From Karen! The theme this time is 'Love is...' and you have until February 15th to enter. You could win a $25 gift certificate to one of several great stores.

Blonde Mom Blog is giving away an Aardvark Adventure Stories book of the winner's choice - enter by February 15th.

Laura Williams' Musings is giving away a blog design from Sweet 'n Simple Design - enter by February 15th!

Over at The Opinionated Parent you could win a Bamboosababy gift set (enter by February 15th) or the Very Derryberry CD from Debi Derryberry (enter by February 15th).

Sassyfrazz is giving away a custom tutu from Fuzzy Me - enter by February 16th for your chance to win!

You could win a BabyFaces custom sterling silver photo charm in jr size (a $69 value) over at superdumb supervillain (enter by February 17th).

It's time for HGTV's annual Dream Home giveaway. This year's home looks incredible and is located in a real paradise, The Shore at Islamorada, in the Florida keys. You can enter every day through February 19th and a winner will be revealed live on March 16th at 9:00 pm ET.

Over at So a Blonde Walks Into a Review you could win your choice of several great toys from Baby Jamz (enter by February 20th).

It's time for the February Write-Away Contest over at Scribbit. This month the topic is 'Love' and you have until February 20th to enter. You could win a jar of cranberry hot chocolate mix, a bag of wild blueberry and white chocolate dipped pretzels and a jar of homemade Alaskan wild blueberry jam.

Sherry from Sher's Wares and Everything Moms is giving away a copy of the book I Love You More, by Laura Duksta and Karen Keesler. You have until February 23rd to enter!

I know that Mother's Day is still a ways away yet, but you might want to start thinking about a special mom that you could nominate in the America's Favorite Mom celebration, sponsored by Teleflora, NBC and Redbook Magazine. On www.americasfavoritemom.com, you can nominate mothers to win several prestigious awards by simply uploading videos, favorite photos or essay testimonials. You can nominate your own mom or any mom, and the top 15 nominees will appear on NBC’s “The Today Show” throughout the week before Mother’s Day. Viewers will then have the chance to vote for their favorite mom at the end of each show. The winning mom from each day of the week will be featured on a one-hour primetime NBC television special airing on Mother’s Day, May 11, 2008. On the special, “America’s Favorite Mom” will be crowned, a rose will be named in her honor and she will also receive thousands of dollars in cash and prizes (including an 18k gold heart-shaped America’s Favorite Mom pendant trimmed with dazzling diamonds).

As usual, if you know of a contest or giveaway that I missed, just e-mail me or leave a comment below and I'll add it in! Enjoy and good luck! :)

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Friday, February 8, 2008

In a blink of the eye...

Recently I turned to look at my oldest daughter as I said something to her (can't remember what I said and it's really not important), and I realized something that I hadn't noticed before.

She is no longer a 'little' girl.

When did this happen? Did this new sense of maturity come in with her new front teeth? When did she lose the last of her chubby 'baby' cheeks? And when did she grow so tall?

I see my children every day but apparently fail to actually 'notice' them, at least to be able to recognize all of these little changes. I know that's common, but I still feel like somewhere I missed a drastic clue as my first baby has moved out of 'preschooler' and into 'kid'. She's wearing 'adult' shoe sizes now (well, only a 1 - but still!), she's reading for herself, and no longer has to be helped with little things like troublesome zippers or shoe-tying. Oh yes, she has her immature side, she can hardly sit still and she's not as socially astute as other kids her age probably are, but somewhere along the way she's become a fairly responsible, helpful, self-sufficient, person.

Who can reach the buttons on our above-the-stove microwave without a step stool. And who can wash her hands in the kitchen sink because she's tall enough to turn the faucet on and off herself. Who can get to those childproofed, high places where we've grown accustomed to putting things out of their reach.

And is getting somewhat close to being able to look me in the eye.

It gets harder every day to remember back to when she was small enough to carry in our arms or when she could comfortably curl up in our laps without sprawling out into the chair. The days when she needed our assistance for every little task are forever gone. And as nice as that is most of the time, a part of me yearns back to the days when she needed me more, like her little sisters still do.

Before I know it, she'll be off on her own, doing her thing, living her life. And that's the way it's supposed to be. I just wish that it didn't happen so quickly - wasn't she just five yesterday? And three the day before? She can't have been a baby more than a couple of years ago, right?

I wish I could freeze just a moment - a slice of time from each and every age so I could remember, could re-live those days again, if only briefly.

Because she's halfway to being a teenager now - and if the past 6 1/2 years have gone by this fast, then I know the next will be gone

before I can

take a

deep

breath.

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A quick tag

I was tagged for this a couple of times - by Jennifer and Anna. I'm sorry I'm just now getting around to doing it!

Start Copying Here*

I have randomly selected 5 of you below to be tagged and I hope that you will similarly publish this post in your blog. You will have to tag 5 other bloggers and just keep adding on to the list. (Do not replace, just keep on adding! Yes we hope it will be a long list!)


It’s real easy! Tag others and see your Technorati Authority increase exponentially! The benefits of Viral Linking:


- One of the fastest ways to see your technorati authority explode!
- Increase your Google PageRank fast
- Attract large volume of new traffic to your site
- Build your community
- Make new friends!


The Strategist Notebook ~ Link Addiction ~ Ardour of the Heart ~ When Life Becomes a Book ~ The Malaysian Life ~ Yogatta.com ~ What goes under the sun ~ Roshidan’s Cyber Station ~ Sasha says ~ Arts of Physics ~ And the legend lives ~ My View, My Life ~ A Simple Life ~ Juliana RW ~ Mom Knows Everything ~ Beth & Cory's Mom ~ A Mind Forever Voyaging~ enjoying the ride ~ Jennifer's thoughts ~ Mom of 3  Girls ~ Amanda ~ Don't Make Me Get The Flying Monkeys ~ ExPat Mom ~ Just Jessie ~ Wilson Six

*Stop Copying*

The last 5 on the list are the ones that I'm tagging - have fun! :)

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Aloha Friday #19

alohafriday5 It's Friday again! My favorite day of the week. :)

Here's my question for this week:

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I ate a granola bar at my desk, like I do pretty much every weekday morning. I just never have time to sit down and eat something at home.

Be sure to check out An Island Life for other fun Aloha Friday questions and to play along!

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Review: Froose - "The healthy drink for kids"

Finding healthy options for kids to drink can be extremely difficult. Milk is expensive (especially nowadays!) and doesn't last long if not refrigerated. Water is free and healthy, but many kids won't drink it. And juice - well, even 100% fruit juice contains a lot of sugar, so it's recommended to limit the amount that kids drink every day. And I'm not even going to get into the pop, juice 'drink', and other options that don't have any kind of redeeming quality health-wise.

We've been fairly lucky with our kids. Abby is one of the rare children who prefers to drink water most of the time. In fact, she's pretty much a water or milk  child - except for the rare opportunities when she's allowed to have lemonade or other 'fun' drinks as a treat. Hannah doesn't drink water unless it's her only option (although apparently drinking from a water bottle is 'cool') - she loves milk and juice. And Becca so far will drink pretty much anything you give her. Thankfully none of our children so far have developed a taste for pop (or 'soda' for you non-midwesterners out there) - although that probably has as much to do with the fact that we've never really let them try it much as anything else.  :)

When MomCentral sent me some samples of Froose®, I was really very curious to see what my kids would think. It's such a healthier alternative - it's described as a 'juice alternative' made from organic whole grains. It's sweetened naturally (with organic brown rice syrup - a complex carbohydrate), so there's less worry about sugar intake and how that will affect kids' health, weight, teeth and the 'bounce off the walls' factor. The fact that it's a good source of fiber (3 grams per serving!) thrills me even more, considering that I do think that upping Hannah's fiber intake probably had at least something to do with her finally being able to stay dry all day. Other benefits that don't necessarily affect us - but I know matter to a whole lot of parents out there - are that it's gluten-free, Kosher and made with organic ingredients.

When we got our samples, I was excited to see three flavor choices - Cheerful Cherry, Playful Peach, and Perfect Pear. I'm not sure that giving the flavors such 'exciting' and 'happy' names makes much of a difference in whether kids will drink it or not, but I suppose it certainly doesn't hurt! I was also glad to see that these are packaged in 'juice' (or drink) boxes - a nice small (4.23 fl. oz.) size to encourage less waste - I know that half-empty drink boxes get left around my house quite often, which is just one reason why we tend to go the drink box route mainly when on the go. I also like the smaller size as it's easier to pack in a diaper bag and I can carry more servings for the same weight as a larger drink box.

So I bet you're wondering what my kids thought... They were very excited to try the drinks - any time they get to have drink boxes (especially at home) is a cause to celebrate in our house. They've tried the flavor options a few times now, so I feel that I can definitively say that the results follow exactly what I would've expected.  Abby (my fruit-loving, but non-juice-drinking daughter) has tried the Cherry and Pear and after a few sips of each decides that she doesn't like them. And honestly, this doesn't surprise me. She just is not a 'flavored' drink kind of girl. Hannah, on the other hand (my fruit-hating, but juice-loving daughter), loves the Cherry flavor.  She liked the Pear too, just not as much and she hasn't wanted to try the Peach at all. Becca, my least picky drinker, has (no surprise here) liked all of them. I definitely know that we'll be looking for it on the store shelves once our samples run out.

From the Froose® website:

"Froose® combines the best of Organic Whole Grains and Fruit to make a delicious and nutritious alternative to juice that is naturally low in sugar and an excellent source of fiber…as much as eating a whole piece of fruit. Froose® delivers whole grain goodness, fiber and half the sugar found in a typical serving of juice. Froose® uses a whole grain base and flavors it with 100% fruit concentrates and organic brown rice syrup. All the elements of the whole grain are incorporated in the final Froose® beverage. Nothing is stripped out. The soluble and insoluble fiber elements along with the whole grain vitamins and other nutrients are in the Froose® beverage. Regular juice consists of simple carbohydrates coming primarily from the sugar of the fruit without all of the other nutrients found in fruit. Pediatricians warn against over consumption of juice by young children and, in fact, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommend no more that 1 ½ cups of juice per day for a two year old. Froose® is the healthy alternative to juice for kids."

And one of the best parts for me? Knowing that Froose® was invented by a mom!  :)

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Thursday Thirteen #27 - Ron's vacation

I had a difficult time coming up with something for my T13 list this week, but then I remembered...

Ron has next week off.

He's taking some vacation time partially because he really needs the break, partially because we'll get our tax return soon and hopefully can get caught up on bills anyway, and partially because he hasn't had a solid week off in at least the past few years. He's been working so many late hours this week that the girls have barely seen him, so it'll be good to have him home every evening next week.

There are also a few other reasons that I'm glad he'll be around next week. Here are 13 of them:

  1. He'll be home all day - with nothing to do except laundry and dishes, of course... :)

  2. We won't have to rely on the kindness of our neighbors to get the driveway cleared if it snows.

  3. I won't be tripping over wet work boots in the middle of my kitchen floor every night.

  4. Daddy can shuttle the girls around to evening activities! Ok, well at least he can help.

  5. Five days of having someone else worry about what to cook for dinner. And if I'm lucky, 5 days of walking into the house and having dinner waiting for us... Hey, a girl can dream, right?

  6. Not having the girls asking me every 5 minutes to call Daddy and see what time he'll be home that night.

  7. Not having to get the girls out the door by myself for 5 mornings!

  8. Daddy will be home to cover any snow/sick days. Which means that it will be sunny, 40+ degrees and everyone will be perfectly healthy all week...

  9. The $25 or more that we'll save by having him eat lunch at home every day next week instead of buying fast food (his arteries will go into shock from the lack of grease, however).

  10. Having Daddy here to read Becca's favorite Dora book to her at least some of the 549 times that she demands begs for it every evening.

  11. Finding out that he actually has 36 hours of paid time off - so he will get at least a partial paycheck for the week.

  12. No meter, drill or other assorted equipment charging and taking up all the space on my kitchen counters for a week.

  13. Three words - "Honey Do List". Oh, Ron....... :)

Links to other Thursday Thirteeners:



The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

4 Things Meme

I've been tagged by Christy to do this one - it looks like fun! :)

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Cashier/Greeter/Service Desk at Target
2. Zoning Administrator for a local city
3. Computer instructor (part-time) for a local adult/community ed.
4. Administrative Assistant

Four places I lived:
1. Southfield, MI
2. Kalamazoo, MI
3. Bay City, MI
4. Midland, MI

Four movies I’ve watched over and over:
1. The Parent Trap (new version)
2. Fly Away Home
3.One Fine Day
4. Sleepless in Seattle

Four shows I watch:
1. Grey’s Anatomy
2. Heroes
3. American Idol
4. Criminal Minds

Four places I’ve been:
1. Orlando, FL
2. Ocean City, NJ
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Toronto, ONT

Four people who e-mail me regularly
1. Cheryl
2. Kristi
3. My sister-in-law, Terri
4. Karen

Four favorite things to eat:
1. Domino's pizza
2. Anything chocolate
3. Pot roast
4. Breadsticks and pizza sauce

Four places I’d rather be:
1. At Lake Michigan
2. Anywhere warm and sunny... :)
3. Home
4. Disney World

Four things I look forward to this new year:
1. Spring!
2. Getting together with friends (all of them!)
3. Getting to know blogging friends better
4. Getting caught up on our bills

Four people to tag:
Kristi
Anna
Tammy
KC

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While Mommy's been sick...

What have the girls been up to?

Well, let's see. Dominos are fun to play with (and don't mind the hair that doesn't get brushed, much less done, when I'm out of commission)...AbbyPlayingDominos

HannahPlayingDominos

And they helped out by 'cleaning' the house.

HannahVacuuming_002

Daddy read lots of books. Or rather, Daddy read the same book lots of times.  :)

BeccaSittingWithDaddy_001BeccaSittingWithDaddy_002

And oh yes. There's always the television...

BeccaWatchingTV

Hmm, I think it's a good thing that I'm starting to feel better!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #30 - Hard at work

Hannah&BeccaPlayingInSnow_003

Check out more Wordless Wednesday here and here!



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Yep, 'just' a virus...

Don't you just love spending money to find out that there's absolutely nothing the doctor can do? To be honest, I figured that it's what I would hear, but also decided that it was worth spending the $20 co-pay to make sure.

So I get to spend up to another week with this - although if I start running a fever next week or coughing up blood, then I'm supposed to go back in (you think?!) because it could turn into pneumonia or bronchitis. One of my co-workers just told me that he's had this bug (or a similar one) for going on a month now.  A month?!

At this rate, Mary's baby is going to hit kindergarten before we get a chance to get down to see him, LOL. But I definitely don't want to pass any germs along, so we'll see how I'm feeling by the weekend and whether or not anyone else has come down with this by then.

So otherwise, everything's pretty much the usual here. Back at work today - don't know how much I'm actually getting done, but I'm here. The girls have choir at church tonight, but I think we may skip that (again...) so I don't expose everyone there to whatever nasty virus this is. Besides, after spending last night out rushing around, I think I feel like staying put at home tonight. Maybe I'll even feel well enough (and get motivated enough) to pick a few things up around the house or fold some laundry. Or maybe not.  :)

I'm sorry this is such a dull, boring update - hopefully I can dig up some interesting and/or funny tidbits to post soon!

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Heads or Tails #21 - First or Last

Ok, well first of all - sorry this is late! It may even be the last H0T posted today...   :)

I'm not feeling much better than I was on Sunday - or yesterday (I took the day off and slept for 5 hours straight), so I'm headed into the doctor in about an hour to see if it's 'just' a virus or if there's something else going on. Thank you so much for all of the well wishes!

Yesterday was the first day of the new session for Hannah's cheerleading, which meant that I had to drag all 3 kids out there in order to get her signed up, even with feeling miserable.  Unfortunately, they've made a scheduling change since last session - Hannah's group (level one) now starts at 6:00 pm instead of 6:15 pm. Ok, well picking up the kids, getting home by 5:30 pm, feeding everyone and getting Hannah to cheer was difficult enough before, but to have 15 minutes less - pretty much impossible. Yesterday we went over there straight from daycare - by the time we got home, the kids didn't get dinner until 7:30 pm (it ran longer than usual because of registration for the new session), and then had to go straight to bed afterward.

I thought a lot about whether or not to even sign her up again, but she loves cheering so much that I didn't want to take it away from her.  We'll figure out the logistics somehow - we managed to deal with a 6:00 pm soccer practice for Abby last fall, which wasn't easy, but it worked.

With last night being the first day of the new session, parents and family were able to watch the kids practice. Which meant that I spent most of the time collecting Becca from the middle of the gym floor and bringing her back to the bleachers to sit with Abby and I. She'd run out there and plunk her little self down there with all of the other girls, not understanding why Hannah got to be out there and she couldn't. I ended up taking her out into the school lobby to walk around for a while - and she surprised me with an almost perfect rendition of the first cheer that the girls had worked on earlier.

Hannah may be the first cheerleader in our family, but somehow I'm thinking she won't be the last!


Check out other Heads or Tails posts at Skittles' Place!

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Again...

Sick.

Another day spent on the couch.

My house is trashed.

My kids are in bed - hopefully asleep. They were bouncing off the walls.

My head is throbbing and my throat is on fire.

My husband is a bit miffed that he had to miss his Superbowl party (thank you for staying home!).

My girls are upset that we couldn't go see Mary's baby (Eric Michael, by the way!) like we'd planned this weekend.

My PTO (paid time off) balance is in the negative again after being home 2 days last time I was sick.

My nose is starting to run.

My mind is not working at full speed. Hard. to. put. coherent. thoughts. together.

My laptop is going to get put back down in about 30 seconds so I can rest and watch Superbowl commercials for the rest of the night. And then I'm going to go to bed.

Hopefully I will both feel better and be in a better mood tomorrow. Don't mind me - I am just so sick of being sick.

Again.

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So what is Feedburner all about anyway? Feeds and RSS - Part 2

I've had some great responses to my first post about feeds and subscribing to posts - a huge thank you to whomever Stumbled the post, and to any new subscribers as well! As promised, here is Part 2 - what to do now that you've got me (and/or other blogs) showing up in your e-mail or feed reader. Then with Part 3, we'll get more into the meat of how to set up Feedburner on your blog or website and how it works on the 'other end' so to speak.

Ok, so you've been subscribing away to the feeds of all of your favorite blogs and news sites, right? But how do you know when they've posted new content? Well, if you subscribed by e-mail, that's an easy answer - you're now getting regular e-mails in your inbox with all the new posts from the sites that you've subscribed to. But what about our Google Reader (or other feed reader) friends?

How do I check my feed subscriptions to see if there are new posts?

There are a few ways to go about keeping up with your feeds. The first and most obvious, is to open your Google Reader page every so often (or leave it minimized) to check. I have my Reader page bookmarked (same thing as adding to your 'Favorites') so I can get to it easily whenever I want to. But there are a few other ways to check for new posts that don't even require you to necessarily open Reader itself.

One option is if you're already using iGoogle (Google's personalized page) either as your web browser home page, or as your default view when you visit Google. I have it set as my home page on my home laptop but simply have it bookmarked at work since we don't have the option to set our own individual home pages there.

Note: To change your default home page, in Firefox go to the 'Tools' menu and click on 'Options'. Then click on the 'Main' tab and enter in the web page's URL where it says 'Home Page:'. If you don't know the URL, just navigate to that page in Firefox and then go back into Tools/Options/Main and click the 'Use Current Page' button. Now, every time you start Firefox (or click on the little 'home page' icon on the toolbar), it will open right to that page. This process is very similar in Internet Explorer - you just go to Tools/Internet Options/General.

The nice thing about iGoogle is that along with your usual search bar and button, you can add all kinds of personalized content, such as weather, news/business/sports headlines, daily quotes or dictionary words - and other Google services such as your Gmail inbox, Google Calendar, and yes - your Google Reader. Here's a shot of what my iGoogle page looks like, so you can get the idea... I minimized a few of the different types of items so that you can see more of the page's content. You can see that I also have a separate tab just for 'News' headlines as well.

image

You can see my Google Reader items in the upper left (I have 16 unread items right now, or at least when I took the screen shot) and I can scroll down the list and click on any items that I want to read - they'll open in a little pop-up window. Or I can click on the 'Google Reader' title bar and Reader will open for me. To embed Reader in your iGoogle page like this, keep reading and I'll explain below.

Another option to see if you have new content to read is a handy little add-on for Firefox called Google Reader Notifier (or here's one for any Windows user as well). When you install it, it puts a little RSS icon (remember that funny little orange one? See, it's everywhere!) down in the bottom right corner of your browser. If any of your feeds have new posts that you haven't read yet, it shows you the number of how many. And, if you hover your mouse over the icon, a neat little pop-up will tell you how many items you have in each of your Reader folders. Remember the 16 unread posts that I have right now? Here's what my Notifier icon shows me if I hover my mouse over it:

image

Wait a minute - you're asking what these 'folders' are and where they came from? Don't worry, they're easy to set up and as you can see, they give you a lot more information about your feeds and help you to better manage them. Very handy, especially if you (ahem) subscribe to a lot of feeds. But then again, I don't know anyone who does that, right? :)

Note: If you've been busily reading all of your feeds and have no new ones in your Reader, imageyour little Notifier icon will look something like this, with a sad little '0'. You can change your settings for how often it checks your feeds for new content, the appearance of your little icon, and other things by right-clicking on the icon.

So here is what my actual Google Reader page looks like at the moment:

image

You can see a few things right off. First, that I'm now up to 20 unread posts (see 'All Items' in the upper left corner - it gives me the total number of my unread items). You can see the folders that I've set up on the left side - I expanded the 'Blogging tips' one so you can see the feeds underneath that I subscribe to. Two of them - Blogging Tips, and It's Write Now have new posts (one each) that I haven't read yet. I'm all caught up on the others. You can also see the breakdown of new posts in my other folders as well.

Note: Here's another way to see how many posts are in your reader... If you use the Google toolbar, you can add notifier buttons to it as well - thanks to Deb for pointing that out! She says, "I have my gmail and google reader on the toolbar so it shows when I have mail and the reader is green when there is a new post."

How do I actually read posts in my Reader?

All you have to do in order to read a post then is to simply click on that blog's link in the list (see purple-circled item below). You can read the content, see pictures and, depending on how the blogger has their feed set up, you can sometimes even see comment counts or other options at the bottom of posts as well. As you scroll down, Reader will mark that you've now read that item and update your 'unread posts' numbers. But if you want, you can click on the little checkbox at the bottom of each post (see green-circled item below) to leave it marked as 'unread' - like if you want to skim something quickly but come back later and read it in more depth, but don't trust yourself to remember which site it was on (no, that never happens... LOL). If you want to visit the actual site, you can click either on the post title (see red-circled item below) to go to that specific post on the site, or click on the blog title (see pink-circled item below) to go to the site's main page. And oh yes, bloggers love it when you click through to visit and comment! :)

image

How do I use folders to categorize/manage my feeds?

So you want to set up some spiffy new folders for your own feeds, but how do you do it? Well, it's very easy actually. Just click on the 'Manage subscriptions' link (yellow-circled item above). This takes you into your Google Reader settings, on the 'Subscriptions' tab. You'll see an alphabetical list of all your subscribed feeds and here you have the option to do many things, like unsubscribe (now don't get any ideas, LOL!), change the name that the feed displays by in your reader, and add your feeds to folders. You can create new folders by clicking on the 'Add to folder' button (it'll show the folder name beneath the button if the feed is already in a folder). And you can change which folder a feed is in any time you want as well. You can create a lot of different folders, or a few - it's completely up to you and what you prefer.

image

Note: There are a lot of other settings you can change in Google Reader as well - play around with it by clicking on the different tabs (preferences, tags, goodies, etc.) and see what works for you and what doesn't! You can also find fun things under the 'Goodies' tab - including how to embed Reader in your iGoogle homepage like I showed above, and the 'subscribe' bookmarklet that I talk about below.

You'll notice as you're busily skimming and reading all of the wonderfully-written posts in your Reader, that sometimes you can see the entire post, and sometimes you only see a portion or a short description of the post. Unfortunately, in these cases you do have to click through to the actual blog/post to read the whole thing. This is something that's up to the blogger him/herself - whether or not he/she wants to allow full feeds for his/her posts. There's a lot of reasons (and discussion and debate!) as to why or why not and I'll get into some of those in a later post.

What do I do if there's no RSS/Subscribe button?

Ok, so you're up and running in Reader now - you're keeping up with your favorite blogs and news sites and everything's working great. Then you find a wonderful site that you love, you go looking for the little RSS button so you can add it to your expanding list of subscriptions - and uh-oh, you can't find the button... Does this mean that you can't subscribe?

Not necessarily, but then again, that's up to the individual blogger. I've run into a few that don't allow you to subscribe at all. Or some may not be using Feedburner (or anything similar). Blogging platforms (like Blogger, Wordpress, etc.) do offer a feed for blogs - it's just not tracked or managed like you can in Feedburner (we'll get into how to set up Feedburner for your blog next time). What you'll want to look for is any kind of link that says 'Subscribe'. You imagemay see something at the very bottom of the blog's main page that looks like the one on my site (see left). Don't worry right now about what 'Atom' (or 'RSS' if you see that one) means - just click on this link and you can subscribe just as you would if the little icon were there.

I've also found a handy 'bookmarklet' for this as well - you can find it under the 'Goodies' tab when you're in your Reader settings page. If you add the bookmarklet to your bookmarks/favorites, then any time you find a site that you want to subscribe to, just click on the bookmarklet while that site's in your browser window, and it'll take you through the process (if the site has a feed).

Confused yet? Hopefully not, but please feel free to ask any questions that you've got in the comments below - or you can e-mail me at debmomof3(at)comcast(dot)net. For those bloggers out there who want to know more about how Feedburner works and how it can benefit you, stay tuned for Part 3! And don't worry, there will be some good stuff for everyone, including the non-bloggers, coming up as well. Remember to stay subscribed so you won't miss a single post! :)

For more information on using feeds, here are the sites that I listed last time, along with a few new ones which are more specific to what we've talked about today. If you know of any others, let me know in the comments below and I'll add them to the list.

From Under the Clutter - Everything You Need To Know About RSS
FeedBurner Help Center - Feed 101
Wikipedia article on Web feed
Google Reader Help - FAQ
Google Reader Blog (for news items and breaking news about anything 'Reader' related...)
Andy Wibbels - How To Use Google Reader
Wikipedia article on Google Reader

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Playing 'alphabet' tag

I was tagged twice for this meme - by Tammy and Amanda.

Rule #1

Copy all the links below and replace a single link under the appropriate alphabet. If your domain name, or even the title of your blog, starts with an ” A,” you’d replace the link under that alphabet and put the replaced link at the bottom. Also, don’t forget to credit the tagger, or where you got the list from, at the end of the list with a full URL of the post so that a pingback gets generated.

Since the lists from the two blogs I was tagged by aren't quite exactly the same, I put in both links where appropriate, so nobody loses the link love...

1. A. acowboyswife.com alwaysbcmom.com
2. B. bloggingcents.com
3. C. caffeine-overload.com
4. D. delusionsofgrandeur.com
5. E. everythingandanythingblog.com enjoyingtheride-jenn.blogspot.com
6. F. forumfinder.net
7. G. gotic-peach.net
8. H. happykeg.com
9. I. ipentimento.com
10. J. juliesjournal.com
11. K. kabalyero.com
12. L. ladylike4.com
13. M. momof3girls.net
14. N. notjustmama.net
15. O. originalmx5.net
16. P. patrickdevivo.com
17. Q. qweddings.com
18. R. rowdigrl.com rantingsofawoman.blogspot.com
19. S. shirleysdelight.com
20. T. thinking-outloud.com
21. U. utada-online.net
22. V. valmg.com
23. W. wickedbabylon.com
24. X. xaviermedia.com
25. Y. yimto.com
26. Z. zbudapest.com

Replaced links: momknowseverything.com mommymandy.com
Previous taggers: momknowseverything.com mommymandy.com

Rule #2

You now have to “tag” at least five people and encourage them to participate so that this thing spreads like a virus. Remember, though, that not everyone’s into these kinds of things, so don’t be upset if they don’t participate. Just simply replace your tag. Remember to tag blogs only and no pornographic ones as we do want to keep the integrity as a blogging community. TIP: Tag your frequent EntreCard droppers via its messaging system.

I'm going to tag:

Amber
Jen
Jenny/Emily
Gina
Holly

Rule #3

Just like any other “meme” out there, ask a question for your taggees to answer along with your own answer to your previous question. This is optional.

No, I'm not going to do this part, but you can if you want.

———–END HERE—————-

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Me, myself and I

I sit in my living room - alone, and yet not. Downstairs there are two little girls watching a movie and having 'quiet' time. In her room, a third little girl naps plays by herself contentedly.

I love the weekend days when I am home with my girls all day. But even so, this mommy needs a break as well. An hour - maybe two, if lucky - to relax, watch tv, blog, and just to be me. Not a wife, not a mother, not an employee. Just Deb.

Which is why my girls, having either outgrown or outgrowing (unfortunately!) the afternoon 'nap', have their 'quiet' time in the afternoons, after lunch. This is as much for me as for them. Whether playing quietly in her room (Becca) in the hopes that she'll fall asleep, or watching a movie and playing (quietly - at least most of the time) downstairs, this is something that's been a part of their routing for as long as they can remember.

And it will continue to be - for as long as we can get away with it. They do need the break, the time to rest and recharge. But so do I. This time to just 'be' - to doze off if I need to, to blog if I want to, to catch up on my favorite shows if I have to, and to give myself a 'pass' on all of the chores waiting for me. This is not 'catching up on housework' time. This is my time.

And so I look over at the baskets of clean laundry waiting on the couch, at the toys scattered on my living room floor (that badly needs to be vacuumed), at the growing layers of dust that I can never seem to get rid of, and I smile to myself, because I sit here writing this post instead of doing the 1001 things that I know in my mind need to get done. They'll still need to get done an hour from now. But the difference is - an hour from now, I will actually feel more like doing them.

Because I've had (even a short) time to just be me.

This post was written as a submission for the January Group Writing Project over at MamaBlogga, on the topic of 'Me Time'.

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Contest round-up #22

Here is this week's contest round-up! :)

Phew, it's been an exhausting week of giving things away and entering contests... I think pretty much all of the ones over at Bloggy Giveaways have ended by now - so congrats to everyone who's won something! And for those of you who aren't 'contested-out', LOL, on to this week's contests:

Bloggy Giveaways will be back to business as usual next week - I'll update with contests as soon as they come out.

Over at 5 Minutes For Mom you could win a copy of the book Just Tell Me What to Say by Betsy Brown Braun, a Fairy Castle Set or gift certificate of equal value ($110.00) from the Warm Biscuit Bedding Company (enter by February 8th), an Insignia® - Pilot 4GB Video MP3 Player with Bluetooth Technology from Best Buy (enter by February 5th), a $100 American Express Gift Certificate from Capessa (enter by February 6th), a personalized towel from Alex Casey Baby (enter by February 7th), one of the great Land's End diaper bags which have been featured in contests around the blogosphere (enter by February 7th), or one of ten Safety Magnetic Memo Boards (enter by February 16th).

Also, keep the dates March 7th through March 14th in mind - it's the Ultimate Blog Party 2008! Right now you can vote for your favorite button design.

Check out An Island Life and An Island Review for Kailani's giveaways this week! You could win a t-shirt of your choice from Trendy Tadpole (enter by February 3rd).

Momsational is having several giveaways right now. You could win a $30 gift certificate to Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream! (enter by February 14th), a set of toys from Baby Jamz (enter by February 11th), one of 5 copies of the Brain Quest DVD Game (enter by February 10th), a BOB Screentime Controller (enter by February 8th), or one of 5 sets of great organic fruit snacks from FruitaB├╝ (enter by February 12th).



Here's an awesome one - Karen at Pediascribe is giving away a $100 gift certificate to Amazon! You have until February 3rd to enter, so hurry over!

Check out MumsTheWurd - you could win an Action Scrubber from Scrubbing Bubbles (enter by 9:00 pm CST on February 3rd).

Metropolitan Mama is giving away an itzbeen Baby Care Timer by Coast Innovations (enter by midnight on February 4th).

Over at Z Recommends you could win a pink, size 3T belt from Myself Belts (enter by 11:59 pm CST on February 4th). Or you can enter to win the first season of Medabots on DVD (enter by 11:59 pm CST on February 5th).

Over at Seven Dogs and a Baby you could win a $50 gift certificate to Nina and Tom (enter by February 5th).

One Chic Mama is giving away a Laptop Messenger Bag - head on over to enter before midnight EST on February 5th.

If you've ever lost a pet, then you might be interested in this one - over at So a Blonde Walks Into a Review you could win a $75 gift certificate to Peternity. Enter by 11:59 pm on February 5th.

Do you lose things often? If so, this might be the giveaway for you. Over at Z Recommends, you could win a "Now You Can Find It!" key finding system from The Sharper Image. Enter as many times as you would like before 11:59 pm on February 5th!

Here's another chance at those great Land's End diaper bags! Over at MomReviews you could win one of four (2 'girl' pattern and 2 'boy' pattern) bags so hurry over and enter before February 6th.

Mamas Like is giving away a custom bow holder from I Wanted to Wonder (enter by February 7th). They're also giving away a Wriskey key ring (enter by February 9th).

It's the Birthday Blog Party over at GoodyBlog! Each week in February they're giving away awesome prizes - this week you could win a Kodak EasyShare M883 Zoom Digital Camera, along with an Eye-Fi digital camera card ($99), and a scrapbooking kit from EK Success (worth $342). Enter by February 8th!

Over at Blonde Mom Blog you could win a $25 gift certificate to Little Piddles (enter by midnight on February 8th).

Check out PenniesInMyPocket - you could win a $50 gift certificate to Quote the Walls! Enter by 11:59 pm PST on February 8th.

Success For Your Blog is holding a giveaway where you could win a 8GB USB Flash Drive! Submit your best blogging tip to enter before February 10th. My best blogging tip would have to be to treat your blog as a community and get to know your readers. Visit their blogs if they have them, respond to comments by e-mail as much as possible (I don't do this nearly as much as I wish I could!), and make your site someplace where people want to come back to visit. You can meet some wonderful people this way!

Are you thinking of starting a new blog, or changing either to a different blogging platform or a new template or design? If so, check out The Big Bloggy Move, hosted by After a cup of coffee and SortaCrunchy. New designs, sites or what have you will all be unveiled on February 11th.

Weary Parent is giving away an Insignia Pilot 4GB Video MP3 Player (enter by midnight on February 13th).

Over at Love Shak, Baby you could win a cubino chair from Mason & Matisse. Enter by February 13th.

Check out mod*mom to find out how to win one of 10 publish-your-own professional books from blurb. Enter by midnight on February 14th.

It's time for HGTV's annual Dream Home giveaway. This year's home looks incredible and is located in a real paradise, The Shore at Islamorada, in the Florida keys. You can enter every day through February 19th and a winner will be revealed live on March 16th at 9:00 pm ET.

It's time for the February Write-Away Contest over at Scribbit. This month the topic is 'Love' and you have until February 20th to enter. You could win a jar of cranberry hot chocolate mix, a bag of wild blueberry and white chocolate dipped pretzels and a jar of homemade Alaskan wild blueberry jam.

Sherry from Sher's Wares and Everything Moms is giving away a copy of the book I Love You More, by Laura Duksta and Karen Keesler. You have until February 23rd to enter!

I know that Mother's Day is still a ways away yet, but you might want to start thinking about a special mom that you could nominate in the America's Favorite Mom celebration, sponsored by Teleflora, NBC and Redbook Magazine. On www.americasfavoritemom.com, you can nominate mothers to win several prestigious awards by simply uploading videos, favorite photos or essay testimonials. You can nominate your own mom or any mom, and the top 15 nominees will appear on NBC’s “The Today Show” throughout the week before Mother’s Day. Viewers will then have the chance to vote for their favorite mom at the end of each show. The winning mom from each day of the week will be featured on a one-hour primetime NBC television special airing on Mother’s Day, May 11, 2008. On the special, “America’s Favorite Mom” will be crowned, a rose will be named in her honor and she will also receive thousands of dollars in cash and prizes (including an 18k gold heart-shaped America’s Favorite Mom pendant trimmed with dazzling diamonds).

As usual, if you know of a contest or giveaway that I missed, just e-mail me or leave a comment below and I'll add it in! Enjoy and good luck! :)

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