Archive for November, 2011

Share your Elf’s antics on our Facebook page!

Kathy submitted this one yesterday. Her elf Charlie has a thing for Angry Birds. He has swiped the iPod and was playing! Thanks Kathy for being our first submission! I love it and will be stealing the idea!

Kathy submitted this one yesterday. Her elf Charlie is an "Angry Birds addict." He has swiped the iPod and was playing! Thanks Kathy for being our first submission! I love it and will be stealing the idea!

Katie's elf dyed the family's milk green. She said her kids squealed and went nuts!

Katie's elf dyed the family's milk green. She said her kids squealed and went nuts!

Julie's Elf is sending a subtle message that he wants snow. It looks like he wrote it in lipstick!

Julie's Elf is sending a subtle message that he wants snow. It looks like he wrote it in lipstick!

We have a fun holiday activity for our AJC Momania family. We want for you to share what mischief your Elf on the Shelf is up to each day.

Not only will it be fun seeing photos of their hijinks, it may also help other families looking for creative ideas for their elves.

You can share photos or just tell us what your little scamp is up to.

We’ve already had several photo submissions and several ideas posted. After we have a bunch of submissions, I will post the best photos to the blog. But you can check the Facebook page each day to see what our creative parents have come up with! (One idea …

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Are you buying dressy clothes for kids?

With the impending photo shoot for my parents’ Christmas present, I realized how few truly dressy clothes my kids have.

Church is very casual out here, and we don’t ever take the kids to really fancy restaurants. I think in general the world is a more casual place. (Is that just being in the West versus the South? Or maybe just that our winter wardrobes are more sparse since it’s hot for so long here.)

I also think the terrible economy has impacted what I am buying for the kids. An outfit can’t just work for Sunday. It has to work across multiple days and settings.

Walsh has khakis and collared knit shirts but only one button-down dress shirt and it was for Easter.

Rose has dresses that are appropriate for church and school so they are not super fancy.

Lilina is the only one that has dressy stuff mainly because it has been passed down from Rose. Also I am willing to pay $20 for a poofy dress for her at Target but Rose’s size would be a lot more expensive.

So for the …

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What do grandparents really want for Christmas?

I mentioned yesterday that I have been trying to figure out what to give my parents for Christmas. We usually give a couple of small things – some things from us and some from the kids.

My mother is tough to buy for. She doesn’t like to cook like my mother-in-law. She is particular about jewelry. (You can’t buy the cheap stuff.) And she’s not an avid reader. Although for the last few years I have given her and my Godmother a year subscription to Soap Opera Digest and they love that! (I forgot about that. Good that’s one thing I can do.)

My dad is relatively easy but I feel like I give the same things every year – movie passes, historic fiction novels, undershirts. You get the idea.

So I asked my mom again this year, what is something that you really want? And she says, “Pictures of the kids are always good.”

She has big framed photos of both our family and my brother’s family in her family room. So every other year we update it with a new family photo with …

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Do you want a Christmas wish list from kids, spouse?

Walsh typed his list and then cut it down to a portable wallet-size. He also looked up items on the internet and put the prices next to some of his items. I adore his list.

My 8-year-old typed his list and then cut it down to a portable wallet-size. He also looked up items on the internet and put the prices next to some of his items. I adore his list.

I am a big believer in getting a list of what the kids and other family members want the most for Christmas. I may ad lib some but at least I know I am getting them things they really want. (I haven’t had a case yet where I’ve had to delete inappropriate or expensive things from their lists.)

I like the lists especially now because I don’t have any money to waste on gifts someone might like or only kind of like!

I handed Rose a notebook to write down what she wanted but Walsh jumped on the computer to type his list. After he typed and printed it, he cut it down to wallet-size, which I thought was pretty smart. He also looked up the items and noted prices next to some of them.

I’m still trying to get a list from Michael. He’s tough to buy for so I really need him to tell me what video games …

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R.I. hospitals ban free bags of infant formula: Good or bad?

To help encourage breast feeding, Rhode Island’s seven birthing hospitals have stopped giving new mothers free bags of formula as they leave the hospital.

From The Associated Press:

“State health officials hailed the decision, noting that breastfeeding has been proved healthier than formula for both infants and mothers. Stephanie Chafee, a nurse and the wife of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, called the decision a critical step toward increasing breastfeeding rates.”

“ ‘As the first ‘bag-free’ state in the nation, Rhode Island will have healthier children, healthier mothers, and a healthier population as a whole,’ Chafee said. “This is a tremendous accomplishment.’ ”

“Formula will still be available to new mothers who experience difficulties with breastfeeding.”

“The new policy isn’t intended to force women into nursing their children, according to Denise Laprade, a labor and delivery nurse and lactation consultant at Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center, which …

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8 states highest skipping vaccinations: How many unvaccinated kids are OK in a class? Exemptions OK?

An Associated Press analysis has found that parents in eight states, mainly in the West and Mid-West, are opting out of immunizations for their kids at a much higher rate than in other parts of the country.

For its review, the AP asked state health departments for kindergarten exemption rates for 2006-07 and 2010-11. The AP also looked at data states had previously reported to the federal government. (Most states don’t have data for the current 2011-12 school year.)

Alaska had the highest exemption rate in 2010-11, at nearly 9 percent. Colorado’s rate was 7 percent, Minnesota 6.5 percent, Vermont and Washington 6 percent, and Oregon, Michigan and Illinois were close behind.

In some rural counties in northeast Washington, for example, vaccination exemption rates in recent years have been above 20 percent and even as high as 50 percent.

Mississippi was lowest, at essentially 0 percent.

Here is more from The Associated Press: (It’s a long story story so I bolded the big …

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Lowest prices still to come? Professor and Decide.com help you know

I was paralyzed by indecision this weekend about whether I should face the crowds and go to the malls to try to get deals or if good prices would exist beyond Black Friday and this weekend.

Because I had a cold, I decided to stay home but was kicking myself feeling like I was missing out … until I found this article.

The New York Times wrote about a University of Washington computer science professor Oren Etzioni, who has devoted his time to studying shopping and when consumers can find the lowest prices.

From The New York Times:

“…It is not until early December, Professor Etzioni’s research shows, that prices are likely to be the lowest for electronics, products that are among the biggest sellers on the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

“The bottom line is, Black Friday is for the retailers to go from the red into the black,” he said. “It’s not really for people to get great deals on the most popular products.”

The professor created a complex computer algorithm to …

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Turkey trots, hikes highlight our Thanksgiving week! Get out and move this holiday!

Watch out for the coyotes and snakes kids! Seriously, the kids are enjoying hikes on trails around Phoenix.

Watch out for the coyotes and snakes kids! Seriously, the kids are enjoying hikes on trails around Phoenix. We are planning to hike Thanksgiving morning and eat late afternoon. (P.S. Two hours of hiking burns about 1200 calories according the YMCA computer.)

This was the view of Phoenix from a hike a few weeks ago. The kids like that you can see so far here -- no big trees.

This was the view of Phoenix from a hike a few weeks ago. The kids like that you can see so far here — no big trees.

While we are still adapting to living out West, one thing I do like very much about our new city is the focus on fitness. The weather is finally nice here (not 120 degrees!) and everyone is getting out to exercise.

Our schools have been in session this week and the big kids’ schools have both done Turkey Trots. The kids train for weeks running laps around the school and the fields. Then on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving the kids have fun runs with their families at school. The parents come out to the schools and run along side their kids. (I couldn’t keep up with Walsh yesterday. I was …

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Is co-sleeping really like baby sleeping with a knife?

The Milwaukee, Wisc., Department of Health has released a new ad to help fight infant mortality. The ad focuses on stopping parents from co-sleeping and shows a baby on fluffy bedding sleeping with a very large knife!

From The Huffington Post:

“Bevan Baker, Milwaukee’s Commissioner of Health, acknowledged that some might find ads to be a bit extreme.”

“Is it shocking? Is it provocative? Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better [infant death] rates than Milwaukee,” he told theJournal Sentinel.”

“The Milwaukee Health Department hopes the ads will help lower the city’s infant mortality rate, which was “10.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births” in 2009, the Journal Sentinel points out.”

“Co-sleeping is a common practice in other cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe and Central and South America, but it has been a topic of much debate in the United States.”

Other experts comment in the story with …

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School photos: How much ‘realism’ is OK?

We’ve talked before about school photos and a lot of people agree it’s OK if they are pretty terrible because you see what the child really looked like at that point in time. Maybe their hair stood up or they had giant glasses or they were missing multiple teeth but it captures the child at that moment in time.

While I am on board with that, I have to say I just picked up Lilina’s preschool pictures and there are so many things wrong you just have to wonder what the photographer was thinking.

The teacher was confused about the day of the photos and told us they would be on a Friday but they were actually a Wednesday. So Lilina was in a very casual shirt with a plastic hairband.  I would have dressed her up in a cute outfit and fixed her hair had we known. But hey, that’s OK. No big deal. That’s the type of outfit she would wear to school to play in.

So I knew the outfit was going to look a little crazy and expected that when I got them.

However, there is a big …

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