10 Easter Hacks You'll Want To Know

February 28, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments








With Easter around the corner, I'm beginning my parent planning duties. You know, outfit, brunch, decorations, Easter basket... I've learned when I wait and let it creep up on me, it bites me in the ass hard. So, like I do before every holiday, I spent WAY too much time on Pinterest looking for Easter awesomeness. A few things I found were so friggin cool, I had to share. Parent or not, these Easter hacks are totally worth knowing.

I LOVE THIS! I can't wait to see my little guy's face when he sees the Easter Bunny hopped into our house. So easy too. All I need is white chalk and a cardboard box to create a stencil.



Crafty Morning's Easter Bunny Fruit Platter is my new favorite Easter treat!




Another little gem from Crafty Morning are these Rice Crispy Treat Easter Bird's Nest.


                             

Mmmmmm Breakfast. Easter Bunny Cinnamon Rolls from Betty Crocker..




I absolutely LOVE, The Idea Room's Easter Bunny Bread Bowls. SO CUTE!



I'm making these for the Easter Party at little man's school.



Tea Light Eggs! This would be a fantastic idea for the little ones on their first egg hunt. MUCH easier to find. Oooh, maybe create a multi-color hanging Easter egg light display in a tree in the yard. Y




Easter Egg Planters. This is so super cute and what a great, inexpensive way to start seeds indoors for the garden. 





Not into DIY dye? McCormick Spice has every recipe and design idea imaginable for DIY Easter Eggs 



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Just 20-Seconds Today Will Lead to Fab Abs By Spring!

February 27, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments








First, the 30-Day Plank Challenge. How hard can it be...





What do you think? Can it be done? Can you go from planking for 20-seconds to 4.5 minutes in 30 days?


I can. I bet you can too...


NOTE:




Abs aren't your problem area? Try this 30-Day Squat Challenge, instead. Or, in addition to the 30-Day Plank Challenge.






Whatever you do, take time for you and your overall health in March, and feel good about it!




NOTE:  To read more about the 30/30 challenge or to see the clip from the Doctors Show outlining the original 30/30 Walking Challenge, CLICK HERE!


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Think You Could Be The Next Top Blogger? Submit Now!

February 26, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments





Think you have what it takes to be a top Parenting/DIY/Food/Travel/Lifestyle blogger?


Do you LOVE to write AND have a style and voice that will set you apart? Do you already have a blog that you're having trouble getting off the ground, and know if you could only get some exposure it would be The Next Top Blog? Are you desperate to break into the blogger world and have no idea how?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then keep reading I can help!

But, first, me.

One of my goals for 2017 is to finish my book and try to find an agent to publish it. Being that the plot, and nearly the entire story, came to me in a flash right before the holidays, and has continued to eat at me since, writing the story is ALL I want to do. Which means this blog and amazing community are not getting the love and attention deserved.

I tried. I did. There's just no way I can keep First Time Mom and Dad going and follow my dreams to write fantastic stories at the same time, alone.

In order to keep the blog alive, I need three fantastic bloggers with a great voice to help me share tips, trials, triumphs, travel ideas, DIY, Life Hacks, Top Tech and anything else that would be original and relevant to the First Time Mom and Dad Community.

Do you think that could be you? Are you ready to be a writer on a Top 10 Parenting Blog featured in Parents Magazine? Don't want to invest the time it takes to create a blog and gett it off the ground, but want all the free stuff, trips and income, then here's your chance!

Over the next three months, March 1- May 31, 2017, I'll be holding auditions for, The Next Top  Blogger via a call for submissions. I want to see what you have to offer, your style, voice, and topics important to you. If I like what I see, your article will be published immediately, with your byline and if desired, link to your blog or social media. I'm looking for men too! Especially dads with a great sense of humor and writing style.

The top ten bloggers with the most post interaction (Views, comments, social shares) at the end of June, will advance to the final round. I'll also choose one or two wild cards from my favorite posts. Posts I feel were overlooked, or blogger(s) with a great voice and style, but maybe just need a little more Hook/SEO direction to gain better traffic.

Bloggers will get the opportunity to submit one more post published over mid-June to Mid-July.  The community will then vote for their favorite blogger beginning, August 1, 2017. When voting ends, the Top three bloggers will get a crash course in what it takes to be a top blogger, SEO, and honing in on your individual voice and style. The top three bloggers will also be given the opportunity to review free products and make money immediately.

This last phase is to test the blogger's endurance. Do they have what it takes to devote the time and energy into keeping a top blog going? We shall see...

In early 2018, the blogger(s) that survive the holiday product and sponsored post rush, will be offered part-ownership of First Time Mom and Dad and a portion of all revenue streams. Imagine, being able to work from home with a great income a year from now...

If you're interested in submitting a post for consideration or want more information, please fill out this Google Form Here.

Don't want to take over the blog, but want to get your byline (name), blog, social media channels or even home-grown product better visibility and traffic, this could be a great opportunity for you. Living in a bubble is no fun. The more voices, opinions, tips, hacks and info I can offer the community, the better. So if you have something awesome to share, then I'd love to see it. All published posts will include the writer's name with a link to blog/social media page.

If interested in sharing a guest post and having your byline shared with my AMAZING community, fill out the Google form here.

I can't wait to meet you and read your work!


Know someone perfect for this? Use the social media links below to tag them.
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5 Ways To Survive The February Funk

February 15, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments

I'm on day two of having two sick boys home with me. It's freezing outside and my feet and nose haven't been warm since... I don't know. I feel like a caged animal desperate to run away Forest Gump-style. Which can mean only one thing, it's February. 

And also, the February Funk has nearly eaten me alive. 





Up until the day my son was born, I insisted February was the dumbest, no good, worst damn month. It's cold, boring, EVERYONE is sick... Oh, and don't get me started on the many, many Valentine's Day let downs I've experienced in my lifetime

Fearing the February Funk was going to swallow me whole, I confided in my bestie about how I was sure I wasn't going to survive this winter, at least not without a stint locked away in a padded room.

Me: I'm dying. I've caught the February Funk, and it's bad this year.

Bestie: Well...Find something to be happy about in February. Like I don't know...HOW BOUT IT'S THE MONTH YOUR GREATEST GIFT WAS BORN!! Or how about it's the shortest month? Or how about it's Great American Pie month? Or,  do grouch a favor day.  Or, pistol patent day. There is all kinds of shit that makes Feb awesome!  

ME: You always have to bring up the part about my son being born and National Pie month. So. Unfair.

She's right, I need to let go of my obsession with hating the cold and February. I have got to keep in mind that the cold weather WILL blow away, allowing the warm beautiful spring air to take over. 




 

Soon, my heavy winter coat and boots will be replaced by a pretty, flowy sundresses and super-cute strappy sandals.



Yes, this cold nasty winter too shall pass... 

Soon, I'll go from spending 20-minutes trying to dress my son in full winter gear, to spending 2-minutes throwing on his swim shorts and sunscreen. 




Most of all, winter's days are numbered. It's not a forever thing. Spring is around the corner. So rather than cry and feel sorry for myself, I should be preparing for the best Spring/Summer EVER!

If you too are fighting the February Funk, stop thinking about winter and start thinking about Spring and Summer. Here are five things you can do today to help you Survive The February Funk, and make  Spring/Summer  2017 your best yet.

1. Start blasting your winter fat. Today. Here are a few of my favorite winter-body-blasting workouts.

2. Plan your Spring/Summer 2017 Garden. Even you have very limited space, you can grow something beautiful. Seriously, one square foot and few hours of sun will all you to grow organic Strawberries.

3. Start planning your spring summer wardrobe. Go through your warm weather clothes and dump, donate, or sell, the stuff you will never wear again. Now, for the fun part, search for the latest Spring/Summer 2017 Styles and trends. Once you find a few favorites, see how you can make them work using your existing wardrobe and a few new must-haves. This way, when you shop you know exactly what you need! Believe it or not, this method can save you a ton of money. Knowing what you need will keep you from buying what you don't!

4. Plan a trip. Spring and summer are the time for travel, so plan for it!  Even if it's a weekend getaway, plan a trip. It does wonders for the mind, body and soul. Planning and saving now, will make that trip a reality later.





5. Set a Summer Goal. If you could accomplish anything this summer what would it be? Now, make it happen.






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How To Save Big On Things For Spring

February 14, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments

Being a first time parent, I feel like each season we start over with buying new clothes,  and season appropriate toys and snacks, all can be big budget busters. So, for today's top 10 Tuesday, I'm sharing a few of my favorite ways to save big on Kid's things for spring... and summer too!



1. Make a list: I learned very early that kids do not need half as much stuff as I think they do. Before my baby was born, he had enough clothes to go a month without wearing a new outfit. Most of which, he never wore because he grew too fast! I quickly learned that I need to make a reasonable list of what I actually needed for my son, taking into account mid season growth spurts! I cannot recommend this enough, make a list of the number of shorts, shirts and shoes that you actually need to start the season, also include seasonal toys and future big buys like bicycles, ride on toys or backyard trampoline if your brave enough. Having a list early will allow you to do online shopping for better deals as well as put feelers out with your family to look for things on sale.

2. Shred those winter clothes: When it comes to outside playtime, kids get get dirty, so the last thing you want them to do is get grimy in their nice new clothes. Go through those winter clothes that have holes in the knees or tears in the sleeves, and cut them off  to make shorts and t-shirts. Then, deem those play clothes, so you won't cry when you can't get the grass or ketchup stains out.



3. Borrow Budget Busters: For those one off family portraits or special occasions where you normally end up buying an incredibly expensive outfit, your child will most likely only wear once, check out Etsy, eBay and your friend's closets before paying full price for anything.

4. Secondhand Shops: Places like Once Upon A Child and other children's secondhand shops are full of clothes and everything else you need to cover an entire winter or summer wardrobe, for under $20. (Shoes too! Did you know Crocs are machine washable?)

5. Facebook Finds: Every city has at least one Facebook mommy group that has clothes exchanges and lists where big family sales are taking place. To find them, on your Facebook page ask your friends if they know of any great mommy groups on Facebook. I bet you'll get plenty of replies!

6. Garage Sale Heaven: Garage sales are great place to pick up those big toys that people want to get rid of because they take too much space, but you desperately need because it's time for your toddler to start riding a bike. On Fridays, go to Craigslist, or wherever your city list garage sales, and find ones close by. Look for multi-family sales then grab a friend and some coffee and start shopping!



7. Discount Dealers: I love Groupon, ZuLily, Plum District, Living Social, Overstock, and other sites that can offer great things at a huge discount. All will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders.

8. Daily Deals: Did you know there are hundreds of websites that crawl the Internet daily for the best online daily deals? They do, and then list them in an easy to search format so you can quickly search for items on your must have list. My favorite is DealNews.com.

9. DIY For Family Health: When it comes to spring time treats and healthy fruit snacks, the budget can bust very quickly. I make our Popsicles, grow our fruit and cut out juice and soda, we are water drinkers during the warm months. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, patio or balcony, you have a place to grow your own fruit! Did you know strawberries grow well in a pot? Go to your local nursery and ask for help finding the right fruits to grow for where you live (Grower's Zone).









For a total of $20 I have strawberry plants, blueberries and grapes thriving in pots and around my yard. The best part is that I can use that fruit to make Popsicles! (For my Posicle DIY post, Click here.)


10. Price Shop From Home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today that make price comparison shopping from home a breeze. Gone are the days of driving from store to store or waiting for the Sunday Paper deals. Pull out the list you made of spring must haves and start going through each item online and list where the best deal is, for that item. Once you've gone through your list,  check the entire list for stores that overlap to save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

If you have any great tips, please leave a comment below, or join my Facebook discussion, here. 




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How Different Cultures Around The World Celebrate Valentine's Day

February 10, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments

Ever wonder how different cultures around the world celebrate Valentine's day, or if they even do?  Here are a few unique Valentine's Day traditions from around the world that are too cool not to mention!


Japan: Men aren't the chocolate givers in Japan, the women are. And not just any ol' box of chocolates. These chocolates are handmade works of art. There are two main types of traditional Japanese Valentine's Day chocolates,“Giri-choco", and “Honmei-choco”. “Giri” means obligation, a.k.a, no romance involved. Giri-Choco is given to friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends.  Honmei-choco translates to, "true feeling chocolate." These beautiful chocolates are given to a boyfriend, lover, or husband to signify true love. The Honmei-choco is traditionally prepared by the woman giving it.



Philippines: Ever dreamed of walking down the aisle with thousands of other couples? Well, here's your chance! In the Philippines, Valentine's Day is celebrated with mass weddings. Seriously. On Valentine's Day, hundreds of couples across the country come together to be married or renew their vows in colossal wedding ceremonies held across the Philippines in malls and large public spaces.

 


Iraq: Though the holiday isn’t accepted everywhere in Iraq, those who do celebrate have developed a few of their own traditions. Iraqi Kurds believe in a feast of love. Specifically, that the preservation of a red apple with cloves representing Adam and Eve’s story, will bring prosperity and love.



South Africa: Some young South Africans celebrate Valentine’s Day by pinning the name of their Valentine to their sleeve. Young lovers follow an old-age Roman festival of 'Lupercalia'. According to this traditional festival, young girls pin their lover's name on their sleeves. At some places, men also follow this custom.

FUN FACT: do you know where the phrase “to wear your heart on your sleeve” comes from? Although it was first recorded in the 1600s in Shakespeare’s play named Othello, during the Middle Ages a knight in battle would pin a lady’s handkerchief to his sleeve as a way of publicly proclaiming his love for her.

Germany: I have the Germans to thank for one of my favorite Valentine's Day traditions, the Lebkuchenherzen, or gingerbread heart. Imagine, a big yummy gingerbread cookie, covered in super cheeky phrases, attached to a ribbon to wear around your neck. YES, PLEASE! Having a half-Austrian husband, he has bestowed a Lebkuchenherzen upon me a time or two. But truth be told, we usually get them at Oktoberfest!


 


Estonia: In Estonia, Valentine’s Day is called “Friend’s Day” so that single people are not left out of the festivities. While streets may still be decorated with hearts and other Valentine’s symbols, there is also an emphasis on nonromantic love, with friends and family members exchanging presents. That's one way to make sure no one feels left out!


Guatemala: Valentine’s Day is known as El Día del Cariño in Guatemala, encourages celebrating love for friends and family as much as your partner. Guatemala City gets into the spirit with lots of colorful pageantries, with revelers dressing up in feathered masks and Mayan-inspired clothing. And don't miss the senior citizen’s parade.



Italy- It should come as no surprise, that Italy is the Place to be on Valentine's Day. More specifically, Verona, known for being the land of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. On Valentine's Day, couples pour into the city for,“Verona in Love.” To enjoy a number of V-day events, including tours that retrace the tragic lovers’ footsteps, a contest for the best love letter to Juliet, or a moment with Juliet’s statue for good fortune. Verona also offers Renaissance gardens, vineyards, boutique hotels, cobblestone streets and countless candle-lit restaurants to further solidify their stake on being the land of lovers.





Where ever you are, whatever your traditions, I hope you have a safe, kind Valentine's Day full of peace and love!

Do you have a fun or different way of celebrating Valentine's Day?  I make FTD his favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict.

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16 Quick And Easy Valentine's Day Boxes

February 09, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments




Freaking out about making a Valentine's Day Box for your child's class party? I get it! Valentine boxes have changed since I was a kid. Gone are the easy tissue box with wrapping paper boxes. Now, they are 3D masterpieces. And to be honest, they intimidate me.

Like I always do when I need inspiration, I hit up the Internet in search of Valentine Day box ideas that looked awesome and most of all, easy to make. Below are a few of my favorites that are super-duper cool, and with a few household materials, relatively easy to make.

FOR HIM



FOR HER


FOR BOTH



And last, but not least. In fact, it's the best friggin' Valentine Box I've ever seen!

The Toilet. 


For step-by-step how-tos for all of the above boxes and to see few more ideas, check out my Valentine's Day Pinterest Board.

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The 411 On Sensory Impairment

February 08, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments


It's no secret, raising a kid is hard. Raising a child with a disability, adds an entire level of extra stress. Having a child with an impairment that is rarely discussed, with limited resouses, is beyond the worst!  One disability or impairment that is hardly ever talked about is sensory impairments.




Some children are born with this, while others develop it over time. Just like with Autism, Sensory Imparment involves a wide spectrum encompassing all the senses. Something as simple as getting dressed in the morning, can be an incredibly stressful experince for a child suffering from a sensory disability that involves touch. The child will experinces a much higher sensitivity to touch, or the way something feels, than you.

Many perents find something as simple as the seam in a sock, will make it feel impossible for the child to wear. If this is you, it may be a good idea for a parent to invest in something like seamless socks for kids.




Changing small things to make your child more comfortable will make their life easier for all involved. The hard part is figuring out what those changes need to be. This may take more time and patience than you think you have, but you're a parent, of course you can do it! It's What you do as a parent that matters, this crazy effort you're putting in now, will ensure your child can independently succeed.



Vision loss as a sensory disorder

There are three main types of sensory impairments; however, the list is not limited to the following disorders. The most common sensory impairment is blindness. Blindness can express itself in many ways. Some people may have central vision loss, peripheral vision loss, contrast impairment, a glare, reduced depth perception or a blur. Blindness and low vision may occur due to the result of an infection, condition or accident.


Thankfully, the majority of people who are blind are able to live a mostly independent life. This is due to the many innovations of technology. With braille, people who are blind can read. Animals like guide dogs can help the blind navigate around and there are many surgeries that can fix some causes of blindness.


Hearing loss as a sensory disorder

Another form of sensory impairment is hearing loss. Hearing loss can be expressed as partial or total inability to hear.  There are many ways a person may develop hearing loss. For example, a person may develop a hearing impairment from genetics, aging, exposure to noise, illness, chemicals and/ or physical trauma. Due to increased technology, people with hearing loss or total deafness are able to live completely normal lives. For instance, people are now able to express themselves through sign language, as many schools are now teaching it. Hearing aids help some people with partial hearing loss hear again. On top of this, cochlear implants are able to function as the damaged parts of the inner ear, allowing once deaf people to hear.


Autism Spectrum disorder as a sensory disability

The last type of sensory impairment is very common throughout the world, Autism Spectrum Disorder. This disorder is a lifelong developmental disability. Autism can cause a person to have a difficulty with social interaction and communication, along with many sensitivities to normal sensory experiences. Examples of sensitivities caused by autism may be to noise, light and touch.
Symptoms of autism are often also seen as repetitive behaviors with a limited interest in activities. Sensory processing disorder is also highly connected to people with autism. This is a condition in which certain sensory signals are inhibited from being received or perceived by the brain correctly. When these signals aren’t interpreted correctly, it can lead to issues such as motor clumsiness, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

There are many tools that are available for parents of kids with autism. There are large amounts of prescription medications that can help a child that is developing with autism. Thankfully, there are also other ways to reduce the number of difficulties by helping your child learn new skills and by helping them find and use their strengths.  Many schools have programs to specifically cater to your child’s developmental and social needs. These schools provide many children the opportunity to learn how to process some of the senses that are affected by this disorder.

Every child with a sensory impairment is different, so it is important to know that one approach may work for someone else, but not for your specific family. It is important to be patient while working alongside doctors in order to find the best approach to treating your child’s specific needs. While you figure out what works for your family and what doesn’t work, continue to research and stay in tune with new innovations and technologies.


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Valentine's Day Treats + Crafts To Make With Kiddos of All Ages.

February 07, 2017 April McCormick 0 Comments

Can you believe Valentine's Day is almost here?! I'm still getting over Christmas.  In an effort to get in the Valentine's Day mood, I hit up Google and Pinterest for the latest and greatest 2017 Valentines Day Treats and Cute Ideas.  I found a few too good not to share. 



Still a classic favorite of mine. This little gem is something anyone would love. Create the document in a Word program leaving room for those little fingers and toes.  

Print on a heavy paper stock. Then dip those tiny fingers and toes in non-toxic paint.

Or this... 
This one too. So easy and so cute! 



#LOVE


This is a classic, that you can do year after year. Fill grandma's garden perhaps?
Salt Dough Stepping Stones
This is so easy!
Mix:
1 Cup of salt
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 Cup of Water
Roll out like dough then form into a heart.
Get those little toes and a butter knife!
Once the footprints are made, use a butter knife or thin end of a fork to PRESS in the letters,  DO DO NOT drag, letters will get screwed up.

Bake @ 200F (or 100C) for 3 hours. 
Once completely cool, paint and let dry.


Since so many of us have to make a class Valentine box, 

I thought I would remind you how easy it is. 

Three things: Old box. Wrapping paper, tape. 
Feeling wild, add your imagination to the mix...

Speaking of class party, here's a cheap ad easy heart hat. 




TIP: forget the white plates. Use pink/red plates. (pictured above)


Feeling all crafty? Kick the hat up a notch or two.




Here's another great party idea, check out these super easy heart cupcakes.


Do a family dinner everyone will love! Heart-shaped Pizza!
     Roll out the dough, then shape into a heart. 


Wanna know the fastest way to your man's heart? 

Two words: Bacon Hearts
NOTHING says, I Love You, Man, like bacon hearts!

For perfect hearts, cut strips in half, then shape half a heart at a time. 

Speaking of guilty pleasures, you could always make a Cork Heart!
(I might have to do this. ON a smaller scale.)

           


And for desert, Rice crispie kisses!    


                                


Or, maybe peanut butter cookie hearts.





But what I really want...





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