Category:

Tech

Go Math, Go Math!, Academy, tech, teach for children, tutoring

My family partnered with the Go Math! Academy program to review the program.

Go Math! Academy is an online, at-home learning program based on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s enormously successful GO Math! textbook curriculum, used by over 7 million kids worldwide. Go Math! Academy offers thousands of math practice problems, hundreds or help videos, and plenty of games and rewards to make learning fun! My daughters are in 2nd and 4th grade and they both love the program. Go Math! Academy is lively, and engaging online experience that lets children select a theme to launch their own personal math journey. My girls love it because it allows for independent learning, which empowers children to complete the grade-level curriculum in order to select the skill they wan to practice. Go Math, Go Math!, Academy, tech, teach for children, tutoring I love that Go Math! Academy allows for a skill-boosting approach that offers step-by-step math problems to support practice and entertaining help videos feature expert instructors (and loveable puppets to engage younger kids) who make math concepts clear and fun! My girls never lose interest because the program is not just a great practice program but it is fun and engaging.Go Math, Go Math!, Academy, tech, teach for childrenGo Math! Academy is available in your choice of three payment plans (access for up to 5 children):

  • Monthly: $9.99/month
  • 6-months: $49.99 ($8.33/month) – a 17% savings
  • 1-year: $79.99 ($6.67/month) – a 33% savings

My girls do very well in math and like math but using Go Math! Academy has made them excited about practicing because it has made it fun and animated.

Go Math! Academy has brought math to life for my girls.

I have been compensated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to share my thoughts and opinions on this topic/product. My opinions are always my own and cannot be bought; no matter how much money they offer or how awesome they might believe the product or service to be, if I haven’t tried it myself or don’t truly believe in it, love it or would not use it in my own home with my family, I will not support it on my site. ~ Deborah

What is your child’s favorite educational site? Have you tried Go Math! Academy?

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Monday envelope, tech, organization

Tonight is my first meeting as a member of our School Board. I’ve been a perpetual room mom for the past 6 years, for both girls; sometimes manning two parties at exactly the same time. Oh yes, I am doing it again this year because I am “that” mom. Anyways, at the end of last school year I decided that I wanted to be the change I wanted to see in the school and instead of just complaining about everything; I put my money where my mouth was. I did what any sane mother with too many obligations already would do, I went for the school board.

Anyways, this school year is going to be crazy for me. Maintaining two classrooms as room mom is hectic enough but add to it more obligations, I am in desperate need of some streamlining, organization and control; at the very least some organized chaos. We can’t afford another unfortunate “reply all” incident like the Halloween party of 2013 scandal. Thankfully, I was asked to try Monday Envelope.

Monday envelope, tech, organization

Monday Envelope is an all in one group manager for any device that allows you, as a parent, PTA leader, room mom or Girl Scout troop leader (among many other things) to control and organize (streamline) all of your communications with all the people you need to be in contact with, at all the right times and at all the right places.

Parent involvement is crucial to the success of any school and a big part of that is effective communication. It is the perfect tool for the busy, on the go, involved mom. It means that this mom will never have to miss another out of uniform day again and that makes all of us happy! It’s everything, you never knew that you always wanted in organization.

Finally, I won’t have to worry about sending BCC emails from my address that trigger spam filters or worse CC everyone and the thread is 800 emails long and sometimes inappropriate. Refer to scandal of 2012. This allows everyone to be on the same page without the insane email tread. Tastes great; less filling.

The best part is that it is simple to use. Simple is my favorite word these days because with school back in session, my life has gotten exponentially more complicated with schedules and classes and meetings. It saves a ton of time that you can spend actually enjoying parenthood and these precious fleeting moments with your little ones.  It frees up our time so that we can be engaged.

If you think this is a great option for your school, room mom, team mom, PTA president or girls scout mom friends have them check out Monday Envelop for themselves https://mondayenvelope.com/tell-your-group-leader/ .

This post was sponsored by WOMWomen.com on behalf of Monday Envelope. All opinions are my own.

 

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frugal living, Savings Catcher, Walmart, saving money, best deals

I have partnered with Walmart to bring you this sponsored post and information about this awesome new program Savings Catcher ; as always, all opinions are my own.

Back to school has had me steadily spending money; tuition, backpacks, school supplies, clothes, uniforms, gym shoes and don’t even get me started on all the groceries for the school lunches and did I mention, SCHOOL.SUPPLIES??  I know this happens every year but still every year, I get sticker shock.

It’s not that I don’t want to spend money but there is a thrill I get from finding the deal and saving the difference for family vacations or home renovations. Life is expensive but that doesn’t meant we shouldn’t get to enjoy the finer things in life, right? I’m frugal and always looking for ways to save money so for school supplies, I always hit Walmart first because they usually have the best prices and on those rare occasions that they don’t they will price match so I always know that I am getting the best price when I shop do back-to-school shopping at Walmart. I mean $.25 crayons, how can I beat that? I’ve got two words for you; Savings Catcher!

What is savings catcher, you ask? Is it like a dreamcatcher but instead of  bad dreams it filters out bad prices? Exactly! Savings Catcher compares your receipt to advertised prices from top stores in your area, and if it finds a lower advertised price, you get the difference on an eGift Card. It started August 4th and now all you have to do is enter your receipt and Walmart does the work for you. No more shopping around town or dragging in all the circulars from all the stores so that you can ad match. No more holding on to your receipts for 14-30 days and running all over town to get your receipt “adjusted” because the $200 lamp you bought yesterday went on sale today. I hate when that happens.

Basically, this is what happens; you log into www.walmart.com/SavingsCatcher , enter your receipt number from within the last 7 days, Savings catcher checks it and if you there is a better price, you get the difference credited to a gift card. What do you have to lose?

Savings catcher is awesome and really easy to use. Here is a demo video that shows you how easy it is. https://walmart.box.com/s/fl8fe85r6sfk8w63g9sl I can’t wait to enter my receipt from last week’s back-to-school shopping and see if I earned any credit. What a great, you get the best price and maybe even get to save a little money to buy yourself a little something special.

Have you tried Walmart’s new Savings Catcher Program yet?

Photo: RapidEye

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Jessica Escobar, Jess in the ATX, This Blogger's life, blogging, people behind the blogging

This week, I am so proud and excited to welcome Jessica Escobar of Jess in the ATX to This Blogger’s Life. It’s not often that I gush about anyone ( other than my kids) but Jessica truly is my Latina sister from another mister. Aside from being a whip smart lawyer by day and superhero mom & wife by night, she is an amazing woman who writes from the heart. In her quiet, classy way ( yes, she is my complete opposite in this area) she is fierce and loves and lives BIG. She is an all in kind of woman with a heart as big as Texas. When you talk to her, she is one of those rare people who actually listens and is present. She makes you feel like you matter and this is a gift that many lack.

I don’t know exactly how many years that I have “known” Jessica but it feels like I have known her forever. That’s what it feels like reading her blog, like you are sitting down at the kitchen table with a dear old friend you’ve grown up with and know one another’s secrets. That is the beauty of blogging friends, they know the secrets that you might not tell your in real life friends because it’s just too damn hard to utter the words of weakness or fear but online, for me anyways, I can speak freely and never hold my tongue. I appreciate that in other writers as well because then I feel like I know the real them; flawed and imperfectly awesome. Jessica is so much more to me than what a quick blurb could ever describe so I will leave you with this, please check out her blog Jess in the ATX and see for yourself what a true warrior looks like; quietly stoic and ever pressing on, never giving up. I admire this Jess more than she knows. You will thank me for having the chance to get to know such a truly, strong, amazing and authentic woman. Jess is more than just one of my favorite people on the Internet, she is one of my people in the world. She’s the real deal and you will be a better person for having known her. I dare you to see her smiling avatar and not have a better day. That’s Jess, she lights up the world.

Jessica Escobar, Jess in the ATX, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

This Blogger’s Life… Jessica Escobar

 

Jessica Escobar, Jess in the ATX, This Blogger's life, blogging, people behind the blogging
Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging a few years ago as a way to share my stories about my daughter. It was a way to share her funny moments and my proud mommy moments. It was less about me and more about her.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Don’t make it about trying to be like “that other blogger over there who does that big stuff”. It isn’t about trying to be big. You can’t compare yourself or try to copy their style. You have to have your own voice and speak from your heart.

What are the three words that describe you best?
proud, strong, caring

What is your favorite website?

Hmmm that’s tough. I really don’t have one! I really don’t surf the net. I have a very small list of blogs I love. It’s definitely not the mainstream ones.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

Running. I’m out of the habit but it’s something that I’m working to get back into it. It’s my release and my me time. Self care is VERY Important and something that often gets neglected as a mama.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

You have to find your voice. It’s easy to be scared of what the people in your “real life” will think of you. It’s so much easier to build a community who truly understand and support you. I’m proud to share my experiences because you never know who is reading and understands what you’re going through.

How do you balance life and blogging?

Right now I’m on “hiatus.” That’s a nice way of saying I’m having a dry spell. And I’m ok with that. Sometimes you just don’t have the words and when you aren’t trying to be the next big thing that’s fine. You can’t be hard on yourself and force the words out or you won’t enjoy yourself. You have to make the time when you want to and it’ll just balance yourself out.

How has blogging changed you or your life?
It has given me an absolutely amazing community of women who have been the most wonderful support system and group of friends that I wish I had in my community. They are the best bunch of women that I’ve never met. It’s so true that some of your best friends can live in your computer.
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

They are definitely similar but not necessarily the same, not to me. A successful blog is the one that gets all the big traffic and the one that people know. They have all the “big sponsors” and they’re the ones that people want to be like. That’s all good and great. And there’s the GREAT blogs. It’s being awesome but more than hits. They’re the ones like Deb who truly speak they’re minds and are real and open and about LIFE. Many bloggers speak from the heart.  Sometimes you blog for the hits. We’ve all done it and it happens. No harm no foul.

If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

I would be fine. I would look back at what I wrote and be proud. But I would never let go of my blogging community.

 

How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 

That’s the hard part. I have to balance my true story with the privacy of my family. I struggle with that a lot. I really censor myself because I fight depression and anxiety. I don’t want people in my personal life to read it and judge my husband or my girls and think they are getting less than a wife or a mother. It’s also why I’ve pulled back on what I say about them. It’s a hard road to walk but it really is up to you as a blogger to decide how much you share and who your audience is. I’m very weary of my real life people, and that’s just because I am reserved with them in real life. I’m not one way online and different in person.

Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?

Blogging seemed to be a lot more carefree. Then you go through the phase where you want to really grow and get big. Then you get over it and just want to be.

 

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I really try to speak from the heart. A lot of that has to do with parenting, because damn that shiz is hard work! I think that’s something a lot of other women struggle with. We question our skills but often we just underestimate ourselves.

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

OMG, Steve Jobs. I just finished his bio and I’m obsessed. My mom. She passed of cancer in 2006. DEB! Damn I love that girl. She’s so real. Three other computer friends. 🙂 I’m not a star gazer, so no one famous.

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually on a social media hiatus and that kind of happened during my depression. I’m just removed from social media and not really interested and that’s ok! The people that I’m connected to know where to find me and I know where to find them. I think that’s why I’m disconnected from the internet right now.

 

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

The one where I laid it all out about my postpartum anxiety. I was really scared to hit publish because I had to admit that I’m human. What’s more? I sent it to a few people in my family.

https://justjessatx.com/postpartum-depression-maternal-mental-health/

Jess, Thank you so much for letting me interview you on This Blogger’s Life! You truly are one of my favorite people in the world and you know I am not about blowing smoke and rainbows up butts, so you when I say it, you know I mean it. Keep on keeping on, mama! You are an extraordinary woman and I feel blessed to be called your friend. XOXO
If you want to know more about Jess, check out the blog, JESS in the ATX on Facebook and @Jessesco on Twitter.

You will wonder why you didn’t have Jessica Escobar in your life sooner:)

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Today’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is the delightfully funny and super stylish, Vera Sweeney of Lady and the Blog and Getting Gorgeous with BFF Audrey McClelland. Did I mention they also run the Permission to Hustle Group and the PTH Retreat?

I am fairly certain that the woman never sleeps. I’ve never met Vera but she is a powerhouse blogger who has been rocking the blogging world for nearly a decade. She takes her businesses seriously but she is a wickedly funny, lighthearted lady with a great sense a humor. I’ve learned that just from watching her youtube channel.

The more I learned about Vera through the interview the more impressed I was not only by how she’s built her business but her dedication to her family. Finding the balance between family and career is something I struggle with and I love seeing moms who figure out that happy medium. Go Vera! I truly loved getting to know Vera Sweeney through her interview and I know you will too.

This Blogger’s Life…Vera Sweeney

vera sweeney, lady and the blog, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blog, Getting Gorgeous

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2005 after the birth of my first child. Blogging became a way for me to reconnect with the world during my daughter’s naptimes. It was my little escape from isolation.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Don’t expect to break through and hit 6 figures in your first month. I feel like that is the new wave of thinking these days. People assume that if they start a blog they will immediately earn some sort of revenue. It took me several years before I received my first paycheck.

Start because you have a passion to write or to connect – not because you are looking for a “get rich quick” scheme.

What are the three words that describe you best?

Type A, Semi-Manic, Hilarious (what? too much?)

What is your favorite website?

That’s a hard one! I don’t know. I’m going to go with Pinterest since that’s where I spend the vast majority of my day.

READ ALSO:  This Blogger’s Life, Ree Drummond

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

I would say traveling with my family. But honestly, when I travel I usually end up blogging about the adventure. So, I guess that’s not the greatest answer. Anything is fair game because I write a lifestyle blog. If I watch a movie, take a pottery class, or spend the entire day napping in my backyard, then I can mold each and every one of those experiences into a potential post.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

I am a workaholic and that’s not a bad thing. I used to wear that word with shame – especially when my children were younger. I have learned through time that it is simply who I am and that doesn’t make me a terrible person. I enjoy putting in the effort and the long hours. Some people can’t understand this about me. They see a work-from-home mom of three and they expect a different type of person when they meet me. I’ve stopped worrying about them.

How do you balance life and blogging? How has blogging changed you or your life?

Life is blogging. Everything I do is content for my blog. I’m really lucky in that sense. If I cook a great meal for dinner (AS RARE AS THAT IS), I take pictures as I go and then I post it the very next day. It’s just part of our lives.

I truly believe blogging has made my life 100% better. My husband quit his job in 2007 and has stayed at home ever since. He manages our 4 websites and takes on the kids when I am away. We have been a true partnership for many, many years.

My children get to see their dad 24 hours a day. Not many families are lucky enough to have this set up and I never let that escape me. I am always grateful for our lives. I am so thankful that he is home with us and that wouldn’t be our reality if it wasn’t for blogging.

READ ALSO: This Blogger’s Life, Jill Smokler

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

Honesty. A real voice. No filter. And excuse me, I don’t mean Instagram filters because I use a million of those. I mean giving your readers a TRUE LOOK into your life.  Get rid of the pixie dust. I think people have moved beyond that and are ready for a dose of reality. People want something that they can relate to. Everyone is looking to connect. Be that friend.

A great blog vs. a successful blog? I don’t know. That’s a hard question for me. Money comes to mind when I formulate my answer but I know plenty of successful fashion bloggers in NYC that aren’t making a lot of money. They have a ton of klout during fashion week though. It depends what the end user wants. I think this is a really personal question. Each blogger needs to define this one on their own.

If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

There are two things that I still have to do before my time is upon this Earth. I have to write a book. I started one already and I will leave it at that. It’s completely unrelated to this field just in case you thought I was going to go there.

The other dream I have is to open up a little shop in town. I have always wanted to do something like that but I know that it will require a lot of time and I don’t want to give that up while my children are so young. So, I think the latter will happen when all my babies are in college.

How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life?

I’m an only child. This is actually really easy for me.

Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days?

When I first started blogging in 2005, there were maybe 15 celebrity gossip bloggers. Imnotobsessed.com used to get around 7 million impressions a month. We were ROCKING big time and I loved every second of it. Now, everyone has a blog and I mean everyone. My mother, my daughter and the crossing guard at our school – everyone has a blog. So, the playing field is absolutely saturated which means it isn’t as easy to hit those numbers. I have to work a lot harder to get noticed by brands. I miss being one of the only few doing it. Is that so selfish of me to say?! I told you I am an only child! HA! My celebrity gossip site gets about half the amount of traffic it used to… so you can see where I am coming from!

What do you love that has changed?

I love how big the community has grown. It’s sort of the double-sided coin if you read my previous answer. I have met SO MANY PEOPLE that I would have never known. TRULY! My favorite part of my job is meeting other bloggers. In fact, I met my best friend through blogging – Audrey McClelland from Mom Generations.

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I live a full life. I lived in NYC up until 7 years ago when we moved to Long Island. We are constantly going into the city to watch new shows, attend previews, parades, try out new restaurants or walk through festivals. We also travel a LOT. Live a rich life and then document it.

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

Honestly – I’m not the best person for this question. I’m just not that deep. It’s somewhere between Jensen Ackles and Matthew McConaughey. You don’t want me to fill up this table. It would be obnoxious.

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I believe in the zombie apocalypse.

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

Hmmm… good one.  I wrote this one about my baby boy and it got some traction. I guess if I had to pick… https://www.ladyandtheblog.com/2014/04/28/41-reasons-why-you-should-have-that-last-baby/

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Vera. I know you are super busy but I loved getting to know you better through this interview. Keep rocking the blogging world!

READ ALSO: How Blogging Changed My Life

If you’d like to know more about Vera Sweeney check out her blogs ( listed and linked above) and Facebook!

 

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

This week’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is Tracy Morrison @SellabitMum is the founder of the always entertaining website Sellabitmum.

Tracy is one of my favorite bloggers to read because she is always open and frequently hilarious. She has a way with words that can touch your heart and pee your pants with laughter, sometimes in the same post. We finally met in person last summer and if you want to know the truth, she is exactly who you’d expect her to be from reading her blog and that is very refreshing.

I am honored to know Tracy Morrison and proud to have her as my guest on This Blogger’s Life today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life, Tracy Morrison

Tracy Morrison, Sellabitmum, @Sellabitmum, This Blogger's Life, blogging,bloggers

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging after my last(fourth) miscarriage over 6 years ago. I was reading many blogs and decided to journal my own experiences. However – I ended up not even talking about my losses, but instead telling funny stories about my family.
What’s one piece of advice for new bloggers?
Your story is important. Don’t think that everything has already been written. It hasn’t. Your story is yours and thus unique. Be authentic.
 
What are the three words that describe you best? 
True. Quiet. Kind.
 
What is your favorite website? 
Um, anywhere I can shop. Does that count? I mean I love blogs, but if I’m online I’m typically shopping….
 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?
Running, shopping, or hanging out with my family. I run a lot as I’m typically training for a marathon or two.
 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging? 
That it’s okay to be me and opportunities come before you work hard and you are true to yourself.
 
How do you balance life and blogging? Ha! Is this a trick question?
I never want blogging to overshadow my life, but I want my life to be documented by my blogging. I want to live to the fullest – and write that down when I have time. If I find I’m telling my kids “Just give me a minute” – than my priorities are wrong.
 
How has blogging changed you or your life?
It’s opened a huge pot of love and friendship. The connections I’ve made through blogging with amazing women cannot be measured. It’s true love. And it’s made me a better writer.
 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same? 
I think each blogger needs to decide what success means for them – or even if they want success. Do they want to make money? Do they want to turn their blogging into a job? Do they just want a journal? Do they want to improve their writing? I think your blog is a success if it’s what you want it to be.
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?
I think all bloggers think about this. I think I would train(run) more and maybe take some classes – do something for myself – as writing is a huge outlet for me – so I would need something positive to replace that.
 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
I think that’s the beautiful part of writing and blogging – as it is memoir – and memoir is what you remember – and may not match up with what someone else did who had that same experience with you. I can tell my side of my story. It’s still my story.
 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed? 
It’s so big now – and that can be overwhelming. It’s easy to feel smaller as a piece of this huge pie. But I love the opportunities and connections that have come from this space.
 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content? 
Life. Live life and observe and remember the details. There’s a good story in just buying a pair of socks. True story!
 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
Oh wow – Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, President Obama, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Pope, And Boy George
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? 
I majored in engineering in college. I’m a nerd.
 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?
Probably my post about my marriage and being vulnerable, as it was a hard one – admitting faults on both sides. I don’t often share about my husband and our relationship – but it was raw and personal and felt good to just get out there. 
Tracy Morrison, Sellabitmum, @Sellabitmum, This Blogger's Life, blogging,bloggers
Tracy, thank you for being my guest today on This Blogger’s Life. You make me smile daily and I can’t wait to hug your neck today at the fashion show! XOXO

If you want to read more of Tracy Morrison, check her out on Facebook and Google+.

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National Geographic, Roku, Streaming stick, Giveaway

Update: The winner of the Roku Streaming Stick is Jessica Escobar. Thanks to everyone for entering.

As many of you know, I’m an ambassador for National Geographic Kids. For a second consecutive term I have been named a Nat Geo Kids Insider! Woohoo for me! Well, tonight that means woohoo for you too!

You already know that National Geographic is an amazing non-profit organization that provides awesome educational books, magazines and toys with amazing photos for our children. My girls truly love and enjoy their National Geographic magazine and books. Well, great news, recently National Geographic launched a channel on Roku, featuring a ton of exciting NGK videos that are perfect for your curious kids.

The new National Geographic channel is a video channel for curious kids and families featuring fun facts, animals and adventure. The subscription channel includes award-winning animated series like Mama Mirabelle, Iggy Arbuckle, Toot and Puddle and humorous, live action programming like Amazing Animals and Making Stuff. My girls think it’s awesome and the photography mesmerizes them.

National Geographic Kids’ mission is to inspire kids of all ages to learn about the world and provide quality video programming that sparks a child’s curiosity. With a focus on nature, animals, science, global cultures, exploration and adventure, NG Kids wants to keep the whole family engaged with videos even mom & dad like to watch!  Then, continue to learn together by getting outdoors and exploring the great, big world around you.

National Geographic, Roku, Streaming stick, Giveaway

The Roku Streaming Stick makes it easy to enjoy the best selection of streaming entertainment on TV like Netflix and the National Geographic channel as well as many more. With its compact design, the Roku Streaming Stick plugs discreetly into the HDMI port for a streamlined look that’s ideal for wall-mounted TVs like mine.

Once plugged in, the Roku Streaming Stick lets consumers start streaming from more than 1,500 channels of movies, TV episodes, music, news, sports, kids’ shows and free programming – more channels and genres than any other TV streaming device – and all in up to 1080p HD video.

And in celebration of National Geographic’s new channel, the great people at Roku are providing one Roku Streaming Stick for me to giveaway. So, this is a flash giveaway. It will last from now until Monday, July 14, 2014 at 8 pm EST on Monday night. To enter all you have to do is follow me on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/DeborahCruz/ and leave a comment below telling me your favorite show and the Pinterest account you followed me from.

I’m a National Geographic Kids Insider and was provided a Roku streaming stick to give to one of you.

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photography, photographer, photography tips, how to take amazing photos

How to take amazing photos of your child is what every parent wants to know. Because it takes more than just a good camera. It takes some good photography tips and a little know how.

If you are like me, since giving birth, I want to capture every milestone, smile and moment in a photo. What I really want to do is freeze time and keep these memories forever and a great photo helps me to do that. But kids are moving, running, laughing, sticky targets and sometimes, it’s really difficult to get that perfect shot. Here are a few tips to help you get the perfect shot, all you need is a good camera, a lot of patience and a willing (or maybe not so willing) subject.

Get down on their level

By kneeling down (or laying flat on your belly even for the really small ones) on the child’s level to take a photo, you give them the power to look directly into the camera. It also shows them that you respect them. Chat the child up to put them at ease. Then if you want a direct eye contact shot, ask the child if they see the fairy/dinosaur in your lens. Use a long lens so you don’t have to get right in the child’s space to get that close up shots.

Get Closer

A child’s face is perfect and sometimes the best shot is the one that fills the entire frame with just them. Focus on the details like newborn lashes, toddler lips going in for a kiss or tiny toes settled into beach sand.

Get Far Away & Forget the posing

Photograph your children being themselves, enjoying their favorite activities and experiencing new things. Step back and let the kids play. The angle will emphasize the smallness of the child  in contrast to the world around them, but highlight their confidence at being alone.

Try burst mode

Set your camera to take a series of photos over a very short period of time, and shoot your child in action. Switch your camera to high capture and fire off plenty of shots.  You will be amazed what is captured.

Remember, Light Rules

Natural lighting is always best for natural photos of kids, as you’ll find. In fact, I hate shooting in any other light. Using a flash is not only terrifying and blinding to babies and toddlers, it totally washes out their features. Avoid taking photos with them looking into the sun too or you’ll get squinting. It is always best to have your kids completely in the shade or fully in the sun. If there is a mix of lighting, you will end up with crazy shadows that will have you wondering when the chupacabra came in and stood in for your gorgeous little preschooler. To avoid this affect, try fill flash. Use your flash even shooting during daylight. The light from the flash will help brighten the shadows under their eyes and nose, and give you a well-lit image.

photography, photographer, photography tips, how to take amazing photos

Bring them to their favorite location

Try to choose a location for your shoot where the child has fun or they have never been. Either way you will capture joy or wonder.

Don’t forget the silly shots

Children will want to make the silliest faces they can when they are being photographed. They will want to flash you their cheesiest smile and make silly hand gestures. Let hem do this – you may not get the picture you want from such behavior, but the child is likely to enjoy this part of the experience, leading to them being more willing to have their picture taken next time.

Most importantly, make sure they’re in a good mood because no amount of lighting is going to turn that frown upside down.

What are your best photography tips for how to take amazing photos of your children?

 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Ted’s Cameras but all opinions are my own.

Photo Naixn

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
This week’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is Kelby Carr the founder of the website Type-A Parent and the organizer of the Type-A conference. I think just about everyone in the parent blogging world knows Kelby by her reputation as a business powerhouse. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her over the years through her online magazine Type-A Parent and finally got to meet her in March at Type-A Disney World. I’ll be honest, I was a little intimidated, and I am not intimidated by many people but she really has her shit together. But, when I met her, if you look at the photo below, this is who I met. A kind, quiet, strong minded, business savvy woman who upon recognizing me gave me a huge smile and heartfelt welcome that put all my nerves at ease. The thing that I love most about Kelby is that she genuinely wants to help other bloggers succeed, which is evident by her conferences. I’ve only been to a handful of conferences but I felt like I got more out of her 1 day conference than any other one I’ve attended, I can’t wait to go to Type-A Atlanta in September.
I am honored to know Kelby and proud to have her as my guest on This Blogger’s Life today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life, Kelby Carr.

Kelby Carr, Type-A, Type-A Parent, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging while still working as a newspaper reporter. It was a way to write about a topic I was passionate about, but didn’t cover regularly at my paper (travel).
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Run your own race (blogging isn’t a zero sum game).
What are the three words that describe you best?

Assertive, Type-A and social.
What is your favorite website?

Inc.com

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

Watch movies and read (everything from comic books to horror/fantasy and business books).
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

After years of writing and working for others, I realized I could (and prefer to) be my own boss.

How do you balance life and blogging?

That is one of the biggest challenges. The smartest thing I did after years of being an uptight control freak (and too tightwad) was to hire an executive assistant last year. It has made a huge difference. It has allowed me to work more on my business, and less in my business. If I could go back five years, I would smack my old self and say to do this earlier.
How has blogging changed you or your life? 

I can now work for myself. While I do have some travel, I can attend almost every school function. We can decide at the last minute to do a short getaway. I get to decide my own fate.

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

I don’t care what your business model or topic is, fantastic content is always the core to a successful and great blog. There are a lot of other factors that also can enhance that, but you can’t have great and successful without the quality content.
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

Travel, start another business or open a restaurant.
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 

I actually don’t share anything personal about my children or husband. I did buy my kids’ domains with their names years ago, so web their lives get blogged it will be by them.
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?

The focus on great writing, conversation and community. I am over the moon thrilled bloggers are making money and supporting their families now from this industry, but it is important that bloggers balance revenue goals with maintaining quality content. I see sponsored post to non-sponsored post ratios that are really alarming. If we don’t maintain the quality content, we will kill the golden goose anyway. We won’t have readers, and brands won’t see the value in investing in our industry.

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?
Type-A Parent has always been an online magazine/social blog, so that means I mix up my own posts with paid posts by bloggers. Each month, we do a call for paid blog post ideas and any blogger can apply. What’s great about that is it helps us remain community-focused, and we get lots of variety of topics and expertise areas. As an online magazine, we also cover a wide variety of topics (anything of interest to parents who blog, so that ranges from business and blogging advice to recipes and crafts).

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

Hunter S. Thompson, Audrey Hepburn, Seth Rogan, George Takei, Lynda Carter and Stan Lee. 

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I witnessed an execution.

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

My favorite posts tend to be when I mix commentary about our industry with advice, like this recent one on sponsored post ratios: https://typeaparent.com/sponsored-post-ratios.html

Kelby, Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I KNOW how crazy everything is right now with you being in full-swing preparation for Type-A Disneyland in a couple weeks. You always make time for your fellow bloggers and  I hope you know that it doesn’t go unnoticed. You’ve earned my respect on so many levels for what you do and how you conduct yourself in this arena. Can’t wait to see you in September and hug your neck. XOXO

 

If you want to know more about Kelby Carr, check her out at Type-A Parent on FB, Twitter and Google+.

 

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why I write, blog, blogger, the TRUTH about Motherhood

This is not the post that I meant to write today. I meant to write about my family road trip to Boston. And I want to be that person who just let’s things roll of her back. I really do but it’s Monday and I’m not accustomed to being called out and belittled for having an opinion. I’m all about respectful, intelligent debate but name calling is for children not intelligent adults.

See, way back in 2009, I started my blog. I called it The TRUTH about Motherhood because I was right in the thick of Motherhood and it seemed to fit my voice and where I was in life. I just wanted to write.

A friend of mine who worked in traditional media said that the wave of writing was moving to online and to get work, I needed an “online presence”. Hell, I had been neck deep in babies for the past four years, I had no idea what that even was and God knows I didn’t have the time to write about being a mom because I was too damn busy actually being a mom.

The first year was a joke. Seriously, I had no idea what I was doing. I had a few goals 1) develop my “online presence” whatever that was 2) when the kids napped or slept, write, write and write some more because I love to do it. It is how I process. I basically just copied essays that I had jotted down in a notebook for the girls about their childhood 3) to capture all the cute, funny, quirky moments of motherhood and document even the not so pleasant ones so I could appreciate the good ones and if I could help just one mom feel like she wasn’t alone, I’d be happy.

What happened that year was relocation across country that I never documented other than the original drive to Richmond to check out the city. I was too busy living to write about it. Then, things went to shit and my husband was downsized and we had to move home (blessing in disguise our home still hadn’t sold) in a blizzard.

We were quickly running through our money and afraid of what our future would hold with a toddler and a preschooler. The Big Guy (because my husband is 6’5” in case you didn’t know where the reference came from) took a job in another state because it was the only one he could find doing what he does and he made the sacrifice to work to support us and we all made the sacrifice to be apart 5 days a week. It was the worst 2 years of our lives. In those 2 years is when I really started to write.

You remember when you were in your teens and you were “in love” and there were so many ups and downs and drama and all you wanted to do was write poetry? Yeah, that’s called being inspired by your misery. I was going through a hard time and I had lots to write about. That’s where I found my people, moms who blog. I never understood what a “tribe” was until I found one as an adult. It’s more than a clique, it’s a group of people who support one another through good and bad.

I know bloggers are just regular people. I’m not delusional and don’t think they are actual celebrities but they care enough to get up and interact with the world by sharing their experiences. This meant a lot to me because at the time, I was hours away from any family and alone with kids. I needed someone to talk to, especially since my husband wasn’t there.

When you interact with people on such a personal level, I’m not talking just sharing recipes and diaper war stories, I mean the real stuff like marital issues, fertility issues, raising your child and feeling like a failure issues, feeling ugly and vulnerable and raw, the bonds are real and you see what’s on the inside (well, at least what they allow you to see). I have a tendency to have no filter so what you see is pretty much what you get.

I know that sometimes I am dorky, funny, boring, annoying and sometimes my stories are deep or interesting or shocking, sometimes they are well written and sometimes I am half-asleep or writing through the hardest moments of my life and it’s hard to type through tear filled eyes and ugly cries. Sometimes they are completely irrelevant to you and that’s okay because they are written for my children and me. You see it’s been a long time since I started blogging to become a writer. That has come to fruition. People actually pay me to write. I love my job. I am happy.

My blog is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and neither am I. My hair is never perfectly coifed and my clothes are occasionally stylish but I am a tired mom who spends the bulk of my time trying to raise happy, interesting children, while maintaining an open and honest relationship with my husband and sometimes, I write on the Internet.

My blog is real and it is flawed, like me. I cuss on my site and sometimes I add too many commas. I am educated and not a hot “mommy mess” who loses her “mommy cool” at the drop of a hat. I do however have my issues, so I can see where the jump to full on emotional train wreck could be an easy one.

I don’t blow smoke up people’s asses nor do I befriend people solely for their social media stats because none of that matters to me. What matters to me is what kind of people they are on the inside and how they treat me. It’s not about who is the coolest or hottest blogger, not for me anyways. I’m not trying to sleep with them. I want someone who can relate to me.

As bloggers, we have a little bit of real estate in the world to ignite change. Change can come in all shapes and sizes, a charity campaign to raise funds for clean water, to bring awareness to pediatric cancer, to help someone through a shared difficult situation like a miscarriage or a medical diagnosis that might be hard to face alone. Online communities hold our virtual hands through all of life’s events, if we reach out and want it.

My friends that I have met online are not virtual. They are real people. They have lives, families, jobs, interests and situations outside of the Internet but the Internet is our meeting place.

I wrote this in case you are new here or you forgot who I was. Make no mistake, I tell my truth on my blog and I welcome friendly, intelligent debate. I have a lot of opinions, I know they are not the only ones but I won’t debate you with name-calling and tantrum throwing. I just want to write my blog, share my story and tell my truth.

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