Beautiful Unique Baby Blanket for Any Little One

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary sample to review. No other compensation was received, and my opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Both of my little guys have special blankies that they've had since birth. They still cover up with them, take them in the car, and love them. There's something so special about a kiddo's first blanket so that blanket should be something unique. If you're looking for a unique baby gift, this is definitely a company to check out.


Petite Namaste is a company that makes gorgeous blankets and bedding that is special enough to pass down from generation to generation. I received a quilt/play blanket from their Blue Elephant Caravan collection; a quilt worthy of being a family heirloom.


The Elephant Caravan Quilt measures 48" by 38", big enough give baby plenty of room to roll around if using it for a play blanket. If you're using it for a comforter or bedspread, it's about 4 inches short of entirely covering a toddler bed mattress, but looks gorgeous with any subtle nursery decor.

This quilt is soft, made from 100% cotton, and is breathable enough so where baby won't get sweaty doing their tummy time laying on it. I love that the blanket is reversible, with a gorgeous pattern on both sides.

Because every piece of fabric is block printed by hand, you know a lot of love has gone into these blankets, almost as much love as your little one will have for these unique blankets.

Petite Namaste offers more than just the play quilts, though; you can find other bedding like sheets, bumpers, bed skirts, etc., as well as changing accessories, burp cloths, bibs, and pillows. So once you find that pattern you fall in love with, you can decorate the entire nursery!


About Petite Namaste:
After spending time in India, the co-founder Yanira Colon fell in love with the traditional art of block printing and the bold beautiful Indian patterns. In 2013, Petite Namaste was born with the goal of creating beautiful hand block printed products for kids.

About the Craft:
All of Petite Namaste's products are block printed on 100% cotton by hand with seasoned teak wood, using a different block for each color. The wooden blocks are dipped in dye and imprinted on the fabric. This process is repeated for every color of the design. Block printing is a slow process and the block printer must take great care to fit each section of the design in exactly the right position to match up the print.

Visit Petite Namaste to find that perfect unique baby blanket.
Follow Petite Namaste on Pinterest for Baby Decor ideas: pinterest.com/petitenamaste

5 Weather Scenarios... And How To Entertain The Kids


So you’ve finally got a day off, or the weekend has arrived at last. You want to take the kids out, but when you rub your eyes and pull back the curtains? The weather is not what you were expecting! Worry not; here are five weather scenarios and fun activities you can do to suit each. 

In The Sun… Head To The Beach


Where is more perfect than the beach in the sunshine? Pack sun cream, sun hats, sunglasses and swimming costumes and trunks. Head there are early as possible. This means you can avoid needing to set up in the midday sun. Build some sandcastles and splash in the water. Treat them to an ice cream… and yourself too! You could even finish the day by going camping nearby. This means you can have another short walk on the beach the next morning before you head home. 

Necessity- sunscreen in a high factor


Under Clouds… Go To The Park


Kids love to run around, and parents love to see them tire themselves out! Going to the park when it’s a bit cloudy is a great idea. The cooler temperatures will mean that they get dehydrated far slower than in hot sunshine. The park might also be a bit quieter, meaning your kids can play on their favourite pieces of equipment at will. In case the clouds do turn into rain, take an umbrella and some waterproofs with you, just in case. This umbrella will do the job perfectly.

Necessity- water. All that running around will dehydrate them without fluids.

When It Snows… Find A Hill 


As you can only sledge when it snows, or in an expensive indoor centre, you should always make the most of the snowfall. Dig those old sleds out of the back of the shed. Get yourself and the kids dressed up nice and warm. Hats that cover their ears and water-resistant gloves are important, as if the end up in the snow, it won’t freeze them! 

Necessity- a sled. Baking trays and the like will break quickly if they hit rocks. 

If It Rains… Build A Fort


Staying in the house when you had plans to go out can feel disappointing. However, it doesn’t need to be if you do something just as fun indoors. Building a fort is one such activity. Everyone can get involved, and you can make it a real group effort. String up sheets to the ceiling with string. Once you’ve made the ‘tent’ section, fill the inside with softness. You could even drag in a mattress and put that inside. Cover it with blankets and pillows. 

Necessity- lots of sheets. Head to the local DIY store if you need some. 


When It’s Windy… Fly A Kite


Just like how you can only sled when it snows, you can only successfully fly a kite when there is a bit of wind. Do this activity especially if your kids have never done it before! Even if they’re reluctant, they’ll have lots of fun once they get started. They’ll be especially thrilled when their kite first takes off and lifts up! Take your camera to snap some gorgeous pictures. You could even pack a picnic if you think you might stay for a while. 

Necessity- a kite. But you knew that….
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Kids Driving You Crazy in the Car? Check out ZoomKIT! (a Review)

More often than I would like, I find myself in the car with two noisy whiny kiddos. You know the scene, "Mama, she's touching me!" and "Are we there yet?" Daddy works out of town, and there are times we have to drive 2-3 hours to go see him. Nana lives about 45 minutes away, Grammy lives about 20 minutes away... Basically, if we want to see anyone, we have to travel. The kids get bored, though, and going anywhere turns into a bigger headache than anyone wants to deal with.

Sure, we've tried bringing coloring books in the car, and snacks. So it goes without saying that I have animal crackers crunched in the floor and broken crayons up under the seats.

I can't tell you how excited I was when Kids Go Co contacted me about sending a sample ZoomKIT to review. Seriously, a kit to keep them occupied in the backseat? Sold!

We received the ZoomKIT & Activity Insert Bundle, with the ZoomKIT table, ZoomART & ZoomSNACK and little miss Terrible Twos loves it. We've had it several months now, and still don't leave the house without it. She just calls it her "tray" but I call it my lifesaver.

The ZoomKIT weighs in at only 2 pounds and is constructed of a softer but extremely sturdy EVA foam. Created to be portable, the legs are even removable for easier storage. There is also an adjustable velcro strap that can be used to secure the ZoomKIT around her waist, which is handy in case she fall asleep (which she usually does on a long road trip.)

Here's how we use the ZoomKIT. See that little lunchbox looking one? That's the ZoomSNACK. I'll add some little snacks like crackers and apple slices into the compartments and then close it up to keep in the front seat. Then after I get her buckled in, I put the ZoomKIT table in her lap and strap the velcro belt around her waist, because there's nothing worse than a dropped toy that can't be reached. 

We usually keep some smaller dolls and cars in the tray, and when she gets bored with those, I'll pull out the ZoomART set. With markers, crayons, stickers, and coloring books, it keeps her busy and entertained (and quiet!) for a long time. A long time isn't forever, though, so when she starts pelting me with crayons from the backseat I'll break out the snack box and pop it into her tray. She's happy, I'm happy, and car rides have gotten a lot smoother since we got the ZoomKIT.

It isn't just for car trips, though! We bring the ZoomKIT to doctor appointments and it keeps her entertained while we wait. I don't have to worry about her playing with germy toys that a ton of other snotty kids sneezed on, and she's happy because she brings her favorite little dolls. She even pulls it out when she wakes up in the morning, to color while Mama's waiting for the coffee to kick in.



Seriously, if you don't have a ZoomKIT yet, you should definitely look into getting one! Visit their website at www.kidsgoco.com for more information.


*I received a complementary sample to review, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. No other compensation was received*

Make Your Home Spick And Span With My Must Have Guide



Are you interested in making your home stunning? I know there’s plenty of people out there who dream of a beautiful, clean, safe home for their kids. That’s what I’m going to be talking about today. Remember, a clean home isn’t just about perception.


You can’t ignore the health hazards of letting dirt build up around your home. Take mold as an example. Mold is an eyesore in the home, no doubt. But we shouldn’t forget that the spores it releases into the air can also be damaging to our health. You have to be careful of this issue. I’m going to talk about how to deal with mould further down. But for now, let’s talk about a problem that isn’t as serious. That’s the buildup of clutter in your home.


Diminishing Clutter



When you start to think about a cleaner home, you first have to deal with the clutter. If you have kids, this could be the toys lying across the floor or the Blu-Rays scattered around the television. All these little things are going to make your home look more of a mess. To solve this issue, I suggest you buy some storage furniture. Storage furniture units can look very stylish in your home and will solve the issue of mess and rubbish building up everywhere.


You may also want to consider limiting the number of things in each room. Ideally, you should only have a seating position in each room for every member of your family. If you do this, your home won’t look as cluttered. Limit the amount of furniture that is purely decorative pieces. Instead, focus more on furniture that you actually use. You can make a lounge look stunning with just a fireplace, tv, a couple of chairs and a table. There’s really no need for anything else.


Basic Cleaning



Once you’ve started to get rid of the clutter in your home, it’s time to start thinking about basic cleaning. This is the cleaning you’ll complete in your home on a regular basis. Typically, you’ll clean your home from top to bottom every couple of weeks. If you have pets or young children, you might clean more regularly than this. It all depends on how long you can last with your home looking a mess before you need to take action. Cleaning services can really help for other mamas with chronic illnesses, but here are a few tips for those who like to DIY.


You should always clean from top to bottom. In the most simplistic scenario, you push the dirt off the furniture onto the floor. Then, you wash the floor. If you do it the other way around you’ll push the dirt off after and have a dirty floor. You see the basic issue here.


It’s worth considering what you’re using for cleaning. For instance, if you have pets you’re going to need one heck of a vacuum cleaner. Your typical model isn’t going to do much. Particularly, if you have a pet like a labrador that sheds a lot of fur. Buy a specialized vacuum and you should have no problem getting rid of those fur balls.


Then there are the cleaning products that you might be using. There’s a lot of cleaning products on the market but did you ever think the best might already be in your kitchen cupboard? I’m talking about white vinegar. White vinegar is a great cleaning product that’s cheap and very effective. We’re going to be talking about it again very soon. But for now, it’s important you understand why a natural product is better than a specialized cleaning product. The cleaning products that you buy are often filled with toxins that can damage the health of your family. If you don’t believe me, check out some quality tips from Alternative Daily. They’ve posted about this before and have plenty of awesome advice.


Alternately, you might also want to consider cleaning with UV light or as many people like to think of it, a magic wand. I have to admit, it is fun cleaning with a UV wand. You swipe it over the surface and hey presto, it’s clean! Or is it? UV lights kill bacteria for sure but you do need to be quite careful when using it. It takes a tad more time than a quick whoosh of the wand. You’ll see this on the ads and it’s not exactly like that. Still, it is an effective way to clean. Though definitely a lot more dangerous than using a natural substance.




Getting Rid Of Mold



Mold is a big problem in the modern home. Particularly if you’ve invested in those super duper triple glazing windows. They’re great, right? You can no longer hear the traffic and your home is now incredibly peaceful. Be careful though because one glaze of glass has a significant advantage. It allowed cold air to enter and warm air to leave. Okay, that does make it harder to keep your home warm. But it also stops dampness building up which can then lead to mold. If you’re starting to see black spots on your windowsill or on the wall, that’s not dirt. That’s mold and you need to get rid of it.


The first thing that you’ll have to do is get rid of the current mold. You can do this with any cleaner or white vinegar! Wipe it over and in a few hours it will have magically disappeared, I guarantee it.  But that won’t solve the problem of mold developing in the first place. To do this, you’ve got to either suck it up and open the window or buy a dehumidifier. You can get mini dehumidifiers online that work wonders and will solve the problem to an extent.


Infestations



One of my main incentives for keeping the house clean is to avoid infestations. I’m talking about the bugs and beasties that come creeping in out of the cold. Or, they scuttle in to escape the heat during the summer months. If you hate these visitors as much as I do, make sure you’re spraying bug spray around the cracks and crevice around your home. You should focus on the cracks in doors and windows particularly. As well as this, you need to watch where you’re eating. You really shouldn’t be eating food anywhere other than the dining room or kitchen. Do this, and your home won’t be an attractive place for the bugs.


Has my guide helped you keep your home clean and safe for your family? I certainly hope so.




Planning A Family Holiday With The Kids: Everything You Need To Know

Traveling with children is something you should do as early as possible. Let them get used to long car journeys and family holidays at an early age. However, as many parents will know, family holidays aren’t always the smoothest ride! There will often be tantrums and arguments along the way!

Of course, they will also be the most wonderful, exciting times, and you’ll create lots of memories. There’s a fine balance to be struck here, and I’ll help you find the best way to travel with children. Whether it’s a local camping holiday or a long-haul flight, keep reading to find out more.


Engage them in the process

I’ve always found that children love to be involved in grown-up activities. So let them be a part of the planning process. Let them help decide where to go, and what activities you’ll do when you get there. After all, this is their holiday too. They’ll often love helping out, and choosing their favourite things. Of course, just make sure you have the final say, or it’ll be ten weeks in Disneyland!

Choosing a destination


Choosing the right destination is the hardest (but most exciting) job. You’re looking for somewhere that isn’t too far away. Especially if your little ones haven’t done much traveling yet. You’re looking for somewhere relatively accessible without too much travel time. It’s also worth choosing somewhere that has activities for all the family. The kids will want fun activities to keep them busy. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some culture and sightseeing too. Pick a location that has the best of both worlds.

Packing


Parents are often tempted to pack everything and cover every eventuality. The truth is, it’s better to pack light, if possible. It takes the stress out of traveling and makes it all easier at the other end. If you’re flying, try to pack all the essentials into your carry-on luggage. Try to be strict, and leave certain things at home. Remember, if you need something when you get there, you can always buy it.


Keep the costs down


The cost of travelling can quickly grow before you’ve even realised it. There are the flights, the hotels, the food, the theme park admissions (so many theme park admissions). So try to limit your budget, and find bargains wherever you can. Start out by looking at Hotwire deals to find a cheap hotel, and use a comparison site for cheap flights. While you’re on holiday, set a daily budget for food and drinks, and don’t go over it.

Bring something from home


If it’s your first time travelling with the children, you never know how they’re going to react. They might become quite homesick, and struggle with new surroundings. If that’s the case, bring plenty of things from home, so they have something familiar. It could be a favorite teddy bear, some music, or a favorite book. Anything that keeps them calm and happy should do the trick.

If there are any regular travelers out there, I’d love to hear how you cope on a family holiday. Have you got any tricks or ideas to share with the readers?

This Is How to Design the Perfect Family Dining Room

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Eating together as a family is an essential bonding time for everyone. You get the chance to talk about your day and have some fun together before you go your separate ways. When everyone has their own lives, it can be hard to find other times to bring everyone together. If you enjoy eating as a family, having a separate dining room is an excellent idea. However, designing something that's suitable for everyone can be complicated. Sometimes you will want to use it for family meals, but dining rooms have other purposes too. You might like to host dinner parties, or the kids might use it to do their homework. Use these tips to create a family dining room that works for everyone.

Balance Beauty and Practicality


When you have a family, you have to think about how practical your home is. Even if you want everything to be stylish, there are some things you have to avoid. You don't want anything that's easily stained or broken. Thinking about practicality is essential, so don't forget to take it into account. Being practical won't stop you from setting up a beautiful room. For example, the tables on LoveTheSign are at the cutting edge of style, but they're also easy to keep clean. You can think about choosing wipeable surfaces or items with washable covers. Any spillages should be cleaned up easily.

Make It Flexible


Your dining room won't always have the whole family sat around the table. Sometimes some of you might not be there. Other times, you might have extra people, like friends or extended family. It's a good idea to think about how you can make the room flexible for different numbers are different types of meal. You could consider having an extending table, for example. They're perfect for going from a small and intimate setup to pulling them out and getting more guests around the table. You could even have another, smaller eating area. If there's space, you could put in a small breakfast table or bar.

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Consider Other Purposes


You probably won't use the dining room for eating alone. If you do, it would end up being empty most of the time. It's useful to have that extra space for doing other things. The kids might need somewhere quiet, with a proper table, to do their homework. You might want to escape to another room if everyone is watching TV and you just want to read a book. Think about how you can accommodate these needs. For example, you might include a bookcase and a comfortable armchair in one corner. You could have a cupboard to keep homework supplies, such as pens and paper.

Allow for Customization


Sometimes you might want to switch up the dining room, so don't make it too fixed and rigid. You might wish to set it up for someone's birthday or set the table for a grown-up dinner party. Allow some flexibility to change the room to suit the mood, whether it's using chair covers, lighting or other elements.

Setting up a dining room for the whole family can be hard. There's a lot to take into account, but you can create a space that works for everyone.

Helping Your Children Out (of the House)

Dorm Life

As a parent, it is always understood that eventually your children will grow up, and leave your home to start a life on their own. When that time finally comes, they may need some help getting underway. Whether it be a dorm or an apartment, they will need storage options and items that can save space and can be stowed away easily.

Supplies!


While your child may not be doing much in the way of construction in their dorm, they will need some basic tools to keep things from falling apart. While it won't make them instant DIY experts, it's a good place to start. Keeping the apartment clean is important, but more so, is having the supplies they will need, without taking too much space. Likewise, a handy caddy for cleaning supplies could be useful.

Finding Furniture with Storage


A smart way of storing things may be to double your furniture as storage containers. End tables and coffee tables are obvious choices, as many offer additional drawers and shelves to place things like books, remotes, and other items. However, there are more options for clothing or larger items that don’t require a new closet or cabinet. All sorts of ottomans, couches, and bed frames can be found with built-in storage options, such as hidden drawers, or compartments. In fact, you can find a lot of ideas for twofold furniture!

Bedding


Everyone needs a bed when they’re on their own. But before you send them off with the wonderful bed that's served them well for years, remember that they might be hauling it up three flights of stairs, even if it fits where it's heading. To save on space, it may be easier to order a foam mattress like the one from Lull, whose mattresses ship rolled into a box the size of a mini-fridge, allowing for easy movement and set-up for use with any standard sized bed frame. Folding or slide-away frames like the Murphy Frame also offer unique and space-friendly solutions for your favorite college student. Some assembly will, no doubt, be required.

Four Walls and a Ceiling


Obvious choices when coming up with a place to store things are bookshelves and cabinets. However, these aren’t the only places you can put things. A common solution is a shoe hanger, which can hang directly onto doorways or in closets with clothing. They are easy to access and free up floor space for other things. While they are may not be the most stylish of options, overhead storage racks and various wall-mounted shelves can be a great way to provide additional storage without sacrificing floor space or adding to the potential clutter.

There are a lot of ways that you can help your children spread their wings and better prepare them for life on their own while you adjust to enjoying the life of a successful parent of a newly-minted adult. Do what you can to help out, but remember that this stage of their life, like all stages really, is just as much about the mistakes that are made as they are about the ones that are avoided. And don't worry, you'll still hear from them between financial aid disbursals.

Kids and Camping

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There are lots of interesting and fun activities for children and families in Florida. In this article, we’ll be touching on some great fun activities and places to see, as well as safety measures that you should take into account while camping with kids. This is particularly important because we don’t want the fun-filled day to take an unexpected turn.

Visit Nature’s Resort Campground

This is particularly for nature lovers and enthusiasts who want to expose their kids to the beauty of nature and help them develop a healthy appreciation for their natural environment. 
Nature’s Campground located near Crystal River in Homosassa offers a number of freshwater springs, wildlife parks, rivers and is home manatees, and other fabulous fauna. If you take a guided tour, you can even swim with the gentle beasts while enjoying the breathtaking surrounds.

Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Madison 

Kids love Jellystone and Jellystone loves them right back. If you’re looking for a fun place suited to camping activities for the children and available all year round, this is where they need to go. 
Located in Madison, the park boasts of a ton of activities suited to people of all ages. So, not only do the kids get to enjoy the thrilling facilities, adults get to join in the fun, too!
Camp activities here include a huge waterslide for the kids, playing on the sandy beach, kayaking, mini-golf and paddle boating activities. Campers can also get to rent a cabin, go with their RVs or just sleep in tents under the stars. 

Disney’s Fort Wilderness

Located in Orlando, Disney’s Fort Wilderness will be an experience your children will remember for a long time. The resort and campground offer a wide variety of kid-friendly activities. 
Some of these activities include hayrides, dinner shows, open air movies where you and the kids watch movies outdoors at night while camping, sing-along activities, horseback riding, enjoy carriage rides, and watching fireworks. Also, located nearby is Night Lite Pediatrics, should any mishaps occur. 
There are a lot more fun activities that you and your children can partake in at Fort Wilderness. The one thing we guarantee is that you and the kids are going to love the experience.

Safety Precautions and Measures for Kids During Camping

Thankfully, many of these kid-friendly campgrounds already make provisions for safety. In fact, most parks will provide safety gear, display bold warning signs, and even make announcements about possible risks and dangers. 
That said, it's always good practice to ensure that your children are properly kitted out for their adventures. Make sure they have the necessary clothing and protective gear to protect them from the fickle Florida elements, as well as some of the more dangerous critters they might encounter.
If they’ll be going swimming, make sure they have life jackets -- even if they are strong swimmers. Provide the necessary skin protection for them. Florida is one of those places where you could get a sunburn while standing in the shade, after all. 
Make sure that you bring hypoallergenic sleeping materials for kids who are prone to allergies. And when it's time for bed, flat mosquito netting. Finally, make sure to keep an eye on the children kids tend to wander and follow whatever catches their eyes.

9 Chrome Apps That Will Make You a Better Blogger

I've mentioned a couple of times before: I am a horrible procrastinator.  No, perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way.  I am an awesome procrastinator. I mean, so far it's proved to be my best talent!  Seriously, I have close to 90 drafts in my Blogger dashboard, all half-written and forgotten.  It's not that I don't want to write - I just seem to keep putting it off until the ideas have passed and I no longer feel like I can cover the topic as well as I could have.

It's just so easy to open up Facebook or answer a text or change a diaper when I'm in the middle of working, and then I get sidetracked and lose my momentum. I tell myself, "Eh, you'll get around to it later," but then later never comes.  To help me get over this slump and back into the groove of blogging, I have scoured the Internet and found some of the coolest ways to help me focus and stay on task. I've compiled them into a neat little list so you can check them out too!

Here are my ten favorite apps you can add to Chrome to make life easier, that will make you a better blogger (not that you aren't superb already!)


TimeDoser


TimeDoser is a nifty little offline Chrome app that forces you to be productive.  Ok, so there isn't a bomb strapped to it that actually MAKES you do anything, but it's a timer that breaks up the monotony of writing.  

It records time in 25-minute blocks with a five-minute break in-between. Studies show that working in shorter bursts actually increase productivity; When you focus on your writing in smaller increments, your brain is less likely to experience that lull of boredom.  Inspired by the Pomodoro Technique, this app has definitely made my focus stronger and keeps me charging ahead with my blogging.

Wunderlist


By now, I'm sure you have a blogging binder full of lists and schedules that help work out your tasks for the week, but how well does it help for your day?  I love having a to-do list to plan my day out; something to keep me knowing what to do next, or what I want to accomplish before going to bed.


Wunderlist does just that!  You just add in the tasks you want to get done, and then check them off as you go. It's perfect for bloggers, especially if you need reminders to leave comments on other blogs, to keep up with emails and sponsored content, or to schedule social media posts.


Grammarly

No one likes a grammar nazi.  I apologize for my moments of being said grammar nazi... If you've ever used the wrong instance of "your," "there," or "to" on the internet - I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.  


With Grammarly, you don't have to worry about spelling or grammatical errors anymore; Once you add it to Chrome, a handy-dandy little icon appears anywhere you type to correct you.  It's kind of like having an English teacher following you around everywhere you go online, and I love it.  It even works on social media, highlighting any typing boo-boos you might've accidentally made.

Grammarly Writing Support

Pocket

Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook feed and opened up all the interesting-sounding articles that you really wanted to read, but then the baby will cry or the phone will ring, and by the time you make it back to the computer you realize that you have a deadline that you'll never be able to make unless you get started right then, meaning you end up closing up all those extra tabs?  Oh, that only happens to me?  

Well, there's an app called Pocket that lets you save all those interesting stories or articles for later - when you have a chance to come back to them. You're probably asking yourself, "So how does this help with blogging?" Here's how I use it: Whenever I'm searching for resources for a particular post or article, I save all of those articles in Pocket with a specific tag. Then when I'm ready to write and need to add in a link to a source I've quoted or talked about, I just look for all of those specific pages. It helps keep the Internet organized, and I'm a sucker for organization.


StayFocusd

This one might seem more like punishment at first. StayFocusd is an extension for Chrome created to force productivity by restricting how much time you can spend on time-wasting websites. After your allotted time has been used up, the sites you set to be blocked can't be accessed for the rest of the day.

The cool thing is that you completely control what sites you want to block or allow, including specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc). I know I have a hard time keeping off of Facebook and Youtube while trying to work, so I turn on "The Nuclear Option" and all websites in my list are blocked for an hour.


Vibe

Have you ever gotten a pitch from someone and you're not sure if they're wanting to guest post or put a spammy backlink article on your site?  Vibe takes their email address and shows you all of their information so you can research them and make sure they are who they claim to be. Now, I'm not talking about their social security number or bank information or anything like that - but it will show you their social media sites and information from LinkedIn.  

You probably already research this stuff anyway when sending out emails (you should, it helps to know who you're emailing and how to connect with them elsewhere) but Vibe makes it easy. You can save precious time simply by selecting the email address and you'll be able to see their name, position, location, work history, facebook profile, Linkedin profile, twitter profile, etc. 


Hootsuite

Hootsuite is my go-to for social media management.  It helps me schedule posts for all of my platforms right from the dashboard and lets me track engagement.  Unless you like going the pen-and-paper route, writing down every post you want to share into a planner, Hootsuite is a must-have. 

I'm just going to share their video so you can see right from them why you need this app:


Sticky Notes

Ok so maybe this one isn't really a must-have, but it's still one of my favorites.  Before I figured out how to manage my blog and found an organizational method that worked for me, Post-It notes were my go-to. There were points in time where I had upwards of 20 sticky notes around my desk to remind me what needed to be completed and what ideas I had for posts. 

Now I use Sticky Notes for Chrome for the most pressing tasks that I need to be reminded of whenever I come back to the computer. Let's say I have to go pick up a sick kid from school, but I was right in the middle of designing a graphic for someone.  Instead of writing myself a note of whatever color scheme I was using, I just type it into a sticky note and put it on my desktop so I know exactly where I was when I left off. Just short, sweet, and simple.



RoboForm

Here's another one that might just make life simpler for me, but if you're a member of a ton of different networks and websites, you know that typing in your username and password for every single one can be a pain. What I can't stand is getting to a site that you don't use every day, and forgetting the password for it.  

RoboForm is a password manager that takes the stress out of all your log-ins. Just remember your one Master Password and RoboForm remembers the rest- it's that easy! Their bookmark-style Logins automatically log you into your favorite websites with one click. Since you no longer need to remember or type your passwords, you can use RoboForm to generate strong, unique passwords for each of the sites that you visit.


As you can see, there's lots of apps and extensions for Chrome that can help make the blogging life easier. Which ones do you use?

Being an Effective Parent Volunteer at Your Child's School

When you have a chance to volunteer at your child's school, the opportunities are almost endless. From organizing holiday parties to huge theater productions, volunteers are critical for any school's quality level. However, it's important to be an asset to the school instead of slowing its progress down. Consider a few tips that can help you become a more effective parent volunteer at any grade level.


Follow the Rules 


To start off your efficient school visit, always sign in. In the past, parents used to show up to individual classrooms unannounced. In today's modern world, you should always check in with the office and sign in for a particular classroom. This process allows the school to know who is on campus for better organization and safety. Fewer classroom disruptions is a positive side effect as well.

Offer Unique Solutions


Schools need volunteers because funding is almost always lacking. Volunteers have to work with the tools and resources that they're given. However, you can also use your creative mind to offer unique solutions during a project where the resources are lacking. When a drama production is approaching, consider theater casters for the background scenery. Students or adults can easily slide these pieces on and off of the stage for a seamless production. Without creative thinking, many school projects would fall flat or fail altogether.

Be Present


Unorganized volunteers reflect poorly on the school and students. If you've committed to volunteering, always arrive on time. Both students and teachers rely on their volunteers for a variety of functions, from walking kids to the picnic grounds to handing out assignments. If you cannot be present, call the school as early as possible. Your position can be quickly filled by another parent in the meantime.

Avoid Nepotism 


Being part of your school's success means that your child benefits as well. However, avoid being the hovering parent. You don't want to show favoritism to your child during volunteer activities, such as picking your son first for a game. Be fair to all of the children, and your child will have a great time in response.

One of the most important parts of being a volunteer is communicating. Don't be intimidated by an overbearing parent who wants to control all of the activities in a given classroom. Be confident, assert yourself and everyone will enjoy the fruits of their volunteering efforts.