Friday, May 16, 2014

I Got it Free! Coppertone Clearly Sheer

Allow me to disclose: I received Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunscreen free to try and offer my opinion as a member of a BzzAgent campaign, the product may be free, but the opinions, they are all mine.

I cannot be the only one....who loves freebies! I am talking about the samples at Costco, mini perfume bottles at the makeup counter, and now, from BzzAgent, Coppertone Clearly Sheer For Sunny Days Sunscreen Lotion.

Who wouldn't love a box full of sunscreen?
I walked to my mailbox, like any other hum drum day of the week yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised to find a box that was full of Coppertone Sunscreen products.  It is already hotter than hot here in Southern California, so sunscreen is a necessary part of our daily routine. But, like many other daily must-do's, Sonny Boy is resistant to sitting still while I attempt to blend in his usual paste-like sunscreen, and that makes getting ready for the outdoors a pain in the...well, you know. This is where the Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunscreen samples come in to save our sunny day, it's consistency is more like a daily moisturizing lotion, that means it's much easier to put on, and so my boy-o is protected from the sun without raging a battle against his good old mom.

The Coppertone Clearly Sheer sunscreen is super easy to apply, it goes on easy breezy, has a light fresh scent, and is SPF 30. We love this Coppertone Sunscreen!

Thanks BzzAgent for giving us a chance to try this Coppertone product for free and giving me coupons to pass along to my friends!


Friday, May 9, 2014

The First Field Trip


I cannot be the only one…who was filled with dread after they glanced ahead at their child’s school calendar and saw the words “Kindergarten Field Trip to The Zoo” printed on the page.  I immediately envisioned Sonny Boy, tears streaming down his chubby little six year old cheeks, crying in a little alcove outside the gorilla exhibit, lonely and lost at the zoo on his first field trip.  My heart started racing and I knew I had to find out all the particulars of this field trip before I could sign my John Hancock on any sort of permission slip.

When the field trip paperwork was sent home in the homework packet, I sat down and studied the information, I mean studied the info, you could have tested me on the details later in the day and I would have aced that test. With all the knowledge about the field trip laid out in front of me, I painfully decided, that even with my reservations about the trip, I would sign my child’s safety off to the school and hope for the best.

The mysterious swollen ear.
I know your thinking, “Geez, cut the cord woman,” but my field trip fears are based on more than just an overprotective Mama standpoint; the school and Sonny Boy’s teacher have given me pause about their commitment to our little learners on more than one occasion.  There was the time that Sonny Boy shared with me the adventure of taking the attendance forms to the office, only to return to the Kindergarten yard to find the gate locked, and after standing around for a few minutes (who knows what a few minutes in a six year old life is, it could have been three or twenty), unsure of what to do, he and his classmate decided to return to the office to ask for help.

Another time Sonny Boy’s ear swelled up to three times it’s natural size in class, it was red, angry, and sticking out funny from the side of his head (you know, funnier than usual, that is). When I asked his teacher if Sonny Boy had complained or was preoccupied by the irritated ear she replied, “I didn’t even know it was red, but Wow look at it.” Yes, “Wow look at it,” was her response.

With these and a few other, “Huh,” experiences under my belt, I think it goes without saying that I was fearful of the schools ability to take my child on a bus, away from our city, get him inside the gates of the zoo, and keep watch over him. Thankfully, a few of my Mama friends were able to get time off of work to volunteer as chaperones on this zoo excursion and promised me that they would keep a watchful eye over Sonny Boy with the same kind of scrutiny as they do watching their own children.

The day of the field trip I was pretty nervous, after I dropped Sonny Boy off at school I kept my eye on the time, trying to imagine what those junior scholars were up to at the zoo. At ten o’clock I imagined them having a snack, at noon that gaggle of kindergartners could be eating their lunch, one o’clock Sonny Boy was being rescued from his fall into the lion habitat, and at two o’clock their little tired legs would be boarding that big yellow school bus.

The boy is READY to go!
Picking Sonny Boy up after school that day was the best, seeing his dirty rosy checked face was such a welcome relief.  I was so happy to see him in one piece, with no claw or ravaging wild animal tooth marks. Later, when getting the low down from the chaperoning Mamas, I was not too shocked to hear that in fact one of Sonny Boy’s classmates did manage to wander off for a moment, but was found and returned to the class quickly and efficiently (all thanks to the Zoo security, who I guess is trained and ready for the wandering child scenario).

All in all, we made it past this first field trip and are already looking forward to more…well, Sonny Boy is, I am still a nervous nelly…

Friday, May 2, 2014

Summer Camp Essentials

I cannot be the only one...who has mixed feelings about summer.  Those days of carefree hours in the sun or staying up late in the warm evenings are no more. Now my summer consist of scrambling to create a schedule for my six year old that will keep him occupied, well supervised, and allow me to keep my already very part-time, part-time job. All of this combined makes it difficult to love summer as much as I used to.

The best choice for our little family of three is summer camp.  While it can be costly, it seems to be a necessary cost, and in such cases it's best to try not to think about the money and think about the peace of mind summer camp offers.
Love Bull Frog (photo credit: amazon.com)

With the days of summer quickly approaching it is time for me to start stocking up on our Summer Camp Essentials, starting with these:


1. Sunscreen and/or Sunblock
The summer camp Sonny Boy attends has a mandatory sunblock applying time written right into the daily schedule.  Last year I thought the spray can sunblock would be easier for my then five year old to apply, but was proved wrong when I picked him up from camp and was unable to keep a grip on his over sun protected greasy arms...this year we are going old school pasty white rub on lotion.


photo credit: amazon.com


2. Hat...any style will do, just bring a HAT.
Outside all day is a great way to take in all that summer camps have to offer, but squinting in the sun can put a serious damper on your camper's ability to have a good time.  My boy tends to go for a baseball cap, while this all fine and dandy for shading his eyes from the sun, a baseball cap is usually made of a thick twill which causes serious sweaty head issues.  This year I am opting for a more weather friendly version of the good old hat with lots of mesh to help relive a little of that sweat.



photo credit: amazon.com

3. Backpack
Not only do your kids need sunblock and a hat, they will need a multitude of things to survive the summer camp lifestyle, and a sturdy backpack will help them carry their goods to and fro.  We made the mistake of buying a backpack with a zipper that wasn't made for shoving everything into the pack and then squeezing it shut while trying to zip it closed last year, and unfortunately that backpack didn't survive the summer.  This sturdy digital camo-pack with handy water bottle holder will be our backpack of choice this year.





4.  Labels...labels...labels
I cannot stress to you the importance of labeling everything...EVERYTHING. The inside of their shoes, their socks, their under-roos, their...the list goes on and on, but for good reason. Every bright and sunny morning at drop off time at the summer camp the counselors place a table piled to the sky with every misplaced item the campers left behind from the days before.  Considering most of us parents shop at pretty much the same three stores (Target, Wal-Mart, and A Children's Place) it becomes real hard to distinguish between your boy-o's stuff and my boy-o's stuff.

photo credit: amazon.com



5. Kid sized beach towels.
Watching my four-foot-tall boy dragging his six-foot-long wet beach towel across the lawn, sandbox, and dirt of the camp yard on a daily basis was too much for me.  Washing towels every couple of days because the kiddo couldn't manage such a large towel commodity was an issue I had to nip in the bud.  Purchasing beach towels that compliments their vertically challenged frame is an easy way to help with the carrying of the towel, the packing of the towel, and the usage of said towel...do yourself the favor, find a perfect sized towel for your mini-camper.




These are my top five Summer Camp Essentials, all the items shown are available on Amazon (with the exception of the labels, which you can get from Mabel's Labels) if you want more info, and I hope this list helps you get your family ready for those dog days of summer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Comment


I cannot be the only one…who has logged into their blog on any random day only to be blindsided by a less-than-friendly comment left by a reader.  After reading the aggressively negative comment I find myself going through a range of emotions: First, I feel defensive, thinking to myself, “What did I do or say that caused such animosity,” secondly, I feel defeated, “Maybe I shouldn’t write anymore,” and lastly, I remind myself, “What I write is not for everyone…and obviously this particular post was not for the comment leaver.” 

I blog about a touchy subject, Parenting, with so many parents in the world, all with diverse parenting styles, it’s easy to understand how a parenting experience that I blogged about (that was so simple to me) could potentially cause negative feelings in another parent.  With this understanding in mind, I decided to create personal guidelines of how I want to deal with the negativity when it comes
The prickly feeling of an angry comment.
knocking on my blog’s doorstep, and here are my thoughts:

1.     ALWAYS respond.
I respond to the opposing comment by acknowledging their point and hopefully clarifying my point further.  If the person insulted me directly, well…I don’t step into that arena, mud slinging based on the opinion of others simply isn’t my thing, I am not that type of person, nor do I want to be.

If your choice of response is to really give it back to the commenter feel free, BUT know that when you put your opinion and thoughts out into the ether you are welcoming others opinions and thoughts back to you as well.  That is where the idea of an online “community” comes into play. Think of it this way, you couldn’t proclaim I hate pizza and not expect at least one person to think that you were crazy for doing so, and then proceed to explain to you why they think you are nuts.


2.     Let it GO!
I am not one for grudges, how terribly heavy it is to hold onto disappointment, annoyance, or anger, so when you receive a comment that is less than complimentary face it and let it go.  I don’t allow the negative comment to become the entire theme of my post by discussing it with other readers.  If another reader brings up the offending comment in their comments, address it calmly, and move on.


3.     Do NOT delete the comment.
Sure, I have the power to obliterate the comment, but I don’t. I leave the comment, respond to it, and make it known that I believe in what I have written, as well as, that I am open to discussing other points of views. 

I do have one caveat to this decision of to delete-or-not to delete and that is if the comment includes hateful or seriously dirty words, defined as, any words that I, myself, would not use in a post on my blog. If any of those Whoa-Mama type of words are included in a reader’s post, it would give me cause to delete the it.  With the deletion of the adverse comment I would submit a comment of my own explaining why I deleted the post, acknowledging that the comment was received and read, but I can’t, in good taste, allow certain words to be included in my daily rays of sunshine (aka: my blog).

4.     Feel GOOD that something I wrote moved someone (even if was in anger).
I began writing my blog because I was surprised how many of my thoughts on parenting were not reflected in the other mother’s around me.  I took to the Internet and was thrilled to find other honest, smart, and brilliant Mama’s who felt similarly, but I am not naive enough to think we are the only ones out there.  If my thought on a particular subject sparks something in someone, enough to have them comment with such passion, then I think it’s healthy for me to read it and try to see their angle, and hopefully I can get a different perspective.

These are just a few of the guidelines I have put in place for myself and my blog, these little rules make me feel better when faced with a challenging comment, and help me keep on track (instead of crying to the heavens, “Why….why?”).

Do you have any personal rules for dealing with a comment that is unflattering to yourself or your blog? If so, please share them with the rest of us, that way when we get those “kind” of comments we react with our level heads instead of our emotional ones.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sonny Boy's Library Picks

I cannot be the only one...who realizes that they sway even the most simplest of their child's decisions, whether it be making a healthier snack choice, "Not the cookies, what about the carrots?" or while scrutinizing the latest Lego sets at the toy store, "Why not look at the smaller sets of Lego's, then you can get more for your money?" But once we send our precious tykes off to the salt mill, otherwise known as elementary school, they are given opportunities to make choices minus our best efforts to lead them in a good direction, and their freedom of choice gives us the opportunity to see reflections of our lessons of making good choices and their budding personalities all rolled into one.

This has been the case with Sonny Boy's trips to the school library, where the kids are allowed to choose a book they are interested in, some of his classmates choose picture books or comic books, but Sonny Boy has developed a theme....and it is alright with me.

Dinosaur: DK Eyewitness Books
This was such a great choice!  The pictures are so detailed and the information is presented in a way that holds my kindergartner's attention (not always easy to do, I've lost him on much more kid-friendly books in the past).

This book covers the dinosaurs from scaly head to lengthy tail, it discusses who coined the term dinosaur, what environmental conditions the dinosaurs thrived in, the theories about what happened to the dinosaurs, and of course fossils.

The DK Dinosaur book is the kind of book that you and your kids will return to over and over again, while still finding something new to read and learn about those enormous extinct creatures that were the dinosaurs.

Photo credit: amazon.com




Other recent choices hand picked by Sonny Boy

Tigers by Helen Frost 
This books was another good choice.  The pictures of these big cats are fantastic and the author gives the little ones a chance to understand where tigers live and what they do (hunt, take care of their babies, and swim of course...you know, the usual).
  
photo credit: amazon.com
 

Ladybugs (Creepy Creatures) by Monica Hughes
Bugs...bugs...bugs. Not my choice of a little light reading, as I have a slightly huge fear of most creepy crawly critters, but still interesting all the same.  In this book, all about ladybugs, we learned about these little beauties hard and soft wings, how ladybugs eat other insects (later, aphids), and where baby ladybugs come from (don't get any big ideas about not having to breech this question again in the future...where ladybug babies come from is not similar enough to where human babies come from, sorry). 
photo credit: amazon.com



That is a small glimpse into the literary world in our home thanks to the elementary school library's great selection of books for our young readers. For more information on any of the books on Sonny Boy's Library Picks list click the covers and you'll be linked to Amazon.com.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Character Not Awarded

I cannot be the only one…who has found their child's first year of public Kindergarten trying at the best of times and down right frustrating the rest of the time. I’ve discussed my dismay at the entirely satisfactory report card (literally, all satisfactory marks) and the abundance of fundraising being pushed on us monthly, but my latest annoyance is in response to the Character Awards.

The Character Awards are a school wide ceremony held on the playground in the morning before the kids head off to their classrooms. Each teacher chooses four students from their class to acknowledge with an award, such as most improved, good sportsmanship, etc., and then the award is presented to the students by the school principal.

Sure, this all sounds friendly and inane enough, but the way the school goes about the award
This boy's character is boundless!
ceremony and the reasons Sonny Boy’s teacher doles out the awards is where my issues comes into play.

First, only the parents of the children receiving an award are alerted of the ceremony. The rest of us parents find out the morning of the ceremony when the parking lot is overflowing and well-dressed families are flooding onto the playground with cameras hanging from their necks. Why not let all the parents know about the award ceremony?

Secondly, some of the awards that have been issued to Sonny Boy’s classmates have been to children with behavioral problems who receive the “Shows Improvement” award, or the student with the broken arm during the first semester who was awarded “Good Sportsmanship” (I guess he had to sit on the bench while the other children played, which constitutes good sportsmanship).  These awards have been based on extraneous circumstances, how could another child compete for good sportsmanship unless he had a broken arm to NOT complain about, or how could they show improvement unless their frequent visits to the principals office have decreased recently?

Thirdly, the children who have not received an award, but watched politely and cheered for their peers while they were being recognized and awarded, are confused about what it takes to become one of those special kids.  Sonny Boy actually said to me after the most recent Character Awards ceremony, “I have to start trying a lot harder if I am ever going to get one of those awards.” Obviously, breaking my heart and forcing me to make up for his feelings of inadequacy with an impromptu trip to the frozen yogurt shop (and letting him load on his own toppings, an expensive way to show that I think he has character).

I know not everyone can win an award, I don’t necessarily agree with the handing out of trophies just for participating, and I do think having our children learn to be graceful losers is an important life lesson, but at school it would be nice to level the playing field a little when acknowledging our little scholars for their displays of character.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kids Love Camping & The Gear

I cannot be the only one...whose child is fond of accessories, the backpack, a pencil case, and when it comes to camping, forget it, he doesn't even know where to start with all the fun stuff. During our Spring Break we popped up the tent and camped for three days, giving Sonny Boy a chance to put all his camping accoutrements to use (he may have liked playing with the accessories more than he did roasting marshmallows or sleeping in a tent). Here is a list of a few of his favorite camping must haves:
photo credit: amazon.com

The Lantern: I mean, obviously the lantern is a necessity; a dark tent, stumbling around for pajama's, and making sure that stuffed rabbit that your kiddo just can't sleep without is somewhere in sight, are all reasons a lantern is a tent must have.








photo credit: amazon.com
The Sleeping Bag: Sleeping away from home is one thing, but sleeping in a nylon walled tent is another, and maximum comfort makes sleeping while camping a little easier.  A good, warm, and of course fun sleeping bag makes for a good siesta under the stars





photo credit: amazon.com
The Headlamp: It doesn't matter that you just took a trip down to the restroom before you zipped your family back up into the tent, that one last bathroom call will happen, and a headlamp is a cool hands free way to find your way back and forth from the bathroom once the stars are in the sky.



These are just a few of the items that made our family pilgrimage out into the wild (okay, so it wasn't so wild in the heart of San Diego) a smidgen more comfortable and fun.  Before you head out on your next camping trip double check your accessories (or gear, as my boys prefer call it) and make sure you have those little comforts that make for a happy trip.