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Make a Backyard Obstacle Course to Keep Kids Outside

Need a fun outdoor activity to do with the kids?

Build a backyard obstacle course!

Build a backyard obstacle course

Pull out your patio chairs, garden tools, scooters, toys, and other stuff packed away in your garage (note: this is a good excuse to clean out the shed or garage), and let the kids go to work creating spaces to climb, jump, and ride around the yard.

Here's a quick one we did when the cousins were visiting on a day off from school:


Learning to Love Rinsing with the Listerine #SweetSmart Challenge 

It has been three weeks since we started the Listerine Sweet Smart challenge and I have to say, it's been a success!

First, the girls were great at incorporating the Listerine Smart Rinse into their dental routine.

Second, because they were so good, they earned themselves new tooth brushes.

Third, even I got better at maintaining the new routine!

 Rinsing as an Olympian on Halloween!

Why it's important to rinse

As a parent whose children have already had cavities, and now have orthodonitc devices in their mouth, I know the importance of keeping teeth clean. The expanders they have in their mouths are helping to create room for their adult teeth, but they are also a hotbed of food and junk that I just know will make it difficult to avoid cavities. Rinsing with Listerine means the rinse reaches where brushing and flossing can't. It also washes away the food particles they ARE able to brush and floss off their teeth.


We learned a few things about rinsing during this challenge...

60 seconds is a LONG time. To battle the urge to spit until the 60 second mark we hummed songs as we swished. Just don't look at each other while humming and swishing or you are sure to spit it all out during a giggle.

Track your progress as encouragement or if you want to offer a reward. We were given this handy white board calendar to use. Instead of tracking an entire month, we used it to mark down a week's worth of rinsing for every member of our family.

*progress on this calendar may have been enhanced (Mom wins!)

We like variety. To improve the likelyhood that you and your kids will maintain a routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing, load up on different flavors of toothpaste, Listerine rinse, flossing thread, and different types of toothbrushes. It's fun to experiment with different flavors and makes it a little more interesting.

Check out for more ideas and a coupon off Listerine Smart Rinse.


Disclosure: I received free samples and compensation in exchange for participating in the challenge but all opinions are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published.


Disney as an Adults-Only Destination... YES!

Today we are snuggled in just waiting to lose power while hurricane Sandy approaches.

But just a week ago I was at Walt Disney World to preview the New Fantasyland, and I'm channeling those warm memories as I write this.

I was invited for a media tour of the New Fantasyland expansion that has taken place in Magic Kingdom. I was invited to bring the family but we just couldn't work it out with our schedules.

So, I went alone.



It was awwwwesome! (I totally sang that)

I was actually down there with a group of bloggers, many of whom I've had the chance to get to know over the years and others I had the pleasure to get to know. You see most of them couldn't work it out to bring their families and we realized...

We could go on all the roller coasters our kids refuse to go on!

Like the Rockin Roller Coaster!

Partay like Rock Stars at Hollywood Studios dude.

We also realized it was the International Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT.


If this isn't the best reason to visit Disney without kids, than I don't know what is.

Yummy Mummy Drink

All of the countries have exotic food offerings and unique drinks that range in price between $5 and $15.

It was such a fun way to experience Disney. Something very new to me and something I want to do again with my husband and possibly for a girl's weekend.

Who's in??

Of course the highlight was being able to be one of the firsts to experience the New Fantasyland. But that needs a post all to itself.

For now, start planning your adult Disney trip and let me know if you need any tips.



So the Twins are now Texting...

The girls got their iPod Touches last Christmas.

Here's a link to the video where they screamed bloody murder.

I know, so fun right?

But I made them wait almost an entire year before agreeing to give them an email.

Why? Well first, I learned a few scary things at this Family Online Safety conference that was sponsored in party by AT&T. And second, I'm online... a LOT. I know there are creepers there and that you get spam email and spam instant messages, and stalkers.

At least that's how I've summed it up in my head.

But who knew the person that would freak them out the most would be my very own friend?

Actually, this entire text discussion had me nearly peeing in my pants I laughed so hard!

At least we know the girls know how to react to spammy creepers!!

My friend, it will take her a few days to recover I think.

My husband is not going to let go of this one.


5 Solutions to the Stuffed Animal Problem

We have a stuffed animal problem that grows every year when we go to the Jersey shore.

image credit lindr6580 via SXC

You see The Mister loves to play the claw games. And he loves to win stuffed animals for the girls.

The other day I posted on my Facebook wall that I cannot believe we are in the year 2012 and we STILL do not have a good solution for all those stuffed animals.

Friends commented and gave ideas and lo and behold I found a few solutions that don't involve the trash bin. One rule of thumb, ALWAYS clean the stuffed animals and only offer the ones that are gently used.

1. Make a Bean Bag Chair

Maybe you have an old duvet cover, blanket, or sheet set lying around and maybe you are handy with a sewing machine so that you can sew your own giant bean bag and fill it up with all the stuffed animals. But if not, don't fear. I found something on Amazon that can be use for Stuffed Animal Storage and it has a clear panel so you can see all the animals you saved from the landfill!


2. Donate to an Animal Shelter

Someone suggested that an animal shelter might be able to use them in the animal crates as many animal rescue groups ask for old blankets and things.  I reached out to our local Humane Society and got this response.

Hello Janine,

Thank you for thinking of the animals! If the toys are in fairly good condition, they could be donated to our thrift store, Wagging Tails, to be resold and raise funds for the humane society.

So, while they aren't going to give them to the animals, they will resell them and the money raised will help the animals.


3. Donate them to the local police who often give them to kids during domestic situations

I contacted our local county police through twitter and they replied that YES, infact they do take them!

4. Call every single shelter, food bank, and family assistance center - one of them will say yes

I assumed that just because one shelter I called didn't want used stuffed animal, None of them did. I figured it was a safety / health thing. I figured wrong. I contacted A Wider Circle as referred to me by my friend Julia at Forty Weeks. I've heard of A Wider Circle and I know friends that have donated furniture to them, but I did not consider they would take stuffed animals.

I received this reply to my email:

Hi Janine -

Thank you for asking.  We can take these - and thank you for offering to wash them.  That makes a big difference.  


So, if you want to up your chances of a local charity or shelter taking your stuffed animals off your hands...offer to wash them.  And then DO present them with clean ones.


5. Hold a Yard Sale or Use Freecycle

Now, in al honesty I've had no luck even GIVING away stuffed animals at my yard sale. Infact, the last time I actually insisted that if someone wants to make a purchase they had to take a stuffed animal with them.

I'm not kidding.

But other people have had success so I had to include it.

I HAVE had success with Freecycle and I encourage everyone to try it.

Go to and search for a group in your area. Then read the rules and follow them before posting. I've been able to find new homes for things I would otherwise trash... broken fishing rods (yes, broken), old furniture, clothing, and more.


Have another idea? Leave a comment or a link to your ideas!