Monday, June 28, 2010

Tons of family fun at "Bid For a Cure" event July 1st in Saline

If you are looking for some excitement for you and your kids, while giving to a good cause, have I got an event for you! This Thursday's Bid For a Cure event in Saline is sure to not disappoint.

The event is July 1st from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM on S. Ann Arbor St. in Downtown Saline. There will be celebrity athletes galore on hand for autographs, including Detroit Tigers Brandon Inge, Rick Porcello, Joel Zumaya, Ryan Perry, and Austin Jackson. PAWS will be around to hang with the kids from 3PM - 5PM. There will be food, refreshments, cotton candy, face painting and live music.

A tin can raffle will be accepting tickets all day, winners to be drawn at 7PM. The items for bid are fantastic: Family pass to Henry Ford Museum, one year membership to Mattheai Botanical Gardens, a Men's Trek Bike, a signed script from the Young and the Restless, a Vera Bradley bag and much, much more.

The live auction begins at 8 PM and the items are nothing short of amazing: a $17,000 Smile Make Over with veneers or crowns (I got my veneers from this dentist and am super-happy!), 18 tickets in Brandon Inge's Luxury Suite at Comerica Park, a Detroit Lions Experience package, unlimited car washes at Zippy's in Ann Arbor, and too much more to list here.

The point is, this is going to be a terrific outing for the entire family. Food, drink and autograph tickets as well as auction bids all go to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The event is sponsored by Brecon Grille (best pulled pork sandwich you'll find!). See you there!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Work-at-home moms and summer, how do we get anything done?

Ahhh summer! I am actually one of those parents who gets as excited about having the
kids home as they are to be out of school. I love hangin' with my boys everyday, not having to get them up at the crack of dawn, the leisure, the play, the whatever.

The only thing about summer that is really different for me, is that suddenly I've got to put my time management skills into overdrive. You see, I work from home.

During the school year, I know I can count on a pretty steady routine where my time is my own from 8:45 AM to 3:00 PM. I can write all day, go to meetings, meet deadlines, do research (uninterrupted) and whatever else I need to do to keep my work life rolling. How then, do I keep up the same schedule when the kids are home from school?

I'm not one of those parents who want my kids in day care, camp (unless they really WANT to go), or with a sitter when I am home. My kids are 8 and almost 15, so there is something to say about a bit of self-sufficiency here, but they still require a lot of attention and I want to give it to them.

There are some experts who say outsourcing and virtual assistants are the way to go. Well, they aren't in the budget just yet. Other experts say close the door and don't open it. That means I'm "at work". I don't like that one either.

This is what I do. Plan. Plan. Plan. I get up earlier than the kids to get the routine office- type stuff out of the way and get as much done as I can while they are sleeping. This is also true for late at night after I've put them to bed.

If I know I have a heavy workload coming up, I let them know the day before so they are prepared to see me at my desk most of the day, then I compensate on days that aren't so demanding. Even on busy days, I take Star Wars battle breaks, or play a round of Mumbo's Tumble, or drive my teenager to wherever he's going. You'd be amazed how many battle ships you can blow up in fifteen minutes! I "plan" a trip to the movies into my schedule. A matinee just means I'll be fitting in two hours work somewhere else.

During the school year, day time is work time and after school is family time (with all the other stuff like dinner, laundry, kids sports, birthday party planning, groceries, etc.) and in the evening it's nice to hang out with my husband. But summer is less rigorous. It means fun and freedom and family. I don't mind moving my schedule around a bit to accommodate all the extra noisy questions and lunch requests, laughing and legos and teen taxi service. Summer will fly by and before we know it we'll be back to school, back to schedules, and I'll wonder how I ever worked when it was so quiet.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Teens want summer jobs, summer money

                                                  The phone rings yet again,

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"Is your son available to do some more yard work? My neighbor likes how my yard looks and is wondering if he could do hers?"

This makes customer number three in a time span of about a week and a half, and he's not even advertising. It is a true snowball effect in the middle of eighty degree weather.

My teen is just about to turn fifteen this summer. He's always been a hard worker doing everything from bailing hay and helping out with community events, to keeping an eye on his younger brother. Lately though, he's discovered how nice it is to earn his own money, pay his own way through night's out with friends, movies, munchies, and lucky for me, even Mother's Day.

With summer upon us, chances are your teen may be saying, "I want a job". There are a few things to consider before unleashing your guy or gal into the world of outside employment.
First of all, the legalities. According to

Under federal law: * Children younger than 14 are restricted to delivering newspapers, working in a non-hazardous business owned by a parent, baby-sitting or doing other minor domestic chores in a private home, or performing on stage, screen or radio. They may work only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year and until 9 p.m. in the summer.
* At 14 and 15, teens may work at non-hazardous jobs for three hours on school days, eight hours on non-school days, 18 hours during a school week and 40 hours during a non-school week.
* At 16 and 17, teens may perform any non-hazardous job for any number of hours.

A year ago, at what some expert's consider to be the bottom of the recession, it was nearly impossible for teens to find summer work because there were so many adults looking in the same market. But this summer, jobs seem to be more available for teens.

When looking for summer work, consider your teen's interests. Are they a mega swimmer? Check out lifeguard posts at community pools and beaches. Do they love animals? How about an internship at a veterinarian or kennel helper at the Humane Society. Are they more social? How about the movie theater, a restaurant or camp counselor?

Or, like my son, they can explore their entrepreneurial spirit by starting their own service business like lawn care, washing cars, dog walking, you name it! For safety's sake, however, it is a good idea to know who your kid is doing the work for, so family, friends and referrals are a good and safe way to find customers. If you, as parents, work during the day, a summer job can also be a great way to know your teen is still supervised, in a professional environment.

I am all for my teen working this summer, as long as he does so responsibly and the job doesn't take over his "being a kid". He still will have football conditioning, 4H and hanging out with friends and family. But he'll have a sense of accomplishment, a few more business skills and a fatter savings account before the craziness of the next school year begins.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Literary characters trump video game heroes

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Imagine my delight when my eight year old son, who was playing a Star Wars game on Wii, blasting and lasering and dodging and exploding, paused his game, looked back at me and quoted a silly three-liner from a Judy Blume book. Hooray. Books still play a role in his imagination, even among battles with ships bursting into flames.

I'll credit that incident to the moderation we have placed, as parents, on his gaming activities, and the roots of reading we placed on our kids, incessantly, in their very young years. I am not a hater of video gaming. I do not believe they will be at fault for the downturn of future minds or upswing in children obesity numbers. As the Palo Alto Medical Foundation reports on their website, just like anything else, video games are okay in moderation as long as they are the right games, for the right amount of time.

Parents are advised to pay attention to the ratings. Our kids didn't start playing video games until they were at least six years old, after throngs of books had been read to them over and over again since before they were even born. For them, almost anything rated E for Everyone was okay. Even Star Wars was okay for us, as it was the LEGO version, and nothing more than they would have seen in the original movie.

Also, it is important to limit the time kids play, to make sure other activities take priority, or to even use gaming as a treat or reward. Monitor games, don't put them in the kids' bedrooms and talk about the games with your kids to find out what it is they like about them. Then, share your findings with other parents to keep everyone current on the video market.

According to PAMF, too much game time with violent video games can lead to more aggressive behavior. This is due to the repetition of the violence and a desire for kids to want to role play their gaming heroes. Again, a huge incentive for time limits.

I for one, am thrilled my son gets as much fun out of his literary characters, as he does his gaming ones. His room may be full of Darth Vader and R2D2, with light sabers and laser blasters, but at bedtime or on "library day", his heroes are still Fudge, Geronimo Stilton, Cam Janson and the barnyard animals of Holly Webb books...with a little bit of