Friday, December 30, 2011

This Week with the Mommies


We chat online in a private forum — discussing everything from the best photographers to the worst temper tantrums and all that lies between — and meet up regularly at member-driven events around town. Whether it's a late-night commiseration about a crying baby (there are 4 a.m. posts to prove it) or a Moms' Night Out, NorthMetroDCMommies provides what our members need, when and how they need it.

Click here to go directly to our calendar, and stay up-to-date on all of our events scheduled for this week.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MOMics Comics - Installing a Carseat is Easy!

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Illustration by Rainey Niklawski from RichmondMommies.com, A3 for The Mommies Network

If you enjoy drawing or designing mom-centered comics of your own, consider contributing to our "Momics" column! Send us an email at blogs@themommiesnetwork.org
Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Monday: Kiss Me Chocolate Chip Cookies





I am always making CCC a million different ways, just search Chocolate Chip Cookie/s on here and you'll get a few hits. Can't help it. These are chewy soft yummies. And I had a ton of chips I needed to use up. When a few cooled I took them on a plate to Pixie girl- she took one, walked away took a bite and came back towards me, I told DH, "yup she wants one in each hand..." NOPE. She came over, put her arms around me and kissed me... then took the other cookie. I love that little baby.




2 sticks melted butter
1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 c brown sugar (lightly packed)
2Tbs milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 Tbs sour cream

Sift-
2 1/4c bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt- I used kosher last night

1 cup oats
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup nuts (optional)

Cream sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add remaining wet ingredients. Beat well. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in oats, chocolate and nuts.

Chill dough thoroughly. I left this dough overnight in the fridge. I used a small cookie scoop for these cookies. I baked them on stoneware. Which took longer, than my standard parchment lined jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes depending on your oven.

You can also scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet, flash freeze the dough balls and put them in a Zip top bag and bake a few at a time.

OR roll the dough into logs and wrap in plastic wrap and slice and bake them also.

Post provided by the Please Give Peas a Chance Blog.
Friday, December 23, 2011

This Week With the Mommies


We chat online in a private forum — discussing everything from the best photographers to the worst temper tantrums and all that lies between — and meet up regularly at member-driven events around town. Whether it's a late-night commiseration about a crying baby (there are 4 a.m. posts to prove it) or a Moms' Night Out, NorthMetroDCMommies provides what our members need, when and how they need it.

Click here to go directly to our calendar, and stay up-to-date on all of our events scheduled for this week.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cloth Diapering Momics

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Illustration by Rainey Niklawski from RichmondMommies.com, A3 for The Mommies Network

If you enjoy drawing or designing mom-centered comics of your own, consider contributing to our weekly "Momics" column! Send us an email at blogs@themommiesnetwork.org
Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu Monday - Kettle Corn


I was amazed at how easy and fast this was, I was more amazed at how easy the clean up is! I thought for sure with oil and sugar I'd be scrubbing a pot after I was done, but not at all! There was hardly a stuck on mess. This is such an inexpensive snack. Sure it isn't the most healthy but hot kettle corn with that caramelized sugar crunch is SO good fresh.

1/2 cup popping corn
1/4 cup vegetable oil- It seems like a lot but not in the end.
3 tablespoons sugar
kosher salt
two oven mitts or pot holders
a big pot with a lid (I used a 5 qt dutch oven and it was perfect)


Measure everything out and set it aside. Once you start it's hard to measure things, it moves quickly.



Add oil to the pot and heat it on medium high, make sure the oil get hot but not burning. Add the popcorn. SPRINKLE in the sugar over top (do not dump it in a big pile). Place the lid on top of the pot and start moving the pot around. The oven mitts help with the heat. The corn will start popping, once it slows down you are done. With a big metal serving spoon stir to bring up some of the sugar and coat the rest of the popcorn if needed.  *I forgot to tell you to salt the popcorn at this point* SO good served right away.



Post provided by the Please Give Peas a Chance. Published to The Mommies Network blog July 2011.
Friday, December 9, 2011

This Week with the Mommies


We chat online in a private forum — discussing everything from the best photographers to the worst temper tantrums and all that lies between — and meet up regularly at member-driven events around town. Whether it's a late-night commiseration about a crying baby (there are 4 a.m. posts to prove it) or a Moms' Night Out, NorthMetroDCMommies provides what our members need, when and how they need it.

Click here to go directly to our calendar, and stay up-to-date on all of our events scheduled for this week.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Life as a Homeschooling Mom

If I were to meet you on the street today, I would introduce myself as Heather, stay-at-home/homeschooling mom of my daughters who are six and three. You would ask me my thoughts on the public school system and about my choice to keep them home, then about my method of teaching, and the curriculum I use. I would smile and say all the right things. I would tell you just how much I love it, how passionate I am about being their teacher, and how confident I am that this is the right choice for my family.

But that wouldn't really be the truth.

You see, more often than not I have no idea what I am doing. I second guess every decision. Homeschooling was never something I imagined myself doing, so I wonder how I got to this point, and what I was thinking. And some days I allow myself to dream about that big yellow bus pulling up in front of my house and taking my children away for the next six hours.

I love my girls dearly, of course. But the days are long, and the weeks are hectic. And I rarely get a few minutes to think, let alone have a conversation with another adult. We have days that we wake up early, get dressed and into our school room right away. And then we have others where I realize we are still in our pajamas at noon and I haven't even opened a workbook, or answered a single question.

Guilt and fear are par for the course in motherhood, but in my life they are exacerbated by being primarily responsible for my children's education. I believe that right now they learn so much through play, and have a natural curiosity to explore the world around them. But secretly, I worry that I am not smart enough to teach them all they need to know. I question whether my methods really are the best. And I'm afraid that I am doing them a huge disservice by not exposing them to a more structured learning environment.

As I start asking myself questions, I become riddled with the fear that while homeschooling is what I want for my girls, I might not be cut out for it.
But then...something miraculous happens.

My youngest daughter will count to twenty, correctly read the letters off a sign as we pass by, and ask for her mountain of books at bedtime. My oldest daughter will flawlessly name the planets, sound out letters, and proudly find Italy on the world map. They will ask for more rhyming games, and sight words. They will demand just one more sheet of school work. They will run to their dad when he walks through the door, eager to tell them what they learned about that day. And they will beg to have school on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays.

And in those moments, I realize that something is working!

So a more accurate representation of the truth is that I am a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom of two. It is harder than I expected it to be. I don't know if I am making the right choices all the time. But my children are learning! And they are loving it!! And that hunger for knowledge is exactly what I wanted to instill in them all along.

Written by Heather (imarriedrich) from UnionCountyMommies. Originally submitted to The Mommies Network Blog on 04/15/2011
Monday, December 5, 2011

Ring in the New Year with TMN!

Ring in the New Year by reaching moms across the nation!

Women make more than 80 percent of all purchasing decisions and control two thirds of the nation’s disposable income. And moms may have the greatest buying power. What mom doesn’t share the latest trends or personal experiences with a business that has provided products or services for her family or herself?

To help you start the New Year with a bang, The Mommies Network is offering the following:
With all new/renewed sponsorship agreements, your business will receive a complimentary blog feature (advertorial to include logo/product image and 500 words). Prepaid agreements receive a 5 percent discount and a complimentary two months on one sponsorship listing. Sponsors also receive 20 percent off event sponsorships. Offer expires Jan. 31, 2012.

The Mommies Network can help your business reach moms across the nation or in your community. We are a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a safe, secure, free place for mothers to find support and encouragement from other mothers and to empower them to be better women, parents, and community leaders. Through our online forums, our chapters connect local mothers, enabling them to ask questions, seek support, offer encouragement, find volunteer opportunities, and grow as leaders as they volunteer their time with our site. Our organization provides a valuable service to a portion of the population that is nearly always overlooked, overworked, and taken for granted: moms!

For more details on how your business can ring in the New Year with moms across the nation, please contact Jessica Van Dyke at Jessica.VanDyke@TheMommiesNetwork.org.

How are you reaching the greatest buying power in our nation?
Friday, December 2, 2011

This Week with the Mommies


We chat online in a private forum — discussing everything from the best photographers to the worst temper tantrums and all that lies between — and meet up regularly at member-driven events around town. Whether it's a late-night commiseration about a crying baby (there are 4 a.m. posts to prove it) or a Moms' Night Out, NorthMetroDCMommies provides what our members need, when and how they need it.

Click here to go directly to our calendar, and stay up-to-date on all of our events scheduled for this week.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Budget Friendly Dates

I strongly believe it is important for every couple to have time together without children underfoot. Like a garden, a marriage needs to be tended. Both need to be fed and watered and given attention. The weeds need to be pulled and the disagreements worked out. If either is ignored, they will suffer and eventually perish.
You can reconnect with your partner without spending a massive amount of money. Think outside the box. A date does not have to be dinner at an expensive restaurant.

At Home Dates
You can spend little to no money by having a date at home with that special someone. Put the kids to bed early and the two of you can be all alone.

-Spread out a blanket on the living room floor and have a picnic inside. Turn the lights down low, light some candles, play some soft music and talk to your sweetie.

-Have movie night at home. Get a movie from Red Box or Blockbuster Express for $1 (or free if you have a code). If you have a Netflix membership, order a movie in advance or watch an instant Netflix movie. If none of these options are available to you, many libraries also loan out movies to their patrons for no charge. Pop some popcorn and snuggle with your loved one.

-Break out the games. If you and your significant other enjoy board games, gather a few of your favorite games and have your own mini-tournament at the dining room table. My husband and I like to quiz each other using the Trivial Pursuit cards without playing the entire game. Make up your own rules. You can – you are a grown-up!

-Plan a spa night. Run a bubble bath. Pour a sparkly beverage. Bring out the body lotion and give each other massages.

-Play 20 questions. Whether you are newlyweds or have been together for decades, chances are there is something you do not know about each other. Take time to think about the questions and write them down ahead of time. Sit down together and listen, really listen, as you ask each other the questions aloud.

Out on the Town Dates
You can have a date out of the house without spending too much money. Many people spend the majority of their date money on babysitting, so send the kids off to Grandma’s house or organize a baby-sitting swap with a friend.

-Go to a bookstore and browse the books and magazines. Sit in the café and sip a drink. Maybe even share a dessert together.

-Plan your date for the afternoon. Take a walk in the park, while you hold hands and talk. You will spend nothing, get some exercise and breathe in some fresh air. Studies show that talking while walking side by side enhances communication because the conversation is viewed as more casual and less threatening.

-Plan a late night date after dinner and go out for drinks and dessert. You still get to treat yourselves, but you will spend less than if you were to go out for dinner.

-If you and your honey are sports fans, check out a local high school game or minor league event. You get the excitement that comes with watching live action at a fraction of the cost.

-Go to the mall. Before you go, vow not to buy anything and stick to it. (Skip this one if you do not have the willpower. ) My husband and I like to play the hat game in the department stores. We try silly hats on each other and model them. We get a good laugh and it costs nothing. You can sample the perfumes and colognes while there too.

-Check out local Open Houses. Dress up in your best outfits and check the realty section. Spend the day giggling at stranger’s decorating choices and find new ideas for your own abode.

-If you and your loved one are wine fans, take a tour of a local winery. Many offer tours and tastings for free and throw in advice as well.

Whatever you chose to do, whether it is at home or out on the town, have fun with it. Rejoice in spending time with your loved one. The morning will come soon enough and life will return to its normal crazy state.

Article written by Melissa from TriangleMommies. Originally submitted to The Mommies Network Blog on 07/22/2011
Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Monday - Mini Salsa Meatloaves


Mini Salsa Meatloaves

This is a super-fast meal that your kids will love.

You'll need...

2 large egg whites
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chipotle salsa, divided
1/4 cup ketchup, divided
1 pound ground beef, extra lean
Cooking spray
Green beans, steamed

To make...

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine egg whites in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in oats, 1/2 cup salsa, and 2 tablespoons ketchup. Add beef; mix well by hand. Divide beef mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into an oval-shaped loaf. Coat a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place loaves on prepared pan.

3. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until done.

4. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons salsa and remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup in a small bowl; spread mixture evenly over loaves.

5. Serve with green beans.

ENJOY!

Nutrition-
190 calories. 6g fat. 10.9g carb


Recipe submitted by Becka (MomTo4) from SaratogaCountyMommies
Friday, November 25, 2011

Don't Forget: Santa Letters!

The elves are busy coordinating delivery of Santa letters to boys and girls across the United States. Is your letter in the bunch? If you haven't yet ordered your letter(s), don't delay! Place your order by Nov. 30 to ensure delivery before Christmas.

Remember, Your first custom letter is only $6. If you purchase more than one, you will receive a 10 percent discount on the entire order. Use coupon code SANTA at checkout to receive 10 percent off the total.

You will be asked a few questions about your child during the ordering process. Your answers will assist Santa in creating a unique letter for your child. Letters will be printed on Santa's special stationery, signed by the jolly fellow himself, and with the help of a special elf, shipped in bulk to North Pole, Alaska, in time for your little one to receive a special letter before the holidays.

Reserve your letter(s) before Nov. 30 to ensure delivery before Christmas. We hope you'll take advantage of this terrific treat from the North Pole. Place your order now! http://www.themommiesnetwork.org/santa.html

The proceeds of this fundraiser will support The Mommies Network and your local chapter.  Please mention your chapter's name to ensure they receive credit for your purchase.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Wine Glass

As I sit here typing this, I am sipping wine from a sippy cup. A good vintage, red merlot, fine and robust with a smooth flavor. In a blue sippy cup, with a built in straw. I'm torn between shame and amusement, both equal in validity, neither feeling stronger than the other. All I can think, as I sit here and slurp up my vintage wine, welcoming the weekend, that this is indeed, a true sign of being a Mom.

It's not that I don't have clean wine glasses. In order to keep my family from eating in a communal style I must do at least 2 loads of dishes a day. My wine glasses are clean, and stored above the stove where they have their home. So I cant blame lack of glasswear.

J just saw me, sitting in the living room, desperately trying to finish the book I've been working on, and with it being the weekend, treated me to a glass of red to celebrate the fact the children were put in bed and the weekend was upon us. In a sippy cup. Because of our white carpets. And I have the reputation of spilling my drinks quite often, drunk OR sober.

After giggling over his unspoken comment by his choice in cups, I enjoyed my wine for the first time with a straw. I finished my book and sippy wine in hand, headed downstairs to my desktop, where I now sit. Gaming with J and some friends, who are also celebrating the return of the weekend with drinks down the hatch, I realized my glass was empty. Instead of getting a regular wine glass, I refilled my sippy cup. No reason to dirty another glass. But still, I sit here, gaming, blogging, and drinking, with the glow of my screen illuminating my blue sippy cup and I have to smile. Drinking wine from a sippy cup fits me. It seems a good symbolism for life. To love and enjoy the quality core of what is important: family, love, etc.. things that matter... but wrapped in humor, silliness, laughter. Giggles.

I think this may become some sort of tradition for me. Just don't tell the kids I borrowed their cups.


Post submitted by Brittany (Rhaven) from TriangleMommies.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Monday - Homemade Mall Pretzels





Every time I go to the mall, I can't say no to those delicious Mall Pretzels. The smell hits me as soon as I hit the food court. I love the crispy outside and soft inside. I enjoy dunking them in mustard or melted cheese.  Last night I was brain storming ideas for the Monday recipe and I thought pretzels! I told my husband right away that I was going to make mall pretzels. He looked at me and laughed so hard and said, "your going to bake homemade pretzels? Please don't burn down our apartment." Well this just made me 1000 times more excited to make pretzels, just so I could prove my husband wrong.



In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast, 2tbs. brown sugar and 1 1/8 tsp. salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water.



Stir in 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup bread flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. The video above is of me kneading dough. I thought I knew how to knead dough, but after I googled a how to video on kneading dough. I can say that I was totally wrong. Some tips I would share are first spray your surface with pam cooking spray and put flour on your hands and dough. If your surface and dough start sticking lay down more pam or flour. This will help the dough not to stick to you or your rolling surface.



Place dough in a pam cooking spray greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise for one hour.





After the dough as sat and allowed to rise for an hour, cut into twelve pieces.



Roll each piece of dough into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner.







Twist the dough into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. The baking soda solution is 2 cups warm water and baking soda combined in an 8 inch square pan. I found a helpful video on how to twist your dough into the perfect pretzel shape. The video also gives some great suggestions on other uses for your pretzel dough. Honestly, rolling the doll out into the three foot long rope is the toughest part. I found working from right to left was the best for me.





After dipping the dough into the baking soda solution, place on a towel to soak up the bottom side of the dough. Then place the pretzel on a greased cookie sheet, reshape pretzel if needed. Let the pretzels sit on the cookie sheet for twenty minutes before putting in the oven. Sprinkle dough with salt if desired, before baking.

Bake at 450 degrees F for five minutes, turn 180 degrees and cook another five minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.

The best part of this recipe is it is kid friendly. Kids will love playing with the dough and seeing what creations they can make. One warning I have is not to leave your balls of dough in reach of a two year old, they will eat it. Also it takes time to roll out all the dough so you may want to bag half of the dough and put it in the refrigerator.

The finished product is hot and delicious! Kid tested and mother approved!



Post submitted by Kathy from CentralPeidmontMommies.com
Originally posted on the CentralPiedmontMommies Blog on 5/16/11
Friday, November 18, 2011

This Week with the Mommies


We chat online in a private forum — discussing everything from the best photographers to the worst temper tantrums and all that lies between — and meet up regularly at member-driven events around town. Whether it's a late-night commiseration about a crying baby (there are 4 a.m. posts to prove it) or a Moms' Night Out, NorthMetroDCMommies provides what our members need, when and how they need it.

Click here to go directly to our calendar, and stay up-to-date on all of our events scheduled for this week.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mommies Weigh-In Challenge

Are you looking to shed a few pounds? Need some help with your fitness goals? Or just searching for the right foods to eat? The Mommies Network challenges you to be the best you can be in 2012!

Join mommies across the country on their journey to be healthy for themselves and their families. Participants will be assigned to regional teams led by a TMN member and a wellness collaborator. Results, tips, and stories will be shared monthly to keep all participants motivated. This challenge is a six-month commitment, running January–June.

Email fitness@themommiesnetwork.org for more information about this program. Applications will be accepted through Nov. 23, 2011.
Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Monday - Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup & Cheesy Green Onion Cornbread


You Need (for the soup):
1 Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
Chicken (2-3 breasts, 4 thin breasts, 5-6 cutlets, or any leftovers you can shred up)
1 Can Black or Pinto Beans
1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
2 Cans Chicken Stock
2 Cans Enchilada sauce
Frozen Corn (a whole 15-16oz bag)
Oregano
Cumin
Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper

You Need (for the soup toppings):
Avocado
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese
Tortilla Chips
Note: I recommend you use the Ortega brand of enchilada sauce - not because I have any brand loyalty or endorsement (ha), but because it has a meaty/taco-y base rather than a tomatoey/pepper base. The other brands are a LOT more spicy. It depends on what you like, really, but I prefer the way the Ortega brand tastes in this soup.

    Soup Instructions:

    1. Cook/shred your chicken. The easiest way to do this if you're using fresh chicken is to boil it for about 25 minutes, and then shred it on a plate with forks. If you're using leftovers, just shred it up! I get this boiling right off the bat.

    2. Chop up your onion to a fine dice & mince your garlic. Sweat these out in some olive oil right in the pot you plan to make your soup in.

    3. When the onions & garlic are cooked down a bit (somewhat translucent), add in your diced tomatoes & corn. Then season with the list of spices - they all call for 1 tsp but I like to play around with it so add what you like! Don't go crazy on the chili powder until you know how spicy the enchilada sauce you're working with is.

    4. Add in your chicken stock, enchilada sauce & water. Stir & check for seasoning - add more of whatever you'd like if you think it needs it. You can also add your jalapenos now, if you got them. And - if your soup is a bit too acidic for your liking you can add a few pinches of sugar to help.

    5. Shred & add in your chicken if you haven't already. Then simmer for 10-15 minutes.

    6. Cube up your avocado & get your toppings ready while you wait for the soup to simmer.

    I top mine with everything from the topping list above - but have fun, play around with it! The sour cream cools it down a lot - and the avocado tastes incredible with all the other flavors in the soup!

    You Need (for the cornbread):
    A box of Jiffy mix (or any other cornbread mix)
    Ingredients to make you cornbread (I believe mine was 1 egg & 1/3 cup of milk - follow your box instructions)
    Green Onions, sliced or snipped into O's
    Cheese (I used a Mexican blend to fit the Mexican theme)

    Cornbread Instructions:
    *If you're making these together, I suggest doing this first & popping it in the oven before getting to work on the soup!

    1. Prepare the cornbread mix as the package instructs in a mixing bowl.

    2. Chop up or snip green onions with kitchen shears and add it to the batter. I snipped up 1 bunch (the size grocery stores usually sell them in) and put about half in the mix - the other half we used as a topper for the soup.

    3. Mix in a few good handfuls of your cheese - I used about half the bag, otherwise the cheese gets kinda lost in the cornbread.

    4. Bake according to box!
    Recipe submitted by Jenn Rychlicki (mrsLicky) from Buffalo Mommies
    Friday, November 11, 2011

    This Week with the Mommies


    We chat online in a private forum — discussing everything from the best photographers to the worst temper tantrums and all that lies between — and meet up regularly at member-driven events around town. Whether it's a late-night commiseration about a crying baby (there are 4 a.m. posts to prove it) or a Moms' Night Out, NorthMetroDCMommies provides what our members need, when and how they need it.

    Click here to go directly to our calendar, and stay up-to-date on all of our events scheduled for this week.
    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    An Organized Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of remembrance, family and thanks, not a holiday

    of stress and chaos. Here are 9 easy ways to stay organized for an enjoyable, stress-free Thanksgiving Day:

    1. LEAVE COOKING AND CLEANING BEHIND. These days, many people opt to go out for Thanksgiving, instead of cooking and cleaning at home. If you're an extremely busy person, this may also work for you. If you don't want to miss the feeling of being at home, perhaps you might have the main course at a restaurant, and later have pie and coffee at home. In addition, lots of supermarkets and restaurants offer fully cooked Thanksgiving dinners. You simply pick everything up and place it on your table ready to be served, and if you must add a personal touch, make one special dish of your own.

    2. PREPARE FOR TRAVELING. If you're traveling this Thanksgiving, be sure to make your packing list well ahead of time. Check items off as you're putting them into your luggage. Bring this list with you and use it to repack when you're ready to return home. By the way, I usually suggest that you travel a few days before Thanksgiving and come back a few days after the Thanksgiving rush. Otherwise, you're going to spend a lot of time in airports, on the road, in line, etc.

    3. LET'S TALK TURKEY. First, determine how much room you have in your freezer and refrigerator, and how many people you will be serving. Then, order your turkey. If you need more storage space, perhaps a neighbor or relative can help you out. Rather than defrosting a frozen turkey in water on Thanksgiving Day, defrost it a few days ahead in your refrigerator instead. This saves tons of time!

    4. INVITE GUESTS IN A SNAP. If you haven't already sent out invitations, you may consider simply calling possible guests instead. You won't have to spend a ton of time writing and mailing, and you usually get an RSVP immediately.

    5. CHECK YOUR INVENTORY. Check your supply of chairs, tables, dishes, glasses, pots, pans, serving plates and utensils. Arrange to buy, rent or borrow anything you don't have.

    6. PLAN YOUR MEAL. Plan your meal from appetizers to dessert on a piece of paper. Make a list of all ingredients needed. Bring your list when you go shopping and check items off as you put them in your cart.

    7. COOK AHEAD. Make any meals that you can well ahead of time, and freeze them. On Thanksgiving Day, just defrost, heat and serve. You will save tons of time, plus you'll be able to join in the festivities without being stuck in the kitchen.

    8. GET READY THE NIGHT BEFORE. You'll be happy you took care of a few things the night before. Set the table. Get the good silverware out of storage. Lay out your wardrobe--and your kids' wardrobes.

    9. DON'T FORGET THE IMPORTANT STUFF. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to be thankful for health, family, friends and all that life has to offer. Some people choose to say grace. Others prefer to simply have a moment of silence before dinner and football. Still others like to make time to read a Thanksgiving Story or a poem. Make a list of the things you want to do to make the day a special one and reference your list so you don't forget them.

    {Originally submitted to The Mommies Network Blog by CharlotteMommies}
    Monday, November 7, 2011

    This Week with the Mommies

    Perfect Pumpkin Pie

    1 (15 ounce) canned pumpkin
    1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    2 large eggs, beaten
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (you can use graham cracker crust if you prefer)

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    In a medium saucepan, combine pumpkin, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice over low heat. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed and mixture is warm.
    Transfer mixture into another bowl and allow to cool.
    Add sweetened condensed milk and eggs to cooled pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth.
    Pour into crust.
    Bake 15 minutes.
    Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean.
    Cool on top of oven to prevent the pie from cooling too fast, causing the crust to crack
    Friday, November 4, 2011

    The Mommies Network Presents Santa Letters

    TMN presents Santa Letters!

    Have your kids begun making their Christmas wish lists? The Mommies Network and Santa Claus have teamed up to send your little one a letter straight from the North Pole!

    Your first custom letter is only $6. If you purchase more than one, you will receive a 10 percent discount on the entire order. Use coupon code SANTA at checkout to receive 10 percent off the total.

    You will be asked a few questions about your child during the ordering process. Your answers will assist Santa in creating a unique letter for your child. Letters will be printed on Santa's special stationery, signed by the jolly fellow himself, and with the help of a special elf, shipped in bulk to North Pole, Alaska, in time for your little one to receive a special letter before the holidays.

    Reserve your letter(s) before Nov. 30 to ensure delivery before Christmas. We hope you'll take advantage of this terrific treat from the North Pole. Place your order now! http://www.themommiesnetwork.org/santa.html
    Please mention our area chapter name to ensure we receive credit for your purchase.

    The proceeds of this fundraiser will support The Mommies Network and your local chapter.
    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Mommy, Look at That Dog!!

    It started with a trip to the grocery store. While I waited for the cashier to ring up my items, a mother behind me was delivering a soliloquy (only she didn't recognize it as such!).

    "Suzy, you're not going to take that home."
    "Suzy, you can carry that around but I'm not buying that."
    "Suzy, you've been naughty. Why should I buy that for you?"
    "Suzy, put that away. I'm not paying for it."
    "Suzy, everyone is looking at how much trouble you're causing."

    And on and on and on...

    I was so thankful when the cashier gave me my total. I was tired of this woman blathering on and I don't have to live with her! Poor Suzy. She is being trained to ignore her Mother. The more Mom talks, the less she hears.

    Mom needs to learn rule number one:

    Less Talk, More Action

    Remember the Peanuts cartoons? When one of the adults spoke, all the kids heard was "wonkwonkwonkwonk". The more you lecture, threaten, warn, count to 3, etc... the less your child listens. Stop diluting your effectiveness as a parent with these non-actions. Use natural consequences as often as possible, and deliver the consequence calmly and swiftly. For example:

    If your two year old won't stop running into the street, clearly explain to her that if she does it, she will be taken inside for the day. Then, when she does it (and she will, of course, cute little Scientist that she is!), calmly and without fanfare, escort her inside. Don't give her warnings or "another chance".

    Toddlers and young kids don't understand an abstract concept like getting hit by a car... something they've never seen, felt or tasted. So talking about it until you're blue in the face is unlikely to do any good.

    But what they DO understand is cause and effect. "If I do "X", then Mommy does "X"....EVERY TIME. Even young babies learn this. Ever noticed how excited your baby gets right before you feed him? He's learned that when you hold him a certain way, food is forthcoming. Our kids are smarter than we think sometimes.

    Another example: Two siblings are fighting about a toy. Don't waste your time trying to figure out who is in the wrong, it's virtually impossible and just encourages tattling. The children will learn how to work out their own negotiations if involving the parent means unpleasantness. The toy is put up for a period of time. End of story. Toy squabbles will dramatically decrease almost magically!


    Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

    Do what you say you will do. If you tell your child that acting up in the grocery store means no cookie from the bakery at the end of the trip, MEAN it. I'll never forget the look on my 2 year old daughter's face as she watched her brothers eat huge chocolate chip cookies while she went empty handed! Few things impress a young child more than you holding to your words, calmly and without a lot of emotion (that just makes you look like an idiot). Children don't respect you if you are always swinging back and forth like a pendulum. Decide what's important to you and expect those limits to be respected.

    This rule makes parenting so much easier because your kids will stop testing you so much, which is just their way of saying "Do you really mean it?".

    The flip side of this is that when you promise something positive, you had better make good on it! If you do this, your children will learn that you mean what you say.

    {Originally posted on SaltLakeCityMommies}
    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Healthy Emotions

    My husband, Adam, left this morning for a conference in Houston, TX.  He's gone to conferences before, but this is the first one since Rowan was born.  I always have had a lot of respect for single parents, when he's gone that respect just grows and grows.  Each conference he's gone to has presented me with new and different challenges as a parent.  The first conference Kara was just a year old and she got her first big illness.  I was unable to get much sleep or food.  All she wanted was to lay on my lap and be held.  Going to the bathroom was an adventure: have you ever tried to hitch your pants up when your child is strapped to you and throwing up at the same time?  Other conferences I've had the joys of explaining to Kara why her dad isn't there and why he wasn't going to be home for x days.   I got quite skilled at keeping her distracted from his absence.  This time though I am presented with 2 new challenges.  The first being that I now have two children, one that is awake frequently during the night and needs much of my attention (and body).  The second is one I had not thought of before.

    How do you express emotions around your children?  Prior to Kara when Adam would go to a conference I would have cried a bit, gone home, eaten junk food and watched TV, read some books, done a puzzle and stayed up way past my bedtime.  Now I know better than to spend my time watching TV, staying up late and eating junk food.  I'm sure I'll read plenty of books and may do some puzzles. Granted the books may not be more complicated than naming dinosaurs and the puzzles will have less than 50 pieces.  But what to do about the desire to cry?  Do I show Kara how sad I am that her dad has left?  Do I let her see how worried I am about how our time alone will go and his safety?  Or do I keep a stiff upper lip and keep on going as if nothing has changed?  If I don't express my emotions, in a healthy way that is, am I teaching Kara to not acknowledge her own emotions?  Does that teach her to be a stoic and afraid of emotions?  If I show her the tears does that then lead her to fear and worry when she shouldn't have that burden?  Will she feel she needs to take care of me since I am sad?  This also leads me to examine how we deal with Kara's tantrums and other outbursts of emotion.  Right now we ask her to calm down and say that once she is calm we can talk about what is bothering her. But does that teach her that she shouldn't express the emotion?  Would it be better to say "wow, you are really sad/angry/upset.  Let's take a moment to be that way, then we can calm down and talk about what has made you feel that way"?  We do try to acknowledge the emotion by saying "you sound really sad", but is that enough?  Do we need to give her more space to feel and express the emotion?  I want to raise children that are not afraid of their emotions and can express them in a healthy way.  I don't want them learning to stuff their feelings down or to think that it's not ok to let others know how they are feeling.  Emotions can be powerful and influence our thinking more than we often realize or admit.  To have a healthy relationship with emotions would allow them to recognize, feel, and then move on past the emotions so they do not influence their decisions excessively.  The question is- how to achieve that.

    Submitted by Heidi-rose Creuzinger, member of NorthMetroDCMommies.  Heidi-rose blogs at Terror at 3 Feet & Rising.
    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Hard Copy or eReader?

    So, I need to talk to you about something very important. And yes, it has everything to do with books. I need to know how you're reading these days. Are you reading hard copies of your books - as you always have and always will? Hardbacks. Paperbacks. Mass Market copies that fit in the smallest bags you own?

    Or have you gone to the technological side and got yourself a Nook or a Kindle? Any sort of eReader at all?

    I can't decide. I love my books. But believe me, I'd have a lot more space in various rooms of my home if I had less of them. And I'd never have to leave my house to buy the latest title that sparks my interest. AND I could carry more than one book at a time with me when I travel (not that that's frequent or anything - but still) and switch it around if I wanted to without worrying.

    And no more tearing ads out of magazines to create bookmarks. That would be nice. You know the kind? The little tear outs that are in every magazine? Oh, and magazines! I could subscribe to more and not worry about how quickly I read them and whether or not I'll be able to recycle all those pages well enough to feel a little bit greener.

    But I would totally miss the page by page feel. I would totally miss how a book feels in my hands. The weight of it. The smell of it, even. I would miss living in the bookstore like I normally do. More than once a month we head there to take our daughter to play with the trains at Barnes and Noble.

    But see, there's another concern. Kindle or Nook? I live off Barnes and Noble, ALWAYS. But I am saving the Amazon giftcards that I have been getting through Swagbucks so I can buy one [a Kindle] for practically nothing. Sort of.

    So what do I do? What did you do?

    Fill me in on why you switched to an eReader, or why you think you never will. And I'll just keep reading. And reading. And - well - you get the idea!

    Happy Reading -- however you do it!

    Originally posted on the TriangleMommies blog on 5/7/11
    Andrea is a SAHM who blogs about her everyday life, motherhood and more over at http://goodgirlgoneredneck.blogspot.com
    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Menu Monday Cheddar'd Summer Squash

    Photo by: jspatchwork
    Cheddar'd Summer Squash

    Ingredients:
    4 small yellow squash and/or
    zucchini trimmed & cut in 1/2
    lengthwise.
    1/4 cup chopped green onion
    nonstick cooking spray
    1/8 tsp salt
    ground pepper
    2oz shredded sharp cheddar
    cheese

    Cooking Instructions:
    1.preheat oven to 400. Arrange squash cut side up in 3 quart baking dish.
    2.lightly coat squash with cooking spray. Sprinkle green onion,salt & pepper evenly.
    3.top with cheese
    4.Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until squash is just tender and cheese is bubbly.


    Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "christy."
    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Reuniting With An Overseas Daughter

    As last summer approached, I remember reading posts on UnionCountyMommies (UCM) about upcoming travel plans, family vacations, free movie viewings, and securing memberships to the local water park. But one fellow mommy’s plans really stood out because they were so different from the rest. She was raising money to cover the expenses of a hosting a child from Belarus for six weeks.

    And this year, around the same time, I saw similar posts go up again…she was planning, fundraising, and even longing to bring back that same little girl. It was clear her family had had an amazing experience, one that was worth far more than the time, effort, and money they had put into it. I was so moved by her desire to help in this way, and I wanted to get more information about the program. I wanted to learn more about children and let others know how they too, can get involved.

    So I was thrilled when UCM member, Heather Efird, graciously agreed to take time out of her busy life and answer all of my questions! The program goes by the name ABRO, which Heather explained stands for American Belarussian Relief Organization. It is a national, non-profit organization whose focus is to improve the quality of life, and the health, of children living in and around areas of Belarus affected by the Chernobyl disaster in April of 1986.

    The first group to come over, in 1989, consisted of thirteen children. Today, more than 300 children, ages seven to seventeen, come over each summer. Their time in the United States helps lower the levels of radiation in their bodies, boost their immune systems, and provides an opportunity to receive medical and dental care that they truly need.

    The cost just to bring their host child, Alina, back this year was about $2000 she says, money that is to be raised completely by the host family. The Efirds have been able to raise the necessary fees through fundraisers with Yankee Candle, Tupperware, selling poinsettias at Christmas, and car wash tickets through Autobell, as well as soliciting donations.

    The host family is also responsible for the costs of day to day living, including clothing, food, and medical appointments, just as if the child was part of the family. And it’s clear that’s exactly what Alina has become to the Efirds. In fact, Heather often refers to Alina as her daughter.

    Heather says last summer Alina went to lots of baseball games that her son, Blake, was playing in. They also took her to the mountains, a local animal park called Lazy 5 Ranch, and to the beach in Oak Island, NC. Alina also attended a weekly bible study that was taught in Russian. I asked her to tell me about a favorite memory, but she couldn’t pick just one! “She comes from a low income family and lost her father two years ago. Every day was like Christmas to her while she was with us last summer.” Heather said.

    Host families are still needed in order to bring more children here each summer. Heather says, “This is a life changing experience for all that are involved but it's not easy. These children speak little to no English so communication is a big hurdle. No matter how difficult the situation is...the LOVE in that child's eyes makes it all worth it.” The Efirds have been able to call Alina a few times since she left last summer, but say the best way to keep in touch is through a translator and an email address provided by ABRO.

    Since this is their second year hosting through the program, I asked Heather what it was exactly that made her family want to sign up again. Thoughtfully, she said, “When we first got involved with the program I kept thinking about how much we would change this child's life forever. The thing that she will never realize is how much she has changed OUR family. I never knew how this would affect my life forever.”

    As Alina’s travel date gets closer and closer, I can’t help but imagine what a wonderful reunion it will be for all of them!!

    For more information on how to help with donations or to become a host family, please visit http://www.abro.org/

    Originally posted by Heather from UnionCountyMommies.com on The Mommies Network National Blog, 5/26/11
    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Menu Monday Chicken Tortilla Soup

    Chicken Tortilla Soup & Cheesy Green Onion Cornbread




    You Need (for the soup):
    1 Onion
    2 Cloves Garlic
    Chicken (2-3 breasts, 4 thin breasts, 5-6 cutlets, or any leftovers you can shred up)
    1 Can Black or Pinto Beans
    1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
    2 Cans Chicken Stock
    2 Cans Enchilada sauce
    Frozen Corn (a whole 15-16oz bag)
    Oregano
    Cumin
    Chili Powder
    Salt & Pepper

    You Need (for the soup toppings):
    Avocado
    Sour Cream
    Shredded Cheese
    Tortilla Chips
    Note:
    • I recommend you use the Ortega brand of enchilada sauce - not because I have any brand loyalty or endorsement (ha), but because it has a meaty/taco-y base rather than a tomatoey/pepper base. The other brands are a LOT more spicy. It depends on what you like, really, but I prefer the way the Ortega brand tastes in this soup.

    Soup Instructions:

    1. Cook/shred your chicken. The easiest way to do this if you're using fresh chicken is to boil it for about 25 minutes, and then shred it on a plate with forks. If you're using leftovers, just shred it up! I get this boiling right off the bat.

    2. Chop up your onion to a fine dice & mince your garlic. Sweat these out in some olive oil right in the pot you plan to make your soup in.

    3. When the onions & garlic are cooked down a bit (somewhat translucent), add in your diced tomatoes & corn. Then season with the list of spices - they all call for 1 tsp but I like to play around with it so add what you like! Don't go crazy on the chili powder until you know how spicy the enchilada sauce you're working with is.

    4. Add in your chicken stock, enchilada sauce & water. Stir & check for seasoning - add more of whatever you'd like if you think it needs it. You can also add your jalapenos now, if you got them. And - if your soup is a bit too acidic for your liking you can add a few pinches of sugar to help.

    5. Shred & add in your chicken if you haven't already. Then simmer for 10-15 minutes.

    6. Cube up your avocado & get your toppings ready while you wait for the soup to simmer.

    I top mine with everything from the topping list above - but have fun, play around with it! The sour cream cools it down a lot - and the avocado tastes incredible with all the other flavors in the soup!

    You Need (for the cornbread):
    A box of Jiffy mix (or any other cornbread mix)
    Ingredients to make you cornbread (I believe mine was 1 egg & 1/3 cup of milk - follow your box instructions)
    Green Onions, sliced or snipped into O's
    Cheese (I used a Mexican blend to fit the Mexican theme)

    Cornbread Instructions:
    *If you're making these together, I suggest doing this first & popping it in the oven before getting to work on the soup!

    1. Prepare the cornbread mix as the package instructs in a mixing bowl.

    2. Chop up or snip green onions with kitchen shears and add it to the batter. I snipped up 1 bunch (the size grocery stores usually sell them in) and put about half in the mix - the other half we used as a topper for the soup.

    3. Mix in a few good handfuls of your cheese - I used about half the bag, otherwise the cheese gets kinda lost in the cornbread.

    4. Bake according to box!
    Recipe submitted by Jenn Rychlicki (mrsLicky) from Buffalo Mommies
    Friday, October 14, 2011

    How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

    How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

    If you grew up in the kind of neighborhood I did, then you remember people sitting out on their front porches in the evenings, kids playing out in the neighbors yard until it was too dark to see and the mad rush to the ice cream truck when that little jingle was first heard on the street.

    Nowadays, that scene is almost non-existent. Many parents are working late, then have to pick up the kids from their day care provider and rush home to make dinner, spend a little quality time with the kids and then off to bed to start all over again. Parents are worried that the streets aren't safe. People drive everywhere, and the most you see someone is when you are both getting into your car at the same time.

    There are many benefits to having a close relationship with your neighbors. Research shows that neighborhoods where people know each other by name and are connected to one another have lower crime rates. It has even been shown that kids who live in tight knit communities do better in school.

    Maybe it is time for us to bring back the days of yesterday, and get to know our neighbors. One way you can do this is by making a neighborhood directory. Send a letter (or even better, deliver it in person) asking your neighbors if they would like to be included in a neighborhood directory. A sample letter can be found here. Have them complete a form that provides you with information to put in the directory. A sample form can be found here. Once you have collected the completed forms, print a directory and distribute it to your neighbors. You can also email the directory to them to save on paper costs.

    Another idea is to start a website for your neighborhood. You can get a free website from Geocities (http://www.geocities.com) or Neighborhood Link (http://www.neighborhoodlink.com). You can put a calendar of events in your area on the site, or perhaps list the email addresses of the residents. A bulletin board can be used to post announcements or special needs.

    What about an old-fashioned potluck dinner or backyard barbecue. Invite your neighbors and ask them to bring a covered dish or dessert to share! What a wonderful way to get to know the people in your neighborhood. You might enjoy it so much that you turn it into a monthly event!

    In this day and age, it is even more critical that we know those who live around us. Our very safety might depend on it. But there is also so much joy to be found right in your backyard! A host of new friends (and babysitters!) can be found just a stone's throw away from your front door. And perhaps, all of your neighbors are just sitting there waiting for you to make it all happen!

    Originally posted on CharlotteMommies.com
    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    A Fun and Safe Halloween



    Halloween has always been a favorite of mine. I don't know if it was the candy, the dressing up, the neighborhood involvement, or the general feeling of happiness that everyone, old and young, felt. I think I went trick-or-treating longer then any of my friends and was always the one trying to talk my other 18-year-old friends into going with me. If I wasn't trick-or-treating, I was throwing a Halloween party. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to celebrate one way or another. I love Halloween so much; I even brought my oldest child trick-or-treating three days after giving birth to her younger sister. Nothing was going to keep me from sharing with her something that I grew up to love so much.

    Unfortunately, times have changed since I was a young child walking the streets for candy and fun. Special care must be taken to be sure the excitement of Halloween doesn't turn into disaster.

    The National Safety Council offers some great advise for parents and children to be sure to enjoy the special night safely. "There is no "trick" to making Halloween a real treat for the entire family." Before planning your night of fun, check to see if your community has an assigned time for trick-or-treating and go over these safety tips as they pertain to your children

    Halloween Safety Tips from the NSC

    Both children and adults need to think about safety on this annual day of make-believe.

    MOTORISTS
    The National Safety Council urges motorists to be especially alert on Halloween.
    * Watch for children darting out from between parked cars
    • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
    • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
    • At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

    PARENTS
    Before children start out on their "trick or treat" rounds, parents should:
    • Make sure that an adult or an older responsible youth will be supervising the outing for children under age 12.
    • Plan and discuss the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow. Know the names of older children's companions.
    • Instruct your children to travel only in familiar areas and along an established route.
    • Teach your children to stop only at houses or apartment buildings that are well lit and never to enter a stranger's home.
    • Establish a return time.
    • Tell your youngsters not to eat any treat until they return home.
    • Review all appropriate trick-or-treat safety precautions, including pedestrian/traffic safety rules.
    • Pin a slip of paper with the child's name, address and phone number inside a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group.

    COSTUME DESIGN
    • Only fire-retardant materials should be used for costumes.
    • Costumes should be loose so warm clothes can be worn underneath.
    • Costumes should not be so long that they are a tripping hazard. (Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween.)
    • If children are allowed out after dark, outfits should be made with light colored materials. Strips of retro reflective tape should be used to make children visible.

                                                         FACE DESIGN
    • Masks can obstruct a child's vision. Use facial make-up instead.
    • When buying special Halloween makeup, check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled "Made with U.S. Approved Color Additives," "Laboratory Tested," Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics," or "Non-Toxic." Follow manufacturer's instruction for application.
    • If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eyeholes.

    ACCESSORIES
    • Knives, swords and other accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
    • Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if children are allowed out after dark.
    • Carrying flashlights will help children see better and be seen more clearly.

    ON THE WAY
    Children should understand and follow these rules:
    • Do not enter homes or apartments without adult supervision.
    • Walk, do not run, from house to house. Do not cross yards and lawns where unseen objects or the uneven terrain can present tripping hazards
    • Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
    • Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.

    TREATS
    To ensure a safe trick-or-treat outing, parents are urged to:
    • Give children an early meal before going out.
    • Insist that treats be brought home for inspection before anything is eaten.
    • Wash fruit and slice into small pieces.
    • When in doubt, throw it out.

    HALLOWEEN PARTY THEMES
    Whether you decide to go trick-or-treating or hold a Halloween party for your friends and family or even invite your whole neighborhood, here are some fun party ideas that can easily and inexpensively be put together. Use your imagination and add to these party themes with some of your own ideas. Remember to ask your neighbors for their help and candy donations.

    Barnyard Bash
    Invitations: Cut out animal shapes on construction paper and write the party information on these. Hand deliver to your guests.
    Decorations: bales of hay, bunches of dried cornstalks, autumn leaves, pumpkins, gourds, dried corncobs.
    Serve food in western bandannas attached to sticks. Be sure to make a scarecrow. Carved out pumpkins make great serving dishes or chip bowls.

    Witches, Wizards and Goblins
    Invitations: Buy several cheap plastic magic wants. Print out invitations on white paper with important information. Scroll up around want. Tie with orange and black ribbon. Hand deliver to guests.
    Decorations: String Christmas lights around the entrance way. Hang silver and gold stars through out the party area. Mylar gold and silver balloons can also be hung. Cut out ghost shapes in Mylar and hang. Glow-in-the-dark tape attached to walls, doors, lamps etc. is nice when lights are low. Grave markers can be made from Styrofoam sheets - use felt-tip markers to make inscription.

    Cats and Bats
    Invitations: Cut out the shape of cats or bats in construction paper. Write important party info on these. Hand deliver to invited guests.
    Decorations: Have guests enter through a cat door (place a dark blanket over half the doorway and let guests crawl through). Hang black crepe paper and cobwebs everywhere. Hang black silhouettes of cats and bats throughout the house. Black balloons are a nice touch.

    Monster Mash
    Invitations: Buy inexpensive eye masks at party store. Write important party information on mask and hand deliver to guests.
    Decorations: Bats hung everywhere! Make a coffin out of cardboard and leave at entrance way for kids jackets etc. to be placed inside. Hang black and green crepe paper or streamers.

    Nightmare at Haunted House
    Invitations: Cut out tombstone shapes on construction paper. Write party info in the form of an epitaph. Hand deliver to guests.
    Decorations: Hang spider webs, plastic insects, phony tombstones, ghosts, balloons, witches and bats. Use back and white candles (out of reach of children). Hang ghosts made from white pillowcases. Use white balloons with black eyes drawn on them with markers. Ask florist to save dead flowers and wreaths that would be thrown away. Create a headless heathen by stuffing old clothes with newspaper and prop up at front door. Dry ice makes a special affect at these parties. (*Please be sure to use the dealers safety recommendations for the handling of dry ice-NEVER allow children to handle dry ice)



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