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How to Throw A Drive By Party

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The pandemic has completely changed the way we enjoy traditional celebrations because of the need to social distance and because party supplies are harder to come by these days.

Families are now hosting zoom birthday parties and drive by wedding receptions. People are leaving caks on doorsteps, packags are wiped down and kids are enjoying online magic shows.

And as this is graduation season, a bunch of Class of 2020 graduates have found themselves having to celebrate their commencement in virtual ceremonies and drive by parades. I just attended one that my town threw for all the seniors today.

If you have an event coming up that will  be curtailed by Stay Home Orders and Social Distancing laws that have not been lifted yet, here is a step by step guide on how to throw a  drive by party:

Step1: SPREAD THE WORD

What’s a parade without people watching from the sidewalk?! Ahead of the event, mail free printable invitations to friends, family and neighbors, or even leave DIY invitations along with a little party favor on their porches. Want to go the tech savvy route? Create a Facebook event or post the parade details on a neighborhood app or website.

Step 2: PLAN YOUR DECORATIONS

Before you start decorating your car, choose a theme. What’s the occasion? What colors would you like to use? What are the guest of honor’s favorite things and favorite colors? Spending a little time pre-planning your car decorations will go a long way toward having a successful car parade celebration.

SHOP IT

Birthdays come around just once a year, so make the day special! Use a car decorating kit to decorate your vehicle, or create your own unique look especially for the birthday person! Ask parade guests to hold balloons or even wear party hats as you drive by in your decorated car with the special birthday person. Custom photo cutouts, standups and yard signs are especially fun to see along the parade route! The guest of honor can also wear a special hat or fun shades and accessories as they wave to well-wishers.

From Pre-K and Kindergarten to high school and beyond, kids have worked hard to achieve this graduation milestone and should be celebrated. Honor them in a big way with a car parade! If you’re driving the graduate around, deck your car with all kinds of grad goodies including graduation year decorations, banners, signs and balloons. (A car decorating kit makes it super easy!)

People watching the parade can participate by holding signs (or displaying them in the yard), hanging banners, waving custom photo cutouts of the grad or cheering with pom-poms or clapper hands.

SHOP IT

 

Step 3: PLAN SPECTATOR FUN

Just because it’s a socially distanced celebration doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! Make the most of the parade with party favors and fun extras like noisemakers and confetti poppersparty hatspinwheels and more.

The parade host can provide them ahead of time with a door drop or the parade guests can provide their own as a special surprise for the parade honoree.

Now get out there and celebrate!

Excerpted from OrientalTrading

This post contains affiliate links and if you purchase any item from a link in this article, this blog will earn a  small percentage commission on each item

Trend: Family Porch Portraits Are Sweeping Across America

What started as a way to capture and commemorate these uncertain times with home-bound families for the sake of creating memories, “Porch Project” photoshoots are trending all across the country and abroad in the Uk.

Photographers and community groups work with residents to arrange family photoshoots that take place on the front porches of homes.

The picture-taker uses his or her professional quality lens and stays a substantial social distance away, wears gloves and conducts the entire shoot in a safe manner. They usually capture people in front of their homes so you don’t have to have a porch either.

Many of the photographers donate all or a portion of the proceeds from booked appointments to charities that help COVID-19 victims or front line workers.

Not everyone is crazy about what seems to be a sensible and fun way to celebrate families and give back. One anoymous writer penned a warning on a popular professional photographer’s website, calling the practice an irresponsible trend and work around.

The Photography Association of Canada went as far as request that photographers stop conducting doorstep photo sessions based on fear they caused spread of COVID.

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Free and Fee Summer Coding Camps

My eldest kid is heading to college soon to study Cybersecurity, Secured Computing and Information technology.

My husband and I have actively enrolled the younger two in those quick free tech in-store camps hosted by Black Girls Code, Apple, Microft and Verizon Innovating Learning Lab and were looking into investing in full robust camps this year because our daughter, in particular is great at coding and the middle kid is all about digital art.

Enter COVID-16. Plans changed.

But a friend tweeted me, asking me to give her referrals to any good tech summer camps I knew of and that request gave me an excuse to see what’s the landscape looking like this year in light of global shut downs and other restrictions.

Here is what I discovered:

FREE CAMPS

Here are camps that are offered at no cost to students. These usually fill up fast so it’s a good idea to sign up early before it’s too late.

Apple Camp

Every Summer, Apple offers short free 90 minute courses for kids ages 8 to 12 so they can explore music, coding, moviemaking, or art & design.  They re located inside local Apple stores and Apple usually announces the dates early summer to late Spring.  You can sign up here to be notified if they will be having a traditional in-store one this year or will be moving to a virtual set up!

Black Girls Code

The award-winning initiative to encourage black girls to learn to code and enter the tech field is offering a series of online web courses in gaming design. My daughter has already taken one and loved it. She is signed up for the next one in May. Sign up for scholarship for its Online Summer Camp here.

Code Wizard HQ

This coding academy for children and young adults recentlyh curated a list of 46 FREE coding classes, websites and apps for parents looking for educational outlets for their children this Summer. Check out the post HERE! 

Flatiron School

This nation wide college for continuing education offers a series of online courses including free courses in Introduction to Java Script, Hacking 101, Data Science Boot Camp and more. See what is available here!

Harvard Online Tech Courses

Harvard University offers a series of self-paced online courses free that run 12-14 weeks each.  Among the offerings are Introduction to Game Development and  Mobile App Development, Programming with Javascript and Python and Introduction to Computer Science. If you want a fancy certificate you or your child can hang in an office or wall in the home, they charge about $99 for that.

The in store 90 minute camp that the Microsoft store offers has not been updated and there are only references to its 2019 Summer program. I’ll tweet at them and see if I can get a response and will update this post with what I discover.

MIT Online Entrepreneur Course

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a free class 6 week course on how to become an entrepreneur not necessarily for kids but can be taken by teens. If you want to get a certification, it costs $69 and is a great thing to hang in an office or add to a resume.

FEE CLASSES

Code Wizards HW

Code Wizerds HQ has an online virtual  for third to 12th grade students. The camp meets multiple times online for 6 weeks and cost just $149 which is a steal compared to these other courses.

iD Virtual Tech Camps

Roblox, Scratch, Minecraft, video game coding or Adobe, Java, Python languages are among the courses taught in this very popular and well received national camp. Classes are one to two weeks long with live instuctors and cost around $399 each. Age groups 7-9, 10-12,  13-18 or general 7-19. It is now signing up students for virtual camps!

National Computer Camp

Founded in 1977, National Computer Camp has four locations: New York, Atlanta, Connecticut and Ohio and has moved online and offers (2D and 3D game design, web design, Android app programming, video production, software apps), as well as offering A+ hardware, software and network+ certification, plus PSAT and SAT Math preparation classes, with a lower price tag to boot.

The price is $599 per week with a $100 price drop if you sign up for one of its scholarships it is handing out. During free timee During free time campers are free to explore the NCC software (over 100 gigs), play in tournaments, continue to code, and make new friends.

Texas Robo Camp

The University of Texas has a special online edition of the Texas RoboCamp for 2020 for high school students. The cost is $750.

CAMPS IN LIMBO

These are traditional nationally-recoginized camps that operate nationwide but have not decided yet how to proceed in light of the pandemic:

Emagination Computer Camps

Since 1982, Emagination Computer Camps have offered day and overnight programs for “Kilobytes” ages 8 to 10, “Megabytes” ages 11 to 13, as well as a program for teens in the 8th grade and up. With five locations on college campuses near Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, the camp offers a wide range of diverse tech programs for every skill level. However, the camps may switch to online, digital only this Summer, depending on state rules and regulations. Stay tuned.

digital media academy

Digital Media Academy

Before COVID, Digital Media Academy operated camps out of top colleges and universities in the U.S. (Harvard, Stanford, Univesity of Washington, GWU, University of Texas, NYU, UC Davis, Chicago) and University of Toronto in Canada, offering day and overnight programs for children ages 6 to 18. According to DMA, kids are taught by “award-winning filmmakers and artists, master teachers and certified Apple, Adobe and AutoDesk professionals.” All of the camps are “project based meaning your son or daughter completes a real-world project under the guidance of one of our professionals.” What’s more, there are two sets of staff, one for technical instruction and another set for more traditional camp activities and the overnight program.

However, it too is taking a wait and see approach and will offer refunds to parents who have pre-paid while still offering up access to suite of digital and online labs, per its COVID-response web page. 

Young Future Writers Need To Read and Study These Books to Hone Their Skills

Do you have a child in your life who has already expressed interest in writing?

Short stories, scripts, YouTube or TikTok skits, books, plays?

A great way to stimulate their brains is to have then read great books to study the writing style of authors and from reading their body of work.

By reading various prose by authors that target their age group, your future writer may come to understand how each writer holds the reader’s attention.

It should help a budding author create his or her own voice.

If you like this list, put together by Epic!, you can get a book subscription for $7.99 per month from epic! and get access to 1,000s of books each month to read and return at your reader’s leisure. It’s a cost saving alternative to buying all of these books outright.

But if you would like to build a dictionary, you can click below to purchase them as a gift or check out at your local library for FREE when they open back up or use online versions!!

1. The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York Jonathan York leads a boring life. But when fate leaves him stranded in a sinister land, he finds himself seeking an adventure of his own. ($9.29)

2. Casebusters: The House Has Eyes The new kid in school has a poltergeist problem, and only the Casebusters can help. ($3.75 Kindle)

3. Otto Carrotto Everyone is crazy about something. For Otto, it’s carrots. He can’t get enough. Raw carrots, cooked carrots, carrot soup and carrot pizza. ($6.00)

4. Creepy But Cool: Bats Kids love Bats! Bats have always been mysterious and they have always scared people.

5.  No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons) Learn all about fire safety with the help of a girl and her dragon friend. ($7.95)

6. The Book of Dragons 20 delightful tales from Germany, China, France, Wales, England, Japan, and other lands tell of dragons fierce, friendly, and loving. ($4.75)

7. Explore And Draw: Wizards, Witches, & Dragons Learn basic art techniques and interesting facts while drawing wizards, witches, and dragons. ($5.75)

8. I Love You Just Enough While pulling weeds and planting seeds with her dad on Hazel Ridge Farm’s prairie, Heather discovers a wood duckling alone in the grass. ($12.75)

9.  A Horse to Love Erin is thrilled when her parents agree to buy her a horse–but owning a horse is nothing like she imagined… ($11.26 Kindle)

10.  Dear Dad, Love Laurie After her parents’ divorce, Laurie’s mom forces her to write to her father. With every one, Laurie finds herself growing up a little bit more. ($7.39 Kindle)

11.  Jasper John Dooley Not in Love Isabel loves Jasper, and it’s making life complicated. ($7.95)

12. We Love Horses Horses have been adored for centuries, and this volume of poetry brings the graceful steed to the page. ($7.18)

13. Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School, Ms. Johnson? A boy asks his teacher if he can bring his pterodactyl to school, imagining all the ways it could help him and his class. ($7.95)

14.  First Day Jitters Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. ($4.99)

15.  The Big Test As her students grow increasingly anxious about the Big Test, Mrs. Hartwell must teach the most valuable test-taking skill of all. ($6.95)

Bedtime Story: ‘So Much’ by Trisha Cooke {Video}

Today, I’m reading one of my favorite bedtime story books I used to read to my children when they were little: “So Much” by Trish Cooke. You may recognize the illustrations because they were done by Helen Oxenbury who is world famous for her board books for babies like “Tickle, Tickle“, “Clap Hands” and “All Fall Down“.

It was published in 2008, but  I enjoyed this book so much that I purchased several copies for my family and friends and shipped them out to them so they could read it to their kids!

If you enjoy this story, you can purchase a copy from Amazon so you can read it to your own kids. It only costs a little over $5!

Tips for Organizing Your Own Summer Camp This Year

Photo by Elly Fairytale from Pexels

 

This year, there is uncertainty as to whether Summer Camps will be held.

This means parents may be up to the task and duty of keeping their children entertained, inspired, motivated and educated all Summer long.

To ease the challenge, it is a good idea to establish a strict schedule that includes work time, play time, and other activities in between. Without a routine, your work or project obligations can suffer and you risk having your kids play video games and watch TV all day.

Here are some suggestions of activities I came up with:

  • Use the morning to institute some reading or math drills time.
  • If you live near a library, use its facilities and take advantage of their summer reading challenges.
  • Go to the craft or dollar store and pick up supplies and incorporate an hour on some days for crafts.
  • Use card or board games for non-electronics hours.
  • If restrictions are lifted, do outdoor activities close to home like make visits to the local park. My middle kid, who is a nature and animal lover, enjoys heading down to our town creek and exploring the dragonflies and frogs. My eldestused to like to ride his bike around the block and my youngest used to enjoy playing make-believe with her My Little Pony toys in the front yard.
  • Tack on active play time as well. Take a trip to a local tennis or basketball court. Toss the softball in the backyard. We go on a half mile loop in our town and stop periodically to do jumping jacks, burpees, situps and pushups in the evening. It’s a great way to stave off the summer excess weight gain as well.
  • Plan trips to the beach at least once during the summer, if they are open and you can safely socially distance from other beach goers.
  • Try one of these 60 ideas I came up with from a previous posts of stuff to do with the kids at or near home during the quarantine.

With these being unprecedented times, parents will have to get creative this year and try to make it work! Good luck!

Quarantine and Holding It Together: Moms Really Deserve This Mother’s Day!



Happy Mother’s Day!

Today more than any other Mother’s Day, you moms out there deserve this day! In the age of COVID-19, moms have been put to the test and stressed to the max!

I shared an empathetic poster from a parenting group the other day to my personal Facebook Feed which a lot of moms could relate to and it got quite a bit of likes.

When I went to the original post’s comment section, I discovered it littered with commentary by dads and others who were lambasting the post for not including dads and for it not being inclusive of parenthood.

One said that the post perpetrated a stererotype that mothers were more responsible for parenting and that the message was wrong. I was upset. While parenting is indeed not a thing moms alone are responsible for and we, as a society, should not insenuate that moms alone should bear the burden of motherhood, I see nothing wrong with acknowleding the present day facts.

It is a true fact that during this pandemic when a lot of governments around the world, in states, provinces, counties and localities, have issued global “Stay Home” orders, mothers have been given the extra responsiblity of keeping their household together!

And it’s not like they haven’t always bore that burden, often times at the expense of their own self-care and sanity, but they’ve done it without complaint, and often times, without enough gratitude from those who they are dedicating their love, affection, and patience to.

So yes…let moms be recognized for their endearing devotion to being the champion, cheerleader, teacher, chef, entertainer, educator, and more.

I love Today Show’s special tribute to mom from their kids and so I am sharing it here for us all to view and appreciate! Happy Mother’s Day Quarantine Moms! You deserve an extra shower of appreciation today!

Whether you’re expecting, a new mom or a veteran mom, old, young, poor or rich you deserve a day to acknowledge your role as a mother!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Whether you’re an expecting, brand new, or veteran mom, rich, poor, old or young, you deserve acknowledgment today!

Study: Parents Respect Teachers More, Think They Deserve More Pay

Just in time for National Teacher Appreciation Month which starts tomorrow, a new study finds that parents have a newfound respect for teachers and more believe teachers should be paid more.

As parents take on new roles as educators, a new report found that brand new homeschooling American parents have changing attitudes towards teachers.

In the survey of 2,000 of parents who are newly educating their children at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak , 80 percent indicated they have have newfound respect for teachers; 77% believe that teachers should be paid more; 69% believe being a teacher is harder than their current job; and 53% will take a greater interest in their child’s education after the stay-at-home mandate concludes. (VIDEO)

“We’re happy to hear so many parents saying they appreciate teachers more, and have greater respect for them,” says Jan Richards, Head of Education at educational STEAM brand Osmo, which conducted the study.

While many parents aim to balance study with play in their child’s daily regimen, the majority (68%) worry they are running out of ideas to keep their children occupied, 75% worry their child will fall behind on educational milestones, and 75% feel overwhelmed trying to balance their child’s education with their own work.

Top subjects parents want kids to continue learning during this time include math, science, history, phonics, reading, music, physical education, and art. 80% would pay to have their child utilize an educational program while at home; and 36% admit to using games on tablets/mobile devices to keep kids educated and engaged.

“The data validates the significant opportunities for STEAM companies like Osmo to keep delivering more learning content,” says Osmo CEO Pramod Sharma, whose products are used in over 30,000 U.S. classrooms and 2.5 million homes. “We’re actively working on creating more offerings.”

Osmo recently released a free, unlimited use Projector App for educators to broadcast their physical desk to students, and will soon release additional technology.

10 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas You Can Get Even During Qurantine

Mother’s Day is coming up, believe it or not. I know it’s probably something that may escape the minds of family members given the global stay home orders and how our days and weeks are blending into each other.

If you have a first-time, veteran or mom-to-be in your life and you are  racking your brains looking for ideas and suggestions on what to get  her, here are 10 mainly free or relatively inexpensive ideas you can pull off without leaving the house!

  1. Do-nothing day—plenty of moms would love to spend a day not having to lift a finger or spend the day doing just what they want to do. So give your mom a card that tells her she is entitled to a day off—and be sure to honor it!
  2. At Home Spa day—since she can not go to the spa, bring the spa to her. Check out my recent posts with several at-home pantry, fridge and kitchen cabinet ingredients spa recipes.
  3. A clean car—Mom’s car can get downright disgusting after shuttling kids around all the time. So grab the kids and have them help you wash the car.
  4. Customized necklace—May isn’t a good month to buy jewelry because stores often hike prices in anticipation of Mother’s Day. However, you can find affordable necklaces with charms that can be engraved with children’s names online at Etsy.com.
  5. Photo mug—plenty of companies create mugs with photos on them for about $11 online from a popular chain store like CVS online. This gift is ideal for grandmothers who appreciate a creative way to show off pictures of the grand kids.
  6. Plants and flowers for the yard—rather than a bouquet, buy a potted plant, flowering bush or tree that will last for years. Or let Mom buy plants for the garden and then plant them for her.
  7. Photo album—most of our photos are now digital and we rarely print them out. So get some photo paper from Target, Walmart or Amazon and print out your pictures at home, put them in an album and let mom enjoy looking at them the old-fashioned way.
  8. A clean house—give Mom a break from her daily chores and do them for her (the way she would want them done). Wash the dishes, do the laundry, sweep the floors and make the beds.
  9. Frame the kids’ art—Moms will surely get a few pieces of handcrafted art from the kids for Mother’s Day. Make it easy for her to display and store them with a frame that lets you do both!
  10. Make a donation in Mom’s name—for the Mom that already has everything, make a donation in her name to her favorite charity or motherhood-related organization.
  11. Bonus idea—Take the time to sit down with your mom and ask her to share family stories that you can record or write down in a journal that can be shared with other family members.

Now that dads cannot rely on the kids to make her a handmade card at school, it’s time for them to get on it and start planning! Hopefully, these 10 tips will help!

Pediatricians Worry Parents Aren’t Bringing In Kids for Vaccinations



As parents and pediatricians try to figure out how to keep kids healthy during a pandemic, immunization may be one of the victims of the coronavirus.

More than 117 million children in 37 countries may miss out on receiving the measles vaccine because of the “challenging period” created by the outbreak, the Measles & Rubella Initiative said in a statement this month.

Pediatricians in the U.S. are reporting a drop in immunizations, too.

During the week of April 12, the number of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) shots given to kids dropped by 40% compared to the week of Feb. 16 when COVID-19 was not yet widespread, according to PCC, a Vermont company that develops medical record software for pediatricians.

Those figures don’t measure how many kids are overdue for their first dose of MMR, “the real red alert number,” said Chip Hart, director of PCC’s consulting wing. Children should get two shots of the vaccine.

Skipping the measles vaccine is of particular concern because the highly contagious disease has made a comeback in recent years.

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