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MLK Day of Service Activities for Kids

Tomorrow is the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, MLK Day of Service.

Normally, all around the nation, schools, philanthropic organizations and civic groups have planned service events in honor of the memory of the civil rights icon who gave his life for others.

This pandemic year is a little different. However, there are still last minute and virtual options available.

it’s actually NOT too late to find a service activities organized around the nation to participate in tomorrow or in an ongoing basis, and there is still time for you and the children to do something kind on their own for their neighbors or fellow man.

Here are a 6 other  suggestions besides watching a speech and reflecting on its meaning:

  1. Take garbage bags down to the town creek or some other littered area near your home and clean it up.
  2. Make sandwiches and pack fruit and a snack into about a few dozen brown bags and pass them to homeless people in the closest town or city to you.
  3. Gather old toys and bag them up to donate to Goodwill or a local family shelter.
  4. Call a local home for the elderly and ask if you can there are any virtual outreach opportunities.
  5. Make Homemade colorful Get Well Greetings cards to send to a local children’s hospital/
  6. Make Festive Thank You Cards to send to the local USO to ship off to military serving abroad.

Good luck and Happy MLK Day of Service!

EXPECTANT & NEW MOM GUIDE TO FILING TAXES THIS YEAR

mom in chair

It’s tax filing season and if you are expecting or just had a new baby, there are some expenses related to your journey to parenthood that you may or may not know about.

The fact of the matter is that babies do in fact change your tax situation and here are a few tax tax deductions and credits available to families this year.

Before Baby

Pregnancy Test Kits. Birth Control Pills. Fertility Enhancement. These count as medical expense deductions. For medical expenses to be deductible, you’ll have to itemize your tax deductions, and your medical expenses must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Expecting Baby

Nursing moms can include the cost of breast pumps and supplies in their medical expense deductions. Lactation expenses are also deductible as are laboratory fees that may be a part of your medical care.

The New Arrival

The tax deduction that comes with your new arrival can’t match the joy, but this still should make you happy.

Under the new tax law, the child tax credit has doubled to $2,000 per qualifying child. And, unlike a tax deduction, which reduces the amount of your income subject to tax, a tax credit reduces your tax bill dollar for dollar.

Planning for Baby’s Future

The new tax law lets parents save tax-free for their child’s education. Under the law you can use up to $10,000 per child from a 529 plan to pay qualified expenses for elementary and secondary school and home school.

The 529 plans can also be used to pay for college.

Speaking of college, if you want to think that far ahead, two tax credits are available to help with qualified educational expenses. Those credits are the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified tuition and expenses for the first four years of college, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, which provides up to $2,000 per return.

I apologize if I’ve gotten too far ahead of you by talking about schooling and college and all those things. I’ll bring it back to the here and now by reminding you that whether your bundle of joy is born on January 1 or December 31 of the year, you can take a full $2,000 child tax credit.

tax saving

And remember, as your child grows, the tax code is bound to change. You’ll want to make sure you get all the tax deductions to which your family is entitled. The best way to do that is to talk with a tax professional. It’s their job to keep up with the tax code. And, because they do their job, you can do yours, enjoying life with your new addition

$25 eGift Cards For Teachers {Gift Guide}

teacher gift graphic

Parents may want to use this opportunity of the impending Christmas and Winter Holiday break to give their child’s teacher a nice gift as a thank you for the school year so far, especially this very different and challenging pandemic school year.

In a lot of school systems, it may be not permissible to spend too much money on a gift and the government may have imposed a monetary limit, in some cases.

Because many schools systems are distance learning full time, there also may not be an adequate opportunity to personally hand a teacher a box of chocoloates, a nice mug or another nice gift of gratitude this year.

Fortunately, we live in the era when e-gift cards and virtual gifting is now a very regular thing!

I’ve curated a list of nine stores that offer amazing virtual gifts you can simply email your child’s teacher:

starbucks gift card

Starbucks e-Gift Card

With the digital Starbucks card, your child’s teacher will get a code that she or he can add to her/his mobile device and order enough hot cocoa to sip and chill all Winter break long, depending on how much of a cocoa fan s/he is.


sugarwish gift card

Sugarwish

Send your fave teacher the gift of a sugar rush this Holiday season with the popular Sugarwish treats delivery service. Send him or her an invite to choose their favorite flavors of candy, cookies or popcorn and it will get delivered to them. Prices start at $19.98.


sephonra gift card

Sephora

Who doesn’t love the gift of self care and pampering? With an e-Gift card from the beauty store, Sephora, you can send a present in any denomination.


audible gift card

Audible

When keeping up with lessons plan doesn’t allow time to dig into that new book she or he wants to read, Audible books are the next best thing. A month free listens provides access to thousands of books, podcasts and Audible original content. Prices start at $15.00 for one month.


uncommon goods egift

Uncommon Goods eGift

An uncommonly good gift for any occasion, a gift certificate lets them pick from hundreds of unique gifts.


netflix gift car

Netflix

Since we all will be home anyway this Winter, your child’s teacher can catch up and binge watch all those TV shows trachers missed during the semester! A Netflix membership for a month or two will do it!


amazon gift card

Amazon

They have it all so you cannot go wrong with an Amazon.com e gift card.


Ban.do

Ban.do is that place where you can find the quirkiest of gifts and its $20 Gift Shop is filled with a fun ecclectic mix of little gifts that will put a smile on your teacher’s face!


etsy gift card

Etsy

Etsy is a marketplace for personalized gifts, and everything in between and is a beloved place your teacher can get lost at while looking for something for her or himself! There’s so much fun on Etsy!


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Matching Family PJs To Get Today

Family pjs celeb

The family pajamas thing is more than a trend.

In fact, each year, we see more and more families, large and small, outfitting themselves in matching pajamas and taking a photo to share in their social media fees and in their annual Christmas card or just for “The Gram”.

Celebrities Love This Trend

Celebrity families like The Currys, The Harts and more have been posting up on social in their chic coordinated sleepwear. Snapping a photo with the entire family has almost become the cliche yet obligatory new Holiday season trend.

And…you and your family can get in on the fun too. It’s not even a costly option anymore because Amazon, for example, sells sets that start at $13. What a bargain!

family in matching pjs

If you have a Macy‘s department store near you, hop in the car and head over to pic up its  Family Matching Merry Pajamas ($10-$49).

Walmart also has the red plaid family PJs starting at $10. The options and variety of styles are limitless

Here are a few faves:

family in matching pjs

Hanna Andersson

Matching Family Tannenbaum PJs are organic knit and cotton

matching pj

Hannukah PJs

Hanna Andersson also has matching families for Jewish families that do not celebrate Hannukah /

matcching ps

Gender Neutral

If you’re lucky to get these when they come back in stock in a variety of sized, you can get Old Navy’s gender neutral family set for under $30

matching pj

Family Pet Inclusive

We cannot let Fido out of the family photos and that’s why a lot of newer family sets include pieces for the family dog. Kohl’s had some starting at $19.99

luxe matching

Family Luxury Set

If you prefer premium quality PJs, then there are a few luxe brands also offering matching family sets like

10 Ways the Kids Can Help Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving place setting

Thanksgiving is all about family and spending time together.

Generations often share the kitchen while creating some of the best tasting dishes.  Bring the kids into the kitchen this year and help them learn about some of your family’s traditional Thanksgiving recipes.  From toddlers to teens, there’s something everyone can do to help out.

  1. Lay out the bread to dry. Many stuffing recipes require stale bread.  Have your child set the bread out on the counter. Once it’s stale, allow him to break up the bread and dump in premeasured spices.
  2. Wash the vegetables for the crudité platter.  Serve a platter of crudité with some dip for guests to snack on.  Kids can wash the veggies and drain some pickles and olives before putting them onto a platter.
  3. Peel the potatoes. Around ages 8 to 10, most kids can use a potato peeler with supervision.  Teach her how to use the peeler than observe her in action before leaving her to the task.
  4. Add the marshmallows to the top of the sweet potatoes. Kids may enjoy the simple task of adding marshmallows to the top of the sweet potatoes, while sneaking a few as a snack, of course.  When kids help prepare a dish they feel connected to it and may be more likely to try it.
  5. Make some whipped honey butter. Allow a stick of butter to sit out until it reaches room temperature.  Have her add the butter, along with some honey, to a mixing bowl.  A couple of tablespoons worth are enough.  Add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar and turn on the mixer.  Once blended, scoop the finished product into a pretty bowl and it’s ready to serve.
  6. Toss the salad. There are several ways kids can help create the dinner salad.  Let him tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces, rinse it off and toss it into the salad spinner. Once he spins the lettuce dry he can add in the rest of the ingredients, including the dressing. Have him toss the salad and set it on the table.
  7. Set the table. Depending on their age kids can set the entire table Thanksgiving table independently or set out items as you direct. Draw a table setting on a piece of paper. Your child can use the paper as a place setting guide.
  8. Plan the meal. Letting young ones help plan the menu for the big day will not only allow them to feel part of the celebration, but it may get them to try more types of food. Ask your children what vegetables they’d like to see on the menu and work together to find something appropriate to include.
  9. Snap green beans. Green bean casserole is a traditional dish served at many Thanksgiving feasts. Have the kids snap the ends of the beans that you’ll use in the casserole. Parents and kids can race to see who can finish snapping the ends off of their pile of beans that fastest.
  10. Mashing potatoes. Another traditional dish at the Thanksgiving table is mashed potatoes.  After the potatoes are boiled, kids can use a hand masher to help mash the potatoes up.

Consider what meal preparation tasks are age-appropriate for each child in your family. Assign each child at least one responsibility. The more involved kids feel, the more excited they’ll be about sharing Thanksgiving dinner together.

How To Get An Elusive PS5: Log In Stock/ReStock Links

If a Sony Playstation 5 is on your child’s Christmas wish list and you haven’t pre-ordered or purchased a console by now, it’s going to be really hard to get your hands on one.

Sony released its biggest launch everthis past November 12 in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and South Korea and the rest of the world on Nov 19th. Before then, some retailers offered pre-orders causing there to be a extreme backlog.

However, the good news is that Sony has indicated, and the main Big Box retailers have confirmed plans to put new game systems back in stock starting today thru Black Friday this upcoming Friday.

How Much Does a PS5 Cost?

PS5 costs $499.99, while the digital-only edition will cost $399.99. The console is backwards compatible with PS2 games.

Can you Still Get One This Year?

Here are the following links that will take you to the landing pages that will take you directly to their respective paes for taking PS5 orders.

Have these pages open and continue to refresh until you see some come in stock then Go!

PS5 at Amazon  – $499.99

PS5 Digital Edition at Amazon  – $399.99

PS5 at Best Buy  – $499.99

PS5 Digital Edition at Best Buy  – $399.99

PS5 at GameStop  – $499.99

PS5 Digital at GameStop  – $399.99

PS5 at Walmart  – $499.99

PS5 Digital Edition at Walmart  – $399.99

PS5 at Target  – $499.99

PS5 Digital Edition at Target  – $399.99

PS5 at Sam’s Club  – $499.99

Tips for Getting Your Device

Be already logged in

If you need to create an account, do so now, and be logged in. By the time you take to set up an account after putting a console in your cart, it may disappear as the system may take your in unreserved cart away. You never know because bugs happen especially during a time when everyone is online trying to get one.

Have your Credit Card Ready

Have the credit card account you plan to use ready in hand if you haven’t already logged it in the account. Many people have their card of choice already registered with the above websites to make ordering seamless. If you’re comfortable with having an online retailer store your account (which is not necessarily common these days with all the security breaches), then do that NOW.

Use my links above and enter the billing address etc.

Disable PopUps and Other Draining Software

A lot of websites auto refresh in the background. Some apps that you have downloaded on your browser or your computer hard drive also take up resources. Go to the Running Aps Task Window and turn off all those that you are not using but are running in the background. You need an uniterrupted exprience and no slow downs.

Good luck and tag me at @Bellyitch everywhere in social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and let me know if these tips help you get one. I’m on the hunt as well and am literally juicing up my competition with this blog post so I do hope you appreciate it! And at least share it with your friends and family also on the hunt!

5 Fun Non Political Ways to Teach Your Child About Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving as we know it was celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was a celebration that was born from the pilgrims desire to give prayers of thanksgiving to God for giving them a good harvest.  Thanksgiving was tied to religious celebrations for hundreds of years, but today there are many secular celebrations as well.  Many times, Thanksgiving is over shadowed by Halloween and Christmas because it’s not as flashy or filled with gifts and treats.

Here are some ways to teach your kids to be thankful and to enjoy Thanksgiving.

  1. Create a thankful jar.  

    For this, you will need a jar of some sort.  This is a great time to recycle a jar that you have recently emptied.  Wash and dry the jar thoroughly and remove any labels that might be on it.  Cut a strip of printer paper that is the right size to wrap around the jar.  Encourage the kids to decorate the strip with a Thanksgiving theme, making sure to write “Thank you” or “Thanks” some place on the strip with crayons or markers.  When the kids are finished, glue the strip of paper around the jar. If you like you can tie a pretty ribbon around the mouth of the jar.  Have the kids cut up slips of paper that can be used for everyone to write what they are thankful for during the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  During dinner everyone should pass around the jar and take a slip of paper out and read it.

  2. Read a book.  

    There are many books in the library or at the bookstore that explain the story of the first Thanksgiving.  Pick out a book that is age appropriate for the children you are reading to so that they can better understand the story.  Use the story to teach the kids how you feel about Thanksgiving and why you think it’s important.

    pulse ox

  3. Play a game.  

    Create your own Thanksgiving trivia game.  Go online and find a bunch of facts about Thanksgiving and put them on cards.  Each question should be on its own card. The person who gets the question right can keep the card, that way you can see who wins the most cards at the end.  The beauty of this game is that you can gear the questions to the age of the players.  You may need to have true and false questions or multiple choice questions for little ones.  This game can even be played at the table during Thanksgiving.  You can reserve a special set of adult questions to be added to the game.  You might want to print out the adult questions on a different color paper or using a different color of ink so that you will know which questions are meant for adults.  The game can be fun and challenging, and it will also teach your children a lot about Thanksgiving.

  4. Cook an authentic dish.  

    There are some misconceptions about what kind of food was served at the first Thanksgiving dinner.  Research with your child what foods would have been there and then prepare some of those dishes on the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  A few suggestions would be: succotash, corn soup, squash, beans, maple sugar candy and berries (even cranberries).  While you are cooking you can talk about how you think the pilgrims and Native Americans would have cooked their food since they didn’t have electricity.  You never know, you might find some new family favorites.

  5. Watch a Food-Centered Family Movie 

Enjoy a movie that centers around people gathering and eating food that is age appropriate. There are plenty on family-focused channels.

Spend some time with the kids talking about Thanksgiving and why it’s important to you and your family.  Many people find that adopting an attitude of thankfulness all year long helps them enjoy life more.  Give it a try and see what you think.

Last Minute Halloween Costumes You Can Pull Off Quickly

Even though we are in a pandemic, some are still going to celebrate with intimate gatherings with just family, or at Halloween parades and virtual events. If you are you looking for a last minute Halloween costume you can literally just thrown on using pieces and items likely already in your closet, you are in luck!

There are some pretty easy costumes of cartoon characters that can be re-created easily. I curated these last year, and apended them for this year.

Here is how to pull it off really quick.

Here is an easier meme to pull off:

You’ll need to head to your craft store to pick up a large roll of light green felt, that you cut into triangles then sew or hot glue together to form the collar of Kermit the Frog’s neckline. Wear a darker green tee shirt and black pants, carry a sign that says “But That’s None of My Business” and a cup of tea and voila! Instant nosy kermit meme.

 

To be the Dos Equis bear guy, it helps if you are already a guy with a beard. Then you just have to pick up a large cardboard from your local office supply store and get the large stick on letters. Cut out the rectangle for the windo and pick up a couple bottle of Dos Equis! Done!



A blue shirt and denim jeans, make up to color your nose brown or black and a couple of books and you’re

Roxanne from A Goofy Movie



Singer Sade has a signature pull back hair style but you can be her by investing in a cuff from a local thrift store, a denim shirt you have or get one while thrifting, pair with cold hoops and red lipstick.



A Dora The Explorer costume also just requires a pink shirt and orange shorts you can get from a consignment or second hand store. Pair with white tennis shoes and orange socks and throw on a backpack and you’re ready for MAP!



It helps if you already have naturally curly hair and work in the medical field then you can go as Dr. Bo Johnson from the ABC family TV show Black’ish



If you have a red blazer and black shirt, you would only need to invest in a roll of metallic tape from the Home building store or drug store to cut out the silver neckline, then wear a back pack. If you have a blunt cut bob weave, Even better to become Jane from Daria

My fave which I think I am going as is Arthur the Aardvark because I already own a yellow sweater, white collar shirt and blue denim jeans and faux eye glasses. If I want to be creative, I put together a cut-out of the “When Nobody knows your costume” frame and ball up my fist and become the Arthur meme! See it here:

 

An orange bob wig, a light blue shirt and khaki pants are all you need to be Lois from Family Guy

If you don’t have a green jacket, comb through the racks of your local thrift store for one to wear over a yellow shirt with a black skirt with boots and you’re Daria.

You too can be Velma from Scooby Doo in an orange long sleeve shirt, red, pink or darkish magenta pleated skirt, orange socks and red vans. A bob wig and eyeglasses complete the look. Get your Thrifting on if you do not already have these items in your closet or head to your fave box retailer who usually sell generic colored clothing.

A green tube top and denim jeans and I could be Roberta Tubbs from The Family Guy spinoff show The Cleveland Show. 

It may take confidence to rock a white crop top, denim mini skirt and thigh high boots but if you have these items in your closet, you’re half way there and can be Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman



I don’t know where they found a computer graveyard but this little girl wore a green denim shirt over a white tank and shorts to cosplay singer Singer Sza from the cover of her first album Ctr.Alt.Del

RIP to actor John Witherspoon who passed away at the age of 77. He is famous for his role in the cult movie classic Friday as is the character Felisha. The saying “bye Felisha” which recently was a pop culture reference for dismissing people is also from that movie. If you want to dress as her, an oversized maroon, burgundy sweat shirt or shirt and big white or tan shorts will do it. Partition your hair into several plaits. from Friday

If you have a leather jacket and red scarf already like I do, you can dress as Nagan from The Walking Dead. Just need to invest in red paint from the costume store and a bat.



Finally, anyone with curly blonde hair or a curly blonde wig or weave can wear a denim jeans with a plaid shirt over an orange drop top or regular orange shirt and become Debbie from The Wild Thornberries

Photo source:

Pregnant Women Who Nailed Their Halloween Costume

Every year, Buzzfeed does a great round up of pregnant women who knocked it out the park with their Halloweed costume that included their bellies in their get-up.

This year, even though less people are attending Halloween Parties, they are still planning to dress up even if just to share the photo online and in social media.

Here is a few of the winning looks that made the site this year and year’s past. Head over to Buzzfeed to see the rest.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Happy Halloween!! 🥔🥔 @seamusmullen did I nail it? #halloween #mrpotatohead #pregnancyperks

A post shared by Neha Jambhekar (@neha177) on

20+ Halloween MakeUp and Nail Design and Art Ideas

Halloween will be different this year so you may want to experiment with fun ways to dress up your face and nails to dazzle friends and those you encounter at work or while out and about. As I posted in my last post about Halloween for kids, another option is to just do a fun panedmic-era photo shoot and post up the photos on social media to share with famiy and friends.

Find design source from my Halloween Nails Group board HERE! 

My fave Halloween eye make up look is this one right here which includes bright sunset eyeshadow look that I found years ago and blogged about and shared in a now, popular and widely shared pin.

Finally, I assmebled 20 of my fave Halloween themed nail art designs on my group DIY and Nail Art Board (click here for source) and am sharing the images below to give you ideas.

You will need a base coat, a nice top coat from a premium brand like O.P.I., a precision brush with black polish and a set of nail art tools in a kit like Red Carpet manicure’s.

Next if you have, use or collect all the colors in the designs below, you’ll have everything you need to recreate these looks!



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