Monday, February 28, 2011

Time keeps on ticking

This is the longest gap between blog posts since I began blogging last fall. Life just gets busier and busier and it's hard to justify taking the time to blog when there is so much else to do. This will be a short one, too, just filled with updates.

I do this at night now too!
My little guy is finally, pretty much, sleeping through the night! Whoo hoo! At 17-months he'll sleep from 7pm to about 5:30 or 6am. Occasionally, I have to get up and find his pacifier for him, but thankfully that is usually before I've gone to bed myself. That troublesome cat, Milo, can be to blame for some of the very early morning wake-up calls. This morning he woke me up at 4:30am! He also woke up my sweet 4-year-old who, just as I started falling back to sleep after going downstairs to let the cat into his bathroom (the garage), woke me up because she couldn't find her little bear. I hate that bear. Then, once she was settled back to bed the little guy cried out. That was about 5am. I tried for a while to keep my pillow from allowing me to hear him crying, but it didn't work. But it isn't such a big deal now that I'm getting a decent amount of sleep 80% of the time. Yay!

We're in full swing with our private wine-tasting venture, which is fun and interesting and great on-the-job training. If we keep up at this pace we'll have a free trip to Italy next January, which is very cool! Looking to grow my team if any of you SAHM's want to earn a little extra by sipping wine at other people's parties!! Email me! adgmommy at gmail dot com

We're getting ready to sign an intent to lease on a property to open our retail wine store and I've been busy trying to save us money by researching Michigan liquor laws myself. If you know anyone you can answer my myriad questions without charging me $20 a minute, I'd appreciate you sending them my way!

And today... I am going to print out my manuscript and post it! Mark the date, people, because it often takes 4 to 6 months for a response. Today my picture book manuscript is getting sent out! It would be a dream come true for me to have a children's picture book on bookstore shelves!! Did I ever mention my reoccurring dream of living in a bookstore? I used to think it was just because I love books and bookstores so much, but now I'm certain (certainly hoping, anyway!) that I will be living in book stores through my books!

Off to start a great week! I hope yours is peaceful, productive and happy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brother, can you spare me a dime?

Have you heard of peer-to-peer lending? Look to the left. See that ad for Prosper? This is an amazing new way to borrow and lend money.

Say you need $500 to furnish your baby's room, or update your wardrobe for a new job. Or you need $2,000 for some home renovations. If you don't want to go to a bank, or can't get approved, you can go to Prosper and submit a listing for no charge. Lenders, ordinary people like you and me who have a few dollars to spare, can bid on your loan.

Take this example: Jane decides to start her own, home-based business and needs $1,000 to set-up her home office and purchase marketing materials like business cards, advertising and the like. She lists a loan request on Prosper. Several hours she receives an email from Prosper saying her loan has been funded. Jane logs in to her account and sees that her loan has been funded not by one person, but by 30!!! 30 different people lending her small amounts, anywhere from $25 to 100 have given Jane exactly what she needs to make a strong start, and 3 years to pay it back!

Today is Prosper's 5th birthday and for anyone who lists today, Prosper will pay your second loan payment for you! Prosper has borrower rates as low as 5.9%2 and average actual returns for lenders of 10.1%

So, in fact, your (figurative) brother CAN spare you a dime! Go check it out! Just click the ad link to the left.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Teach Them to Sing

Today I'd like to share with you an article about the benefits of music and movement for your children (and  therefore, you) from Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas, Communications Coordinators for Primrose Schools in Atlanta.  As a former Kindermusik educator and a great lover of all things musical, this article resonates strongly with the way I think and parent. Enjoy! -DGM

Teach Them to Sing

A child’s senses are stimulated to the fullest when he or she grows up listening to music, singing songs, and dancing. Their early development is positively impacted through this exposure to music. As it works to strengthen the neurological pathways between brain cells it also provides a unique learning experience. An early introduction to music is crucial for jump-starting childhood learning processes whether it be in day care or homeschool, or even before the education process begins.

Music makes the greatest educational and neurological impact on children when they actively experience it. Active listening can be defined as clapping, singing, tapping, or keeping the beat to music.  Further more allowing a child to create his or her own music will prove to be priceless. Passive music participation (listening to music) is also beneficial to a child but does not work to engage and develop neurological pathways as deeply. If you would like your child to experience the benefits of music on early childhood education and development, begin simply.

Including music into early childhood education heightens cognitive abilities like memory and spatial reasoning skills. More over, research has proven that creating an educational environment that engages the five senses, with particular attention to hearing can positively affect a child’s mind and physical development. The Nemours Foundation, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the health of children, produced a report concluding that children who actively listen to, play, or perform music related activities excel in math and reading, have higher self-esteem, are more focused, and are more likely to play and explore with their peers.

1. Play music for your child then ask he or she to distinguish the different instruments present in the music. This game works to sharpen your child’s divided, shifted, focused, and sustained attention. Each type of attention is crucial to the healthy development and functioning of your child. Divided attention can be defined as performing two or more tasks at once. Shifted attention is moving back and forth between multiple tasks without forgetting the rules and instructions particular to each task. Focused attention is concentrating on one task. Sustained attention is concentrating on one specific task for a long period of time.

2. Use any available opportunity to share music with your child. Play music when riding in the car or before bedtime! Researchers say that tones and notes characteristic of jazz and classical music work best to stimulate neurological pathways.

3.Teach your child basic nursery rhymes and songs. The Itsy Bitsy Spider, This Little Piggy Went to Market, and The Wheels on The Bus are nursery rhymes that have accompanying hand motions. The synthesis of music and movement enhances a child’s memory by linking the memorization of words with hand motions. This method also works to strengthen a child’s ability to do more than one thing at a time.

4. An upset child can be comforted by music. Playing certain types of music for a sad or angry child provides stability and repetition as the child learns to cope with new feelings and emotions.

5.  Teach your child basic nursery rhymes and songs. The Itsy Bitsy Spider, This Little Piggy Went to Market, and The Wheels on The Bus are nursery rhymes that have accompanying hand motions. The synthesis of music and movement enhances a child’s memory by linking the memorization of words with hand motions. This method also works to strengthen a child’s ability to do more than one thing at a time.

The benefits of playing music and encouraging participation in making music can be huge. The developmental, emotional, and educational affects yielded from exposing your child to and encouraging your child toward a musical life are invaluable.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Atlanta day care Primrose Schools
 facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - Be nice and submit yours!

Dear Readers,

I would love to feature your tip and trick on my blog!! You will be featured with links back to your blog, so we all win! Please e-mail me at adgmommy(at)gmail(dot)com

Today's tip and trick is some good advice my mother frequently gave my brothers and sister and me:

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"

This might not seem like much of a trick, but in fact it is a superb trick for your well-being. It is a human's natural instinct to complain. But instead of making us feel better, it typically makes us feel worse and makes everyone around us feel worse too! Studies show that venting is not a release at all, but in fact a way to reinforce those feelings of unhappiness. So, the next time you're about to spit out some venom, close your mouth instead!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Welcome back, self

After one night, one wine-tasting event, it is clear that my mental health will be vastly improved by getting back to work. What is fabulous about my new business is that I work both at home and outside the home. All of the back office work is done at home, but the real fun is going into someone's home and conducting a wine-tasting!

For years I was in customer service at the front desk of hotels. Then it was in HR, basically being the front desk to 130 employees. Then more office management in a chiropractor's office and then for an American Women's group overseas. And in between children 2 and 3, Kindermusik. I have always had jobs where I had to interact with people. To make them happy and either make their stay as wonderful as possible, or their work or volunteer experience as enjoyable as it could be. Or dance and play with parents and their kids. My jobs have always been a source of joy for me. I am happy when I am making people feel good.

Then I became a mom. This job is far more challenging than any of the above. I'm still, in a sense, in customer service, but as most of you reading know, it is so very different. These customers haven't come here to have a wonderful time or relax or make friends or enrich the lives of their children. They've been brought into the world through no active choice of their own. They start knowing nothing and have to learn every single thing. And just when they get something down, or want to try something new and exciting, they often have someone (mom or dad) telling them to stop. They have a boss looking over their shoulder every second telling them what to wear, what to be, how to act, what to eat. No wonder they are so grumpy so often!

And in this job, I am grumpier than I've ever been. I never get a day off, I work overtime with no compensation and my customers are either constantly demanding something different than I'm offering or complaining about what they have or don't have. They pee all over the place, throw food all over the floor, make messes every where they go and generally drive me nuts. Even though I adore my beautiful, funny, charming, intelligent little ones... they do drive me nuts. And that disappoints me. I am disappointed in the mother I am. I want to be better, nicer, more patient. Yet, I try hard not to dwell in the land of mommy guilt and just try to do better and better. My kids are only children and I am only human.

And I am a human who is happy to have the opportunity to go back to work and do something as joyful as wine-tasting for a living! Everyone is happy at a wine-tasting. It's so fun and the lingering effects of a couple of hours carry-over for a long time. Long enough for my kids to see a glimpse of who their mother was before she was 'mommy'. And long enough for me to see her too. Welcome back, self.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Help Wanted! Have you heard about...

Swagbucks? This is a website that rewards you for using its search engines. You can win 'swagbucks' whenever you search. Sometimes you win 1 or 2, sometimes 50 or more! You never know when or how much you'll win! It makes searching a little more exciting!

This post is a shameless plug for Swagbucks in order to earn myself enough swagpoints to get my husband a great birthday gift! I have been saving my swagbucks for something special and when I saw the Wine Spectator magazine I knew that was it!!  It is the perfect gift for my husband and I want to give it to him for his birthday next week. This magazine is a $50 annual subscription (not in the budget this month!!!), or 1399 Swagbucks. I am just 200 swagbucks shy. Here's where you come in. Click on the swagbucks button to the left and sign up! I'll get a referral reward and by the end of the weekend I should easily have enough swagbucks to claim my prize!

I could have already redeemed the points I have for restaurant certificates, Amazon certificates, toys for my kids, digital wallpapers, notebooks or t-shirts. There is a varied selection, but I want to give this magazine to my hubby for his birthday. We are now part of the wine world and this is one of the best sources of information around.

In summary, you help me and you win too!! You can't go wrong. And if you end up not liking the toolbar or winning points and prizes you can simply cancel your account and uninstall the toolbar. Simple as that. Help a girl out, please?

And in return, on my coupons and samples page there is a great Quiznos coupon right now!! Hungry? Go get it!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Did It! Now how do I do it?

Finally, after a very long hiatus and another year to complete the final assignment, I have finally earned my diploma from the Institute for Children's Literature!!! And with such wonderful comments from my instructor. I'm excited and a little nervous to send off my manuscript for publication, but I think I've got a great shot. I promise to come out of the bloggy closet the day my picture book hits the shelves!

It's been a crazy week with the blizzard of 2011 (as the news so dramatically calls it). We had about 14 inches of snow where we are! We've basically been stuck in the house since Tuesday and there's so much to do to get the wine business going. Our launch is tomorrow. I have to keep my focus on that even though hearing from ICL makes me want to start stuffing my manuscript into envelopes right now! But that can wait until Saturday. It must.

Life is truly a balancing act. How do I balance my passion for wine and the business I'm starting with my husband and my ambition to be a published writer. Maybe someday I'll be a wine writer, but for now it's children's lit that fuels my creative fire. It's just hard to be motivated to find the time to write when the potential for eventual compensation is unknown! I need to get paid. Especially now that the clock for guaranteed paychecks is ticking.

Well, back to work! I just had to share my excitement with all of you. Thanks for reading!