Sunday, February 1, 2015

Famous groundhogs of the USA (really!)

February 2nd is Groundhog Day. A holiday where we attempt to predict the weather by pulling a furry creature from his burrow. Where did that idea come from? 


Old European tradition states that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on February 2, six more weeks of winter will occur. This is attributed to Germany, France, and Scotland - so I'm honestly not sure of the exact origin. However, it was the US town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where the first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1887. A local editor convinced businessmen and groundhog hunters to launch the holiday, and they ventured to a site called Gobbler's Knob where the very first groundhog weather prediction occurred.

The Punxsutawney groundhog, the most famous groundhog in the world, is known by millions as Punxsutawney Phil.  But did you know there are actually several famous US groundhogs?

General Beauregard Lee, PhD
Apparently, Georgia's top groundhog is highly educated! He makes his home at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, Georgia. He has been recognized by four governors and commended twice for forecasting accuracy by the National Weather Service.

Sir Walter Wally
Hometown groundhog of Raleigh, NC. He has been correct in his prediction 50% of the time since 1998. (Rival Punxsutawney Phil is said to be around 30%.)

Buckeye Chuck
Beloved groundhog of the state of Ohio. He was declared the official state groundhog in 1979.

Staten Island Chuck
Officially referred to as Charles G. Hogg, this fuzzy guy makes his home in the Staten Island Zoo.   He is the official groundhog meteorologist of New York City. He ran into some controversy in 2009 when he bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

So, now you know.

Happy Groundhog Day tomorrow!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The #Minecraft craze: what IS it?

Minecraft. Apparently, it is a gaming craze that is devouring children by the minute. I hear about it often, from friends talking about their kids' obsession to seeing a gazillion Pinterest pins for Minecraft birthday parties, t-shirts, and crafts.


Minecraft.net

So... what exactly is Minecraft? If you navigate to the Minecraft home page, you will find this description:

"Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. First, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things. It can also be about adventuring with friends or watching the sun rise over a blocky ocean. It's pretty... you can also visit a land of mushrooms if it sounds like your cup of tea." 


...and if you are anything like me, you still have no idea. What is Minecraft?! 


Over 18 million people have purchased the PC/Mac version of Minecraft so surely I am missing out on something amazing. The game is also fully mobile so it's reach is now astounding. 


The smart folks who developed the Minecraft web page apparently heard my plea before I ever asked it. The site navigation includes a "Game" section and lo and behold, they address the big question right there. Er... sort of. See for yourself by clicking over to "what is Minecraft" on Minecraft.net

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Getting to know local author Stephanie Davis #books

Smart and confident women know how to get things accomplished. Atlanta PR pro and children's book author Stephanie Davis saw a gaping hole in the industry and is making her mark with her Kayla The Great series featuring a spunky multicultural little girl. I shared a review of Kayla The Great and The Magic Red Dress with you recently, and I also had a chance to interview the author.
Being a professional in "real" life with a love for writing on the side myself, I am in awe of her accomplishments and her go-get-'em attitude. Read the interview with Stephanie Davis below, and stay tuned for more on the new Kayla the Great book publishing soon! 
Stephanie, what inspired you to write children's books?
I love writing and I love children. A few years ago, one of my family members gave birth to a baby girl. I wanted to buy the baby a book as a gift. I searched far and wide, and I was so surprised at the lack of female lead characters in children's books. I was even more disappointed to learn there were very few characters of color. I had the idea of Kayla The Great years ago, but after I realized there was a huge lack of diversity in children's books, I decided it was time to bring her to life. My intent was not to make a grand statement with my books. Kayla The Great is here to represent the world we live in. And I really wanted children to fall in love with books. I wanted them to enjoy reading and see images of themselves and others in books. 


Is Kayla modeled after you as a child or any child you know?
Kayla The Great is the combination of little girls I've met throughout my life, my nieces and my little cousins. She's also loosely based on me. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

It has been one year... #happybirthday


Dear baby boy,

Today marks one full year since my title changed to "mom of two". One full year since your sister shed her title of "only child" and instead became the best big sister ever. It has been one year since the snow and ice rocked our plans for bringing you home and since Grandma and Granddad managed to get your sister safely home from school that crazy afternoon. One full year has passed since Daddy nervously watched you come into the world in a way we had not experienced or planned; in an operating room.


Upon seeing your little newborn face, my first words were, "oh, he's CUTE!". And little guy, you have certainly lived up to that assessment! Your sister refers to you as the cutest baby in the entire world and your smiles and chatter ensure that we make new friends everywhere we go.


Your face is cute and your personality is strong. One day in the future, you will learn that we called you "Hurricane Andrew", so named after the third strongest hurricane in US history. But we nicknamed you lovingly, amazed by your ability to investigate absolutely everything. You keep me on my toes daily, but your inquisitive nature means you will learn and grow and become someone great. 

You changed our lives forever very early in the morning one year ago. You are a shining star that we cannot imagine our world without. Thanks for being silly and sweet and happy and even difficult at times. Keep being you throughout your life and you will go far.

We all love you so much! Happy birthday, my baby boy. Wishing you many, many more years of joy and wonder and giggles.




Sunday, January 25, 2015

An unforgettable Cars birthday via #DisneySide Home Celebration (and @MariettaPizza)

I received party supplies and other free products to host a #DisneySide @Home Celebration from Disney Parks and MomSelect. All opinions are 100% my own.
- - -
Our little one is almost... one! He had quite the celebration over the weekend with 40-some guests in our home, Disney Pixar's Cars décor galore, cake, and twelve hot, gooey pizzas from a delicious local shop.

One secret to making your themed party really "pop" is to concentrate all décor in one main area. The teams at Disney Parks and MomSelect generously sent a 20-pound box of #DisneySide Home Celebration goodies which arrived just in time to incorporate into our personal festivities for the little guy. I originally had plans to place decoration in the foyer, basement, and kitchen. I am so glad that I opted, instead, to focus everything in the kitchen area which is really the heart of any home party. It was really quite the Cars extravaganza!

 Some of the party supplies included in my shipment were these themed cups:


Also in the complimentary supplies were the Lightning McQueen cupcake stand and cute little snack buckets. Since I was getting a large sheet cake, I did not have cupcakes to place on the stand. Instead, I filled the treat buckets with candy that served as a little take-home treat for the kiddos.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Exercise and heart rate: A first grade science project

We turned in this beauty of a science project yesterday morning!
 
 
 
Amelia came up with the idea. She also wanted to determine if all fruit snacks pouches had the same number of snacks within, but we decided that "heart healthy" fit much better into curriculum.  
 

 
"Heart Healthy" began with this question:
"Which activities will raise my heart/pulse rate the highest?"
 
Our result, from the list of activities we came up with, was..... jumping jacks!
 
Does your elementary school child need a science project idea? Do you want something that does not require a lot of materials? This is a great one! It just takes some patience to do all the testing, but the bonus here is that it adds exercise into the child's day.
 
Here is a detailed list of materials and a procedure:
 
MATERIALS: 
Ball, video game, and water bottle can be swapped out for anything based on the activities you choose. We selected the following activities: walking, jumping jacks, up/down stairs, lifting an object, playing a video game, passing a ball.
-- Stopwatch/Timer (must able to track 3 minutes and also 20 seconds)
-- Objects for selected activities:
-- Ball to pass
-- Video game system
-- 20-oz water bottle
-- Assistant to count the participant’s heart/pulse rate
-- Paper and pencil/pen to write the results
 

PROCEDURE:
-- Make a list of activities you will perform
-- Perform an activity (other than resting) and use a timer to track activity for THREE  minutes
-- Immediately have the adult assistant feel for your pulse and count the beats for TWENTY seconds and that number X 3 = your heart/pulse rate or “beats per minute”
-- Write the result on your list next to the activity
-- Over 5-8 days, perform each activity and track heart/pulse rate immediately afterward.
Do not do activities back-to-back; let heart rate slow before testing again.
-- Repeat each activity TWO times to make sure your heart/pulse rate number is correct.
If the two numbers are very close for the same activity, data is good. If numbers are very different for the same activity, repeat that activity and count again until you have matching data. This ensures that your count wasn't a mistake.
-- For resting heart/pulse rate, have assistant count beats per minute in the morning.
-- When you have two close numbers for each activity and resting, put each activity on a line to show which activity had the highest number.
 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Social Media Moms chat about happy marriage

The upcoming weekend will be a whirlwind of activity for Andrew's first birthday festivities, including a Cars party courtesy of #DisneySide Home Celebrations. But before Andrew made his mark on those late January days one year ago, it was another special occasion. On January 25th in 2003, Steve and I said our "I dos" in a small, historic white church in the Atlanta suburbs.


Twelve years have gone by!  One dozen years. While we have had issues and ups and downs like everyone else, we are happy and blessed more than we could ever have imagined.

If you do not think having children will completely change the dynamic of your marriage, I would advise you to think again. Adding additional people into a home, especially babies/kids who need attention, education, food, cleaning, etc.? It can rock the world you knew before. With powerful blessings come a few bumps in the road sometimes.

 
I launched a conversation with some of my favorite Georgia Social Media Moms to mark my upcoming anniversary: What are your tips for a happy marriage with kids?

Smart, busy, influential moms give some pretty smart advice:

"Spend some time together completely offline, just the two of you."
--Krystyn from Really Are You Serious, married 11 years, 4 daughters

"Be sure to make time for your spouse! Date nights at home can be just as much fun as going out - and you don't have to spend money on a babysitter."
--Kecia from Southern Girl Ramblings, married 7 years, 2 sons

"Never speak ill of each other and don't hold grudges."
--Autumn from Classic Mommy, married 8 years, 1 daughter 

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