Celebrating 500–Guest Post By Jim

jimandi michelles weddingThis is an article from Jim DeNike, my partner in life, business, parenting and all things family. He is a communications professional working in the biotechnology industry and insisted that he write a guest post this week. So here it is.

This week marked a significant milestone for my wife, Sarah, author and founder of The Will to See – her 500th post. And I couldn’t be more proud of her and what she has accomplished.

While the blog has evolved and transformed over the years, her vision was clear from the start – provide an outlet and a resource for issues affecting our family that, in turn, could provide perspective and guidance to others.

Sarah didn’t become a social media expert, advocate and writer overnight. Only after thousands of hours of research, a lot of creative thought, and endless amounts of unwavering passion was she able to reach this milestone. She did so by forcing herself to step well outside her comfort zone, only to realize it is a place where she always belonged.

The result is place where moms, parents, patients, geeks, dogs and many others can come to relate, learn and find comfort knowing that someone is advocating for them. The result is an informed resource on vision and GI issues. The result is, at times, heart-breaking or comical or enlightening. But the result is always Sarah.

The result is The Will to See.

Congratulations, Sarah. Here’s to your next 500.

Guest Post: Have More Fun With Your Kids

We are out on our two week camping road trip, enjoying the summer sun in the Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. I have lined up some fun guest posts for you all.

This post is from Anna at My Life and Kids. I met Anna at Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago last year when we sat next to each other. I really value Anna’s sense of humor and way of looking at motherhood.


Funny Anna Luther My Life and KidsHi, my name is , and I had three kids in three years. Then I quit my job, bought a minivan and started wearing mom jeans.  I blog about it all at My Life and Kids. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah at a blog conference last November, and I’m thrilled that she invited me to guest post today. With three little kids at home, I am constantly searching for fun games and activities that will keep them entertained – and help us all avoid meltdowns (yes, myself included). I compiled 75 of my favorite activities into an eBook called 75 Ways to Have More Fun at Home! 75 Ways to Have More Fun at Home eBook My Life and Kids From sensory trays to how to make the most realistic fake casts (Dr. Mom, anyone?), this book might be just what you need to get you through the rest of the summer. And – it’s only $0.99 right now! You can click here to download it as a PDF document. Or you can click here to purchase it on Amazon (and read through some of the 19 5-star reviews).

A Few of my Favorite Activities

I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t do all of these activities every day – or even every week. But when I do just one of these things – it’s usually guaranteed to be a great day. Here are three of my favorites: Masking Tape Village Boys in Masking Tape Village Masking tape (or painter’s tape) makes great roads on hardwood floors – and even on carpet. And it’s a great activity to get the whole family involved. My oldest planned out the city, letting me know where the grocery store, school and bakery should go. My middle child decorated the roads with stickers. And the baby tore down buildings. It was a full morning of fun to build the village, and weeks of fun for my son to play with the village after it was finished. And the tape came up very easily when we were ready to tear it down. Host a Surprise Party! With little kids, it doesn’t take much to have a party. Some streamers, a few signs, and some type of special treat, and you have a celebration. Bonus if you have candles. It’s not your birthday? It’s not anyone’s birthday? Yes it is. It’s dolly’s birthday. Or the dog’s birthday. Or stuffed McBear’s birthday. Last month, it was our minivan’s birthday. You don’t need a good reason to celebrate – you just need to celebrate. And nothing gets my kids more excited than assembling all of their “stuffed” guests, helping me decorate, surprising the birthday “thing”, blowing out candles and singing Happy Birthday. Every now and then we wrap up a present of some sort. On days when I’m really not feeling festive, I tell them it’s my birthday. I always get into the celebrating mood when we’re singing to ME and giving ME presents. Make Farting Noises How to Make Fart Sounds from My Life and Kids So apparently, in addition to being a mom, I’m also a 12-year-old boy that can’t stop giggling when I hear a fart sound. Seriously – it gets me every time. So I went ahead and compiled a list of how to make the very best fart sounds ever – complete with photo and video tutorials. Having a rough morning? Let some fart sounds rip and see if that doesn’t change things around. Your kids are whining because they don’t want to do their chores? Chase them around the house while making fart sounds – that should do the trick. Your husband is being ridiculous? A juicy fart sound might be exactly what you need. You can read the full tutorial right here. You’re welcome.

Leave a Comment, Win a Copy

If you’d like to win a free copy of 75 Ways to Have More Fun at Home, leave a comment on this post. Three people will win a free copy. And everyone else can click right here to purchase your own – for just $0.99!

Guest Post: Getting in Front of the Camera

We are out on our two week camping road trip, enjoying the summer sun in the Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. I have lined up some fun guest posts for you all.

Today Courtney from Click It Up a Notch is here. We first met a little over a year ago online when we both took a content building class. Then we are lucky enough to meet in person at the Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago in November. Courtney is an amazing photographer and an inspiring mom. She brought her youngest daughter to the conference and was still able to concentrate.


clip_image002Capturing our children’s lives is why many of us pick up our camera everyday. We want them to remember all these wonderful small moments that our memories will forget. Well, one thing you don’t want to forget to include in the pictures is YOU. Yes, you need to get in front of the camera.

Please don’t stop reading because you are thinking, I still have a few pounds of baby weight to lose, I live in my PJs till 4pm so that isn’t happening or any of the other excuses you have running through your head.

If you don’t remember anything else from this post please remember, your children DO NOT care what you look like. All they care about is having photos of them with their mom from when they were kids. I cherish the few photos I have where my mom hoped in front of the camera with me as a child. I don’t care if she didn’t have make-up on or didn’t do her hair. She is my fantastic mom and I want to remember who she was when I was a little girl.

1. Get a tripod.

Tripods can range anywhere from $20 – $200 so I’m sure you can find one in your price range. If you don’t have a tripod you can use a flat surface like a counter or bookshelf to hold your camera. Please make sure it is steady.

2. Getting the focus.

If you are shooting in manual mode, you will want to select your focal point prior to clicking the shutter button. If you are using auto mode no worries, have one of your kids stand where you are going to take the photo so you can focus on them.

3. Self timer or remote.

Many DSLRs have a wireless remote you can purchase for as low as $20. Do a Google search to see what wireless remote is compatible with your camera. If you opt not to get a wireless remote use your camera’s self timer option. Set it up to take at least 10 images at a time so you don’t have to run back and forth while begging your kids to stay put.

4. Expect a lot of bloopers.

I have been known to take up to 100 images with me and the kids in them and maybe get about 3-5 that I like. Yup, that is a lot of bloopers. But in this day of digital photography, I’m okay with deleting 95 images to get 5 of me with my kids. Don’t get frustrated if the first 40 don’t come out because they are blurry, no one is looking, or even in the frame.

clip_image0045. Bribe, trick, or sweet talk.

I am not above bribery when it comes to taking photos with my kids. Somedays it is easier than others. You know your child and what they would want to sit still in front of the camera for 10 minutes.

6. Tickle, be silly, laugh, and make faces.

Please don’t expect your child to sit like an angel in front of the camera. Getting everyone to look at the camera and smile may be to ask the first few times of taking self portraits with your kids. Instead, tickle them, let them tickle you, make scary faces, say funny words like “poop” to get them laughing. Think of it as having a photographer capture a candid moment with your child.

7. Capture your routines.

Don’t forget to capture those everyday activities you do with your child. Maybe it is reading, coloring, lego, and swinging. Either way, think of the fun things you like to do together and photograph those moments.


8. Don’t forget your spouse.

Yes, you want to get photos with your kids but don’t forget your spouse. Your children will love looking at photos of you with their dad when they were younger. Probably, just to laugh at your hair style, clothes, or how odd you looked but either way it is fun to remember this time.

Please hop in front of the camera. Try to do it at least once a month so you have at least 12 photos a year of you and your loved one.


clip_image012Courtney Slazinik

Courtney writes Click it Up a Notch, a photography advice blog to help you improve your photos one click at a time which was featured on The Huffington Post as one of the top 5 blogs for momtographers. She is a military wife and mother of 3 girls who love chasing her kids with her camera.





Guest Post: Thinking About a Puppy?

We are out on our two week camping road trip, enjoying the summer sun in the Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. I have lined up some fun guest posts for you all.

This post is by our good friend and dog trainer Denise Stringfellow. We became friends after taking many training classes from her when Mulligan was a puppy and have enjoyed watching her grow her business, becoming the go to place for dog training and day camps in the area.


jimandmulliganAssuming that you are prepared to have a puppy in your life and that you have the time necessary for such a joy….er, challenge, then the next step is to go about getting one! There are many things to think about as you begin your journey, but the first and most important one is this: What type of dog matches my family’s lifestyle?

Why is this so important? Because dogs aren’t given up to shelters because they won’t ‘Sit’ or ‘Down.’ No, most often they are given up because that “adorable puppy” grew into an adult dog who became completely incompatible with the family’s needs, desires, and activities. For example, you might like the looks of an energetic Siberian Husky…but if you dislike dog hair, lead a sedentary life, and live in a small apartment – a Husky is probably going to be a disastrous choice for you. Or, you might love the beautiful red color and short coat of a Vizsla. But if you work full time, dislike cleaning flappy ears, and cannot commit to exercise the dog at least 1-2 hours daily (yes, even in the snow and rain) then this breed will drive you nuts.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow down the breed options:

  • How do you live, are you active or not very active?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you work all day or will you be able to be home during the days?
  • What are your needs/wants?
  • What are your time /energy limitations? Are you able to take daily walks?
  • What are the reasons you really want a dog?

Once you have used these questions to narrow your choices, here are two things you can do that will help you to make an intelligent, informed choice:

First, run your breed preferences by someone you trust, and who knows you well. See if your breed choice makes sense to someone who can be objective, and if it doesn’t – be prepared to get a second opinion or reconsider your selection.

Second, read the book “Paws to Consider” by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. Unlike most breed books, this one is arranged by owner lifestyle, rather than by dog breed. Among others, you’ll find good options for the City Dog, The Nine-To-Five Dog, and the Low Shed Dogs, including pluses and minuses for each breed type. There’s also a handy section I wish all my clients would read: The Not-For-Everyone dogs.

For more tips on getting ready for Rover, read more (link) https://www.riverdogk9.com/article/puppy-series-1-thinking-about-puppy

Denise Stringfellow is the owner of Riverdog Canine Coaching in Issaquah, WA. As Riverdog’s principal owner, and head of coaching and training, Denise has been improving the relationship between dogs and owners in the greater Seattle area since 1996. She shares her life with her husband, Scott, and a circus of three kids, nine sheep, six cows, two horses, four cats, and Doberman puppy, Kix.

Guest Post: Beach Mommy

We are out on our two week camping road trip, enjoying the summer sun in the Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. I have lined up some fun guest posts for you all.

Laura is a dear friend who I have enjoyed getting to know better this year, through Cub Scouts. She is one of the most creative people I know, not only does she paint and make art with drift wood and shells, but she has also written a book. I aspire to be as good of a mom as she is.


boys with mom at beach“Hey Mom, can we go to the pool?”

“Can I ride my bike down the big hill – by myself?”
~Go for it!

“Mom, can we get chips at the market?”
~Of course!

“Can we stay up an extra hour and make s’mores?”
~Great idea – yes!

A few months ago on a weekend escape to our family beach cottage my 8 year turned to me and said, “I love Beach Mommy!”  “Beach mommy”?  As opposed to your everyday At-home mommy?  At-home mommy who frantically keeps track of the schedules, routines and family events?  At-home mommy who says “no” to one more show, “no” to dessert after both lunch and dinner, and “no” to just about anything that doesn’t fit into our scheduled calendar of events?  Beach Mommy…hmm…

I get where my son is coming from.  Beach Mommy is relaxed and at ease.  Beach Mommy leaves behind the homework charts, grocery lists, baseball practices, laundry piles and To-Do lists.  Beach Mommy’s car is not the shuttle that darts between Target, the dry cleaners, karate class and swim lessons.  In fact our car sits for days at the beach.  Beach Mommy’s iron doesn’t make an appearance and Beach Mommy insists on wearing flip flops every day.  Simply put, Beach Mommy has nowhere to be and no one to schedule.  Beach Mommy lives in the moment without anticipation or planning.  Most of all, Beach Mommy says “yes” more than “no”.  I realized that I love Beach Mommy too.

Since that weekend at the beach I have tried to introduce Beach Mommy to At-home Mommy on occasion.  We still move at a faster pace at home between sports, work and school schedules.  But I try to say “yes” as much as possible.  Of course there are times that staying up an hour later or having an extra juice box are reasons for “no”.  But Beach Mommy makes me pause and listen before jumping to “no”.

Whether at home or at our cottage this summer I hope to be Beach Mommy as much as possible.  Summer should be about lazy days, exploring with friends, extra ice pops and impromptu sleepovers in the tent.  I hope to balance the scheduled camps and family get-aways with living in the moment a bit more.  I hope to say “yes” as much as possible and enjoy Beach Mommy – just as much as my kids do.

Laura Senenko is a busy At-home Mom who likes to escape to the Washington coast with her family to be Beach Mommy.  She recently published a children’s book – You and Me By the Sea – inspired by the beach community of Seabrook where they vacation as a family.  Check it out on Amazon.com.

Guest Post: Drink Up!

We are out on our two week camping road trip, enjoying the summer sun in the Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. I have lined up some fun guest posts for you all.

I met Kirsten a little over a year ago at a Girl Power Hour blogger mixer. She has a very inspiring story of getting healthy and losing 100 pounds. I have also subscribed to her weekly recipe program to help bring some more variety to our dinner table. She is so positive and has great ideas of how to incorporate healthy eating habits into your daily life.



KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  Are you struggling to get your kiddos to drink up? 5 tips to hydrate and a delicious water-packed recipe!

When Sarah asked me to contribute to her blog, I was so happy to jump in! I thought I’d ask her what struggles she may have with her own children and she mentioned water intake was a concern, as it is for millions of moms.

Water is essential of course. While you can go for 6 months without food, you can’t go more than one week without water. But, are your kids feeling like you’re the water police? If your kids are otherwise healthy, you can probably take your badge off and relax a bit!

The good news is that most of the water that we need comes from the foods we eat. Fruits and veggies are mostly water – even meat contains water that our body absorbs. If your kids are drinking milk or juice, they are also getting hydration. The water requirement for most children ages 4-8 is about 4 cups. Likely, they are getting plenty.

It is still a good habit to get into drinking water though. Here are some tips to get them to drink up!

  1. Keep it coming. Put out a glass of water with every meal and snack. Don’t ask, just provide it. Set it next to their plate and likely they will take a sip.
  2. Make it fun. Let the kids pick out some cool new water bottles they’ll be excited to use. Here are some cool ones from Camelbak: http://shop.camelbak.com/eddy-kids-4l/d/1184
  3. Make it tasty. Sure, it’s important to get the kids used to the taste of pure, fresh and clean water. But, let’s face it, kids don’t usually enjoy tasteless, well, anything! You can allow them to add a bit of 100% juice in the form of ice cubes. Let them make them to make it even more enticing! You can also make the ice cubes into fun shapes. Here are some fun ice cube molds the kids may enjoy (I really like the shark fin cubes!): http://www.perpetualkid.com/ice-cube-trays.aspx
  4. Play drinking games. Yep, start them young. (Kidding of course!) While listening to songs or riding in the car, make a game out of it. Maybe every sign you pass you all take a drink, or while listening to songs you drink every time you hear a commercial break. Allow them to make up the rules to make it even more fun!
  5. Be a good role model. Gulp the good stuff yourself. Let the kids know some of the health benefits of drinking enough water, or how good it makes you feel.

Here is a delicious water-packed salsa that is delicious served up with baked pita chips or over black beans or grilled chicken and fish. Let the kids get into the kitchen to help make this! The fruit and vegetables are soft enough they can be cut with plastic butter knives easily. Enjoy!

cucumbersCucumber & Watermelon Salsa

Makes 4-8 servings

1 large cucumber, finely chopped into about ½” cubes
1 cup watermelon, finely cut into ½” cubes
1 lime, juiced
¼ cup fresh herbs like cilantro, basil and mint
1 pinch salt
Optional but delicious addition: crumbled feta cheese

Toss the ingredients together and serve up immediately. If you want to make this ahead of time, toss the cucumbers with the salt and let sit for 15 minutes in a colander. Toss with the remaining ingredients, omitting any extra salt. Enjoy!

chef kirsten 480 pixelChef Kirsten Helle is a personal chef, nutrition consultant and lifestyle and weight management specialist. She is the CEO of Mesa de Vida…Table of Life. (http://www.mesadeVida.com) Mesa de Vida was voted the top 5 food blogs in Seattle this past year on the Evening Magazine Best of polls. Kirsten shares hundreds of recipes, weekly healthy menu plans (http://www.menusbymesadevida.com) and more about her 100 lb weight loss and information to help you create a healthy family legacy as well! She is the mother to two goofy children, 7 & 12.

Guest Posting Today

Today I have a guest post over at my friend Katie’s blog Being 5. She is a very funny Seattle area blogger with three kids. I am thrilled to be featured there today with a post about ten random things.

Choosing a Tablet For Your Child

Today I have a post on how to choose a tablet for your child this holiday season on Mom It Forward. In it I have tips and questions we are using to help decide what to get for Will this year.

mom it forward tablet cover

Are you giving your child a tablet? What one have you decided on? If you haven’t decided, take a look at my tips.

Guest Post

Today I have a guest post on Rage Against the Minivan, a great blog about a mom trying to avoid owning a minivan, despite the fact that she has 4 kids within 5 years. She has been running a series called What I Want You To Know. I wrote about Ocular Albinism.

Thanks Kristen for featuring our story!

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