My Extraordinary Jack

ice creamYour kid, and every kid, is extraordinary. Celebrate your extraordinary kid.

Although this blog is not named for Jack, he was half of the inspiration for it. From the moment he arrived he has been showing us that he is a true leader and a wonderful person.

Jack taught me early on how to be a mother. Our first few years were such a rollercoaster and he showed me how to trust my instincts and fight for him. He came through it all with a resilience and strength beyond his years and will never be defined by his early struggles.

I am so proud of the person Jack has become. He is an amazing big brother and has taken every responsibility we have thrown at him in stride. This winter Jack struggled a bit in school, but by the end of the year he had turned it around and ended the year with an amazing report card. We were so proud of all his hard work.

The other day as we were trying to get on the train on our way from one relative’s house to another, Will was struggling with his backpack in the heat of the afternoon. While I was pulling our bags, Jack stopped Will and took his backpack from him and carried it the rest of the way. And he did it without me asking.

His exuberance for the small things in life, like swimming or riding bikes, reminds me of what it is like to be a kid. He could spend all day running, playing, swimming and riding bikes. Jack has a heart of gold and looks for the good in everyone he meets. He can walk into a group knowing no one and come out with many new friends.

Jack is an amazing public speaker. This year he had to give three formal presentations in class. He practiced them until he memorized his speech (which didn’t take long) and gave fluid, well organized presentations that everyone enjoyed. I wish I had been as comfortable doing that at such a young age.

Jack embodies the best parts of me and the best parts of Jim. He is sweet, caring and I am so happy that he is my son.

Check out the video I made about Jack through Stanford Children’s Health Your Extraordinary Kid site.

What makes your kid extraordinary isn’t just the epic stuff. It’s the little things. The small moments that maybe only you see — and quietly celebrate every day.

Your kid is extraordinary. Show them how much you enjoy every moment together by creating a special video of your own!


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

NetZero Hotspot: Initial Review

I have been thinking about getting a wireless hotspot for a while to help me stay connected when we are traveling. My iPad is wireless only, so a hotspot would allow me to stay connected with all of you when we are on the go.

NetZero MB Logo - colorNetZero has given me the opportunity to use their 4G Hotspot. It is a neat little device that is compact and easy to travel with. I haven’t had a chance to take it anywhere other than around town, but plan to take it on our Christmas trip and test it in several locations. It is battery operated so it can be used when you are away from your power source.

You can connect to the device by selecting it in your Wireless settings and use the password that is displayed on its screen. Any device that is wirelessly enabled should be able to use it, including laptops and tablets.

NetZero offers easy, no-contract variable plans that allow you to select the amount of data you need and length of coverage. They offer two connection devices — the 4G Hotspot, which I am using, and 4G Stick. The Stick plugs into a USB port on a laptop or netbook. The Hotspot is a stand-alone device, just a bit bigger than a pack of cards.

IMG_6750_cleanedIf you are considering a mobile hotspot, be sure to take a look at the NetZero line of products and services. I thought I might actually have to use it today to upload this post, because our power went out overnight. Luckily it came back on this morning and I am in a warm house.

As a part of this campaign, NetZero is offering an additional 4G Hotspot and three months of their platinum service to one of our readers. You can enter the giveaway below. Be sure to do today as the giveaway ends on Friday December 21 at midnight Pacific.

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You can find out more about all of NetZero’s products and services at their website and Facebook page.

Disclaimer: I am part of the Mom It Forward blogger network. Mom It Forward and NetZero partnered in support of this campaign. NetZero compensated me for participation in this campaign. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Good Teacher Power

The power of a good teacher is one of the greatest forces in education. They can take a subject that could be considered boring, mundane or difficult and make it interesting, exciting and accomplishable.

I had one such teacher in high school. My chemistry teacher, Mr. Warburton, pushed me hard, but also rewarded me with knowledge and skills that I still use today outside of the lab. So how can we cultivate more teachers like this and establish this as the rule and not the exception? Teachers who love what they do have a thirst for knowledge and growth and instill the same qualities in their students. Is the answer as simple as stagnation or lack of support?

If teachers are pushed to continue their professional growth by attending workshops, review sessions and other continuing coursework, would that help fuel their passion for teaching? What if the districts provide more support to them and keep them out of the bureaucracy and just let them do their jobs? Teachers should feel that they are important since they are the keys to educating our kids. Keeping teachers passionate, hungry for knowledge and learning new skills should be the primary goal of the school’s administration. Letting teachers stagnate and get frustrated doesn’t just harm them, but will affect their ability to be a good teacher.

The unfortunate reality is our public school system is falling behind other countries, when we used to be the gold standard. Our childrens’ education should be one of the most important things that we as parents can do for them. Public school shouldn’t just be an eight hour babysitter.

mission_possible_bookRecently I had the pleasure of reading Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia. Fed up with the public school system in New York City, Eva founded Success Academy Charter Schools. Together with Arin, developer of THINK Literacy, they outline how the Success Academy Schools have become such a success in a short period of time. The book steps through the philosophies on creating a dynamic school atmosphere, nurturing and developing outstanding teachers and methods they use for reading and writing success. The book not only includes descriptions of actual classroom situations, but contains a DVD of clips.

Unfortunately in Washington state we can’t have charter schools, but for those that can I hope they review this book and see what they can do. I can only hope that our public schools are able to take bits of this knowledge and build a better teacher support system and as a result a stronger school system.

I have been lucky enough to be provided a copy of Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia to give away to one of my readers. The giveaway runs through Friday August 10th at 9 p.m. Pacific Time. If you would like to enter please do so through the Rafflecopter form below.

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You can get more information on the book and Eva by viewing her Facebook page or following her on Twitter.

I was compensated for this post, however the opinions expressed here are all mine.

Be Beautiful This Summer

walgreensThanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all mine. Visit

me - walgreensAs summer approaches and our lifestyles increase in activity we all want to maintain a simple beauty routine while still staying on trend. Who wants to spend lots of time only to sweat it off? Here are some great products I have found to help keep my summer beauty routine quick and easy and trend-worthy.

Sun-kissed Hair – Since I moved to the Pacific Northwest I have noticed that my blond hair is not as blond as I want it. I just can’t commit to the time and expense of coloring my hair and had started to give up my will for bright blond hair. Then I found my answer, John Frieda Sheer Blond Go Blonder shampoo, conditioner and lightening spray. The spray probably does the most, but I have used them all. They have brightened my natural color and made me feel like I have that sun kissed look without being in the sun.

Natural Skin – I wear moisturizer with sunscreen every day, but rarely use foundation. I find it heavy and cakey on my face. One thing I am thinking of trying this summer is a tinted moisturizer to even out my skin tone a bit, but still have light coverage. Then I apply sunscreen over it if we are going to be in the sun. I have very sensitive skin on my face, so I am picky about my sunscreen. I have found that Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection works well for the kids and me.

Simple Makeup – When it comes to makeup I will put on mascara most days, because I have light eyelashes and would look quite pale without. Add a little lipstick for afresh and natural look. I love Cover Girl Outlast All-day Lipcolor. It stays on all day and doesn’t come off on food, drink or significant others. You put the color on, let it dry (usually only 30 seconds) then put a moisturizing top gloss over it. It is so great and comes in almost any color you could want.

Hopefully these tips will help you simplify your summer beauty routine while staying on trend, so you can get out and enjoy the long warm days and nights.

Holiday Card Tree

One of my favorite things about the calendar turning to December is that most days we have holiday cards arriving in the mail. It is fun to see the smiling faces of friends and family near and far.

I love seeing what cards and photos people chose and if they included a letter. The letters are a fun way to catch up on what everyone has doing throughout the year. With that said, my pet peeve is when people send an unsigned photo card in and envelope with a printed label — no personal touch. I sign each and every card.

Each year it seems like we get more and more cards that we proudly display. We had to upgrade our display system to accommodate the volume of cards that now arrive annually. The first displays were just ribbons hanging from a door and we would staple the cards to it as they arrived, but we quickly outgrew this system.

One year I tried to make the cards into a wreath using clothespins glued to a wreath form. Unfortunately that didn’t work that great. The cards were hard to read in this format as they required tight stacking in a circle.

Now we have a wire card tree that hangs in our kitchen. Last year it got so full that we had to place the cards on the wall around the tree as well. We didn’t want to hide any nice photo cards.

So our holiday card tree is up and the wall is clear and waiting to be filled with beautiful cards (maybe one or two from Tiny Prints). Then we can enjoy them well into the New Year.

This post has been sponsored by Tiny Prints. Please check out their line of beautiful holiday cards and if you are lucky enough to be on our card list watch your mail box for a Tiny Prints card coming your way.

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