Cheapskating, Kids' Activities, microhustle, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks, Traditions

Micro Hustle Monday: The Pumpkin Fairy

Today’s Micro Hustle won’t actually make you any money, but it can save you big bucks, and isn’t that kind of the same thing? Also, it’s a Hustle on your kids, which – I think it’s safe to say – we’re all on board for every once in a while! Enjoy! 

Ask any Mama what she loves about the fall, and nestled somewhere between a Grande PSL and putting on a cozy sweater will be taking the kids to the pumpkin patch. Because kids and pumpkins are adorable. Need proof? Fine.

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Moving on…

The pumpkin patch is AWESOME. Whether yours is in the middle of a city and has carnival style rides, a petting zoo and a concession stand or is out in the country and has apple launchers, a corn maze and homemade cider, every one is full of fun for the family.

Also, EXPENSIVE PUMPKINS.

Yes, the seedy underbelly of the pumpkin patch operation is insanely expensive pumpkins. And while you’re there for the adorable photo ops, your kids are probably there for the expensive stuff – like the rides, treats, and pumpkins. The pain that I feel in my heart – and my wallet – as I hand over a credit card to pay $20+ for a pumpkin that I can get for $3.99 at the grocery store is palpable. But what else can you do? It’s a pumpkin patch – you can’t just leave without a pumpkin!

But you can leave without a GIANT pumpkin…..

Enter…..The Pumpkin Fairy!

Oh you don’t know about the Pumpkin Fairy? Well let me introduce her to you! Because she may very well change your life at the Pumpkin Patch this year!  You see the Pumpkin Fairy is a beautiful and magical fairy that can turn tiny (read: cheap) pumpkins from the pumpkin patch into big, beautiful pumpkins – overnight!

Confession: The Pumpkin Fairy isn’t real, folks. But it can be real in your house this year if you follow these steps!

First – you gotta sell this to your kids. Start laying the groundwork immediately. Tonight, when you put them to bed, don’t forget to tell them about the legend of the Pumpkin Fairy! She’s beautiful, with orange hair and a dress made from pumpkin seeds and the stringy stuff inside the gourds! And every October she visits all the little children to turn their baby pumpkins into big magical pumpkins! (This may be harder if your kids are used to picking out a giant pumpkin at the patch, but you can talk them into it – I believe in you! I mean, who wants one of those big pumpkins, when you can have a pumpkin that has been made out of magic???)22523653_10214869927088050_2006313105_n

Then you go to the patch. Remind them of the new plan – tiny pumpkins kids! The cheaper smaller, the better! Let them pick any pumpkin they want out of that bargain bin!

When you get home, find a nice easy spot to put your pumpkins! Don’t do something stupid like put them under pillows. The Pumpkin Fairy is a LOT bigger than the Tooth Fairy and isn’t as good at sneaking around- especially after a glass of wine or two. The porch is an excellent spot.

Then, tuck the kids in.

Have a glass of wine and watch Real Housewives while you wait for them to fall asleep. You’ll be kicking yourself next year, and spending big bucks, if you get caught. Then – swap out those pumpkins with the grocery store ones you’re hiding in the trunk of the car. If you want to get REAL fancy, sprinkle some glitter around. Fairies are notorious for getting glitter on everything.

And that’s it! You saved a ton of money and made a Pinterest-worthy tradition that will have you looking like a) a money saving genius and b) Mom of the Year.

***********

Don’t forget, now through October 31 you can enter to win some of our favorite things! Read here for more info and click here to enter The Salty Mamas Favorite Things Giveaway! Good luck!

#fall #pumpkins #pumpkinpatch #pumpkinfairy #cheapskate #savemoney #momlife #falldecor
Let the Pumpkin Fairy help you save big bugs this year on your trip to the pumpkin patch!
Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, Terrible Twos, The Salties, The Wonderful Ones, Threenagers, Tips & Hacks

9 Ways to Play with Rocks

My kids have thousands of dollars worth of games and toys and arts and crafts and I even am not above allowing some indulgent screen time. But the fact is, at the end of the day, they love dirt and sticks and rocks. Yeah, rocks. Which – don’t get me wrong – I love. I love SO much, I want to pass that love of rocks on to you! So here are nine fun ways for your little ones to play with rocks.

  1. Paint them. Rock painting is so in right now. Seriously. It seems that it’s t22447575_10102454468377797_269538747_nhe hot kid  craft on Pinterest. And it’s hot for a reason. Because kids love to paint rocks. Whether your kids want to paint ladybugs or pumpkins or just go nuts free form, kids will love it. Plus, you can do it outside, which is extra awesome because you aren’t going to ruin your dining room table. We even have some friends whose kids love to paint rocks with WATER. I mean, you literally can’t get a cleaner craft than that! It’s. Just. WATER. And rocks. World’s easiest cleanup ever.
  2. Tic-Tac-Toe. My 4 year old is obsessed with Tic-Tac-Toe right now. Which means there are sheets of paper all over my house like confetti with scribbles all over them. So you know what’s boss? A reusable tic-tac-toe board. Even better? One that’s in my yard, that I only have to draw once, and then can use rocks for our “X’s” and “O’s.”
  3. Stacking. All three of my kids love to stack things – anything! They also love to compete with each other. Who can make the highest stack of rocks? Who can keep the tower balanced? Who will knock it over? There are so many variations even in different ways to just stack the rocks. And endless entertainment!IMG_20170826_103408267
  4. Carrying them back and forth. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Hey, this list just jumped the shark. These chicks think my kids will be entertained by carrying rocks back and forth across my yard.” And maybe you’re right. Maybe your kid won’t do it. But we’re here to tell you that we literally sat in Jaymi’s backyard and watched our kids carry rocks from a bucket to a pile AND BACK AGAIN for like 45 minutes last week. I think they made some sort of a secret game out of it, but they didn’t clue the adults in on the rules. All I know is those rocks were on the move in the hot little hands of our kids. Kids that got wiped out from all that rock carrying. So, SOLD.
  5. Rock Hunt. This one’s pretty simple: Do just what it sounds like. Hide those rocks and let the kids find them. As one of our kids’ friends announced the other day, “You don’t have to wait for Easter to do an Easter egg hunt!” True that, Muriel! Egg hunts are great one day a year, but rock hunts – those are a classic the other 364.
  6. Steal the Bacon. Remember sweating on the blacktop waiting for your number to be called so you could race to grab a blackboard eraser? Well, we’re fresh out of blackboard erasers at our house. But we got rocks! And whether it’s a group of kids at a playdate or just two of mine facing off head to head, a race for the rock is a big hit. More bonus points for this one being another tiring activity. With basically no setup, no cleanup and the only parental involvement being to yell, “GO!”
  7. Rocks as Cooking Ingredients. Stone soup isn’t just a classic story about a selfish
    IMG_20171005_160834699_HDR
    You can never have too many cooks in a stone soup kitchen!

    town that is tricked into sharing their soup. It’s also a culinary classic in our backyard. Stones, leaves, dirt all create a “delicious” base to be stirred with sticks. This one takes some more parental involvement (I admit I’m wayyyyyy over pretending to slurp soup and report how delicious it is) and can be significantly messier than some of the other options, but my kids are all about getting messy, so bring it on!

  8. Story Garden. A story garden is the perfect way to bring your kids’ imaginative play outside. This one’s a two parter, but worth it! First, see #1 and paint those bad boys. You can paint anything you want on the stones – houses, animals, boats, foods, cars, bugs, rainbows, shapes, people – you name it! Then, make stories! The possibilities are ENDLESS with what you can create! Here’s a few ways to play with them compiled by The Artful Parent and we’re partial to this cute Hungry Caterpillar set which is perfect for retelling.
  9. Rock Toss. Only to be played if you trust your kids won’t chuck the rocks straight at your head, their siblings heads, their friends heads, etc. Once that’s established, my kids dig this one. We use a hula hoop as the place to toss rocks and we start a foot or two away from the hoop. Each kid gets to toss a rock into the hoop. After they make that shot, they step back. And back. And back. And back. Until they miss at which point we start over. My competitive little kids love the challenge of this. Once the hula hoop has been mastered, you can always make smaller targets with anything you have around the house!

Now go find some rocks, and have some fun!

#rocks #paintedrocks #stonesoup #pretendplay #childhoodunplugged #toddlers #preschoolers #kids #outdoorplay #imaginativeplay #getoutside #letthembelittle
Get outside and have fun with these EASY ways to play with rocks – that your kids will LOVE!

 

Kids' Activities, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Threenagers, Traditions

Halloween Hysteria

As a proper 21st century Mom living in a Pinterest world, I start thinking about Halloween in about March. Not because I’m going to do anything crazy like come up with handmade family costumes that I’m going to start working on or anything. No, I’ve just got to come up with a concept so that by the time September rolls around I have a fully flushed out idea of what kind of family costume I’m going to buy. Because every year I have it in my head that THIS is the year that everyone’s going to want to collaborate on something. Plus, October is BUSY. Like, super busy. We have our wedding anniversary, my birthday, oh, and I was due to have a baby October 5th. So I figured if I could get us all organized, you know, BEFORE I had the baby that would be ideal.

Last year was the year of 1,001 ideas. We were going to have Mommy, Daddy, 3 year old Cole, an almost 2 year old Evie, and a tiny baby girl – who we estimated would be about three and a half weeks old. And man – OH MAN – did I have ideas!

Pitch ideas included:

Circus: Daddy – Ringleader, Cole – Strong Man, Evie – tightrope walker, Mommy – Lion tamer, Baby as lion!

Zootopia: Daddy – Chief Bogo, Cole – Nick Wild, Evie – Judy Hopps, Mommy – Gazelle, BABY AS BELLWEATHER! (Side note: I DIE for babies dressed as lambs!)

USC Inspired: Daddy -Coach, Cole –  Football player, Evie – Cheerleader, Mommy – Referee, BABY AS MY YELLOW FLAG!!!

Wizard of Oz: Daddy – Scarecrow, Cole – Cowardly Lion, Evie – Tin(wo)man, Mommy – Dorothy, BABY AS TOTO! How cute would that be???

But alas, NONE of my ideas stuck.

I spent hours, days, weeks, begging my kids to tell me what they’d like to be. Something fun, cool, creative! But Cole wanted to be a ghost. I took to Pinterest and showed him every ghost I could. I scoured Amazon, Costco and eventually Halloween stores. Nothing. That was not what he wanted. He wanted to be just a regular ghost. Not a scary ghost or a happy ghost or Casper the friendly ghost. He specifically wanted to be “a sheet ghost.” I tried to change his mind up until about 3:00 on Halloween afternoon. I just knew he was going to change his mind at the last minute. He swore he wouldn’t, so I went and found an old white sheet. I held it up and showed him and he said, “Yep, just like that.” I asked what to do and he instructed me to cut two eyes – and that’s it. That was how he wanted his ghost. We adjusted the length, and ended up cutting slits for his arms.

As we got ready to go trick-or-treating, I grabbed his Buzz Lightyear costume and shoved it in my purse – just in case he got tired of his ghost costume, or decided once he saw all kids dressed as Catboy and Spiderman and all the Paw Patrol dogs he’d be wondering why he was just wearing a freaking sheet.

But I was wrong.

LORDY was I wrong.

The kid was the happiest ghost you have ever seen. He ran from house to house, LOVING Halloween. He was soooo proud of his costume and would announce at every house, “I’m a GHOST! But not a real ghost – just pretend!” And as I watched him, and laughed, and just LOVED that little boy, I realized that’s what Halloween is about.

It’s not about the perfect family costume. It’s about finding pure joy in a busted old sheet.

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#Halloween #costumes #fall #kids #kidscostumes #familycostumes
The countdown to Halloween is ON. Read about how Christine got all kinds of caught up in the Pinterest Perfect Halloween last year. And why she gave up.
Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting

Get Outside

This post contains affiliate links. The Salty Mamas may receive a small commission from items purchased after clicking the links.  Additionally, we’d like to thank SourceBooks for providing a book, “15 Minutes Outside,” for a giveaway. Thank you for supporting us!

Are your kids getting enough time outside each day? Find out here, along with a list of great ways to play outside with your kids!

According to experts, kids are supposed to spend at least two hours a day playing outside.

Stop and take that in for a second. TWO. HOURS.

Now this may seem crazy when you think about the amount of time your kids are at school, or the amount of time you are at work. But when you think back to when you were a little kid, it might not seem that ridiculous.  I remember getting home from school and taking off on my bike with my friends. Or exploring the creek next to our house for hours.  Or playing endless pretend in our backyard, or gardening with my mom, or swimming in our (above-ground) pool. There was SO much time outdoors, that it wasn’t even a thing. It was just something that we did. Do I think my mom worried about meeting the required two hours each day? Uh, no. Because that was not a thing back then. You just sent the dang kids out.

And we (I’m talking societally here), just don’t do that anymore.  Even when you talk about going “screen free” or unplugged, it usually means board games and books and hours of playdough play.  It’s not considered safe for kids to roam around on their own, and our green spaces are kind of being eaten up.  So we have to make up for it somehow, as forced as it may seem at times.  Because yes, it is another “requirement” of childhood, but from a scientific perspective, it is crucial (check out this article from the New York Post if you want to read more about this). Kids who spend more time outside are less likely to be obese and are less likely to be diagnosed with attention-related disorders.  Time spent in green spaces is good for anxiety and depression, and reduces stress-and that goes for little kids and grown ups alike. We were biologically just meant to spend time outside, and we have to make sure that’s happening for our little ones, and our bigger kids, too.

 

IMG_20170730_131845132I recently read a book called “15 Minutes Outside” by author Rebecca Cohen, that gives hundreds of concrete, easy examples on how to get your kids outside. And most of the ideas aren’t even that big of a deal. Take a basket of books into the backyard on a blanket and read there. Or eat your dinner at the local park. Take a nature walk through your neighborhood, or go on your balcony and make wishes on the first early stars.  I tend to think of outdoor play as an adventure, requiring prep and large stretches of time, but this book really helped me to see that those little stretches can add up over time and make a big difference. Not only in the amount of time you spend outside, which, obviously. But also in the amount of quality time spent together as a family.

So let’s all make an effort this week to get up, and get our kids out. Start small, and make a concerted effort to get out for just a little bit longer today than you usually do. The change of scenery may just do everyone some good.

 

Looking for more ideas on how to get out with your family and play? Here are six easy ways to get started.

  1. Take an Art Project Outside, like our friends at Little Mama Jama with this fun Minion footprint art. Read the instructions for this project here, or take any paints/crayons/chalk outside and create under a shady tree.
  2. Get Some Open Ended Toys. Here’s a list of really cool, open ended outdoor toys from Real Mom Recs. Most of them are fairly low-maintenance, low-prep ways to get your kids out and having fun.
  3. Put a Twist on Water Play. This little “fishing” game is the perfect way for your kiddos to practice learning to spell their name while they are getting wet outside.  It does take a bit of initial prep, but once you have it made, you can bring it out any time you need to change up your water play.
  4. Go On a Nature Walk. My kids had always been reluctant to amble around the neighborhood, until we put this fun twist on the standard stroll. Go on a nature walk- give your kids bags to collect items in nature (think flowers, leaves, etc.) and look for wildlife. You can even find printable Nature Scavenger Hunt checklists here to add some more fun and structure to your walk.
  5. Play some old school games. These little games have been around forever- and for good reason! Here is a list of old school games you can play outside with your children (or that they can play with the neighbors while you sit on the porch with a glass of wine lemonade. I’m just saying).
  6. Looking for even more outside fun? Imperfectly Perfect Mama has come up with a list of 50 fun and simple ways to get your kids outdoors.

 

Want to win your own copy of “15 Minutes Outside?” Share this post on the social media platform of your choice (buttons below!) and comment “Shared” here.  Giveaway is sponsored by SourceBooks, the publisher of “15 Minutes Outside.” Open to US and Canada only (sorry, International Salties!). Giveaway will close on Friday, September 29 at midnight PST and the winner will be announced by Sunday, October 1st. Good luck, and happy playing!

Our giveaway has closed, and our lucky winner is Lauren from explorermomma.com. Congratulations, Lauren! We’ll be contacting you soon to find out where to send your copy of 15 Minutes Outside, courtesy of SourceBooks. Thanks again to all who participated, and happy playing!

Kids' Activities, parenting, The Salties

10 Amazing Picture Books (That Happen to Feature Children of Color)

This post contains affiliate links. We will get a small percentage off of purchases made off of clicking one of our links. Thank you for supporting the Salty Mamas! We are also thankful for the sponsorship of Sterling Children’s Books, who provided a book for us to give to YOU! Check the bottom of the post for details on how to enter!

As the mother of two children of (varying shades of) color, I am always on the lookout for books that feature main characters of diverse backgrounds. Considering how important it is for kids to see people who like them in print and in the media, it is actually pretty shocking to me how few books feature characters that aren’t white (or aren’t animals for that matter, but that’s a different thing).  And while I love books that explicitly teach kids about differences (Happy in My Skin and It’s Okay to Be Different being two of our favorites), my favorite thing is finding great books where the child’s ethnicity/race/culture is not the focus of the story, but simply a part of who the child is. The character might (and should!) live in a world that is cognizant of their culture, but they are going through things the common kid goes through- like getting a new pet, being scared of monsters, or participating in the school’s science fair.

So, here’s a list of our favorite children’s books that just so happen to feature children of color in a starring role.

Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match

1. Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown

This book may seem to be all about culture (it is written in both English and Spanish), but it also has a great storyline about a little girl who can be whatever she wants to be. From her red hair and brown skin to wearing green polka dots with purple stripes, Marisol McDonald doesn’t care if she matches, as long as she’s being true to herself.

Flower Garden

2. Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

This book is simple but oh-so-sweet, with gorgeous illustrations full of color and short, rhyming verses. It’s a fun, short read that my daughter just loves.

Monster Trouble

3. Monster Trouble by Lane Frederickson and Michael Robertson

When Winifred Schnitzel runs into some Monster Trouble (She’s not afraid, they’re just not letting her sleep!), she puts on her thinking cap and finds a way out of the problem herself. She is a bold and clever little lady, and the rhyming words are fun for me to read. One of Lila’s favorites, for sure!

Too Many Mangoes

4. Too Many Mangos by Tommy Pakai and Don Robinson

This is the sweetest little story about sharing. When Kama and Nani have too many mangos to eat themselves, they share them with the neighbors, and get lots of fun surprises in return. The pictures are just too cute, and there’s plenty of culture without making a thing of it, if you know what I mean.

The Bot That Scott Built

5. The Bot That Scott Built by Kim Norman and Agnese Baruzzi

I love this book, for both the storyline and the STEM tie-ins. Scott builds a spectacular robot for the science fair, but all kinds of chaos starts happening as soon as he introduces it. Luckily, he and his robot are able to save the day. Fun story structure and lots of silly happenings made my daughter giggle out loud, which is actually a rarity.

Mice and Beans

6. Mice and Beans by Pam Munoz Ryan

Abuela is trying to plan a birthday party, but things keep going astray. Little does she know the mice that she is fighting so hard to get rid of are both the problem AND the solution. Very cute, with just a few Spanish words sprinkled in, but the story is what really sings here.

City Shapes

7. City Shapes by Diana Murray

This story has illustrations that are just AMAZING.  The pages are bright and simple, and each one focuses on a different shape for kiddos to find in a cityscape. It’s almost like a seek-and-find book, but with a storyline, too.

Not Norman

8. Not Norman by Kelly Bennett

Poor Norman is a little salty about getting a goldfish as a pet, when what he really wanted was a dog. Through the course of the story, he falls in love with his new pet, and so did my daughter.

You Can Do It, TOo

9. You Can Do It, Too by Karen Baicker

We love this little board book that features a big sister helping her little brother to participate in her daily activities. It’s just a portrait of a normal day, but honestly, that seems to be what my kids relate to most of all (Especially since Lila is on a daily mission to mother her little brother within an inch of his life).

Ada Twist, Scientist

10. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beatty

Ada is a little girl with a passion for science. She is full of curiosity and “why,” and is a strong and bold little lady who goes after her dreams with abandon. A wonderful role model for kids everywhere, and once again, we are loving the STEM tie-in here.

Thanks to Sterling Children’s Books, one lucky winner (US and Canada only, thanks!) will receive their very own copy of “The Bot that Scott Built.” And trust us- you’re going to love it! To enter, all you need to do is follow our blog (the button is in the sidebar on a desktop, and below this post on your phone) and then comment below with your favorite children’s book.  The contest will close next Friday, September 8th at Midnight, PST. Good luck, and happy reading!

Giveaway closed! Thanks to Sterling Books, who will be sending our lucky winner, Anitra, her own copy of The Bot That Scott Built. Thanks to all who participated, and make sure you are following our blog to ensure you never miss out on a Salty Mamas Giveaway!

Tired of the lack of diversity in children's books? Us, too. Read to find out our favorite picture books featuring lead characters of color.
Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, They Said WHAT?, Why We're Salty

Haters at the Beach

Why do there have to be so many haters?!?

Okay, so I was going to take my kids to the beach. I live in a beach city, so it’s not the ordeal you might imagine. We were going for an hour and a half. My friends were going. I had packed everything and we were in the car and ready to go.

And DANG you would think I announced I was going to take my kids to fight tigers.

My husband says to me, “If you think it’s safe to take both kids, then go ahead.”

Oh hi, passive aggression. As in, “if somebody dies, remember, it’s on YOU.”

My mom says to me, when I call to complain about my husband’s lack of confidence, “No, no, of COURSE you can do this. (Is someone else going to help you? Do you have the ergo? Do you have puddlejumpers for both of them? Do you have sunscreen?)”

Cause clearly, I forgot all the beach stuff. You know, for the beach.

Even the effing lifeguard was like, “Ma’am, I know she has a puddlejumper on, but do you really want to let her play in the water by herself? Not the smartest move.”

Dear teenaged sir, I do not consider her going hip-high in water while I stand ten feet away to be in the water by herself. But since you are technically in charge here, I’m gonna have to act all concerned like I didn’t see the error of my ways until just now, and pretend that you didn’t just call me dumb to my face.

I mean, good grief. Give me a BREAK, y’all. It’s the beach- NAY, it’s the BAY- there aren’t even any waves! I keep these kids alive on the regular. I think I can handle two hours on the beach.

Triple Selfie at the Beach

I mean, yes, Abram did drink some salt water, and Lila got a little sunburned, and I got scolded by a lifeguard. But did anybody die? No, thank you very much. So that’s gotta count for something.

And next time, I’m not telling any of you people that I’m even going to the beach. So don’t expect an invite. You ain’t coming.

Except the lifeguard, I guess. But hopefully the next one can mind his own darn business and let me and my kids get our beach on in peace.

Kids at the beach

Everyone's got something to say, from the husband to the lifeguard. Our experience with haters at the beach, and how to overcome them!
Kids' Activities, Married with Children, momlife, The Daddys, The Salties

The Wading Pool

It was a hot, salty summer day, and I was LIVING for the moment my husband got home. The kids and I were on our last strands of patience. We were tired and grouchy and so sick of our house and, frankly, each other. We were trying to keep it together, because we had BIG plans to head to the local park’s wading pool when Daddy got home at 5:30. An OhmHour was coming at 6, and I was gonna be darned if we were still in our un-air-conditioned house when it started.

And then it’s 5:30. And then it’s 5:45. And then it’s six, and we lose all the power (both literally and, like, the power to HANDLE MY LIFE, you know?). And I call the husband. “So what do you want to do tonight? Are you staying late?”

“I got a little caught up, but I’m coming home. I thought we were going to the wading pool.” And I almost lost it. We’d had a DAY, and there was just so much logisticking to do that I thought my brain was gonna fall right out of my head. The prospect of suiting them up and sunscreening them down and driving them over for only forty-five minutes of fun before unsuiting and towel-drying and redressing? I just. Didn’t. Want to.

But because we had no electricity, and it was either go to the wading pool or stay in a hot house with my cranky kids, I decided to give it one more bit of effort before I called it. I rechecked the times and found they didn’t close until 7:30. Truth be told, I was still less than willing to suit them up for those 45 short minutes, but heck, I had promised the wading pool already. And frankly, I didn’t feel up to being the bad guy that made the call that it wasn’t worth it. So my husband rushed home, I suited and sunscreened them babies, and away we went.

And, you guys. We had the best. Night. Ever.

It turns out that 45 minutes is exactly the right amount of time to be at a wading pool. And the later you go, the less odds that other people will still be there. And you might just get the wading pool to yourself, with your husband and your two small, perfect children, and you might look romantically at each other over their perfect little heads while the sun literally sets behind your husband’s happy face. And then you might go out for ice cream and kiss that sweet baby’s cheeks and smell his sunscreeny head and nearly burst from happiness while your daughter tells you that this is her most favoritest day ever.

And you would have missed all that if you’d decided to sit around being crabby at your husband and your kids. Don’t get me wrong, there are days to be mad. There are times when you have to turn on the TV for hours, or bicker with your husband about coming home late, and sometimes things get cancelled because you just can’t. There will be tense words and rushed dinners and early bedtimes. And that’s okay, too. Because that’s real life.

But once in a while, you’ve gotta embrace the lucky chances, push through the cranky, and go anyways. You’ve got to decide to be tired and crabby later, and be a family now, because we never would have gotten last night back. There will be cool drinks to ease the pain of long days, and bedtime will eventually come whether we enjoy the evening or not. But we need to take the time to embrace each other now. Cause I’m not gonna remember the irritation of the day (well not FOREVER anyways) but I’ll remember that perfect evening with my almost-perfect family for a lifetime.

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Wading Pool
Bouncing Babies, Kids' Activities, side hustle

How to Get Your Child Into Modeling (If You’re Sure You Want to!)

As you may have read on our blog last week, my son Abe spent a brief but successful six months as a baby model (if you haven’t read it yet, you should head over and read it here now. There’s some disclaimers!). We learned so much along the way, and even though we chose to walk away from the opportunity eventually, I’m so glad we went for it. We actually spent a lot of great one-on-one time together as part of the process, in addition to padding out his college savings account pretty nicely. Are you eager to get your little one started in the modeling world? Keep reading to find our 10 steps for getting started.

1. Know What You’re Signing Up For.

Having a child model can be amazing, but it can also be a bit stressful. There are hoops that need to be jumped through, and appointments to be made and kept, and castings and call backs to be attended (sometimes on only an hour or two of notice). If you have more than one child, this means you’ll need to have a lot of flexible, reliable childcare options available, as only the requested child will be allowed to attend the casting or job with you. And if you work a traditional job outside of the home, be prepared to be relying on your village to get your kiddo to and from “work” on a regular basis. Agencies want you available any time, and anywhere, with not a ton of notice.

2. Consider Your Location.

You should probably live near a metropolitan area to consider modeling in any real way, as there aren’t many companies that will fly you and your kiddo out for castings, or even jobs. But even if you live near one of these areas, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the car. Like, a LOT of time in the car. I live about twenty minutes outside of LA, but I regularly drove an hour and a half or more (sometimes because of traffic, sometimes just because of distance) to get Abe to work. And it does start to get old, especially when you make that drive for an audition…and don’t get the job.

3. Take High Quality Pictures (At Home or on the Cheap!)

Don’t go shelling out the big bucks to get headshots done- at least not yet! Abe got signed after submitting pictures we obtained from a $20 Groupon to JCPenney’s, so it’s not like we went all out to be selected. You can even take great pics at home, with a few simple tips. First, use a proper camera, not a cell phone. Dress your child in bright, solid colors (no logos or busy patterns). Take photos of them outside on a sunny day, with a neutral background (think the wall of your house, a brick wall, something like that.) Leave the accessories, like headbands and even earrings, off for this one. They just want to see your child’s beautiful or handsome face without any distractions. Submit photos of them smiling alongside neutral-faced photos (no real expression).

4. Secure Some Documents

Make sure you have an original Birth Certificate for your child, as well as a Social Security card. Many jobs and some submissions even require your child to have a passport (although we never got one for Abe). These things can be obtained later, but you don’t want to miss out on any work while you’re waiting for these things to arrive!

5. Find a Reputable Agency.

This is probably the most important of all the steps. Google “Best kids modeling agencies in (Your City)” and cross-reference different articles that you find. Look them up on Yelp, and in the Better Business Bureau. If you know anyone in the industry, ask for their advice. You want to know that you are signing with a good agency from the beginning. A reputable agency will not ask you for ANY money upfront. Not even for photos, styling, etc. If they ask for any kind of money, that is a HUGE red flag and a sign to get out immediately.

6. Submit Your Child’s Pictures.

Many agencies now have websites for you to submit online, or you can mail in photos. Then cross your fingers, say a little prayer, and wait for a response!

7. Celebrate! Or Shake It off.

If your child doesn’t get accepted? Please, please, PLEASE don’t get your feelings hurt. Your child is likely every bit as adorable as you think they are. But maybe they already have enough kids on their roster that are the same “type” as your child. As in, they’ve already got too many blondes, or they are full for your child’s age range. Feel free to update your pics and try again in a couple of months, because you never know what will have changed by then.

8. Secure MORE Documents

Now that your little bitty has an agent, take any direction they give you (still don’t send any money to an agent, and drop them like a hot potato if they have a photographer they require you to work with. Obtaining headshots is reasonable, but they shouldn’t cost you hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. You’re here to make money, not spend it.)

You will need to obtain a work permit for your child (you can do it online here if you live or plan to work in California). Your child will need a savings account, which you can likely set up at any bank. And if you live in California, you will need a special account called a Coogan account that is only for children who work in the entertainment industry. By law, 15% of a child’s earnings must be held in a Coogan account until they turn 18. Many major banks, such as Bank of America, do not offer these, but many credit unions (including the one we used, First Entertainment Credit Union) do, as well as US Banks. Get these done ASAP, because you have a very high change of missing out on work without it.

9. Update Your Pictures

You need to keep your photos updated, according to your agency’s standards or once every couple of months (especially when they’re little!) You can either take high quality shots at home, or hire a pro photographer to do them. That’s between you and your agent!

When you get your pictures updated professionally, your agent will likely ask you to get a photosheet made. They are basically a collage of pictures of your child with different “looks”- standing, sitting, smiling, serious, etc. Get a few printed up, as you will be taking these to auditions with you. You might even be asked to make a resume for you child which…I can’t even. It’s too hilarious. But still, it also may necessary.

10. Work, Work, Work.

Get to those castings, submit for jobs, and- hopefully- get to work! Your child will almost certainly not get chosen for every job and that’s okay. An industry person once explained it to me like this- a company is looking for a certain look for their ad- let’s call their “type” a Red Circle. Your baby might just be a Blue Square. They may be the absolute cutest of all the Blue Squares, but they are still blue, and still square. There’s no way they can be a Red Circle, and frankly, you wouldn’t want them to be.

So update those pictures, get to your castings on time, and just wait for the day when they are looking for a Blue Square. And then, little baby, it’ll be your time to shine.

So there’s our ten steps to getting started in the modeling world. Got a question we didn’t answer? Drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you soon!

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Baby Model, Child Model, College Fund
10 Steps to Getting Your Child or Baby Started as A Model
Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks

10 School Readiness Skills (That Have NOTHING to Do with Academics!)

 

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This post includes affiliate links, which means we’ll earn a small commission off of in made by clicking through. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!

The school year is rapidly approaching, and for the very first time, I am preparing my own little girl for going “Back to School.” As a former teacher, there are soooo many things I want to teach her before school starts- and believe it or not, letters and numbers are the least of my concerns! Here’s ten things that you can teach your kids that your Kindergarten/TK/Pre-K teacher will LOVE you for.

1. How to Write Their Name
This is a really, really hard thing to teach whole group. Spend a little time having them trace their name before having them move on to writing it solo. And feel free to leave the paper and pencil approach until later- check out Practical Name Writing in 12 Fun Ways by Hands On As We Grow.

2. Cutting on a Line/Curve
Similar to the skill above, scissor skills are really tricky to teach when you’re no longer one-on-one. Show your kiddo how to hold the scissors, to use them safely, and to move the paper (not the scissors) as they cut. You can draw lines on paper for them to practice with, or buy this colorful activity book that gets progressively harder with each page.

3. Coloring Skills
Now listen, we LOVE a kid who colors outside of the lines. BUT, there are times when coloring inside is important, too. Help your child to learn the difference between coloring for fun and coloring on schoolwork. Help them to decide when to use “realistic colors” versus when they can go rogue. Any coloring book can be used for this, but this fun book really narrows in on these skills.

4. Glue Skills
Let’s save the poor teacher some mess, yeah? Can you imagine cleaning up after thirty kids with glue bottles? Let’s don’t do that to him or her. Work on squeezing the glue bottle just a little (we use the phrase “Dot, dot. Not a lot!”). This exclusive, Salty Mama printable can help your kiddo to practice this skill, along with a few others on the list. Also work on using gluesticks. Need more help with gluesticks? This cute little craft kit  will give your child plenty of practice- and they won’t even know they’re working on school readiness skills!

School Readiness Printable
You can work on several school skills at once with this fun printable craft! Get yours here!

5. Pencil Grip
I don’t want your child’s teacher to have to run around to each student and show them how to hold a pencil. Think of all the time wasted! Have your child practice using a functional grip (on or two fingers on top of the pencil, with the thumb underneath). Is your child struggling? Use shorter pencils or crayons, which eliminates some of the other, less useful grips. Need more tips on how to help with this? Head on over to Living for the Sunshine to read more about ways to practice.

6. Folding a Paper in Half
Okay, this is a weird one, but there are a LOT of school crafts that involve folding a paper in half. Practice folding length-wise and width-wise (like a “hot dog” or a “hamburger,” if you remember from your school days). You can have them practice their scissor skills on their folded paper by tracing a half-heart and letting them cut it out.

7. Workbook Skills
I am no fan of workbooks personally, but there are going to be plenty of them at school. Grab one from the dollar store or the Target Dollar spot, or order a fun one here. Kids can practice valuable school-skills like circling an object, drawing lines from one item to another, and finding the line where they should write their name (or writing on the top right-hand corner if there isn’t one).

8. Putting Things in and Out of Their Backpack
Can you imagine the first-day-chaos if none of the kids could do this? Practice opening and closing backpacks with your kids, and make sure they are able to open any containers/packages that you plan to send to lunch with them. There’s not a ton of time to eat, and you probably don’t want your kid waiting the whole lunch period for it to be their turn for the lunch aide to open their Pirate’s Booty or juice box.

9. Taking Off/Putting On Their Own Sweater (Shoes, Etc.)
Big kid school is not like little-kid-preschool or daycare- there just aren’t enough grown-up hands to assist with these tasks! Help your child to become independent with their own zips/ties/snaps. And avoid sending them to school in shoes with ties until they can retie them on their own!

10. Wiping Their Own Booty (TK and Up, at the Least)
I mean, I’m just saying.  I can almost guarantee that wiping booties was not a part of your child’s teacher’s credential program, and someone’s gotta get it done. It’s gonna have to be your kid, so get to work on this one- stat.

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Kids' Activities, Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife

It’s Fun to (LIVE) at the YMCA!

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Now, let me preface all this by saying I don’t know what the YMCA is like where YOU live.  It might be just a gym. It might be a shady place where you wouldn’t dip your pinky toe into that grimy pool. It might be more of an afterschool place, where the kiddos in your neighborhood can hang out and play until their parents get off work.

But in my neighborhood? In my neighborhood it is HEAVEN and I LIVE THERE.

I mean, first and foremost, it’s a “gym” and I “work out there.” They have “treadmills” and “barre classes” and “boot camps.” I mean, that’s what I hear anyways. But the gym is like one tiny part of the experience.

The outdoor pool is sparkling, smells like chlorine instead of pee, and is always a toasty 86 degrees. They have puddlejumpers my kids can use so they can just kind of bob around in there like a couple of rubber ducks while I supervise and perfect my doggy paddle.  They have a hot tub that, while filled with other people most of the time, still feels a little bit like a massage, and if I close my eyes I can kind of pretend I’m at Glen Ivy. Sort of.  And there’s even a sauna, where I can sweat in peace because no one else is crazy enough to want to sweat on purpose, I guess except someone who is trying to hide from everyone in absolute silence for ten minutes (I’m telling you. It’s the DREAM.)

They’ve got Karate and Ballet on the cheap, and each session is something like eight weeks long. So when my daughter dreams of becoming a ballerina forever, and then on week three of class decides she hates ballet and the tutu is itchy and the bun is too tight and SHE DOESN’T WANT TO PLIE EVER AGAIN? Well, I don’t let her quit, because Torrezes don’t quit (obviously). But I only have to carry her crying into ballet class five more times. So that’s something like a win in my book.

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But the real kicker, the absolute number one reason I love the YMCA- the Kids’ Room.  For one beautiful hour, my children can enter a kids’ playland, filled with toys and books and an outdoor playspace, and experience high quality childcare while I do anything else but watch my kids. Maybe I leisurely stroll on the treadmill while I talk to Christine.  Maybe I sit in the lobby and work on my bullet journal without someone trying to steal my colored pencils.  I might swim by myself, or relax in the hot tub. I might sit on their gosh-darned patio and read a book with a warm latte in my hand. Because, as I tell myself, this place is supposed to be a wellness center, and that stuff? That stuff is what makes me WELL.

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So find yourself a little slice of heaven. Maybe it’s at the YMCA, maybe it’s one of those kids’ places where the kids play and the parents can sit and passively watch them. Maybe it’s in your own backyard. It doesn’t matter, really. Just find your place, pack your bags, and move in. You live there now.  At least for one glorious hour a day.