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It's official...I'm the "BoxTop Lady" at our children's school.

 

That means, of course, that my competitive nature has gone into overdrive, and I need to top last year's record of $1,400.

 

Each of those little BoxTop icons is worth ten cents to our school. Yes, I said ten cents.  You might be literally throwing away money without even realizing it.

 

Here's what they look like:

Box Tops logo with website

If you want to make my day, please send me your boxtops, pretty please?

 

You can send them to Rosemary O'Neill, PO Box 134, Isle of Palms, SC 29451.  Our first deadline for sending them in is October 30.

 

If you don't feel like using snail mail, you can also earn points for our school (Sullivan's Island Elementary School) by shopping online through the BTFE website (linked from the graphic above).

 

The website also lists the items that contain BoxTops, which usually include Ziploc baggies, reams of paper, yogurt, and cereal.

 

Thanks in advance, and please feel free to pass this info along to any friends and neighbors who aren't busy fundraising for their own family

 
 
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: Sissy · 9/23/12 7:13 PM)

I'm not pointing fingers anywhere (and I know we're all very busy), but it seems to me that many invitations we receive to kid birthday parties are missing critical pieces of information that would make everyone's life easier.  

 

For anyone in my readership who has (or will have) school-aged children, I'm about to make you the hero of your classroom--here's the deal:

 

Street address including zip code - This might seem obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I've gone to put the address into my GPS or Google maps and not had all the info I need.

 

Phone number for a contact (including area code) - Please don't make me Google the area code...

 

Start time and END time - I have a life to plan, and other children.  I need to know how long this shindig is gonna go.

 

Is it a dropoff or stick around party?  When the children are really little, it's obvious you want the parents to stick around, but when they get into Kindergarten and older, there's always an awkward moment at the door...should I stay or should I go?  Just tell me up-front that your'e going to have wine for the adults, and you've got me!  I'll even help serve cake and ice cream.  Tell me I can have two hours of freedom, and I'll happily do some errands and be eternally grateful.

 

Do I need special equipment? Should my child be dressed for a mess (egg toss) or for the pool (swimsuit and towel)?  

 

Who exactly is invited - As the mom of boy/girl twins, I have to do the Kabuki dance of "which twin was invited, or were both of them invited" almost every time we get an invitation. Also, seriously...find out who has a twin sibling in the class.  Really.

 

Are you feeding them lunch or dinner? Another seeming no-brainer, but every time there's a party somewhere around meal-time, we're always left wondering if the rest of the family should just go ahead and eat.

 

Sorry to sound ranty, but let's use our common sense, people!  Even if you're using evite.com, there is space for all of these details.

 

Did I miss anything?

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: Coleen · 3/24/12 5:00 AM)

Our clan has expanded recently, and I wanted to share the big news.  In addition to Oscar the three-legged cat...

 

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We now have Frosty the guinea pig (um, because he has white on him)...

 

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...and Furry the guinea pig (well, because he's furry).

 

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They're both a little shy right now, but very gentle and cute.  The guinea pig idea came after we had a couple of weekend visits from Ciaran's class guinea pig, Latte, and he was very well-behaved.  So far, Oscar has pretended not to notice them.

 

And best of all, they're NOT nocturnal!  We can all sleep at night as it should be.

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 7 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 3/14/12 1:49 PM)

Often, in the background noise of our day-to-day household, I hear the Disney channel.  It's a bright shiny singing dancing onslaught, but it seems mostly harmless.

 

However, there is a weird, pervasive message that I keep hearing in every show, every commercial, and almost all of the songs---"You are all exceptional!" There's even a song (it's the theme song for a show called A.N.T. Farm, about gifted kids).

 

For your enjoyment:

 

 

It's awesome to make sure that our kids have confidence.  It's great to make sure they have big dreams.  It's a wonderful idea to praise them when they do something outstanding.

 

My question is...how are they supposed to know when they've done something outstanding if they are all exceptional, all the time?

 

Just wondering.

 
 
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 5 (Last: Steven · 10/29/11 1:44 PM)

Have you ever scrambled around in your pockets or purse for a scrap of paper to write your home phone number on? For me, this always happens at the park or at school, when another parent wants to set up a playdate with our children.  And sometimes I end up having to pull out a business card and write my cell phone number on it.  It always feels tacky to me.

 

But now, I've found an elegant solution.

 

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They're called MOO cards, and they're an inexpensive way to have what used to be called "calling cards."  Of course, you can also use them as real business cards, but these minicards are great for fun. 

 

The key is that you can put multiple photos or designs on the back of the cards.  This is a box of 100, and I'm using four different personal photos, pulled from my Flickr account.  I decided to put my personal email account and my cell phone number on them, so the next time someone wants to get in touch, I can pull one of these bad boys out.

 

They are super easy to design, using MOO's online system, and the quality is amazing at such a cheap price (this box would have been about $20).  Here's where I have to disclose that I received a free sample 100-pack as a KloutPerk...however, I really wanted to share this with you because it's pretty darn cool regardless.

 

Here's the website: http://us.moo.com/products/minicards.html (not an affiliate link).

 

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You might recognize that blueberry muffin

 
 
 
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 4 (Last: SuBe · 9/29/11 5:59 AM)

The other day I ran across someone online who was asking what my single best piece of parenting advice would be.  I marinated on it for a few days, and suddenly, it hit me: time countdowns.

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Here's how it works--starting when your children are old enough to hear you (even before they can talk themselves), you let them know what's happening next and give them a timeframe countdown.  I usually start the countdown at 15 minutes.  For example, you're at the park and you know you need to go to the grocery store afterwards.  At some point, you say, "Shmoopie-pie, we're leaving in 15 minutes to go to the grocery store." (Except don't call your child shmoopie-pie. Ever.)  Then, you give a 10 minute and 5 minute warning, and then...you go.

 

Some important things to remember:

 

  • Follow-through is key. Once the countdown is done, don't let anything short of nuclear obliteration stop you from going. This is critical.  You child must believe that the countdown is real.  If your child's head explodes, scrape the pieces into a container and go anyway.
  • Manage the clock like a football coach.  Children younger than...say, four can't tell time.  You can (within reason) stretch or compress the timeframe as needed.  At some point you will be busted by your know-it-all 5 year old who clues in, but until then, revel in the power of time domination.
  • Start early. It's very important to start this training as early as possible.  The more it becomes expected, the more successful you will be.  I have worked in entire afternoons of errands with the promise of playground at the end.
  • Use technology to your advantage. I let the kids set the alarm on my iPhone, and choose the sound it makes.  Sometimes it's the little things...
  • Children crave routine. They respond really well when they know what to expect in a given situation.  By telling them what's next, you're letting them mentally prepare for the next activity.  And doing that will often circumvent having to drag them out of the sandbox by their Underoos.

 

A final note: don't be that parent who gives a loud, running, educational commentary to the children for the benefit of the other grownups around.  The countdown is between you and your kids, and you can speak to them like people.  Cuz, you know, they ARE people.

 

 

*I should note that we started this system almost at birth for our oldest, and now that the kids are 6, 6, and 7, they almost self-count down. I'm pretty sure they'll be in college telling the professor that he has 10 more minutes left in his lecture

 
 
 
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: AnJuli · 10/1/11 7:27 AM)

Good morning!  Just thought I'd share some video from our walk this morning.  We've been starting our day by taking a nice beach walk after dropping the kids off at school, and we're up to 5 miles now.  It's a great way to get focused on the day ahead, remember your (tiny) place in the universe, and meet other locals.

 

I noticed today that the tourists always carry their shoes with them, and the locals park their flip flops on the dune.

 

Ted is still seeking his perfect sand dollar.

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 6 (Last: Jonmark Weber · 9/12/11 9:43 AM)

When the opportunity strikes to enjoy something you've never seen before, you need to seize it with gusto.  So when we heard that there was going to be a sea turtle release happening a few blocks from our house, we walked down to check it out.  The kids were having a tough time waiting in the sun, but then absolutely LOVED seeing the turtles up close on the beach.

 

There were three different turtles being released back into the ocean, all having been cared for by the Charleston Aquarium for various reasons.  Apparently you can pay to "adopt" the turtles, which I'm now investigating (if anyone is interested, I'd like a sea turtle for Christmas).  There is also an Isle of Palms sea turtle rescue organization.

 

On an interesting side note, on the island, all ocean-facing lights have to be turned out at dusk from May through October, so as not to disturb the sea turtle hatchlings.  Pretty cool.

 

Here are some video clips of the release:

 

 

 
 
 
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 6 (Last: Tatty · 8/24/11 7:12 AM)

When you have a young budding artist, you're constantly searching for ways to feed the desire to create.  When you run out of paper coloring books and the magic markers are dried out, an iPad can come to the rescue.  Here are two of our favorite iPad apps for young artists:

 

Crayola ColorStudio HD - this app requires a specialized marker (about $30), but we've been happily using it in "try me" mode without the marker for months.  The graphics are beautiful, and you get the fun array of colors you'd get from one of those massive Crayola boxes with a sharpener in the back.

 

MirrorPaint Free - did you love your Spirograph as a kid? This free app mimics the addictiveness and fun you remember.  It looks complicated, because it also has a simple scripting component, but our 5 yr old figured it out quickly.  Did I mention that it's free?

 

Don't forget that, with anything that's created on the iPad, you can always click the Home button and the on/off button at the same time to do a screen capture.  The resulting image is then placed into the Photo Album for your next sync.

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: AnJuli · 7/25/11 12:40 PM)

rosemary_with_ciaran_drivewayFebruary 26, 2005--It was a crisp early Spring day in Seattle, with a clear blue sky.  A rarity to be savored, and so we had gone out in the front driveway to take some pictures of Ciaran.  There was an exhilarating breeze coming from the direction of the river, and feeling the sun on our faces made all of us smile.  The pine trees were swishing gently, and Ted said, "why don't you pick him up?"

 

I was asked the other day about my avatar, which is now in use on so many of my social profiles across the web that I've lost track.  There's a reason I chose to use that particular photo as my virtual web presence for the last 5 years or so--it represents a moment of pure bliss.

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These pictures of Ciaran are some of my favorites.  He's wearing his favorite orange rain jacket.  He had a recent haircut. As usual, he was full of energy and giggling.

 

When this particular photo was taken, I didn't know I was in the frame, and my smile is just unselfconscious total joy in the moment.

 

Much better than a headshot from a professional studio, and it makes me light up inside every time I see it. I guess someday I'll have to find a new avatar picture, but for now this is me.

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 5 (Last: Jonmark Weber · 7/18/11 11:32 AM)
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 4 (Last: Lori · 6/29/11 5:00 PM)

The house we're leaving is above a river.  When it's warm out, we leave the bedroom windows open and the breeze comes off the river, through the evergreens, and smells sweet, piney, and vaguely of clean water.  Even on the warmest evening, this breeze is cool and refreshing.  Occasionally the swish of the pine trees is punctuated with the weird, eerie sound of elk.  It is completely unexpected to the newcomer--it sounds like air being forced through the neck of a balloon stretched taut.  They call it "bugling," but I think  it sounds more like whale song, especially when the babies are calling out to their mothers.

 

This morning I had an awesome parting gift.  A big group of gorgeous elk (including 5 babies) visited and had a party on the lawn. 

 

Here are my friends.  I told them I'd be back.

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 10 (Last: LittleOddMe · 6/22/11 5:08 PM)

Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • He holds the secret to the world's greatest margarita
  • He surprised me in Kindergarten by showing up direct from Viet Nam to pick me up at school
  • He took me to see KC and the Sunshine Band (my first concert)
  • He taught me how to change a tire
  • He played William Tell Overture at volume 11 upon request and gave me a love of music
  • He taught me that integrity is how you behave when no-one's watching
  • He figured out a way to let me finish High School in one spot, when the Army wanted to move us
  • Millions of horsey rides and games of hide-and-go-seek
  • He taught me how to draw using perspective
  • He was my go-to comfort when thunderstorms were terrifying
  • He taught me how to make a proper snow-luge course
  • He shares my love of rollercoasters
  • He gave me my appreciation for sports cars (maybe those last two are related)
  • He's the best Grampa too!

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Lori · 6/19/11 11:54 AM)
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 7 (Last: Queen Mother of the · 6/19/11 3:55 PM)

The OBC (O'Neill Boys Club) just left the building!  They have a long day of driving today; ending up in Montana tonight, I think. 

 

It sure was bittersweet watching them go down the driveway!  Catie & I are now tasked with cleaning/sorting the fallout here at the house over the next week, and then we take the "easy way" across country.

 

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 4 (Last: SuBe · 6/16/11 6:24 PM)

Let's just file this under "another reason to move to Charleston," shall we?

 

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 6/3/11 7:41 AM)

...but you can't take the East Coast out of the girl. 

 

That's right, after 11 years, we're moving all the way back across country from Seattle to Charleston, SC.  I will always love Seattle and the Pacific Northwest (it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, in my opinion), but my heart belongs on the East Coast (where most of my family and Ted's family is located).  I'm very excited to have new adventures, be close to warm beaches, and continue wreaking havoc on the online social media scene.

 

Stay tuned for misadventures in moving, flying with a cat, and finding a house!  And don't worry---the Year of Muffins continues...

 

Here's one reason we fell in love with Charleston and surrounding area:

 

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Addendum....Forgot to mention that Social Strata isn't going anywhere; our Seattle office is still going strong, and we'll be opening an East Coast office over the next 6 months or so.

 
 
 
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 11 (Last: sbevis · 6/12/11 7:06 PM)
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 6 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 3/6/11 9:19 AM)
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 2/13/11 9:58 AM)
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: Lori · 2/12/11 5:07 PM)
 
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