Sunday, May 29, 2011

Raising a Good Person

How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. 
--Anne Frank

If I had to sum up my goal is a parent it's to raise a good person.  As part of this goal, it's very important to me that my son grow up with the confidence that he can change things, that he can make a difference.  

But how do you teach this to a five-year old?  To me, thinking of others and of what we can do to help is a habit.  It's not something big we do once a year at Christmastime.  

I want to show him that it's the little things we do each day that really add up.  What better way to show this to a child than by example?

Looking back over just the past two months since I've been keeping this blog, I thought of three examples of "the little things" we've done to improve our little slice of the world.


In March, we picked this sweet little stray dog on our way home from our trip to Branson.

As you can see, she was in very bad shape.  (Makes me so sad to look at these.)

But although we had no intentions of getting another dog, we couldn't leave her there.  My son has watched us take her to the vet several times, give her medicine, and nurse her back to health.  Now she is a much-valued member of our family and we feel like the lucky ones.

Notice how her tongue hangs out when she sleeps.  :)

They have the entire yard to lay in,
yet they're always on top of one another.

The Homeless

About a week ago, my son and I decided we were going to pack a picnic to take to the park downtown.  I mentioned to him that I was going to bring extra food for the homeless I often see in the area.  

My son's little mind began to work and we had a wonderful conversation about what it means to be homeless.  It made me so happy when he got excited to help.

So, we set out enough food to feed the two of us plus four more lunches.

And, as promised, he was right there to help out.

After handing out the extra lunches we sat down to enjoy our lunch.  Madd said it felt good to help other people.  

It was a good thing we passed out the lunches when we did because out of nowhere, it started to pour.  We got soaked, but it only added to the fun.


[First, just let me say it's very hard to take myself seriously right now with that picture staring me in the face.  I'm sure you're having the same problem... so let's scroll down.]

Okay, much better.  Now where were we?  

On Earth Day, I gave my non-traditional views on saving the planet.  Then I stated that our household would be implementing a change, but didn't mention what it was.

Well, now you know.  We decided to start recycling.  My hope is that my son will develop a habit of recycling so that he'll continue doing so as an adult.  

I must admit, when I started recycling I didn't think we'd have much to recycle.  WRONG.

These bins are pretty big and they're practically overflowing by the time we set them out for pick up every Monday.  

So yes, these are three very small examples.  And yes, I'm sure my son won't remember these exact events when he's older.  But it's about how they add up.  It's about developing a habit to look around you and to see how you can help.  

And in the process of doing these little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, I know I am making my greatest contribution to the world:  I'm molding my son into a good person.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DIY Fabric Magnet Board

Number 5 on My 30 Before 30 List is to complete 20 do-it-yourself projects.  I've had a few ideas rolling around in my head but I haven't had the time to complete any of them thanks to those pesky law-school finals.

However, today I made a fabric magnet board for my sister's bedroom (which is pink and black).  It was very easy and cheap to make and I'm happy with the way it turned out.  Want to know how to make your own?  Here you go!

Here's a list of everything you'll need in order to complete your fabric magnet board:
  • A Frame (I purchased a mirror at an antique store for $3 and used the frame from it.)
  • Fabric (I purchased mine from Jo-Ann's.  Click here to find one near you.)
  • Hot Glue Gun & Hot Glue
  • Sheet of Galvanized Steel (I purchased mine from Lowe's for around $10.)
  • Scissors or Metal Sheers (I used regular scissors and they worked fine.)
  • Piece of Foam Board (I purchased mine from Jo-Ann's.  Click here to find one near you.)
  • Spray Paint (and primer if needed)

1) Start by wiping down your frame to remove excess dirt or chipped paint.

2)  Set it up to be spray painted the right way.  Now, the reason I'm including this step is because, while I'm sure all of you already know not to set the item you'll be spray painting directly on the paper because it will get stuck, I learned this lesson the hard way.  

3)  Next, prime it.  I primed the frame using Rust-Oleum and added a second layer after it dried for good measure.  

4)  Next, measure and cut your foam board to fit perfectly inside the frame.  After I did this, I placed it inside the frame just to make sure I measured correctly.  Feel free to skip that part of this step, but I just don't trust myself.  

5)  Get ready to cut your sheet of galvanized metal.  Note:  For this step and any other step where you directly handle the metal wear gloves to avoid getting cut!  

Before cutting I traced around the foam board onto the metal.  Then I measured about 1/4 an inch inside the line I had traced, making the steel slightly smaller than the foam board.  

6)  Now your primer should be dry, so it's time to make your frame pretty!  I applied a semi-gloss spray paint (again I chose Rust-Oleum) and allowed it to dry before applying a second coat.  The frame is now complete!  :)

7)  Glue the sheet of metal to your piece of cut foam board using a hot glue gun. 

8)  After ironing the fabric to get out all the lines and creases, lay your fabric face down and began gluing it to the back of the foam board.  It helps if you have an extra set of hands on this part to insure you pull the fabric tight enough to keep the fabric from sagging or wrinkling.   

9)  Finally, you're ready to place the fabric-covered magnet board into the fame!  I think I jumped for joy when I completed mine because I'm now one step closer to finishing My 30 Before 30 List!

10)  Put that cute little thing to work!  

Now, everyone knows the basic uses of magnet boards, such as holding pictures, receipts, and cards, but Shelterness suggests using a magnet board to hold your makeup!  GENIUS!!  

It's easy!  Just purchase a roll of magnet tape and stick a small piece onto each of your makeup items!

Look at this awesomeness and tell me this isn't a fantastic idea?!  What a great way to get all of that makeup out of that drawer and off your bathroom counter!

Stevie hasn't decided how she's going to use hers yet, but that's her job.  My job here is done!

Special thanks to Shanty 2 Chic for creating the tutorial that helped me through this DIY project 
and allowed me to share my experience with my readers! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Little Monsters: A Children's Movie??!!

Like many households, we have Netflix on Demand.  And on Saturday night, we turned in on in hopes of finding an old movie we could enjoy as a family.

Netflix categorizes movies by genre, so naturally we searched in the Children & Family section until we came across a movie that interested us.

The movie was entitled Little Monsters.  I'd never seen it before, but the first thing that caught my eye was the picture of the movie cover.

I see a playful looking, non-scary "monster" and wait, who is that beside him?  Fred Savage!  Oh wait, and that's Howie Mandel playing the "monster."  So far so good,  but I keep looking...

Next, I notice the Netflix Star Rating.  Netflix rated this movie 4 out of 5.  This means that Netflix strongly suggests this movie for us based off our previous ratings of movies we've watched.  So, maybe we will like it.  And I mean... it's FRED SAVAGE!  

I also notice that it's PG.  Okay, my son is almost 6 years old and we've watched PG movies together before.  And I mean... it's FRED SAVAGE!  

But, I'll read the movie description just to make sure this seems appropriate.  Here is movie description provided to me by Netflix verbatim:

“Join Brian as he faces his worst fear – the ghoulies that live under this bed – and finds they’re not so bad after all.  In particular, he hits it off with Maurice, a friendly but ditzy monster that takes Brian under his wing.”  

Well, that sounds like a pleasant movie description.  I'm thinking okay... the boy finds the monster under his bed.  He's going to be scared of him at first but then discover that he's just like him.  They'll become friends and help one another out, etc.  And I mean... it's FRED SAVAGE!

So, we turn on the movie.  Little did I know what I was about to allow my child to watch!!  And me being as naive as I am kept thinking, surely this is going to get better.... wrong.

Here are some of the things in the movie that made my jaw drop.  

Fred Savage's Character:
  • Says sh*t and damn.
  • His father says damn.
  • During one scene, he is watching TV and the announcer is interviewing a woman wearing a skimpy bikini top and removes his sunglasses in order to get a better look at her chest.

However, the monster, Maurice, played by Howie Mandel, was a million times worse:
  • He said "G*d damn."
  • He said b*tch."  
  • He said "Holy Sh*t."
  • In attempting to persuade the boy to become a monster, he told him that he could do whatever he wanted--that he'd have no more rules--and could even watch the Playboy Channel anytime he wanted.
  • He told Fred Savage's character that if he wanted he could just scream at any moment and his father would come into the room with a shotgun and kill all of them.
  • He grabbed his groin area.
  • He taught Fred Savage's character how to be mean.  For example, Fred Savage placed a roller skate hidden under a rob at the top of the stairs.
  • He poured out one child's apple juice that was in the fridge and urinated in it!!  Then he said, "Ronnie's gonna be pissed."  [In another scene, after the child drank the urine and spit it out he said, "Who put piss in my apple juice?]
  • Once Howie Mandel's character pulls down Fred Savage's pants so that his boxers are exposed and another monster says, "Haye, nice ass!"
  • Other monsters smoke cigarettes.  

Here are some recent movies that I have watched with my child that have also snagged the PG rating.  I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that these movies received the same rating as Little Monsters.

So how can this be.... ?  Is it because Little Monsters was made in 1989 when television (and children generally) were less censored?  But don't we always hear today that children are exposed to way more than we were as kids?  Or, is the rating system fatally flawed?  What do you think?

And just so I don't leave you empty handed, here is a site I've visited in the past when I felt a movie's appropriateness was questionable.  It's called Commonsense Media.  I like that you can search the site by movie or by age group on this site.  However, because all parenting styles (and all children) are different, be sure to read a dozen or so reviews before making your decision.  I've found that if I do that, I can get a good feel of whether or not the movie would work in our household.  

If you took the time to read this post, please comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue.  And as always, thank you for stopping by!  

I was not compensated in anyway or asked to do this post.  These opinions are strictly my own.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Favorite Sites to Snag a Deal

Below is a list of sites I love and use as often as possible.

If you're not a member of any of these sites, please click on the site name and sign up through my link (and comment to let me know you did.)  If a site that you love isn't on the list, please share it with me in the comments section so that I can sign up through your link.

  • What is it?  It's a website that other companies partner with to offer fantastic deals (usually between 50% to 90% off) to customers.  
  • Why do I love it?  
    • The discounts are unbeatable.  
    • It's extremely user-friendly!  
    • "The Groupon Promise" insures you'll walk away a happy customer and if not, you're entitled to a refund, no questions asked.
    • You don't have to repeatedly put in your debit/credit card number.  Once you see a Groupon you like, click purchase and then confirm and you're good to go.
    • The iPhone App!  Download this free App to your iPhone and not only will you never miss a deal, you'll also never have to remember to print your purchase ticket to use it.  Just show the business your phone upon redemption.  It's that easy!
    • Keeps track of your purchased Groupons so you can see which ones are expiring soon (many are good for one year).
    • The diversity of the deals!  For example, some of my purchases over the past year include:  $30 worth of sushi for $15; $25 for $50 worth of classes at a local arts center; $20 worth of electronics' gear at an online retailer for $10; $100 worth of photography products at Picaboo online for $35; $20 worth of miniature goal for the family for $10... and much more!

  • What is it?  Swagbucks is an online site where you earn Swagbucks for doing things like searching the web, taking online polls, or purchasing one of their daily deals and then redeem the Swagbucks on TONS of stuff.
  • Why do I love it?  I love being "rewarded" for things I'm doing already and this site is designed to do just that. 
    • Searching the Internet:  Rather than using Google, I've put Swagbucks on my browser toolbar for easy access and use it just as I would Google.  I earn tons of Swagbucks this way.
    • Groupon + Swagbucks = One Happy Jackie!  When I see a Groupon I want to purchase, rather than purchasing it through the Groupon site, I swing over to Swagbucks, click on their "daily deals" section and see if it's listed (the majority of the time it is).  Click on the Groupon through the Swagbucks site and let it direct you to the Groupon site.  Once directed, purchase your Groupon as usual.  The difference?  You just earned between 160 to 440 Swagbucks!  Seriously... tell me that doesn't make you happy.
    • The Rewards:  I've saved the best part for last, duh.  There are too many rewards to name, but my personal favorite are the gift cards.  A $5 e-giftcard to is only 450 Swagbucks right now.  So, you know that awesome Groupon you just saved a lot of money on?  Well, you may have just earned yourself enough for a $5 giftcard in the process, making that deal even sweeter.

  • What is it?  This site is a lot like Groupon, only rather than offering up to three deals per day, it tends to offer one deal per day plus daily traveling deals, known as daily escapes.
  • Why do I love it?
    • Like Groupon, it's very user friendly.  
    • Only need to put in payment info once.
    • iPhone App (just like Groupon's) making it extremely convenient to make purchases and to redeem them
    • If three friends purchase the same deal (using your referral link) that you've just purchased--you receive yours free!  How great is that?  
    • Great variety of deals.  For example, in the past few months I've purchased $20 worth of mexican food at a place I already know I enjoy for just $10 and a one-hour private horseback riding session for only $17 (regularly $35) which I'll use to help cross off #16 on My 30 Before 30 List.

  • What is it?  Edhance is a site for current students only in which you can save money at businesses (either locally or online) that you're already using anyway!  My favorite part?  Savings comes in the form of discounts and/or cash back!
  • Why do I love it?  Remember when I posted on The ABCs of Being a Student and told you to take advantage of every possible discount you can get just by being a student?  This is one of those and it's huge!
    • Hundreds of popular retailers have partnered with this site to offer exclusive deals to students who go through the Edhance website to make their purchases.  There are way too many to list, but just looking at the front page of the site right now I can see that:
      • is currently offering 5% cash back
      • 1.800 flowers is currently offering 10% cash back
      • iTunes is currently offering 4% cash back
    • You can use multiple discounts/deals during your purchase.  For example, I just purchased two pairs of shoes for my son on through the Edhance website.  I saved 20% on my order immediately upon purchase (a $14 savings).  Then, within 3 business days my Edhance account was credited $4.48 in cash back.  Thanks to the fact that I didn't have to choose between the 20% off the company was currently offering or my cash back reward, I was able to save even more.  LOVE it!
    • Sign up through my link above and receive an additional $5 cash back upon your first purchase!

  • What is it?  Zulily is a website that features different brands of clothing and toys for children (and occasionally women) at highly discounted prices..
  • Why do I love it?
    • The discounts!  Boutique clothing at retail prices!
    • They have the CUTEST clothes for kids.
    • The clothes tend to be very unique in style so chances are your kid is the only one wearing that adorable shirt.
    • The stores/boutiques they partner with and highlight change daily so if you don't see something you like today, no problem -- just check back tomorrow!
    • It's a great way to discover new brands!
    • They'll occasionally offer free shipping and/or partner with other sites like Groupon to make the deals even more amazing.  

Happy Shopping!
Note:  I was not compensated in any way for this post.  These opinions are are strictly my own.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Law School 101: Dead Week & Finals

First, let me say that I'm so happy to be back!

In honor of my absence last week, I'd like to tell you a little bit about the law-school finals experience.  I knew nothing about finals before I began law school so I thought I'd share what every law student across the country is going through right now.

[Disclaimer:  This post is more for informative than entertaining in nature, although I still hope you enjoy it.]

Dead Week

During the semester, students sit through each course with essentially no feedback.  There are no homework assignments.  There are no quizzes or midterms.  There is, however, a lot of assigned reading (which I'll post about in the future).

One week before finals begin, classes end.  This leaves a one week gap known to law students as dead week.

Although I'm uncertain how dead week got its name I can only assume it has something to do with the fact that every law student you see looks like this.

Or, possibly even this.

Dead week is the week where each student is essentially dead to the world.  We cram.  We stress.  We complain.  We study.  We outline.  We read.  We pull out our hair.  We cry.  Basically, we realize we're screwed.

Finals Week

After dead week ends, finals week begins.  Now, our finals week actually lasts two weeks.  

Lucky for me, I had three finals in one week so I'm free a "week early."  [Note the slight sarcasm, as there's nothing lucky about having three exams on three subjects tested heavily on The Bar within a five-day period.]

To me, finals week is more exhausting than dead week.  It's the week I don't see my family or my bed.  I'm always mentally and emotionally overwhelmed, and no matter how many times I go through it, I feel like the worst mother ever.  (Gotta love those mommy guilt-trips.)

The one blog post I did manage to make last week was merely this photo to let all of you know I was still alive.  Yes, this photo accurately depicts finals week.

Studying even got in the way of eating last week.  [Fun Fact:  I realized Friday night (the evening I finished my last final) that I hadn't even eaten meat in one week.  Pathetic.]

The Exams

So what are the exams like?  I suppose I read about 300-500 pages of textbook material per course each semester consisting mainly of case law, statutory law, and secondary law.  Law-school exams are designed to extract this information from the student in a relevant manner.  

The most common type of law-school exam is the essay exam in which the professor will write out a hypothetical situation dealing with the type of law studied in the course.  Generally, the professor will give a few pages of "facts" and then ask you (without using this wording of course) to basically apply what you were supposed to learn all semester to the facts given to you just as you would if this situation described happened in real life and you were the attorney working on the case. 

And, although I've described the prototypical law-school exam to you above, each professor, of course, will have their own style: some give you two essays; others prefer mostly short answer.  I've even had two multiple-choice exams.

But no matter what the exam type, once time begins the goal is is the same--over the course of the next three to four hours (depending on the time limit) show the professor that you know the law.  

Once you do that, you're finished with the course.  You're happy to have survived and that's it.  

Although, after exams are finished the next stage of fun begins: waiting to find out grades, top paper distribution, and class rank (which I'll post on soon.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Let's play a game I like to call...

What's Wrong With This Picture?

 [Yes, I am aware that this picture is horrible quality.  It was taken with my iPhone at night.]

Can't figure it out.... ?  That's okay.  
Lucky for you, I'm a nice person.
So here's a photo of what my car should look like.

[Again, another night photo, but at least it was taken with my DSLR and not my iPhone.]

Alright... if you still can't figure it out, here is your last hint.
If you'd like to qualify for the bonus round you'd better get this right!  
But no pressure...

Did you guess that someone stole the little Cadillac cover off my rim?  Then we've got a winner!!
(And if you also noticed that I took the time to draw a frowny-face on my rim to express my sadness, you get bonus points.)

You made it to the bonus round!!  
[Please try to contain your excitement.]

BONUS PHOTO:  What's Wrong With This Picture?

If you guessed that my foot is covered in mud, you're obviously unstoppable!  

As I was trying to take the photo of my car tonight, I stupidly [that's a word, right?] stepped in the pile of "dirt" my husband had placed in our front yard to fill in a small hole, not thinking about how it has rained several inches in the past 48 hours.  

So what's your prize for winning?

Well, I'd give you my front passenger-side, lug-nut cover but someone's apparently already claimed that prize.  So, I guess your prize is just the satisfaction of knowing Charlie Sheen would be proud of you.