Maggie Grainger

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alba2 cheer

How To Cope When Your Kid Doesn’t Make the Team

Not making the school sports team can feel like the end of the world to a child. Here are some tips on how to deal if they don't make the cut.

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When Raleigh team member Leslie P’s daughter, Hayley, didn’t make the cheer squad in 7th grade, they were both devastated. But instead of giving up, Leslie encouraged her daughter to not lose sight of her pom-pom dreams.

“She got to be an alternate,” Leslie explains. “She did not have a uniform, but was allowed to attend all games in her middle school T-shirt and Soffe shorts. Hayley worked so hard to get better that by the end of the season she had mastered her round off double back handspring!

“I was so proud of her that she was not ashamed to be on the sidelines and was just happy to be a part of the team! She was team captain the following year and received an award for Best All Around! She learned a great lesson and is never afraid to give it her all now win or lose!”

While athletics come naturally to some kids, many struggle to make the cut. With so much pressure to excel at a sport, it’s important to remind your kid that winning isn’t everything and their time to shine will come no matter what happens during tryouts.

With the school year right around the corner, many youngsters are eagerly playing catch in the backyard or shooting hoops with the hopes of becoming the next Kobe Bryant. Whether your kid is just starting out with Tee Ball, active in high school sports, or aiming for a college sports scholarship, here are some key things to remember if they don’t make the team.

1. Listen and Encourage

It’s normal for your child to feel bummed after getting the news, but don’t let them dwell on it for too long. Instead, talk about the bright side of things. Encourage them to explore other hobbies or, in Hayley’s case, encourage them to keep practicing and supporting the team.

2. Help Them Embrace Their Strengths

Not every child is going to be the next David Beckham and that’s okay. Help your child embrace other areas they are strong in – maybe they love hamming it up and would be perfect in the school play or maybe they’re really meant to be the star player on the Mathaletes. They can always join a club team or take a class to improve their skills and gain confidence.

3. Don’t Let Them See Your Disappointment

As a parent it’s always hard to see your child unhappy, but don’t let them see you down. They might take your sadness for disappointment which is the last thing you want to convey. Instead, tell them how proud you are of them for being brave enough to try out for the team in the first place! It’s tough showing coaches what you’re made of!

4. Practice Makes Perfect!

Practice! Practice! Practice! Encourage your budding sports star to practice their skills. Offer to play catch with them after school or challenge them to a game of H-O-R-S-E on the weekends. In Hayley’s case, determination and practice helped seal her spot on the squad!

 


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School Cool: Get Prepped for the First Day Now!

We look back on some of our favorite school supplies and share some of new finds!

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A lot has changed about school since we were there. But one steadfast stumbling block is the need to possess cool school supplies. We polled our staff and found that every Plum person either had a joyous memory of school supplies past or was surprisingly still bitter about a dorky lunch box. We put out heads together and came up with the school supplies that most stood out to us as indisputably cool. Then we found a few of our own deals, which are guaranteed to be a hit with your kids!

JanSport Backpacks

Our office was very accepting of the idea that there are many “really cute” non-JanSport bags out there. But JanSport was easily the crowd-favorite. JanSport bags have evolved pretty nimbly over time and they seem to still have a chokehold on the kids backpack market. (They’ve been producing backpacks since 1967.) So I was not surprised to see the expansion of their brand into messenger bags, totes and purses. It’s not a backpack it’s a JanSport.

Plum Deal: Kitsel Kids Clothing

Go to this website. Go to this website right now and try not to say “awwww” because we couldn’t. Every kid needs a great first day outfit, but Kitsel can keep that stylish impression going every day following.

Trapper Keepers and Folders

It’s possible that many of the world’s pack rats got their start with Trapper Keepers. These glossy gems could pocket, store and, well, trap every piece of paper you had been given that year. The look of trapper keepers and folders has evolved, but I’m sure all of us remember images of deep space, paint splattered abstractions or fuzzy kittens looking up at us during class. Trapper Keepers are still very much around, but they’ve adapted a cleaner, less 80’s music video look.

Plum Deal: Label Daddy

With kids, personalization is always cool. With moms, organization is always cool. These two qualities hit a happy cross roads with our offer from Label Daddy.

Lisa Frank

We’ve saved the most prominent for last. Not only did those polled remember their Lisa Frank items, they still felt a swelling of rainbow-colored pride when detailing exactly how many unicorns were on their favorite folders. While many school supply brands have evolved. Lisa Frank has remained steadfast in its mission to paint the world with as many colors as possible. There is even a Lisa Frank mobile app, which allows you to place the brand’s bold stickers on your own photos. The app does not allow you to ride a winged horse across the sky and slide down rainbow waterfalls, but we all need our dreams.

 

So what are your favorite school supplies memories? Is there anything you HAD to have? We’d love to hear about best (or worst) back to school buys. And don’t forget to check out all the A+ Back to School offers at Plum District!

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How Does Your Garden Grow? Composting Can Be Fun!

Blogger OC Garden Jen shares her secret on getting rid of pesky weeds for good!

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“Judge every day not by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you sow.”

As a busy, working mother of two girls, I am constantly challenged with ways to sow the seeds of a healthy lifestyle and for our family that means growing our own food whenever possible.  While I enjoy it, my daughter’s still regard gardening as somewhat of a chore. They certainly enjoy cutting flowers and arranging them for the house, picking vegetables, and playing with our flock of chickens — they don’t, however, seem to enjoy weeding.  (I know, I know, my kids are the ONLY kids that don’t enjoy weeding, right?!)

So that’s why when I discovered the Lasagna Gardening Technique, also known as, Sheet Composting I was in LOVE!  Lasagna Gardening doesn’t grow lasagna’s or even the ingredients for making lasagna (unless you want it to), rather, Lasagna Gardening is a technique of layering easily sourced organic materials, such as grass clippings, manure, and more until you have created a new no-dig planting bed!  No digging, no weeding, seriously!  It’s a very fun family activity and a great science lesson as well.

To begin, lay down a layer of cardboard or newspaper wherever you want your new planting bed to be.  Let your kids help you ‘litter.’ I promise they’ll be interested for at least five minutes.  Then, give them the hose and let them wet down the cardboard/newspaper layer.  This important first step smothers the grass and weeds below and then breaks down after a year or so.

Next, start layering your ingredients (click here for a list of commonly available ingredients) and the kids can help with this as well.  Let them help you find the ingredients around town, too! This is a great opportunity to explain how composting materials turns them into soil known in the garden world as ‘Black Gold’ and keeps them out of our landfills.

Once you have finished your Lasagna Garden, cover it with black plastic and let it bake in the sun for a few weeks or months, dependent upon your patience.  Or just top off yours with a few inches of good quality soil and plant your new bed.

Purchase today’s deal from Armstrong Garden Centers and head on out to find a great selection of fruit trees, vegetables and flowers for your new bed all at a huge savings.  Armstrong Garden Centers offers a great selection and their website is chock full of inspiration and information.  Let your kids do this research if they’re old enough —  it’s internet time for them and a secret learning session for you! Tell them it’s like playing  a real life Farmville game!

OC Garden Jen started her blog as an online garden diary. She loves to talk all thinks flora and fauna on her blog www.ocgardenjen.com or you can follower her on Twitter, Pinterest, Innstagram and Facebook @OCGardenJen.

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Dad’s Perfect Father’s Day Meal

The Day of Dad is this Sunday (June 17) and the Plum District team can't wait to celebrate this special moment with their own families.

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This Sunday it’s all about showing the dad(s) in your life how much you appreciate them! And nothing shows how much you care quite like whipping up his favorite meal and spending some quality family time together. Have the kids help you prepare a special meal that he won’t soon forget and enjoy!

Here’s what some of the Plum District team members are prepping for their own pops.

Regional site manager Brenna’s dad is all about Italian. “I’m doing the works: lasagna, garlic bread, and rounding it out with a beet and goat cheese salad,” she says. Bon appetit indeed!

Check out a super tasty lasagna menu to try with your family here.

When she’s not closing awesome deals in Orange County, sales extrodinaire and mom Stephanie Graney is making a delicious feast for her family. “I’m making baby back ribs, French potato salad and grilled artichokes. Yum!”

We’re in love with this take on baby back ribs from steamykitchen.com.

“My dad’s absolute favorite is leg of lamb with mint jelly,” says site manager Maggie. “It’s a family tradition. Top it off with a chocolate sundae and you have a perfect meal!”

Feeling ambitious? Make mint jelly from scratch with this recipe from food.com!

Stacy at the home office is all about grilling it up. “You can’t go wrong with anything from the grill, corn on the cob, and homemade potato salad,” she explains.

Need some tips before you fire up the grill? Grilling.com can help you make a mouthwatering meal.

Desiree in Seattle has her Father’s Day meal down to a science. “I’m making meatloaf!” she explains. “I am not a fan so I never make it, but this is always his request for holidays.  Well, meatloaf or corned beef!”

We are totally in love with this idea: meatloaf cupcakes from firstlookthencook.com. Have the kiddos help you prepare this tasty meal!

Our Bay Area rep Lisa not only whips up her hubby’s favorite dish once a year, but also his favorite dessert. “I’m making Chicken Paprikash and black bottom banana cream pie  — that’s his once-a-year request!” she smiles.

For those moms looking to spice things up in the kitchen. Simplyrecipes.com has a delicious (and easy) Chicken Paprikash recipe for you.

 

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Plum’s Family Summer Reading List

Cuddle up with your kids and share in the magic of a good book this summer!

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FAMILY FAVES — Here’s our list of some tried-and-true classics and a few new books that will delight your kids all summer long. 

Matilda, by Ronald Dahl

This classic children’s book about a little bookworm who overcomes bullies (including her own parents!) will not only have the entire family in stitches, but teaches children about perseverance and overcoming obstacles.

 

Junie B. Jones series, by Barbara Park

Your kids will fall in love with precocious first grader Junie B. Jones after reading the first page. Good thing there are dozens of other books in this beloved series to keep everyone entertained until school starts up again!

The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

Sure, we’re all familiar (and love) the 1939 film version starring Judy Garland, but the Hollywood flick just touches on all the magical creatures found in the land of Oz. See your child’s imagination soar as they are first introduced to Dorothy, Toto, and everyone else in this quintessential children’s book.

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

This book about loving the planet recently got a big screen overhaul. Share the original story in all its vibrant glory this summer then brainstorm with your children ways you can help protect the environment. It will spark a spirited conversation and teach them the importance of preserving the earth’s resources.

Hattie and the Wild Waves, by Barbara Cooney

Barbara Cooney’s detailed illustrations have enchanted generations of boys and girls in more than 200 picture books. In this book, young Hattie dreams of being a painter, but has to overcome people’s disapproval to achieve her passion. This book inspires you to follow your dreams no matter what life presents you.

Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Introduce your family to life on the prairie with Laura, Mary, and their family. Learn about life on the range in the not-so-distant past as they face harsh winters, wild animals, and family tragedies. Rich in history, you will devour the entire series.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff Kinney

Modeled after a kid’s diary, this popular book series follows Greg Heffley as he deals with that confusing time in adolescence known as middle school. You and your kids will relate to his adventures, struggles, and triumphs.

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

Harold lets his imagination run wild when he finds a purple crayon one day in this 1955 classic.

Monsters Eat Whiny Children, by Bruce Eric Kaplan

Show your kids what happens to kids who whine too much in this cautionary tale. Will the monsters get them before they can escape? Important life lessons can be found in this page-turner.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Everyone will be laughing over the adventures of an unlikely, winged bus driver! It also teaches your kiddos the importance of following directions and not to give in to peer pressure.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

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Creative Beach Cover-Ups

Easy ways to look chic while you're covered up poolside this summer!

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Summer is upon us and that means there are all sorts of fun in the sun activities on the horizon that require a bathing suit. That’s why I’m always in search of the perfect beach cover-up to complete my summer wardrobe.  What most people don’t realize is that cover-ups don’t have to cost much – if anything – and many can be altered from items already in your closet!  Below are a few of my favorite creative and chic ways to cover all of your assets while lounging  poolside this season.

Source: Zappos

  • The Boyfriend Shirt:  I use my hubby’s retired work shirts and they are perfect for an effortless and stylish look at the pool! Take an oversized, cotton flannel, button it halfway. roll up the sleeves three-quarters and voila!  This is a fantastic way to look relaxed – covered – and most of us have a few of these lying around the house.
Source: Victoria's Secret
Source: Victoria’s Secret
  • Oversized Tee: An off-the-shoulder T-shirt, especially with a vintage feel, is a perfect cover for the mom who likes a little edge. Note: For people needing more bottom coverage, be sure to start with a T-shirt that is long enough to cover target areas.
Source: Venus
  • Cute Skirts: A  skirt is a perfect cover-up for the hips, thighs, and butt. It looks especially great with a super-cute bikini top! Find one in a bright color that matches your suit or throw on a denim one. Jeans make everything look chic!
Source: Blues and Shoes
  • Scarf Vest: The scarf vest is a fun way to incorporate your favorite scarf into your summer wardrobe.  And, as an added bonus, the scarf vest can be used all year – synch it at the waist with a belt over a knit top with jeans for a great fall look! For step-by-step instructions on how to make your scarf vest coverup check out this link.
Source: J.Crew
  • Summer Dress: Your favorite sundress can also be your favorite cover-up! There are styles to fit all body types and tastes and it is perfect when you need to make a quick conversion if you have plans for dinner or something more formal post-beach.

Gigi G. is a district consultant in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not sourcing great deals, you’ll find her in a stylish cover-up enjoying the California sun. 

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Tales from the Teenage Trenches

You think the terrible twos are nerve-wracking? Just wait until your kid hits their teens. Lisa B. shares her story with fellow Plum moms.

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My 14 year-old daughter is a hoarder.  I am not sure where it came from because I am the complete OCD opposite, but when the mouse who had been surviving on four years worth of Halloween candy made a home in her UGGs, I decided it was time to go in and take control of the situation.  Armed with black trash bags and Lysol, I went in.

I methodically made my way through her room.  After filling four trash bags full of clothing, trash, and food that was beyond recognizable, I started toward her dresser drawers.  She started going completely crazy, standing in front of them and forbidding me to look inside.  As a mother, your first instinct is fear.  Fear that your teenager has drugs, or other substances in her possession.  I move her aside and force my way into her drawer.

What do I find?  Drugs? Condoms? Inappropriate magazines?  No. I find MY bras — four of them!  Since I have lost track of most of my life since becoming a mother, I chalked four missing bras to just that – I had no idea she would have them.  I look at her with a confused expression and she just shrugs her shoulders and responds: “They don’t fit me anyway.”

I am overwhelmed with more emotions than I have wits to sort out.  I am angry, relieved, and so very humiliated. At 14, my daughter is more buxom than I was or ever will be without silicone.  This is a parenting situation no book can ever prepare you for!

I stand up and try to appear taller than her, grab my bras, and say, “Nothing about this is okay.  We do not share underwear.  We will go shopping and buy you bras that fit.”

I then retreat out of her room and think to myself, “Thank goodness it was just bras. I wonder how much a boob job costs?”

Lisa B. is a district consultant in Marin, San Francisco, who has been working for Plum District for almost two years.  She is mother to Mia (14), Kyra (11), and Wyatt (8), and has been married to her husband Kent for 16 years.

 

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Adventures of A New Stepmom

Motherhood comes in all different forms, as one Plum District staffer shares.

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As a new stepmom to a 14-year old girl, Chandler, I approached this new title with serious trepidation.   I mean, I never thought I would even have children.   But immediately after getting engaged last year, I felt the weight and responsibility of this new title and took  action.  I was determined that EVERY time Chandler came to visit would be a  great one!  My San Francisco apartment was suddenly full of snacks, magazines, and beauty products fit for teen consumption.  She happened to mention in passing her penchant for gummy worms.  A five-pound bag awaited her every weekend.  A balmy SF October weekend happened to have a “icy tinge” to it in the evening? A shopping excursion for winter clothes was in the works.  School shoes have a minor discoloration on the toe?  She got two new ones to replace them. My husband would go along with it, (admittedly with a bit of an eye-roll), but he also knew that I was developing my nurturing side and he didn’t want to stifle my determined preparations for every single visit.

One weekend, I KNEW would be a great one — shopping for 8th grade graduation dance dress.  I  did some reconnaissance missions at about a dozen outlets and shops in the city and had created a list, complete with names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the stylish dress shops within a 20 mile radius.  I was ready.

But when the weekend came, I had to meet my own mom and get fitted for my own wedding dress.  Not a big problem – my thoroughly vetted list went to my husband, and off I went to prepare for my own nuptials.  As I was in the fitting room, I received two texts in rapid succession:

Greg:  ”I don’t think this was a good idea.”

Chandler:  ”When will you be back?”

Five minutes later, another set:

Greg: “We’re going home.  Chandler is being impossible.”

Chandler:  ”I just want to go with you.”

I was needed!  And badly, from the looks of it.  Off I went to pick up Chandler and search for a dress.  Only one shop and five dresses later, we found it — an ethereal concoction of blue satin with a delicate tulle overlay.  I will always remember the smile she had when she tried on that dress — the bright blue satin matched only by the bright blue of her eyes.  And I think my heart was close to bursting when she hugged me and whispered, “I love you.  Thank you for caring about me.”  I held it together then, but burst into tears when I told my husband about it later as he cradled me in his arms.  “Being a parent has great moments, doesn’t it?”  he asked.

It sure does.  I can’t wait for more.

Chi Le is the Market Research Manager at the Plum District home office. She recently got married and is enjoying every minute with her extended family.

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Plum District’s Go-To Mommy Blogs

According to a new infographic, there are more than 3,900,000 mommy blogs in North America alone. Here are some of Plum District staffers favorites.

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As a mom, every day offers up a new experience or a funny story that you can’t wait to tell your friends. You’re not alone. Now, more than ever, tech-savvy moms are sharing their stories and finding their voice by starting their own mom blogs online. H&R Block recently released an interesting infographic about the “Mommy Blog” phenomenon, revealing that 14% off ALL American moms are bloggers.

Click to view full size infographic -

Here’s our list of some go-to mom-centic sites that our army of mamas can’t stop reading.

1. Cool Mom Picks

At Plum District we totally understand the power of a strong mom network — so does the team at Cool Mom Picks. This website was created by moms who wanted a place online where other moms can find fun, unique items from mom and women-run companies. From travel tips to finding the best strollers, these moms have your back with informative blogs, links to great deals, and more.

2. For Crying Out Loud

Lynette Corolla (wife of Adam) and best-selling author, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, host this weekly parenting podcast that is raw, honest, and fun. The hour-long show has special guests from the parenting and celeb world, and no topic is too taboo for these mamas! You’ll love their honesty and heart.

3. My Third True Love

Ali is a mom blogger who loves getting crafty. Her addictive blog gives you step-by-step instructions on how to turn everyday mundane objects into functional pieces for your home, thrift store tips, and stories about her adorable kiddos. Need inspiration for tackling a room in your house? Ali’s blog is sure to inspire.

4. DesignHER Momma

Emily is a mom of four who isn’t afraid to give it to you straight. The corporate interior designer’s honest blog will have you laughing out loud and nodding your head in agreement.

5. Sunshine and Sippy Cups

Moms are constantly on the go, go, GO and we can all appreciate any advice or tips that will make our hectic lives a little less – well – hectic. Meagan is a mom blogger on a mission: to provide “smart solutions for busy moms” one blog at a time. She’s busy scouring the web looking for the best deals, products, and services, and sharing them with you.

6. Babble

Babble launched in 2006 and it quickly became the go-to online community for new parents. Babble’s mission is to tell the truth about parenting — the good, the bad, and the poopy — daily. The site has advice  columns, baby products, how-to guides, parenting tips, and so much more.

7. MotherLovely

Mother Lovely is a lifestyle blog for women that you’ll want to visit again and again. It highlights articles about everything from motherhood to relationships, health, style — you name it, they’ll talk about it! With beautiful visuals and inspiring messages, MotherLovely is a wonderful, women-centric blog.

8. http://debcb.com/

Deb is not only a talented writer (she worked for nine years at the Kansas City Star), but also one of our hand-working regional managers. When she’s not sourcing great mom deals for Plum, she offers insight on the complex world of motherhood and reentering the workforce on her own terms.

9. Mama Rants

Motherhood aint’ always a walk in the park and a lot of it is learning as you go. Mama Rants is written by a 20-something-year old blogger who writes to “help stay sane.” Reading her blog is like chatting with an old friend and you’ll totally relate to her trials and tribulations.

What’s your favorite mom blog? We’d love to hear what it is. Feel free to share in the comment box.