Category Archives: family

John Hughes – A Voice and Soundtrack for a Generation

I was saddened when I heard that John Hughes had died.

I couldn’t imagine my childhood without John Hughes’ movies and music. From the groundbreaking Mr. Mom to the teen angst comedies 16 Candles, Pretty in Pink and Breakfast Club. I crushed on Jake Ryan, identified with Samantha Baker and went to school with a few Farmer Teds. I remember embracing Ferris Bueller’s mantra “leisure rules” and learning to take life not so seriously. I learned about high school, dating, voodoo economics (hee), society and family life through John Hughes’ eyes.

Not only did John Hughes make great movies, he provided original soundtracks with fresh new music when we were still being force-fed a limited number of songs on rotation at local radio stations.

Hughes’ movies set the precedent for future teen comedies and TV shows like 90210. He changed our culture and gave teens a voice. He captured all of the dizzying emotions that teens experience yet kept it real. Music and fashion industries were also impacted by this teen uprising.

I went shopping with friends after the movies to buy the latest Samantha hat, vintage dress and funky jewelry. I wanted to drive a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia after I saw Pretty in Pink.

Here are some great links regarding the movies and music of John Hughes. I am so thankful that he shared his stories with us and that they live on.

John Hughes: The Soundtrack to a Generation – LA Times blog

5 Movies that John Hughes will be Remembered For – Jezebel

John Hughes Movies: A Decade of Fashion Trends – Open Fashion Blog

Sincerely, John Hughes We’ll Know When We Get There – a fan becomes a pen pal of John Hughes and shares her experience

Another Touching John Hughes Story – Defamer – sarcastic yet the essay referenced is endearing – the blogger lived next door to the 16 Candles house during filming in Chicago.

The Neverland Club – Molly Ringwald’s Op-Ed in the New York Times about John Hughes.

Real Men Can’t Hold A Match to Jake Ryan of ‘Sixteen Candles’ – Washington Post piece that I sent to all of my girlfriends (half of which have sons named Jake or Ryan. Hmmm.)

Get organized with free printable to-do lists for grocery shopping, general to do and blogging topics.

Since I have been home the past few weeks, I am learning to organize and save money through great blogs and newsletters. With two kids, two dogs and my husband, things are really hopping especially with school starting next week. I cannot believe how time is flying. I will be sharing what I find as I go and hope it benefits us all.

I found these neat free printable to do lists from the Frugal Gossip newsletter. The link is to Vale Design’s web site, a freelance package design and branding agency. The lists include a pain in the grocery list, a freakin to do list and a blog topic list. Love these! Enjoy and please share.

Frugal Gossip – deals and bargains from stores like Walgreens, Target, Wal-mart and more.

Vale Design – freelance package design and branding agency

Free and Cheap Kid-Friendly Things to Do in and around Forsyth County, GA

I am researching things to do that are low or no-cost in North Atlanta. I will share the places I find and hope it helps you add to your summer adventures. I live in Forsyth County, GA so this will focus on this area for the most part. I will also update this as I go. Happy trails! Update: As a result of this extremely popular post, I created Forsyth for Families, a local blog chronicling free and cheap things to do for families in and around Cumming, GA.

Forsyth County Parks – we are fortunate to have a wealth of parks available for our leisure. Here is a list with plenty of resources. Central Park is a favorite hangout. Coal Mountain Park has a great shaded playground. Poole’s Mill has a wonderful creek and shady playground. Fowler Park is Forsyth County’s newest park. It is located on the greenway and is about the size of Central Park.

Lake Lanier parks and campgrounds – Shady Grove campground opens March 28, signaling the new Spring season for camping, hiking, playing and visiting all of the wonderful parks on the lake. Here is a list of parks on Lake Lanier and what they offer.

Movies 400 – free summer movies in Cumming, GA on Tuesday and Thursdays at 10:00 am. The concession stand offers a special size $1.00 Popcorn and $1.00 Soda for these showings only. Join us this summer for free movies. Bring a can of food to support our can food drive and receive a free popcorn! (Free Family Film Festival Size only, Limit One Per Customer) See my post on the other movie theaters offering free and dollar movies.

Forsyth County Public Library – activities, puppet shows and a calendar for story time keep the library a fresh fun place to go. Plus checking out books keeps our reading library replenished at no cost!

Cumming City Park Pool and playground – Hours: May 30-Aug 6, Mon-Sun 1pm–5pm; Adult Lap Swim: Mon-Thu 5:30pm-7:30pm; Call for lesson schedule. Cost: $3; lesson prices separate.

Catch Air – a cool and spacious jumpy place with weekly specials. They have a new magic wall and a preschooler area. They are adding neat things and keep it fun for the kids. One of our favorite places to go. Follow on FB or sign up for the newsletter for deals.

Adventure Kids – the newest jumpy place with a sand area. Find refuge on a rainy day here.

Chick-Fil-A – Tuesday night is family night at The Avenues in Cumming, GA and also Lanier Crossing. Balloons, face painting and special meal deals. Sign up for email newsletter local events and deals. Check out their FB page and sign up for text alerts for special promotions!

Barnes & Noble at The Avenues – story time and other fun events at the B&N in Cumming, GA.

Monkey Joe’s – Cumming, GA – jumpy place. Follow on FB, sign up for newsletter for coupons. They have run a few Groupons and Living Social deals as well.

Michaels – arts and crafts classes are offered at the Michael’s in Cumming, GA off Market Place Blvd.

Lowe’s – offers kids classes to build all kinds of fun things. Lowe’s in Cumming, GA off Market Place Blvd.

Home Depot offers craft workshops on the first Saturday of each month. Located off of Market Place Boulevard.

Sawnee Mountain – pack a picnic and head for a hike at Sawnee Mountain Preserve. There is also a small playground and picnic tables.

Rainbow Ranch Trout Farm – try something new and take your children fishing in this trout farm next to the Chattahoochee River. There is also a picnic area and pavilion for group outings.

The Ice – New ice skating rink in Cumming, GA. Dress warmly and learn to skate a figure eight!

Slapshots – Family roller skating center – fun for everyone. Check their FB page for events and discounts.

Stars & Strikes – Bowling, laser tag, bumper cars, arcade, restaurant. See their FB page for specials.

Cumming Playhouse – offering plays, musicals, concerts, and catered fine dining on select performances.

Kinsey Family Farm – pumpkin season starts September 25, hay rides, nursery, apple cannon, fun!

Nearby Activities in Surrounding Counties

Waterparks around Atlanta – I just learned of the one, Bogan, near Mall of Georgia. Great list here and although there is a cost, some like Bogan are real deals.

Fountains of Atlanta – we love to pack a lunch and visit the fountains within 30 minutes of our house in the heat of summer for a cool treat.

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center
Autrey Mill, located in Alpharetta, has miles of walking trails, a Heritage Village with original buildings and artifacts from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, animal exhibits and replicas of Native American dwellings. All activities on the grounds are free.
9770 Autrey Mill Road, Johns Creek, GA 30022.

Chattahoochee Nature Center – walking trails and educational sessions with a low cost admission is fun for the whole family.

Wills Park Wacky World and Disc Golf is a 110-acre park featuring baseball fields, a disc golf course, lighted tennis courts, picnic pavilions, walking trails and two large playgrounds, including “Wacky World,” a unique kingdom that kids rave about. Situated at the edge of the park is the Alpharetta city pool, which has a diving well with three boards, a shaded kiddie, shaded and open deck areas and a concession stand.

Suwanee Town Center Park and Playtown Suwanee – a little bit further away but adventure awaits with an interactive fountain, lots of greenspace and a great playground.

North Georgia Premium Outlets – playground, food court and outdoor shops for window shopping and enjoying the outdoors.

i Shop Lollipop – toy store, jumpy place by North Georgia Premium Outlets. One of our favorites. Follow on FB, get email newsletter for coupons/sales.


Thoughts from a Food Allergic Child’s Mom in the Peanut State.

I spoke with my sister in Charlotte, NC and was surprised to hear that her school system has been strict with food allergies and labeling with what gets brought to school for almost six years. They serve Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches and if you bring in any snacks, it has to have the store label on it. No big deal but it can save a life.

In GA, however, it is an entirely different story. My daughter has an egg and peanut allergy and I was voicing my concerns to my sister over our schools in GA still serving peanut butter and allowing any snack foods (homemade or store bought) to be brought in to classroom parties and for the daily class snack.

And then it hit me. Tonight I saw a peanut commercial for the peanut industry in Georgia. I connected the political and economical connections between the state and the peanut industry and my heart sank. We will never have the same understanding in our schools as long as the peanut industry and lobbyists have a say in this state.

How heartbreaking is it to realize that I have an uphill battle? It’s more than having a peanut free table in the cafeteria. I mean, you still serve peanut butter on the menu so how will you protect a food allergic child from being exposed when kids can wipe it on a chair or table? Who checks to see that their hands are clean? And what about all the classroom parties and daily snacks where parents bring in anything?

I have more regulations with my daughter’s daycare at Primrose School (thankfully) and now I am considering keeping her there for private kindergarten. It is a battle that I hope most parents do not face. It has implications that go far beyond “just keep your kid away from the peanut butter.”

Homeowners stumped – wrong trees cut down Earth Day week

Our tree story is in today’s Forsyth County News. Lessons learned so far when dealing with the County and City – if someone is in your yard and should not be, first call the police. We were at work so we weren’t aware of this, but a neighbor tried to halt the trees being cut by calling the City and County with no immediate response.

If you look at your property schematic, there is a right of way (ROW) marked that the government has rights to that is usually about 20 feet on both sides from the center of the road (our street is 40 feet total). The contractor went outside of the ROW and into our private property. We lost some very old hardwood and pine trees that shaded our yard and house.  It has been heartbreaking. Our saga continues with finding some sort of resolution. Will keep posted.

Mashup: Map of Swine Flu with Google Maps and Prevention Tips

The number of cases in the US has doubled in the past 24 hours. It is best to be prepared and stock up on food/drinks and make a plan for your family. No scare tactics here, just the truth.

View H1N1 Swine Flu map.

Wash your hands regularly. Count to 10 while washing to kill all germs.
Use wipes to clean grocery store carts before use and other publicly used items.
If you are susceptible to the flu, take extra precautions to protect yourself.

Sick employees need to stay home

CDC recommends that employees who experience symptoms of swine flu stay home from work until the illness passes. You don’t need any heroes in the office with this one. (“I haven’t missed a day of work in 18 years, and I won’t now.” Uh-huh. Yes, you will.)

How long until the illness passes? People with swine flu should be considered contagious as long as they display symptoms and possibly up to seven days after they get sick, the CDC says on its Web site. Employees with kids should understand that children, especially younger children, could be contagious for longer periods, according to the CDC.

From Swine flu resources on the Web

Here are some go-to sites for reliable information about the swine flu.

Your authoritative source: The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), Swine flu information.

CDC’s interim recommendations for facemask use.

CDC’s swine flu widget, which you can copy onto your own Web site.

Health and Human Services (HHS) press release about declaration of public health emergency.

USDA’s swine flu FAQ.

Follow the CDC on Twitter.

Follow Health and Human Services communicator Andrew Wilson on Twitter.

Google maps tracking the outbreak.

Earth Day Tips: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Earth Day is April 22. There is no better time than the present to appreciate Mother Earth and practice conservation. Here are some little things that we do around our house that are easy and make a difference:

Water conservation
Not rinsing dishes before we put them in the dishwasher (it was a hard behavioral pattern to stop!)
Collect cold water in a bucket in the shower before the water gets warm and use it to water inside/outside plants
Brush teeth without water running
collect rain water in barrel and water outside plants
use low flow toilets

Energy conservation
install a programmable thermostat
replace air filters regularly
wrap water heater in a blanket
unplug electronic devices (they still use electricity if turned off and plugged in)
change our light bulbs to CFL bulbs
recycle cardboard, glass, plastic, newspaper, aluminum, magazines, etc.
hang energy-efficient curtains over windows
install window liner during winter season to insulate wall

Grocery shop with a fabric bag and save the paper and plastic
Reuse water bottles and cut plastic usage
Plant a tree


After watching Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, I learned little things we can all do daily from the Climate Crisis web site: There is even a calculator to determine our personal carbon footprint. is another good resource to get ideas.

I also use Freecycle to clean house, avoid taking items to the dump and to share with those in need.  I just unloaded a mattress and headboard to a woman today for her grandson’s bedroom!

Reduce junk mail

Cut direct mail catalogs and junk mail – use Catalog Choice to stop receiving unwanted catalogs.

An new organization called promises to completely remove you from up to 95% of the junk mail lists by contacting each organization from which you receive mail and/or catalogs for a one-time fee of $41.

Here is an opt-out guide to junk your junk mail from New Dream.

Good luck! Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle whenever you can.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Note found by kindergartener on school bus – disturbing!

My kindergartener found a handwritten note on the floor of her school bus and put it in her school bag. I found it and opened it up and started reading it. At first, it read like any other note from a girl to another in high school. The bus is shared between HS, middle and elementary school so that made sense.

But as I read it, every parent’s nightmare was listed in the note. Jail time, teen pregnancy, you name it. The question is, now what do we do with it? We are going to turn it into the Principal. Thank goodness my daughter can’t read it, but what if a 3rd or 5th grader read it? Oh the horror. I typed it out into a word document as a reminder as well and I vow to be sure we are active in our child’s life so that this isn’t the path that she takes. I feel that the parents need to know what is going on with these kids and that is the least we can do. I will have nightmares tonight!

What would you do?

My Delicious Tags Word Cloud

Check out my Delicious tags word cloud from Wordle.

With Wordle, You can make word clouds from your blog, Delicious tags or just typing them in. Describe someone and make a birthday card, celebrate an accomplishment and make a frame, the sky’s the limit!

Laid off? Job looking shaky? Now what do you do? 5 Tips to Build Your Network Right Now.

If you are reading this, then I am very sorry for what you are going through. Allow yourself time to mourn being laid off and feeling bad. It is part of the process. Just know that it will get better.

I have been laid off twice in my thirtysomething life. It sucks, and no matter what anyone says, you take it personally. Here are some things that will help you build your network if you are laid off or think you might lose your job in the near future. (Everyone should already be building their network a little bit each day, even if you don’t need one right now.)

1) Create accounts (if you do not already have them) on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Post your profile and mention in your status that you are on the job hunt and for what particular job/industry you are in. Your network is anyone and everyone that you know and making these connections can be valuable in many ways. Search for friends and previous coworkers on LinkedIn & FB, join relevant industry groups, ask and answer questions and get references on LinkedIn, follow industry leaders and people in your profession on Twitter and join in on the conversation.

2) List your resume on job boards – Monster, Careerbuilder,, Craigslist, etc.. Don’t just list what tasks you did at previous jobs. Think benefits. What skills can you offer an employer? Think if you were hiring someone, what qualities, experience and strengths would you look for? What do you want in your next job? Is it a good time to make a switch to another career or do you want to stay in the same role? Do some soul searching and talk to friends for advice.

3) Search for jobs on multiple web sites. Create email alerts with it and other job search sites. Create Twitter and Google keyword alerts. Search blogs on Technorati about jobs in your industry.

4) Create a blog. Identify and follow/read the leaders in your industry. Read the local newspaper. Start reading and learning all that you can about your industry and write in your blog about it. Share your thoughts and expertise. Link to your profiles on Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin/JobFox listings. Read other blogs and comment on them and link back to your blog. WordPress offers free blogs.

5) Face time. Utilize the resources at the unemployment office, local churches and if your former employer offers job assistance/outreach. Go to local networking meetings and talk to people. Don’t just rely on the computer and internet. You need face to face time as well. Ask around for a local recruiter in your industry and make a connection. Check the newspaper for local networking meetings, find tweetups and check for local groups of interest. Get a personalized business card at MOO to hand out while networking.

There are so many things you can do. Remember, most jobs are found through networking. Get connected and get going! Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,