My Fab Five Olympic Gymnast

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Happy Halloween! I had to share Emma’s costume this year, a USA Fab Five Olympic Gymnast.

I was proud of myself because I am not a DIY sort of gal, but after finding this DIY tutorial on how to make it on This Mama Makes Stuff, it was actually pretty easy! Thank you for the tips Carrie!

It is the perfect costume for her because all she does in her free time these days is gymnastics. If you happen to meet her in person, I do not recommend standing behind her as she is known to bust out spontaneous cartwheels and handstands without notice.

We have actually had to have talks about how doing cartwheels in the aisles of Target is not safe for innocent bystanders.

This costume ALMOST makes me like Halloween a little. For those of you who missed my post last year, here are 5 reasons I don’t like Halloween. That post still makes me laugh, especially your comments.

Have a happy and safe Halloween! Tell me your reasons for either loving or hating Halloween!

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Where to Take Unwanted Halloween Candy in Orange County

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Come Thursday morning, I am sure many Orange County moms will be wondering where to take unwanted halloween candy, so I wanted to share information on OC Halloween candy buy-back locations.

On Thursday and Friday after Halloween from 9am-5pm, local families are invited to bring extra candy to local pediatric dental practice, Little Smiles of Orange County, and for every pound of trade in candy, they will pay $1 (up to $20 per family.)

Every child who participate will also be entered into a raffle to win a membership to Pretend City and will receive a goodie to take home.

The unwanted Halloween candy traded in will be shipped to troops overseas in partnership with Operation Gratitude, a charity that sends care packages to troops overseas and those recovering in military hospitals.

Visit www.LittleSmilesOC.com for more information.

Many local Orange County pediatric dentists are also participating in this Halloween Candy Buy-Back program to benefit Operation Gratitude.

You can visit www.HalloweenCandyBuyBack.com and put in your zip code to find a dentist close to you accepting unwanted Halloween candy donations for 2012.

I know for myself, I am a tad repulsed when I look at the volume of junk that comes home Halloween night! NO child needs THAT much candy.

I think it’s a great idea to get your kids involved in their candy for trade in so they can understand how not only can they early a little money, but it is also giving back at the same time to help cheer up people working to help our country.

Happy Halloween Eve!  

 

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5 Blogging Rules Thou Shalt Not Break

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This expert advice post on 5 Blogging Rules Thou Shalt Not Break is written by Brad McMillen of Shoreline Interactive in Irvine, a company specializing in search-engine optimization and ranking. I have been working with the awesome guys at Shoreline for a few weeks now, trying to up my blog game. I hope my fellow bloggers will find this helpful, I sure did! By the way, I am SO busted on the last point on #4 below. Here is what he writes…

You’ve probably heard the phrase “serving two masters” and how it’s impossible to do. In most cases it’s true that you’re better off to not even try.

When it comes to blogging, however, you do have two masters—your readers and the search engines—and you have to please them both.

Your words must resonate with your readers and have them coming back for more. Your posts must be optimized so search engines know what you’re writing about so you can get more traffic. Neglecting one master or the other means your blog is underperforming.

So how do you simultaneously serve your readers and the search engines without losing your mind?

A few simple blogging rules are all you need to make your posts shine for readers and search engines. You, as the writer, have more power than you know.

Keep these five blogging rules in mind for your posts:

Rule Number 1: Write for your readers

With the SEO gremlin in your ear, it’s possible to get distracted from your real purpose: to write something of value for your readers.

It won’t matter if you get search-engine ranking or have a flawlessly optimized post if the content is boring.

Give your readers something they can use, and they’ll keep coming back.

Rule Number 2: Make your content easy to read

I’m sorry to break this to you, but a lot of your readers scan your posts. Time is short and they rarely read your entire post word for juicy word.

Make your content scannable by using short sentences, short paragraphs, basic words (show off your mad vocabulary another time), and use lists or bullet points whenever possible.

Subheads are an excellent way to make your content scannable: A reader should be able to know what your post is about by reading the subheads only.

Bonus: Search engines dig subheads too.

Rule Number 3: Use one keyword per post

Keyword research is important because it tells you what people are searching for online. When you use those keywords in your posts, you improve your chances of showing up on page one of the search engines. You should be thinking about keywords before you write your post.

As tempting as it is to try to cram all of your keywords into one post (maybe so you don’t have to sit down and write another post anytime soon?), don’t do it: You’ll end up all over the place with a clunky piece of content and will get limited attention from search engines.

Follow these guidelines if you want to impress the search engines:

Use your keyword in your title—preferably toward the beginning—but only if it makes sense. Don’t force it in and have an awkward title.

Put your keyword in the first 5 to 10 words of your post, or at least in the first paragraph.

Try to have the keyword account for 2-3% of the overall word count. This is called “keyword density” and is a simple calculation:

Number of words in the keyword phrase (for example, “shoes” would be 1, “red shoes” would be 2) multiplied by the number of times the keyword or keyword phrase appears in the overall post, then divided by the total word count in the post.

Tag your post if (your site has tags). Tags are short descriptions used to signal the theme(s) of your post. If it turns out that your tags and keywords are the same then that’s great but not a requirement. Use five tags maximum per post.

Rule Number 4: Check your style

Invest in a style guide. The Yahoo! Style Guide is great because 1.) it deals with all those forgettable high school grammar issues (What’s a dangling participle again?) and 2.) it’s full of the best practices for online content. You can buy it new or used on Amazon for around $10.

Four points from the style guide that you can put into practice today:

Do not underline your content when you are trying to emphasize something. Underlines can confuse readers because they appear to be links. Instead, use bold or italics.

Reserve the use of bold or italics for things you really want to draw attention to—a document littered with bold and italics tells the reader you don’t really know what’s important.

DON’T USE ALL CAPS BECAUSE ALL CAPS ARE THE EQUIVALENT OF SCREAMING AT SOMEONE. Instead, only use them when something is important: WARNING – YOU ARE ABOUT TO DELETE YOUR LIFE’S WORK.

Use exclamation points sparingly. If you are trying to show excitement, then dig out the thesaurus and find the right word to convey emotion to your readers.

Rule Number 5: Finish strong

Closing out your post is one of the hardest things to do. It’s also one of the most important things to do.

Ask yourself what you want your reader to do next. You’ve got to “ask for the order” because if you’ve just written a Pulitzer-level post, then don’t waste the opportunity to get some business out of it.

A great way to finish is to have a call-to-action (CTA). Ask your reader to subscribe to your blog. Make your readers feel comfortable leaving a comment by inviting them to do so. Give them the ability to share your post with other people with social media badges or email forwarding.

These were five simple blogging rules to help you write better posts for readers and search engines. Of course, there are many more things we could mention.

What rules or tips can we add to the list of five we just started? Please comment below – it would be great to compile a list of 50 blogging rules with your input.

www.shorelineinteractive.com

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Orange County Halloween Events for Kids

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If you are looking for Orange County Halloween events for kids you have GOT to check out this awesome event guide by fellow OC mom blogger, Jill of Sandy Toes & Popsicles.

She includes events at local attractions, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, fall festivals and a gazillion other things to do with kids this halloween in OC!

Being a blogger myself, I know the work and research involved in putting together a list like this for so  I wanted to share a little blog love for her efforts and the incredible resource.

Here is her awesome guide to Halloween Fun in the OC.

Have a BOO-tiful weekend everyone!

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Tickle Time Mineral Powder Sunblock Review

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Recently I was sent a tube of Tickle Time Mineral Powder Sunblock for Kids for review. When I got the email asking if I was interested in learning more, the answer was a quick yes!  

Skin cancer runs in my family and we live in Orange County where the sun shines year round so protecting my girls’ skin with daily sunscreen is not an option, it’s a necessity.

Tickle Time Mineral Powder Sunblock for kids was created by actress Anne Heche who wanted to create a sunscreen for her kids that was fun, but not irritating, and could be applied without the typical protests common when applying lotions, creams or sprays.

Do your kids protest sunscreen application? Sunscreen application used to be full on warfare in this household, that’s why this product has me tickled pink!  

Why I Love Tickle Time Mineral Powder Sunblock for Kids

1. It is easy to apply each morning before school.
2. They LIKE putting it on.  We yell, “Tickle Time!” and it makes it fun! No more screaming protests.
3. It is a powder, so it almost goes on like a light makeup.
4. It’s fast and you don’t have to worry about it going in their eyes.
5. It is perfect to carry in your purse for impromptu park outings, etc.

Things you should know about Tickle Time Mineral Powder Sunblock for Kids

1. It’s made with 100% all-natural minerals
2. It offers Complete UVA-UVB protection
3. It lasts all day
4. Each tube contains over 300 applications
5. It is water-resistant
6. It is soothing and calming and can be used on rash or eczema-prone skin.

Buy Tickle Time Mineral Powder Sunblock now through October 31st, 2012 and receive free ground shipping! I guarantee you will be tickled pink too.

www.tickletimesunblock.com

[Disclosure: I was sent a free Tickle Time Mineral Powder Sunblock for kids to facilitate this review. 100% of my opinions are my own and I only write about products I am passionate about – this being one of them. Images courtesy of Tickle Time.]

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