TV NEWS MOM

TV NEWS MOM
Christine Park

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Shopping Sites and Apps of the Year


The January 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, highlights 2012’s best sites and free apps that can save shoppers time and money.
Here’s a selection of super sites that make shopping fun and easy – and can help shoppers find cool stuff to buy:

CouponBlender.com highlights the best deals from dozens of coupon sites.

HandBagHeaven.com features beautiful bags at deep discounts; free shipping for purchases over $50.

MyGroceryDeals.com allows shoppers to enter their grocery list in the Quick Shop tool to see where the stuff is on sale; the list can also be sent to a phone.

TechBargains.com is a great resource for deals on electronics and gift cards.

TheBudgetBabe.com helps shoppers locate hot celeb styles for less.

Shopping apps are also a great resource for discounts and more – here are some of ShopSmart’s favorites from the past year:

CardStar consolidates users store loyalty cards into one app and helps get in-store discounts when presented at checkout. Works on: Android, Apple, BlackBerry and Windows.

Grocery Smarts Coupon Shopper matches store circulars with manufacturer coupons so users can see where they can save the most. Works on: Android.

RetailMeNot has gone mobile. Users can score coupon codes when shopping on their phone. Works on: Apple.

ShopKick can earn users points (called kicks) when just fir entering a participating location then cash them in for free merchandise or meals. Link a credit card and score even more perks. Works on: Android and Apple.

Walgreens is the best overall drugstore app for managing a family’s healthcare. Users can refill prescriptions, set reminders to take medications, and access coupons and offers right from their phone. Works on: Android, Apple, and BlackBerry.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What to Do with the Kids during Thanksgiving Break?

Any mom will tell you, sometimes it feels like the kids are off school way too often. Since when is the day after Halloween a holiday??? From what I recall, when I was an elementary school student, I used to only get Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving week. But my kids now have the whole week. Which presents the dilemma: What to do with the kids during Thanksgiving break?

So this week, I found myself scrambling (I'm not the kind of Supermom who plans ahead for these things). I do have my mom -- who kindly offers to help watch my children. But for the sake of her sanity and the kids', I started looking for mini camps.

To my surprise, there are a ton of options. The Chaffee Zoo has Zoo Adventures. The options run from "Cubby Camp" (Ages 3-5), "Adventure Camp" (5-11), "Young Naturalist" (11-17) all the way up to "Shadow a Keeper" (Ages 14-17). It's not cheap, costing anywhere from $36-$57 per day. But the kids love the program, which promotes understanding of animals and nature through live animal interactions, animal observations, games, arts & crafts, and many other exciting activities.

The Little Gym in Northeast Fresno has Adventures of T-Rex camp next Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 9am to Noon. The kids will get to run, jump and climb to the point of exhaustion! Call for rates and reservations.

The Young Chef's Academy in Northeast Fresno has the Turkey Break Kids' Cooking Camp next Monday through Wednesday from 9am to Noon. You can register for all 3 days or 1 day ($110 for all 3 days, $45 per day). The kids learn the basics of cooking and kitchen safety and get to eat all of their creations.

Skywalk, the trampoline arena, has bouncing times open all next week, divided by age groups (that way the little ones aren't run over by the big kids). Reservations aren't required but encouraged.

There are some great kid movies out right now too. I'd highly recommend Disney's Wreck-It Ralph and Brave just came out on DVD.

Any more suggestions for keeping kids busy? Happy Thanksgiving, by the way!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Letters to Santa are Going Digital

Today my 6-year-old daughter excitedly asked if she could start on her Christmas wish list for Santa. From the sounds of it, she's got some pretty specific things in mind. She just asked me how to spell "heels." Hmmmm. I may have to screen some of these to make sure they're age appropriate! LOL But I love that she's partaking in this cherished childhood tradition. I think letter-writing is a lost art, so I encourage her to put pen to paper whenever possible. I just took a peek, and the list is adorable, slanting to the right, with surprisingly no misspellings, and includes Rapunzel high heels, new earrings, and a karaoke machine. She is her mother's daughter.
She also plans on decorating it with pictures and stickers, which we will then send on to Santa. What an awesome addition to her scrapbook. Something fun for her to look back on when she's a full-fledged diva instead of a diva-in-training. So you can imagine my reluctance at the thought of forgoing the traditional letter to Santa for a digital wishlist. I ran across this article in which the author's kids compile their lists strictly online, whether on Amazon or Toys R Us, just to name a few. But as an adult with my own Amazon wishlist, I can clearly see the benefits. Generous but directionless friends and relatives no longer have to guess. This cuts down on my time spent returning stuff. And the recipient gets exactly what he/she wants. It's a win-win.

Obviously individual stores each have their own gift registry. But you'll often find one store doesn't usually carry everything you want. The online retailer that comes closest is Amazon. For the items you want, you select "Add to Wish List" instead of add to cart. Once you open your wish list on Amazon, you can add a priority to the item (highest, high, medium, etc.). Gift-givers can search for a wish list based on name or e-mail address. Amazon's selection of  toys and electronics is great. Their clothes and jewelry not so much. 

That's where Wishpot comes in -- a free online wishlist that lets you compile a list from anywhere, not just one store. I haven't used it yet but here's the review from USA Today: 
Clicking on the Wishpot icon brings up a window pre-filled with the product's name, price, image and link. You can edit these and then select the wish list you want to add the item to, the recipient's name, number needed, tags, notes and a priority level. For some items and retailers, you can also choose to be alerted if the price drops or deals on the item come up from other retailers.
For those buying from your wish list, they can sort by price, date added and whether an item is available. And if they buy an item, they can indicate that they've purchased it so you don't end up with duplicates.

Tallwish is another free online wishlist that lets you share lists. USA Today says a fun feature is the collaboration:
You can add items secretly to other people's wish lists so family members can collaborate on ideas. The name of the person suggesting the item appears next to it. And when an item is purchased others in the group can see, but the wish list owner isn't notified, so gifts can remain a surprise. It's a little bare bones, though, when it comes to adding items; there is no tool-bar add-on and you can only manually enter the item name, link and priority level. 
Wishlistr and Wantsthis are also similar services.

If the kiddos are young enough to try to keep the magic of Santa alive, Macy's has a cute letter-writing feature on its website. Toys R Us also has help to write a Letter to Santa. And by far, the best personalized Santa video is at PNP, short for Portable North Pole. Last year, the kids watched, mouths open, as Santa called them by name, talked about where they lived, and all sorts of other customizable details. 
 
Regardless, I know it's still early, but I'm starting to get excited for the most wonderful time of year. Christmas was already my favorite holiday, but having kids just took it to another level of fun. Do you have any special traditions involving your Santa letters?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Are you ready for the breastfeeding baby doll?

You may have heard about this doll by now... so much controversy has been swirling around the Breast Milk Baby already... the breastfeeding doll whose suckling sounds are prompted by sensors sewn into a halter top that little girls wear.

Well now... it's 50% off... down from $89 to $44.50 just in time for the holiday season.

I first heard about it back in March when we here at Action News ran this story. And when the toy hit store shelves here in the U.S... the outcry was immediate. "I just want the kids to be kids," Bill O'Reilly said on his Fox News show when he learned of the Breast Milk Baby. "And this kind of stuff. We don't need this."

But in this Huffington Post article, Dennis Lewis, the U.S. representative for Berjuan Toys, the family-owned, 40-year-old doll maker in Spain says, "We've had a lot of support from lots of breastfeeding organizations, lots of mothers, lots of educators," and he can't understand why it's been so difficult to get the dolls onto mainstream shelves more than a year after introducing the line in this country.   As a mother of a little girl, I'm honestly not sure what to think. On one hand, I embraced breastfeeding with both of my children, and advocate it to any new mom who will listen. So a doll like this would encourage girls to grow up thinking breastfeeding is normal and natural. But I also feel like breastfeeding is an adult function of our bodies, and don't necessarily think it's age-appropriate for young girls to be imitating that behavior. Sure we think it's cute when our daughters "cook" in their play kitchens and "vaccuum" their rooms... and even "bottle-,feed" their babies... but for some reason, there's something a little disturbing about my 6-year-old "nursing" her doll.  
This reminds me of my daughter Sydney. One day, not too long after my son was born, I came home from work to find Sydney sticking out her chest and proclaiming she was, "Just like mommy!" My 3-year-old had inserted teacups into her shirt and called them "nipples" so she could feed her babies. I wanted to laugh, but she was so proud of herself. Obviously she had seen me breastfeeding her little brother, and like many little girls, wanted to imitate her mommy. Little did I know there was a doll that did just that. She's since outgrown the baby doll phase, but I'm still pondering... would any of you buy this doll for your daughter?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Freebies

Voting is a right and a privilege... and if you do vote today... you can have your cake and eat it too!

One of my favorite Fresno cupcake places Frosted Cakery just posted in a Facebook update: show your "I Voted" sticker to receive a FREE I Voted Mini Cupcake from Frosted Cakery! They'll be open until 8, when polls close. For those absentee voters, including myself, who didn't get a sticker, the owner says: "if you have a stub or anything that shows you voted we will accept it!"

Apparently several other companies want to provide incentive for Americans to exercise their civic duty as well. Boston Market, Blockbuster, and Starbucks are all giving out freebies on this Election Day. For details, you can go to the Election Day Freebies website. Happy Voting!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Trader Joe's Obession

So I know I'm late to the party, but I'm starting to understand shoppers' fanaticism over Trader Joe's products. There's one down the street from my house but I rarely went. Aside from their hummus and "Two Buck Chuck" wine, I figured I wasn't missing much. I didn't know how wrong I was

But then I tried their Belgian Waffles. And I saw the light. I've never had a lighter, crispier, more delicious store-bought waffle. $1.99 gets you a box of four. 50 cents for a piece of breakfast heaven. The only other place that comes close is a local breakfast joint I frequent here in Fresno, and only if I specifically ask them to make it extra crispy.

So now I'm that person, who fills up her cart with four boxes at a time. I've even resorted to stalking the store when they're out. It was a miserable waffle-less month for me. So my kids were forced to eat Eggos... which forced me to find another delicious breakfast options from... Trader Joe's, of course: Frozen Chocolate Croissants! Huffington Post family blogger Julie Tilsner even blogged about these puppies. Her experience pretty much sums up mine.

WOW.  Possibly the flakiest, tastiest, butteriest, chocolatiest croissant I've ever had. So flaky, you'll be wearing it all over your clothes after breakfast. As the box suggests, there's some forethought involved. You need to put them on a baking sheet the night before to let them rise, then stick them in the oven for 20 minutes the next day. While getting the kids ready, the house fills with THAT smell... you'll swear you've been transported to a little cafe in Paris. They have 18 grams of fat  IN EACH CROISSANT---but who cares when you're nibbling on such a delicious morsel?

Then there's their $3.99 tub of Fat Free Frozen Vanilla Greek Yogurt. My family lives off of smoothies for our morning serving of fruit... a scoop of this in the blender adds the creaminess without the fat. Plus we're getting some of that protein that greek yogurt is praised for.

My obsession isn't limited to just their breakfast options. It's just that with two school-aged kids and two working parents, I'm always on the lookout for fast and tasty morning shortcuts. But Trader Joe's fans are well aware of their other cult favorites like their seasonal offerings... including pumpkin flavored everything... from pumpkin pancake mix to pumpkin butter.

But as a Korean American... I'm also always on the lookout for Korean food shortcuts. I swear someone at Trader Joe's has got to be a brother from another mother. Not only do that have edamame, bulgogi and kimchi fried rice but they've also got wasabi flavored seaweed! I lived off of roasted seaweed snacks in college. A 99 cent pack plus some sticky rice = a meal for a poor student sick of ramen. And now one of my favorite Korean snacks comes with a kick of wasabi. I'm smitten.

Anyhow, for those of you reading this who are already TJ shoppers, none of this is news to you. So thanks for indulging all my newfound wonder. You're all just nodding your heads knowingly... because you've all gone through this falling in love stage. I'd love to hear about your favorites you can't live without. I'll see you in the aisles, reusable bags in hand.  



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Tooth Fairy is in a Giving Mood

Remember when the "tooth fairy" gave a quarter for a lost tooth? Well, that's not even 1/4 of what a tooth these days is worth!

A new servey by credit card company Visa found the “tooth fairy” gave $3 per tooth on average to children this year, up 15 percent from last year. At this rate, my daughter's little mouth will earn her $60! WOW! And that's on the low end. I talked to a couple girlfriends, who give $5 per tooth.

"How do you know how much to give?" I asked them. Well, here's a fun little app where you can calculate what the tooth fairy should give, based on the parents' age, education, income, etc.

Do you have any fun stories or traditions when it comes to the tooth fairy? My oldest isn't quite six years old, so she still has yet to go through this rite of passage. But I want to prepared and properly funded LOL.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cooking on Empty

As the consumer reporter for my station, I have a subscription to Consumer Reports Shopsmart magazine. In it, are great tips on being a savvy, frugal shopper. But a recent article in the Sept 2012 issue about turning the last bits of food in jars, bottles and bags into delicious dishes caught my eye.

I think it's because we've all been there, trying to scrape as much peanut butter as possible from the sides of an empty jar before getting frustrated and throwing it away.

Here are some great ideas:

-Microwave the sticky stuff. For example, nuke the almost-empty jar of peanut butter for a few seconds to soften it, then add soy sauce, giner, garlic, vegetable oil, then shake it up to make an Asian marinade or salad dressing. Same goes for honey.

-Recycle olive and pickle juice: the brine can be substituted for the vinegar in a vinaigrette. Or slice pickles and add to the juice and let it sit for a few hours to make your own pickles.

-Ketchup, mayor or mustard: add a splash of cider vinegar and shake up the bottle then mix with barbecue sauce for a marinade.

-Wine: mix with a little olive oil to braise veggies or sprinkle on fish

-Crumbs: pretzel and chip slivers can make a great breading for chicken or fish. Cookie crumbs make good piecrusts.

-Stale bread: Make croutons or bread pudding. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One step forward or two steps back?

(Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)

Marissa Mayer was just named Yahoo's new CEO. The working woman in me says, "YAY! A female in a high-profile, powerful position is a great role model for us." Then I learned in an article today, she's 7 months pregnant. And again I say, "YAY! A high-profile, powerful woman balancing work AND family is even better!"

The article goes on to say Mayer's pregnancy was not an issue to the company's board:
"Yahoo's decision reflects a change in a business environment once inhospitable to mothers and women expecting children."

"Imagine that," I thought, "Mayer is shaking things up inside Silicon Valley's boys club." TechCrunch says Mayer may be "the first ever pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 tech company" and calls the announcement "trailblazing."

But then I read on to see that Mayer plans on working through her maternity leave and returning to the office a few short weeks of having her son. UGH. No. How is this progress? As any new mother knows, maternity is an essential time to bond with your baby, enjoy your baby, and figure out how to be a mother. Things like breastfeeding, sleep training, and diaper changing don't always come naturally to us, as some might believe. So to cut this time short, is to short-change herself and her baby. Yet she obviously feels enormous pressure to hit the ground running and prove to her new bosses that indeed, as they stated, pregnancy isn't a factor. But it is! It changes everything. And we working moms need someone to publicly acknowledge that. Not treat it is a side diversion, a mere bump in the road.

Which brings me to Annie-Marie Slaughter's piece in The Atlantic: "Why Women Can't Have it All." In it she writes:
"It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. "

I'm none of the above. It's a devastating realization LOL. But in all seriousness, as I get older, I am realizing there is no such thing as having it all. In my 20's I looked up to careerwomen like myself who seemed to have achieved a perfect work-life balance. But now that I'm in their shoes, I know that we are always making sacrifices. A year into my promotion, I relish a more high-profile position and normal 9 to 5 schedule. But during the week my kids are being raised by everyone else but me. The guilt is constant. I used to look at SAHMs and think, that's definitely not for me. But now I eye them wistfully, wishing I could be the one accompanying my daughter to field trips and teaching my son how to count to 100.

I wish Marissa Mayer the best of luck, and I want to see her succeed in her new role. I want her to have it all. But I want her to succeed as a mother too. She may not be self-employed, but she's probably superhuman and above all, rich... so she already has an edge over me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An all-in-one Miracle Cream? Sign me up!

Apparently I am not privy to my overseas sisters' beauty secrets. I just heard about "BB (blemish balm) Creams" which have long been "the secret of Korean actresses." Hmph! I KNEW they weren't born with that flawless porcelain skin!

Obviously I was intrigued by the idea of its "multi-tasking" all-in-one properties — moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock all in one? If I can get that in a $30 bottle, I'm thinking about all the money I can save. No wonder the cream became a hit in Asia, especially in South Korea, where BB creams make up 13% of the cosmetics market. Most of these Asian versions aren't available in the U.S., but Missha BB Cream (a Korean Brand) is apparently great and they sell it online.



The American market is catching on. The Western formulas are a bit different from the brands that are popular in Korea — which tend to be a bit more opaque, with cooler undertones for that matte porcelain look. In the States, we like glowing-with-health skin, so our BB creams are more sheer, designed to give the complexion a radiant finish. They’re somewhere between tinted moisturizer and medium-coverage foundation.

I have yet to try any (I did just place an order for the Missha, as I am Asian), so I searched around for reviews of different products for your reading pleasure, if you're thinking of giving BB creams a try.

These reviews are from imabeautygeek.com

Boscia BB Cream ($46, Sephora): This one looks to titanium dioxide for SPF rather than chemical sunscreens, and contains skincare ingredients to moisturize, condition and protect skin against free radicals. It’s quite sheer, but just a tad too dark for me. Yes, at first I applied a bit too generously — a wee pea-size amount is about right. But it’s still too dark. Apparently another shade is in the works, but it’ll be a while before it comes out.


Marcelle BB Cream ($22.95, drugstores): This one does not have SPF. The company says their customer doesn’t put UV protection at the top of their ingredient list for foundation, so Marcelle skipped the sunscreen components so they could get the cream into stores quickly. But they’re definitely working on an SPF version with chemical sunscreens. That aside, the texture is creamy and easy to blend — probably something to do with all dimethicone in the formula, which also contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe and chamomile. This BB cream comes in two shades, Light to Medium (perfect for me) and Medium to Dark. As well, although sheer, it has decent coverage that evens out my skin without looking like makeup. (I put it on over a moisturizer with SPF.) I don’t buy the skin-improvement claims these things make — I look to my skincare regimen for that. But this Marcelle BB cream, with a bit of concealer where necessary and blot powder on top, helps my skin look and feel pretty good all day.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35 ($50, Sephora now) also delivers a semi-sheer finish in a creamy texture. It comes in four shades, Fair, Light, Medium and Dark. The Medium shade is best for me, but it was sold out so I tried Light — and was surprised. The formula is just sheer enough that it worked. But I still needed a teensy dab of concealer for shadows, and definitely over stupid hormonal blemishes.


My go-to since I got a sample to try is Estée Lauder Daywear BB Multi-Perfecting Beauty Benefit Cream SPF 35 ($45, department stores, February 2012), which comes in two shades. I like the finish so much better than when I use just concealer and blot powder on my oily skin; tinted moisturizer never really did it for me either. Now firmly part of my routine, the Light matches my skin, the creamy texture blends easily and blurs imperfections, and the finish lasts for hours. I add concealer under my eyes, around the base of my nose and over damnstupidhormonal blemishes, and top with a barely-there layer of MAC Blot Powder in Medium/Dark.


If you want super-sheer and a warm-glow boost, try Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream SPF 15 ($19.99, drugstores, February 2012). Very much like tinted moisturizer, comes in two golden-tone shades, Light/Medium and Medium/Dark. You’ll need concealer to boost coverage over dark circles and any redness around the base of the nose.


These reviews are from http://www.refinery29.com/

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream ($37, Macys): Clinique imported its wildly popular BB cream to the U.S., adding two new shades to the lineup, all featuring a host of skin-healthy ingredients. It wears more like a really fantastic moisturizer than a heavy foundation.

"I honestly haven’t used tinted moisturizer since high school, so this was basically a first for me. Back then, I was a regular fake-baker, so I could wear just tinted moisturizer on my face and nothing else (oh, to be young!). Nowadays, I don’t wear much face makeup — I just brush on some mineral powder.

I was definitely skeptical of using the cream at first because it’s much heavier than what I’m used to wearing, and I was worried about distributing it evenly. I ended up mixing it with my oil-free moisturizer, and it went on super-easy. I was pleasantly surprised by how it felt on – I don’t think I could wear it every day, but it made me feel much less “flawed,” if you will. The tint helped cover everything better (especially my giant pores – thanks Mom), and I probably could have gotten away with wearing just the BB cream combined with my moisturizer, and nothing else."


Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++ ($39, Sephora): One of the original balms to launch in the U.S., this prestige cream is already a hit in Asia and has been spotted gracing the faces of models backstage at Fashion Week. It has a slightly thicker, more balm-like consistency than the other creams we tried, but has tons of moisture and skin-healthy ingredients packed into its formula.

"Usually I wear Yes To Carrots moisturizer every day… and that's it. I'm a no-makeup kind of girl (with the obvious exception of bright lipstick) and I've never used a tinted moisturizer before. My skin is really dry, so I was skeptical that this would give me the hydration I needed, and doubly skeptical after seeing how dark the product when I first opened it. However, my fears of coming into the office looking like an Oompa Loompa were totally unfounded. The product went on very smoothly and needed very little blending — it seemed to absorb instantly.
As for the tint, it didn't look like I had anything on at all, which was perfect for me because I love my pale skin and was irrationally afraid that the cream would make me look too tan. I did notice that it evened out my skin tone and reduced redness in my cheeks, while still keeping my overall complexion just the way I like it. But, the biggest and best change I noticed was that my skin felt velvety soft all throughout the day, and it felt more hydrated than it has ever been before."

Result: "Honestly, there is nothing I disliked about this cream and, although I'm a bit attached to my Yes To moisturizer for being a natural product, I will definitely continue to use Dr. Jart+ regularly because of how it corrected my complexion and hydrated my skin like nothing else has, all without making me feel covered up. In fact, the first thing I did when I came into the office was tell our beauty editor that she'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands if she wanted it back. Suffice it to say, I liked this product so much I am willing to go super-cheesy and say this PA+++ gets an A+++ in my book."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No More Pre-Boarding for Families

This hasn't been a great week of news for parents planning to travel with children this summer. The friendly skies? Not so much.

First, we learned that it might be harder to get seats together this summer because major airlines are reserving more and more seat assignments for passengers willing to pay an extra fee. People traveling together are finding that the only way to sit next to a spouse, child or friend is to shell out $25 or more, each way. And indeed, this is what I found as I was booking our flights on Allegiant from Fresno to Hawaii. There's no way I'm going to attempt a 5-hour flight with my 5-year-old and 3-year-old sitting next to strangers. So I had no choice but to shell out an extra $200 for our family of 4 just for the privilege of sitting next to each other. Airlines say their gate agents try to help family members without adjacent seats sit together, especially people flying with small children. Yet there is no guarantee things will work out.

And it gets better. United Airlines has ended family pre-boarding . The airline says it made the move to simplify the boarding process, according to the article in USA Today. So people lugging strollers, car seats, and tiny tots are expected to join the cattle call and fight for luggage space while the rest of the impatient passengers pile up behind you?

The airlines' approach can be summed up this way: "The customers that are more loyal, who fly more often, we want to make sure they have the best travel experience." -- Eduardo Marcos, American Airlines' manager of merchandising strategy. Which tells me very plainly: tough luck, because I'm not a frequent flier, I don't matter. I take offense to that. How is my hard-earned money that I spent on my ticket, somehow less valuable?

At least kids are still allowed to fly at all. You might think I'm being facetious, but I blogged a while back about Malaysia Airlines banning children altogether from first class, even entire flights.

I just read a NY Times article on Flying with Children, and it told the story of a family traveling with twins, who begged to buy some milk for the babies, and were refused because the milk was for coffee only. The article's experts suggest: "Even when airlines offer food onboard, often the thing you want is sold out. To ensure that your family has what it needs, bring it yourself." At this point, I believe a handful of family courtesies remain on flights, including checking a stroller and car seat at no charge and children under the age of 2 can fly free on a parent’s lap. I'm foreseeing it's only a matter of time before strollers and car seats are charged luggage fees.

I think airlines are missing out, by alienating families. Many of my friends are choosing trains, road trips or cruises over flying.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a child-friendly flight, here's what the NY Times found:

American
EARLY BOARDING No. Families who want to board earlier can ask the gate agent or pay $10 a person to guarantee a spot in the first boarding group in coach.

SEATING Bulkhead seats toward the front of coach are reserved for elite passengers or sold as “preferred seats” 24 hours before departure for a fee starting at $4.
KIDS’ MEALS Sells a number of “kid-friendly choices” like $10 turkey sandwiches with chips.

ENTERTAINMENT Free child-friendly movies on overhead televisions on most flights longer than four hours. Streaming video via Wi-Fi will be added to 85 MD-80 aircraft before the end of 2011.
STROLLER GATE CHECK Yes, except noncollapsible strollers or those weighing 20 pounds or more, which must be checked at the ticket counter.

Delta

EARLY BOARDING Yes (no age limit), ahead of first and business class.

SEATING Bulkhead seats may be available for families 24 hours before departure.

KIDS’ MEALS $4.50 kids’ peanut butter and jelly plate, served with fruit and vegetables.

ENTERTAINMENT Last year, Delta brought back the kiddie pilot wings it used to hand out. On flights with seatback televisions, Delta offers 16 On Demand children’s television programs that cost $1 per episode or $6 for a television bundle. (Flights without seatback screens may not offer children’s movies at all.) Some flights have Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network via satellite television (at no charge).
STROLLER GATE CHECK Yes.

JetBlue

EARLY BOARDING Yes, for families with children under the age of 2, along with passengers who paid extra for seats with more legroom.

SEATING Bulkhead seats are reserved for customers with disabilities up to 24 hours before departure, with remaining seats sold as “Even More Space” seats for $10 to $65 extra.

KIDS’ MEALS JetBlue doesn’t offer meals on any of its flights, but snacks, including Animal Crackers, are free.

ENTERTAINMENT Seatback televisions offer 36 channels of DirecTV, including children’s programming and 100 XM Satellite Radio channels free. If time permits, pilots are encouraged to show children the flight deck and offer them JetBlue trading cards.

STROLLER GATE CHECK Yes.

Southwest

EARLY BOARDING Yes, for families with children up to 4 years old, after passengers in boarding Group A, which includes elite fliers, full-fare passengers and those who pay $10 (each way) for early-bird check-in.

SEATING There are no seat assignments. Like other passengers, families must find an open seat once onboard.

KIDS’ MEALS No meals onboard. Peanuts and pretzels are free.

ENTERTAINMENT Flight attendants are encouraged to offer children coloring books and airline wings.

STROLLER GATE CHECK Yes.

United-Continental

EARLY BOARDING No.

SEATING Bulkhead seats are typically reserved for elite passengers or sold for a fee starting at $9.

KIDS’ MEALS Snacks and meals, including $7.49 cheese and fruit plates, are offered, depending on length of flight and time of day.

ENTERTAINMENT Most of United’s fleet has overhead screens that show in-flight movies. Continental offers satellite TV on more than 75 percent of its 737 Next Generation aircraft and plans to install the service on more planes in 2012.

STROLLER GATE CHECK Yes, except large, noncollapsible strollers, which must be checked at the ticket counter.

US Airways

EARLY BOARDING Yes, for families with children 4 and younger, along with elite passengers and those who paid extra for bulkhead seats.

SEATING Bulkhead seats are reserved for passengers with disabilities until an hour before departure and are assigned at the gate agent’s discretion.

KIDS MEALS Snack boxes, which include dried cranberries and almonds ($6), and meals including fruit and cheese plates ($8), depending on the length of the flight and time of day.

ENTERTAINMENT Nothing on domestic flights.

STROLLER GATE CHECK Yes, except for noncollapsible strollers, which must be checked at the ticket counter.

Virgin America

EARLY BOARDING Yes, for families with “small children,” after first class and passengers who paid extra for roomier coach seats.

SEATING Bulkhead seats are reserved for “main cabin select” passengers who pay more when booking or $39 to $129 extra to upgrade 24 hours in advance.

KIDS’ MEALS Half-sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly served with organic fruit gummy bears ($4).

ENTERTAINMENT Individual seatback screens offer parental controls, free satellite TV including the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, movies ($5 to $8) and premium programs like “Go Diego Go” ($2 to $7), free video games and seat-to-seat chat.

STROLLER GATE CHECK Yes.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Baby Products that Moms Love for Themselves

I love  Johnson & Johnson's Baby Lotion. It's been years since we've had it in our house, but the smell of it triggers instant flashbacks to the time when my kids were little babies. I stumbled upon this Total Beauty.com article about baby care products that moms love for themselves. Not only are they gentle and all natural, but most of them smell SO good and are a lot cheaper than products geared towards women.. Do you have any secret beauty weapons from baby?


1. Arbonne Baby Care Herbal Diaper Rash Cream, $15
While this light cream uses natural botanicals and herbs to soothe and heal your baby's bottom, it can gently relieve your own chapped skin as well. Readers say this diaper rash cream is also great for "irritated thighs, C-section scars, or just basic chaffing."


Looking for a natural, talc-free powder to keep your skin smooth and dry? You might want to try Burt's Bees Baby Bee Dusting Powder. Readers agree that "it helps keep you cool and dry, especially in hot, sticky weather." One reader says, "I use it for my scalp, since my fine hair tends to get limp and oily. This versatile powder has many uses -- worth every penny!"

 
Tired of using body lotions that leave your skin too greasy or not hydrated enough? Readers say this one leaves skin feeling "soft and smooth." One reader says this baby lotion is a "staple in our home. Mommy, daddy, and baby ... we all use it! Want to know a secret? It's even gentle enough to use on my face. High five Aveeno."



When you're in the shower, there's nothing worse than the sting of shampoo in your eyes, and this no-tears baby shampoo can solve your "lather, rinse, repeat" issues. "I bought this for myself because I have sensitive eyes. Not only was there no irritation, but after I used it, my hair felt like baby hair -- very soft," says one reader. Another admits, "I even use it on my pets so their eyes won't burn.



5. Johnson's Baby Lotion, $3.99
When you think of baby care products, chances are that Johnson's comes to mind. Their weightless baby lotion is well known for its signature powdery scent and mild formula. Readers agree that it "moisturizes without being greasy" and that "the price is great, too." One reader says, "You can't beat this stuff, ever. It's not just for babies! It leaves my skin soft, smooth, healthy, and moisturized. Plus, the smell is absolutely amazing." If you haven't taken this one from your little one already, it's time.

The bubble gum pink bottle and iconic Coppertone baby are American classics. But what's even more memorable is this sunscreen's powerful protection, which is gentle enough for baby and great for adults with sensitive skin. "I use this religiously on my kids and they have never had a sunburn ... it's so great, I always end up using this on myself," says one reader. Another says, "It moisturizes all day and does not irritate my skin or my children's skin. It also absorbs very well. It's just perfect."


Mustela's Bebe Shampoo is made from wheat, chamomile, and coconut oil extracts, which nip tangles in the bud and leave hair smooth and shiny. Readers agree that it's an amazing product for babies and moms. "I love this shampoo. It smells good and makes my hair feel baby soft," says one reader. Another, who originally bought it for her two toddlers, says, "After using it once on them, I decided to try it myself -- let's just say there is a bottle in both bathrooms now!"

Monday, May 14, 2012

What's Your Parenting Style

By now, you've all seen Time's controversial cover on attachment parenting. The title taunts, "Are you mom enough?" as a young, gorgeous mom stares defiantly while her nearly 4-year-old son nurses on her exposed breast while standing up on a chair. 

Sexy sells. Controversy sells. Shock and awe sells. I get that. Time editors knew what they were doing when they decided on this cover, and so did its subject, Jamie Lynn Grumet.
But the title's implication that I'm not mom enough or strong enough or committed enough to practice attachment parenting... THAT I do resent. Why do moms have to constantly be at war with each other? Working vs. stay-at-home. Breastfed vs. formula. Organic vs. non-organic. Can't we just all get along?

Maybe it's because the responsibility of raising a tiny human being is so heavy, so important, so overwhelming, that moms take everything so personally? It smacks of insecurity when a mom declares MY way is best and all the rest... well, your kids will end up feeling unloved, unstable, or worse, homeless, addicted to drugs, or in prison.

Most experts agree: when it comes to parenting, trial and error works best. Armed with all these conflicting philosophies, every parent tests different approaches to see what ultimately works for them and their children. The author of Time's article writes: "parenting is about embracing contradictions." While I don't pretend to understand all the tenets of attachment parenting (to each her own), I wonder if at some point attachment parenting becomes more for the mom than the child?

I am the first to say breast is best. I breastfed both my babies because I thought it was the best gift I could give them. I believed it was the healthiest start to their lives. Did it suck lugging my pump as a tourist around NYC? Yes. Did I have to kick my photographers out of the live truck in the rain so I could pump? Yes. But I was determined to not be one of those 60-something-percent of women who start, but don't keep it up. And I loved breastfeeding (and all the extra calories I could consume). 

Yet when they weaned themselves (at 10 months for my daughter and at 7 months for my son), I moved on. I remember being sad that they didn't need me for their nutrition anymore. I still miss the closeness I felt with them during our feeding times. I would have, and could have kept going. I guess that would have made me an extended breastfeeder. But they were ready for solid food and cow's milk. Remember that Desperate Housewives episode when Felicity Huffman's character works with a woman who was breastfeeding her 5-year-old so she could still eat whatever she wanted yet still maintain her weight? While producers made light of it, the point made was that the boy was past the point of needing breast milk but his mom wasn't ready to give it up, for her own reasons, whether it be the tongue-in-cheek reason of calories burned or the real reason of not wanting to lose those baby bonding precious moments.

In my experience, kids need to learn independence to thrive socially. Kids need to learn patience, that every need in life can't be immediately gratified. Yet breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, and baby wearing teaches kids that if they cry they will immediately get what they want. Attachment parenting makes the case that secure, trusting attachment to parents during childhood forms the basis for secure relationships as adults. But I would argue attachment parenting can create a needy, unhealthy co-dependency. Dr. Sears' website has a whole section called "Helping a Toddler Ease Into Independence." But babies will naturally become independent.... unless you've stifled that natural instinct with over-parenting. He reminds his followers to fight the urge to hover and cling to their children. How can they not if that's all that they've done in the early years? It's not just a switch moms or kids can turn on or off.
I sleep trained my children. Let both of them cry it out. It wasn't fun. I didn't enjoy it. Attachment parenting guru Dr. Bill Sears calls this convenience parenting, putting a parent's ease and convenience above an infant's feeding cues or emotional bonding needs. Yes, I had a timeline. I wanted them to sleep through the night before my maternity leave ended. And they did. And still do. Since they were just 8 weeks old, my children have both slept well... 11 hours of uninterrupted slumber every night. They prefer their own beds, unless they're sick or having nightmares. And when they are, I'm there for them. They are cuddled and comforted, and placed back into their own beds. They are both affectionate and loving and know they are loved back by a well-rested mommy and daddy. My marital bed is kid free. Just because you become a parent, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice intimacy and spontaneity with your spouse. I have many friends who co-sleep with their children. I don't judge them. That's their choice, and many confess they love it. But I will say, with nearly every single one of these women, their marriages have suffered because of it. And what good is co-sleeping for the child when their parents' relationship is rocky because of it? Even though the point is to surround the child with love and affection in the home... many a fight has erupted because the baby has taken over the bed.

Obviously I'm a skeptic when it comes to full-fledged attachment parenting. Just to confirm it, I took Time's quiz to find out my parenting style:
Scoring:
Sears skeptic: 0 - 20%
Partial proponent: 30-70 %
Committed Sears disciple: 80-100%

I scored 20%

The only reason I didn't score 0% is because I got credit for breastfeeding, which goes to show many moms, even me, are incorporating some tenets of it based on what works for them and what they believe is best for baby. Balance is key. After all, when it comes down to it, aren't we all attached to our kids? Just not at the hip, with a sling for me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Personalized Mother's Day Gifts


I'm a sentimental fool. Which explains why I cherish personalized gifts. Hand towels are merely towels until they have a monogram on them.  Coasters made from my Instagram pictures.... swoon! A necklace with my kids' birthstones... I already have one!

To me, personalized gifts convey extra thought, meaning, and effort. Which is why last year , my husband got extra points. He got me this $40 handprint canvas kit from Red Envelope. Adorable. Mommy, daddy, daughter and son... a square for each member of the family. It hangs proudly in our playroom, a reminder of small hands and big hearts for years to come.

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 13th. Less than a week away. If you're stumped, consider one of these fun, personalized gifts I found:

I recently discovered this little company called All Aboard Custom Wood Signs. I've already ordered two of their personalized sign blocks.  The quality is excellent, and I've never paid full price ($80). Check their Facebook page for coupons. Any mom would proudly display this on the mantel.


These $26 frames "I Heart Mommy" collages are really cute. You can also choose from Grandma, Grandpa, and Daddy. Pre-fill each letter cutout with a favorite photo of the kids, grandkids, etc.






Along the same lines, bring your family tree to life with the $39.99 "Heritage Tree" from Things Remembered. This is a gift that can be passed down through the generations and used to teach the children of their heritage.







There's a ton of personalized jewelry out there. But these are two that caught my eye:
How cute are these vintage love letter necklaces?  A bit pricey at $89.95 but the envelope locket contains a small attached “letter” that may be personalized with a unique message... mom can wear close to her heart.

These $24 Personalized Monogram Necklaces on Etsy are different because each piece has the option to have charms created from your child's own handwriting.


 I've been getting a TON of half-off coupons for gallery-style canvases. The latest one is $34 for a 16"x20", including shipping and handling. That is a steal! I've used a similar service several times, including for Mother's Day last year, and the results have been stunning each time.

You can turn a favorite family photo, vacation picture, whatever you please, into a work of art.

Whether mom is a gardener, chef, athlete, or tech savvy gadget geek, there are countless gifts you can personalize.

Check these websites for some ideas:

Things Remembered
Red Envelope
Personalized Gifts
Lillian Vernon
Personalization Mall

Obviously roses and chocolates, massages and manicures, brunch and bubbly are always appreciated. But why not make that extra effort this year to come up with something different to show mom how much you care.

Friday, May 4, 2012

TV News Mom Makes a Guest Appearance

Thanks to fellow mom and Central Valley blogger Nicole Scholl.
Check out her site Seamlessly Savvy and her profile article of yours truly.
She's awesome and takes saving money to another level.
Thank you all for your continued support!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Baby Bumps are Big Business


 When you have a mommy in Hollywood... you get "Mommywood."

Good Morning America's JuJu Chang did this story on celebrity moms cashing in on their pregnancies and product lines. One of her opening lines is: "It's not just their bellies that balloon, but so does their popularity and profitability."


She points out Jessica Simpson hasn't had a successful album in years... but every time she tweets about a specific baby product for her newborn, she makes a couple thousand dollars. I can see her popular clothing and shoe lines, which includes a girls collection, expanding as well, to include infant wear. Say what you will about her intelligence, but she's one savvy businesswoman.

Obviously, she's not the first and only celebrity mom to turn her baby bump into a business.

 

One of the first to do so--Tori Spelling. After 90210, she could have faded into obscurity (what ever happened to Shannon Doherty?), but thanks to her own reality TV series... she's making money off books, her blog, "Little Maven" clothing line, production studio, to name a few. I mean, even Forbes takes her seriously, with this feature on her being a serious businesswoman and entrepeneur.

Gotta give the girl credit... she's one hardworking "stay at home mom." I say that in quotes b/c she obviously can afford help and isn't tied down by the typical SAHM's concerns over what to make for dinner every night.

 
Jessica Alba launched The Honest Company, named after her daughter Honor, which features diapers made of "100% non-toxic, chlorine-free, sustainable, and plant-based materials"... She's on to something. The diaper industry alone is worth $75 million.

Which got me thinking... how can I get a piece of Mommywood? After all, as a news anchor, I'm told I'm a "celebrity" too in my small corner of the world called Fresno, CA. I'm a mommy of two munchkins under the age of 5.


Obviously I have this blog. But with all of two dozen readers, I'm not going to be monetizing anytime soon. Unless they make a "Real Housewives of Fresno County," I think reality TV is out. And I doubt Elle will pay me to pose nude pregnant (not that THAT will be happening again EVER.) And as for business savvy, I think a 12-year-old with a lemonade stand probably has more than me.

 
So here's what I came up with. A children's book. It sounds cliche, but hear me out. As a working mom, bedtime stories are the only quiet one-on-one time I have with my kids during the weekdays. So no matter how tired I am, I try my best to never miss one of these cuddle and read sessions.

There are a few favorite books that are sacred in our house. But the other day, my 5-year-old daughter surprised me with a "book" she made, out of cupcake-shaped paper stapled together, filled with carefully printed prose about a princess named Sophia and her prince. Because she wrote it, she took so much pride and pleasure in reading it to me at bedtime. And honestly, that inspired me.  

So I dug out some old notes on possible book ideas and felt a renewed sense of purpose. I can't wait to embark on this new project... even if I don't get rich off it, and the only readers end up being my own children. : )

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Easy Errands: Time is Money!

I had to blog about this. The Groupon is for Easy Errands, a new errand-running service in town:

  • $29 for three errands (a $59.97 value)
  • $55 for six errands (a $119.94 value)
The professional errand runners at Easy Errands can control time—that is, by cutting the excess from any to-do list, they restore time to their clients' calendars. Like genies, professional helpers are at their customers' commands, replacing their car oil with fresh brew, stocking their fridge with groceries, and urging them not to wish for more wishes. Staff members need only 45 minutes' notice before arriving to their clients' aid, though a full day ensures on-time service.

After coming off a weekend during which much of my and my husband's free time was consumed by running errands... dropping off dry cleaning, grocery shopping, buying birthday gifts, new shoes for the kids, washing the car, etc... This deal is so tempting. I mean think about it, gas is still over $4/gallon... so  getting someone else to do it might make financial sense. Trekking across town to Toys R Us, then Costco, then the Meat Market gobbles up those gallons. Then I started daydreaming about what I could do with all that extra me time, if my "to do" list was passed on to someone else. Give myself that mani/pedi I've been ignoring. Try a new recipe from Pinterest. Work on tanning my pasty pale legs before shorts season rolls around.

Obviously the concept is not new... in fact somebody told me about a Bay Area-based company called Rent-A-Spouse!

Welcome to RENT-A-SPOUSE, where you will find a variety of services designed to fulfill your needs. Especially with today's fast moving lifestyle, where a week feels like it was only a day gone by.
Do you find yourself not having enough time to clean your home, let alone time to do a deep spring-cleaning? Or, do you find yourself not having the extra time to complete a home project of some sort?

It's hilarious. Their services are divided into categories with names like the "Handy Husband":
The Handy Husband will gladly nail things back together, assemble basic items such as (bookshelves, armoire & etc.), paint fences, decks, interior walls, install items & hang paintings.
Your Spouse will focus on all your odds & ends for you.

and the "Loving Wife":
Will clean & shine all your bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen & other lived-in areas from top to bottom. Including dusting, polishing, all furniture & items, as well as making all bedding.
Adding complete attention to cleaning the corner ceilings & walls, appliances, surface areas (stove, microwave, & more) adding decor & presentation throughout your home.


HAHAHA my unmarried friends will be devastated to find out that while I consider myself a loving wife, I neither clean the corner ceilings nor dust the furniture. But I do tackle the "assembly-required" projects and am pretty handy with a drill. And my husband is not as handy as one might imagine. The gate on our fence remains difficult to open and the hanging of paintings is done by yours truly. Yet he is stellar at scrubbing toilets and showers and doing the dishes. Sure, in movies and in fairy tales, the roles are clearly defined. But at our house and many others... the chores fall more along skills and strengths than gender lines. Now if I could just find someone to put away the laundry. Neither one of us likes to do that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hey Mom, are you worth six figures? I think so.


Every year... for the last 12 years, salary.com has released its Mom Worth survey. And every year I chuckle at the thought of getting paid for being a wife/mother and all the chores and responsibilities that accompany that role. Cook, housecleaner, driver, laundry service, CEO. Thankless, endless, and pay less!

So can you blame moms for fantasizing, even for a second, that their hard work is worth something?

Setting aside the debate of stay-at-home versus working moms, what if those late nights cradling a feverish child counted as overtime? The yogurt eaten with one hand while driving your kid to soccer practice counted as a missed meal break? Bedtime stories meant your day care teacher salary kicked in? And best of all, you got a raise with every new child as well as credit for years of experience?

Go ahead. Calculate your own mom salary with their calculator. I couldn't resist. Especially since you can actually print out a check to show your family at the end! You can customize the number of children you have, the number of hours you spend doing specific tasks. Then the calculator does the rest of the work, figuring out your hourly wage for each of those tasks. My annual mom paycheck came out to a grand total of $46,590! That's on top of what I make in my "day job" as a news anchor at ABC30. Suddenly I feel like my contribution to the household carries more weight. Wouldn't any mom get a kick out of being presented with a check like this simply as a thank you, acknowledging just how much work she really does? She feels valued and appreciated. Even if it's monopoly money. Which, by the way, is a pain to clean up.


Granted, I can't deny the intangible, non-monetary rewards of parenthood. Just before bedtime, my daughter told me she loved me more than anyone else in our family and our whole world, and starting tearing up at the thought of what would happen if I died. (She's an emotionally complicated child LOL) My fridge is covered in "artwork" expressing her affection for me. And this morning, my son was all smiles as he crept into my bedroom and asked to snuggle with me until it was "time to wake up." As I laid there smelling his baby shampoo in his hair, and feeling his cold little feet tucked under me, I thought... maybe I am willing to keep working as a mom for free.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shopping Around for Your Carrier

Do you love your phone but hate your service where you live or work? Are you thinking of switching but not sure which one's the best for you? There's a new app for the iPhone (and coming soon to Android) called Carrier Compare app that can help.

I just downloaded the free version (the ad-free version costs $1.99) and it works pretty simply. The home screen says "Touch to Compare." And after a few seconds, the analysis appears:

CNN Money explains why this app is such a novel, great tool for consumers:

"iPhone carriers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have successfully kept that information out of the public's view -- until now.

Carriers rigorously test their networks and their rivals' networks, hiring third-party surveyors to perform comparisons. However, those surveys are almost always performed under non-disclosure agreements.

Each carrier provides its own coverage map to customers, and some even offer a street-level view. (Here are the maps for Sprint, Verizon and AT&T.)

But that still doesn't give users the kind of precise detail that CarrierCompare provides -- and the carriers certainly don't offer up direct, pinpoint comparisons against the competition."

Here are a few other free, consumer-friendly apps that TVNewsMom recommends to help you shop around, save money, and budget... all through your iPhone.


1. Mint.com brings all your financial accounts together online or on your mobile device,
automatically categorizes your transactions, lets you set budgets and helps you achieve your savings goals.


2. The Find is featured in all the major business and consumer publications as the must-have app when comparison shopping on the web, or at the mall. Scan barcodes. Find the best price. Search for deals. Save money. Create a shopping list. The perfect on-the-go shopping companion.


3. Gas Buddy finds the cheapest gas on the go for free.
It relies on its community of users to report and update gas prices. You can locate gas stations near you and see their current gas prices.



4. Coupon Sherpa provides hundreds of in-store coupons for many merchants right on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Save money on clothing, shoes, restaurants, electronics, travel, jewelry, sporting goods, books and more. I make sure to check this app right before I get to the cash register while I'm in the checkout line.


5. Kayak is the most popular travel app for a
reason. The app includes flight and car search, hotel search and booking, and Flight Tracker and My Trips, so you can easily manage your itinerary.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Just Between Friends

It's that time of year again! The Just Between Friends Fresno sale is upon us. I've blogged about this consignment sale before... but this year, it's bigger than ever... moved from the Manchester Center to the Fresno Fairgrounds for the first time. This not only means more room to shop, but more merchandise to choose from! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

For those of you who've never done JBF, the concept is simple. Kids outgrow their clothes, shoes, toys, etc. faster than our wallets can keep up. So twice a year, consignors sell their new or gently used items to try to recoup some of that money for 50-90% off retail prices. It's a win-win. I've been both a consignor and a shopper at JBF, and I'm a believer. At the last Fall 2011 sale, I made $500 back on baby items, including my kids' crib mattress, exersaucer, and clothes. And in turn, I scored new with tags Gymboree outfits and shoes for my 5 and 2-year-old. Here are the details of this week's Fresno sale:

Fresno Just Between Friends Sale
Fresno Fair Ground Junior Exhibits Building
April 12th-14th
Wed. April 11th Pre Sale Day (pass required)
Thurs April 12th Opening Day! Hours 10am-7pm
Friday April 13th Hours 10am-7pm
Saturday April 14th Final Day 50% off Hours 10am-4pm (Most items go 50% off)

Here are a few tips I got from Seamlessly Savvy fellow blogger/shopper/consignor Nicole Scholl if you're hitting the sale:

1) Make a list. Bring a list of things each kid needs, their sizes, etc. All the items are sorted by category and the clothes are hung by size but it's easy to get overwhelmed by the racks and racks of stuff. Lot's of times you can find brand new clothes with tags, even toys unopened in the box.

2) Wear comfortable shoes, pack a snack and water. You cannot do JBF in 30 minutes! I've spent hours just walking around, looking at all the stuff.

3) Bring something on wheels. This is important!! An empty stroller, wagon, or rolling cart. Because you will end up with more stuff than you can carry. Guaranteed.

4) Shop often. The last day everything is 50% off. I always try to hit the pre sale for the best selection. But also, return on the last day to get the steals.

See you there! For more information on the Fresno sale contact Kim Colburn: kcolburn@jbfsale.com
And to see if there is a JBF sale in your area: go to the Just Between Friends website event finder.Link