The Lost Art of Letter Writing

envelope.jpgWhen I was getting my son ready for sleep-away camp this year, I made sure he was aware of some important things – like how to turn on the shower, where to find his socks and how to make his bed. I had heard horror stories of kids who never showered at camp because they weren’t taught how to do it by themselves so I was determined to ensure that my 10 year old wouldn’t be that kid.
I thought I had everything covered. And I did…except for the letters.
A few days after he arrived at camp, we started receiving letters home from him with our address written on the back flap. While the card still found its way to our mailbox, we never told our son where to write our mailing address. Somehow, I must have thought that part would be instinctual – except my son decided that it made the most sense to write all the addresses down on the wrong side. Plus, he also lost the entire page of addresses I had typed and printed out for him before he left, so I had to re-send it via bunk notes so he could write his grandparents. Ironically, they received their letters in the same condition with their mailing address on the back flap.
When I ran into a friend of mine and confided his letter writing faux pas, she revealed that when her son first went to sleep-away camp, he told her he had sent her a ton of letters but she never received them. A few weeks into the case of the missing camp letters, she finally solved the mystery – her son was putting his own mailing address on the front flap so the letters kept going back to him!
And here’s another doozy – we were out to dinner the other night with friends and they told us their son received a letter from one of his best friends who was away at camp. He was so excited to hear from him that he ripped open the envelope only to find a letter that read:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m having a lot of fun at camp and haven’t cried yet….
It turns out, his mom had armed him with pre-addressed envelopes. All he had to do was write a letter and then put it in the right one and voila, mail it to out. Easy, peasy. Except he didn’t read who he was sending his letter to and thought this one was going to his parents.
I guess in this age of technology, parents have taken letter writing skills for granted. But let that be a lesson to all of us. Sending email is easy – but nothing beats receiving a good old fashioned letter from your child – no matter where they write the address — as long as it gets there and we’re able to read through his practically illegible handwriting that he’s having a great time, then all is right with the world.

Best Toys for Summer: Time to Play

dylanscooter.jpgRecently, I got the chance to attend the “Time to Play” showcase – a special event spearheaded by the editors of Time to Play Magazine which gives media and bloggers the inside track on some of this summer’s hottest toys. The folks at Time to Play painstakingly test every single toy that they recommend so lucky for us, when we got to peruse nearly two dozen tables of toys, we were getting the chance to take a gander at the cream of the crop.
Coincidentally, the event took place the same day as Take Your Child to Work Day so I decided, as an early birthday present to my son Dylan to let him skip school for the day so that he could be my junior reporter. Besides, when it comes right down to it, my 12 year old daughter and almost nine year old son are the arbiters of what toys are hip and cool for kids. So let’s get right down to it.
While there were tons of exhibitors to choose from, Dylan instantly honed in on the Razor espark scooter – which you will get to see in action in the video below. The electric scooter can travel at speeds close to 12 miles per hour (hello, elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet) and if you hit the clutch, you’ll leave sparks in your wake. My son was so infatuated with the Razor that he switched his must have item on his birthday list to the scooter (sorry iTouch…maybe next year).
Some of Dylan’s favorite picks for birthday’s, holidays and rainy days…
Zing Toys – Z Curv Bow and Arrow that’s Safe!
Poptropica – a virtual world with plush toys created by Jeff Kinney (author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series)
DaGeDar – Competitive Racing Collectibles
Paper Jamz – electric guitars, drums and karaoke machine for under $30!!!
FlipOutz – cool bracelets invented by two kids that come with unique coins that you can trade with friends and connect online (in a safe social networking community) by using the codes provided.
Check out all the fun toys we got to test out…

For great reviews on the latest toys for kids of all ages, visit Time to Play Magazine today!

How Kids Can Plant a Garden

Screen shot 2011-04-22 at 11.50.19 AM.pngIn honor of Earth Day, here at Role Mommy we decided to put the kids in our life to work. You see, I am a huge flower lover, so last week, while on the hunt for energy efficient light bulbs at Home Depot, I happened upon several beautiful flower displays and instantly decided, it was time to spruce up our front yard.
After purchasing hyacinths, tulips, peonies and daisies along with a brand new shovel and some Miracle Gro, I brought everything home and then shared my plan with my daughter. We were going to plant some new flowers just in time for Earth Day. While I thought the activity was going to be a mother/daughter team project, my 12 year old had other plans. She decided to enlist her friends in the effort and here’s how it turned out…

B Kind 2 Earth Day.jpegTo find out how more kids and parents are doing their part this Earth Day, visit B Kind 2 Earth Day where individuals and families all across the country are giving back to our planet by doing some amazing green projects.
Thanks to the amazing ladies at The Motherhood and Nickelodeon for inviting us to partner with them on this wonderful campaign!

Diary of A Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules…Cast Interviews

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Following our private interview with Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, we got the chance to watch the kids from the film in action. First, at a press conference for adults and kids (there were some terrific reporters from Kidsday on hand to grill the three stars about their experiences on set) and then, in a private room where we got the chance to see how the boys act, well, like real boys.
I found all three actors to be incredibly down to earth, humble and generally fun to be around. And they were incredibly gracious to sign copies of the Wimpy Kid books for all of our children. Plus, I have never seen so much talent in three boys under the age of 20. Let’s start wtih Robert Capron, who plays the nerdy, awkward and incredibly funny Rowley. Robert lives in Rhode Island and says when he went to audition for the film, “There were so many people there and I didn’t think I was going to get it. I found out later that as soon as I auditioned, they knew I was Rowley. I didn’t know that. The producer, Brad Simpson, said that as soon as I walked out, they knew that I was gonna be Rowley, which I’m happy about. I did three different screen tests, because the thing was they had a very hard time searching for Greg Heffley. I did three different screen tests with all these different Greg’s.”
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Zach Gordon, who eventually landed the role of Greg says the audition process for him took much longer – nine months to be precise. He says, “I was 10, I think. It was different. I really didn’t expect that the audition process would be so long, and during that time, I actually slept with the books under my pillows for good luck. It was really long, and I didn’t expect it to be that long. Originally, I was out of the mix and they didn’t want me. But, then, a couple of months later, they asked me to come back, and they wanted to see me again.”
Zach continues, “I loved the books, so I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it.’ They’re actually letting me audition.” When I went in the room, there were eight high school kids in there going out for Greg. And I said, “Are you sure I’m supposed to be here, mom?”
Zach adds that when he first auditioned for the role, he didn’t quite look like Greg Heffley.
“I went in the audition and I had these huge baggy pants on, this huge jacket and a long T-shirt and long hair. Originally, they said that I didn’t look like Greg, but I could deliver the lines like Greg. I went through all these screen tests. Then I did something called boot camp, where they dress you up like the character, and then they cut your hair and do your make-up. It was crazy, because I had never had my hair that short before. I got to go to this hair stylist and everything, but they still weren’t that sure.”
The last part of Zach’s audition required him to play a scene with Robert and after doing two screen tests with him, he says, “they knew that we were the perfect best friends.”
DOAWK_Still2.jpegOnce casting was complete for Greg and Rowley it was on to Rodrick. Devon Bostick, who had been living in Canada at the time, initially sent in his audition via videotape. While he had been acting professionally since he was nine years old and had been portraying serious roles, he never expected that he would inevitably land the part of Rodrick.
While he hadn’t heard anything for three months after he had submitted his first audition tape, he finally got word from production that they wanted him to “self-tape” again. He says, “It was the exact same sides, so I did it the exact same way. Usually I will switch up my performance, but I thought I did it right the first time. And I didn’t know that it was a call-back. I said to myself, “I bet they didn’t even see the first tape.”
Within 24 hours, the producers called Devon and said, “We want you to audition in Vancouver. So, they flew me to Vancouver, and when I auditioned, I did improv in the room. I think that once I did the improv, I knew I had the role. The next day they called.” And the rest is history….
Check back again for some great stories from the three cast members who dish some dirt about their antics on set and who played the most tricks on each of them. Plus, visit the Diary of Wimpy Kid movie website for great games, videos, photos and the chance to “wimpify” yourself! And if you haven’t checked out the movie yet, take a look at the trailer…

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Online Trailer

Mouse Droppings

iStock_000012365285XSmall.jpgI don’t know about your household, but it’s starting to look a little bit like Noah’s Ark around these parts. Over the past few years, we’ve been accumulating pairs of animals. First it was cats (Rudy and Hazel). Then hermit crabs. Next came two beta fish and now, we’ve got a mouse. Thankfully not two mice (unless you count the random creatures that Orkin finds in our basement, attic or garage during their regular inspections,) just a single white beady eyed mouse who has finally found a family and a mudroom to call his own.
After weeks of cajoling, my son, who happens to be allergic to gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters, promised his dad that he would be a responsible pet owner if he were willing to fork over $2.99 for a mouse from the local pet store. When I received the fateful call that I would be taking in a new border, I cringed and responded that if I had to have any involvement with the clean-up or daily care of the mouse, he would be out on his tail (pun intended).
And so, after assuring me I would not have to touch, see or smell the mouse, my son happily left the store with a mouse in a box and came back to set up his home. He also selected a name: Milford.
The moment Milford arrived, he smelled pretty funky. I’m suspecting he had freaked out so much during the trip to our house that he had soiled his cardboard container. Once my husband and son set up his cage, the smell lingered on but my son didn’t care. He had a pet he could call his own and he was going to sleep right next to him and stand guard against our two cats who knew that something was up and they were going to get to the bottom of it. My son even agreed to sleep with his door closed (and this is the kid who keeps the lights on at night because he’s afraid) just so that Hazel or Rudy couldn’t get their claws into Milford.
After two nights went by and the smell grew intensely foul by the hour, my husband and I decided that Dylan and Milford couldn’t keep co-habitating in his bedroom. And so, my hubby decided to transport Milford to our sunroom where we could lock the door at night and the cats couldn’t get to his cage. Great plan – except for the fact that my laptop is in the sunroom and I have been pretty absent minded these days.
Once my husband left for work the next morning, I zipped down the stairs and grabbed my laptop before the kids woke up. I begin tackling my early morning to-do list and didn’t even flinch when I heard a loud thud coming from downstairs. I then woke both kids up, helped my son get dressed and then raced to the kitchen to make breakfast. And then I saw the aftermath of what must have been a guerilla operation perpetrated by a tabby cat. Milford’s cage had been knocked off the desk and landed upside down on a chair. Milford was hanging on for dear life and my cat was nowhere in sight (typical). Thankfully, the door to the cage was still locked shut so despite the blunt force trauma Milford may have received to his fragile body, he was safe and sound.
When my son heard the news that his mouse had been subjected to a sneak attack by our cat, he thankfully didn’t harbor a grudge against me for forgetting to lock the door. He just took the cage back upstairs, comforted his mouse, washed his hands and finished getting ready for school.
Since the cage incident, we’ve (I mean I’ve) been more careful about where we place Milford. He’s now seeking refuge in our mudroom – a place that’s completely off limits to our cats. Personally, I think it’s the ideal location for Milford – he’s got a great view of the outdoors and many of his rodent cousins and neighbors are nearby in the garage and backyard. And he’s living rent free, is doted upon by an eight year old boy and is the only rodent in our home who will hopefully never be duped by a glue trap. If that’s not the life, I don’t know what is.
Stay tuned for more adventures with Milford the Mouse…

Oh Brother! Contest: Is Your Kid A Character?

Running.jpgWould your child make the perfect comic strip character? Award-winning syndicated cartoonist Bob Weber, Jr. (“Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids”) and Emmy┬« Award-winning creator Jay Stephens (“Tutenstein” and “The Secret Saturdays”) have teamed up and created the humorous comic strip, Oh, Brother! The strip’s two main characters are Bud and Lily, a brother and sister who are as different as night and day. Seven-year-old Bud likes getting into mischief while 12-year-old Lily tries to keep him in check. With their lovable dog, Buster, by their side, their everyday adventures are hilarious. Sound familiar?
Is your son or daughter an impulsive prankster like Bud, or maybe he or she is precocious like Lily? If so, tell us how and your child could win a coveted guest spot in the nationally syndicated comic, Oh, Brother! Share a funny story about how your kid is a character like Bud or Lily in the text box below. All submissions will be read by a select panel of impartial blogging moms. If your story ranks as a favorite, your child may get the chance to be a part of the Oh, Brother! gang and get drawn into the strip as a classmate of Bud’s or as Bud and Lily’s neighbor!
Finalists will be featured on the Oh, Brother! Web site and the winning entry will be selected on March 21. Plus, five runners up will receive an autographed “Oh, Brother!” drawing by Bob Weber, Jr. and Jay Stephens. Please make sure to include your child’s name and your contact information on the form, then scroll down and hit the submit button once you’ve filled out all the information. To check out some great artwork submitted by budding cartoonists, visit the Oh Brother! art gallery; and if you have a budding artist in your midst, feel free to submit their artwork for the chance to be featured on the site.

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Our judges include…
katja-presnal-skimbaco-professional-blogger.jpgKatja Presnal is an editor and founder of SkimbacoLifestyle.com. She inspires people to live life to the fullest, and finds silver lining in everything with her witty yet positive attitude.
dawn.jpgElizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno are the founders of The Partybluprints Blog, a Real Girls’ resource for entertaining in style. Its mission is to bring you the latest news, hottest trends and most importantly, tips and ideas for entertaining in your home. Its mantra is “simple and special” – the rule for each and every post. Our wish is to inspire you to celebrate life – in real life! Elizabeth and Dawn are also authors of Plan to Party: Simple and Special Entertaining in Your Home.
jensinger.jpgIn 2003, from a corner in her New Jersey basement, Jen Singer launched MommaSaid.net, a place for moms on the brink of desperation to laugh and linger. Since then, the virtual community for mothers has grown to reach thousands of faithful visitors around the world. Jen is also the author of the “Stop Guessing Yourself” book series.
jessica bern 724.JPGJessica Bern is the founder of BernThis, a hilarious weblog of her life. Jessica is the single mother of a almost 7 year old girl who is her spitting image when it comes to personality which is why she considers herself lucky to make it to her 60th birthday.
tonya.jpgTonya Staab is an Australian champagne sipper; list maker; photographer; crafter; cake decorator; party planner; chick flick and chick lit lover; gorger of seafood and desserts; thrift and craft store addict; crime show watcher; boo boo kisser and social media junkie.
*This post is sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network.
Official Contest Rules:
HOW TO ENTER: Please fill out the form above and tell why your child is a character. Please feel free to share a funny story about your child.
*You may also blog about the contest – however that is not a requirement for entry into the contest. If you decide to post a blog, please provide the link to your blog at OhBrotherContest@gmail.com.
*Please include your first and last name, child’s first name and age.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.
ELIGIBILITY: Parents must submit entries on behalf of their child. Employees of Sponsors, the Sponsors’ parents, subsidiaries, affiliated companies, and agents and the immediate family (defined as parents, spouse, children, siblings, grandparents) of each such employees, and all those with whom such employees are domiciled, are NOT eligible.
THE DRAW PROCESS: The winner of the “Is Your Kid a Character” contest will be determined by a panel of bloggers (see above for judge’s information).
WINNER NOTIFICATION: The winner of the “Is Your Kid a Character” contest will be notified via email on March 21.
GRAND PRIZE: One winner will appear in an “Oh Brother!” comic strip.
RUNNERS UP: 5 finalists will receive an autographed drawing by “Oh Brother!” creators Jay Stephens and Bob Weber Jr.
AGE LIMITS/RESTRICTIONS:
*The “Oh Brother!” Is Your A Character contest is open to children ages 5-13 who are residents of the Continental U.S. Parents must submit an entry on behalf of their child.
*Limit one family member per entry.
Use of Information: The collection and use of entrant information will be governed by Sponsor’s online privacy policy.
11. Sponsors: The Sponsor of this Sweepstakes is Role Mommy.
Free Sweepstakes and Contest

Kids Review Corner: Pokemon Heart Gold

My son has been working overtime this week as an official Role Mommy product tester. After receiveing two Nintendo DS games in the mail to review, he has been playing Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver all week long! Check out his video review and find out whether both games get a thumbs up…

Click on Heart Gold and Soul Silver to order your copy on Amazon today.

Hilarious Commercial of the Day

Was watching “Private Practice” and saw this adorable video – gotta love dogs with signs – so funny!

This might not be the E*Trade talking babies commercial, but this latest video from Minute Maid had me and my kids falling off the couch laughing. Take a look and see if you agree…

The Lego Fanatic

Ever wonder how a kid develops a passion for construction? Well, my son has become an architect in training and he has Legos to thank for his newfound fascination with brick building. Check out this video and tell us if you have a Lego fanatic on your hands too!

My Cleaning Crew

IMG00045.jpgYou know the best thing about having kids who are finally at an age where they can help out around the house? If it’s a busy holiday weekend and you’re expecting tons of guests and don’t have time to cook and clean, just hand your kid a Swiffer and let them take care of the dust bunnies.
Do you have a photo or video of your personal cleaning crew? Send it to beth@rolemommycom and we’ll feature your little helpers on our site.