Social Media Cannot Be Ignored

Facebook has 550 million people now. 200 million people are using Facebook on their mobile device. Twitter is the fastest-growing search engine. The fastest-growing demographic is over 55 years old. It’s growing faster than the group under 30. It’s amazing how fast the world of social media moves!  Take a moment and watch the statistics and graphics. (Via: Socialnomics)

Stats from Video:

  • Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30-years-old; 96% of them have joined a social network
  • Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S.
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media
  • Years to Reach 50 millions Users: Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)
  • Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year
  • iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest ahead of the United States and only behind China and India
  • 2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction
  • 80% of companies use social media for recruitment; % of these using LinkedIn 95%
  • The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females
  • Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé – some universities have stopped distributing e-mail accounts; Instead they are distributing: eReaders + iPads + Tablets
  • The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube
  • While you watch this, 100+ hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube
  • Wikipedia has over 15 million articles…studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica…78% of these articles are non-English. If you were paid a $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia you would earn $1,712.32 per hour
  • 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content
  • 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands. Do you like what they are saying about your brand? You better.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendation, only 14% trust advertisements & only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI
  • Kindle eBooks Outsold Paper Books on Christmas
  • 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation
  • 60 millions status updates happen on Facebook daily

The Very Hungry Caterpillars

My daughter loves butterflies. I decided that her first introduction to science observation would be the Butterfly Garden by Insect Lore. My Kindergarten scientist would have firsthand experience observing and studying the lifecycle of a butterfly in her own lab…her home. I found the kit on www.amazon.com. The kit comes with a coupon to redeem at www.insectlore.com for your caterpillars. The caterpillars were sent to me within a week. All five arrived in a small plastic container. We observed the growth of the caterpillar checking their progress daily.

After a week, we saw them in their chrysalis. At that point, we extracted them from the plastic container and place them in the pop-up habitat. We were anxiously awaiting this stage. It isn’t everyday she will have the opportunity to see a chrysalis and watch butterflies finally emerge from one. Immediately, we saw movement in their chrysalis. We didn’t know what to expect, but the whole family couldn’t keep our eyes off them. A day later, our butterflies emerged. For a few days, we watch the painted ladies gain their color as they enjoyed sugar water from fresh flowers. Finally, we released the butterflies. What an amazing learning experience NOT just for my daughter but for myself.

I strongly encourage you to do this type of hands on experiment with your child. This method has fully engaged her into learning about the lifecycle of the butterfly. It is an easy lesson to teach, yet it provides such wonder and excitement for a young scientist. It also introduces your child to the skill of observation and patience.

10 Ways Bloggers Can Use Social Media

Bloggers-Use-Social-MediaTwitter, Facebook and other social networking venues work to engage readers, drive your popularity and increase your sales. When it comes to building an audience and driving traffic, bloggers are turning to social media with record results. Instead of relying on organic search, successful bloggers know they have to develop a following on key social networks as a way to promote their brands and ultimately get more clicks.

1. USE YOUR BLOG NAME AS YOUR USERNAME EVERYWHERE. Promote your personal brand by consistently using your blog’s name for your Twitter handle and so on. Then, people don’t have to wonder about your blog’s name — it’s right there. Also, people will remember you easily across platforms, which is key as you develop up your online community.

2. QUALITY PRESENCE COUNTS. Don’t just create a Facebook page, and let it sit: reply to comments, post interesting content and pursue friends. Update your status regularly and give your business a positive online reputation. If you have limited resources, you may have trouble maintaining an exciting presence on every single social media platform. Choose the number and types of sites you can manage well rather than risk leaving stale or poor quality content everywhere.

3. DISPLAY YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ICONS ON TOP OF YOUR BLOG. Make it as simple as possible for your blog readers to connect with you on various social media platforms. They shouldn’t have to hunt around to find your Twitter handle, but should be able to click on a button and be taken right to your profile. Bonus points if your social media icons reflect the overall design or feel of your blog.

4. ADD SOCIAL SHARING BUTTONS ON TOP OF POST. It’s easy to add sharing buttons on your blog. Within a few clicks, these candy-colored icons will appear right there in your blog. Customize these social sharing tools, so they are promoting you in a tweet or a post, and not themselves.

5. LINK YOUR BLOG WITH LINKEDIN. As long as your blog somewhat pertains to your professional goals, you should be showcasing it on LinkedIn. List it as one of your three websites in your profile, where it will be labeled “Blog.”

6. PUT YOUR WHOLE NETWORK TO WORK. If your blog has contributors besides you, encourage them to post social networking updates. This gets your whole team involved in the marketing effort while increasing the exposure of your blog in the social world.

7. DO NOT SPREAD YOURSELF TOO THIN. If you have limited resources, you may have trouble maintaining an exciting presence on every single social media platform. Choose the number and types of sites you can manage well rather than risk leaving stale or poor quality content everywhere.

8. MANAGE YOUR REPUTATION. Do you know what your customers or potential customers are saying about you online? Pay attention to the comments you receive on Facebook, keep a Twitter search running for key names and topics that relate to your company. Set up Google Alerts and handle problems and complaints head on. What a great opportunity to show the world your willingness to engage people to resolve their problems and address their concerns!

9. SUPPORT OTHERS. Promote other bloggers’ content. You can’t simply only share your content — you need some variety in every social media stream. So why not check out what your fellow bloggers are posting and give them a retweet or a share whenever you can. Don’t forget to reciprocate and share content from bloggers who share yours.

10. BE PATIENT. Don’t be bothered if instant success doesn’t happen. Keep up a fresh, dynamic and engaging social presence, and you will reap rewards.

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Education is very important to my husband and I. This fall, I’m setting off to a new adventure, I will be homeschooling my first-born, who is entering kindergarten. I’m excited and nervous about our upcoming year, and I think it’s going to be a memory maker!

I’ve been researching and attending conventions preparing for this day for 2 years. I have read Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style. We will have “structured” class Monday through Thursday with Friday open for “Life Lessons” and exploration.

Want to know what our curriculum plans are for the year? I’m sharing our kindergarten homeschool curriculum picks!
IMG_6662 Language Arts
Spell to Write and Read

Handwriting
Cursive First

Reading and Literature
Reading and literature is definitely an area where we have so much freedom as homeschoolers, and I plan on fully embracing it this year. We’ll be using Honey for a Child’s Heart for our literature journey, and I will be sure to keep you posted on our reading and activities!

Math
MathUSee is a great curriculum, especially for the child that is visual and loved tactile learning.

Science
Butterfly Garden and Ant Hill are ways to introduce science to my kindergartener.

PE, Art, Music & Other Electives
Local gym studios and private lessons will round out our electives.

What are you most excited about this school year?

Room to Grow

I cannot help but blog about a conversation at the breakfast table this morning between my hubby and me. First, let me just say it is amazing how differently men and women look at the world and all our responsibilities.

Our family might be in the situation where we will receive an increase of cash flow. I suggested to my hubby that we use this “extra” money for a lawn guy. He quickly adjusts his posture and said, “What?! Well, what if we used that money for a housekeeper?” I responded quickly and said, “OK!” We both broke out in laughter.

Now looking back on the conversation, when I said we should think about hiring a landscaper, what my hubby thought I suggested was that he was not pulling his weight in the household. What I really said was: “Honey, I know you work really hard and study even harder. Why don’t we give that little chore to someone else, so you can focus on the family during your ‘free time.'”

Communication is an art – sometimes it is concrete and other times it is abstract. It definitely adds animation to the marriage 😉

Honest Scrap Award

I received the honor of being given the “Honest Scrap” weeks ago from Carrie Anne (@cbadov) at Another day, another thought. She is an avid blogger, and I only wish I could be as dedicated.

My first award

So as recipient of this honesty award, I now need to tell you 10 truths about me:

  1. I don’t like chocolate. Yes, I said it. I live in a household of chocoholics, but I would choose chips & salsa over dessert.
  2. I love traveling and people watching. There is so much you can learn about a culture from just watching people and listening.
  3. Even though I’ve heard I’m a great cook, I wish I did it more. I’m too lazy to plan out a menu, go to the market and prepare it at home, even though my family always gives BIG SMILES when I do it.
  4. I’m truly blessed with the best husband a woman could have! He was an unexpected candidate, but one of my best life choices.
  5. The best part of pregnancy for me was feeling my babies move inside of me – instant bond!
  6. I don’t think every baby is cute. Fortunately, mine are beautiful 😉
  7. I question my mothering skills more than I’d like. I want the best for my kiddos, and in the end, I hope I am giving it to them.
  8. I enjoy reading people’s statuses and perusing through pictures on Facebook, Flickr & Twitter.
  9. I am not a writer or a photographer, but if I had more time, I wish I could put more energy in these areas.
  10. I wish I had a job where I could stay home and get paid. I like the challenge of business, but I love the comfort of being home and watching my kiddos grow up.

And now I forward this award onto the following bloggers (for them to reveal some truths to us too):

Happy Good People Day 2009

Recently, as a hobby away from the kiddos, I have been exploring social media. On my journey, I came across a dynamic Internet celebrity named Gary Vaynerchuck. Today for the second year, Gary is dedicating this day to praising the people that are awesome and good – the people that have helped you become who you are, or the people that have shaped your approach.

Unfortunately, I am not a video blogger – I have no Web cam, and if I did, I would not know how to use one, so today I write to you. The person who is awesome and good is NOT a blogger, NOT a Twitterer and currently does NOT even have Internet access. Her name is Polly Jeanne Lewis, and she is my paternal grandmother.

The reason I honor her is because she has shaped the way I raise my children and approach life. When I think about a motherhood, my grandmother, grandmommy to me, always comes to mind. I asked her for one piece of advice as I was preparing to have my first child, and she said: “Your children will come into your household, and they will leave when they are adults, but you hubby will be there the whole time. Don’t forget about him.” Those words resonate in my head still. Social media is amazing – I can blog about what it is like being a mommy, and I can stay connect with old friends and meet new people through facebook and twitter, but at the end of the day, it is my hubby that is by my side.

Another piece of wisdom that my grandmommy told me was to ALWAYS forgive people even if you do not know why they did what they did. Complaining and bickering only produce the fruit of bitterness, but forgiveness gives you power and freedom. Life can move at a fast pace, but sometimes it is nice to stop and smell the roses with special people like my grandmommy and just listen to how awesome and good they are.

As an adult and a mother, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of my elders. The lessons I learned from my grandmommy, I hope, have carried over into my life to be passed on to my children. I encourage you to have a chat with your grandparents, and just LISTEN. They have such great stories about where they came from and what the world has become. Today I honor my grandmommy for Good People Day, and I am thankful for wisdom and advice!

How to Help Stay-at-Home Parents

I was flipping through channels and stopped on an interview of Dr. Laura Schlessinger speaking about her new book called “In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms.” Love her or hate her, she wrote a list that was right on. I’d like to add stay-at-home dads to the list, though, because they are working just as hard as moms.

5 Things Dad’s Can Do to Help Stay At Home Moms

  • Cut out complaining or bragging
  • Find something to compliment about the home
  • Find time to talk to your wife as “your woman”
  • Brag about your wife and kids in her presence
  • Provide break or “girl” time for your wife

Even though I stay at home with the kiddos with no monetary compensation, it is the best job I have ever had! Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.”

$imple $aving Ideas

As many of you know by watching the news or listening to the radio, we are in trying times. A poll estimates 67% of American households are cutting spending (source: Washington Post Poll: High Anxiety Act). After sharing some ideas with some girlfriends on how to enjoy life on a tight budget, I’ve decided I should share with others. I hope this helps at least one reader on how you can live a “posh life” without breaking the bank – no pun intended 😉

First, let’s talk about one of the greatest words in English dictionary – FREE! Did you know that if you sign up for e-mail newsletters from retailers and restaurants, they will send you coupons, discounts and possibly a free meal? I have been fortunate enough to receive a $10 gift card from Sur La Table, free food from Krogers Co. (or Fry’s for those on the West Coast) and free meals on the month of my birthday and anniversary from various restaurants. Before settling for McDonald’s for dinner, plan ahead and sign-up for newsletters at restaurants that you enjoy or you’d like to enjoy. It is amazing how many will send you a welcome coupon for a free appetizer or dessert.

Next, reevaluate the stuff in your house. This step was revolutionary for me and my family. We decided that we could not afford to move into a bigger house, and we need to be content with the blessing that we had in our home. As many of you know, with children comes a lot of stuff – most of which you only use for a finite period. I read an article in the Better Homes & Garden Storage magazine that adviced you to go into a room and go through every single item in it. Ask yourself: “Do I really need that item? Am I happy that it’s there? Or, would I be just fine if it were not?” If you can find stuff to get rid of, get rid of it – it just creates clutter and it might have some value to others. Clean out your closet. Try selling it on craigslist or donate it for the tax deduction – all of which turn old stuff you don’t want to use any more into money in your pocket. Not only that, it’s often a psychological load off your mind to clean your house. BTW I am the hugest fan of craigslist – I have sold over $50k worth of goods on it and met some amazing people along the way 🙂

Sell books, music and DVDs cheaply on the internet via services like Half.com. Also, if you need to buy books, check it out – Half.com has new and used books, and even cheap textbooks! It also has a great selection of DVDs, plus inexpensive Blu Rays.

Rethink cable. Instead of spending money on cable, we have chosen to subscribe to Netflix for under $20. With Netflix, you can get movies and television shows in the mail and also on you computer. I’ve also heard the Redbox is great. Did you know that most cable shows can been seen on their web site or over hulu?

Finally, dig into your community calendar. There are often tons of free events going on in your town that you don’t even know about. Check out GoCityKids or your local newspapers & magazines. You can often get free meals, free entertainment and free stuff just by paying attention – even better, you’ll get in touch with what’s going on around you.

On the Road Again

Moving can be tough on kids, especially when daddy is away. I know this personally since I moved twice in a span of a couple years when I was a teenager. It was not easy on me or my brother. I did not want my kids to feel like they didn’t have any control and that they were never part of this big move. To ensure my kids felt like they’re involved, I began making a list of things I wanted to make sure to do before we moved from Arizona and also things I wanted ready for them in Texas.

First, notify the teachers far in advance that you are moving. I had my oldest enrolled until the day we boarded the plane. I needed that time when she was in school to get packed and do last-minute tasks for the move. I think it also helped her be distracted by classmates. On my oldest’s last day, her class put together a great good-bye book for her. She read it on the plane to Texas. At the same time, start looking for a new school for your child. This was really important to me – Is it accredited? Is it more like a school NOT a day care? Is it close to home or to work? As you can see, I am a detail person. After deciding which school, show your child pictures and talk about the new school to build excitement.

Next, start talking about where you are moving to. Tell them about the neighborhood/area and all the things you can do there. I think my oldest and my youngest thought Texas was “The Promised Land.” Well, I know others call it that, so I guess they weren’t off the mark 😉

Plan good-bye parties for your kids! Do not wait for others to do this for you, even though I was fortunate to have friends who did. I took lots of pictures, and my oldest and my youngest love looking at their Arizona friends. It is a great way to remember their “old” friends. Saying goodbye is an important step in the moving process.

Next, make sure living arrangements while you are in transition are “fun”. We were privileged to stay at good friends’ home in Arizona, which felt like a big slumber party. We also stayed at “Abuelita’s” home when we arrived in Texas. Let’s just say the week before moving into the new house was more like a vacation for the kids than a hard, long-distant move. As you see, I bolded “for my kids” because it felt more like the latter for my hubby and me.

Finally, I would like to thank all of you in Arizona and Texas who helped me along the way to make this move as smooth as possible. You not only blessed me but also my kids. So that is my final item on my list – ask for help! For such a big life-change, you cannot do it alone.