Blog Posts by Tina Case | Parent Grapevine

  • Parenting Guru: What's the Big Deal about a Messy House?

    A messy home is a happy homeDoes your kitchen island attract clutter like a magnet?by Tina Case

    I stopped subscribing to any magazine with the word "House" or "Home" in it. "Better Home and Garden," "House Beautiful," and "Home," were all giving me OCD, Obsessive Cleanliness Disorder. For you see, no matter how hard I try, from building a mudroom with individual cubbies to purchasing nice decorative baskets to organize clutter, I have never been able to achieve that "House and Garden" perfect look.

    Even the photos that feign to show clutter in a magazine show beautifully crafted clutter. My clutter never looks like the clutter portrayed in a magazine. I would need a clutter decorator to achieve that polished clutter mess. When you have 2 dogs, 3 kids and a "here, there and everywhere" husband, what do you expect?

    Real life is about clutter. Achieving it is simple (see my family's recipe for clutter below). In actuality my kids do clean up on a weekly basis and do a pretty darn good job. They do their own laundry, make their own school lunches, do the

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  • The SIMS 3 PETS Review

    by Tina Case

    Life is definitely better when you have a pet - and The Sims 3 Pets game is no exception

    The newly released The Sims 3 Pets (October 18, 2011) for the PC & Mac is a "Must Buy" from the reviewers in our household. My kids are huge SIMS fans and this latest release of The Sims 3 Pets does not disappoint. Spring boarding from the phenomenal success of The Sims 3 where it was the #1 best selling PC title for 2009 (The Sims 3 sold over 10 million copies worldwide) this game looks like it will do the same.

    The Sims 3 Pets Expansion Pack adds a fully loaded level of excitement and creativity to the game. All of my kids thought this was a huge step up from Sims 2 Pets. For instance for the first time ever players are able to take full control over their pet and determine how their life will play out. From the fundamental capability of creating their pet's characteristics to the new features of giving each pet a distinct personality, the sky is the limit.

    New features include:

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  • Parenting Guru: DIY Halloween Cupcake and Harry Potter Robes Take Home the Prize

    I love Halloween. Ever since I was a little girl Halloween signified the start of the winter holiday season. As a parent, I don't mourn the end of summer for long. When Halloween is right around the corner, it brings wonderful autumn smells, brisk air, red-golden leaves and the anticipation of family gatherings, and lots and lots of laughter with my family.

    When I became a mom, I looked forward to making costumes for my children. Back in the day when they actually taught sewing in Home Economics, I learned how to work a sewing machine. It was all I needed to start crafting my own creations.

    Often all it takes is a simple item lying around to spark an idea. My husband is an avid swimmer. One day he left a red swim cap on a table and my 1 year old put it on. That was the impetus for my favorite DIY costume. Or, when I saw what maniacal fans my children are with Harry Potter, the tailor in me aims to please. And sometimes, DIY costumes take home the prize.

    Cupcake with a Cherry

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  • Parenting Guru: Jumping for Joy -- "SUN"-sational Summer Reunion

    For my kids, summer is all about our annual reunion on the east coast. Being California girls, they are not used to the warm ocean water, high humidity and classic boardwalks. It's such a joy for them to link up with their cousins and have a memorable week at the beach complete with go-cart racing, crab feasts, trips to the Candy Kitchen and burger joints.

    They had a great time jumping for joy in this photo. To summer 2011, we bid you a fond adieu and await our next Sunsational Summer reunion.

  • A Road Trip to Remember--The RAGBRAI

    This summer I will be taking a road trip like no other. I will be participating in the RAGBRAI. What is the RAGBRAI? The RAGBRAI (The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) is an annual seven-day bike ride across the state of Iowa. It is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world. And guess what, I'm doing it this year!

    During the third week of July, you'll find me sweating in the sweltering heat and humidity of the Midwest, rockin' my bike shorts and pedaling 450 miles across America's Heartland.

    Why would a California gal bike 50-70 miles each day for a week in Iowa? Well, my dad has been participating in this ride for the past 17 years! You read that correctly SEVENTEEN YEARS!! And every year he has asked my sister and me to join him. And as you may have guessed, every year we have said "no thanks."

    But this year, my dad turned 70 years old and we felt it was high time we said "yes!" Our dad has been patient for too long. So for his birthday we

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  • Parenting Guru: Camping for the Unlikely Camper

    Chatting by the campfireChatting by the campfireIt's not in my nature to camp. I'm not a lover of the great outdoors. Yet this summer marks my 6 th year camping with 9 other families near the Santa Cruz Mountains. So why do I camp year after year? The reasons I camp are plentiful. The most significant reason is the perpetual smiles of wholesome joy beaming across my children's faces. That's closely followed by the magical spirit of exploration, the talks by the fire, whittling walking sticks, telling ghost stories, eating, drinking and all the laughter. It is a time to bond, a time to get back to nature and recognize that it doesn't take much to keep so many people entertained and engaged for a 4-day weekend. The parents and the children have an amazing time and while there may be some little mishaps that have required unexpected trips to the emergency room, tick bites, mosquito bites, scrapes and bruises, we all look forward to this enchanting long weekend.

    Of course, this does not occur without a lot of planning. We now

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  • My Favorite Photo...Actually, It's An Ultrasound Scan

    May is National Photo Month and when I tried to decide what photo I would want to showcase, it was hard for me to choose. I have adorable kids (if I do say so myself) and picking just one favorite was too difficult.

    So, I decided to pick an image that represents a momentous time in my life. The fuzzy photo above is from the day that I found out that I was having twins. Needless to say it was a HUGE surprise!

    On June 27, 2000, I went from being a mother of two children (ages 10 months and 3) to a soon to be mother of four! When I heard the words "You are having twins, " I was filled with a mixture of emotions including excitement, fear, and disbelief--twins do not run in my family.

    What I love about this ultrasound scan, is that ultrasound technician felt it necessary to outline one of the babies and label the other (A), just to convince me that there in fact were two little human beings growing inside of me.

    I'll always treasure this image and all of the memories it brings back for

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  • Parenting Guru: Best Baby Photo Ever (Okay, of MY Baby)!

    Taken in Maui, barely 6 months old, learning to pucker her lips.My favorite baby photo of my daughter
    In honor of National Photo Month, I took a trip down Memory Lane and picked out my favorite photo of my eldest daughter. She was barely 5 months old, we were in Maui, Hawaii on vacation, and my husband read somewhere that children will mimic another face. He kept puckering his lips when all of the sudden she did her best pucker. I love those rollie-pollie arms and legs.

    What's your Best Shot? Take a journey in your archives and see what you can find!

    Tina proud to be a Yahoo! Shine Parenting Guru. When Tina isn't taking shots of her kids, she's busy writing for her blog, Parent Grapevine or taking professional photos for Moms Who Click. She's also a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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  • The Allowance is BACK!

    I am somewhat ashamed to admit that we are on our fourth attempt at implementing a regular allowance. Yes, we've been down this road many times before. However, we are ready to give it another go and this time we've made some changes.

    Gone are the work charts, stickers, and weekly wages. We've moved on to something different. Our new and improved process involves teamwork, a couple of jars and some pennies. Our new tactic is the Appreciation Jar and here is how it works……

    My four kids have been paired into cleaning teams. Each pair has their regular chores. You know, the ones that every kid should do just because they are a part of a family. Like make his/her bed, clean his/her room, take out the trash, etc. The kids each have 3-4 regular jobs that fall into this "Just Because" category (which they do not receive any compensation for).

    How they earn their money is by doing chores (without being asked) that are outside of their regular weekly duties. And each time they

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  • Parenting Guru: DIY Camera Bag for the Mom Who Clicks!

    I am one of those moms who clicks, and I mean clicks with my camera all of the time. I'm actually a professional photographer, but I started out as a mom with a camera and a mission who was always trying to capture great shots of my three daughters.

    One of the things I have discovered is a love for bags. Not just any bag, but a bag with a purpose. And lots of style. That's the issue with camera bags, they tend to be big and bulky and look like backpacks that you take along with you on your camping trip. No way do I want to be seen with one of those.

    So my wonderful business partner found out how to make your own styling camera bag inexpensively and fast! We discovered this after dishing out hundreds of dollars for a styling camera bag (which we do love), but could have saved us a small fortune. Now, for under $35 you can make a nice bag for the paparazzi-mommy in your life.

    What you need:

    1. A Large over-sized handbag. A nice, styling diaper bag works well also. Rectangular or
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