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Minneapolis Children's Crafts Examiner review

Haha the title is a bit of a farce... I am the Minneapolis Children's Crafts Examiner so it can't be much of a review. Atleast not an unbiased one. However I love it and I think my articles are great. If I didn't I wouldn't publish them. (Trust me I have several that are awaiting rescue on my hard drive) Some days there just doesn't seem to be much to write about but do a little searching and you can always find something. My favorite thing to do right now? Browse the internet for craft ideas. I write about crafts the ideas have to come from somewhere right? Well many of them do truly come from my own head but seeing as I can't come up with 4 or more original ideas a week I also focus on children's crafts in the community. Did you know that National chain hardware stores Lowe's and Home Depot offer free kids crafts? Well neither did I till another parent told me. This word of mouth in the parenting world is invaluable and that is my goal on to be an invaluable source and tool to all local parents on children's crafts and art projects. Did you know that Martha Stewart actually has some kids art projects on her website? I always associated her with high time and alot of work when it came to her craft projects. Now I would say I still have that opinion on some of her crafts posted online, but there were some really cute ones too. Some are similar to the ones that I come up with on my own. My most recent kids art project that I "created" is a fingerprint, finger paint tree for spring. Say that ten times fast! I came up with the idea completely on my own (if Martha Stewart has one I haven't seen it - the woman's got like a million crafts) My kids art project was based of another project that I saw on the kaboose website. Great site if you haven't ever been. The project they showed was a finger print bumble bee hive with bees around it. I didn't like the hive much and everything was similar in color but I LOVED the fingerprint idea. So I started thinking the bees are really cute what else could I make out of my kids fingerprints? Birds? maybe but it would need more than just birds on a page... A tree, little fingers are just the right size to make tree leaves and I have always been a fan of any artwork that came home from preschool with fingerprints and handprints on it, and so my fingerprint finger paint spring trees were born. This is the way I think, kind of random and going off on tangents regularly and it seems to work well when it comes to kids crafts. The entire thought process from start to finish including writing probably took me about an hour once I got going. Not bad. It used to take me 3-4 times that long when I started writing. Still does if I don't know my topic well. So yay for and yay for the bit of income it is providing me with. So far it pays my monthly water bill each month and maybe if it really takes off and I can truly be a valuable source to parents in the Minneapolis St. Paul communities it will pay more of my bills. Until then I will continue to write and be happy that I can be home with my children. For me there is no greater gift than to be home with them.

ehow and Demand Studios

Well there has certainly been alot of talk around this change in the ehow format. Previously anyone could join and post to ehow simply by registering with the site. Now all articles on ehow will be written by writers from Demand Studios and will have to go through an editor before being published. This has caused an uproar at ehow. It is a complete and total reformat and while I like some of the changes, I mean - come on guys some of those writers made us all look bad - there are many more that I am not so thrilled about. The new format calls for all writers to go through the application process to become a Demand Studios writer. I was one of the "lucky" writers who was pre-approved and accepted immediately. It also appears that I was in the very first group to be moved over to the Demand platform as I was able to sign in to Demand the very first day that the announcement went out. What! you say I actually signed on with Demand and am looking at their titles? Don't I know that I will no longer own my content and that I get paid "a pitance" for my work? What about how in the Demand policies it states that they can reprint your articles forever and never have to pay you anything more? Or that it states they can edit and change your work however they want to? Well I am aware of those things. I am also someone who reads everything before agreeing much to the annoyance of all those pencil pushers waiting for me to sign. Because of this I knew when I signed on, that all of these things existed in the DS (Demand Studios) agreement. Now if you have been with me from the beginning when I posted my ehow earnings in exact numbers you will know I was not making much. While I did hope to increase those earnings and was progressing well in February, I faultered in March. While this minimal increase in earnings can be attributed to many factors the largest one in my opinion was actually the ehow publishing bugs. Not having the patience to wait around for the bugs to be fixed repeatedly I went looking elseware for income and found 2 more additional sites. and due to my lack of income on ehow I went into these sites with my eyes wide open and not expecting to make much money. Once I got looking at and realized that I got a base pay of the HUGE amount of $1.00 an article to write locally (find your laughs where you can) I thought it might be more worth it. Turns out the page view payout is higher than ehow as well and there aren't annoying ads all over the side of the articles. So I have been investing alot of time researching and have found that while I personally don't have a problem being paid $15 and article to write a How To article I am not thrilled with the loss of copyright. I have no interest in writing my own titles and getting paid residual on ehow because it never paid me more than $4 an article before anyways... So when it comes to the new writing platform and the changeover on ehow I am still going in with my eyes wide open and if I find an article I feel I can write on accurately with out a days worth of research I will probably take it. So far nothing has caught my eye so I am focusijng on my other writing platforms like and Redgage.

Back online

Well it turns out I had a virus on my computer. Irritating thing that it was completely blocked my internet access and was generally a pain in the ...  So now thanks to my wonderfully computer literate family I am back online with their help. It's truly amazing what you can find on the internet. So along with being back online regularly there have been many changes lately so look for updtes on those. The biggest to many of us online writers who write for residual income is the change to ehow. I have also gotten a few things straightened out at my sons school, and of course more problems have come up and I am in the middle of a rather large amount of traing for my positions in my sons cub scout pack. Top all of this with my husband being about to leave his current job at the post office for a job selling flooring with the income being commission based only and there has been much stress in our lives lately. Thankfully we have our faith which has helped to guide us through some of the more challenging parts. The positives will forever be greater than the negatives but some days just getting through is a trial. I am wary about the job move my husband is making as it will no longer be straight hourly income which is easy to make a budget off of but know that in the long run it will be a much better move for our family. The reason this change is coming about is because my husband who is a veteran is going to go to college. We entered the military straight out of high school so neither of us attended college while we were moving around and starting a family. It might seem like we are reaching a bit far to be enterening college now with 4 young children but if you keep putting off your education when will you get to it? The time will never be exactly right. So with this in mind we have decided to make the scary but necessary move this spring. With many family and friends with out jobs at times the move seems to be mind boggling and ill thought out, but when you take in to account the stress of a job that pays well but has absolutely no benefits (that's right the government found a way not to pay out benefits) and that they can let you go from with out any notice the immediate future is over weighed by the long term gains. We have been fortunate in the past to always have what we need even when we thought we wouldn't be able to pull it off and are praying that that trend will continue. Working hard to save money now which includes my husband working his 40+ hours at the post office while making contacts within the flooring industry will pay off in the end I am sure.


Off line for awhile...

Well I just thought I should get an update out there that I will probably be offline for awhile. It will definatly be very limited as I am having internet problems. My computer is being blocked access to the internet by a program called Vista Internet Security. I think it was on my computer when we first bought it as a trial and since it is acting up now I am thinking I caught a virus. Only have internet at family's houses and the library for now... So good luck with your writing and I hope to be back online with you soon!


ehow update 3/18/10

So I set my sights high when goal setting last month and had to take a step back in my writing to take care of things in the non-virtual world for about a week. When I came back ready to go I found that ehow is plagued with a variety of new bugs. So I am disapointed to say I don't think I will meet my article writing goal this month. I continue to write and save on my computer all of my articles so that when this batch of bugs are resolved I can post again. The problem is, I still won't be able to post all of them when that happens because I discovered with the last bug that posting too many articles at once also causes a lag in income. You just don't get enough overlapping views when you post say 10 articles at a time. Posting 2 or 3 articles allows you to get a nice viewing/rating start when viewed by your commenting friends, to then bring your article up higher in the search and get more outside views. Because of the publishing problem on ehow I don't expect to make my income goal either as this was set in anticipation of posting a good 50 articles more than I expect to be able to now. However I am looking to earn more money than last month so while not on target with my goal I believe it will be an acceptable number given the publishing delays. Previously ehow was the only site that I wrote for but earlier this month I was approved to write for and have decided to focus my energy there. I am the Children's Craft Examiner for Minneapolis and while I had trouble at first figuring out how to localize crafts I seem to have found my swing now and am enjoying the ride. The big bonus here is that while my ehow earnings have slowed pays me more. In the week and a half I have been writing at I have made as much money in the entire 6 months I spent writing for ehow. Maybe it is due in part to my wonderful ehow friends who are also stymied in their writing and find themselves with more time to look around but so far Examiner has been good to me. If you choose to apply you are certainly welcome to use my name in the referral box (I get a nice bonus if you do) Good luck ehowers I hope we will be up writing again soon! Until then I will just have to be happy that my passive income earning is just that this month, because there is nothing I can do about it.  :)


Busy week with the kids

Whew. Can't say I'm sorry to see this week done! It has alternately flown by and dragged on depending on the day and the time but it is over and hopefully this next week will be a little less hectic. The problems with my 2nd graders teacher continue to persist. He came home Friday and said he wasn't allowed to eat lunch. A little further prodding after a call to a parent of another child (I love my child and always want to think it's the whole truth but he is only 8, his version is not always the full version) in the class revealed that he wasn't allowed to go to lunch on time and there fore was unable to eat all of his lunch. Still not happy with the situation but significantly calmer than I was Friday night! When we thought our son had not been allowed to eat lunch my husband and I had decided our son would not be returning to that teachers class. Finding out that our son was held back from lunch to complete work and then not allowed to finish lunch before returning to do more class work rather than go out to recess we have decided we will request he is moved to a different teachers class. We have really reached the end of our rope when it comes to the school and this particular teacher, for what ever reason she does not appear to like our son and he is still young enough we have control over the situation. From allowing his "I am special" project to be hung in the hall with nothing on it, to repeatedly putting that he has behavior and homework completion problems on his midterm and final reports without any notice, in any form, that their is a problem before hand, to her continuing to hold him in from recess after it was agreed it would no longer happen... We are fed up. She is there to help him achieve his potential not drag him down. My 2 particular favorite instances were when he was punished because other children stated he ate part of another child's lunch - which he can't and wouldn't do because he has life threatening allergies that will send him into anaphalactic shock and could potentially kill him, which he knows. To the "Fix it Plan" that came home after he was surprised by another student and stepped on her foot. He apologized immediately and the "Fix it Plan" was for hurting her feelings, not her foot. The teacher felt he stepped on the other child on purpose which she stated in her e-mail to me. I disagreed and said that my son likes this child and considers her a friend he would not purposely step on her foot (what I didn't add was that if he had stepped on her on purpose we wouldn't have got a note saying he hurt her feelings, he would have hurt her foot.) The day I sent the e-mail disagreeing with the teacher is the day that he was only allowed a partial period to eat his lunch. (and it's only 20 minutes to begin with!) No wonders he was hungry! Friday night was concluded (while I was still under the impression he had not eaten at all) with a tour to one of the local police stations with our 1st graders cub scout den. Between the normal headaches of getting 4 kids 8 and younger out the door and the additional frustration of the very hungry 8 year old, (who I did get a snack for the car) we were late, and I am the main den leader. Not so great. It got better as I looked around the assembled parents and realized neither one of the other 2 den leaders were present. One I knew wouldn't be there, but I didn't see his wife who I was told would be, and the other I am assuming was still out of town on business- I just thought he would be back before then, but his wife was there with his boys. Now the first leaders wife who I thought would be there- she showed up about 5 minutes after me because her husband forgot to tell her the meeting had been moved up half an hour... which was somehow my fault and she chose to announce that quite loudly with all the other parents around. We were really doing well as den leaders that night! I tried to make her feel better by saying I had just gotten there myself but to no avail and at that point I ignored her and focused on my children (who thankfully behaved wonderfully) and the rest of the kids in the pack. The rest of the tour was interesting but thankfully uneventful behavior wise by all the children and we finished by thanking the staff on duty and taking a picture with the officer and all the kids as we left. Should be a great picture, the den leader who was out of town - his wife brought their VERY nice camera to take the picture and we will hopefully be able to get it in the local paper. Thank you to the editor who said that if we send in high resolution images and she has space she will publish it. Especially if we write a little blurb about it basically because then she has a story she didn't have to do any work for. Yay for us! We topped off the evening by the frustrated and hungry 8 year old throwing a complete and total fit because he really, really needed to use the bathroom and another boy beat him to it (and the single stall womens room was also in use) and with me not having my check card in my purse or any cash when we went to McDonald's for dinner. Thank you God for my friend who was with us that I will pay back on Monday! So if you've made it this far I certainly hope your week ended better than mine and that next week is better for both of us.


College Financial Aid Night

So tonight instead of focusing on the kids school we are going to the financial aid night at Century College to see what they have to say. This will be interesting for me as I am very much an "information collector" the more information I have the happier I am. When I went to college last year I really didn't know anything about the process and didn't really learn anything from the school. SO I am excited to go. I am pretty sure that I will get a good amount of my course fees covered by the federal and state pell grants but you never know and I feel it is always best to be over prepared. I am hoping that they will have information on where to find scholarships and grants and tips for applying. That is my biggest concern right now. We have my husband's tuition covered 100% by the GI Bill thanks to his veterans benefits and even a little extra to use for living expenses. This definately cuts back on the stress of returning to school. Now if we could both find a couple of grants or scholarships that can be used to cover tuition, books, or living expenses we would be doing great. I know my husband is worried about making this transition as am I. In the long term we will be much more secure in our jobs and better able to support our children. The now is a bit scary though so I am hoping to get some really great student financial aid tips to help ease us through.


March writing goals

So I have not been meeting my goals for ehow this month... I haven't been able to focus on my writing because of a lot of things going on on. The biggest I think just simply being that my husband had the week off. I love having him home and so do the kids but it does through a wrench in your normal everyday plans. Especially since he took the week off to get ready to return to school. This involved alot of computer time to find and apply for various forms and benefits in order to use his GI Bill. Now he is back at work and we are getting back to our normal schedule. I still hope to make my original goal of 100 published articles by the end of March but am considering that it may be better to scale back and just aim for 1 a day for the rest of the month. My earnings have increased significantly since I started to really work on SEO with keywords and recipes are what I can post the quickest and easiest but really don't earn much. I think that my time would be better spent focusing on articles that take longer to write but will have a much higher earning potential.

Spring conferences at school

Friday we had our spring conferences for our 2 oldest boys. I showed up early, which never happens, and went to the wrong room first. Thankfully she noticed and sent me down to the other room first. So I go downstairs and wait for my turn, while I'm waiting the school psychologist walks by and says that she has finished scoring the "thing" we had to fill out about our oldest sons behavior and it will be sent somewhere to get the results and we will meet to discuss the results when they come back. Check on #2 of my conference discussion list. So here we go... We sit down we start talking about this past week, it was a 3 day week with conferences and 2 of them were very bad days. I am liking the new communication with his teacher but it is sometimes frustrating to always be asked for the answers to his behavior when I am never there when the situation happens. So we discuss what has and hasn't happened from our last meeting - feels like mostly what hasn't happened. We also have some differences of opinion on what has or hasn't happened. I feel some things have happened on our end that she hasn't seen and vice versa, but ultimately we both understand that we both see the same problems and want the same solutions it's now just a matter of finding out how to get there. So it took 40 minutes to get to that point where I was satisfied and she was satisfied that we covered everything from behavior to homework to class grades and test scores. It was supposed to take 20 minutes so I missed my other sons conference.   :(  I needed to discuss all of those things with my oldest sons teacher but I really enjoy going to conferences with the other teacher. This is the 2nd year she has taught our middle son (the yougest of our children in school) and it really has been a great experience. She taught full day kindergarten last year and moved up with the kids to first grade and we were given the option to stay in her class, all but 1 child stayed and no new kids were added. So there is a really great dynamic in the room by combining an excellent teacher and a slightly smaller class of kids who all know each other well. When my middle son started school we were worried he would get picked on, he has a birthday in late summer so he is one of the youngest and while very smart his social skills weren't the greatest. He got picked on by kids younger than him in preschool so we were concerned. I stayed and discussed my concerns with her when I met her before school started and have thankfully never had a problem. He is very happy and comfortable in her class and rarely has a "bad" day. He has his own little group of friends in class but gets along with the other kids. The biggest problem we had was when he first started kindergarten he didn't have a very good concept of time (even worse than most kids that age) so he didn't always get his work done in the time allowed and so had to miss part of playtime to get it done. She never got mad or made him feel bad about it though just explained "I'm sorry, but we have to finish our work before we can play" and would remind him if he was talking alot that he had to work while he talked. She always smiles when talking about my son and tells us how great he is doing and how she just loves having him in her class. This year because the other conference went over I got to stick my head in to collect his folder of class work examples and grades, was told that he would be placed in the advanced math class but she didn't have the details on when it started yet and that he was forgetting to leave his shoes in his back pack again... :) the shoes has been an on going problem throughout hockey season as his boots don't fit when he has his equipment on. She stated and I know that if I have any more questions to e-mail her and she will get back to me. But I feel almost like I lost something by being unable to talk face to face this spring. I knew that the conference with the second grade teacher was going to be a rough one and I had looked forward to balancing it out with the other. Both my boys are wonderful and I think they are both amazing kids... but it is nice to hear it from someone outside the family too. I think that's what I miss, the positive reinforcement from someone outside the family. Plus I feel a little like I didn't give my first grader the time he deserves to be in the spotlight. I really wasn't able to come home and tell him how great he was doing because I talked to his teacher for less than a minute. Then again I couldn't tell my second grader how great he was doing because his teacher didn't say he was doing great at anything either so maybe it's better to focus on what I see them doing so niether feels bad...