Quick Update on my Daily Life Lately

I have been working deeply in a few areas lately, and I figured it is about time that I updated everyone here on my progress. I am sorry to leave you all in the dark for so long, however if you have read my other blogs, you would know that I am still around.

Besides having my third child in late March, my oldest daughter is off of school for the summer. So, my house has been chaos to say the least. My mind has been torn between quite a few wants, needs, and passions.

First, and foremost is always my kids and family. Thus I have started a new blog, Homeschooling Toddlers, because I have had to do a tremendous amount of research in order to find resources, ideas, etc to homeschool my 18 month old son alongside my 6 year old daughter. Most resources I have found are techniques and tips to keep my son "occupied" while I teach my older child. However I am NOT interested in simply keeping him occupied. I want him involved and learning as well.

Next, still has to do with my family but not in such a direct way, and that is earning money. I know that earning money takes some time and effort, however with my first focus taking up my days, I have little to NO energy to follow through on this next task. I have been trying to become debt free by solely earning free money online, and have made quite the progress with that. Unfortunately I am not quite in the range of Amy Bass' earnings, and without some more proactive help from my hubby, there's no chance in hell that I will ever get there.

I have multiple product reviews waiting in the wings to get finished (and I will get the published). I have just had to prioritize my time, energy, and ideas. I am also a bit wary of the whole ordeal with the Federal Trade Commission. Here are some opinions and advice on this from other mommy bloggers more versed in it that myself: Green and Clean Mom and Classy Mommy.


10 Fun & Frugal Father's Day Ideas

Father's Day is right around the corner, taking place on Sunday, June 21st this year. Take this opportunity to show the man in your kid's life how much he means to you and them. Here are some helpful, fun, and thrifty ideas to celebrate Dad.

1. Give him a framed picture.

Yes, this is becoming a little outplayed or boring. So, spice it up too... have the kids decorate the frame, have someone take a picture of the family engaged in a favorite activity, create a montage of favorite past photos, or even have the kids draw a special picture for Dad.

2. Clean his car for him.

Clean the inside and outside to give his car a spot-free shine. Do this the night before so he can be surprised when he wakes up.

3. Fire up the grill for dinner.

Buy his favorite foods and get your grill on. Set the table in your backyard with special decorations. Invite the whole family. After dinner, surprise him with a scrumptious dessert.

4. Rent his favorite movie.

Does he love a certain genre of movies, a certain actor or perhaps just one movie in particular? Get a DVD for him! He might have forgotten how much he enjoys the DVD until he sees it again. Gather your family for a movie night. Don't forget RedBox offers movies for $1 a night.

5. Dad's can love coupons too.

Have your kids write out (or you can write for them) special coupons for Dad to redeem for "Free hugs", "One back rub", or "Quiet time". Have the kids help think up ideas of something Dad would like to have a coupon for.

6. Cookies, Cakes, and Brownies.

Have the kids also help with cooking Dad a special snack or dessert. You can spice this up with special messages on the treats, or bake them in special shapes (ties, trucks, computers, fish, whatever else he likes or does for work).

7. Homemade calendar.

Have the kids help decorate a calendar for Dad that he can hang up at work. Print off pages with calendar dates for June this year to June of next year. Then buy some poster boards or even just use construction paper. Have the kids color, decorate, paint, glue sparkles, etc on the edges of the paper. Then attach the calendar pages in the middle. Add pictures on the backs like a real calendar. Make sure they are facing the right way for when you put it together they are right side up. You can attach the pages together with simple ribbon or string.

8. Hand-painted T-shirt for Dad.

Purchase a plain white T-shirt, or take one from Dad's wardrobe (most will have at least one), and have the kids decorate that any way they want. Use paints, markers, crayons, older kids can even sew or iron on patches. Then when they are done (make sure they leave part blank for this) either trace their hands or dip them in paint and write their names under each corresponding hand.

9. A Mom's Favorite for Dad ~ Breakfast in Bed.

Try giving him one of your favorite special treats. Again, you can even have the kids help, or just make sure they let Daddy sleep in.

10. Little messages of love.

Have the kids write out or tell you so you can write for them things the love about their Dad. Try to make at least 12 so Dad will have a new little message of love to read each month until next Father's Day. Or if you can have them make about 30, he can read one a day every month. Place the messages in a bottle, box, or other container and have an envelope for ones he has already read. Once he goes through them all, take the ones out of the envelope and "reshuffle" back into the container so he can repick.

Do you have any other ideas? What have you tried in past years? Let us know in the comments.

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Rubik's World Review

Rubik's World for Nintendo DS by Game Factory

Today I want to share with you my review of Rubik's World for the Nintendo DS by Game Factory. If there hasn't been a previous game worthy enough for you to get your very own DS, I can tell you that Rubik's World will be that one. I haven't really had the time or the energy to play any games (even my Brain Age or Wii Fit), however I am now making the time to play Rubik's World.

I first was drawn in by the creative storyline in Rubik's World. They piece apart the Rubik's Cube and each piece is called a "cubie" and cubie's have their own lives. Cubie's are fun, interesting, colorful, and want to learn new things.

This game offers two modes of play, Single Player and Multiplayer. Yes, it even has multiplayer! I have not had the chance to test that mode out because I do not know someone else with a DS, however I do know there are 3 games that can be played with someone else.

In Single Player mode, there are 8 different games with hundreds of different levels of play. I have barely gotten through 6 of the games, because they are just so addicting I keep wanting to play the same ones over and over.

My favorite game is where Rubik's World actually walks you through how to complete a Rubik's Cube! It shows you each move needed, all the possible combinations, etc to complete a Rubik's Cube. For some reason, I can never get the very last 2 cubes, but I will not give up and keep trying. Check out my video review *coming soon* where I show you this part. I am in the process of trying to locate my real Rubik's Cube to give these moves a test in real life. (I'll let you all know if that ever happens and how it goes.)

All levels of Rubik's World actually walk you through what you are supposed to do, which I love. I hate trying to play a puzzle game and I can never figure out what I need to do to finish it.

My son even loves to play this game... I think it is more about the music for him, but the motions of the little cubies makes him laugh too. I often have to play after he goes to bed or nap otherwise I am stuck fighting him for my DS back.

Have you tried this game or are you wanting to try it? Let us know in the comments below.

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New Tool Sunday: Pandora Radio

Have you ever had a certain song stuck in your mind and all you want to do is listen to it over and over again? Have you worn out your CD listening to that one particular track on repeat? Do your friends and family bug you to play something else? If any of these sound like you on a regular basis, then I have the solution...

Pandora Radio.

I recently came across this site and absolutely fell in love. All you do is type in the name of an artist or song or both, and Pandora will create a "radio station" based on that. All it will play is songs or artists similar to the sound you want. I like it because you are not listening to the same song over and over, but instead are opened to other songs just like it.

You can also rate the songs you hear if you like it or don't like it, and if you don't like it they won't play that song again for you! How awesome is that? Oh and the absolutely best part about this site... it's FREE!

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Stamp Out Hunger ~ May 9th

Saturday, May 9th is the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

It's so easy and simple to help too. Simply:
  • Place a bag filled with non-perishable food next to your mailbox, and...
  • Your letter carrier will pick it up and deliver to local food banks.


New Tool Sunday: LinkBee

I was cruising around VineFire this morning (I occasionally find some really great money making sites there), when I stumbled across a link for LinkBee. It's a promising site that allows you to shorten URLs (something I have to do often to post links to Twitter) and earn commission on the ads they place on those links.

Yes, I know what you're thinking... 'Oh well there's the catch, they place tacky ads all over the screen.' Well yes and no. You can choose to have the ad placed before the page loads or as a banner over the page. I'm not sure which is better yet. I have been using the banner choice (Click here to see the example. Then click here for the ad before example.) Which do you think is better? Comment below please.


Frantic Friday: Spring Cleaning

I began my spring cleaning last night in a burst of motivation that is not often prevalent in my house. It's been very difficult with my new babe needing constant attention, holdings, and feedings (literally). She developed colic and for many hours of the day she loves to be talked directly to, nursed, or will just scream due to gas or other discomfort that she cannot voice any other way. I feel bad for her poor tummy, etc, but I also mourn my hearing and own comfort. Hehe.

Anyways, so I had a burst of energy and will power that allowed me to do the dirtiest of dirty when it comes to spring cleaning, the bathroom. Yes, I cleaned our bathroom. This is usually a job saved for my hubby, simply because he makes most of the mess and it is so horribly bad. I will save you the nitty gritty (you're welcome), but I did it. I could have done more than I did, but the baby woke up so all time was lost.

I could really use a good baby sling right about now. I have one I bought from WalMart. It's an Infantino, but I absolutely detest it. It is impractical, loose, and messy to hold an infant in. I would be more worried about her falling out as I was trying to do something simple, like wash dishes, let alone the more hardcore tasks I've been unable to accomplish.

I was inspired to get cleaning by the Get Organized blog. Check out Michelle's 52 Mini Organizing Missions. They look very promising if you are looking to stay organized this year.


Trip Tuesday ~ Toting Toddlers

Well, not just toddlers... a toddler and an infant, newborn infant... ack. What were we thinking? LOL

Just kidding, it really was not all that bad. My daughter was a perfect angel, much more than we could have ever hoped for. And my son was just as darling as ever, until he missed his nap time. We ended up having to put him in the back of the stroller and cover it with a blanket so he could nap. The poor thing was so tuckered out from all the running around..

Oh, but I didn't even tell you what we did. LOL. First we took the train (or "T") into Boston. Then we walked about 6 blocks to the New England Aquarium. My son loves fish, but the Aquarium was not his favorite. Being 16 months old, the arena was a bit overwhelming for him. A lot of kids his age running around plus the animal sounds and huge glass windows with ginormous fish behind them... yeah he was overwhelmed to say the least. But we were glad we took him, because he did love it and there were quite a few "Ooo"s and "Woah"s from him. (Pretty much the only speech he really knows right now.)

After that we walked another 6 blocks back towards the train station and then over the bridge to the Boston Children's Museum. Now this was something he was able to get really into. He ran around to every single exhibit, play place, and poster board. We spent a total of 3 hours there. Here are a few pictures of the highlights of yesterday:

More pics can be seen on my MySpace page here.


Maniac Monday: More To Do

I am debating between calling this "Manic Monday" or "Maniac Monday" and well today seems very much like a Maniac Monday, so I am going with that.

We are planning a trip for tomorrow to Boston's Children's Museum and the Aquarium. We have been wanting to go there for quite some time, mostly because my son loves fish, however finances and timing were never on our side.

We got lucky this summer though, because the library near us has free passes and you can use two a day (each pass once a month). So, we decided to take both passes and make the trip all in one day since this month is almost over already.

And yes, we are planning to go with our 16 month old and the new 4 week old. I'm not too psyched about that prospect myself, but I have been denying trips ever since my son was born simply because of the toll it takes on me. So wish us luck, and I will update tomorrow as "Trip Tuesday".


Life and GPTs

I like the extra money I am getting in from Cash Crate and Deal Barbie Pays. Free money is always fun, especially when it does not take a rocket scientist to earn it. LOL. Such simple, quick, and easy work is... well... simple, quick and easy to earn FREE money. Who wouldn't love that?

Anyways, the point of this post, is that I am needing to find a balance. Since finding Deal Barbie Pays on March 2nd and still wanting to stick with Cash Crate to boost my profits this month, I am really becoming more and more bogged down. Not with completing offers or anything, but just everything involved along with it (blogging, promoting, helping referrals, and of course my family and offline life).

So many commitments, and so little time in the day to get everything done.

Of course, my family and myself comes first. If my son needs me, I am here and I will be with him for as long as necessary or wanted. I play with him throughout the day (when he wants to, funny how independent 14 month olds get). I cook and eat meals... And if I need to run a few errands or have appointments on a day, well of course those cannot be neglected.

Next comes my emails and helping referrals (sometimes comes in emails). Even if I don't have time or energy to get offers done myself, helping my downline will still help me flourish. I also don't mind helping anyone that has a question (even if they are not my referral), because good karma and a good reputation are always great things to send out to the Universe. Good things will always come back.

When all that is said and done, then I can have time to complete offers for myself (usually during the baby's first nap or after he goes to bed until midnight or later). Completing offers for me is a task to be done with complete focus. I find that offers confirm better and faster that way. I clean my computer, history, recycle bin, run CCleaner, and everything. I close all programs, maybe even restart my computer to start from scratch. My disk defrag is run weekly at the same time to keep my computer running smoothly.

Anyways, then I open one browser (maybe IE) and open my GMail and any other email program I need to check during the process. Then I open an alternate browser (like Firefox) and will use that browser for the GPT site I will complete offers on (Cash Crate or Deal Barbie Pays currently). I only do one at a time, and I alternate which browser is for emails or the GPT site. (So, the next time around Firefox would be my emails, and IE would be the GPT sites.) I also alternate which site I start with as well, and if I find one to not be confirming currently, I will switch to the other until something starts happening.

Oh and of course, lastly after all that, if I have time, is my blogging, which kind of counts as my referral support, but is still entirely on its own. Then I have to also promote it all in some way to get any kind of feedback. Just having this blog means nothing. It's not going to drive its own traffic here. Just think... how did you get here? I posted something on Twitter about it, you viewed any number of my profiles with it linked there, a traffic referral site, a forum posting I made with a link here, or a message I sent you when you asked for my tips... etc. The rarest form lately is people coming from search engines. However I have noticed an increase in traffic from searches, but that always takes time and thought when writing my posts.

All of it takes time, energy and effort. And as much as I want to spend working on offers or working on blogging (because those are my two favorite things), I still have to focus some effort on the other things to make it all worth while. So, if you have an advice for me, please feel free to leave it in the comments below or email me.

I also love to hear if you found something very useful on here. Feel free to comment, email, or let me know if I was helpful. I also take testimonials for my websites. *grin* Hey karma can be advertised for. *wink*


Just a little rant for the week....

So, I am sure most of you have been wondering where I am. I know I have been tweeting and posting about random Cash Crate things. But I haven't been really talking about myself or my family lately.

Well, we have been hitting a lot of rough patches that I have been wanting to overlook and in turn burying myself in my "work" to avoid thinking about it all. I am still up in the air about how I feel about it all, but I think I should really get it off my chest before it eats me alive. So, here for my online community of friends, I need to just vent a little.

A few weeks ago, my step daughter really became worse with my son. She has always not really played well with him, simply because she is used to playing with her older cousins and they play rough. Well, my son is only 1 years old, and so we have always told her she needs to play nicer and gentler with him. But that wasn't really the issue lately.

Thankfully our living room is connected right next to their bedroom that they share. They were in their playing when I heard my son whimpering. It was a very strange sound to hear coming from my happy-go-lucky little boy, so I peeked my head around the corner. What I saw would have made any mother's skin crawl.

My SD had her large pink fleece blanket tossed over my son completely, and is holding it and him down. She is also leaned close to him whispering 'Shh it's ok.' Completely and utterly shocked, I stood up and walked into the room. I could barely react and the only thing I could say was 'What are you doing?' Normally I would have predicted that I would have flipped out and screamed at her, but I couldn't even bring myself to comprehend what I had seen.

She tried telling me she was trying to make the blanket look like his hair, but we all know that that was not the case. She also tried saying that she was whispering to him that it was ok if he wanted to take the blanket off, which again we all know is not true. I was scared out of my mind for my son. I took every blanket in the room away. I just was beside myself about how to handle this situation.

The next morning, there was another mishap where my son fell and was in a stuck position, and instead of helping him or coming to get one of us, she laughed at him until we came running into the room. Hubby and I were dumbfounded as to where this new behavior was coming from. It was obvious it was for some kind of attention. That afternoon we got her in to see a psychiatrist, and she started rambling off all kinds of things about voices in her head telling her to do these things.

Now, hubby and I know that her grandma often has friends over with mental illnesses and they openly discuss these types of issues around her. So, we questioned where she heard things like this, and she told us who told her about 'voices.' We then explained this to her counselor. Now we have a whole new issue of attention, lying, and acting-out behaviors.

Needless to say, this is all something an 8 month pregnant mother of almost 2 does not need to be dealing with her step daughter about. I feel unsafe to leave my son alone with her, and at the same time I hate feeling like I have to watch over her every move. It's not fair to any of us to have these types of feelings toward family members.

I'm not exactly sure where we stand now. As a family, we still have the same rules in our house just with one added (no blankets for play time). Also, my SD has begun calling me 'mommy' on a regular basis now and rarely refers to me by my first name anymore. Does this mean we are on the right track and soon will be one 'happy family'? Only time will tell... but I know one thing is for sure... I personally will never forget that moment. It has scarred me in quite a deep place. And although I hold no anonymosity towards my SD because of it, the action and the intent behind it burned me badly.

Wouldn't you feel the same way if this happened to one of your children regardless if it was another one of your own kids doing it?


What is Me2Everyone?

Have you heard of Me2Everyone lately? I hadn't either... I came across it randomly while surfing the web (my passion nowadays), and was intrigued at the concept. A virtual world, similar to Second Life, where members get real world shares for FREE....!! Huh?

Yeah, well skeptical, but none the less still interested I did a quick Google search for "Me2Everyone scam" and what did I come up with? Nothing! Well, nothing bad anyways. The only bad talk about it was things like 'Sounds like a scam' and 'They want your email to spam you.'

Oh boy, spam mail really kills you right? LOL. I already have a billion spam emails set up for my Cash Crate "work" anyways. So, what does it bother me any...

Alright, so why not? As long as I guard my information, don't give them any unnecessary and important info like my SS# or credit card # then I will be all set.

So, let's register... Name, Email, Choose a Password, Recommender ID (person that referred you), and verification word (to show I am a real person). Then I read through the paragraph at the bottom (not really fine print because it was normal sized)...

Thank you! We only need this basic information for now. When you complete registration and sign-in you will be able to read what's happening during pre-launch and also start to recommend your friends. Everyone who becomes a member of me2everyone.com will also become a shareholder. You will be entitled to dividends and also to sell your shares to anyone who wants to buy them. You give us your permission to email you and we confirm all your details will remain private. We hate spam as much as you. Please also remember that if you spam, place illegal advertisements, register anyone without their express permission, register under an alternate name or register yourself more than once in an attempt to gain multiple bonus shares we reserve the right to cancel your membership and your shares. me2everyone launches soon and you are about to become part of something that by December 2012 will have more than 100,000,000 members.
Pretty straight forward, and yes they mention... No spam. Click.

Here I was waiting for a page to enter bank information or another such page that you have been roped into a scam. But nope there was none. You had to click through many pages to confirm that your referrer was correct, which I was kind of annoyed by that. But I guess they just want to be sure you are a real person and that you are sure you want to give this person credit for you becoming part of the Me2Everyone community.

And that's it... the main site has not launched yet, so right now everyone is still getting in on the ground floor. Are they over reaching and hyping up the site's potential? Possibly, but it's FREE, so what do I care. I am in and I will be waiting to see what the site is like once it launches. I also ask that you join me by clicking here. This way when it does launch we can check it out together.... I heard that we can have board meetings, sell shares, buy shares, all sorts of real world things, and some that are not 100% business/finance related!

And there is much, much talk right now about how this site will be a big potential online money earner. So, why not get in now and earn as many shares as you can before the site even launches? Then if you don't want to stick with it, then you can simply sell your shares for real world $$. Sounds great to me.


Something incredible has arrived!

I just became a shareholder in me2everyone and I never had to pay a single penny for the shares! It can only be described as the gold-rush for 2009. This company is going to be huge and shares will soar in value over the coming months! You can register for free and it never has to cost you a single penny!

me2everyone is going to be a cool new virtual world where you can meet friends, chat, shop, play, watch videos, create an art gallery, open a virtual newspaper, play the free inworld lottery and make money from your own online store! You and everyone you know make the decisions, shape the world, create real incomes and share in the profits. It’s a new place where you meet new people or invite your friends. Learn new skills or expand your business. Find the love of your life or help the planet.

Membership is free and every member automatically becomes a shareholder in me2everyone Limited. Personally I have 250 shares just for joining in the venture and I am going to increase my shares very soon. This is an excellent chance for all of us to make some real progress in 2009 and beyond! Please do not miss it.

If you are looking for something really good in 2009: something that changes your view on the world, then you really have to spend just one minute and look at this website.

What are your feelings on this site?


Quick Update

Sorry everyone that I haven't been updating. As most of you may know, I have been ultra busy with my newest blog, I Want To Be Debt Free, and earning free money online. Check out my new blog for ways to earn free money online, and to see how much I am making right now.

But as for Mama Knows Best, I have been compiling a very long list of ways to advertise your home business offline (instead of online). My deadline has been to get this up last week, however that doesn't seem to have happened. So, my new deadline is by Monday night (2/23). So, if you are really interested in this list, then keep me focused and on track. *Wink* (Tweets, comments, or even emails)

I will be around today, but not sure how much tomorrow because it is my hubby's birthday (Yay for 27! Even though he's not too thrilled about the age. Hehe). We have lots of people coming over, and lots of food to cook. The menu will include: Chili, Cornbread, and Homemade Pizza. Then the night will probably commence with Poker, because that's how my hubby's family is.

So wish us luck in the gambling, and wish me luck in the typing.


Home Business Ideas

I have been thinking lately of more and more home business ideas. I am still on a roll with Cash Crate, and I have even made a new blog dedicated to becoming debt free using it. So, check me out there, and once I get my check in March (which I am already guaranteed to get) I will post a pic for you all to see the proof.

In the meantime, besides pouring myself into my kids and Cash Crate, I still need more. Don't we all need more money in this income? So, until my Cash Crate really begins to add up (mostly waiting on getting more referrals, come on all and join me *wink*), I need another form of passive or aggresive income to sustain us.

My newest idea is to teach kids (or adults) how to crochet. My mother taught me, and even though I have never finished a blanket, I know how to crochet and I have always been told that I am a great teacher. The only reason I have not finished a blanket is because of my Rheumatoid Arthritis. However I think that teaching someone for 30 min to an hour a night (or day) a couple of times a week wouldn't kill my arms.

If that idea is not a break out one, I have some others. Such as:
  • Tutor
  • Selling on Ebay
  • Pet sitting
  • Baby sitting
  • Selling baked goods
  • Selling crafty 'recipes in a jar'
Hmm... that's all I think I got for now. Do you have any other ideas or methods you use as supplemental income?


School Work Contract

Ever since we moved, SD has been bringing home work assignments that are not her best work. Even her coloring is worse than it was when she was 4! She really is seeming to be digressing in her efforts, and this is worrying us.

Her paternal Grandma has been planning a trip this summer for about a week and a half to Florida, and we were going to let her go with. However with her lack of effort at school, we decided that if she brought home 100 work assignments by the end of the school year that were not her best & proudest work then she was not going to go.

So, I made the following 'contract' to keep track of her progress (or whatever you would call it).

BTW, the random 1's below the chart were not there before.

She has already brought home 3 bad assignments, and I marked them off starting at 100 instead of 1. The reason behind this is so that she can easily see that she only has to bring home 97 more to lose the privilege. This teaches subtraction in a simple form.

You, too, can make one of these for your own child. Some things to consider when creating your own contract like this:
  • What behavior are you trying to discourage? Some ideas are: poor school work, stealing money or items, and not completing chores. Make sure it is substantial and over a long period of time, because 100 things is a lot, but can add up quickly. You want your child to be able to see this. Do not make it something that can happen 100 times in one day, like not listening to you, backtalking, or hitting. These behaviors are better to be ignored rather than added up. Instead use things like an Accomplishment Chart to add up good things your child does.
  • What will be the consequence of reaching 100? Make sure this is something meaningful to your child. Also, make sure it is reasonable and equal to the 100 things. I.E. no camping over the summer, no after-school activities, etc). It also has to be something that you have control over taking away, and that would not burden you terribly. Some that may not work in your favor are: no recess at school, no snacks at school, no play time with friends, or no TV time. Anything where you are not present to control or there are a few variables that would make the punishment be a burden on yourself is not a good idea. Also, if it is too simple or an everyday punishment, then the child is not learning, they will just adapt and become familiar with the punishment. So, you can see why a 'once in a lifetime' event for a child is the perfect tool to guide your child into good behavior.
  • How long will the contract be for? If you are trying to discourage something like bad school work like me, then the deadline is pretty simple, the end of the school year. However for something like stealing or not completing chores, you have a more flexible deadline. Sometimes the event that they will not be allowed to participate in can be the deadline (camping trip, vacation, etc). Try to give your child ample opportunity to correct their mistake by making the deadline last for at least a couple of months. But always have a firm deadline date, so they don't consider it an option. This will undermine your efforts and allow room for the child to negotiate the contract.
Good luck, and if you try this method or have your own, please let us know in the comments below.


10 Tips to Help You Get Started Earning Money Online Fast with Cash Crate

Yes, it's true. I finally cracked last night and began using Cash Crate to make some money online. I was reading an article on Work At Home Mom Revolution which directed me to Frugal Dad's post for Side Hustles To Keep Your Family Finances Afloat. He has some really great ideas, but some that would not work for me right now. However I grew more curious about other information he gave out on his blog and ended up stumbling across this post about Cash Crate being legit and how much he actually earned himself! He even included a photo of his last check for $203.22!

[For my loyal readers and friends, please click on one of my banners or visit Cash Crate.com if you are interested in joining Cash Crate for yourself. That would help me out greatly. Much appreciated :) ]

I know I had tried doing Cash Crate years ago, however I ended up not making it to the minimum (which was $10) and just became bored of the whole task. Now the minimum payout is up to $20, but I am still going to test it out.
Get Paid To Do Free Offers!
Mostly because Frugal Dad included some helpful tips on how to get started with Cash Crate to earn money in your first month, and then I also did some research and found many other helpful hints, tips, and tricks to help you earn money the fastest using Cash Crate and with only an hour of commitment a day!

Here is a summary of the tips I have discovered, and am using myself:
  1. Create a "spam" email account. Instead of using any email account that you actually look at, I suggest creating a free one that you supply to the offers. Supposedly you can use a different email address than the one you specify to Cash Crate, I'm still not sure on that. So, I created one that everything Cash Crate is directed to. I used Gmail to do so, and I applied a filter to all Cash Crate incoming emails to be forwarded to an email I do check since those are the only emails I will care to read.
  2. Create a "spam" voice mail number. Yes, I was stoked to find this tip. Go to simplevoicebox.com or grandcentral.com (I used Simple Voice Box), and you can set up a free number that you can direct the offers to instead of one of your personal real phone numbers. The number is simply a voice mailbox that you customize, and can check (if you want). Voila. No spam phone calls!
  3. Sign up for the Do Not Call list. I had already done a few offers before I found the tip about a free number, so I placed the number I was using onto the Do Not Call list in hopes that these offers will be deterred.
  4. Do NOT use a fake address when completing offers. You are required by Cash Crate to provide each offer with valid information, therefore if you give a fake address you may get deleted by Cash Crate or not credited your money. Also, all the information you provide to Cash Crate directly when registering should be accurate, because they send you real checks. Giving them a false name or address will make it impossible to receive and cash these checks.
  5. Complete the 100% free offers. After registering, go to the “Complete Offers” menu, select “100% Free” from the “Show:” drop down menu filter. These surveys don’t pay as much, but they are typically shorter and do not require a credit card to participate. These are the only offers I am going to complete. Also, sort them by 'Rating' instead of by 'Payout', because you will receive credit for the money earned from those with higher ratings faster.
  6. Download and use Robo Form. This quick, easy, and free program installs a toolbar in your web browser, and it allows you to save profile information for things like surveys. Then with the click of a button, Robo Form will fill in required information as you have specified. Check out this video I found that shows you how to get started with Cash Crate, and has a little tid bit about Robo Form.
  7. Clear your cookies before and after each offer. This will allow you to do the multiple offers, and will make it easier for Cash Crate to confirm your offers quicker. Thus changing your pending money into earned money faster! In FireFox or Flock, you can do this by going to "Tools", "Clear Private Data...", and then unselect all the boxes and only check the one for "Cookies." Then click "Clear Private Data Now."
  8. Hit "No" to any and all of the special offers. You do have to submit your information to the first form as indicated by Cash Crate. However after that there will be literally dozens of "special offers" that pop up on many screens after (I don't mean pop ups). This is the most time consuming part of the whole process, and this is where Robo Form comes in handy a great deal. Even if it pops up saying you must say 'yes' to at least one offer, say 'yes' and then on the next page look for a "Skip" or "No thanks" and select that. Do NOT submit your information to any other offers except the first one required by Cash Crate. For help understanding what I am talking about, check out the video I mentioned earlier and around minute 4:00 he actually walks you through completing an offer.
  9. You can hit Alt-= to fill in all NO's. When you have a page where there is a list of offers and you have to select 'yes' or 'no' to all of them (always choose no, and yes for only one if required), simply hold down Alt and hit the = key and this will fill in all the No's for you. ;) Pretty cool, huh?
  10. On the final page, click on at least 2 offers, let the pages load, and then you're done. At the end of nearly every survey will be a page saying something like "Final Steps: Please complete at least 2 of the offers below." Simply click on two of the offers (usually pictures linking to the site), and let the pages load completely to make them think you visited there. Then close out of all the windows/tabs until you are back at the Cash Crate offers menu. Find the offer you just completed, and hit submit. Once it shows a banner saying it was submitted, clear your cookies like I said in #7. Voila, one offer done and pending. (Also, once you delete your cookies, you will be logged out of Cash Crate, kind of a pain, but simply reload the page and log back in. If you have Robo Form installed, it will save your log in info for you.)
Currently I have $6.30 earned in my Cash Crate account and $24.15 pending, and that was only from signing up late last night. Also, this is the first of the month, so I have 27 more days to earn at least $13.70! I have high hopes that I will be receiving a check around March 15th. LOL. 

Get Paid To Do Free Offers!
Do you use Cash Crate? Did you have a good experience or a bad experience? If you have any other tips or tricks, please share below. Did you find one of my tips helpful? If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to post a comment below or email me at mel [dot] bail [dot] mama [at] gmail [dot] com.


Shapeways' Valentine's Day Contests

To celebrate Valentine's Day, Shapeways is holding two Valentine's Day contests for all consumers and 3D designers alike.

With the Shapeways Creator, you can create light poems and ring poems in your own words, memorializing a special memory or creating a new one. A Shapeways' light poem can be customized in minutes and hold memories that last a lifetime. With a modern and sleek design, sweet words are the perfect gift or accent for the one you love on Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day Gift Contest:
The "Valentine's Day gift" contest winner who comes up with the best, most original and most romantic Valentine's gift creation will win $300 in 3D printing from Shapeways.
To enter: Simply upload your model with the tag valentinegift.
The winner will be the highest rated model on Valentine's Day, February 14th.

Free My Valentine Contest:
Even if you're not a modeler, you can enter the Free my Valentine contest from Shapeways. Just go to the Shapeways Creator, make an original Light Poem with the most romantic text, add the tag freemyvalentine and you're in.
The winner will be the highest rated Light Poem on the 1st of February. So, tell everyone you know to go create their own and/or to vote for yours. The winner will receive (or be able to send) that very same gift wrapped Light Poem in time for Valentine's Day!


Shapeways is the first online 3D consumer co-creation community. Harnessing the power of a creative community and a global network of production service partners, Shapeways ensures the most cost-efficient, reliable manufacturing and order fulfillment for digital manufacturing today. The Shapeways CREATOR has a starting library of pre-designed 3D product templates and is expected to grow to over 100 designs by the end of 2009.


I Had a Small Heart Attack Today

Ok, first let me say, it wasn't a real heart attack. My health is fine.

However, I almost wasn't when I was looking through the multitude of pictures on my camera's memory card and instead of only deleting one picture, I accidentally deleted them ALL!

Yes, ALL, everything, 100 percent.... AHHHH!!! And of course because I am such a procrasitinator, just guess what pictures were also still on the memory card. Go on, just guess.... What major family holiday just took place? That's right, Christmas. My son's first Christmas (that we took pics and he opened his own presents)!

I died when I saw the "Deleting 100 files" pop up on my screen. What?! 100?! No, I just wanted to delete one, not all of them. I cant remember the exact number, but there were a lot of photos and videos on there.

*Breathe Breathe* There has to be a way to fix this, right? *Sob*

Ok, so dramatics over, one quick search on Google and up pops an eHow article (I love that site) about How to Restore Deleted Files From a Memory Card. Oh perfect, I hope.

Can you believe it actually worked?! Yes, one simple program that you just simply have to download (no installation needed) can restore just about any deleted files on hard drives, memory cards, etc. Terrific. And it isn't even a new program! But it's free!

So, what program is it? Well, if you haven't scooted over to the eHow article yet, I will tell you: It is Restoration available through Snapfiles.

If this has happened to you or especially if it happens often, I recommend downloading this program. I have done so, and have found no bugs or viruses. It also works well with Windows Vista.

Try using this before you do a system restore, because if you do that instead then your files may be lost forever.

Has this ever happened to you? Were you able to get your files back? Or would this program have come in handy?


Feelings of Accomplishment

I am feeling rather accomplished and proud today. I have finally gotten through to my husband that I need help around here, and it is going to happen whether he likes it or not. I got all the dishes cleaned and caught up on, and I refuse to let them get behind again. If my husband fills any with water, I stand over him until he washes them himself. I have demonstrated to him my concept of rinsing dishes with hot water instead of "soaking" them and how much more effective it is. Needless to say, he finally saw my point of view. (Now if only I can get rid of that nasty smell coming up from the sink drain.)

I have also finalized (for now) the chore list and system that hubby, Mack, and I are going to follow daily from now on. I spent an entire night deciding on the chores, frequency needed, and who can do what. I know I talked about using Chore Buster awhile ago, but that will only work if you already have everyone pitching in with the chores. No one was before, so I had to get a system in place first.

After a whole night of debating, categorizing, and analyzing I have come up with a solution.

This is a picture of the Family Chore list I posted on our fridge. Each person has their own set of chores, and even a few days off. I had to create it in a way that was fitting to their activity spans now, so as you can see my husband only has one chore a day and one day off completely. Then Mack has between 1 and 3 chores a day with the weekends off (because she spends time at her Grandma's). I know you can see that I got the sh** end, because I have at least one chore everyday and a few days I have 4 chores. However it's easy because I like dishes done a certain way, and everyone has to wash their own dishes anyways. So, really my chore of "washing dishes" entails my own dishes and any meal dishes (pots, pans, etc.). Having it written like this though and already having everyone trained to follow through and wash their own plates and stuff, they don't notice my little loophole *wink* So don't tell them.

Do you have a chore list for your family? Does it work? How is it set up?


My Struggle With Depression Goes On

This is an old post that I never published.

I am still struggling through my feelings of daily depression. I thought that moving to a newer, cleaner, better apartment would have ended most of my troubles. Unfortunately, it hasn't and I am beginning to see that most of my troubles are actually stemming from something besides my environment and money issues. I am discovering that my husband is behind a lot of my woes.

Not to bash him 100% here, but he does try and help me around the house once in awhile. However it is his lackadaisical habits that have me ripping my hair out right now. We have gotten through our money talks and he has agreed to give me all income and let me sort it out, which is a giant step for him and his 'spending issues.' Now if only I can get him to either not touch my kitchen, or clean up after himself in there, I would be all set.

Of course, every woman's dream man, right?

But honestly, how hard is it to clean up after yourself, guys? Since moving into this new apartment, I have busted my butt to keep up on the dishes each and every day. Then my one night that I talked about a little while ago, where I felt like doing nothing, resulted in a pile of dishes filled with gross water in the sink.

My husband's philosophy on dishes is that if you fill them up with water to "soak" then they are easier to wash. Ok, this may be true if the dishes are days old, with lots of caked on food. However if they are less then 2 hours old, all you have to do is blast them with hot water for about 30 seconds and the scrub with a sponge. Voila. Simple, done, finito.

But no, not him. And I have an issue (and he knows this) about touching dishes that are filled with gross, cold water and been sitting for awhile. However I have still been keeping up on any and all dishes that I use personally, plus I will wash one or two that I am not so grossed out about at the same time.

Unfortunately, any effort I make is not enough, and is always cut shorter when my husband steps into the kitchen. (For example, I had washed a bowl I used for lunch today, and he dropped some chocolate syrup on it while it was drying on the counter. Instead of quickly washing it or rinsing it, he dumps it in the sick and fills it with water! Why?)

Is anyone out there in the same boat as me? Have you and your husband gotten through something like this? If so, please let me know of some pointers. I am at a loss.


Ranting Session

I want to get something off my chest that has been bugging me for the past few weeks, and it can explain my lack of postings at the beginning of this week. And no, it is not really due to us moving, because I don't even have the energy to do a lot of unpacking or cleaning.

Most of you may not know this, but I have been suffering from what seems to be post-partum depression. I haven't really talked to anyone about it, or mentioned it at all really. I think I was either in denial, or mostly just not caring about... well anything. It hit me a few days ago when hubs and I got into an argument, and I just sat on the couch for hours afterwards. I didn't move, didn't talk, didn't eat or drink, I didn't even care to watch my son, pick him up, or giggle when he was being cute, and he was being oh so very cute.

Even as I sat there and noticed that I wasn't wanting to do anything, I was disgusted with myself for being that way, which made me feel worse. I felt like such a horrible mother, wife, and person. What was wrong with me? My son is my life, and yet I still didn't feel like living.

Well, what spurred my feelings has been my husband's comments lately. I always ask him for help with the baby while I cook dinner or finish something up on the computer (like coupon tracking or budgeting), and his way of helping is sitting my son on his lap while he continues to play on the computer. Of course, my son will always get bored, fuss, and run to bug me again. I love my son, and I would put anything down for him. But I am trying to make our family life better and I ask my husband for just 5 minutes of help, and he can't even do that. *Which by the way, my husband is disabled and cannot work outside the home presently, but he can help me with physical things around the house.*

Then when I mention how frustrating it is that my husband can't even look up from his computer games for longer than 2 seconds to help me, I get yelled at and called a 'useless blogger.' He says that I make him feel like a bad father when I mention things like that, but it's true. All he does is bury his head in an online game or chat room. I can't even get him to look up and see when my son is doing something adorable.

Afterwards, me and him talked and he apologized for what he said, but it didn't take away my feelings of emptiness and pointlessness. Here I am, busting my ass, trying to save our family as much money as I can, get us out of debt, and also finding ways to make our lives better, while raising our kids and carrying our third child. I am tired and overwhelmed. And for what? Why am I busting my ass for someone that doesn't appreciate my efforts?

Now most women in this situation that I've known are there because they don't ask for help, or whatever. But for me, that's not the case. I ask him for help, not all the time, just occasionally and only for a few minutes. Is that so hard? I try not to be nagging, but I physically do not have the energy to be standing, cleaning, cooking, caretaking, etc etc all day long. I can only do about 10 minutes of any activity before I need to sit down and take a break.

Usually in that time, my husband will grab the remote and change the channel (even though he is not even turned and watching the TV, just playing on the computer with the TV behind him). This of course upsets me, because when I go to sit down and relax until my next burst of energy I am stuck watching Chowder or some other horribly created show. (This is what spurred our argument the other day.)

Stupid things, yes I know. But I am a homemaker trying her damndest to make her house a home, and with a one year old at foot & a lil gremlin mullin around inside, I am tired all day long. I have so many ambitions, but I cannot get any of them done on my own.

I know my anger is justified and all, and that's not the issue. Hmm... I am not sure what I am trying to say here, but I am just trying to get my feelings out. I want to notice them, realize them, and hopefully find it in me to get help for myself. I dread the days these feelings come over me, but I have never been more fearful of them until the other day when I was so depressed that I couldn't even move. To have such feelings of despair, emptiness, and gloom while my son is running around, laughing, and playing peekaboo is not right. It is even worse that I do not care to get help for it. I don't want to feel that way anymore. I'm not in high school. I am an adult, a wife, a mother. I have others to care for, little gentle souls that count on me. It is not all about me.

So, why do I feel this way?

My Own Reading Program for a One Year Old

As I type, I have been in the midst of working on my very own version of how to teach my son to read. I have seen the infomercial for "Your Baby Can Read" and was astounded to find out how big of a trend this is. They have a system and it does seem to work on so many babies ages 3 months to 3 years.

I also found so many sites dedicated to Dolch words for beginner readers, word card suggestions, even a short article by Gwynne Spencer about how she taught her son to read using manicure scissors at 3 years old!

Then that got me thinking, 'If Gwynne created her own method that encouraged her son at 3, why can't I create my own method for my son at 1?' He is already interested in learning so many new things, like sign language, new foods, new places, etc. He is an open book for me to write LOL.

So, here I am, ready and willing to get started, and my first step was to identify the words I wanted to teach him. I was reading this article on eHow.com where they suggest to make 100-200 word cards and show them to your baby 3 times a day for no more than 30 seconds each. How you do it is by showing one new word a day until you get to 5 words, then retire the first word, etc etc. For more details, please go read the article, it is very informative.

I decided to identify my own 100+ words that I would like to teach my son. I started with his body and his environment. Mostly words that are easy for me to show him.

As I got over 100 words, I began thinking of an idea I had when I was younger... I wanted to write words on name cards for objects around the house and then tape them to each object, like what they do in preschools. I did this for a short while with my step daughter, however with many moves and all, the cards became torn or lost.

But that would be perfect to lead my son into the venture of reading. My goal is going to be to make these name cards again, and as I tape them up I will have my son with me. I will read the word, show him the object and then he can help or watch me tape it on (hopefully out of reach and for good, otherwise I will be replacing them often).

Then the everyday game I want to play is by making index cards with the words of the objects on them. I will show him a card, read it off, and then go show him the object. Eventually I want him to be able to run around and show me the objects as I show him the card. I have no goal for a length of time for him to learn, and I am taking a more direct approach than one word a day. I am going to treat it more like with sign language. I sign to him as often as I can.

I will do the same thing with the reading cards I make. Every time I say the word, I will show him the card (and probably sign as well). At this age, kids are sponges to information. Their brains are still developing and capable of taking in much more information than most people give them credit for. My son was able to pick up on his routine in only 2 weeks, and then we moved and he still was accustomed to his routine in the new environment.

I have been astounded by my son's intelligence and I really want to give him more credit than I have been. No more am I going to think, 'oh no he is too young for that,' because he can never be too young to be exposed to the real world and education.

Do you have any amazing teaching stories of your kids? Please share with us here. All links welcome! Videos of your kids being amazing would be great, too.


Simple, Quick, and Easy Ways to Clean Your House, Restart Your Day, or Just Feel Better

My mother told me it was always the little things that count. Sometimes, you just need some kind of pick-me-up or 'start over' button. Or there are those days that you just feel blah.

When you feel just completely dragged down, and you wish you could crawl back in bed until tomorrow morning, don't. Try these simple, quick, and easy ideas to get yourself going again.

1. Make Your Bed ~ such a small task, but your bed is usually about 75% of your bedroom visually. If you make it nice and neat, then 75% of the bedroom is clean (or at least looks that way).

2. Change Your Clothes ~ I am not big on the whole idea of getting completely dressed even if you are not going out. Street clothes are not as comfortable to me as sweats and a tank top, mostly because all jeans are too tight on my pregnant belly. So, instead, just change your clothes into a clean pair, whether it's jeans and a Tshirt or another pair of sweats and a tank top. Whatever makes you feel better, comfortable, and relaxed.

3. Do a Load of Wash ~ Sometimes I get into a funk where I only want to wear about 3 outfits. So, I have to do laundry more often. If you have nothing clean that you would like to wear, then wash some.

4. Go For a Walk ~ As long as weather permits, put on those walking shoes and get out there. Some fresh air can do loads to rekindle your spirit. You can even take the kids. That should wear them out for a good nap when you get home.

Do you have any other tips, tricks, or suggestions? Comment below with them, or email me to add them.


Decluttering ~ Day 4

If you saw me on Twitter today, then you should know about most of my progress. Oh and I have to share my ChoreBuster chores for the day:

1. Cook Breakfast & Lunch
2. Declutter House
3. Wash dishes

"Declutter house" is set to occur every 7 days, and I did not choose a start date but ironically it randomly chose today's date and me to start with. LOL.

Anywho... I had an hour of energy this morning and was able to downsize 1 giant box and 3 laundry baskets of random clothes that came over last night from the old apartment to only 2 laundry baskets (small ones) of clothes to keep. The rest will be going over to Salvation Army first thing tomorrow (they are closed today, and we just had a snow storm last night so we didn't want to leave it outside overnight).

I am also purging a small tupperware container filled with old McDonald's toys I collected as a kid (Barbies and Pokemon), two purses, and all my old Halloween outfits (yes, I kept all of them for years).

Now we are off to have dinner at a friend's house tonight. They have been helping us move, and still offer more. Once we get the house, food, etc in order over here, we will be inviting them over. Also, I am going to write a thank you note to the wife's work, Wild Side Florist. They so generously offered up the services of their delivery van and gas yesterday to help us do a day's worth of moving!


Decluttering ~ Day 3

I didn't post anything yesterday on my decluttering efforts simply because my camera died, so I could not take a pic of my efforts. However, I would like to post saying that I did end up purging two large black trashbags filled with old clothes from myself, my son, and my daughter. (The hubs barely has any clothes to begin with.)

So, keeping that in mind here I am at Day 3 and this is what has gone on today.

Hubby dragged over some more things from the old apartment, and put most of them in the kitchen instead of in the basement as per our plan. So, now I have 2 large bins, 2 large boxes, 2 boxes of baby clothes and 3 laundry baskets worth of things to go through.

I tackled the smallest and quickest thing first, the baby clothes. Hubby found these, I guess, in one of the closets at the old apartment and they contain lots of things given to me while I was still pregnant and working by an ex-coworker. I never even opened up the boxes! Needless to say, some of the items were too small for my son, however I was surprised to come across quite a few that actually did fit him.

So out of 2 diaper boxes stuffed full of baby things, I have resorted and will be keeping barely one box worth of it all. The rest will be brought over to Salvation Army first thing in the morning.

Chores Made Fair

Last night, I worked real hard on coming up with a chore list for the new apartment, so that hubby and I can keep up on all the in's and out's and keep this place looking spic and span. I didn't want it to be too complex and as fair as possible, so we alternated most chores and each had our own chores (i.e. he empties the cat box because I am pregnant and can't, while I pay the bills because I don't trust him too LOL).

Then I sat down with him (while he was playing one of his video games, so I didn't really have his full attention), and asked what he thought and if it was fair enough. I got a quick read through and an 'Uh hmm,' as if that was supposed to really give me the feedback I needed. Then I tried to ask if he thought I had forgotten anything, but the answer to that was a very simple and quick 'Nope.' But of course, after thinking for a few minutes and looking around the house some more, I had forgotten some things and proceeded to add them.

Then this morning, I woke really early (4:00 AM) and could not get back to sleep, so after some quick cleaning and toy pickup, I decided to do some Internet surfing. With the chore list still fresh in my mind from last night, I decided to read up on some household organization tips and such. Throughout my searching, I came across a wonderful review from Money Saving Pro about a unique and free website that helps organize family chore lists online! Hmm... that got my attention.

The website is called Chore Buster, and it is designed to help families or couples fairly assign the chores of the household. And yes it is 100% free. Although there are a few nice features that can be used if you donate to the site.

Even so, without paying anything, a user is able to enter the names of as many family members as they have, customize each member's chore settings (i.e. No chores on Sunday or 75% less chores for kids), and set a list of chores. This service is so helpful that it can email each member their chore lists on a weekly or even daily basis. Or you can simply print a master one out and hang it on the fridge for all.

It also lets you customize the frequency and desirability of each chore. Desirability? Yes, you can set things like pick up toys to 1 for easy and cleaning the bathroom to 6 for medium and then cleaning the gutters to 10 for extreme. You can also set certain chores as not being assigned to certain members, such as I won't let my daughter clean the cat boxes or the oven, and my hubby won't be paying the bills or folding/putting away the laundry (he can never tell who's is who's). Also, since I cannot clean the cat boxes because I am pregnant, that is all hubby's job.

You can also set rewards for each chore (dollar amounts only), and then there is a checklist that you can tally up the rewards for each person. I have this set for simple dollar amounts from $1 to $10 for each chore. Then instead of giving each person the exact amount they earned, I am using it as a percentage from our allowance fund. I am not sure about the nitty gritty just yet, but I will work it out once we get this more underway.

Some examples of my amounts are $1 for picking up and vacuuming a room, $2 for taking out the trash, $5 for cleaning the whole bathroom, and $10 for 'Surprise husband/wife with something nice.' (That last "chore" I found in the preset list, and just had to use it for us). That is another nice feature, you can search through a list of popular chores or look at other member's lists entirely. This helped me to find some things I was missing in my list.

Then after all that nitty gritty, Chore Buster will divide up the chores based on your settings for each (frequency, members, and desirability) so that each member will have a fair amount of 'points' for chores to do each day. *It even has an option to set a random quality for surprises.* The points are the ones you assign as desirability and difficulty. I set my daughter's chores to 75% less, because she is only 6 and has school. She also gets the weekends off from any chores.

You then have the option to create a chore list for 1, 2, or 3 weeks (and by member if you donate), and view it in web page, Word, or Excel form to print. There are many more unique and awesome features that are available if you donate to the site.

You can take a look at my chore schedule here, and sign up for your very own free account here. They have some advanced features, such as viewing chores via mobile or RSS feed, and also a dektop widget you can download. They also mention that soon they will be integrating Facebook with Chore Buster soon, so stay tuned on that.

Do you use Chore Buster? If so, what features do you like? If not, are you going to give it a go?