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I Want for My Office

Five Eco-Friendly Solutions to Your Stuffed Animal Problem

I originally wrote this on my parenting blog, TwoferMom but I thought it was so useful I wanted to share it with all the work at home parents here.

Do you have a stuffed animal problem?

Every year I try to go through and clean out some of the stuffed animals that have accumulated over the years. Every year I add to the pile but I don't know how to get rid of the pile!

I asked my friends on Facebook and my friends helped me build this useful list.

1. Fill a Bean Bag Chair

How about a bag with a see-thru panel on Amazon that can be use for Stuffed Animal Storage.

2. Donate Stuffed Animals to... an Animal Shelter!

I reached out to our local Humane Society who responded that their  thrift store, Wagging Tails would take them to resell and the money raised will help the animals.


3. Donate them to the local police who often give them to kids during domestic situations

I contacted our local county police through twitter and they replied that YES, infact they do take them!


4. Contact shelters, food banks, an other low income or homeless resource centers

I had contacted a shelter years ago and they specifically said NO to stuffed animals so I assumed no one would want them. Then a friend suggested I contact A Wider Circle and they said YES! They would take them and YES, they would love it if I would wash them first.


 5. Try Freecycle or Yard Sale

I've had no luck with getting rid of stuffed animals at yard sales.

But other people have had success so I had to include it.

I HAVE had success with Freecycle and I encourage everyone to try it.

Go to and search for a group in your area. Then read the rules and follow them before posting. I've been able to find new homes for things I would otherwise trash... broken fishing rods (yes, broken), old furniture, clothing, and more.

Have you found a creative way to get rid of stuffed animals without sending them to the trash? I'd love to hear about it!


Blanket Forts: Summer Survival Tip for the Work at Home Parent

When is the last time you got involved in building a pillow and blanket fort? I bet you have watched your kids build them, but what about joining in the fun?

Blanket forts are great for really hot or rainy days.

During the summer months I'm always trying to make some time to jump into the fun before these precious days are gone. The girls will only WANT to hang out with me for a few more years before they turn on me and toward their moody, teen friends.

So, this summer I tried to make the most of the time we had. I ditched work for a few hours each day (I made it up with early mornings and late evenings) and would take them to the pool, out to lunch, to a park, or we would stay inside and build a blanket fort!

Though I must tell you, the control freak architect in me comes out as we start building. I like to have a plan, I like to have all the materials gathered, and I like the girls to do all the crawling.

But they like it that way too.

So go ahead. On the next rainy Saturday grab some pillows, blankets, chairs and other tools and make a fort. Then get some work done while your kids play in it for hours.


Virtual Office View: Girl Scout Camp

Girl Scout Camp is probably one of the best kept secrets.

Walking path at Girl Scout camp great for lunch break.


It's fun.

It's safe.

It's parent supervised.

It's affordable. And when I say affordable, I mean dirt cheap, and you get way, way more bang for your buck with this camp than you do with any other camp in the area.

So, when an email from the Girl Scouts came out asking for volunteers to ride the bus (yes, transportation included!) with the girls to camp I slowly eased my hand up. (I'm not THAT gung-ho to go back to camp).

There was a catch.

The bus would not be able to bring you back to your car until the return trip at 3:00. And, they would need you to return to camp by 3:00 because they need a bus rider for the return trip as well. This meant that unless you have a friend who has nothing better to than chauffer you around, you would be stuck at camp for the day.

I decided that despite my need to actually get work done while they are at camp, I would volunteer for at least one day. Here's why.

1) I am one of the only parents who has two kids the same age at the same camp.  I don't have a younger one I need to shuttle around or drag with me.

2) The Girl Scouts happily took BOTH my kids and taught them and entertained them and made sure they were safe and covered most of the drive in a bus, for two weeks straight, for a song. The least I could do was give them one day of my time.

3) I'm still a Girl Scout at heart, and Girl Scouts are always prepared which in this day in age means an iPad with 3G, and an iPhone with an unlimited data plan that allows me to virtually work anywhere.

Me and the Girl Scouts


Virtual Office View: Vocus Headquarters Has an Office Worth Going Home To

As someone who works from home and dishes on the struggles, the joys, and even some of the gadgets that come with having a home office, you would think it strange that I went for a tour of.... an office building.

Here's the deal.

The Vocus headquarters are unlike any other office space I've either worked in, or visited.

Vocus, located in Beltsville, Maryland, has built a mini town with a main street, and workspaces hidden inside little store fronts.

 Vocus 'Main Street'

Conference rooms are themed and include a movie theater, surf shop, flower shop, and even a traditional "Bored Room" - get it?

Book a conference room based on your mood! While each employee has a desk, CEO Rick Rudman told me straight up that he wants to see more people using the many open work spaces they have created including the coffee shops, the veranda, and the chill space which looks and feels very much like a spa.

And then he invited me to use those spaces any time I want.

 I refer to this space as The Veranda


Coffee shop has a record player and books and magazines lying around


How can you be stressed in this room?

Vocus is not just any company. And it starts at the top.

The CEO himself, along with the Director of PR took me on the tour of the Vocus building.

How in the world did THAT happen?

Like this:

The CEO of Vocus not only tweets, but actually monitors, responds, and engages with people talking about Vocus.   (It seems so simple when you spell it out. Isn't that what any of us using social media are supposed to be doing?)

On my tour I came to realize that the friendly and hospitable nature of the upper management extends not only to visitors, but to the employees as well.

For example, coffee, soda, even candy are available in any number of the 'shops' that line the main street area. There is a small shop that sells lunch items at very reduced rates (courtesy of being subsidized by Vocus), and popular Food Trucks make stops on a regular basis (coordinated by the company). For a healthy balance, there is an ENORMOUS fitness area with a full size gymnasium, cardio room, and weight room at one end of the building. Boot camp and yoga instructors make regular appearances. Plus, that Spa room? Once a week employees can schedule a mini massage with a professional.

Lesson Learned

It's clear that Vocus believes that if you take care of your employees, it will yield a happier and more productive team. This in turn leads to happier customers, which leads to more business, which leads to happier management, where the cycle starts all over.

Vocus seems to have a higher awareness of their brand, which extends to their company culture, their use of social, and ultimately to their customers. It's no wonder they recently experienced a 53% growth in revenue.

Do you know of a company that has created a comfortable and welcoming office?

For more on Vocus and my recent visit check out the Vocus blog and follow @Vocus on twitter.


Swim Team Mom - Own It.

The first year or two I refused to even look at "The Board" where parents would sign up to volunteer, and check meet results.

Slowly I started to participate and volunteered for things like the Pancake Breakfast and bagel/donut day but I still didn't go to any meets.

As the girls got older, and better, they were put on the real Team and entered into meets. But I flat out REFUSED to let anyone write on my car.

And then last year, it happened.

I got sucked into the vortex that is the Swim Team Mom.

I started screaming to cheer on my kid.
I was energized during the meets and showed team spirit by wearing green.
I even allowed the kids to decorate my car for the first time.

This year I'm owning it, and possibly even preaching about it.

Here's why.
I LOVE how it's a team sport where the older kids support the younger kids.
I LOVE how the team makes our huge pool feel like a little community.
I look at the teenagers on the team and see GOOD kids, who will have no problem making an 8 AM class in college, and who have a strong sense of responsibility.
I see my girls learning about what it means to find a balance: how to be competitive…even with their friends…and yet not let it ruin their friendship.  (If only more adults could learn how to do this!)

Have you embraced a sport as much as your child? I'd love to hear about it!