Practical Joke: FAIL

After many years of a strict “no practical joke” moratorium in our house, I lifted the ban recently, feeling they were mature enough and mostly for my entertainment.

Now, pulling off a good practical joke in this house is next to impossible. I do have teen boys, both of whom are quite savvy when it comes to research and whathaveyou, so anything I come up with has do be either super old school or deep in the recesses of the WWW.

Scrolling through Facebook one night, I came across a hilarious practical joke via Roo of Neon Fresh (formally Nice Girl Notes). The gist is to get a hold of someone’s smartphone, load a picture of a broken screen, and then set up some scenario in which a phone would have become broken. 

With an ideal, yet simple plan, and my intended target picked (oldest son and his newly acquired with his  own cash, iPod), I set out to pull off the perfect practical joke.

And then it all went wrong.

  • Waited patiently for him to leave the iPod unattended. 
  • Snatched it up, pulling in the youngest son as my accomplice, having him hold the ear buds and pretend he didn’t see anything. 
  • Snuck off to the laundry room to get the picture, only to realize I didn’t knew the passcode to unlock the iPod. 
  • Remembered I can get to the camera function without the passcode.
  • Formulating Plan B, retreated back to the living room to grab my iPhone. 
  • Decided the only way to ensure little to no interruption is to hide in the downstairs bath. 
  • Son One is now looking for his iPod, knowing for certain he left it in a particular place. I lie and tell him he said he took it to his room, knowing it would buy me a few more minutes. 
  • Hide out in the bathroom, unable to get the photo I need. Return to living room.
  • Get back on laptop to narrow down the problem, unable to find Roo’s feed on Facebook.

Fast forward several minutes…


I used this photo. My hope was he would miss the odd placement of apps because of the cracks.

I finally find a picture that would do, take a picture off my phone with the iPod, then move around, like I “sat” on his iPod. I say, “Oh Son, I am so sorry. I found your iPod. I accidentally sat on it. GASP! Oh my! LOOK!”

He looks at me, almost with pity and says, “That’s not mine.”

In my shuffling around, had managed to pick up his brother’s. I never even noticed.

He looked at me one more time, shook is head slowly and walked out of the room.

Worse practical joke execution, ever.








Photo courtesy of 

How to Talk to Your Children about Tragedy

Our hearts and prayers are with the families affected by the senseless tragedy in Boston. This act of terror is hard to imagine and with the age of iPhones and location of the acts to the media, the images have be graphic and horrifying. We at Mommy Needs a Break know it’s difficult to gauge what children are thinking and want to help you with tips on how to talk to your children during this tragic time.

Making sense of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday can be quite a challenge for adults, let alone children.

Children process these things differently.  They may be asking difficult questions and parents may need suggestions to help discuss what happened and address their concerns.

How to Talk to Your Kids about Tragedy

Fred Rogers from the long-running TV show, Mr. Rogers was quoted as saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” That is good advice from the wise Mrs. Rogers, but what if your children have questions and need more?

Below are some helpful tips from Child Psychologist Dr. Phyllis Ohr, for Press4Kids’ News-O-Matic, the first educational, news app for children 7 to 10 years old. Dr. Ohr is also the Director of the Child and Parent Psychological Services Clinic at Hofstra and the Assistant Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program. 

Here are some tips from Dr. Ohr for how parents can address news issues with children and what children can do to feel better: 

1.     When the event does not personally affect the child, reassure them that everything is okay with the people they love and that nothing has changed for them.

2.    Be sure to stress to children that if they do have questions to ask parents, teachers as well as friends. Other children having the same feelings may be comforting.

3.    Begin by giving the child a brief synopsis of what happened by using age appropriate language. Ask if there is something they want to know more about or if they need something explained further. If so, stick to pointedly answering their question or clarifying. Do not add on or digress.

4.    Do not assume the news will make children feel a certain way. Ask if they know how they feel, but stress that kids feel all different ways when they hear important news and sometimes do not know how they feel or do not feel anything which is okay. However, if children are affected by it, it is their own feeling. Reassure children that no matter what they are feeling, their feelings are okay.

5.    If they are upset but don’t want to talk, suggest a fun activity for distraction or help them use calming skills like playing, drawing a picture or writing a story. These activities help release any upset feelings and make children feel better.


Information in this post provided by Child’s Play Communications. This is not a sponsored post. This is just information we thought would be helpful as our Country heals.

World Autism Day

My son has autism. He is turning 5 in a couple of days. You can read about my hope for acceptance here.

Brady World Autism Day


From – Did you know …

  • Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT™) is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age to assess their risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It was developed by neuropsychologists Diana Robins and Deborah Fein and clinical psychologist Marianne Barton.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children receive autism screening at 18 and 24 months of age, and the M-CHAT is one of the AAP’s recommended tools. Click HERE to screen your child for autism. 


Head on over to Autism Speaks for more info on Autism and how you can help. 

DIY Gift Baskets – Target Dollar Spot Diaries

My daughter is not a big princess fan. She likes them just fine but if given the choice she would rather play dinosaurs or make art than pretend to be a princess or fairy. But as a five-year-old kindergartener she has a lot of friends who do love princesses, fairies and basically all things Disney. Also, as a five-year-old kindergartener she gets invited to what seems like a never-ending stream of birthday parties. All these parties and party gifts add up, so what is a mom on a budget to do? Target Dollar Spot to the rescue!

For less than $10.00 we were able to load up on a bucket load of goodies fit for a princess, or a six-year-old who thinks she is a princess at the very least. You read that right, our fun Disney themed gifts were pulled together for $8.00! Thankfully Target has their bins stocked with a variety of Disney items right now, 101 Dalmatians  Princess, Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and more. 

Simple tips to make your own fantastic gift baskets from

Making an inexpensive, attractive, and fun gift basket is simple when you follow these tips. 

1. Pick a theme and feel and stick with it. Not everything we picked out for our girly bucket was Disney princess but everything fits in with out princess theme. It’s good to keep colors in mind too.

2. Choose a cute basket, tote or box to arrange your gifts in. It will help pull everything together and dress up the items in the basket. Luckily the Dollar Spot always seems to have a variety of items that fit this bill perfectly. 

3. Pick out all the items for your gift and then take a moment to arrange them in your chosen basket or box before leaving the Dollar Spot, this will give you the chance to grab one more little thing to fill things out or put something back if you’ve grabbed too many items. Taking a minute to do this could save you a trip back to the store.

What are your favorite gifts to give for children’s birthday parties?

Magic Tricks To Impress Your Kids [Video]

March 29 is Smoke and Mirrors Day. That made me think of magic tricks and how much fun it is to play them on my kids. It’s also good to have some up your sleeve for times when you have an unexpected wait; you can distract the kids and make the wait time go much faster.

smoke and mirrors day

Here’s some easy sleight of hand tricks that don’t need special equipment and could be done just about anywhere.

All you need is a penny or small coin for this old, but good one. Make a coin disappear:


I think this one is clever yet so simple. He uses pencils, but mentions that you could use French fries or some other small objects. Crazy pencil trick:


This one might need a little practice with a rubber band, but looks like fun. Rubber band through thumb:


I’ve found that it’s fun to awe my kids with what I can do, then after they beg a little bit I show them how to do it. Then they spend a while practicing it themselves. And that’s one of the ways I distract my children or nieces & nephews when we have to wait for something and there’s nothing fun to do.

How about you? Any tricks to distract kids? Any magic tricks you like to do?

Raising Boys: Teen Years

When I was pregnant with my second child, I knew, without a doubt, I was a having another girl. Well, I was probably 92% positive. After an extra-long pregnancy and even longer labor, at 4:22 a.m., the doctor announced, “It’s a boy,” and my life changed forever.

At the time, I knew only one thing about boys and that knowledge is how I ended up a mother. Clearly, I was going to need some additional info –  maybe a pamphlet or something?! 

Fast-forward through another birth (“It’s a BOY!”) and fourteen years, and I’ve learned a lot about being a mother to boys. Especially of the teen set. Because in hindsight? The elementary years were gravy, a warm-up to the Olympics of Parenting, if you will- The Teen Years.

Here are some tips for raising boys:

1. Step away from the AXE.
Boys smell. Period. While cologne (along with showers and good deodorant) helps alleviate the issue, we tried AXE and it seemed to only exacerbate the problem. Fortunately for us, my boys happen to like the same thing my husband wears from Bath and Body Works. Teaching them “less is more” is taking more time, but at least the paint isn’t peeling off the walls anymore. 

A boy's best friend is his mother. 2. Talk their language. 
My boys aren’t big on general chit-chat or proclamations of love. And those lunch box notes? Waste of time. Texting has been a huge break-thru for us. And since I am trying to keep the lines of communication open, I even refrain from correcting their grammar. If that doesn’t say love, I don’t know what else does. 

3. Learn about [insert hobby here].
I know more about Mindcraft, Call of Duty, military weaponry, Star Wars, and other testosterone-driven subjects than I ever thought possible. And really, it’s not half-bad. 

4. Drink a lot of coffee. And Diet Coke.
Boys. Girls. It doesn’t matter. Raising kids is the hardest job one can do and it takes fuel to keep going. Plus all the working I do to earn the extra grocery money to fill the bottomless stomachs of two teenage boys; all of that takes an obscene amount of caffeine. Because seriously? THEY ARE ALWAYS HUNGRY. I thought that was a myth; it’s not. 

5. Remember: Some day they will be someone’s spouse.
I have no qualms about asking my boys’ opinions on certain things: how an outfit looks; a choice between two nail polishes; what to have for dinner. Very few topics are off limits. I value their opinions and insights just like I do my husband’s. I figure it will be less of a culture shock once they set up housekeeping with someone I hope to like but doubt will meet my standards.

If you are past the teen years, what would you add to the list?  



Entertaining Kids on the Go – Target Dollar Spot Diaries

As moms we do a lot of hurry up and wait – hurry to get to the pediatrician on time so you and your kids can wait for 30 minutes in the waiting room before the Doctor can actually see you. Hurry and rush to the restaurant because the kids simply must eat now only to find that the restaurant is not moving at your desired speed. The post office, the bank, the grocery store, The DMV. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Wait, wait, wait.

As adults we’ve become accustomed to this waiting game – we know how to wait patiently for our turn. As parents we know that our children are not always likely to wait patiently, let alone quietly  We all have tricks to keep our kids entertained during unexpected down times. Of course a snack or two tucked into your purse can help make waiting easier but I have a different trick up my sleeve – The Quiet  Bag – and thanks to the Target Dollar Spot I’ve reinforced my supplies.
Entertaining kids with quiet bags .

A quiet bag is a small bag filled with something to keep your children occupied. The bag itself should be small and fit in your handbag or diaper bag easily; most importantly an effective quiet bag can save you from having to play 73 consecutive games of I Spy.

Some moms like to do a single activity in a bag and rotate activities to keep things fresh, however I like to use my quiet bag to arm myself with a handful of items to use in different ways.  I like to keep a small pack of crayons, stickers, a small notebook, a pencil and a few small toys such as dinosaurs, mini Lego men or mini My Little Pony figures. These basic things make for lots of possible ways to keep my kiddo busy.

Easy way to entertain kids on the go

Thanks to a quick look in the Dollar Spot at Target recently, I scored a new mini notebook, a Find the Match Activity pad, a Hidden Pictures poster, and a couple of fun pens that show different riddles when you click the pen in and out. These things coupled with the other items already in my little blue pencil bag – or as I like to call it, my arsenal – will keep my 5-year-old busy even if the kitchen is taking its sweet time making our dinner or the 14 people in front of me at the DMV are attempting the most difficult drivers license changes known to man.

What do you keep on hand to entertain your kids when you’re on the go?