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MomForce Podcast Episode 13: Take a Picture. It'll Last Longer.

August 13, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 13: Take a Picture - It'll Last Longer! Listen Here Long gone are the days of being bound by 24 exposure rolls of film (36 if you splurged). We aren’t lugging around giant SLRs as often anymore, and there simple alternatives if you just can’t find the time to catch up on your scrapbooks. But despite technology improving so drastically (and making things SO much more convenient) we still aren’t always capturing the moments we’ll treasure when we look back at photos. In the first part of this two episode podcast, Vanessa and her sister, Erika, chat about their tricks for taking the photos they’re going to love forever. It’s not always the perfectly posed kids in coordinating outfits that they look back on with the greatest sense of fondness. Sometimes it’s the real life moments; the piles of tiny shoes left by the back door, the child’s name written in crayon (even when it’s across the furniture), the stubbornness of a pre-teen not thrilled about having their photo taken, or the change of background that would have otherwise gone unnoticed that sparks the happiest memories.  undefined In the podcast episode, Vanessa describes this picture of her daughter, Laken. Nate took this picture as she was hustling out of the car and it made him realize how truly grateful her was for the small moments in his life. Photographing life’s everyday events can make us more mindful of what’s happening in that time, sparking a feeling of gratitude that may have otherwise escaped us. In the trenches of motherhood it’s easy to overlook the magic of the moment. Looking back on a photo allows you to see the greatness. As a rule of thumb, if it makes you smile, snap a photo of it! Click HERE to print our Photo Inspiration List. undefined Check out our team member Wayne Dahlberg's viral tweet HERE: undefined FatMumSlim's "Photo A Day" challenge HERE: She has a list for every month! It will help get your creative photographic juices flowing. "6 Tips for Better iPhone Photos" HERE: Simple tips and tricks to taking great photos on your phone. Watch our Real Mom video about getting in the photo! Click HERE: We promise you will get a good laugh! undefined

Hall of Chatbooks

July 19, 2019

In celebration of Chatbooks’ 5th birthday this year, our HQ came to life with our first ever “Hall of Chatbooks.” We turned the office into a pop-up art exhibit featuring 4 fun photo-op rooms! Here are just a few photos to let you in on some of the fun!  The Mini Room undefined undefined The Monochrome Room undefined undefined Want to try it yourself? All you need is paint, patience, and a consignment store! We found making a monochrome room time-consuming, but FUN! And the result is worth it -- lots of oohs, aahs, and awesome pictures!  We started by picking a color (we chose Chatbooks green of course)! Then we picked a blank wall in our office to paint. For the floor, we went to Home Depot and bought ⅛ in x 4 ft x 8 ft sheets of hardboard. After painting our “flooring” and setting up the framework of our room we got busy collecting old furniture and miscellaneous objects from consignment stores! The more details you can add to your room, the more fun it will be to look at! Some of our favorite details from our room: an old record player, a collection of trophies, Jenga, and a mini cat figurine! Pro tip: when painting things that are a little more intricate i.e. fake plants, etc., use spray paint! You can get your water-based paint put in aerosol cans (most paint stores will do this) or look for spray paint that matches your room color! There are endless ways to make your monochrome room unique! Let your imagination run wild and have fun! The Confetti Room  undefined undefined Do it yourself!  It’s easy and quick to put together, and makes such a fun photo-op at any party! What you’ll need: 1 or 2 seamless paper rolls (depending on size), tape, and confetti. Tape one end of the paper roll to the top of the wall and roll it out as far as you want! Make sure to secure the back of the paper to the wall as well as the floor so it doesn't move or rip when people step on it! Dump as much confetti as your heart desires and have fun making it rain! Pro-tip: if you don’t want to worry about timing the photo exactly right, take photos in “burst mode” to make sure you capture maximum FUN! The Balloon Room undefined undefined undefined Do it yourself! If you ever need to entertain kids at a birthday party, find a small empty room and fill it with tons of balloons! Your room size will determine how many balloons you use, but the more the merrier! Hint: we bought an electric balloon pump to save our lungs and cheeks! Pro-tip: we built a wall out of giant legos to keep the balloons from escaping to the next room!  We would love to see your re-creations of these fun rooms! Tag us in your posts @chatbooks! Photos this fun are photobook worthy, so head over to the Chatbooks app to make the easiest photo album ever!

MomForce Podcast Episode 9: Why We NEED Mom Friends

July 16, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 9: Listen Here Growing up with sisters meant a lot of fights. But it also meant you had a tight knit group of built in best friends. While not everyone grows up in such a big family, friendships of any sort are important. Moving away from family and transitioning into different phases of life has reinforced the importance of creating and maintaining meaningful relationships as adults. We threw out the timer for this All-Sissy episode of The MomForce Podcast. Vanessa, Leah, Erika, Kara, and Shelly are together to chat about the value of friendship, the importance of girl time, and meeting people in this busy phase of life. Between playgrounds, play dates, and preschool, it was a little easier when the kids were young. As the kids get older, making friends and fostering relationships takes more effort. Whether you’re looking for a way to meet new people, advice on recharging with your gal pals, or need help staying connected, it’s good for us to be a friend and have a friend. No one wants to feel like the girl at the party with no one to talk to! Even if you “married your best friend,” girl time is important!  Don’t forget to join us over on the MomForce Facebook Group where we’ve committed to creating MomForce Meet-Ups!  Marco Polo App Shasta Nelson - Friendship Expert MOPS - "Here at MOPS, we gather and support moms. We believe in the simple but revolutionary idea that remarkable things happen when moms come together, face to face." Connect with us: Vanessa Quigley @vanessaquigely Erika Anderson @rikkianderson Rachelle Hyde @shellyhyde Kara Haught @karahaught Leah Ward @leahrward And use code POD20 to get 20% off your Chatbooks order! undefined Check out the Raising Wild Chatbooks Vanessa made for her sisters about their experience on Shark Tank.

MomForce Podcast Episode 10: Picky Eaters . . .Mom is NOT a Short Order Cook

July 16, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 10: Listen Here It never fails. You prepare a home-cooked meal and your “starving” child is suddenly too full to eat. Getting kids - especially those picky eaters - to eat healthy can be a challenge. Every parent has faced one obstacle or another when it comes to feeding their families, but we can’t be expected to be short order cooks. You can’t cater to everyone individually, children have to discover the wide, wonderful world of flavors! All of us can benefit from more fruits and veggies, but it’s hard to get those on to kids’ plates. In today’s episode, Vanessa and Kara tackle picky eaters. Maybe you have a non-eater. Or perhaps your kid is turning the color of their favorite food (true story!). Getting over the hump of disliking certain foods is key to helping your family gain variation in their diet.  It’s not all about eating, though. While it can be so satisfying for a mother to see her child eat all their dinner, we’re not talking about the clean plate club here. We want to teach children to listen to their bodies, to be open to new foods, and ultimately, to take the pressure off mom! Baked Potato Bar Recipe download here: Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe download here: Eat the Rainbow coloring page here: Connect with us: Vanessa Quigley @vanessaquigely Kara Haught @karahaught And use code POD20 to get 20% off your Chatbooks order!

MomForce Podcast Episode 8: Mom-hacks for Your Smartphone

July 16, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 8: Listen Here As moms, wives, and working women there is a certain expectation that we’re always reachable. Having a phone is not only important, it’s almost required! But that doesn’t mean we have to be addicted to our phones. The trick is getting them to work for us in a way that allows us to be more productive, less stressed, and happier!  In today’s episode Vanessa visits with her sister Leah, who shares all the brilliant ways she uses apps to maximize her phone’s potential. Setting alarms (to wake up in the morning or remember to get your kid from school), using reminders to create checklists (so satisfying!) and shopping lists that automatically pop up when you arrive at the store, adding images to your calendars and record keeping right in the app, shared notes and keeping important information handy - Vanessa and Leah have hacks for each of your native apps that will blow your mind (we’re talking way more than the basic functions here!).  Your phone can be a tool to make you more cheerful, you just have to know how to use it! Our goal is to always be present. Using technology to organize our lives gives us the opportunity to enjoy the good stuff. Thank you to our friend Jordan Page for sharing her story of how her son almost drowned while she was distracted on her phone at the pool. Such a great reminder of when it is important to put our phones down! Vanessa’s most used 3rd party apps: Evernote: I’ve been using this for years to save and organize all my logins and passwords and other important info like SS#s, frequent flier #s, copies of passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates. But now that I know about “locked” Notes, I may start using that more! Telegram: My husband and I use this app to have “private” conversations. 😉 Great Clips: We have a Great Clips around the corner from us where my kids get their hair cut. No more waiting in lines with this app! Audible: I love books but fall asleep if I sit down to read! So I listen to all of my books and always have a couple of good ones cued up in my account. Amazon    Target Asos Nordstrom: I HATE going shopping so I do almost all of it online. And through the app is even easier for quick purchases! Delta: We mostly fly Delta here out of SLC, but whatever airline you fly, you should try their app. It makes the whole trip smoother! Nest: I love our doorbell camera and automated thermostats. Remote: We use AppleTV but can never find the remote. This app saves the day!  Breathe (no link for this one)--This is actually an Apple Watch app, but I have to include it here. I have it set to remind me 3x a day to mindfully breathe. It leads me through 6 deep breaths and It helps me so much! Chatbooks: Every mom needs this app! Chatbooks is the absolute easiest and most affordable to get your photos off of your phone and into the hands of your family. And with the code POD20 all podcast listeners get 20% off their purchase.  Connect with us: Vanessa @vanessaquigely Leah Ward @leahrward And use code POD20 to get 20% off your Chatbooks order! Get more tips and tricks about allowance on our #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page.

MomForce Podcast Episode 12: Kids Parties Without the Pressure

July 16, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 12: Listen Here Parties are a fun chance to explore your creative, crafty side. But they can also bring the pressure to create this once in a lifetime experience that doesn’t always go as planned.  On today’s episode, Vanessa and Leah sit down to talk about birthday parties. Maybe you’re prepared to make throwing a Pinterest-worthy party a part time job. Or perhaps you don’t possess the time, money, or mental capacity to host 20 kids at your house. Doing what works best for you will result in everyone being much happier! And the same holds true for your kids. While one child may plan their next party all year long, a movie and ice cream date may be the other child’s speed. Do you!  Today’s MomForce Podcast covers everything from party favors and picking out birthday presents (taking my kid on an open-ended Target run in the toy aisle? No thank you), to combining parties and what to do when you simply can’t invite the entire class. It’s filled with creative ideas, smart solutions, and helpful advice on making things run as smoothly as possible. Whether you’re in the market for a birthday blowout, or want to stick with just a few meaningful traditions, the goal is to make everyone feel happy and appreciated.  Check out Kristen Andrus' awesome Snack Board Printable HERE: undefined Print Vanessa's easy Party Planning Printable HERE: undefined Connect with us: Vanessa Quigley @vanessaquigely Leah Ward @leahrward And use code POD20 to get 20% off your Chatbooks order!

MomForce Podcast Episode 11: Keeping the Kids Clean(ish) - Shower, Rinse, Brush, Repeat.

July 16, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 11: Listen Here For a lot of us, summer is already wrapping up and the days of counting the pool as a bath are coming to an end. Getting kids to practice good hygiene can be a battle, but none of us wants to send our kids off to school with dirty nails or “teeth sweaters.”  This episode of the MomForce Podcast is dedicated to kids and hygiene. Vanessa chats with her sister, Shelly, on what’s worked, what hasn’t, and the experiments that have gone awry. There are a LOT of confessionals on this episode. The truth comes out about personal hygiene shortcomings growing up (do germs really boost your immune system?) and the unusual methods we’ve resorted to to clean our kids up in a pinch. And once again, the MomForce comes through with some great hacks that will hopefully save you some dental bills down the line.  Heck, sometimes it’s just easier to get in there and do the work for them. Truth is, we’re all trying our best. The trick is consistency! Share your tips and tricks in the MomForce Facebook group. We can use all the help we can get! Print our fun toothbrushing chart the kids will love HERE: undefined Connect with us: Vanessa Quigley @vanessaquigely Shelly Hyde @shellyhyde And use code POD20 to get 20% off your Chatbooks order!

MomForce Podcast Episode 7: Allowance?..."You get to live here!"

July 9, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 7: Listen Here It’s a Privilege to be My Kid… But You May Need a Few Bucks, Too…  Managing Allowance and Teaching Kids the Value of a Dollar With 11 siblings and 7 children of her own, it’s safe to say Vanessa has experimented with a range of possibilities when it comes to allowance. Whether it’s getting paid for simple household chores, getting a job, or being paid for good grades, teaching kids the value of a dollar is hard!  Let’s face it… we may feel like it’s privilege enough to live in our homes, but kids need money - especially as they get older! In a follow up last week’s Chores episode, Vanessa and her sister, Erika, sit down to discuss the challenge of wanting their kids to have fun without handing out money for nothing.   In our allowance episode, Vanessa and Erika chat about the different allowances (and reasons for them) they received as kids, and how they’ve used money to reward (and sometimes penalize) their children as they’ve grown up. From splitting the costs of non-essentials, to emphasizing the importance of money making skills, we’ll cover what’s worked, what hasn’t, and all the reality checks along the way (you’ll want to hear about the time Erika’s son, Jett, hit the jackpot with his Lemonade Stand).  There’s always more conversation on the MomForce Facebook Group Page. Follow us there as we continue the discussion by talking about ways to teach value to younger children and those not motivated by money. Read more about Richard and Linda Eyre’s “Family Economy” here and in their book The Entitlement Trap Before her kids are 13 and can get their own bank account, Vanessa uses First Kids Bank to manage her kids allowance.  Jett and his \u0024100 undefined A “Summer Job List” from Vanessa’s childhood: undefined Notice the white stickers on this chore chart from Vanessa’s childhood? There may not have been regular allowance, but her mom rewarded good behavior with money. undefined The Bank of Quigland, designed and painted by the Quigley family. undefined Vanessa’s Penalty Chart from 2007 undefined Connect with us: Vanessa @vanessaquigely Erika Anderson @rikkianderson And use code POD20 to get 20% off your Chatbooks order! Get more tips and tricks about allowance on our #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page.

MomForce Podcast Episode 6: When Your Chore Chart Bombs...

July 2, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. When Your Chore Chart Bombs... Making the Chore Chart Doesn’t Mean the Work Will Get Done  Listen Here Sisters Vanessa and Erika discuss tactics to get kids involved in household chores.  Let’s face it, your house isn’t going to clean itself. As families grow, so do their messes. If you want to keep your home from looking like a tornado struck, you’re going to need everyone to do their part. But that is easier said than done.  When it comes to kids and chores, we all get “the WHY,” but “the HOW” is another story. In today’s episode, Host Vanessa Quigley sits down with her sister Erika (aka Rikki), to discuss how kids can help with household chores. Between the two of them they’re raising 14 children and have tried lots of different things--from chore charts and assigned zones, to party style family clean ups--they dish on what has worked and what has failed miserably and share some hacks from members of the MomForce that are worth giving a go.  The bottom line is that these are important life skills to teach (sometimes for the sake of their future roommates and partners) and it’s not a one size fits all plan. Your 5 year old may love being rewarded with high-fives, but that may not work in their teenage years… trust us! But in the end, a job done by a kid is better than a job not done at all. We continue the conversation about never ending laundry over in a Facebook live in the MomForce Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/288060834871331/ Vanessa’s Childhood Chore Charts: undefined undefined Some of Vanessa’s different chore charts through the years: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yzdg9y9ur1kbkfr/AAA8UzvU6OG2O9b84GxR6thGa?dl=0 Print this quick and easy Chore Chart here: undefined Many of Vanessa’s ideas about kid chores came from parenting gurus Linda and Richard Eyre https://valuesparenting.com/  Join us on the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. We'd love to connect with you: Vanessa @vanessaquigley Erika @rikkianderson And use code POD20 for 20% off your Chatbooks order!

MomForce Podcast Episode 5: Meal Planning... or Not!

June 25, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 5: Listen Here Meal Planning...or Not! Everyone seems hungrier in summer, and the hectic schedule certainly throws new challenges into meal planning. A little preparation can go a long way!  There’s something about summer that seems to make kids hungrier. And with kids home all day, there’s an added challenge when it comes to meal planning. Gone are the days where you can send the kids off to school with a slice of toast in their hand then swing by the store to grab groceries for that night’s dinner. Now you’re responsible for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not to mention the snacks in between) all while juggling a hectic summer schedule.  In today’s episode, Vanessa and her sister Shelly discuss little steps you can take to make summer meal planning easier. Summer is a wonderful time of year, but brings added obstacles when it comes to the daily routine. Sometimes simply getting (and keeping!) food in the house is half the battle!  You don’t always have to prepare a big, fancy dinner. You know what your people like! Use these tips to be ready on the go, learn to cut corners, and use your resources. Make summer meal planning easy on yourself!  Quick and easy ways to cut a watermelon: Vanessa's Watermelon Hack Video Shelly's Watermelon Hack Video Vanessa and Shelly both just bought a summertime healthy meal plan guide from Clean Simple Eats Vanessa's favorite meal delivery service (with limited delivery in Utah) The Family Chef Shelly's baby is taking mealtime matters into his own hands! undefined undefined Share your recipes and pick up some new ones on the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. We'd love to hear from you: Vanessa at @vanessaquigley Shelly at @shellyhyde And use code POD20 for 20% off your Chatbooks order! Print this simple Weekly Meal Planner here: undefined Taco Soup Printable here: undefined Creamy Chicken on Rice Printable here: undefined

MomForce Podcast Episode 4: BONUS - Who & Why

June 19, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 4: BONUS - Who & Why Bringing Moms Together to Help Strengthen Families  Listen Here If you just discovered our podcast, you might be asking yourself, “Who are these people and why another mom podcast?” Well, let us tell you!  In this episode, we introduce Vanessa Quigley, entrepreneur and mom of 7 kids ranging from ages 24-11 (plus a new daughter-in-law!). Along with her sisters (and co-hosts) they have 30 kids… YES! 30! That’s a lot of mommin’!  Together with her husband, Nate, Vanessa runs a company called Chatbooks. In the early days of their business, Nate and Vanessa would work late into the night personally responding to customer emails. As the company grew, so did their need for helping hands. They hired remote, part-time employees to jump in and help with the workload, all of whom just happened to be moms! And with this, the MomForce was born! A group was created, and friends and family were invited to join. What started as a team of women using Facebook as valuable parenting tool became a growing community where moms could find advice on everything from getting their kids to sleep in their own beds to sneaking veggies into the dinner menu. Today, The MomForce Facebook Group is a sisterhood of over 6,000 women sharing their best parenting hacks.  There was just too much good stuff to keep trapped on Facebook. So, with the goal of strengthening families, we introduce to you the MomForce Podcast! Quickie 15 minute episodes that cover all the crazy ins-and-outs of mom life and get you on your way!  Print your Summer Bucket List here: undefined Stay on the same page with a Calendar Printable here: undefined Join us on the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. As always would love to hear from you: Vanessa at @vanessaquigley And use code POD20 for 20% off your Chatbooks order!

MomForce Podcast Episode 2: Babysitting: Part II

June 17, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page! Episode 2: Listen Here! All Things Babysitters: Part II Part II: Setting realistic expectations and what to do when things don’t go as planned Babysitters are the lifeline of a Mother’s sanity. But let’s be honest, there are several tiers of babysitters. In the first part of this two-part episode, we discussed the many roles a babysitter can fill. In today’s episode, Vanessa and Leah break down what happens when things don’t go quite as planned, how to get past the awkwardness of the pay conversation, and what you can realistically expect when you invite someone into your home. Hiring babysitters is all about allowing yourself to be a better mother! Whether you returned to a tornado of a house or your (likely well paid) sitter made it possible for you to come home and slip straight into bed, you’ve got to ask yourself two questions: 1. Is everyone alive and happy 2. Was it worth it. We’re continuing the conversation on our #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page, where we’ll be chatting about older sibling babysitters! Listen to the episode, and join us there! You can also connect with us here: Vanessa @vanessaquigley Leah @leahrward Download the printable here. undefined

MomForce Podcast Episode 3: Camping with Kids

June 17, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Episode 3: Listen Here Camping with Kids Whether you’re looking for a true outdoor survivalist experience or your idea of roughing it involves piling the family into a single hotel room, these tips will strengthen relationships and leave you with fond family memories. Our MomForce has spoken and one thing on many summer bucket lists is camping! Whether your idea of camping involves being deserted in the wilderness or you consider a hotel room full of kids roughing it, family camp-outs are a great way to foster memories. In this episode, host Vanessa Quigley is joined by her sister, Kara, co-founder of Raising Wild Swimwear and mother of 4, to discuss the highs and lows of braving the great outdoors. While they agree that camping may not be for everyone, there are ways to recreate the experiences they so fondly remember without requiring expert survivalist skills. And hey, everything tastes better by a campfire, right? Vanessa and Kara discuss tips for the hotel camper and the nature lover alike. One thing holds true: when it comes to camping with family, compromise is key. While it may not be the most relaxing or rejuvenating trip, that’s not why you do it. Just remember… one night won’t kill you. Happy Camping!   Awesome blog post about camping with littles by one of our MomForce moms,Tiffany Delangie Camping with Toddlers Kara and Shelly's swimsuit company Raising Wild Our family's airboat and gator park in Orlando, FL Wild Florida Pictures of Kara's family on their beloved "Campfire Island" undefined undefined Get more tips and tricks about camping on our #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. We'd love to connect with you: Vanessa @vanessaquigely Kara @karahaught And use code POD20 to get 20% off your Chatbooks order! Print your packing list here: undefined Click here for your camping list printable!

MomForce Podcast Episode 1: Babysitting: Part I

June 17, 2019

Welcome to the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7, entrepreneur and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of real life parenting together, bringing you some tried and true tips and tricks to help make mom-life a little easier. And check out the #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page! Episode 1: Listen Here! All Things Babysitters: Part I Part I: Finding the perfect style sitter to fit your everyday needs There’s no one size fits all when it comes to babysitters. Whether you’re looking for a mini camp director or are simply in need of a warm body that can dial 911 in case of emergency, babysitters are a crucial tool for remaining a sane mother. In Part 1 of this 2 part episode, host Vanessa Quigley is joined by her sister, Leah, as they discuss the different (and creative) roles a babysitter can fill. From the Mother’s Helper who is in charge of cleaning up the Slime mess and touching the yucky stuff at the aquarium to the sitter who can handle “witching hour” while you enjoy a much needed Early Date with your spouse, the right babysitter will keep you from losing your mother-loving mind this summer. Join us as we discuss tips and tricks for keeping the “television babysitter” at bay and answer all of your babysitting questions on our #momforce by Chatbooks Facebook page. Download the printable here. undefined

7 Tips to Getting Amazing Vacation Photos This Summer

June 12, 2019

Summer vacation is the time to relax, explore the world and create memories together as a family – it’s also the perfect opportunity to capture some epic photos of the kids! We’ve rounded up the best tips from professional photographers around the globe on getting the most amazing vacation photos with your family. undefined 1. Get down to their level “It’s important to get on the kids’ level so that you aren’t shooting down at them.” – Dana in Budapest Shooting from a lower angle is less intimidating for little ones, and also allows you to capture more of the scenery behind them! 2. Keep it candid and capture the fun “Encourage the kids to be kids! Let them run, jump, get dirty, and have fun.” – Nicky in Lake Tahoe “Always have them doing something. If they just have to stand still they will get bored. My favorite: let’s see who can jump the highest!” – Nadine in Amsterdam 3. Avoid the crowds (or at least make it look that way!) “A way to making a crowded place look like you are there alone is to change the point of view. Try to shoot from above or below, and move around until your subject will hide the other people around. You could also use a monument or wall to cover what you don’t want in your frame.” – Roberta in Rome 4. Take advantage of jet lag “When you’re dealing with jet lag and can’t sleep, getting up extra early and catching the sunrise at major tourist spots will help you get photos with gorgeous light and fewer people around.” – Tanja in Vancouver 5. Avoid harsh light Midday sun can cause some serious squinting, shadows, and frowning faces – not fun! Try to find a spot in the shade that will allow you to capture your kid’s smiling face without the distraction of harsh light in their eyes. 6. Let go of perfection The aim of vacation photos isn’t to get the most perfect shot – it’s to capture the moment. What may seem like a less-than-stellar snap at the time can turn out to be a family favourite years down the road. 7. Make sure to get yourself in the picture! Pass the camera over to someone else to make sure that there are plenty of photos with you actually in them. Down the road, you’ll be glad you took them! undefined

Hold on to Your Family Memories with a Hashtag Book

June 12, 2019

Scene: Kids are doing something precious and/or funny. Maybe they’re just getting along (GASP!). Mom pulls out her phone to take a picture. Suddenly, kids are ducking and dodging. Mom yells, “Don't move!” Kids moan and groan. Moment is over. Photo is taken. And it’s not too bad! A for effort, Mom. End scene. Does this sound familiar? Rikki, Chatbooks’s resident party girl (i.e., Event Planner), shares with us how she manages to get all seven kids (yes, seven) into photos together. “A few years ago, I noticed people on social media taking weekly family pictures,” said Rikki. “They weren’t professional. They weren’t perfectly staged. But it was them. Together. And I loved it. I also noticed they used a hashtag. And when I clicked on that hashtag, all their pictures popped up and I could see the progression of time. I could see the seasons changing. I could see their kids growing up!” Rikki was inspired. “Now, I’ve got a lot of kids,” she said. “And some of them have a particular abhorrence of picture taking of any kind. But I’m the mom, right? And besides, this wasn’t for them. This was for me.” So, Rikki introduced her kids to #sundayandersons. She started lining the kids up each Sunday, told them to smile, took a few photos, and here’s what she got: undefined Not too shabby for the first shot. undefined The next week was more of the same. undefined And so was the Sunday after that. But she kept lining them up and taking photos. “It's been two and a half years since I started taking our #sundayandersons photos and it's one of the best things I’ve ever done! I love clicking on our hashtag and looking back at how much the kids have changed, how their sun-bleached summer hair has faded, their missing teeth grown in, and the clothes passed down to younger kids!” Rikki discovered a way to easily document her family’s growth with this one little weekly ritual. Sure, the pictures aren’t perfect. Kids still complain. Someone is grumpy about having to pose for a photo. Someone else is half dressed or hiding in the back. But it’s a family together, and a pretty perfect representation of their life. And their mama loves it. Rikki has printed two copies of the first edition of her #sundayandersons book, spanning about 100 Sundays, and plans to keep making books. The book turned out so great that she sent a copy to her long-distance parents in Florida. They’ve requested copies of the next ones! About the Author: Rikki Anderson is the little sister of our own Chatbooker-in-Chief, Vanessa Quigley. Rikki is a Florida transplant, living in the shadows of Utah’s mountains. She’s been married for 17 years, has seven kids, two cats, a dog, and a neverending to-do list. Most of the time you can find her at her kids sporting events or trying to pressure her husband into just one more cat.

How to Create Back-To-School Traditions

September 5, 2018

There’s a tradition in Germany, and several neighboring countries called the “Schultute” in which children are given a cone-shaped package full of sweets and gifts upon returning to (or starting) school on the first day of a new year. It’s intended to make a day that may cause anxiety or dread a little sweeter. Adults enjoy a festive celebration at the end of the calendar year on New Year’s Eve, but for children, the year really ends and begins with the school calendar. Transitioning from one classroom, grade, or school, to another is one of the more momentous events in our kids’ lives and deserves special attention. Make a meal to remember. The end of summer can be capped off with a special dinner the night before school starts. Several of our #Momforce readers allow their children to pick a favorite meal for the family to enjoy either the evening before or the first day of the school year. The conversation always flows more easily from children who are enjoying their food, and this is a great opportunity to get your kids to share their excitement, fear, or curiosity as the new year begins.   Make shopping a special time. School requires supplies, which require shopping and hunting for new clothes, backpacks, notebooks, and/or sports equipment a great way to bring fun into what could be an otherwise tedious activity.  With each purchase lies the opportunity to discuss goals, hopes, and apprehensions. The trip to the mall, or even just sitting together to scroll through Amazon, gives parents the chance to share their excitement for their children’s work and hobbies. Shift the idea of back-to-school shopping to a treasure hunt done together, instead of an expensive chore for Mom or Dad, and you can make it a fun ritual to look forward to. Make it special. Of course, small gifts, treats, or fun extras for their desk, locker, or backpack are always welcomed by kids as a fun tradition. One #Momforce member shared that a new cookie shop had opened locally in her neighborhood, owned by a former teacher. She offers specially personalized cookies at the start and finish of each school year that can be handed out to teachers and snuck into kids’ lunch boxes as a wonderful treat to say, “Hooray for school,” in a fun and delicious way. Many of our moms reminisced about a special set of fun shaped erasers, an extra sparkly pencil, and those unique and fun additions to their crayons and rulers that made the start of their own childhood school year feel even more exciting. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big to be special for a child. The first day of school deserves celebration, and however you choose to carve out a little extra time or enthusiasm for your child, it will be appreciated and remembered. From a special breakfast to a ride to the bus stop when they normally have to walk, every gesture that shows your kids you’re excited and proud will help to get them off on the right foot to a successful academic year. You’ve got this, mama! ______ And check out these apps we found for you to make back to school a little easier this time around:   Kango – this California-based family rideshare and childcare app has been rated the best “Uber For Kids” two years in a row by SF Magazine. Have the background checked and trustline certified driver/sitter pick the kids up from school or practice, and babysit them at home while you’re at work or running errands! Habyts – Habyts is a free family habit-building app that regulates screen time, eliminates homework distraction, and motivates your kids without the nagging. Cozi – This app is designed to make it easier to manage everything we have to do. It coordinates and communicates everyone’s schedules and activities, tracks grocery lists, manages to-do lists, plans ahead for dinner, and keeps the whole family on the same page.

Personalize Your Father’s Day Chatbook with Dadlibs!

May 23, 2018

Your dad’s not a regular dad, he’s a cool dad, so make your Father’s Day Chatbook extra special with personalized Dadlibs! Add these to your Chatbook, fill in the blanks, and tell Dad what makes him the greatest. How to add your Dadlibs: 1. Save the Dadlib you want to add to your Chatbook: You can save Dadlibs to your phone by holding down on the image below and choosing Save Image, or you can right click on the image from your computer and choose Save Image As. 2. After you create your Chatbook, find the Dadlibs in your images and add it just as you would add photos to your book. undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined

How to Make Spring Cleaning a Success

May 15, 2018

With spring in full swing, it’s time to start cleaning out those wintry cobwebs and funk from last year. Who doesn’t love to start the new season with a home that’s deep cleaned from top to bottom? Our #Momforce Facebook group has some tips that might just make all of your spring cleaning dreams a reality! Take it step by step. The biggest and best tip we have is to tackle just one room or project at a time. It can be so easy to get sidetracked by something else that before you know it, you have half a dozen rooms or projects that are just half clean. Stay focused. Finish the one thing you set out to do before moving onto something else, and each time you feast your eyes on that perfectly polished room, it’ll inspire you to keep going! Declutter, declutter, declutter! Cleaning is the name of the game, but if you declutter, you’ll have less stuff to clean. Most of us don’t clear out the clutter until we’re moving, which means stuff can pile up if you’ve been in the same home for a while. Decluttering is so liberating and it can also help you realize the things you don’t need, which can also help control your spending a little better when you think about bringing home extra knick-knacks, kitchen items, or other non-necessities. Grab an empty box and pile it as you go with books, toys, knick-knacks, and anything else you never wish to dust again. Drop it at your local Goodwill and be sure to pick up a donation receipt for filing next year’s taxes. Beauty is surface deep. Do surface cleaning on a regular basis. Things like sweeping, mopping, wiping down counters, etc. are for everyday cleanliness. Keeping up with these easy chores can help you focus on bigger tasks such as cleaning the oven, washing the walls and windows, cleaning behind the fridge, etc. Getting in the habit of surface cleaning will make it feel like part of your day, and those bigger cleaning projects will feel easier to tackle. Practice patience with yourself and home.  Remember that a true deep cleaning takes time. Give yourself several days to really clean and declutter everything. Maybe drop a donation box each day on your way to pick up the kiddos at school. You don’t need to do it all at once. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your home won’t be deep cleaned in one either! Be realistic about your goals and your approach, and remember to stay focused on one project at a time. Before you know it, your friends and family will be asking for your housekeeper’s info.  You’ve got this, mama!  Happy spring cleaning! ___ The #Momforce by Chatbooks Facebook group is a community and support group for women hosted by Chatbooks. Join us here for tips, tricks, and mom relief efforts.

Wedding 101: How to Start Planning Your Wedding

January 19, 2018

Getting engaged to be married is one of the most exciting events that any couple can experience! However, when the initial excitement and engagement celebrations are over, it can be a bit daunting trying to establish where to begin with wedding planning. Lucky for you, Wedding Planner is here to share Wedding 101s of where to start when planning your big day. undefined First thing’s first: when it comes to planning your wedding, organization is vital. Organizing a wedding is like putting all the pieces of a puzzle together; you’ve got so many vital components, whether it’s the venue, food, dress, guest list, etc.! This is when being organized is key. Before you start the planning process, make sure you’ve got an organization system in place whether that’s a wedding folder, spreadsheet, or list. Fortunately, Wedding Planner has already thought about this and offers free online planning tools to help keep you in check! Staying organized will allow planning to go much more smoothly by helping you keep track of what’s been done and what’s still to do! Money management is important when it comes to planning your wedding. Before you start to explore venues, dress options, and caterers, it’s a good idea to choose a wedding budget that works for you and then plan around it! Doing so will make planning so much easier as you know what you’re working with and which prices work within your budget. Get the fun started by choosing your wedding party! This early step in wedding planning is fun and exciting for everyone involved.Choosing the wedding party early on will be a major help with the wedding process, as wedding planning responsibilities can be delegated to group members to ease some of the stress for the couple. Once the wedding party has been selected, it’s time to plan the guest list! Knowing how many people are likely to attend can be a huge help in picking a venue and organizing caterers that may be sensitive regarding their capacity limits. If you get a rough idea of how many guests will attend, it will make organizing the big day much easier. The next step on the list is choosing your venue and saving the date. Again, the earlier you do this the better! Organizing the venue in advance will help guarantee your first choice of where to get married. And by saving the date in advance, you can give your guests enough time to make sure they’ll definitely be there. Getting the venue sorted out leads you to the next task: turning it into the wedding of your dreams! There are quite a few things that go into transforming any space into a wedding venue. You need to organize and book caterers and suppliers for the food, cake, flowers, music, photography, and décor. Make sure to use your wedding planning organizational system here to keep track of all the suppliers and what they are doing. Once the guest list has been made, date picked, and venue booked, it’s time to send the invitations! The rule of thumb is to send them between 2-3 months in advance to give your guests plenty of time to get days off, transportation sorted, and organize any other issues that stand in their way of getting to your wedding. Up next is bridal style, beauty, and glam! It’s no secret that everyone’s eyes will be on the bride, so feeling and looking your best is a priority! Choosing your dress early on will help take some of the stress out of the wedding planning process and give you plenty of time in case alterations need to be made (they can sometimes take a few months, so don’t leave it until the last minute). Additionally, once you know what bridal style you want, you can plan your bridal hair and beauty around it. Typically, a bride will have a hair and makeup trial before the big day to make sure she loves her look. This means you’ll need to not only book your hair stylist and make-up artist in advance, but you’ll also need to book your trial too. Another must-have is purchasing your rings! Some tips for ring shopping include deciding on a style that both the bride and groom love and that’s within your price range. Like the wedding dress, rings may need to be resized or slightly altered, so make sure you allow a little bit of time for this so you can have your dream rings on the big day! Wedding accommodation and transportation definitely needs to be organized early on. Whether, you’re staying home, getting ready at a hotel, or you need accommodation after the reception, you’ll want to get it booked early to guarantee your rooms. Likewise, don’t leave transportation until the last minute. Organize it in advance so you’re sure to get to the venue on time and, if you choose so, in style. Some of the most fun parts of the wedding experience are the bachelor and bachelorette parties! Although these big send-offs are usually arranged by the Maid of Honor and Best Man, it’s always good to discuss details in advance so everyone can agree on a budget and date to make sure the entire wedding party can be in attendance. Last but not least, remind your marriage officiant to organize the registration of your marriage license. You’ll need to give notice at least 28 days in advance, in which you will provide details of the wedding. In addition, you will need two witnesses to sign the marriage register alongside you and your new spouse. There you have it, the Wedding 101s when it comes to planning your big day! All weddings are different and everyone will have their own traditions and preferences, but we hope you find these starting points useful when organizing the most phenomenal day of your life!

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