6 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity as a Parent

Parenting is an extremely difficult thing for lots of people. Infants don’t arrive with user manuals when they’re born, so many individuals are stuck fumbling around in the dark as they attempt to raise their children to be reputable grownups.

The following tips ought to give you direction when it comes to raising your youngsters.

Carpool

Take advantage of carpools when sending your children to school. A carpool permits you to not have to shuttle bus your youngsters back and forth to school every day. It also offers your children some extra socialization time with the next-door neighbors. You save time, and save money on gas too.

Take Time for You

Being around your children a lot can be really difficult. Make certain you take time out for you. Plan a dinner date with a good friend, opt for a long walk to go to the films on your own. That little time away will certainly be enough for your to recharge and be the very best moms and dad you can be.

Keep Your Cool

You should stay clear of losing your authority no matter what. As soon as your kids realize that there is actually absolutely nothing backing up what you say, it can be tough to gain back control. In addition to this, you should not lose your cool in front your children. If you feel it’s unavoidable, send them to their room and calm yourself down however possible.

Positive Reinforcement

Children react better to favorable reinforcement than negative reinforcement. Parents also commonly ignore when a youngster does something well but have the tendency to snap and hand out penalties when a kid does glitch. A better environment would be where the moms and dads praise and reward the kid for doing something well. Kids are a lot more excited to obtain rewards than they are to stay clear of penalty.

Read Often

Read to your child often. Aside from the apparent home entertainment value a youngster gets from hearing a terrific story, studies reveal that from an extremely early age, a kid’s vocabulary is increased by leaps and bounds merely from hearing words being read to him. This helps to increase his success in school and in communication with others throughout his life time.

One of the most significant problems moms and dads have with their kids these days is getting them away from the computer, television, and computer game. One option to this is to show them just how much fun reading and other activities can be. A terrific method to go about doing this is to take them to story time events at libraries and bookstores. Here, they may learn to take pleasure in reading by paying attention to interesting stories, and communicating with other youngsters at the same time.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Have fun with your kids. Not only is it enjoyable for both of you, playing also has an amazing impact on minimizing children’s unfavorable habits. By spending time with your children in this manner, you are making them feel like they are necessary to you. That implies they will certainly be less likely to engage in negative behaviors to get your attention.

Parenting may be a tough and confusing, but it’s well worth it. These tips ought to assist give you a starting point for raising your children. While it may not have actually covered everything, you ought to at least come out with even more understanding and a better strategy than you can be found in with.

Next: Read Is the Generation of Selfish Parents Upon Us?

Opinions Aside, Time for Baking!

It’s my favorite time of the year… the Holiday Season!

I’m going to be spending a ton of time getting creative in the kitchen and I highly recommend you do too (talking to you too, dads!). There’s nothing more therapeutic for me than to have the oven cooked up to 350 degrees and the smell of fresh cookies, cake pops, and brownies baking.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Being the opinionated person I am, I spend a lot of time making sure my baking turns out well because there’s nothing worse than having to eat rock hard cookies or dried out brownies at the holiday party or family get together. I don’t tolerate it from other people so there’s no way I’m going to allow myself to mess up the baked goods.

Truth be told, I’d rather throw out the end product and start over than give people bad baked goods.

This year I’m breaking out of my shell and going to attempt to bake some homemade pies. I didn’t get around to it for Thanksgiving so here are a few recipes I’m looking at trying for my first pie baking attempt.

1) Chocolate Cream Pie

This pie by tideandthyme.com made me want to run out to buy a pie for me to snack on while I attempt to make one from scratch. I’m a sucker for some Chocolate. And some cream. Ok, and Oreos. This one had me from hello!

2) Caramel Apple Pie

caramel apple pie

Photo credit: ericasweettooth.com/

This pie that Erica from Erica’s Sweet Tooth cooked when family members were coming in from out of town for a BBQ looks delicious. It might be more of a fall recipe but I’m thinking about giving it a shot. Apple pie and Christmas go together like spaghetti and meatballs.

3. No Bake Key Lime Pie

As much as I love baking, being able to put a great pie together without having to turn on the oven doesn’t sound too bad either. This key lime pie looks delicious and is sure to make my father-in-law happy since it’s his favorite.

Alright. I’m going to have my hands full with these recipes but it will be nice to have a few choices and have the kids and family try some new things. I may buy some pumpkin pies too since those seem to be pretty easy to whip together, as well.

Well, wish me luck and Merry Christmas (or happy holidays, if you prefer) to you all. We’ll chat next year.

Opinionated Cooking Tips

Cooking-Tips

If your kids don’t run to the dinner table, maybe it’s time to take an honest look at your routine meals and make sure you’re offering variety and some new meals, occasionally. Get some additional dinnertime enthusiasm and more smiles on your family’s faces with some delicious new ideas. Here are some tips to spice things up a bit.

RESOURCE: Cookipedia

Change up your routine

Try to plan for a week’s worth of meals before the week begins and get in the habit of planning your weekly menus. Planning your meals in advance can be a huge time saver and help you avoid the “what am I going to cook for dinner?” debate. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll have dinner on the table rather than arguing about what you’re going to cook. This also helps you and your husband/wife stay on the same page reducing the “what do you have the taste for” debate every night.

Over the weekend – or whenever your free time occurs – think through the upcoming week and loosely plan four or five meals for the week. In addition to  saving time on grocery shopping, it will also reduce the stress of having to come up with meal ideas on a hectic evening, last minute. I try to keep a notepad on the refrigerator to jot down items I’m running low on or completely out of so I can keep my kitchen stocked and not be missing ingredients when I need them. This advance planning will keep you from running out of the ingredients you need on a regular basis.

Special occasions

Spicing things up isn’t a great idea on special occasions. If you’re cooking a meal for some important occasion, stick with a recipe you’re comfortable with and avoid the temptation to try a new dish. You ‘ll be more relaxed and less anxious while cooking. People will be able to taste the difference.

Weekend cooking

On weekends, try to make larger meals that leftovers can be eaten during the week. For instance, left over roasted beef can make great sandwiches during throughout the week. This will save time and money. A win-win situation for any family.

I recommend taking a good, honest look at your routine cooking and see if it could use some changes. If so, using some of the tips above can help reduce stress while still adding some new variety to the mix. It’s worth a shot. Worst case scenario, you have to microwave some chicken nuggets or whip up some pancakes for the kids if they don’t like your new dish. A little variety won’t hurt them but make sure you have a good stash of their favorites in the freezer in case they don’t care for the new recipes you’re testing.

If you took an honest look at your mealtime offerings and decided that they could use some help, start with the fresh ideas in the article above and you will have your family running to the table in no time. These practical tips will get you on your way to success.

My Daughter Got Braces (All Hell Broke Loose)

Girl with dental bracesSo…. we had a quite an eventful month in March. We took the family to our bi-annual dental appointments for cleaning and xrays. Everything went smooth, except my daughter. She wasn’t happy with the information provided by our Chicago dentist.

If your dentist recommends orthodontics, you should seriously consider it. Getting your teeth straightened is often more than a cosmetic issue; incorrect alignment of the teeth or jawbone can cause serious dental health problems later on. Although children most often wear braces, adults can benefit from orthodontic treatment as well.

Braces

Even if you’re an adult, it’s never too late to get braces. It’s important to have a smile which looks good and keeps you happy, so it’s worth it to invest the time and money into getting the straightest teeth possible. This can open doors both socially and professionally, so consider it for yourself.

If you have braces or partials, you should consider using an oral irrigator to help keep your teeth clean. An oral irrigator should be used in addition to regular flossing and brushing. The oral irrigator effectively flushes food particles from between your teeth and brackets by using pressurized water.

Wisdom teeth are necessary in the mechanism of chewing food. Most people have their wisdom teeth extracted soon after they emerge. Orthodontist usually remove the wisdom teeth before installing braces or other corrective devices. If your wisdom teeth are causing pain, they should be pulled before they become infected.

If your teeth are crooked, you can get braces to straighten them. This procedure is usually done at a young age, but adults can also benefit from it. New techniques make it possible to wear braces that can be removed to make eating easier, and some types only need to be worn overnight.

To tell whether your child is going to need braces as an adolescent, one test is to check the gap between her two top front teeth. If there is a significant gap, it is likely that she will need braces later on to correct that hole. If not, it is more likely that the growth process will do most of the correcting of any problems in the alignment of her teeth.

Orthodontic devices can make eating a difficult task. Soft fruits, small fruits and cooked vegetables are easier to eat than raw, hard food. For example, apples should be cut into bite-sized pieces to make them more available for consumption. Avoid hard or sticky candy and don’t chew gum while wearing braces.

To get the most out of your orthodontic treatments, you have to follow your dentist’s orders after the braces come off. Wear your retainer according to the instructions that you receive; if not, you run the risk of having your teeth return to their former distortion, putting all of that money and time in braces to waste.

To ensure that you maintain dental hygiene while wearing braces, be sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions about foods to avoid. Braces make it harder to give your teeth a thorough cleaning, especially if you consume forbidden foods. These foods can cause problems to your orthodontic care.

The bacteria that can grow in your mouth are too much for mouthwash alone to handle. Brushing and flossing are important parts of your dental hygiene routine, because they physically clean your teeth. You may hear that mouthwash alone is enough to do the job, but that simply is not the case.

Be sure to ask your dentist or orthodontist about Invisalign (invisible braces), as well.

Use These Parenting Hacks to Better Connect with Your Child

Satisfying the demands of being a parent takes focus. Sometimes simply the simplest pointer from someone more knowledgeable than we happen to be can help us achieve that focus. That is the intent of the ideas supplied below. They will certainly supply the focus that numerous people have to step out there and fulfill the difficulty of being a parent.

Be Consistent

An excellent idea for any parent is to show consistency and follow-through in all interactions with children. Parents who continuously provide the exact same commands and possible consequences and fail to see them through will likely wind up with children who hesitate to listen or behave. Standing by your statements will certainly instruct children to pay attention and frequently do what you ask of them.

Have a day-to-day regimen or schedule as much as possible. Most kids prefer regular, as it means they know exactly what will certainly be coming next. Surprises can be enjoyable, however not every day. Having a fundamental schedule for activities, mealtimes, and naps, and a more detailed schedule for going to bed can assist your youngster remain calm and focused throughout their day.

They’ll Have Friends, Be Their Parent

An excellent parenting tip is to try not to be your youngster’s best friend all the time. If you’re constantly concerned about how your youngster thinks of you as his or her friend, your probably falling short in terms of being a moms and dad. Preferably you ought to strive for a balance between the two.

It’s simpler for children to get through their day if they know what to anticipate. It’s necessary to try to keep things the very same for youngsters. Delighted surprises are typically well received, however, things that are not delightful to them could make them feel ambushed and cause them to act out.

It’s important for a child to know exactly what is anticipated of them each and every day. A child needs to not have to wonder or guess what their moms and dads desire them to do. They must understand precisely what they are expected to do and exactly what the effects will certainly be if they do not do what is anticipated.

Having positive family guidelines can help reduce the amount of combating that goes on in your home, and help your children get along much better with each other. Instead of stating “no attacking” you might inform your kids to “touch carefully”, as it is a kinder way of stating the same thing.

Above All, Make Them Feel Loved & Safe

Give your youngsters a big hug as often as possible, and remind them that you enjoy them. No matter how upset they make you, or how severely they ruin your home, they’re still your children, and they will be for life. They will grow up to be well-adjusted grownups as long as they understand they’ve been enjoyed.

If your youngster is sick, especially with a fever or cough, it is vital that you not send them to school. Not just does your child have to stay at home and rest when they are sick, however sending them to school can increase the opportunities of your child spreading their disease to other kids.

If your child is afraid of beasts in the dark, acknowledge his fears, despite the fact that you might think that his fears are silly. In your child’s mind, the monster is genuine enough, and if you do not acknowledge that, he will think that you do not understand him. A much better way is to offer him a method to handle the imaginary beast, like telling him that his blanket offers him “magic powers” against the monster. In this manner, your youngster will be empowered to handle his own worries.

By concentrating on objectives and breaking them down into specific steps, we can achieve what might at first appear to be the impossible. Occasionally that is something as basic as instructing a toddler to tie their shoes. Other times it might be as complex as comforting our grieving teenager when they have actually broken up with their partner.

4 Opinionated Parenting Tips from Parents

Sometimes, as a parent, you need all the help you can get. No person is born knowing how to parent.

Although we do have parenting instincts that come natural, people also rely on research, read books, and get information from their experienced family and friends in order to discover how they’re going to parent and what types of parents they’d like to be. Here are some tips we got when asking others their best advice for succeeding as a parent:

Don’t Do Everything for Them

Too many parents get used to doing everything for their children at a very young age and never get out of that habit. Instead of enabling their children to be more self-sufficient and take care of their own things, many parents fall into the trap of doing everything for their kids because it’s faster and easier.

However, days become weeks which become years and these habits are hard to break, especially for the child that never learns to clean up for themselves or complete tasks alone. It’s much easier to teach at a young age than to make a drastic change when they’re older.

A good example of this is teaching kids to speak on the phone. My parents used to make us call to order food when we’d order takeout. This taught us how to interact over the phone at a young age. My roommate in college didn’t like to talk on the phone with anyone, which impacted his ability to find a job. We’re not saying they’re correlated, but he was never forced to order food as a kid. Couldn’t have hurt for him to make a call or two when he was younger.

Don’t Break Your Promises

My oldest child was once overheard explaining to his younger brother that he should trust Pa (his grandfather) because Pa never lies. When he says something, he means it.

This can have a big impact on a child and be a great example of how that child should be when they’re adults. Children develop many of their habits and mannerisms by emulating the people in their lives. Be a person they can look up to and develop great habits from. Start by saying what you mean and meaning what you.

As we say in our family, be like Pa!

Teach Them About Teamwork

This is especially effective if both parents are still in the house. Show them that you both are a united front. They can’t manipulate one parent against the other to get what they want. They’ll still try it from time to time so make sure you and the other parent are on the same team and can back it up.

Also, don’t be afraid to include them in joint tasks. Teaching kids that it takes everyone to keep the household running properly will them take care of themselves when they get older. Here are some tasks to include them in:

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Yard work
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Games
  • Talking with adults
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • And much more…

Don’t Stop Listening

Kids are pretty good at telling you what they want. If you’re listening, you’ll be able to solve many problems before they arise and will allow you to better understand your child, what motivates them and what demotivates them.

Parenting is a 24/7 job that you’ll do for the rest of your life. You’ll never be perfect but with the right balance of love and distance, you can teach your youngsters how to grow up to be great people that are reliable, self-sufficient , and can return the favor to their children.

Happy parenting.

Next: Read Parenting Plan: Post-Divorce

Parenting Plan: Post-Divorce (Just Divorced Image)

Just Divorced

Divorce can be one of the most difficult things for a child to go through.Ask any adult that went through it when they were a kid and they’ll tell you how difficult it can be and how it’s changed the way they look at relationships as an adult.

Unfortunately, divorce comes with a lot of emotion. You’re going to have to put your kids through the process. If you have a plan and dedicate time to it , there’s a great chance that your kids will look back and not have bitter memories.

Consistency

Even newborns want consistency, it’s a basic need for most people. When you decide to divorce, you’re changing up that consistency, which is often the scariest time for children. They begin to ask questions like, “Will I still see mommy/daddy?” because they’re not sure how this is going to work.

The first thing you need to do is create a plan with the other parent and share it with your kids so they have an idea of what’s going to happen. Then, and this is most important… Stick to it! Nothing will scare the kids more than the unknown. Let them know that everything is stable and you guys have control of the situation, even if you don’t.

Compromise

It’s going to be difficult to work with the other parent but it’s essential that you both make some compromises in the interest of the kids. This plan has to be made with as much logic as possible and try to leave your emotions out of it. This plan has to cover issues that you both find important, as well as the issues that are important to just one parent.

If you’re resisting the other parent’s requests, you need to ask yourself if you’re doing it for you or for the children. If you’re pushing back in the best interest of the kids, then you may be doing the right thing, but make sure it’s not due to spite or negative emotions towards the other parent. Most parents can’t work together to create a plan because they can’t get along. They spend more time pointing fingers than problem solving. Try to be the bigger person and get a plan created in the best interest of your children.

Outside Help

If the two of you can’t compromise, it’s in your best interest to hire a trained mediator or family law attorney who will work with both parents to get a plan put together. The mediator is impartial, they won’t take sides and they’ll help you both get setup for success by discussing implementation of the plan – an often overlooked part of a parenting plan after divorce.

Mediators are usually successful because they remove the power struggle between the parents and start by focusing on the items that both parents agree on. Once both parents have said yes a few times, they’re much more likely to say yes again. Mediators are also great substitutes to divorce litigation. If you’re just beginning to explore your divorce options, consider looking into mediation. Mediation is much cheaper than litigation which is a win-win for everyone, especially your children.

For more information on mediation, read Mediation Law in Cook County: An Alternative to Litigation

Evaluate

Your kids are going to grow and need different things from both of their parents. Your post-divorce parenting plan should change, as well. At the least, consider scheduling time to adjust the parenting plan once a year.

Keep in mind, what’s most important is making sure you take care of your children’s mental, physical, and emotional needs. Things are going to change over the next few years but you’re both parents and need to make sure you can work together and ensure your kids remain healthy and happy through this emotional transition.

Next: Read 6 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity as a Parent

The Intellectual Ballerina

The Intellectual BallerinaA few little girls were granted the chance to review the beautiful new hardcover book from Prima Princessa, Prima Princessa’s Ballet for Beginners: Featuring the School of American Ballet [Hardcover]. Here’s what they had to say:

Kamryn (7) says: “I really like this book. It is easy to understand because there are really nice pictures, and I can read lots of the words too. I like to copy the pictures in front of the mirror in my bedroom. I like the hard cover too, so my sister probably won’t wreck it.”

Emelia (3) says, with the help of her mom: “I love my ballet class and I love everything pink. This book is great for any girl who loves ballet, from toddlers right on up to pre-teens. It’s an easy read for mom, too, so I can help her learn more which makes her class easier for her.”

Ashley (10) says: “Even though I’m kind of over pink, I still love ballet and this book is a great review for anyone who’s taken a few years of classes already. It has some definitions in it that I didn’t know before so that was neat. I think every beginning dancer should get a book like this before they start ballet!

Maren (4) says: “I love love love my new ballet book! I have both of the Prima Princessa DVD’s and have loved them forever, so I was really excited to get this book. The pictures are really nice and easy to copy, even if you can’t read the text without help.”

3D Movies, Pint-Sized

3D glasses for kidsThree dimensional movies are way cool, but the glasses that the theatres hand out are, um, questionable. RealD, a leading global licensor of stereoscopic (three-dimensional), or 3D, technologies, sent my children some ReadD kid-size 3D glasses of their very own with which to watch Toy Story 3.

They’re designed to fit kids 8 & under, and all theatres showing the 3D version of Toy Story 3 have received shipments of these little guys so be sure to ask for them. Bonus: they’re new so you don’t have to worry about the questionable cleaning methods of the recycled ones! (Tip: keep them and clean them yourself for re-use.) They’re made to the same high quality standards as the adult RealD 3D glasses for a bright & immersive 3D experience.

Get a Grip, Kid

Scoop food. Lift food. Dump 90% of food on lap. Lick spoon. Repeat.

If you’ve watched a toddler learn to feed themselves with utensils, you know it’s almost laughably ridiculous. Laughable if you aren’t the one that has to remove the stains from their clothing.

littlegrips2
Thanks to a cool new toddler eating utensil, Mount St. Laundry just got a little bit less difficult to conquer. Little Grips for Little Hands were designed with your toddler in mind.

It has a no–choke safety handle that fits easily in the palm of your child’s hands and allows them to use their arms and wrists for better control. Other utensils require finer finger controls that are still undeveloped, creating a frustrating experience for your child. And you. The ergonomic design that takes advantage of a toddler’s stronger grasping and overall hand–movement skills, while still allowing them to learn proper feeding motions.

Kid feels better. Laundry gets easier. It’s a win-win!

Little Grips sell for $11 at the Little Grips for Little Hands website.

Invaluable Resource: The Green Guide for Families

green-guide-for-familiesI love to read, and always have at least 3 books on the go. Something fiction, something non-fiction, and something parenting. I also always have a stack of at least 30 (and sadly, I’m not exaggerating) books in my “waiting their turn” pile. The Green Guide for Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents from National Geographic Books sat in that pile for a long time because it just kept getting buried. The poor thing. There were just so many series that came up in the meantime that I just had to finish. (Millennium trilogy, anyone? Begin with ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ and see if you get any parenting books read before you finish all three!)

Now that I’ve finally read it cover to cover, I’m recommending it to everyone I know with a family. It’s extremely well organized and is filled with practical advice and great ideas. It addresses all of the key environmental issues faced by parents of young children today, and takes a straightforward approach to things like lead-painted toys; vaccinations, antibiotics, vitamins, plastics, managing food allergies, avoiding fat and sugar filled snacks and SO much more. It’s just an awesome book that is sure to become dog eared as you reference it for years to come.

The author, trained scientist, seasoned writer, and mother of two small children Catherine Zandonella combines both knowledge and experience as she helps parents guide their children through a society that doesn’t always make green lifestyle choices easy and offers advice on raising children to “think green” from the start.

POM Wonderful

pom wonderfulYou know pomegranates are a super food right? But if you probably also know what a pain in the butt they are to eat and to wash out of your family’s clothing after they’ve been squirted and wiped all over everything.

Solution? POM Wonderful.

Six different varieties of juice, teas, coffee, pills, bars…if it’s pomegranate, it’s there.

We’ve tried all of their juices now, thanks to some coupons they sent us to pick up free samples at our local grocer. I prefer the straight POM, but for those who like it cut there’s blueberry, kiwi, nectarine, cherry & mango as well.

Check it out – get your superfood & get hydrated too!

SMART

This post is sponsored by Mom Central Canada, but aside from the idea it’s 100% me.

SMARTloveoflearning.com is a community of people who share a passion for learning. From the teachers who make lessons come alive to the students who are eager to learn more and every parent, friend, aunt, and neighbor in between, there are many who share SMART® Technologies love of learning. After all, every good idea in the world exists only because somewhere along the line, someone cared enough to teach and someone was engaged enough to learn.

I’m a teacher. I’m a mom first and foremost, but I am and will always be a teacher. Before I had a B.Ed I was a teacher. It’s just the way I was made. Some people just are.

I remember very little about my “favourite teacher.” I place those words in quotes because I’ve had many great (and rather poor) teachers but she’s the one I really remember. She was my kindergarten teacher, now retired and going by a different name after a divorce, and it was her influence that inspired me to teach at just five years old.

I could read when I started kindergarten, and she did what not many would or could do. She put me into a grade one classroom for reading and math, and worked with the grade one teacher to have me put into grade two after kindergarten. That just doesn’t happen around here anymore, and it was the perfect arrangement for me. I remember her a a kind & gentle woman who really took the time to get to know me as a person, and as a learner. I remember singing with her on the carpet – The Farmer in the Dell, specifically. I remember my special cubbyhole. Everyone had one, but I sure thought mine was the best one. I remember bringing her homemade baked treats and watching them sit on her desk until Friday – the one day she allowed herself to eat junk food. I remember details like I don’t remember about any other year of school (and there were 20 including preschool and university, so that’s saying something) and when I think of her, I smile.

It wasn’t the curriculum I learned – though I’m sure she did a great job of that even if I don’t remember. It was how she made me feel that I could be anything I wanted to be. What I wanted to be was just like her. The ultimate compliment for a teacher.

That was decades before SMART Boards became commonplace in all public school classrooms. I can’t live without mine and use it all day long. I can just imagine what we could have done as students if we’d had them. It would have been magical! (video link) SMART Love of Learning has a Facebook group you can check out. Join and you can enter to WIN a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for your child’s school or a school of your choice! Simply click on the ‘Win’ tab to enter. If you’re a parent or teacher interested in raising money for a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for a school in your area, click on the ‘Toolkit’ tab.

Welcome them to Motherhood with Books!

lbbWhat better way to encourage literacy amongst the population than welcoming babies into the world and women into motherhood with books.

THE LITTLE BIG BOOK FOR MOMS is a magic wand for new mothers. It instantly provides in one silver gilt-edge book a treasury of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, songs, games, and activities for new moms to do and read with their children. I recalls when my oldest child was a baby asking readers of my personal blog what I could sing to him other than the alphabet. I could have really used this book! I now keep one on a table close to where we read bedtime stories every night and it’s an awesome resource – the perfect book for every mom who doesn’t want her little ones to miss out on the classic tale of Princess and the Pea, or wants to be reminded of the words to Rub-a-Dub-Dub, play I’m a Little Teapot and Itsy, Bitsy Spider, learn how to create shadow puppets and who wants to make recipes that are especially yummy like Frozen Chocolate Bananas. In other words, this is a book for moms who want to be special moms and who want to bring memorable activities to their little ones. And, when everyone has finally gone to sleep at night, there are essays just for Mom by Anne Lamott, Susan Cheever, and Amy Herrick.

THE ULTIMATE ORGANIZER FOR MOMS is a one-stop, indispensable resource to encourage communication between parent and child. It goes from pregnancy through year five, and is a perfect gift for every new mom and mother-to-be. It will make her life easier with great organizational tools & places to record things like her child’s medical records, birthday parties, playmates, teachers, favorite toys, baby sitters, and those all-so-important “firsts” but it will also give her bragging rights to say “Yes! I’ve kept a baby book for my child.” The Ultimate Organizer for Moms comes with a front and a back pocket and is held snugly together by an elastic band.

What a charming gift the combination of these books would make for an expectant or new mother!

Play and Learn Toys ~ The Way It Should Be

play-and-learn-toysAt times in the Canadian prairies it’s tough to find those great natural & open ended toys that many of us believe in(toys that allow children to play…and learn…without getting overstimulated or ingesting nasty chemicals)without paying insane shipping charges and customs fees. We recently discovered a northern Albertan company, Play and Learn Toys, that solves that problem for parents all over Canada. Owner Narissa Singh, a UNB Business graduate, has lived in northern Alberta for nearly ten years and struggled to find Canadian sources for quality toys for her own children. She has chosen to offer a super array of products from some great manufacturers known for their quality & safety, and runs her business out of her home since her tiny town doesn’t have retail space for a store.

Play & Learn Toys carries many products that I’ve seen on European sites and been curious about, so I was thrilled to see that they’re available in Canada now – and being from a mom-run business makes it even better!

My children are absolutely loving their new Stepped Pyramid ($54.99) from Grimms. It consists of a square wooden base filled with blocks in a variety of colours, sizes and versatile shapes. With an open ended toy like this, the possibilities for learning are endless. We now use them daily for imaginative building play and they’ve been castles, rocketships, dragons, post offices, houses and so much more. That’s the thing with great toys – they don’t do the imagining or noisemaking for you, so they can be anything at any time. Grimms’ products are made in Germany of wood and non-toxic colourings.

Another super product the Play & Learn Toys carries is Contina by Bamboo($29.99). This is not just another sets of blocks. Contina includes a rainbow of colors, black and natural finishes on 100 bamboo sticks which are small and lightweight for children 3 years and up. Combine colors, create a rainbow, stack lengthwise like dominos or pile them high for tons of creative fun. The possibilities are endless with Contina. It’s no wonder that Contina won the Best Toy award from Child’s Magazine.

Join Play & Learn Toys on Facebook.

It’s a simple wish with a simple solution. Trust women to solve it.

simplewishesThough I’ve been breastfeeding for three and a half years, I’ve never been much of a pumper. Mostly because neither of my kids has ever agreed to take a bottle, and a little because it sounds like work. I have huge admiration for pumping moms who can’t breastfeed for one reason or another but still give their child the gift of breastmilk. Now that’s dedication.

New-ish mama Jennifer tested out a new product for pumping moms for us:

Simple Wishes, a company run by four sisters, has recently introduced theSimple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier. While at first glance it’s kind of silly looking, it’s actually an affordable and quality alternative to (1) sitting in a chair and holding two cones on your boobs or (2) the highly unflattering and fidgety products of similar function that have been on the market for the past few years.

The design of the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier is quite innovative, with adjustable straps and the option to be worn many different ways to ensure a flattering fit no matter how full a woman’s breasts are at any given time. The two front zippers allow you to move the breast shields closer together or further apart by 2 inches, and the velcro back panel allows you to adjust the ribcage band size by a full 10 inches, creating a perfect fit just for you. It’s designed with elastic reinforcement at the top for a secure & slip-free fit, and it comes with two straps which can be worn in halter, tank or racerback style. The Bustier can be worn on it’s own or slipped over your nursing bra with the flaps pulled down. When you’re done pumping, you can just pop some nursing pads in and wear the Bustier all day long. It’s machine washable too! – by Jennifer

Got Milk? The Very Best Lact-educational Experience on DVD.

simply-breastfeedingContrary to what I heard & read before my first child was born, breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Though I’ve exclusively nursed two children for a looooong time and it certainly got easy and wonderful and even blissful, it didn’t start out that way. Either time.

My memories of learning to nurse my first consist of requiring a nurse, my mom, my husband, a stool and a huge pillow in order to get him properly latched, and heaven forbid the pillow slip or the footstool not be inexactly the right position. The creams, the pain – OhGoodLordInHeaven the pain – it was all normal (for me) but it’s a good thing I was so committed to my children never having formula or I surely would have given up. Once the first 6-8 weeks passed and I was able to nurse him pain-free anywhere & anytime, it was just as amazing as I originally thought it would be from the beginning. Had I had the Simply Breastfeeding DVD with Shari Criso of My Baby Experts prior to giving birth, I would have been much more prepared and well educated.

The “breastfeeding educational program” is incredibly thorough. It runs 2 hours and comes on 2 discs. Part one addresses the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby, and helps you establish a strong personal reason WHY you want to breastfeed, and part two teaches you exactly HOW to breastfeed. It’s organized into helpful chapters so it’s easy to skip to the topic you want or watch it straight through in one sitting.

Some of what you’ll learn from Simply Breastfeeding, as stated on Shari’s website:

* Amazing Benefits For Both You & Your Baby – that You Might Not Have Heard Before
* Exactly How to Hold Your Baby – with real Mom & Baby demonstrations
* How to Prevent the Unneccessary Nipple Pain You Hear About in Other Mom’s Horror Stories
* Exactly How Much Milk Your Baby Needs Each Day During the First Few Weeks, As Well As Signs and Clues for You to Follow to Make Sure Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk
* How and When to Give Your Baby a Bottle
* How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake that Most Parents Make in the Hospital….

Whether you have a lactation consultant available to you or not, and whether you take a breastfeeding class or not (and no, the half hour devoted to it in prenatal class doesn’t count), this DVD will be invaluable to you in your quest to breatfeed your child. I’ve pretty much been nursing for three years straight, and even I learned some new things about those little newbies that make me feel like I’m in labour all over again.

The My Baby Experts blog has lots of great information for all parents – lactating or not.