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.


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?

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.


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.


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


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

bcharmed = utterly charming

bcharmednecklaceHave you heard of bcharmed?

Neither had I!

This brand new company out of Utah has taken the bling world by storm with their handcrafted, totally unique and absolutely affordable jewelery line.

Jacquie Fleming, a stylist with bcharmed, has kindly provided me with my choice of bcharmed necklace to review. You’ll be thrilled to know I chose that one over there on the right, and it’s freaking amazing! It’s called the black pearl flower necklace ($35 – see? Affordable!) and I completely love it.

I have a LOT of bling (yep – a LOT…), and this one is unique. The fact that it’s black means it matches absolutely everything, and the triple strand really stands out but isn’t so big that my under-tall self can’t wear it. The flower is movable – and removable – making it an incredibly versatile piece. It is a simple safety pin on the back so can even be added to a sweater to spread the style around.

For this and other bcharmed bling, you can shop online at Jacquie’s store. There are bracelets, baubles, stamped charms, soldered charms, earrings and more – take a look!

Check out Jacquie’s bcharmed page or email her for more information. If you’re in Southern Alberta, consider hosting a boutique to earn your own free bling. No matter wear you live, you can join Jacquie’s team and make yourself some cold hard cash – and free jewelery too!

Jacquie’s bcharmed is giving away the pictured black pearl flower necklace valued at $35 to one lucky TOP reader. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post before noon mst on November 30, 2011 and we’ll contact the winner to get it shipped for arrival in time for Christmas! Good luck!

CONTEST CLOSED – Congratulations to Janaye!

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.


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.

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.

Oh, Those Little Chic Heads!

chic-peek-hatJust in time for back to school, the 30+ degree weather has finally hit. It’s time to put away the rain hats and pull out the oh-so-cute summer bonnet from Alberta based Chic Peek.

Echo Wells, a Medicine Hat mama, designer & entrepreneur, designed these hats with both function and fashion in mind. They cover the child’s entire head and many have a large extended bonnet-style peak that provides shade for their delicate face. The sample bonnet we received (pictured) makes my daughter look like a little pioneer girl! (We’ll be donating it, as we do with 90% of our samples, to a deserving child at our local shelter or another charity.)

There are currently twenty-four styles available and they vary in pattern and style. There are some awesome boy patterns, which are often hard to find, and some decidedly non-pioneer styles for the girls too.They’re sized from newborn to four years, and retail for $28.99.

Chic Peek makes functional, fashionable.

Babywearing 101 – Soft Structured Baby Carriers

When new parent discussions turn to baby carriers it is almost always the more modern pack-style baby carriers that first come to mind despite the great variety of baby carriers available today. There is no denying that pack-style baby carriers are one of the most popular options, and there are many reasons why parents opt to purchase a structured carrier.
Soft-structured baby carriers are essentially mei tai baby carriers with buckles. They consist of a main body and four straps that attach to the wearer and hold baby close. Rather than wrapping or tying the carrier to your body, quick-release buckles are used. Buckle carriers lack the versatility that wraps and mei tai’s offer as you are limited to strap and buckle placement when it comes to securing the carrier to your body, however the addition of buckles make for a very convenient option when it comes to a baby carrier.

As Many Unique Pack Carriers as There Are Babies

Unlike simple baby slings or wraparound baby carriers that have a very basic and similar construction between brand names, soft-structured baby carriers vary widely from one model to the next. There seems to be as many unique styles of structured carriers as there are babies, each with its own distinctive features. Differences between soft-structured baby carriers can be found in the number of carrying positions offered, whether or not a waist belt has been used for dispersing weight more ergonomically over the wearer, how a baby is suspended in the carrier, the angle at which buckles, belts and straps are placed as well as how much of your baby is supported by the body of the baby carrier itself, depending on the size of the panel.

This aspect of varying styles and features is important to keep in mind when selecting a buckle-style baby carrier. If one brand does not seem to be working well for you or your baby, you are experiencing discomfort, or a carrier lacks the versatility you are after in its design, there are many others to choose from that will fit and feel differently.

When selecting a soft-structured baby carrier one of the most important features to look for is a carrier that makes use of back-packing technology. Wider shoulder straps, padding in all the right places, and a supportive waist belt to help distribute baby’s weight to your hips and upper thighs for maximum comfort will aid in preventing strain on your neck, back and shoulders.

In-Arms Parenting – for Toddlers too!

Many parents are looking for a baby carrier to use with their older or heavier children. A soft-structured baby carrier is ideal for this. Because a structured baby carrier of the highest standards will adequately distribute a heavier child’s weight to the wearer’s hips and not put strain on the neck and shoulders, you can easily (and comfortably!) carry a child up to 40 or more pounds in many soft-pack carriers.

Advantages of Soft-Structured Baby Carriers:

• Easy for most parents to learn how to use as their concept is similar to that of a standard backpack.
• Ergonomic design in many carriers is more comfortable for wearers offering balanced weight distribution across both shoulders (choose brands carefully!).
One of the best carriers for older babies & toddlers (40+ lbs), most parents find they can carry a baby the longest in a soft-structured carrier.
• Many can be worn on the front and back, with some brands offering more flexibility than others in carrying positions.
• An excellent option for the active parent that hikes or walks often or for longer periods of babywearing.
• Some carriers are designed primarily for “hip” carrying, a natural position for many parents when carrying an older, heavier baby or toddler.
• Convenient to put on and off quickly and easily.
• No wrapping, knots to tie or dragging fabric.
• A one-size fits most baby carrier, soft-structured carriers can easily be shared by different users.
• Mainstream look and ease of use is highly appealing to dads.
• These carriers usually have the highest resale value.

Disadvantages of Soft-Structured Baby Carriers:

• Buckles and the adjustment of belt straps have a learning curve many parents are unprepared for. Carrier may be uncomfortable if adjusted incorrectly.
• Not usually recommended for newborns without head control (less than 4 months old), although some carriers may have additional accessories to accommodate infants.
• Not the easiest or most discrete for nursing an infant. Some may require additional accessories for nursing.
• Structured baby carriers don’t offer the same “hug” or hold some other carriers are well known for, so they are less than ideal for cuddling with an infant or young baby.
• Usually these are the most expensive baby carriers due to the great deal of extra hardware and workmanship involved in manufacturing.
• Buckles make this a bulkier baby carrier so it’s not as compact for travel and may not fit in a diaper bag.

Because of their unique design and the ability to transfer most of a child’s weight to the hips, structured carriers are among the most comfortable baby carriers with even the heaviest of children. Parents that plan to use their baby carriers for a long walks, hiking, back-carrying, or for extended babywearing with an older baby or child, may find a soft-structured baby carrier suits their needs best.

Soft-structured baby carriers are comfortable, relatively simple to use and stylish with mainstream appeal. If you’re looking for a way to get started with babywearing but traditional baby carriers make you nervous, using a soft-structured baby carrier would be a great choice. With their longevity and easy back-carrying options, pack-style baby carries offer a value in a baby carrier that is hard to match. Pair this style of baby carrier with a popular infant option such as a baby sling or wraparound and you’ll have a perfect baby carrying combination from birth to toddler and beyond.

Karito Kids – KidsGive Teaches Kids to Give

351How do you teach your child to be kind, especially to someone who looks, acts or talks differently then they do? How do you teach them to be empathetic and generous with time, talent and money? It’s tough, I know. I for one, can use all the help I can get helping my children learn these important life lessons.

So I was thrilled to hear about KidsGive LLC, which was created to “help kids in need, and to embed in our children a sense of social responsibility from an early age. By teaching children about different countries and cultures, KidsGive LLC hope to encourage understanding and acceptance.”

The founders of KidsGive LLC believe:

Kids want to give; they just need to know where.
Kids want to help; they just need to know who.
Kids want to save the world; they just need to know how.
So KidsGive created Karito Kids™ – a brand new franchise of dolls and books that makes a difference. Determined to identify the ideal first product to align with the KidsGive mission, the founders created a product line that will help children connect with and better understand other children around the world.

The initial products are dolls and books, launching with five characters that represent girls around the world who come to life through beautifully made dolls, fun adventure books and a whole range of interchangeable clothing and accessories. The Karito Kids™ dolls all stand 21″ tall, with jointed limbs and a soft torso and highlight the unique beauty of their individual heritage. They are made to represent 11-year-old girls who characterize a modern way of life in each country and culture, providing today’s views of fashion, events, and values that shape each generation and raise global awareness along the way. Take a look:

Gia from Italy

Ling from China

Lulu from Kenya

Piper from Australia

Pita from Mexico

Zoe from the USA

Through the purchase of each Karito Kids product, three percent of the retail price helps another child—and you decide how! Every item comes with a special code allowing you to log on to karitokids.com, play great games, earn extra World Change™ and direct your gift to one of four causes: school, home, health or food (through Plan USA, a worldwide children’s charity). By entering the unique code (found on every product) on the company website, you and your children will be able to select the charitable cause to which the donation will be directed.

But what about these dolls? Well, let me tell you, they are stunning. We received Agapita Maria Reña Corta to review: “Pita is an 11-year old girl of privilege from Mexico City who bucks the rules of her social class after her beloved horse goes missing. Pita comes with her own passport and a 123-page, hardbound fiction book that includes eight scrapbook pages about her native Mexico!”

My 4 year old daughter latched right onto Pita and hasn’t let go since! And who can blame her – the doll is gorgeous with incredible details. All of the poseable dolls are hand-strung and constructed from vinyl with no phthalates added (meeting the more stringent EU standards of toy safety). And to properly model their fashions, the dolls are constructed with a 1/3-vinyl breastplate. To ensure the much-desired “cuddle” factor, 2/3 of the torso is soft 100% cotton and polyester fill. The hair is wigged and can be washed and styled. The dolls are safety tested for children 3 and older under both U.S. and Canadian standards.

$99.99 – available for purchase at Karito Kids. Worth every.single.penny.

– by CPA Mom

The Baby Lottery -Totally Not Chick Lit

Kate Trueblood understands the complication of balancing a career and family. She is the mother of two children, a writer, and an Associate Professor at Western Washington University.Trueblood’s most recent novel, The Baby Lottery, was chosen to appear as a Book Sense Pick in 2007, and she was selected for the Jack Straw Writer’s Series in the Northwest. This book deals with many of the issues facing women today, including pregnancy vs. abortion, career vs. family, and marriage vs. divorce. The story follows five old college friends as they struggle to come to terms with their lives.

Kate sees The Baby Lottery as a piece of literature that challenges social questions and does not fit into the category of chick lit, and we totally agree.

How would you feel if one of your oldest and closest friends chose to have a late term abortion? How would you react? Would you support her? Would you judge her choice? And, what about your own choices; are you content with the choices that you have made?

Kathryn Trueblood’s second novel, The Baby Lottery, is a piercing, insightful examination of the decisions women make about motherhood. Told through the voices of five different women, the story centers around one of the women’s choice to terminate her pregnancy. The bonds of friendship are tested and strained as each woman reacts to the abortion based upon her own circumstances and experiences. Each perspective is profoundly different, but each reaches the same conclusion; there are no easy answers.

Kathryn Trueblood is a truly gifted writer. She has crafted a story that grabs you and won’t let go; each page leaves you hungry for the next. Also, the language in The Baby Lottery is stunning. I found myself rereading passages just to savor the words. The characters are well developed, and I could relate to each of the women in some way. Entertaining and deeply provocative, The Baby Lottery definitely deserves a spot on your reading list. – By Kelli

Nan, the non-judgmental nurse; Jean, the bitter and opinionated ex-social worker; Virginia, the overworked and underappreciated lecturer; Tasi, the detached career-oriented professional; and Charlotte, the alcoholic enigma – this is their story. Their friendship has survived over the years through turbulent relationships, lost loves, life changes, career upheavals, motherhood and failed pregnancies etc. But when Charlotte announces her decision to have a late-term abortion, it acts like an earthquake, arousing varying reactions among her friends and shaking their friendship to the core.

With poetic language and realistic imagery, Author Kathryn Trueblood takes the readers on an unforgettable journey into a woman’s life – the choices she has to make, the consequences she has to endure, and most importantly, the life she can bring into this world or take out. The viewpoints and experiences of the friends provide an intelligent and varied perspective into the hot topic of abortion and other issues close to a woman’s heart. The characters all act and react in a way that feels so true to life. It’s easy to relate to them, finding a bit of Jean’s longing or Nan’s pragmatism in ourselves. Their pain is our pain, their lives are our lives. What I liked most and what felt very real to me was that the problems weren’t resolved in a bid to provide a happy ending, but rather the hope of a better future was conveyed.

Simple and elegant, this is a story that will live long in my memory for being one of the most engaging books on female relationships and motherhood. – By Rashmi

KidsSave by Kidnexions

kidssaveKidnexions has developed a children’s money management program called KidsSave. I love the idea of teaching kids to manage their money while they’re young and guiding them in a way that will encourage financial success when they’re older.

From the website:

KidsSave is a kids’ savings and money management software program designed for ages 6 and up. KidsSave helps you and your child keep track of money, encourages saving through Reward incentives, and helps your child set and track goals. With KidsSave, kids can make deposits and withdrawals, receive automated allowances and Rewards (interest and/or matching funds), count money, and view their statement history over time.

The KidsSave program handles all Account management automatically so once the Account(s) has been set up, the Banker (typically the parent) has little to do. Unique features allow the Banker to have access to all Accounts, define interest, allowance, and/or matching funds, enable savings locks and require confirmations of all transactions.

Check out what some opinionated parents had to say about the program.

I am always looking for great ways to help teach my kiddos about money management. It’s important to teach them how to set financial goals and track their progress. Kidnexions has a wonderful program called KidsSave, a money management software program for the 6 and up crowd.

The account was super easy to set up and my twins have had fun tracking their savings, which to be honest, hasn’t been much. They currently do not receive allowance here at home, but they do each receive $2 whenever they loose a tooth… Something that is happening quite frequently these days! Every little bit have they added to their account, watching their balance slowly increase. It will be a happy day when they reach their financial goals!

This program has some wonderful features. Your child sets up an account by depositing his current stash. He can then make additional deposits and withdrawals, as well as receive his allowance and rewards, count his money, and view his statements. Mom and Dad act as Banker and can set KidsSave to automatically deposit allowance and rewards, including interest, so it’s easy for us, too.

Just the other day, we went through the twins current savings bank. They took turns adding bills and coins in to their KidsSave account using the money counter to help sort and count their money. They had a blast and learned so much at the same time. What a great way to reinforce what they have learned in their math classes. I love it when it works out that way!

Another feature with which we had a lot of fun was in the “What if?” section where we have played around with the endless possibilities… What if they earned this much allowance? What if they made this much in interest? It’s been neat to see what would happen should things change and what their little minds can fathom!

The Kidnexions KidsSave program would be a great addition to any money management system you currently have set up. And if your kiddos don’t currently have a plan, this would be a great place to start!

By Christine

I’ve been trying out another software program for The Opinionated Parent. This one is called KidsSave from Kidnexions. It’s REALLY cool!

Designed for ages 6 and up, it helps you, and your child, keep track of THEIR money. You can also set up numerous accounts so the program is good for more than one child. There is no limit to the amount of accounts the banker (parent) can set up! It has an allowance feature that you can set to automatically show the amount that they receive each week/month.

While kids don’t actually deposit their real money, they do make deposits into the program and statements are given each month to keep track of what they’ve saved. Kids can also make withdrawals and set goals. Goals can be for saving enough to buy something, save a certain amount, or reach a certain account balance.

There is a neat money counter to help kids know exactly how much they are depositing. All they have to do is click on a picture of the bill or coin they have in hand and the money counter adds it for them. But don’t worry, there is an “undo” and “clear” feature in case they mess up!

There are 6 fun colors that kids can choose from to make their account more eye appealing. Positively Pink and Posh Purple being my girls’ favorites!

Also included is a “What If?” feature that allows your child to see what would happen to their account over a year if they were to get a raise in allowance, deposit “x” amount of money each month, withdraw money, or earn “x %” interest. I, personally, LOVE this feature. It really lets a child see what they are able to save.

We have thoroughly enjoyed using KidsSave. It is well worth the $29.95.

By Gina

The KidSave program by Kidnexions is a great tool for teaching youngsters how to manage their funds. My seven-year-old son really enjoyed using the program!! We found it very user friendly and fun to use.

By Andrea

You can download a free 35 day trial of this program from the Kidnexions home page to try before you buy.

Scootababy – Natural, Comfortable & Hands Free Carrying

scootababyIf you read TOP regularly (and why wouldn’t you?) you know we’re all dedicated child wearers. There’s no shortage of great carriers out there, and each one serves it purpose and different carriers work for different people.

For the last few days I’ve been wearing my new Scootababy and have fallen in love. So has my 2 year old son. When it arrived, my baby was sleeping and he, who hasn’t been worn in almost a year because he’s refused since he learned to walk and became Mr. Independent, insisted in hopping right in. For being a 35 pound kid, he was surprisingly easy to carry! And it’s a good thing because he now considers it his so I haven’t had a chance to try it with my little one yet. When I want to wear her, she’s in the Ergo because he’s staked his claim on the new one.

The Scootababy, designed by babywearing mama Audra Meng, has a very comfortable padded waist strap that places most of the child’s weight on your hips and an easily adjustable shoulder strap with a fleece insert on the section that’s actually on your shoulder so there aren’t any of the usual pressure points that you often feel with a one sided carrier. It was notably easy to get on. Simply fasten the waist belt, pick up your child in their natural position at your hip and flip the body of the carrier up behind them. The shoulder strap then pops over their head and yours, and you can easily adjust it to support your child and be comfortable for both of you. Nothing to it!

It’s made of sturdy black denim, with your choice of a fleece or cotton liner, matches any outfit (like that matters when you’re that comfortable) and is machine washable.

I especially like the comfortable side carry position. It feels very natural and yet takes no effort to carry even a large child. I have other carriers, such as the Ergo, which allow for a side carry position but it takes so much work to adjust the straps that I never bother. It’s front, back, or not at all. Sometimes, though, the back isn’t ideal and you need the space in front of your belly for other things (and, honestly, once they hit a certain weight they don’t feel great centered in the front). With the Scootababy, it’s just like picking up your child as you always would, but they’re infinitely lighter and your hands are free. I love it!

A Revolution in Brilliant Colour

girlsnotchicksIt’s well known in my circle that I won’t allow Barbie or Bratz in my home. I won’t tell my kids what they can and can’t play with when presented with a selection of toys, but I’m sure not going to encourage them to play with small plastic prostitutes by having them in our home.

With the continued proliferation of the princess persona and the mainstream media’s portrayal of what little girls and little boys “should” become, I was excited to hear from Jacinta Bunnell who, along other independent artists, has designed and published two feminist coloring books like nothing I’ve ever seen. The images in “Girls Not Chicks” are anything but what you’d expect to find in a children’s colouring book. Appropriate for both boys and girls (because, isn’t anything?) “Girls Not Chicks” and “Girls Will Be Boys Will Be” are a great alternative to Barbie and Bratz and the princess saturated Disney. Each page is original enough to get a rise from some and make others laugh. Either way, they’ll get you thinking and challenging, and that’s what it’s all about. “For every girl who tosses out her Easy-Bake oven, there is a boy who wishes to find one.” Hell, yeah.

Girls Not Chicks and Girls Will Be Boys Will Be are both available from Jacinta’s etsy shop for under $10.

Butt-Ums Up!

buttumsupI love my diaper bag, but it isn’t always convenient to bring it everywhere. And even when I have it it’s not always easy to dig to the bottom to find the puny little change pad that came with it. At Butt-Ums Up Baby, there’s a great solution to both of those issues. Their changing pads have several advantages over the typical ones.

1. They’re the longest I’ve ever seen. Even my 22 month old fits on it easily.
2. There’s a pocket at the top end that easily holds a wipes case (included) and a couple of diapers. It’s not zippered, so it’ easy to get the things you need with only one hand while the other hand holds down the poop covered child that’s trying to escape.
3. It rolls up into a compact package and secures with velcro.
4. That same velcro makes it easy to open with one hand. while you’re holding the above mentioned poop covered child with the other.
5. There’s a buckled loop attached at one side that makes it easy to clip it to a stroller or purse.
6. They come in your choice of twelve gorgeous chenille fabrics and are all lined with vinyl.
7. They’re all machine washable and dryer safe.

Entrepreneurial mom Stacy Sager is the talent behind Butt-Ums Up Baby and she also makes gorgeous matching blankets in the same luxurious soft chenille fabric with silky satin trim and binding.

The change pads retail for $40 and the blankets range from $25-$108.