Tuesday, 14 October 2014
On your parenting journey, you’ll discover some pieces of gear are way overrated and some, you truly couldn’t live without.
Since I get the opportunity to review many manufacturer-supplied products at no cost, like the Joovy Foocot, I truly get to see some great products that I would have never known about, as well as some doozies that make me question how they got to market at all.
For our family, the Joovy Foocot has been one of those accidental discoveries that, like a carpet cleaner when you have a sick kid, you may not realize you need it, but once you do, you’ll never want to go without.
In our family, we have many uses for the Joovy Foocot, but these are our 5 favorite.
The Joovy Foocot easily becomes:
The Sick Bed. Once of my children suffers from febrile seizures, so whenever he is sick, I want him close by. With the Joovy Foocot in two seconds, he has a separate, safe sleep space that is close enough for me to monitor him, but far enough apart so that he doesn’t overheat and we can still all sleep comfortably. Since a fitted crib mattress protector pad fits it perfectly, we put that on for added comfort and protection, should a middle of the night mess occur.
- The Guest Bed. When my niece and nephew are visiting, no problem! With more kids than we have beds, the Joovy Foocot comes to the rescue. With a small footprint, it sets up easily in one of the kids rooms and everyone is happy to be together.
- The Vacation Bed. When we take our annual trip to New Hampshire with our family friends, the youngest non-crib sleeping child gets to sleep at the foot of their parents bed in the Joovy Foocot. We couldn’t fit two extra twin mattress on the floor, as there wouldn’t be room, but with the Joovy Foocot, my family of four can bunk in one room easily and comfortably.
- The Travel Bed. Grandparents tend to think bed sharing with a toddler or preschooler will be fine; until they’ve experienced it firsthand and ended up with a foot in the stomach at 2 am. The Joovy Foocot is so easy to set up and is lightweight so grandma can give junior his own safe and separate sleep space right next to hers in a flash.
The Camping Bed. While we haven’t made it out of the backyard yet, during our practice runs at home, the kids have loved being off the floor of the tent and up on the Joovy Foocot. The comfortable and familiar sleep space makes tackling the outdoors a little easier for our little ones, and as a result, everyone gets a better rest.
The Joovy Foocot supports children up to 48 inches and 75 pounds. For the price of renting a rolling cot for your hotel room during a vacation, you can have a Joovy Foocot on hand to use anytime, anywhere.
Michelle LaRowe is a mom, award-winning nanny, parenting author and executive director of
Morningside Nannies, a Houston based nanny referral agency, and editor in chief of eNannysource.com.
Friday, 3 October 2014
Get ready moms! I am going to let you in on my new favorite website…gatheredtable.com. I want to take you back a month to where I talked about the importance of family dinners. I was trying to take some pressure off myself by stressing the importance of sitting down together, not making a gourmet meal from scratch. Gatheredtable.com is a website that helps you provide both! There are countless websites out there that put together menu plans but in my opinion, this is the cream of the crop. It allows you to create a profile with not only how many people you are cooking for but also how many adults and how many children. It also lets you input food allergies, food aversions, and gives you the ability to rate meal options on a scale of how much you like them.
I’ve been using the website for about three weeks now and have made some great new recipes. These recipes were not only delicious but also easy to make. Our dinners have included Bolognese sauce with pasta, teriyaki fried rice, minestrone soup, baked ziti with sausage to name a few. The website can pair all main courses with a carb side, a veggie side and a dessert. You get a weekly menu that you can edit and the best part is the shopping list it comes with. Grocery list…check!
This site also allows you to add your family’s favorite recipes. You can manually add them or use my favorite feature, the web clipper. This web clipper allows you to “clip” your recipes from a website and then it dumps them into your menu preferences. This is an absolute must do to make sure that you get the most out of the site.
My life is simpler because I always know what is for dinner. I am much more relaxed at dinnertime. The shopping list is set or you may add the rest of your shopping needs to it. This makes visits to the grocery store less frequent and I’ve also saved money by not buying extras.
I’ve actually been setting the table and we’ve been sitting down to real conversations. After we take turns sharing our daily highs and lows, the conversation gets interesting. Bob brought up the subject of hobos the other night. Eva said that he should call them homeless because hobo was not a nice word. Then she added that he didn’t even know what a hobo was. Bob quickly responded with a yes he did, “It’s a man without a wife!”
Please join gatheredtable.com right now. It’s free and it takes less than 2 minutes to get started. You will be amazed how much stress is lifted when you know what’s for dinner.
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Check out the latest issue of Pregnancy and Newborn, on newstands now! Don’t miss this mention of the “clean freak” HiLo that converts to toddler chair after it’s highchair mission concludes.
Friday, 26 September 2014
We were in the first full week of school. I was excited to begin my organizing project. Just when I was about to start, I received a phone call from the school that my 5th grader was sick and needed to come home. I remembered that she told me she didn’t feel well the night before and then again the next morning so I dropped everything and went to pick her up. As soon as she got into my car, she seemed a little better. She said it was a stomachache and a headache. That was understandable. We’ve had abnormally warm and humid weather and our schedules are back in full school time swing. I took her home to rest, not thinking much more about it.
When bedtime came, I sat down on her bed for a goodnight kiss and she just unloaded. The tears began to flow and she told me she wanted to be homeschooled. She loves her teacher and is excited for everything she will learn this year but doesn’t like recess and lunch. She said that she doesn’t like them so much that she gets a stomachache when she even thinks about it. She said that nobody was being mean to her but she just didn’t fit in. This broke my heart because she is a happy, kind and caring girl. She is the daughter who wakes up happy and always sees the good in people and situations.
Once we ruled out homeschooling as an option (no way this mama could do that) we began to come up with ideas on how to handle lunch and recess. She is much like me. She is shy, quiet (until she gets to know you), and a rule follower. We talked about learning a new joke to share with friends. We talked about volunteering for lunch duty with the kindergarten class. We talked about practicing piano in the music room. We talked about taking a soccer ball to school to practice juggling. After our conservation, she felt better but STILL wanted me to talk to her teacher about getting off the playground during lunch and recess. So I made the appointment.
A few days later, she came home and told me to cancel the appointment. She had worked out the problem on her own. She decided to just walk up to her peers and start a conversation. She put herself out there. Everyone was kind. She was happy. And I was relieved.
Kids need to learn how to make friends. We are a social society. We did all the “right” things to socialize our daughter. We joined a playgroup when she was 6 months old, she did three years of preschool, and she played sports in our community programs. How do you give them confidence to make friends? When they are miserable at school, how far do you let it go before you get involved? When do you contact the teacher?
Please share your thoughts and stories.
Friday, 19 September 2014
It’s been a little over a year since we struggled with the decision. Should we start our son in kindergarten at 5 years old or wait until he is 6 years old? We decided to wait. There were many factors and questions that went into the debate:
- Will he be bored in preschool?
- Will he become a bully on the preschool playground?
- How will he feel if some of his friends start kindergarten before he does?
- Wouldn’t our lives be so much simpler with all three kids at one school?
We spoke with academic professionals and they said he would be fine either way. We spoke with friends that had chosen to enroll their children at 5 years old and 100% of the people we spoke with said they would do it differently. In the end, we realized that you couldn’t get that year back. Bob and I had one last great year of slow mornings and lazy afternoons. These times were greatly appreciated by both of us since he is the youngest in the family. It was nice to have this special time together.
I’ve been volunteering in Bob’s art class at school this year and can really see the benefits of the extra year. He is neither ahead nor behind academically but appears to be somewhere in the middle. Many of the strengths I see from the extra year of preschool are social. He makes friends easily, he has no separation anxiety, he is kind and considerate with his peers and he raises his hand to participate.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an essay entitled “Should Children Be Held Back From Starting Kindergarten,”
that brings up some interesting points. They call what we did academic redshirting. “Redshirting” is a term associated with holding kids back for sports. We did not “redshirt” our son. We gave him one extra year to have more time with the family and grow socially. After reading the article, we still stand with confidence in our decision. After all, each child is different and a parent should do what is best for its child. This is not a one size fits all world.
At what age did your son or daughter start kindergarten? Did you see a difference either academically or socially? Please share your story.
Friday, 12 September 2014
We recently attended a memorial service for a friend and neighbor that passed away in a tragic accident in July. He left his wife and two children way to soon. There is no way to understand why things like this happen. It is difficult for adults to understand so how can we explain this to our children?
The memorial service was a stellar tribute to a great family man. He was a very successful businessman among many other things but the common theme was that his family came first. Many of his friends and family stood up to speak about him but the most moving was his 9-year-old daughter. She spoke with poise, elegance and a bit of humor. As we sat there and wiped the tears from our eyes, I realized that she was not crying. She was strong. She was resilient. I know that she misses her Dad more than words can express. I am certain there will be times when she is overcome with sadness but the strength of character that her father and mother are instilling in her are evident. She will not only survive but also thrive.
As a family, we have been inspired to spend more time together, we hug and kiss more, we say ”I love you” more. My message to you today is to go home and hug your husband, your wife, and your children. Family is really all that is important.
Saturday, 6 September 2014
“I have to say that the Boob bottles have been a lifesaver. Super easy to use and clean, and Lukas transitions so well back and forth between the breast and the bottle, especially now that I’m back at work. I’ve had to supplement his diet from the beginning with formula, and he goes back and forth thanks to the Boob without any issues. I actually gave all my other bottles (Dr. Brown’s and Avent) away and bought more Boobs online!”
Thanks again for making such awesome products!
Saturday, 6 September 2014
Have you ever seen your child doubled over with laughter watching someone else and wondered why you can’t get him to produce the same belly laugh at home? Me too. I am lucky enough to live in the DC area, which one of the country’s best children’s entertainers, The Great Zucchini, calls home. If you haven’t heard of him yet look out for an upcoming show on FX about him called The Great Zucchini.
There are several ways to add laughter into your home that are so easy and don’t take long. Also, when a child is sad, or is having a temper tantrum, humor can make him smile. After too many times watching The Great Zucchini, also known as Eric Knaus, make my children laugh in a way I never could I sat down with him to get some tips. Here are some of my favorites!
Children usually understand when something isn’t right and they love telling you about it. They can feel empowered by being able to communicate that they know something isn’t quite the way it should be.
There are many ways to do this. When Eric stands in front of a child at his show and pretends not to be able to find them children often crack up and say “I’m right here!”
Pretend to lose kids again and again and they love it. This can be done in various ways at home. For example, at the kitchen table wait for Max to sit down then say, “We can’t start until Max sits down” and walk around kitchen looking for him.
Another way to empower children to let you know something is wrong is to do a running gag of pretending to pour different juices into cereal instead of milk. Children will laugh and correct you at the same time. Another take on this idea is that when the phone rings, pick up a random object (shoe, spoon, etc.) and say hello. Children will laugh, and tell you “That’s not the phone!”
A great trick to getting children to laugh is a take on hide-and-seek. Pretend to do a magic trick to get an object to disappear, hide the object somewhere easily discoverable such as behind your back or under your shirt, and let your child discover it. After your child finds the object, pretend to be flustered, and try it again.
When playing hide and go seek, lift up ridiculous object to hide behind, like chair or a piece of paper. Your child will love finding you and think you’re not a very good hider.
Pretending you do not know where common items go or where they can be found will get kids laughing as well. Put milk back in cabinet and let kids tell you where it goes. Pretend that you can’t find a fork to use to eat, and pick up different items to use instead such as your phone or the remote. You can also pretend to fall asleep randomly in the house.
Try these tricks at home and you will quickly become your child’s new favorite entertainer!
Friday, 5 September 2014
I always get so excited for back to school. The kids are learning new things and I always like to challenge myself with something new too. This year, I am working on creating good habits. My newest challenge is training for a half marathon. This is funny because I am not even a runner! I am starting from scratch! I was inspired by my sister in law, Beth, and my friend and training partner, Heather… thank you ladies! What I love about the training is the training app on my iPhone. When I wake up everyday it tells me what to do. Now that I have told the whole world, I hope I can make it!
My second challenge for the month of September is organization. I am a very organized person but every summer things go wild. All the closets need to be tackled, my desk and files are a wreck and my to do list is about a mile long. I am planning to spend a little time each day organizing. I hope to be finished by September 30, after several trash bins are filled up and many runs are made to the donation drop. Each week I am going to focus on one area. Next week I will begin with my desk and files. This is going to be a big project. Wish me luck!
What are your goals for back to school month?
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Everyone wants their kids to eat better, but it can be hard to make that happen. After one too many Mac n’ Cheese dinner I thought it was time to seek out professional help. I found a busy mother just like me who would understand the obstacles I face to getting heathy food on the table. I turned to the founder of Mai Health Now, LLC, Certified Health Counselor and Wellness speaker Mai Trinh Joubert.
Like me, Mai is a harried working mother of three young children. However, unlike me, she is able to prepare healthy meals that her children actually eat and enjoy every day so I knew she was the right person to consult to get practical advice on how to prepare quick and easy healthy meals and snacks that appeal to young children on the go — and their busy parents.
As a mother, Mai is able to test her recipes on her family to be sure they will be a hit with children and parents alike. Mai offered a sampling of recipes that are both kid-approved and quick to prepare.
Oatmeal is a fast and easy breakfast to prepare that will give your kids a good start to their day. You can even prepare a big batch on Sunday night then heat up smaller portions every morning during the morning rush. Preparing your oatmeal with milk instead of water gives your kids some extra calcium.
Although the old standby for oatmeal toppings is raisins with a bit of brown sugar, you can change what you add to your oatmeal every few days so your kids don’t get bored. Some options are dried apples, dried coconut, walnuts, raw almonds and omega-3 rich chia seeds. Fresh blueberries with a dash of almond milk and a dash of raw local honey is a winning combo most kids will love. 100% maple syrup with generous helping of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg is another combo that is a hit with kids.
Wraps make a quick lunch that kids enjoy. This one is a hit in Mai’s house.
Mai’s Sunflower Wrap
Spread sunflower butter on a whole wheat, brown rice, or gluten free tortilla. Add a touch of raw honey with a sprinkle of chia seeds for crunch and a dose of mega 3s. Roll it up. Serve with an organic cheese and stick side of fruit.
Clementines or fresh grapes are healthy choices kids love. This lunch is easy to prepare and packs well.
It contains have a complex carb, a dietary fiber, and a protein to help gets make it through the day.
Snack: Kale is a nutrient-dense food that packs a lot of punch. It is a great choice for all kids, but works
especially well for those kids who pick at their food or prefer to snack. Rather than asking kids to scarf down another green, you can sell this recipe to your kids as chips, which most kids think of as a treat. It takes very little time to prepare and can be stored after baking, giving you a week’s worth of snacks to pack for lunch.
Mai’s Asian Baked Kale Chips (small children approved)
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rip stems off a bag of fresh Kale. Tear Kale in small pieces.
Throw stems away. Drizzle sesame oil on foiled baking pan. Place kale pieces on pan. Drizzle sesame oil and Braggs Amino Acid (naturally fermented soy sauce — a little goes a long way) on kale pieces. Mix sauce and kale with hand so that kale is evenly covered. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes depending on your preference of crunchiness. Serve and eat!
This is a quick and easy, and totally yummy, kid-friendly dinner recipe that serves up veggies and protein in way kids will love.
Mai’s Banging Black Bean Quesadilla Recipe:
Total Prep And Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Yield: 4 Servings or 4 quesadillas
• 1 can or 2 cups of cooked black beans*
• 1/8 tsp of cumin
• Squeeze of lime (optional)
• 1/3 cup salsa, as you like it
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
• 2 small Roma tomatoes, diced
• 2 cups of chopped baby spinach
• 1 cup shredded cheese or non-dairy cheese
• 1⁄2 cup of cooked brown rice (optional)
• 4 burrito-sized tortillas (can use gluten free tortilla like brown rice tortilla)
1. Mash the beans, brown rice (optional) and stir in the salsa, cilantro, and tomatoes
2. Squeeze lime in mixture (optional)
3. Spread 1/2 cup of the bean mixture on one half of each tortilla
4. Top each tortilla with spinach and cheese
5. Fold each tortilla in half
6. Cook on medium heat, one or two at a time ona large skillet, turning to brown both sides.
7. The quesadillas are done when they are browned on both sides and the cheese is melted
*Note: If you’re going to soak and cook beans, do this overnight and save the rest for soup later!
All kids love smoothies and they are a quick and easy way to get lots of fruit (and even some veggies)
into your kids at one time. Smoothies make a great snack and can be served as breakfast in warm weather. Fresh or frozen fruit can be used. Here are two recommended by Mai especially for kids, butyou can experiment with different combinations. Try giving your smoothies fun names like the “Punchy
Purple Monster” for a smoothie that features blueberries or “Razzle Dazzle Red” for a smoothie made with strawberries. A green smoothie could be sold as Yoda’s favorite drink for Star Wars fans and or one of Tinkerbelle’s favorites for fans of the green-clad fairy. A little marketing goes a long way with kids.
Mai Blue for You Smoothie
Total Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Yield: 2 Servings
• 1 cup blueberries
• 7 oz organic vanilla yogurt
• 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 2 tbsp orange juice
• 1⁄2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp raw local honey
• 1⁄2 cup ice
Place everything except ice into a blender and pulse a few times until blended. Add ice, cover and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Blueberries are a superfood with high anitioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C. They help fight heart disease and cancer and are anti-inflammatory to keep illness away.
Mai Brocco Power Berry Fruit Smoothie
Total Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Yield: 2 Servings
• 1 cup frozen berries
• 1 cup steamed broccoli
• 1 cup 100% cranberry juice
• 1⁄4 cup organic plain yogurt
• 4 ice cubes
Place everything except ice into a blender and mix until well-mixed. Add ice, cover and blend on high until smooth. Add honey or agave nectar if you want more sweetness or use vanilla yogurt instead of plain. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Broccoli is a great source of healthy portions of calcium, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. It has many cancer-fighting properties and is especially beneficial in preventing bowel cancers. Steamed broccoli mellows out the taste and is sweetened by fresh fruit!
Hopefully these recipes will give you a good start on getting your entire family on the path to healthier eating. If you are interested in learning more about how you can make sure 2013 is the year your family eats better, visit Mai’s website at www.maihealthnow.com for more recipes and tips. Mai is available for consultations or to help you plan meals even the pickiest eaters will enjoy. She also speaks to groups throughout the DC Area about eating better and boosting energy. For those who need a little more help in the kitchen, Mai conducts cooking demonstrations.
Focusing on making changes that are sustainable will help ensure that you and your family can enjoy the benefits of healthy eating throughout 2013 and beyond. With just a little guidance and a little effort, you too can get your kids to trade in cookies for kale and put them on the path to a lifetime of healthy eating.