Thursday, 20 November 2014

Joovy ‘Jingle’ Gift Guide 2014

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We’ve got some ‘jingle’ for your loved ones this holiday season. Here are the hottest and hippest gift ideas from Joovy, guaranteed to bring holiday smiles. With the help of Santa himself, we’ve curated a list that includes something for everyone on your list. And, in the event you need personal shopping recommendations, our elves are eager to help at 877-456-5049. Give us a call!

We all have someone on our list who ‘has everything.’  No worries, we’ve got you covered this season! For this well equipped person, consider the Joovy MoonRoomIt’s a playard from out of this world! Fun, geometric design with loads of space, this playard gives a new dimension to the old standby. Made of high quality materials, the MoonRoom offers FUN & FUNCTIONALITY!

Santa’s tip: Dads have been known to love this far-out piece of baby gear!

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MoonRoom – Jade

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MoonRoom – Blueberry

 

Baby’s first vehicle should memorable and Santa suggests a tricycle that grows with your child.  The Joovy Tricycoo  is top of his list for first wheel presents this holiday season! The Tricycoo is simple and perfect for very young babies. Your child does not need to steer, pedal or balance on their own in the beginning.  They simply enjoy the fun and independence of their first tricycle while you guide them with the parent push handle (removable).   When engaged, the parent push handle overrides the steering on the Tricycoo. The surround arms help them learn to balance and give you confidence that they won’t fall out.  The pedals can be easily ‘turned off’ until they are ready to ‘kid power’ the Tricycoo on their own. As they gain confidence, the Tricycoo surround arms and parent handle can be removed for independent tricycling fun!

Santa’s tip: Get yours early. They sold out last year!

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Tricycoo – Pink & Greenie

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Tricycoo – Orangie

 

Get your little one trailblazing in style. The Joovy Bicycoo balance bike gives them the confidence to take the first step in cycling. Lightweight aluminum frame is easy to control, pneumatic tires offer the smoothest ride and the internal drum brake teaches them how ‘real gear’ works.  What’s even cooler about the Bicycoo? It looks like a real bike!

Santa’s tip: Don’t forget the Noodle (helmet) below. Start with teaching safety early and create good habits for life!

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Bicycoo Balance Bike – Red

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Bicycoo BMX Balance Bike – Greenie

 

Protect that little noggin with the Joovy Noodle! Introduce safety early and create good habits from day one.  The Noodle comes in six bold colors, has 14 air vents, integrated bug mesh and is designed for babies heads measuring 18.5″ – 20.5″.   Extended visor for maximum protection, nylon straps, pinch guard chin strap, and an adjustable fit dial.  It is a great looking helmet and we think kids will love being ‘safe’ while cycling and doing other outdoor activities.  Meets CPSC Standards.

Santa’s tip: Give a practical gift to each child on your list!

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Noodle – Red

 

For the growing family, the Caboose VaryLight is the ideal gift. This fantastic and functional stroller grows from a single to full size double in seconds with it’s easy to expand, telescopic frame. This Caboose will accept infant car seats (car seat adapters sold separately) in the front or rear of the stroller for strolling with infants. The family that strolls with the Caboose VaryLight will be ready for all ages of little riders!

Santa’s tip: This stroller is the solution for families with more than one child! Check out the new graphite frames and my personal favorite, red! 

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extended frame

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with Infant Car Seat – rear

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with Infant Car Seat (front seat removed)

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Share Foocot fun for every kid in the house this holiday season! This practical sleeping cot for kids comes with a 100% cotton sheet and has a pocket for sleepover necessities like favorite Christmas story or travel companion. Perfect for travel, trips to Disney and grandma’s house, the Foocot also has it’s own travel bag. This great gift holds a child up to 75 pounds and comes in four hot colors.

Santa’s tip: Your kids will think the Foocot is fun while you know it’s the perfect sleep solution, especially while traveling!

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The sleakest, most luxurious stroller to hit the market in 2014 is the Joovy TooQool. This double stroller is packed with features and high-end detailing. What most parents love about the TooQool is that it comes equipped with both seats! It has a small footprint that offers a super smooth and effortless ride! The upper seat on the TooQool is convertible (can face front or towards the rear).  Joovy also has infant car seat adapters that are compatible  with the Graco Click Connect, Chicco Key Fit, Britax/BOB B-Safe, and Maxi-Cosi/Cybex Aton car seats. The TooQool is available in 10 gorgeous colors and two frame finishes: graphite and silver.

Santa’s tip: The TooQool says ‘classy parent’ all the way! 

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TooQool Graphite – Purpleness

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TooQool Silver – Apple

 

 

The Qool is the single version of the TooQool with the same attention to detail.  Urban strolling has never been so Qool with this new luxurious stroller from Joovy! The Qool has dreamy features and exceptional functionality designed to make your strolling experience the absolute best. Offering style in its innovation, high-end detailing from top to bottom, and a compact aluminum frame for a state-of-the-art experience in strolling. The Qool seat reclines to 3 comfy positions as well as converts easily to forward or rear facing.  Car seat adapters allow for convenient strolling while using an infant car seat with itty-bitty babies. Premium handle and bumper bars are covered with hand-stitched leatherette and the handlebar adjusts to three heights. Joovy is known for it’s oversized canopies which offer supreme coverage and the Qool delivers here. Zippered canopy extensions offer full coverage for protection of your little one. Seats have adjustable foot rest.  Boasting two beautiful frame finishes and 10 fashion colors, there is a Qool to fit your personality. What’s more Qool? This awesome stroller weighs in at 21.5 pounds and will carry a child up to 55 pounds. Pretty Qool, for sure!

Santa’s tip: Consider the Qool/TooQool ride-on board for that toddler who still needs to hitch a ride on occasion.

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Qool Silver – Jade

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Qool Graphite – Hot Pink

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Qool with Ride-On Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spoon walker has a clean, contemporary design and is just the thing for the baby on your list. This crossover walker – highchair is perfect for the little one’s first steps. The tray is large, with a dishwasher safe insert, and the height is adjustable to 3 positions. An ultra-wide base gives a wonderful foundation for scooting and exploring independently. The Spoon has a dishwasher safe tray insert makes clean-up easy.

Santa’s tip: Joovy just introduced my favorite ‘red’ Spoon. This is on my giving list for grandbabies!

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Spoon

 

Need something unique for that person who just has their own, je ne sais quoi?  Consider the TooFold. This highly engineered stroller will have  heads turning as you transform the TooFold from a single to double stroller in seconds. This all-terrain-stroller, with built in stroller board, converts as needed to keep your little ones content and you on the move.  Take this puppy on a trail or to the mall.  It is guaranteed to turn heads. 

Santa’s tip: This is for the seriously active family. Get ready for the New Year, New You with this stroller that will have you exploring!

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TooFold – Lemontree

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TooFold – Red With Second Seat Attached (sold separately)

 

 

Looking for longevity in a gift? For the efficient and thoughtful parent, the HiLo is calling their name. Modern, contemporary and most importantly, easy to clean, this convertible high chair will grow with your child. Age graded from 6 months to 6 years, the HiLo converts to a toddler seat after use as a high chair and saves from having to purchase another chair as your child grows. Fun and functional!

Santa’s tip: The elves favorite seat! You will be pleased with this purchase!

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HiLo

 

For the family who travels this take-along high chair has supreme good looks and is easy to clean. The Hook is made of a comfortable leatherette and fits to most tabletops.  The Hook comes with a travel bag, folds up compactly and is convenient for travel or eating out.  Why not?

Santa’s tip: This is the perfect holiday gift for grandparents to give their globetrotting grand babies.

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Hook – Orangie

 

The Boob Gift Set is the ultimate feeding gift set for the expectant parents on your list. This amazing bottle system is ideal for breastfed babies because of the unique nipple that promotes proper latching and allows easy transitions between bottle and breast. Also important, the Boob is easy to clean, easy to reassemble and just gorgeous by design. The Clean Flow Vent offers excellent venting so baby is sure to take in milk or formula, not air. This gorgeous set contains 23 essentials, including breast pump adapters (works with major brands) so mom can pump directly into the Boob!

Santa’s tip: The Boob Baby Bottle Gift Set will add to an effortless feeding experience!

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PPSU Gift Set – 23 essential feeding products

 

Is there anything sweeter than your daughter or son’s first babydoll? Pretend play is the best way to encourage nurturing and the Toy Caboose will add to the overall experience. Larger in scale, the Toy Caboose is perfect for 18″ dolls such as the American Girl dolls. Kids love this attractive, high-quality replica of the popular Joovy Caboose Stand-On Tandem stroller. The clever features of the Toy Caboose allow your child to secure and transport two or three cherished toy friends at once, for hours of role-playing fun.  And with our toy car seat & attachment, the Joovy Toy Caboose creates a travel system for more playtime fun!

Santa’s tip: The elves may think this is for their babies because it’s so realistic! Hurry! These go f-a-s-t!

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Toy Caboose

 

The Toy Infant Car Seat is not only a fun toy, it helps children understand the importance of good passenger safety. Children learn to imitate the role of a caring and responsible parent as they safely secure a favorite doll or stuffed toy into the doll car seat which is LATCH compliant and has been crashed tested, so it’s safe for the car. The Toy Infant Car Seat comes in pink and blue.

Santa’s tip:  Parents find that their child is more cooperative about using their own car seat as a result!

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The Toy Infant Car Seat creates a travel system with the Toy Caboose

 

To round out the pretend play toys, Joovy has the Toy Room² Playard that is the perfect place for laying little one’s dolls and furry friends down for nap. Another great teaching tool, the Toy Room² helps children understand that even stuffed friends need downtime to rejuvenate and refresh!

Santa’s tip: The Elf on the Shelf may need a Toy Room² after this holiday season!

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Toy Room²

 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Secrets to Making Children Laugh From One of the Country’s Top Children’s Entertainers

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.

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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.

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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!”

 

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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.

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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!

Jamie Smith

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Getting Families Eating Habits Back On Track

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.

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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.

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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.

Breakfast:

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.

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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.

Lunch:

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!

Dinner

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

Ingredients:

• 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)

 

Directions:

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!

 

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Smoothies

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

Ingredients:

• 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

Directions:

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

Ingredients:

• 1 cup frozen berries

• 1 cup steamed broccoli

• 1 cup 100% cranberry juice

• 1⁄4 cup organic plain yogurt

• 4 ice cubes

Directions:

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.

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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.

Jamie Smith

Friday, 29 August 2014

Importance of Family Dinners

I came across a quote from Ronald Reagan that I wanted to share with you.

 

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

 

I love this quote and I am a big believer in family dinners. Today there is so much written about the importance of sitting down at the table and eating together as a family. It is a constant challenge in our home with my husband’s work and travel schedule and the children’s sports and activities.

 

I grew up in a very busy household with two parents who worked fulltime and sometimes beyond.   My brother and I played sports among a list of many other activities. The funny thing is that I don’t remember NOT eating together at the table. Many times it was crockpot meals or casseroles or sometimes it was even eating the $5 papa platter special at Papa Gino’s but we always sat down together.

 

Last week I stated in my post that one of my personal goals this school year is to make delicious dinners for my family. I am not abandoning this goal but I am going to take a little pressure off myself. Dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal every night. It can be simple. It can be soup and salad, take out, or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. The most important thing is to set the table, sit down and eat as a family.

 

If my mom could do it working full time, I can certainly do it as a stay at home mom. I remember making fun of my mom because she spent so much time cooking and freezing on the weekends. Now I know it was her planning that made our family dinners possible. I am going to accomplish this by scheduling just three to five nights a week when everyone can sit down together. Hopefully this will be one of the habits my children will carry on as adults.

 

I challenge all of you to sit down together this new school year. Let’s see where it takes us.

 

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Be Mindful of the Habits you are Teaching Your Children

Last weekend we had dinner with old friends. They are at a different stage of life. They are almost empty nesters. One son graduated from Boston University in May and one son is half way through college. It was interesting to listen to their summer adventures. They have been a bed and breakfast for many of the boy’s friends throughout the summer. They truly enjoy it.   They were saying how it was interesting that with all the visitors, the boys still get up first thing in the morning and exercise.   Our friends believe this is because that is what they have always done. For as long as the boys can remember, the parents have gotten up early and exercised. What a great habit!

 

This story got me thinking about our family and the habits we are creating, some good and some not so good. The dictionary defines habit as, “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.” There are countless books on the market about habits. Habits are important. You may not even realize something you do is a habit but if you do it everyday or most days, it is a habit. When children are young, we create basic habits such as eating, sleeping and potty training. As children grow, it’s brushing their teeth, doing homework, and household chores. Children are constantly watching us and learning from our behaviors. Do you exercise every day? Do you cook or bake a lot? Do you clean up after yourself? Do you sit down to eat dinner as a family? Do you kiss your spouse goodbye and hello? Do you read books? Do you eat ice cream directly out of the container? Do you watch movies? Do you spend time with your friends? Do you call your parents on the phone? Whatever the answers are to these questions, your children are watching you.

 

After our dinner, I watched our children for the next few days. They have many good habits and a few bad habits. This inspired me to adjust some of my own habits.

 

Can you see your habits developing in your children?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Project Breastfeeding

Click the image to learn about Project Breastfeeding, a breastfeeding support group founded by Hector Cruz.
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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

10 Ways Motherhood Has Changed Me

This guest post is brought to you by Jenny Schafer, senior editor of HerScoop and Celebrity Baby Scoop!  Jenny is mom of 3 and well, please read on and see if you can relate even slightly to the way motherhood has changed her!

Since welcoming my first child in 2006, it seems I’ve morphed nicely into mommyhood.

I’m not one of those moms that talks about my children non-stop — not that my three kids (aged 3, 5 & 8) aren’t the cutest and most special humans on the planet!

But there is no question that my life has taken on new meaning – and I’ve developed some strange new habits – since becoming a mother.

So let’s take a look at the top 10 ways motherhood has changed me.

10. I am always at the grocery store.

The amount of milk I have purchased in the past eight years is alarming — I should’ve bought shares in our local dairy farm. Not only that, it’s pretty bad when you are always at the supermarket and know the employees by their first name, according to their specific departments. (By the way, what’s with all the hot guys working in the produce section?) Seriously though, sometimes just blasting the tunes while driving to the grocery store – sans kids – is the highlight of my week.

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9. I drink copious amounts of coffee (errr, and wine).

I fancy myself a bit of a “mombie” these days. Sadly, the rigors of motherhood cause many of us to de-stress with copious amounts of caffeine during the day, followed by an evening glass of vino. Is this really healthy, amidst our kale smoothies and high-protein diets, fellow mombies?

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MORE: Do Moms Drink Too Much? Are We A Culture Of Mombies?

8. I’d rather get a good night’s sleep than stay out late.

Lord knows I love my GNOs, but these days I’m just as happy to stay home, change into my PJs by 7 p.m., and hit the sack by 9 – 9:30 at the latest. Sexy, I know! As it turns out, motherhood and maintaining everyday life (work, meal prep, cleaning, keeping the marriage strong, and everything else in between) is simply exhausting.

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MORE: The Top 5 Mom Excuses…Redefined

7. My hair is a mess most of the time.

There’s nothing like ‘embracing’ the aging process, eh ladies! Thanks to years of over-processing, my hair is a frizzy mess, making it easier to put back into a ponytail or messy bun most days. Pre-motherhood, I had the best hair on the block. I would simply factor in the time it took to work out the frizz before stepping out in style. Sigh…

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6. I sing made-up songs all day long.

As it turns out, I truly am turning into my mother. Whether I’m toasting a bagel, sweeping up the floor, or watching my kids run in the backyard you will hear me belt out an impromptu song about the occasion. Although practically tone deaf, my family has yet to abandon me for this newfound habit.

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MORE: 10 Signs You Are Turning Into Your Mother

5. I believe strongly in self-care.

Since welcoming my babies and being faced with the hard work of motherhood, I’ve learned to take care of myself. Although a debated topic by some, I put myself first above the kids and the marriage. While some say I’m being selfish, it’s actually all about self-preservation. While completing my bachelor or social work in my university days, the concept of “self-care” was drilled into our heads. I am putting those valuable lessons into practice now that I’m a mother, with regular exercise, clean eating and at least 5 minutes of meditation every day. Not only that, I’m sure to keep my expectations at a minimum — as it turns out, life is not a Ryan Gosling movie.

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MORE: Got Guilt? 4 Ways to Conquer Mommy Guilt

4. I realize how difficult it is to make new (& quality) friends.

Is it just me, or is it damn near impossible to find quality friendships these days? I have a dozen BFFs from my childhood and high school, but when it comes to making new mommy friends, I haven’t been so fortunate. With two of my kids in school, you’d think I’d be fighting off the mommy friends with a stick. Not quite, even though I wear the required Luluemon uniform of overpriced yoga pants and uncomfortable hoodies. (I sense another blog/rant on this topic coming your way soon….)

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3. I don’t try so hard to be perfect.

Before I became a mother, I was the perfect parent. Truth is, I make mistakes, my house is a mess most of the time, and I always seem to be pissing someone off. And regardless of not being the coolest mommy on the block, my husband and kids think I’m pretty neat — frizzy bun-head and all. While there’s a fine line between letting yourself go and simplifying your look, there’s also a balance between striving to be the ‘perfect’ wife/mother/friend and just trying to do your best. Although I never want to quit learning and reaching for new goals, I’ve stopped trying to please everyone and comparing myself to other women and their seemingly perfect lives.

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2. I have a newfound sense of purpose.

Sure I felt somewhat useful prior to welcoming my babies. But since motherhood, I’ve felt a deep sense of purpose and meaning. I really need to stay alive – and healthy – for my three kids. Some people might like reading my articles, and there are those who enjoy my company, but my kids literally need me in every sense.

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1. I know the true meaning of unconditional love.

As it turns out, those twangy country music songs had it right all along! There’s nothing quite like the love between a mother and child. If any of my kids were to do unthinkable acts (yes, even the most heinous of crimes), I would still love them without a doubt. While I’ve felt deep love for others, all three of my kids have expanded my heart and my capacity to love in ways I had not known.

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Can you relate to my list? How has motherhood changed you?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tips for Stress-Free Potty Training

This is a guest post from our friends at Spral Pal, the most amazing way to rinse cloth diapers easily in your home.  Joovy is delighted to participate and so happy to share these wonderful products with all of you.

You may be wondering why a brand like Spray Pal would be writing about tips for helping your kids succeed without their cloth diapers, but here’s the thing. Most parents find that their kids will actually potty train sooner when wearing cloth. This is likely due to the fact that with cloth diapers, you have the option of allowing your child to feel the wetness, which signals to them that something has happened down there that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable sitting in, as opposed to disposable diapers which contain harsh chemicals and “stay dry crystals” that are meant to keep your child from feeling wet.

Mini Spray Pal 1.0 actually started noticing this phenomenon at around 18 months, and by 21 months she was telling us in her own words and signals that she wanted to go on the potty and didn’t want to wear her diapers anymore. By waiting until she was ready and going off of her cues, she completely ditched the diapers well before she turned 2, which was bittersweet for me because I loved her adorable fluff!

Not to fear, we still had our little guy rocking the cloth in the NICU. Now that he’s turned 2 and is still facing lots of developmental delays, we’re realizing he’ll probably be in his cloth diapers for an extensive amount of time. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start reading his signals and practicing elimination communication for those times he’s clearly showing us he’s ready to go. Every opportunity for him to communicate something with us is a good one, and this will just prepare him down the road as he starts to make the connection that the bathroom and the toilet is where this stuff is actually supposed to happen.

Here are my tips as we start down the road toward bathroom independence:

  • Look for cues, but don’t force it. If your child is giving obvious signs that s/he is about to have some potty action, just ask in a super friendly tone, “Would you like to go sit on your big kid potty?” If they accept the invitation, just go with it!
  • Stay positive and encouraging. If your child isn’t in the mood to go on the potty at that moment, just act like it’s no big deal. But the times that they do choose to make the attempt, play into those moments. Tell them how exciting it is and how proud you are and basically just ham it up and act like a goofball. They’ll love this positive reinforcement and they’ll remember it next time you ask if they want to use the potty.
  • Play down the accidents. If your child is going without diapers, and doesn’t quite make it to the potty, just play it down. Clean it up and go on with your day. You definitely don’t want them to start thinking it’s hilarious when mommy or daddy freaks out about the mess on the floor! Maybe ask a bit more frequently after that if they’d like to try the potty and see the previous tip. ;)
  • Give TONS of positive praise, even if they just try. We never had to do a reward system or treats with my daughter when she started using the potty. She just loved hearing how excited and proud we were of her! Of course there are some kids who respond better to candy, so you’ll have to go with your gut on this one. You know your kid best! ;)
  • Don’t beat yourself up! You are doing a great job, mama, no matter what happens. If your child isn’t quite getting it after a few days, it might be time to throw up the white flag and save it for another time. It’s not the end of the world if you have to wait a few more weeks, especially if you’re using your cloth diapers! At least you won’t have to run out for a few more packs of diapers, right? :)

So, since we’ve recently started working on this with mini Spray Pal 2.0, we have teamed up with some amazing companies to offer some super helpful tips and products that can make this journey easier! One lucky winner will win a gift set containing one of each of these useful products!

Potty Training Must Haves:

1. Oops! Sheet.  $40. This is a waterproof cotton mattress protector for night time potty training and occasional oopsies. Learning is a process, and accidents can happen, so protect your mattress with this great mom-created product! Available in sizes ranging from crib to king.

2. A Joovy Loo.  $40. In the beginning stages of learning, it’s important that your child have a small, easy to access place to practice using the potty. We highly recommend the Joovy Loo potty chair. The folks at Joovy have designed this potty chair to be just as functional as it is stylish, which means it’s easy to clean (always a plus in the Spray Pal household). You can read more about what makes it so great on their website HERE, and one of you will win one below!

3. EcoNuts Natural Ammonia Bouncer.  $16.50. Depending on how many accidents you have to clean up, you may need this product all throughout the various stages of potty training. I’ve actually seen this product in action first hand, and it’s amazing how it actually does destroy the strong ammonia smell with only natural ingredients! Safe to use on cloth diapers or anything that ends up getting pee on it, you can even add it to a spray bottle to spritz it on accident spots.

4. Joovy StepTool.  $20. Some sort of step stool is a good idea to have around from the very beginning stages of potty learning because your kids will feel a great sense of accomplishment after they do their business and wash their hands in the grown up sink. Joovy is giving away one of their stylish StepTools for this purpose, and it will pair perfectly with our next innovative product.

5. Aquaduck Faucet Extender.  $13. This is another mom invented product that was created out of necessity. When Susanna’s kids were getting to be too big and heavy to hold up to wash their hands, she created the Aquaduck faucet extender to solve the problem. This makes the water from your sink easy for your child to reach when they’re finished using the potty and need to wash up.

6. A Spray Pal.  $25. You’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute. I already have a Spray Pal. Isn’t it just a cloth diaper sprayer splatter shield for protecting my bathroom and walls from the poop splatter? What does this have to do with potty training?” Well, let me tell you. One of our amazing fans gave us an idea for repurposing the Spray Pal splatter shield after your boys are out of diapers! She has a 4 year old who wakes up in the night to use the bathroom all by himself, which is fantastic, until she wakes up in the morning and wonders why her bathroom smells like urine. Turns out in his half asleep state, he is standing in front of the toilet and just spraying away aimlessly, lol. So she suggested putting the Spray Pal in the toilet as pictured before bed, then it will continue to serve its purpose as the perfect splatter shield even while you sleep!

Little Jimmy can wake up and go to the bathroom as always, and mom can wake up, quickly spray down the Spray Pal with the diaper sprayer and stick it back in the wetbag to tuck it away until the next night. No more mystery urine smell, no more mess to clean, everybody’s happy! Also, we love that this makes your investment in a Spray Pal and a sprayer last even longer and it’s a way to reuse something you already have! I’m even envisioning people drawing bulls-eye targets at the bottom of the Spray Pal to make learning to aim easy and fun. So, if you didn’t think the Spray Pal was a bathroom must have before, and you have a little boy, you may want to reconsider. ;)

7. Oops! Undies. Prize value $30. These waterproof bamboo underwear for kids are the perfect reusable option for that transition out of diapers. They look and feel just like regular underwear, but they will protect against minor accidents if your little one is having a hard time making it to the bathroom on time. These are great for mid to later stage potty training, but if you already have some natural fiber cloth diaper inserts or doublers at home that you’d like to add for extra protection, you can use these even longer! Available in sizes for ages 2-7.

8. Easy Daysies Get Dressed and Bathroom Routine Pack. Prize value $18. This handy magnetic schedule is perfect for kids just getting used to the routing of using the bathroom independently. Personally, I think it’s especially great for kids with special needs who really benefit from having each step visually laid out for them. You can tell this was invented by a former teacher, right? ;)

We wish you all the best of luck as we enter this crazy journey together!

Thanks to Jen at Spray Pal for these great tips!

Friday, 22 November 2013

How I Got My Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables Without Hiding Them

One of my favorite discoveries this year is my weekly organic fruits and vegetable delivery service.  The seed was planted when my good friend, Liz, told me about her weekly delivery and I was intrigued.  I love to cook and I love good food and I am always striving to eat healthier.  And then I found the Groupon.  It was for $15.00 for the first delivery.  It was a no-brainer.  The first morning I woke up to my delivery outside my front door I was so excited.  I opened the box and emptied it onto the counter.  When the kids woke up and saw it, they were excited too.  The box contained things they loved, things they didn’t love and things they didn’t even know the names of yet.  When I told them that everything was fresh from the farm, they wanted to try it all…even the things they knew they did not like.

 

We’ve been receiving our delivery since August and every Tuesday morning there is still a race to the front door to get the box and empty it onto the counter.  The kids are still willing to try anything…at least once.  It has also broadened my menu planning.  I will plan meals around what is in the box.  With the exception of my monthly run to Costco for the basics, this leaves me with minimal grocery shopping for the week.

 

The service we use is Farmfreshtoyou.com.  You can change your schedule or  cancel at any time.  The cost did double after the initial Groupon but I find that it is worth it for my family to eat healthy and we are supporting our local farmers.

 

Tonight I will be making butternut squash lasagna.  Do you have any yummy vegetable or fruit recipes to share?

 

Do you receive organic produce delivery service in your area?

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Help! We Have a Stereotypical Boy!

My youngest child and I went to the doctor for his five year old well check the other day.  The doctor asked if we were having any specific issues and I answered, “Nothing physical, just behavioral.”  She let out a giggle.  We had three girls before our son.  I had no idea what mothers meant when they said their sons were just so physical and active.  Now, I get it.   We need to “run” our son like a horse so he can burn his physical energy or disaster will strike.  Even after the “run,” we need to keep him engaged at home in a project, a lot free time leads to trouble.  He likes to help around the house.  Lucky for me, his favorite projects are with Dad and usually involve tools…and power tools are even more exciting.    This weekend they decided to take our rusty golf cart apart, sand it down and repaint it.  It’s like vacation time for me.

Another major difference I noticed is that my son has a much more difficult time verbally expressing himself than my daughters.  These days we are really working with him on using his words when he is frustrated.  Yesterday, he started to lose his temper.  I pulled him aside and he told me that I was embarrassing him.  I was so proud of him for communicating that to me.   In turn, instead of just putting him in a time out we explain to him what that issue is so that he understands.  This seems to be working…most of the time.

All the physical things aside, I love my son.  He looked up at me when we were watching a movie the other day and said, “Mom, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.”  Kids always seem to know what to say and when you really need to hear it.

 

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Please like this on Facebook if you have an active boy at home.