Friday, 29 August 2014
I came across a quote from Ronald Reagan that I wanted to share with you.
â€œAll great change in America begins at the dinner table.â€
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 husbandâ€™s work and travel schedule and the childrenâ€™s sports and activities.
I grew up in a very busy household with two parents who worked fulltime and sometimes beyond.Â Â My brother and I played sports among a list of many other activities. The funny thing is that I donâ€™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 Ginoâ€™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 doesnâ€™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. Letâ€™s see where it takes us.
Friday, 8 August 2014
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 boyâ€™s friends throughout the summer. They truly enjoy it.Â Â They were saying how it was interesting that with all the visitors, the boys still get up first thing in the morning and exercise.Â Â 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, â€œan acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.â€ 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, itâ€™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
Click the image to learn about Project Breastfeeding, a breastfeeding support group founded by Hector Cruz.
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
This guest post is brought to you by Jenny Schafer, senior editor ofÂ HerScoopÂ and Celebrity Baby Scoop! Â 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 Iâ€™ve morphed nicely into mommyhood.
Iâ€™m not one ofÂ thoseÂ moms that talks about my children non-stop â€” not that my three kids (aged 3, 5 & 8) arenâ€™t the cutest and most special humans on the planet!
But there is no question that my life has taken on new meaning â€“ and Iâ€™ve developed some strange new habits â€“ since becoming a mother.
So letâ€™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 â€” I shouldâ€™ve bought shares in our local dairy farm. Not only that, itâ€™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, whatâ€™s with all the hot guys working in the produce section?) Seriously though, sometimes just blasting the tunes while driving to the grocery store â€“ sans kids â€“ is the highlight of my week.
9. I drink copious amounts of coffee (errr, and wine).
I fancy myself a bit of a â€œmombieâ€ these days.Â Sadly, the rigors of motherhood cause many of us to de-stress with copious amounts of caffeine during the day, followed byÂ an evening glass of vino. Is thisÂ reallyÂ healthy, amidst our kale smoothies and high-protein diets, fellow mombies?
MORE: Do Moms Drink Too Much? Are We A Culture Of Mombies?
8. Iâ€™d rather get a good nightâ€™s sleep than stay out late.
Lord knows I love my GNOs, but these days Iâ€™m just as happy to stay home, change into my PJs by 7 p.m., and hit the sack by 9 â€“ 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.
MORE: The Top 5 Mom Excusesâ€¦Redefined
7. My hair is a mess most of the time.
Thereâ€™s nothing like â€˜embracingâ€™ 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. Sighâ€¦
6. I sing made-up songs all day long.
As it turns out, I trulyÂ amÂ turning into my mother. Whether Iâ€™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.
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, Iâ€™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 Iâ€™m being selfish, itâ€™s actually all about self-preservation. While completing my bachelor or social work in my university days, the concept of â€œself-careâ€ was drilled into our heads. I am putting those valuable lessons into practice now that Iâ€™m a mother, with regular exercise, clean eating and at least 5 minutes of meditation every day. Not only that, Iâ€™m sure to keep my expectations at a minimum â€” as it turns out, life isÂ notÂ aÂ Ryan GoslingÂ movie.
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 havenâ€™t been so fortunate.Â With two of my kids in school, youâ€™d think Iâ€™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 soonâ€¦.)
3. I donâ€™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 Iâ€™m pretty neat â€” frizzy bun-head and all. While thereâ€™s a fine line between letting yourself go and simplifying your look, thereâ€™s also a balance between striving to be the â€˜perfectâ€™ wife/mother/friend and just trying to do your best. Although I never want to quit learning and reaching for new goals, Iâ€™ve stopped trying to please everyone and comparing myself to other women and their seemingly perfect lives.
2. I have a newfound sense of purpose.
Sure I felt somewhat useful prior to welcoming my babies. But since motherhood, Iâ€™ve felt a deep sense of purpose and meaning. IÂ reallyÂ need to stay alive â€“ and healthy â€“ for my three kids. Some people might like reading my articles, and there are those who enjoy my company, but my kids literallyÂ needÂ me in every sense.
1. I know the true meaning of unconditional love.
As it turns out, those twangyÂ country musicÂ songs had it right all along! Thereâ€™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 Iâ€™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.
Can you relate to my list? How has motherhood changed you?
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
This is a guest post from our friends at Spral Pal, the most amazing way to rinse cloth diapers easily in your home. Â 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 hereâ€™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 donâ€™t necessarily feel comfortable sitting in, as opposed to disposable diapers which contain harsh chemicals and â€œstay dry crystalsâ€ 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 didnâ€™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 heâ€™s turned 2 and is still facing lots of developmental delays, weâ€™re realizing heâ€™ll probably be in his cloth diapers for an extensive amount of time. That doesnâ€™t mean we shouldnâ€™t start reading his signals and practicing elimination communication for those times heâ€™s clearly showing us heâ€™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 donâ€™t force it.Â If your child is giving obvious signs that s/he is about to have some potty action, just ask in a super friendly tone, â€œWould you like to go sit on your big kid potty?â€ If they accept the invitation, just go with it!
- Stay positive and encouraging.Â If your child isnâ€™t in the mood to go on the potty at that moment, just act like itâ€™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. Theyâ€™ll love this positive reinforcement and theyâ€™ll remember it next time you ask if they want to use the potty.
- Play down the accidents.Â If your child is going without diapers, and doesnâ€™t quite make it to the potty, just play it down. Clean it up and go on with your day. You definitely donâ€™t want them to start thinking itâ€™s hilarious when mommy or daddy freaks out about the mess on the floor! Maybe ask a bit more frequently after that if theyâ€™d like to try the potty and see the previous tip.Â
- Give TONS of positive praise, even if they just try.Â 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 youâ€™ll have to go with your gut on this one. You know your kid best!Â
- Donâ€™t beat yourself up!Â You are doing a great job, mama, no matter what happens. If your child isnâ€™t quite getting it after a few days, it might be time to throw up the white flag and save it for another time. Itâ€™s not the end of the world if you have to wait a few more weeks, especially if youâ€™re using your cloth diapers! At least you wonâ€™t have to run out for a few more packs of diapers, right?Â
So, since weâ€™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.Â Oops! Sheet.Â $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.Â A Joovy Loo.Â $40. In the beginning stages of learning, itâ€™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 itâ€™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.Â EcoNuts Natural Ammonia Bouncer.Â $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. Iâ€™ve actually seen this product in action first hand, and itâ€™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.Â Joovy StepTool.Â $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.Â Aquaduck Faucet Extender.Â $13. This is another mom invented product that was created out of necessity. When Susannaâ€™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 theyâ€™re finished using the potty and need to wash up.
6.Â A Spray Pal.Â $25. Youâ€™re probably thinking, â€œWait a minute. I already have a Spray Pal. Isnâ€™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?â€ 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, everybodyâ€™s happy! Also, we love that this makes your investment in a Spray Pal and a sprayer last even longer and itâ€™s a way to reuse something you already have! Iâ€™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 didnâ€™t think the Spray Pal was a bathroom must have before, and you have a little boy, you may want to reconsider.Â
7.Â Oops! Undies.Â 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 youâ€™d like to add for extra protection, you can use these even longer! Available in sizes for ages 2-7.
8.Â Easy Daysies Get Dressed and Bathroom Routine Pack.Â 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 itâ€™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?Â
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
One of my favorite discoveries this year is my weekly organic fruits and vegetable delivery service.Â The seed was planted when my good friend, Liz, told me about her weekly delivery and I was intrigued.Â I love to cook and I love good food and I am always striving to eat healthier.Â And then I found the Groupon.Â It was for $15.00 for the first delivery.Â It was a no-brainer.Â The first morning I woke up to my delivery outside my front door I was so excited.Â I opened the box and emptied it onto the counter.Â When the kids woke up and saw it, they were excited too.Â The box contained things they loved, things they didnâ€™t love and things they didnâ€™t even know the names of yet.Â When I told them that everything was fresh from the farm, they wanted to try it allâ€¦even the things they knew they did not like.
Weâ€™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.Â The kids are still willing to try anythingâ€¦at least once.Â It has also broadened my menu planning.Â I will plan meals around what is in the box.Â 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.Â You can change your schedule or Â cancel at any time.Â 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.Â Do you have any yummy vegetable or fruit recipes to share?
Do you receive organic produce delivery service in your area?
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
My youngest child and I went to the doctor for his five year old well check the other day.Â The doctor asked if we were having any specific issues and I answered, â€œNothing physical, just behavioral.â€Â She let out a giggle.Â We had three girls before our son.Â I had no idea what mothers meant when they said their sons were just so physical and active.Â Now, I get it.Â Â We need to â€œrunâ€ our son like a horse so he can burn his physical energy or disaster will strike.Â Even after the â€œrun,â€ we need to keep him engaged at home in a project, a lot free time leads to trouble.Â He likes to help around the house.Â Lucky for me, his favorite projects are with Dad and usually involve tools…and power tools are even more exciting. Â Â This weekend they decided to take our rusty golf cart apart, sand it down and repaint it.Â Itâ€™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.Â These days we are really working with him on using his words when he is frustrated.Â Yesterday, he started to lose his temper.Â I pulled him aside and he told me that I was embarrassing him.Â I was so proud of him for communicating that to me.Â Â In turn, instead of just putting him in a time out we explain to him what that issue is so that he understands.Â This seems to be working…most of the time.
All the physical things aside, I love my son.Â He looked up at me when we were watching a movie the other day and said, â€œMom, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.â€Â Kids always seem to know what to say and when you really need to hear it.
Please like this on Facebook if you have an active boy at home.
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
I received an email from AYSO soccer and they are looking for coaches.Â Immediately, I thought I might coach my 7-year old daughterâ€™s team if I could get a friend to assist me.Â When I mentioned it to my husband, he said, â€œABSOLUTELY NOT!â€Â I donâ€™t really blame him.
A few years ago I was volunteering for everything. Â I had two leadership roles; as a mom room for one childâ€™s class and the Girl Scout leader for another child among the many other volunteer jobs I was doing, all with a small toddler at home.Â By the end of that year, I was a disaster.Â While I enjoyed being with my children and getting to know their peers, there were many parts of the volunteer jobs that were not a lot of fun.Â Plus, I still had all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, paperwork, etc. to handle at home.
One of the reasons that I stay home with my children is so that I can provide an organized and calm home life for my children and for my husband.Â I want to decorate for every holiday.Â I want to have a home-cooked meal on the table most nights.Â I want the kids to come home to the aroma of cookies baking in the oven.Â This was not happening.
In recent years, I still volunteer a lot in my childrenâ€™s classrooms but without taking a leadership role.Â This allows me more flexibility.Â I am also focusing on my children, their academics, extra-circular activities and sports. Â Oh, did I mention school projects.Â As your children get older, you will see the projects they are assigned and realize there is no way they can complete this projects without help from you and many trips to the craft store.
Kudos to all the moms that step up and take the leadership roles.Â Â Â It is great experience for moms that are out of the work force because you can put it on your resume if you decide to re-enter the work force one day.Â I am sure that I will again take on a leadership role but for now, I will enjoy being a a worker bee instead of a queen bee.
Thursday, 25 July 2013
When is it time to introduce your child to a two-wheeler bike?
Some parents are doing this as soon as their children start to walk! Yes, the newest way to build your child’s confidence and get them ready to ride a two-wheeler on their own is to get them on a balance bike, a bike without pedals.
The idea may sound a bit farfetched for some, but the idea is catching on FAST! It’s likely that you have seen these awesome little balance bikes in your neighborhood or at the park. Kids straddle the seat and power these bikes with their feet as they scoot along, totally in control. It is not surprising then, to see them learn quickly how to balance and gain confidence in themselves and the idea of riding their bike on their own.
Balance bikes have been popular in Europe for some time and are growing in popularity in the US because of their practical approach to teaching children how to ride bikes one step at a time. Mastering balancing comes first.
For some, learning to ride a bike can be a daunting task. The idea of learning to balance and pedal at the same time is difficult, even for some adults. Training wheels were introduced to buffer the challenge of learning two skills at once. While this sounds like a reasonable way to learn, the reality is that training wheels can be counter-productive and introduce a false sense of confidence.Children become dependent on these little wheels rather than mastering balance and coordination; essentials to successful bike riding. Taking the wheels off can lead to defeat and frustration for the child as well as headache and exasperation for parents.
Rather than introducing training wheels just to take them away, it makes sense to leave them out of the equation altogether. This makes it easier on parents too; less whining, skinned knees and bending over little bicycles.
Joovy thinks balance bikes are the coolest invention for kids and takes the hassle and headache out of teaching a child to ride a bike for mom and dad. This fun and alternative method makes sense to many modern parents who love that their kids learn faster and in a more positive, confidence-building manner. When kids learn on a balance bike, they are ready to try the two-wheeler having already mastered the balance part of the equation.
Check out the new Joovy Bicycoo balance bikes for kids 3 years and above. Kids start slowly by walking over their bike, and before long, they are zipping along at their own pace, full of confidence and independence.
This puts a smile on our face. Balance baby, balance!
Monday, 24 June 2013
Summer travel is here and our parenting expert has some simple suggestions that you might take to heart while planning your family’s excursions and trips.
From the git-go, you know the kids are going start asking for goodies (and keep asking) the entire trip. Two weeks before leaving, assign them age appropriate “chores” so they can earn an allowance.Â Â An allowance is great because the kids get excited about having their own money (they have earned), and you wonâ€™t have to break your bank during the trip.
While packing always remember less is always more. Pack things you know the kids will wear versus what they may look good in. The last thing you want to do after returning from vacation is a bunch of laundry.
Never forget the sunscreen! Regardless of where youâ€™re going its always important to keep you and your childâ€™s skin protected.Â The higher the SPF the better and remember to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours, especially if you are in the water. Â Everyone should have a hat and sunglasses too!
On the day you leave, have your kids wear comfortable shoes you know they can walk in easily. There can be lots of walking involved in travel so its important to be as comfortable as possible for the best experience. Even if you live in the desert and canâ€™t imagine wearing a sweater in the summer months, if youâ€™re flying always bring something to cover up your arms on the plane or restaurant just in case!Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Put down the electronics. Kids can be very observant. This is quality time your kids will remember forever. Donâ€™t worry about posting on twitter/facebook or sending that email. Enjoy your vacation with your family without the distractions!
5 Simple Tips for Summer Travel with Kids:
- Have them earn their own spending money a couple of weeks leading up to the trip
- Remember that less is more when packing!
- Pack the sunscreen, hats and sunglasses for everyone!
- Wear comfortable shoes and take a sweater!
- Put down the electronics!