Archive for August, 2012

10 Reasons Kids Just Hate Getting Cleaned Up

August 31st, 2012 by admin

There comes a time in many kids’ lives when the idea of a bath is enough to inspire mutiny. Suddenly, your adorable child has to be cajoled into washing their hands before dinner and is happy to walk around with a film of filth covering their bodies. Here are ten of the reasons why these kids are so averse to the idea of getting clean.

  1. There Are More Interesting Things To Do – On the list of exciting things to do, baths don’t usually rank very high in kid-dom. Leaving their adventures behind to sit in the tub simply isn’t a good trade-off in the kid mind.
  2. It Takes Too Long – In order to get clean enough for Mom to be satisfied, kids are subjected to what feels like hours of scrubbing, dousing and soaping. When there are so many things to do and explore, taking a bath just feels like wasted time.
  3. Fear of Water – Some kids have a fear of water, which can start in toddlerhood and in some cases follow into adulthood. When this fear kicks in, getting affected kids into a bathtub can be like pulling teeth.
  4. Getting Out is Cold! – Even if there’s a big, fluffy towel waiting, getting out of the bathtub is still cold, shivery business. The sensation of cold air hitting skin warmed by bathwater can be off-putting and uncomfortable enough to make kids dislike the entire process.
  5. It Usually Means That Bedtime is Looming – When baths happen at night, it’s a sure indicator that playtime is over and the boring old bed is next. Fighting to stay out of the bathtub means avoiding bed for a few more minutes, which is usually a kid’s first priority.
  6. Soap Gets in Eyes and Mouths – Some soaps might claim to be kid-friendly, but they still make eyes feel funny and taste exactly like soap. Squirming, chattering kids are likely to end up with a  head full of the stuff.
  7. Morning Cleanings Usually Mean That They’ll Have to Wear Scratchy Clothes -Just like nighttime baths mean bed, morning baths almost always mean that they’ll be forced to wear uncomfortable, stuffy dress clothes which are just a little higher on kids’ favorite list than liver.
  8. Most Kids Don’t Like the Sensation of a Wet Face – Anyone who’s ever attempted to teach swimming lessons or has been in the same room as a kid with a wet face knows that the sensation drives some of them to distraction. For especially sensitive little ones, even wiping their face with a wet cloth is enough to induce hysterics.
  9. Drains Are Scary – Toddlers are just beginning to make sense of the world, and the drain is one of life’s great mysteries at that stage. The drain can suck up and entire tub full of water; it stands to reason, in the toddler brain, that it could devour them too.
  10. Changing Gears is Difficult – Sometimes getting a kid out of the bathtub is as difficult as getting them in, proof that it isn’t always the bath that bothers them but the changing from one activity to another.

Most kids outgrow their aversion to cleanliness, usually around the time that they stop thinking the opposite sex has cooties. It can be a long battle, but most parents eventually emerge, victorious.

10 Clothing Basics to Buy for a Mix and Match Kid’s Wardrobe

August 28th, 2012 by admin

Back to school time is the prime time to go through your child’s existing wardrobe and figure out what still fits and what’s no longer an option. It’s also the perfect time to clean out the closets and the drawers and get ready to add some new and fun pieces to her wardrobe.  Before you invest in new clothes, though, take inventory of what your child still has that fits.  Either take pictures of these pieces or make yourself a list prior to going shopping so you don’t double up on the same items.  To maximize her wardrobe, you will want to buy pieces that coordinate with the ones that she already has.

  1. Jeans are a must.  Jeans are a wardrobe staple that match just about everything, so having a few pairs on hand is never a bad thing. Colored jeans are all the rage right now, so make sure to pick up at least one pair of those.  Stick to a few pairs of basic blue jeans as well so that they can be mixed and matched with tops.
  2. Leggings are great for girls. For girls, leggings are a must wear item.  They can be paired with a cute dress or a long shirt, or they can be worn under a shorter skirt.  Choose basic colors like navy, black, and white when buying leggings so that you can mix and match them easily.
  3. A basic white shirt goes with everything.  For both boys and girls, buying a basic white shirt is a closet staple. The white shirt doesn’t have to be a plain t-shirt though, and you can buy girls a pretty blouse and boys a white button-down or polo.  Make sure to use bleach when you wash these because a bright white shirt looks great, but a dingy gray one does not.
  4. Underwear and socks are very important.  As kids grow it’s often overlooked if they need bigger underwear or new socks.  See how your child’s are fitting and assess if she needs some new ones.
  5. A jacket or hoodie will allow kids to layer.  Fall is an especially tricky time to dress for the weather since it frequently changes throughout the day, so putting your kids in layers will help them stay comfortable all day long.  If it’s a little cool in the morning when he walks to school a jacket or hoodie will keep him warm, but you don’t want to dress him in a sweatshirt because by afternoon it will have warmed up and he will be hot.  Sometimes the air conditioning in schools can seem too cold to some so having a way to keep the chill off will make your child more comfortable.
  6. Tennis shoes are a must for gym class.  Kids don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest brand name shoes, but they do need shoes that fit well and allow them to move quickly with ease.  Whatever your budget, it’s important that the shoes fit and support her growing feet.
  7. Boys will need a pair of nicer slacks.  Sometimes schools will take the kids on a field trip to see a play or musical and ask that they dress up for the event.  Having a pair of dress slacks that can be paired with the basic white shirt that you’ve already bought will give them an easy option when they need to look a little nicer.
  8. Girls may need a dress.  This dress does not have to be overly frilly and full of ruffles, but it shouldn’t be too casual either.  Find something comfortable that would be age appropriate for your girl.
  9. Dress shoes are needed.  To go with the boys’ dress pants and with the girls’ dress a pair of dress shoes is needed.  Unlike the tennis shoes that will most likely be worn almost every day, the dress shoes can be inexpensive if they aren’t going to be worn frequently.  Buy something very basic, like a black or brown shoe that can be worn with most colors.
  10. A winter coat is a must in most climates.  Some areas of the country will use this more often than others, but most areas will need a winter coat at some point during the year.  How heavy the coat is will be determined by where you live.  If you have almost six months of winter, like in the Midwest and Northern states, you will want to get a coat that is heavy or has several separate layers. Warmer climates may only need a light parka.

Buying clothes in basic colors can extend her wardrobe and increase her ability to mix and match her clothes.  Adding a hoodie to an outfit will change the entire look of an outfit.  Having shirts that can be worn with jeans, leggings, or a skirt will give her the versatility to make different looks throughout the year.  While these are just the basics, you should also plan to pick up a few special items for picture day or other times when she wants to look especially nice.      

10 iPhone Applications for Early Readers

August 27th, 2012 by admin

Despite a rising trend in the parenting world that aims to limit kids’ screen time and use of technology, recently reported that a California charter school’s heavy use of technology indicated that some kids may actually benefit from a tech-immersive learning experience. For children that are just beginning to learn the fundamentals of reading, well-designed and executed iPhone apps may be the wave of the educational future; these apps blend interactive play with valuable lessons, keeping kids engaged while they learn.

  1. Sight Words List – Learn to Read Flash Cards & Games – Make your own cards and record the sound of your own voice reading them to personalize the sight word experience for your beginning reader with the free Sight Words List – Learn to Read Flash Cards & Games app. Parents can also create new lists and change font sizes and color for a customized, personalized experience. The application also features an infant mode for children who are under 12 months, which is ideal for parents who wish to share a love of reading and learning with their babies.
  2. Bob Books #1 – Reading Magic – Winner of the 2011 Editors’ Choice Award by Children’s Technology Review, and named one of the 15 Great Apps for Kids by, Bob Books #1 – Reading Magic brings beloved Bob Books to the iPhone for only $1.99 in the App Store. The phonics-based approach to helping kids learn to read has been successful for millions of kids; now your child can have the power of Bob Books at her fingertips!
  3. Read Me Stories – Children’s Books – This free app allows users to access an entire library of children’s books, inspiring a love of reading in the smallest new readers. Free sample books are available, in addition to the scads that can be purchased through the app to keep your child occupied and entertained as she learns the fundamentals of reading.
  4. First Letters and Phonics – Learning letter shapes, names, and the sounds that they make is an exciting and entertaining prospect, thanks to Learning Touch’s First Letters and Phonics app. For $1.99 in the App Store, First Letters and Phonics includes two versions of the Alphabet Song, and will help build a foundation and give kids the basic skills they need to start the exciting journey that is reading.
  5. Alpha Writer – Based on Montessori principles like Moveable Alphabet, Alpha Writer helps kids learn to read and write by doing. The app also allows youngsters to create their own stories with illustrations, letters, and phonetic sounds, which encourages learning in a self-directed environment.
  6. Word BINGO – Based on the Dolch Word List, Word BINGO offers four different educational games for the low price of $0.99. Kids can play Word BINGO, Spelling Practice, Word it Up, and Fling It at a pre-primer through third grade level, and parents are able to review their progress through the My Report Card function.
  7. Spell Blocks with Sight Words – Interactive play is educational for little ones with Spelling Blocks, which uses a virtual version of the ever-popular alphabet blocks to help kids learn to spell more than 200 of the Dolch Sight Words. The Word Proficiency scale allows you to review his progress and determine where he needs help, a feature that’s well worth the $1.99 fee.
  8. Learn Sight Words – Ad-free and designed with little fingers in mind, Learn Sight Words helps kids learn and commit to memory 300 different sight words. Sounds can be turned on or off, allowing kids to hear the word as they look at it, or to focus on reading words quietly. Words are clearly pronounced and displayed in large, bold letters that are easy for kids to make out, and you’re given the option of flagging words that need more practice.
  9. Interactive Alphabet – ABC Flash Cards – Interactive Alphabet is a universal app that helps kids develop the basic skills they need to learn to read, with an entertaining and immersive lesson on letters A to Z. The app even has a “baby mode,” which advances flash cards at 15 second intervals, perfect for keeping pint-sized scholars occupied while you’re driving or otherwise engaged.
  10. Learn to Read! – Designed for kids in pre-school through second grade, Learn to Read! features voice prompts and example usage of sight words, and comes highly recommended by educators. Learn to Read! almost replaces the physical deck of flash cards that teachers distribute, keeping your home free of clutter and allowing your little ones to access their list at home or on the go.

The current academic culture requires that even preschoolers compete to acquire with and surpass the skills of their peers; with these interactive applications and a bit of patience you can help your child learn the skills he’ll need to keep up in a fairly high-pressure environment. Remember, even the best application is useless if you’re not actively involved in your child’s learning process, so take time to work with him and discuss what he’s learned from these applications each day.

How to Start a Friendship Bread with Your Child

August 22nd, 2012 by admin

Back in the days of covered wagons and no electricity it wasn’t possible to run to the store to buy a loaf of bread when you need some, and families had to rely on homemade bread instead.  It was even hard to purchase yeast; so many breads were made using starters.  The Amish people still do this today, which is why Friendship Bread is often called Amish Friendship Bread.  In fact, many families have had the same starter in their families for years.

Friendship bread is typically delicious sweet bread, but throughout the years many other recipe variations have been developed using the starter as well.  Sharing a bread starter with friends and family is seen as an act of love and neighborliness.

To get started you will need to create what is called a “starter”. The recipe for the starter has very few ingredients and is not complicated to put together.

Keep in mind before beginning that you never want to use anything metal in a bread starter.  In a small glass container or bowl add one (¼ ounce) package of active dry yeast and ¼ cup of warm water (110 degrees F) and stir to dissolve.  Allow yeast mixture to rest for 10 minutes before adding it to the other ingredients.  This process is called proofing the yeast.  After 10 minutes the yeast mixture should have changed and gotten foamy.  This means the yeast is alive.

Mix together 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of sugar in a 2 quart glass or plastic bowl.  Stir in 1 cup of milk slowly, making sure there are no lumps, and then add the yeast mixture and mix well.  Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and leave it on the counter at room temperature.  Throughout the whole process you will not put your starter in the refrigerator.  Your starter is now done and you can consider this DAY 1 in the process of making Friendship Bread.

Here are the directions that you will send along with the starter when you go to share it with your friends and family.

DAY 1: Do nothing

DAY 2: Stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

DAY 3: Stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

DAY 4: Stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

DAY 5: Stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

DAY 6: Stir in 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk

DAY 7: Stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

DAY 8: Stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

DAY 9: Stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

DAY 10: Follow these directions for dividing the starter to share:

Add 1 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ cups of sugar and 1 ½ cups of milk and stir mixture with a wooden spoon.  Measure out three, 1 cup portions and add each portion to a plastic bowl that you are willing to give away or a gallon sized zip top bag.  Make a copy of the recipe and the directions and you are ready to give away those three portions.  If you are using plastic bags make sure to let the air out so that the bag does not pop.

It’s also a nice thought to send along a mini loaf or a few slices of the baked Friendship bread so that your friends will know what to look forward to making.

To bake the bread you’ll need to follow these instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

To the starter that’s still in the bowl you will add the following ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 box of instant vanilla pudding (or choose your favorite flavor)
  • 1 Cup nuts (optional)
  • 1 Cup raisins (optional)

Grease two large loaf pans with butter.  Dust the pans with sugar instead of flour.

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans.  Sprinkle the top with a cinnamon and sugar mixture made up of ½ cup sugar and 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon.

Bake for 1 hour or until the bread comes away from the side and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Note: If you run out of friends to share the starter with you can freeze the bags of starter.  Make sure that you label them with what it is and the date you put it in the freezer.  Frozen starter will take at least 3 hours to thaw at room temperature.

If at any time you want to delay starting a new cycle you can put the starter in the refrigerator.

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10 iPhone Applications that Parents Need for Date Nights

August 20th, 2012 by admin

For busy parents, trying to squeeze in a date night can end up being a chore, never mind trying to plan one. Fortunately these timesaving iPhone applications have done your homework for you, so you can put the fun back in date night with none of the usual stress. With recommendations on everything from wine to wonton soup, you can book your sitter, capture a fun photo, and even hail a cab, all with the touch of a button.

Sitter Sorter – Before you can plan your date night, you have to secure your sitter. Sitter Sorter lets you store all of your babysitter’s contact information and request a sitter from the palm of your hand. Your sitters can respond to your request for childcare and you can book your preferred available sitter by clicking a button to send a scheduling confirmation to her.

Fandango – For parents who are hoping to catch a movie, Fandango can help them do just that. You can view local times and movies on the app, and parents can even organize their movie theaters by their favorites.

Hello Vino – Heading out for Chinese and want to know the perfect wine pairing for wonton soup? For those who like to keep track of their favorites, they’ll love the note taking abilities Hello Vino provides.

Groupon – Wondering where to go or what to do? Let the local deal of the day inspire you. For parents who are willing to try new restaurants or go on adventures for a fraction of the cost, Groupon can be a great place to score deals.

Food Spotting- The ultimate pocket guide to good food and where to find it, Food Spotting goes beyond rating restaurants and helps you discover good food near you.

Cabulous – For city dwelling couples, Cabulous is a handy application. You’ll never have to worry about waiting in the rain to hail a taxi again. With the push of a button you can hail and track your cab as it heads your way.

Yelp – Dying to check out the new pizza joint but want to hear what others think first? Yelp it! With the Yelp app you can search for businesses and read reviews before finalizing your date night destination.

LocalEats – If you’re looking for a quick restaurant guide, LocalEats is just that. A culmination of the top handpicked restaurants, LocalEats will lead you to the best locally owned restaurants around.

Hotel Tonight – If you’re looking for a last minute deal on a hotel, Hotel Tonight will help you find it. The app boasts low pricing and fast booking, and features three great deals in a growing list of cities.

Pocketbooth – Turn your iPhone into a vintage photo booth with Pocketbooth. You can email, tweet and even mail photo strips with the click of a button. What’s a better a goodnight gift to your kids than sending them a photo of mom and dad having fun?

How to Make Your Own Tutu to Play Dress Up

August 13th, 2012 by admin

Little girls are known for spending hours playing dress up, lavishing themselves with fancy clothes and costume jewelry and pretending that they’re everything from princesses to fairies. However buying the perfect dress up clothes can get expensive. Why not try making your own? To transform your little girl from a regular kid to a princess or a ballerina all you need to do is make your own tutu that is unique to her style.

To make your own tutu you will need the following supplies:

  • 1 ½ inch wide satin ribbon (40 inches longer than your child’s waist)
  • 4 yards of tulle (for a child’s tutu)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

Start by measuring your child’s waist.  For example, say that Sally’s waist is 22”.  You will need to add 40 inches to 22 and cut your ribbon at 62 inches.  Find the center of the ribbon and measure out 11” from the center one way and tie a knot in the ribbon.  Now go back to the center and measure 11” the other way and tie a knot.  This 22” section is where you will be putting the tulle.  The 20” on each end are used to tie the tutu on.  The bow can go in the front or the back.

Now it’s time to cut the tulle.  Unfold the tulle to the point where there is only one fold line.  Put the folded edge on the table facing toward you and straighten the rest of the tulle, then start rolling or folding the tulle over and over, making sure to keep the strip neat.  Trim off the end to make sure all of the layers of tulle are lined up and together.  Now cut through the rolled up tulle every 3” using the ruler.  Cut up all of the tulle in this manner.  You can use all one color tulle or you can get a yard of 4 different colors of tulle, or whatever other combination you like.  Open up the strip that you’ve cut of tulle and then cut it where the fold is so you have two equal halves.

You are ready to make the tutu now.  Fold the strip in half and lay it over the ribbon on the inside of the knots.  Take the loose ends and bring them around the ribbon and through the loop end and pull.  Now that strip is tied onto the ribbon.  Push that first strip over to the knot and continue attaching strips in this manner.  You can create any pattern you’d like.  If you have 4 colors you might want to attach 4 blue, 4 pink, 4 white and 4 green strips and then repeat the pattern until the ribbon is as full as you’d like.

If you’d like to make a tutu for an adult you will need to measure the waist as per the instructions for the child’s tutu and knot the ribbon.  You will need about 8 yards of tulle.  Create the strips as before, but now leave them the full length instead of cutting them in half.  This will allow the tutu to be long enough for an adult.

Put this tutu over a leotard with some ballet flats and you have a fabulous dancer dress up costume.  If you add a tiara you could be a princess.  Try adding wings and you could be a fairy.  The possibilities are endless.

Tutus aren’t just for dress up anymore.  You can take a T-shirt and put on an iron-on of some ballet slippers.  Next, create your tutu, but instead of leaving it separate you can sew the ribbon onto the bottom of the T-shirt.  The ends of the ribbon can be tied into a bow and sewn or you can tie it every time you put it on.  These little tutu outfits are great for babies and toddlers.  Just adjust the size of the tutu based on how big the girl is that is wearing it.

To further dress up the tutu you can glue on sequins using fabric glue.  Add the sequins randomly all over the tulle to add a bit of sparkle.  If you’d like, you can also add fabric flowers to the waistband in the same manner.  Thin widths of satin ribbon tied here and there between the tulle give the tutu a whole new look.

8 Biggest Distractions for Teen Babysitters

August 7th, 2012 by admin

When parents are faced with the prospect of leaving their children in the care of a babysitter, one of the most worrisome aspects of the arrangement is the idea that a distracted sitter might inadvertently allow her charges to get into a dangerous situation. While there’s no surefire way to ensure that absolutely nothing will ever go wrong, there are a few steps that you can take, as a parent, to ensure the safety of your children while they’re under a sitters care. The first step to eliminating distractions is knowing what the most common ones are.

  1. Cell Phones – In the 1990′s, cell phones were large, clunky objects that most teenagers were only aware of as a result of Saved By the Bell heartthrob Zack Morris. Times have since changed, and these days almost every teenager brings her tiny, powerful mobile device everywhere she goes. No longer restricted to simply chatting away as she keeps an eye on her charges, today’s sitter can update social networking accounts, check her email, and send text messages from your couch; because all of these actions require her to keep her eyes on the screen, there’s a lot she could potentially miss.
  2. Television – While we’ve all been distracted from time to time by a television show, a babysitter whose childcare experience is likely to be limited to a few hours a week might let things get out of hand as she zones out in front of the tube. Though banning television altogether while your sitter is working might not be as effective in practice as it is in theory, it’s wise to have a discussion about both the distraction factor and the need to filter questionable, age-inappropriate content from your kids. A good sitter will understand your concerns, and will make every effort to adhere to your house rules.
  3. Visitors – Most parents make a “no visitors” rule whenever they hire a babysitter. Unfortunately, this is one of the rules that almost always begs to be broken. If your kids are old enough to be verbal, the sitter may be tempted to wait until they’re in bed to invite a pal over; before her charges are old enough to tell on her, however, all bets are off. Let her know that the neighbors will be keeping an eye on the house in the interest of safety; it’s a great way of letting your sitter know that she’s being observed without accusing her of planning to have guests over before you’ve even left the house.
  4. Homework – Teenage babysitters may have homework to attend to, especially if you’ve requested her services on a school night. Requesting that she wait until she’s put the kids to bed before she cracks open the books is one way of eliminating the potential for any distraction, but you should remember that her schoolwork is important. Calling your sitter on short notice will raise the odds of her having homework that can’t be ignored, so you should make every effort to make arrangements as early as possible.
  5. Other Children – When you have more than one child, you should understand that your sitter will be forced to pay more attention to a younger or more rambunctious child than she would an older one with a calmer temperament. When a babysitter works for a large family, the thing that’s most likely to distract her from the group as a whole is one demanding child.
  6. Meal Preparation – Leaving money for pizza or other delivery food is a time-honored tradition between parents and their babysitters, largely because providing a ready-made dinner dramatically reduces the likelihood of a child getting injured or in trouble because his sitter is focused on cooking; it also eliminates the risk of a kitchen fire stemming from a neglected stove when kids demand every ounce of a sitter’s attention. Some parents feel uneasy about allowing a delivery person to come to their home when there’s no real adult present; if this is the case, you should arrange for a pre-prepared dinner that requires minimal focus on your sitter’s part.
  7. Pets – Anyone with pets knows that they can be just as demanding as the children in the house. A barking, energetic dog that paws at the door every five minutes is a distraction for your sitter, especially if she’s not familiar with your home, the animal’s temperament, or the routine that your children are accustomed to. Relegating your pooch to a fenced yard or a designated part of the house for the duration of a sitter’s shift can reduce the potential for pet-centric distractions.
  8. Parents – It’s not altogether surprising that a babysitter’s employers can be her biggest distraction. Calling every five minutes to make sure that your kids are okay is understandable, especially if you’re leaving them in the care of a sitter for the first time or she’s never worked for your family before; still, talking on the phone and fielding your questions might take her attention away from your kids, leaving them with minimal supervision.

Life is unpredictable, so it just isn’t possible to foresee every situation that might arise to remove a babysitter’s focus away from your children. The most that any parent can do is make an effort to minimize the likelihood of the most common culprits rearing their heads, and ensure that any sitter they hire is mature, competent and reliable.