Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back and Looking Forward

The five goals Little Misters and I had for 2011 and an assessment of how we did:
  1. Work on infant potty training: He was great in the beginning of the year and went downhill in summer.
  2. Learn five ASL signs: Little Misters signs milk, all done, more, please, and up (my own version). He knows potty but doesn't sign it and will copy eat.
  3. Play and read books together: I was inconsistent throughout the year. I read a lot to him when he went through his huge book phase a few months ago and we've been going to the park once a week for the past few months. At home I can improve.
  4. Have a consistent schedule: Check! But now that he is older, I need to make a new one.
  5. Finish organizing and decorating his room: Almost done. I just need to hang up a few more things.
Our goals for 2012:
  1. Work on infant potty training. I want him to at least tell me when he has to poop. I'll start by taking him every hour and diaper change. No more laziness!
  2. Get him sleeping in his crib and waking up no more than once. He was doing great until 9 months hit and so did chaos for three weeks. Since then, every time he made progress something drastic happened, so I gave up. I'm hoping that converting his crib to a toddler bed might help because I can lie with him in his bed to help him back to sleep.
  3. Wean! This kid is very attached to nursing. He drinks cow's milk and water, but I still nurse 4 or more times a day and at night. I had gotten it down to 3 or 4 a day, but this last week Little Misters was sick from a double ear infection and teething and wanted nothing but me. I want him completely weaned by the time he turns 2.
  4. Make a new schedule. It will include play time with me and with Dad and learning time. Our mornings are usually good; it's just the afternoons that are hard.
  5. Establish discipline. I just started reading The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, which I got for Christmas. I hope it works for us!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Three Kings Day Giveaway [CLOSED]

January 6 is Three Kings Day, a huge holiday in the Hispanic and Catholic world. It celebrates the day the three wise men arrived to worship the Savior and brought Him gifts. The traditional tale is that the wise men still travel around the world giving gifts to all the good children. Children leave out their shoes or bowls filled with hay and water to feed the kings' camels (or horses), and the kings leave their gifts in the shoes.

I grew up celebrating Three Kings Day in my family and at The House of Puerto Rico--San Diego with salsa music and delicious Puerto Rican food. Christmas was bigger in my house in terms of presents, but we were more excited to leave grass and water for the camels; we never left out cookies for Santa. We looked forward to being surprised with another gift or two in the morning.

It is my pleasure to share this tradition with you. I will give away three gifts to one lucky winner (since I am sponsoring this giveaway, no reviews or advertising besides the shop links are included):

1. A felt wool coin purse from The Loft Full of Goodies.



2.  A 2012 desk calendar from Jim Meissner Fine Art/James Otto Contemporary Art.



3.  A necklace from Lady Hawke Originals (you choose which pendant; chain included).


Mandatory Entry: Like my Facebook page.

2 entries: Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect.

1 entry: Tell me what is one of your favorite posts on this blog. If you are new, take a look around.

1 entry: Post this giveaway on Facebook.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on Sunday, January 1. The winner will be announced Monday, January 2. Please leave your email in one of your comments so I can contact you if you win. Good luck! (This giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada only.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tips for Healthier Macaroni and Cheese

Every kid loves boxed macaroni and cheese. You make it because it’s easy and fast, but it isn’t very nutritious! The good news is that you can ease your conscience and satisfy your child with healthier macaroni and cheeese by doing one or more of the following ideas:
  • Use nonfat milk and half the amount of required butter to eliminate a lot of fat.
  • Add peas or mixed vegetables for some fiber.
  • Use creamed corn instead of the butter to make the macaroni and cheese creamy.
  • For protein, mix in canned tuna or low-fat chili. Adding both protein and vegetables will fill up your child faster, causing them to eat less and one box of macaroni and cheese to last a lot longer.
  • Buy all-natural, whole-wheat boxed macaroni and cheese at your local health food store.
  • Serve macaroni and cheese as a side dish instead of as the main meal to ensure your child eats less of it and more of something healthier, like a sandwich, an apple, or salad.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shopping Smart at Walmart

Due to the recession, Walmart increased in sales and clientele. If you are among the Walmart shoppers, there are certain things you need to know to save money.
  1. Usually buying bigger or more lowers the price of a product. However, Walmart takes advantage of this fact to trick shoppers, sometimes increasing the price of a product as it gets bigger. Check the unit price to see if buying two smaller packages would save you money.
  2. The Walmart brand is not always the cheapest brand, although store brands are usually cheaper than name brands. Look at the other brands to see if you can find the product at a cheaper price.
  3. Walmart price matches, meaning that if you find a product they sell being sold cheaper at another store, they will sell it to you at the other store’s price. Browse the flyers you get in the mail to check competitor prices. You don't even need to bring in the ad; just tell them the price (be honest!). This is especially great if Walmart is closer to you than other stores, because you also save on gas.
  4. Use coupons. Print out manufacturer coupons from online (including walmart.com) or cut them out of flyers. Go here to read Walmart's coupon policy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Save Money on Greeting Cards

Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, weddings—they all require cards. With so many holidays and events throughout the year, the bill for greeting and thank-you cards quickly adds up. Try these tips to save money on greeting and thank-you cards, making both your wallet and loved ones happy.

Craig P
BUY CHEAP
Buy greeting cards at the dollar store. They have very nice cards, and some stores even sell them for only 50 cents. Check out sales, especially after holidays, at regular stores too. Buy thank-you and all-purpose note cards in bulk packages and Christmas cards in box sets. Although blank inside, they are cheaper and allow room for longer, more personal messages.

REUSE
Cut off the front half of a received greeting card if there is no writing on the back. Punch a hole in it and tie it with ribbon to a gift bag or tape it to a wrapped present. Write a short message on the back or just to and from.  Or make your own card by gluing the cut card to the front of folded paper. You can also cut out the inside message of the greeting card to use inside your own card.

Alaina Cherup
CREATE
Instead of buying greeting cards, make your own. Putting in time and creativity will make the card more personal and appreciated. Use cardstock or scrapbook paper and decorate it with stickers, photos, ribbon, stamps, buttons, and other craft items. Browse greeting cards at the store or online for design and message ideas. Search for jokes, quotes, and poems online or write your own.

Have a greeting card you've made that you would like to share? Post a photo of it on my Facebook page!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Avoid Returns and Exchanges

Long lines at the store don't cease after Christmas. In fact, they might get even longer from everyone returning or exchanging their Christmas gifts. Here's how to avoid that situation:

As a Getter
~Make a very specific Christmas wish list of things you would like to ensure you don't get something you wouldn't like.
~ List things of different prices to give people options that fit their budget.
~Include your clothing and shoe sizes and favorite brands and styles.
~Share your favorite color, band, movies, restaurants, etc.
~Let people know what you already have or really don't want. It's better to be bold now and save you both embarrassment if you don't like their gift.

As a Giver
~Ask for all the above information from the people for whom you're buying gifts.
~Always include a gift receipt to make returns/exchanges easier.
~If you're at a complete loss of what to buy, just give them a gift card or money. Sometimes being creative can be a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Remember Christ during Christmas


"Be It Unto Me" by Liz Lemon Swindle

“Jesus is the reason for the season” is more often said than remembered. This Christmas use the following ideas to remember Jesus, for this holiday is in celebration of His birth.
  • Have each family member give a gift to Jesus by writing down a promise to do or not do something, such as helping more, being nicer to a sibling, or not lying. Keep the written promises in a wrapped box under the tree. On Christmas Day, New Year’s, or the following Christmas, open up the box and have everyone evaluate his or her improvement.
  • Set aside one night, such as Christmas Eve, as a holy night of reading from the scriptures the Christmas story and other stories of Jesus’s life and teachings. Sing together or play on an instrument the Christmas hymns.
  • Follow a scriptural advent calendar, reading a scripture about Jesus every night.
  • Involve the family in service: the Savior’s life was all about serving others. There are plenty of opportunities during Christmas.
  • Visit friends, bringing treats and singing holy Christmas carols.
  • Watch religious Christmas programs, pageants, and choir performances to remember Christ. Even better, participate in one.
  • Decorate your home with nativity scenes and favorite pictures of Jesus.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cheap & Easy Christmas Ornaments

You don't need to splurge on fancy Christmas ornaments to have a gorgeous tree. Here are some simple, easy, and inexpensive ideas for decorating your Christmas tree on a budget:

Tie Christmas-themed/colored ribbons to the tree branches or wrap ribbon around the tree like a garland. Michael's has good sales on ribbon.

southernaccents.com

Make paper chains out of Christmas-colored/themed scrapbook paper.

orientaltrading.com

Cut snowflakes out of paper or fabric.

marthastewart.com

Hang candy canes on the tree branches. Or make fake candy canes out of red and white pipe cleaners twisted together.

homeklondike.com

Make fancy stars out of leftover wrapping paper. (Just make them smaller so they fit on the tree.)

familyfun.go.com

Let your kids make handmade ornaments out of paper and glitter, pine cones, popsicle sticks, etc.

familyfun.go.com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stocking Stuffer Ideas


Have you already bought the big Cristmas presents only to be stumped by what to put in the stockings?
The ideas are endless! Here are a few to get you started. Just keep in mind each person's likes and interests to make the gifts meaningful and appreciated.

Practical Stocking Stuffer Ideas
  • chapstick
  • makeup
  • nail polish
  • small school or office supplies
  • bath & body products
  • small kitchen gadgets
  • treats: nuts, candy, exotic fruit, gum/mints
  • gift cards, including prepaid
  • money
Fun Stocking Stuffer Ideas
  • golf balls or tees 
  • tickets to an event or place
  • small craft items
  • ornaments
  • stickers
  • bubbles
  • jewelry
  • receipt to something that hasn't arrived yet or for a virtual purchase (like Netflix)
  • inside jokes, like bandages for a klutz or something silly the person frequently borrows from you or never seems to have when needed
Where to Get Cheap Stocking Stuffers
  • dollar stores
  • Target's $1 spot
  • Michael's
  • Party City's party favor and candy aisle
  • clearance

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Family Christmas Pageant


lds.org
 Make this Christmas memorable by having your own family Christmas pageant.

First, assign the parts for the Christmas pageant. Make sure everyone is included.  If there are extra parts, have someone double up on smaller parts or invite another family to participate.

Dress up the family in bathrobes, sandals, and towels or shawls around their heads. Check old Halloween costumes for angel wings, crowns, and anything else relevant to the Christmas story. Use your children’s toys (stuffed animals, baby doll, etc.) as props. Spend time together making other props, such as the star or manger.

Decide whether you will narrate the Christmas story from the scriptures, write a script so the children have speaking parts, or both.

If you want, invite family and friends to watch your Christmas pageant. You may want to practice a few times before the performance. Set apart a "stage" area and provide enough seats if people are coming. Play holy Christmas music softly in the background and use candles to set the mood. Record the pageant to watch every Christmas or to send to relatives.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins


I found this yummy blueberry recipe on The Colorful Apron. They were perfect for a sugar-free Halloween party I attended this year and everyone liked them. I made them again last night and changed a few things:

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce*
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup blueberries
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk and applesauce.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients until moist. Add the honey and fold in the blueberries.
  4. Bake in a greased muffin pan for 20 minutes. (I used paper cups and the muffins stuck since I took out the oil.) Makes 1 dozen.
I love them and I usually don't like blueberry anything. My husband likes them and he's picky about healthy recipes. I hope you enjoy them too!

*or 1/4 cup coconut oil

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No More Cold Sheets

Does your baby wake up when you place him or her in the crib (or bed, if you co-sleep) because the sheets are cold? Have you been told to warm the sheets up in the dryer only to realize it's too much work? Here are three easy solutions for no more cold sheets:

1. Lay a flannel or fleece blanket on top of the sheet and tuck the edges between the mattress and crib. (For co-sleepers, tuck the top edge under the pillows.) Flannel and fleece don't get cold easily, and if they do get cold, it's easy to throw just a blanket in the dryer instead of undoing and remaking the bed to warm up the sheets. You can also make or buy flannel or fleece sheets, but using a blanket is cheaper and easier.

2. Place a microwavable heat pack or an electric heat pad in the middle of the crib or bed. Make sure it's not too hot before placing the baby down.

3. For co-sleepers, simply have another family member lie down in the bed to warm it up before putting the baby down.

WINNER!

The winner of the Lilly's Lucky Penny vintage children's book giveaway is comment #20 "I had forgotten all about the coloring books that you colored with water. What a memory that was!" by AmbreRose. Congratulations!

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Save Money on Gift Wrapping

With Christmas around the corner and other holidays and birthdays all year long, expenses on gift wrapping can easily add up. And most gift wrapping, and thus your money, ends up in the garbage. But you can save money on gift wrapping without forfeiting a beautifully wrapped present.
  • The most obvious way to save money on gift wrapping is to reuse gift bags, party favor bags, tissue paper, ribbons, and bows you receive. You can even reuse wrapping paper if you are careful opening it.
  • Keep small boxes from clothes, shoes, tissues, jewelry, cereal, etc., to hold items that are not easily wrapped. Decorate the box itself instead of wrapping it, if possible.
  • Wash and reuse cookie and candy tins. Save cute baskets and other nice containers for holding gifts.
  • Buy gift wrapping supplies on sale right after the holidays to use for next year. Also check out thrift stores and garage sales for cheap wrapping paper, tins, mugs, vases, and baskets. Try craft stores for great sales on scrapbook paper to wrap small items.
  • If you are artistically talented, create your own gift bags and wrapping paper. Buy cheap plain-colored bags and paper to decorate or use brown lunch bags and construction paper.
  • If you are not artistically talented, use newspaper or magazines. Choose sections/articles that suit the gift recipient: the comics, sports news, advice columns, politics, beauty tips, crossword puzzle, etc.
  • If you have kids, let them decorate plain bags and paper for the gifts they are giving. Some creative ideas are to use stamps, stickers, old cards and decorations, and handprints.
  • For last-minute wrapping ideas, just use tissue paper and a ribbon or stuff small gifts in a toilet paper roll, wrap it, and tie the ends with ribbon.
  • Some stores offer free gift wrapping, so be sure to ask.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lilly's Lucky Penny Vintage Book Giveaway [CLOSED]

I found Lilly's Lucky Penny through a giveaway and felt like I was revisiting my childhood. Lilly's Lucky Penny finds and sells vintage toys, books, games, and home decor. Remember these?




Smiles
*I love the original Little People toys! They were one of my favorite things to play with as a child.
*There is a large variety of books: Disney movies, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids, and more.
*Everything is in good to excellent condition and they describe how used each item is.
*The sellers are friendly and accomodating.

Frowns
*Shipping fees are pricey. However, as stated in their shop policies, "We do our best to estimate the cost of shipping and any supplies we might need, but sometimes we are wrong. If we overcharge you by more than $1, we will reimburse you through your PayPal. The shipping cost will usually be right on the package for you to see - but remember we're also paying for the box, tape, padded envelope, stuffing, gas to the Post Office, etc."

Lilly's Lucky Penny is giving away a surprise vintage book! They will choose the book based on the winner's information about their little reader.

Mandatory 1st Entry: Visit Lilly's Lucky Penny and tell me if you found anything there from your childhood. If not, what toy do you wish they had?

1 entry: Heart Lilly's Lucky Penny on Etsy. Leave your username.

1 entry: Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect.

1 entry: Like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle on Facebook.

1 entry: Post this giveaway on Facebook.

1 entry: Leave a meaningful comment (something more than "Great article!") on any non-giveaway post and tell me which one. You can do this up to 5 times.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on Wednesday, November 30. The winner will be announced Thursday, December 1. Please leave your email in one of your entries so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Five Family Traditions for Thanksgiving

Here is the guest post I wrote for Mom's Point of View:

Thanksgiving brings to mind succulent, savory dishes and warm, homemade desserts. We usually don't think beyond delicious food. But this year, start some family traditions that will help you focus on giving thanks.

1. Make paper turkeys by tracing your hands. Have everyone write something they are thankful for on each feather (finger). Let everyone read their list before eating Thanksgiving dinner.

2. Bake Thanksgiving-shaped cookies or a pumpkin treat. Give the goodies to someone you are thankful for and include a thank-you note.

3. Cut out a bare paper tree and tape it to the wall or a door. Cut out fall-colored leaves and put them in an envelope or bag by the tree. For the next few days, have everyone write something they are grateful for that day on a leaf and tape it to the tree. The tree should be full by Thanksgiving. Read all the leaves after dinner.

4. As a family, shop for groceries to donate to your local homeless shelter or other center. Go here for ideas on good foods to donate.

5. Make handmade thank-you cards to use throughout the year as a way to remind your family to be grateful and show it.

Share your Thanksgiving family traditions!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Is Attachment Parenting?

When people meet those who practice attachment parenting, they think of spoiled, whiny children who never are disciplined. Or they think the parents are Hippie or liberal. I should know; I used to be one of those judgmental people--until I became a parent and learned the truth about attachment parenting.

So, what is attachment parenting? Let's begin with what it's not, adapted from an article by Dr. Sears:

1. Attachment parenting is not new. It isn't something born from the 70s or liberalism. "In fact, it's the way that parents for centuries have taken care of babies, until childcare advisors came on the scene and led parents to follow books instead of their babies." It is also called natural parenting because it feel natural and instinctive.

2. Attachment parenting is not indulgent parenting. "Attachment parenting is responding appropriately to your baby's needs, which means knowing when to say 'yes' and when to say 'no.' . . . Attachment parenting is a question of balance –not being indulgent or permissive, yet being attentive."

3. Attachment parenting is not martyr mothering. In the beginning you give a lot of yourself and time, but as Baby gets older, your response time lengthens and response frequency lessens. This principle I also learned from Elizabeth Pantley. Co-sleeping, night nursing, and no crying-it-out don't mean you have to sacrifice sleep and be miserable. It just means you approach the problem patiently and compassionately.

4. Attachment parenting is not hard. "Attachment parenting may sound like one big give-a-thon. Initially, there is a lot of giving. This is a fact of new parent life. Babies are takers, and parents are givers. One of the payoffs you will soon experience of attachment parenting is one we call mutual giving – the more you give to your baby, the more baby gives back to you. . . . True, this style of parenting takes a tremendous amount of patience and stamina, but it's worth it. Attachment parenting early on makes later parenting easier, not only in infancy but in childhood and teenage years. . . . When you truly know your child, parenting is easier at all ages."

5. Attachment parenting does not spoil your child. "Attachment parenting implies responding appropriately to your baby; spoiling suggests responding inappropriately. . . . There was no scientific basis to this spoiling theory, just unwarranted fears and opinions." Read the conclusions of research studies here.

Then what is attachment parenting? Dr. Sears sums it up in the 7 Bs:

1. Birth bonding
2. Breastfeeding
3. Babywearing
4. Bedding close to baby
5. Belief in the value of Baby's cry
6. Being aware of baby trainers
7. Balance

For more information check out "Attachment Parenting" on the Ask Dr. Sears site and the Attachment Parenting International site.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Joom Tote Bag Review

Yet another prize I won from that Modern Typography giveaway was $20 store credit to Joom. I checked out the shop to see what I could get. So many cute things! I couldn't decide. Until I saw this:


I've been looking for a diaper bag replacement. The one I used to have I gave to a mother in need (her husband died in a motorcycle accident shortly before she was due with their first baby). Then I used a cute tote bag I already had, but it got destroyed. I've been using my purse plus a small bag just for diapers and wipes. However, it would be nice to have just one bag to carry around when I don't need my purse, like at church. This one looked perfect. It was large and cute and had a pocket inside to put my phone and keys. I admit I like lots of compartments, but if I still used the small bag of diapers it would help keep the interior organized. It also had a button to close the bag partly.


And the best part? It was on sale for $17! I had some trouble with checking out, but Joom was very patient and helpful and ended up shipping it to me for free. I appreciated her kindness.

Smiles
*Attached to the bag were a couple tags, one with the shop name and logo, the other saying thank you and giving care instructions. Very professional!
*She also included a thank-you card of one of her whimsical prints, which I accidentally crinkled taking out of the package. I think it's still frameable:


*The straps are not the cheap kinds that rub and fray. They are soft and comfortable. I think they're suede (I don't know materials!)
*Awesome customer service. She has over 6,000 sales and 100-percent positive feedback!
*Super cute designs in her shop.

Frowns
*It would have been easier for both of us if there had been an "apply code" box at checkout.
*Update: the straps' fabric flakes off.

You can enter a giveaway to win one of her pillows on this other blog.

Easy Cream Cheese Wontons


Wontons of all kinds are delicious appetizers! And they're easier to make than you think.

Ingredients
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • powdered sugar
  • wonton wraps
  • water in a bowl
  • oil
Directions

  1. Put the cream cheese into a bowl. Add powdered sugar to taste and mix. You can also make them without the sugar, which I prefer.
  2. Place a square wrap on a cutting board, tilted so it looks like a diamond, not a square, from your point of view. Scoop about half a small spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into the center of the wrap. (Do not overstuff the wonton or cream cheese will spill out from the corners, causing the hot oil to splatter when the wonton is fried.)
  3. Fold the top corner of the wrap over to the bottom corner, forming an upside-down triangle. Seal the edges with water.
  4. Fold one side of the wonton wrap to the bottom corner and seal the edges with water. Repeat with the other side.
  5. Fry the wonton in hot oil until it is golden brown and crispy. Let it cool before eating.

Other options:

  1. Once the wontons are done frying, sprinkle them with more powdered sugar or coat them with a sugar and cinnamon mix.
  2. If you don’t want the wontons filled with cream cheese, fry them in strips. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and top them with strawberry sauce: puree strawberries with powdered sugar and then mix in chopped strawberries.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution Giveaway [CLOSED]

My favorite parenting author, Elizabeth Pantley, most notably known for her book The No-Cry Sleep Solution, has come out with another no-cry solution to add to her series: The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution. One piece of advice she gives is reorganizing the food in your kitchen:
What's in your kitchen? A typical home contains plenty of healthy food, along with an assortment of snacks, desserts, and less healthy fare. An adult can sift through all this and decide what's best to eat, picking healthy options and judiciously choosing the right time for and amount of junk food and desserts.Children, however, will naturally be drawn to the tastiest option, with no guilt over the resulting choice. They will open the refrigerator or pantry and pick the most appetizing thing they see.
How can you help your child make better choices? The best way is to put the healthy foods where they can be seen easily and allow your child to choose between the nutritious options in view. Place desserts and junk foods on high shelves or in opaque containers. This way you can dole out the treats when and where you feel they're appropriate.
She also emphasizes the importance of simple family mealtime, advising that "there are four things that shouldn't be brought to the dinner table: lectures, reprimands, rigid expectations, and demands for specific conversation. . . . Families that make a practice of dining together in a relaxed, pleasant atmosphere reap the most benefits."

If this book is anything like the sleep one, then I can guarantee following her counsel will result in miracles! Although Little Misters has no eating problems right now (he's picky with textures but will eat his vegetables pureed), if he ever does, this book will be the first thing I consult for answers.

Elizabeth Pantley is generously giving away a set of seven books on toddler eating and two sets of her seven No-Cry Solution books! All you need to do is blog about the book and send the link, your name, and your email address to her: elizabeth at pantley dot com. Do not comment on this post. The winner will randomly be chosen on November 30. For more information on Elizabeth Pantley and her books, check out her Web site.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Date Your Husband


Women are not the only ones who like to be chased. Your man wants to know he’s still exciting to you. Bring back the fun of dating into your marriage with these simple yet meaningful steps.

  1. Make sure that your date idea is something he enjoys, not something you enjoy or would like him to do for you. Thinking about his interests and being willing to do them shows him how much you love him.
  2. Be prepared. If the activity is something you are not very familiar with, such as golf, ask his buddies for help on setting a tee time and going over basic rules. Your husband will very impressed that you put in time to understand his interests.
  3. Ask him questions about the specific interest your date focuses on. For example, if you took him to see his favorite band play and you don’t know much about them, ask him when he first started listening to them or what his favorite song is.
  4. Be on your best behavior: no bringing up things about him that are bothering you or talking about your day or interests. Flirt with him throughout the date to keep it romantic and fun.
  5. End the date with a surprise, especially something related to the date, such as new golf balls or tickets to the next concert. He will feel that you are supporting him in his interests, reassuring him of your love and encouraging him to do the same for you.

WINNER!

The winner of the Brydferth brooch giveaway is comment #65 "Liked this blog on FB (2), May Equality Shum" by May Shum. Congratulations!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Who Needs Toys?

I've said it once and I'll say it a thousand times more: why do we bother buying babies toys when they'd much rather play with random junk around the house? Proof positive:






 




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

Service does not have to be big or time consuming. Sometimes the best service is small, random acts of kindness. These little but meaningful acts brighten other people’s day and make them feel loved. Try one of the following ideas to surprise a stranger, friend, neighbor, or family member. There are ideas for every situtation and age!

FOR STRANGERS:
  • Put coins into a parking meter running low.
  • Return stray shopping carts in the parking lot so that they don’t damage cars.
  • Pay for something for someone waiting behind you in line.
  • Give up your seat on a bus or in a waiting room.
  • Hand out or randomly leave treats for students studying in the library during midterms and finals or send some with your child to class (with the teacher's permission).
  • Hold open the door for people and help them carry in packages or other loads.
  • Give $5 gift cards for fast food places to homeless people.
  • Smile and say hello!
FOR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS:
  • Doorbell ditch, leaving behind treats, a small gift, or a kind note.
  • Shovel your neighbor’s driveway, weed their yard, or wash their car.
  • Buy or make a lunch for a friend.
  • Clean the house for your roommate(s) or a friend.
  • Walk your neighbor's dog (if you and the dog are both comfortable with the idea) or help care for a pet.
  • Help a lone mother with her kids at church.
  • Babysit for a friend so she can nap, have some "me time," or go on a date with her husband.
  • Send thoughtful texts wishing friends good luck on a test or interview, giving words of comfort or humor on a difficult day, or telling them when something reminded you of a memory together.
FOR FAMILY:
  • Do a family member’s chores, especially when he or she is busy or wants to go out.
  • Give a younger sibling a ride.
  • Let a sibling borrow or use something of yours.
  • Change a baby’s diaper or comfort a crying baby.
  • Leave notes in your family members’ sack lunches, drawers, shoes, purses, wallets, backpacks, etc., for them to find.
  • Arrange for babysitters and surprise your spouse with a date night.
  • Give your spouse a massage.
  • Surprise your kids with a stop for ice cream on the way home from school or errands.
  • Send hand-drawn pictures to grandparents or a sibling in college or on a mission.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thrift Store Treasure

Nearly three weeks ago I went thrift store shopping, a favorite pastime of mine. I was looking for baby things for shower gifts; I was trying to be good and not buy anything for myself. But when I went to my last stop, the Goodwill right down the street, I didn't expect to find this treasure!


This Step2 kitchen was in excellent condition (only one piece missing where that hole is; not even sure what the piece was), came with some dishes, and was only $12.99! I tried looking up the new price online, but couldn't find this particular one. However, their smallest kitchens start at $90. I think it was more expensive than that because I found this exact one on Craigslist for $80! I'm so glad I didn't pass up this steal of a deal! Little Misters loves it. His favorite is the frying pan. He carries it everywhere.

I love that this kitchen will last for years. When Little Misters doesn't play with it anymore, his younger siblings will.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Brydferth Brooch Giveaway [CLOSED]

I came across the shop Brydferth while browsing Etsy. It's easy to see why I stopped to look:



Stunning, aren't they? Her shop is aptly named: brydferth is Welsh for beautiful. I immediately contacted the seller, Hailey Rose, who happily agreed to do a giveaway. That is, after she recovered from her best creation yet: a healthy baby boy!

Today I received my surprise package and was very excited to open it. She sent me two lovely things: a rosette ring and a rosette brooch (love brooches!). I was very impressed with how professionally everything was packaged.




Smiles
*Beautiful designs and colors.
*Variety of items for a variety of occasions.
*Brydferth is stitched on the back of the brooch.
*High-quality work. The rosettes are very firmly attached to the ring and pin.
*Hailey is very sweet, friendly, and professional!

Frowns
*The pin type (rotating head) is harder to open. However, it is much safer with a baby around.
*The frayed style is not my favorite, but I still think everything is gorgeous!

Brydferth is generously giving away a two-inch rosette brooch in the color of your choice!

Mandatory 1st Entry: Visit Brydferth and tell me your favorite item.

3 entries: Blog about it (something as simple as "p.s. check out this Brydferth brooch giveaway!" in a regular post), linking to this page. Leave the link to your post.

2 entries: Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect.

2 entries: Like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle on Facebook.

1 entry: Like Brydferth on Facebook.

1 entry: Heart Brydferth on Etsy. Leave your username.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday, November 13. The winner will be announced Monday, November 14. Please leave your email in one entry so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Hit or Not to Hit?

Spanking, slapping, hitting, and cocotasos (hard raps to the head with a fist) were disciplinary actions I grew up with. I was ok with spanking and hitting hands and planned to do so with my children. However, since becoming a mother and researching discipline, I have changed my mind.

I do not think physical discipline is the right answer. Yes, it works in stopping certain behaviors--I remember quitting my actions at the threat of a spanking!--but it is not a good and effective method in the long run.

The attachment parenting Web site sums it up best: "Hitting your son would teach him to fear you rather than trust you and would model that violence is an acceptable way to change someone else's behavior. Hitting will anger and humiliate him, but it won't be effective at teaching him to regulate his emotions or to control his impulses."

1. Fear
This was true in my childhood. I feared my parents' anger. I do not want my child to behave out of fear, especially fear of his parents. I want him to behave because he knows it is right. I read in an article in BYU Magazine about teaching children to make choices based on right and wrong, not on disappointing or sorrowing their parents (or anyone else, for that matter). This way they develop a conscience and moral code that will guide them throughout their lives.

2. Violence
Violence is not an acceptable way to change someone else's behavior. I do not want my son thinking, "Mommy hits me to get me to stop, so I will hit my little brother/sister to get him/her to stop!" Besides, it would be hypocritical to stop my son from hitting others by hitting him.

3. Humiliation
I remember a time when my mother slapped me at 16 or 17. I felt extremely angry and humiliated. I do not want my son to feel that way and damage our relationship. I want him to trust and respect me.

4. Control
The point of discipline is to teach children how to tell right from wrong, how to respond to different situations, and how to regulate emotions and control impulses. What kind of example am I setting to my son by losing my temper and acting on it? If I show my son that I can control myself, then he will learn how to as well. This last point is the one I struggle with the most. I am not perfect at not hitting, although I am against it. I have been guilty of smacking my baby's hand when he hits or scratches me, and I am not proud of it. I have to constantly be on guard and remind myself that my son learns by watching me. (I love how parenthood is shaping me into a better person!)

Elizabeth Pantley discusses more thoroughly the faults of spanking and hitting. How do you feel about hitting and other physical discipline?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Elimination Communication Update

9 months
When Bugaboo was four months old, I started infant potty training (or elimination communication) and blogged about my experience. Bugaboo is now fourteen months old and a lot has happened since we first started.

Bugaboo caught on very quickly. It was tiring at first, taking him so often, but it was sort of fun too. We sang songs and did finger plays together. I learned how smart and willing my baby was. He was able to sign potty (not perfectly, but discernable from milk) before five months old, which made it so much easier. He did it most often when he needed to poo. With both our efforts, I caught half of his pees and nearly all his poos. I could even take him to a public potty when we were out, which also encouraged me to use cloth diapers away from home since I knew there would be no poopy messes. Sometimes I even took his little potty with me when we were gone all day or going to a friend's house. It took a lot of commitment, but it was worth it. I was so proud of both of us!

Then nine months hit. He was crawling and getting into mischief and decided to go on a potty strike. No more signing. No more sitting on the potty. It was very frustrating. Especially when he figured out he could crawl off the potty chair, spilling its contents onto the carpet. Yuck!

13 months

I got lazy after that. I still took him in the mornings, after naps, and before baths, but my efforts stopped there. A month later I tried again, and Bugaboo signed for about a week. Then he learned to walk, becoming more distracted, and stopped signing for good. Since then I've had to watch him like in the beginning to catch it in time. I was hoping he would be diaper free by one and fully potty trained by 18 months.

Overall my efforts have not been wasted. He still knows what going potty means. If he passes gas when I'm around, he looks at me and smiles. I'll ask him if he needs to go potty and he'll run to the bedroom. Unfortunately, it's just gas most of the time, the real thing happening shortly thereafter. Sometimes he signs all done when he's barely started eating and I know it's because he needs to go. Other times I just randomly ask him and watch for a response.

What I've learned is that diligence is the key. You have to be consistent and 100-percent dedicated. My laziness and his distractedness once he was mobile were a bad combination. I haven't given up yet. I'm working really hard again so that he can tell his teachers when he has to go once he enters our church's nursery at 18 months. Wish me luck!

Note: The morning after I originally wrote this post, Bugaboo signed potty and milk! He hasn't done it since, but it's a start!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WINNER!

The winner of the Flanders Field Photography Giveaway is comment #142 "Hey I love this one! . . . I would choose this :)" by Natasha Areena. Congratulations! And thanks to everyone who entered; it was my most successful giveaway!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pandora Radio

I love Pandora Radio. When I babysit, I play children's songs on Pandora and the boys love spinning around in circles to the music. We labeled the station Sesame Street, which the majority of the songs are from, but other children's songs play as well. To create your own free children's station, you can also try The Wiggles, Disney, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Muppets, Baby Einstein, or Raffi. Happy dancing!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gigi's Petals $50 Target Gift Card Giveaway [CLOSED]

In April I hosted a giveaway for Gigi's Petals, an Etsy shop selling cute jewelry and accessories. Gigi's Petals is now launching a new site that will feature an Etsy seller every day and offer discounts to their shop. The new site will open tomorrow, October 24.

To celebrate the opening, Gigi's Petals is giving away a $50 Target gift card. All you have to do is sign up for their daily emails. For a second entry, like Gigi's Petals on Facebook. No comments necessary--they will choose and notify the winner. This giveaway ends November 1. But it's just the beginning to hundreds more giveaways on their new site every day for five days! So hurry and sign up for these incredible giveaways and more deals to come!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cheap & Easy Penguin Costume

One Halloween night in high school I was going to a party but had no idea what to wear. I didn't want to wear a costume I had worn before. I browsed through my dismal closet and saw my old tuxedo shirt from middle-school band. An idea hit me: I could make a penguin costume! Here is what I did:

  1. Wear a tuxedo or white button-up shirt, a bowtie, black pants, black shoes, and a black sweater or blazer.
  2. Paint your forehead and nose black. Paint the rest of your face white.
  3. Cut out penguin feet from yellow construction paper and tape them to the top of your shoes.
  4. Use the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper to make the beak. Glue yellow construction paper to the tube.
  5. Flatten in and cut out a triangle, starting at an open end. Cut through both sides but not all the way to the other open end so that it stays intact.
  6. Keep the beak in place with string or elastic.
  7. To be Tacky the Penguin, wear sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Make an Angelina Ballerina Costume

abt.org
Angelina Ballerina, or Angelina Mouseling, is a mouse who loves to dance ballet. Created by author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig, Angelina Ballerina was first a book series and is now a TV series. And Angelina Ballerina can be a cute, easy costume for your little girl.
  1. Angelina Ballerina is a white mouse, so dress your daughter in a white long-sleeved shirt, white tights, and white gloves.
  2. For ears, buy a thin, neutral-colored headband and pink and white paper at the dollar store. Cut out large white ears and smaller pink ears. Glue the pink ears on the white ears to make the inner ear. Glue the ears to the headband.
  3. Make Angelina’s tail by inflating a long, white balloon (the kind used to make balloon animals) and tying it around your daughter's waist with string. Another option is to pin a stuffed, white tube sock to the costume.
  4. With makeup draw three white whiskers on each cheek and a pink nose.
  5. Finish the costume with a pink leotard, pink tutu, and pink ballet slippers. (Check thrift stores and online to save money on the ballet accessories.) Tie a pink bow in her hair, or tie or glue it to the headband. Sometimes Angelina Ballerina has a red rose pinned to her right above her tutu.
Now your little girl is ready to dance and twirl like Angelina Ballerina!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flanders Field Photography Giveaway [CLOSED]

Another one of the prizes I won in a giveaway by Modern Typography was an 8x10 print photo from Flanders Field Photography. I had such a hard time choosing a favorite. The photography is beautiful! I am very picky about what I will hang on my walls. I am not an art person, and the little art I like is usually of nature, especially nature photography. Flanders Field knows how to capture the beauty of nature on camera.


Flanders Field also creates note cards, pendants, and coasters with the photos.


Although I prefer flowers, Flanders Field also shoots fruit, water, the sky, and more.

Alaskan glacier


Smiles
*Beautiful!
*Variety of colors, subjects, and sizes
*Clear, high-quality photos
*Shows how the photo would look matted and framed
*Did I mention beautiful?

Frowns
*None

Flanders Field is generously giving away an 8x10 photo of your choice, a $25 value!

Mandatory 1st Entry: Visit Flanders Field and tell me which photo you would choose.

3 entries: Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect.



1 entry: Heart Flanders Field on Etsy. Leave your username.

1 entry: Post this giveaway on Facebook.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PST on Tuesday, October 25. The winner will be announced Wednesday, October 26. Please leave your email in one of the entries so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cheap & Easy Mouse Costume

Want to dress up as a mouse for a costume party? This easy, cheap mouse costume is especially designed for those with no sewing ability, like me.

First, choose what color mouse you would like to be: white, black, brown, or gray. Wear clothes in that one color. For paws, wear white or pink gloves and shoes. With makeup draw three long whiskers and a pink nose.


To make ears, buy a thin, neutral-colored headband and a pad of colored construction paper at the dollar store. Cut out large ears in your chosen color. Cut out smaller ears in the color of your gloves and glue them on the larger ears to make the inside part of the ear. Tape the ears to the headband.



For the tail, inflate a long balloon (the kind used to make balloon animals) in the same color as your clothes or gloves and tie it around your waist with string. Another option is to pin a stuffed colored tube sock to your pants.


Choose accessories: cheeseheads or fake cheese, a mouse stuffed animal, or a mousetrap. Put on sunglasses and use a cane to be one of the three blind mice.


To be Remy from Ratatouille:
  1. Remy is a gray rat with pink hands and feet, so wear all gray clothes and pink gloves and shoes. You can buy cheap gray sweats at Wal-mart.
  2. Make a pink tail and ears. With makeup draw three white whiskers on each cheek and a pink nose.
  3. To make the Remy costume complete, wear a chef hat and carry a wooden spoon. (If you wear a hat, then be sure to tape the ears to the sides of the headband instead of to the top. Or tape the ears to the hat.)
  4. A cute costume idea for couples would be for one to dress up as Remy and the other to dress up as Linguini (the young chef Remy helps) or Gusteau (the fat chef that inspires Remy to cook).
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