Month: July 2014

5 summer must-do adventures for toddlers


Andrea Updyke

posted in Tips & Tricks

This post is sponsored by Mott’s

Parenting a toddler is serious business. My three year old is the most active he has ever been and hardly ever sits still. I am constantly looking for ideas to keep him occupied and learning new skills.

During the summer weeks, where he is too young for most camps and preschool is out, we have to be particularly creative so we both don’t go crazy. I have a few go-to ideas that are fun for toddlers and get us all out of the house. From checking out new parks to enjoying old favorites, there is something for everyone. Read on for some of our favorite summer adventures.

slide 5 summer must do adventures for toddlers

Must-do summer adventures for toddlers

Planes – Head out to the local airport to watch the planes take off and land. Ours even has an observation park with a play area for kids and tables for snack time! We bring along our Mott’s for Tots juice boxes, grapes, cheese crackers and of course lots of sand toys.

Trains – Head to a park with a kid’s train or if you have one, a real train station to watch the train or go for a ride. I don’t know what it is about trains, but my kids love them. If I am honest, I do too. I don’t think I ever grew out of this phase.

Bus rides –  That’s right, forget the automobile this time and ride the bus! In our city, we have a nicely air-conditioned bus downtown that makes a loop all day long. Rides are free and I’ve found my kids enjoy the experience.

Fountains – Really it’s all about the simple pleasures when it comes to keeping toddlers entertained. Any location with a good fountain works for us. We aren’t picky. Just make sure to bring lots of pennies and have fun making wishes.

Splash yards – My youngest is still timid around water, but he loves to splash. This makes the local splash yard high on the list for many summer visits. Bonus points for getting outside.

However you decide to enjoy summer together with your toddler, don’t forget the snacks. Mott’s Natural Applesauce cups are a staple in our house and easy to take on the go. When it’s time to head out, we load up with snacks, water, and a couple Mott’s for Tots juice boxes for the road. My kids love fruit punch, but the idea of a super sweet food colored cocktail isn’t really at the top of my list for healthy options. Mott’s for Tots has 40% less sugar than 100% apple juice and I think that is great for my toddler who can finish off a juice box in about 45 seconds.

For more portable snack ideas, check out some of our favorites below.

Grab and go snack ideas

motts logo e1404329532180 5 summer must do adventures for toddlersThis post is sponsored by Mott’s

***Featured photo via Flickr/Tanya Little

Ten tips for parenting as a team


Whitney Barthel

posted in Tips & Tricks


My husband and I grew up very differently. Although we only lived fifteen miles from one another our family lives were polar opposites. He was homeschooled, I went to public school. His parents are still married, my parents divorced when I was four. He grew up on a farm, I lived in town. Not only are the demographics of our family completely different, our moms and dads had very dissimilar parenting styles.

This difference in upbringing has caused us to have conflicting views on how to parent the “right” way. Luckily we are in agreement on most issues, but we are having a hard time coming together on things like schooling and discipline.

In attempt to smooth these riffs over and work together as a team, I have started researching methods to help us come to an agreement on pesky little issues that keep coming to a head. In my hunt I found one extremely useful article containing ten moderately feasible strategies.

This little bit of parenting guidance, offered by Debbie Pincus, urges parents to relate and come to a consensus on big issues and to avoid heated discussions in front of your children.

“Children can sense when their parents aren’t in sync in their decisions around discipline. Your child will feel the lack of unity between you, which can create a feeling of instability for him. This will also give kids an opening; they will sometimes use it to provoke a fight. This gets your child off the hook and turns parent against parent.”

 Here are ten easy guidelines that will help you and your partner parent as one coherent unit:

1. Provide back-up. Make one parent in charge of discipline. I guess mom was doing it right when she said, “Just wait till your dad gets home!”.
2. Don’t fight in front of the kids. Children are disturbed by seeing their parents fight with one another. This is hard for me — and probably most women. It is all too easy to get emotional and want to deal with things that moment. Make sure you keep your composure and avoid confrontation in front of the kids.
3. Decide who feels more strongly about the issue. This one is easy – pick your battles. Even if you don’t agree with your partner 100% on the issue, it is important to support the decision made either way.
4. Only discuss parenting issues when you are calm. This one is easier said than done. Staying calm will help keep the lines of communication open. Try to be open minded and understanding as to why your partner feels the way they do. These discussions might be best reserved for a date night, over wine…lots of wine.
5. Don’t throw your partner “under the bus”. It is important to empathize with your little ones, but don’t do it at the expense of your spouse. I know it’s hard to bite your tongue if you aren’t completely in agreement with a recent parenting decision, but comments like “I know daddy is mean. We will get ice cream next time” is a big no no. This, I am ashamed to say, is my biggest flaw. Some part of me feels I can guilt Ryan into being the dad and husband I think he should be. I know, it is totally ridiculous.
6. Be familiar with your partner’s family history. This will help you understand why they feel the way they do on certain parenting issues. Most people are resistant to change, so no matter how good your brownies are — your mother-in-law’s will always be better… just saying. Give your partner and relationship time. This will help you and your significant other come to terms with feelings associated with certain issues. Time may be all you need to come together on tough parenting choices.
7. When parents fight, kids think they are off the hook. Kids can be stinky little buggers. If fighting is a “norm” some children will find ways to encourage their parents to bicker at one another to divert attention from their bad behavior.
8. Step away from the issue. When things get heated sometimes it’s best to take some time away and think about why this issue may be so important to your significant other.
9. Just listen. Spend a few minutes listening to your partner’s wishes as a parent. Try not to say a word. Try to work out a negotiation without getting stirred up or anxious. I know what you are thinking — is my husband capabable of this? Men are fantastic at not saying anything, but notoriously bad listeners. It might be best to make sure you have their attention first by saying phrases like “free beer”, “NFL draft”, or maybe “Megan Fox”.
10. Is it time to consider professional help? Don’t be too proud to look for help if you are feeling stuck.


What are some parenting issues you and your significant other disagree on?



Megan Fox: Why I ‘Carry a Lot of Guilt’ as a Mom

Megan Fox Parents magazine Giulio Marcocchi/Startraks

Megan Fox thought having one baby blew her mind — and then she welcomed her second son.

Now, the mom of two under twoBodhi Ransom, 4 months, and Noah Shannon, 21 months — is trying to balance raising both boys. Despite her best efforts, the hands-on mom can’t help but feel torn in two directions.

“As a mom it’s hard because I don’t feel like I’m ever giving either one of them 100 percent of my attention or 100 percent of myself, so I carry a lot of guilt,” the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles star tells Parents magazine.

“Do they each understand how special they are and how much I love them? And are they understanding that they’re unique? It’s hard to make each one feel like an individual when you have to raise them together and manage them together all of the time.”

The actress has decided to steer both of her sons clear of cartoons and, instead of turning to television, tries to “incorporate Noah into the process” of caring for his baby brother.

“It’s total chaos, obviously. Before you have kids you really do not understand how much work it is and how consuming it is,” Fox says. “It’s really hard to manage because I also don’t let them watch TV. It’s not like I’m going to sit Noah in front of the television so I can take care of Bodhi.”

Despite her ban on technology — her goal is “no computers, no cell phones until at least 8th grade” — Fox isn’t against letting them enjoy family-friendly flicks. “Movies are so nostalgic and they can remind us of these amazing times in our childhood,” she explains.

Double duty parenthood has its challenges, but Fox is hopeful her hard work will pay off and that the boys will share a strong bond.

“I’m excited for the future, to see them be brothers and be best friends and I know that there’s gonna be lots of fighting, but there’s also gonna be lots of hugs and kisses,” she says.

As for her own future? Fox is happy to lighten her work load for the sake of her family. “I have to make one movie a year because I have to invest in their future and I have to be able to pay their way through college and be able to provide for them,” she explains. “It’s all about trying to spend as little time away from my kids as possible.”

– Anya Leon

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The most painful part of my labor came after the birth


Melissa Willets

posted in Mom Stories

Mind numbing, body wracking contractions. Sweat dripping. Teeth clenching. Body temperature: Um, probably 325 degrees. Every inch of me, working, reaching, stretching, tensing, pushing. AHHH!

And then, she was born; my daughter. Deep, deep exhale. I’d done it. I’d brought my beautiful baby safely into the world. It was over, the hard part, done. Or so I thought.

As a nurse cleaned and weighed my newborn, I lay back on the bed, still overcome by stabbing pain in my pelvis. The contractions that had freed my baby from my womb were yet to subside. Quivering, retching, and overcome, I hoarsely begged for my husband to come closer.

“It hurts,” I implored of him, as I gripped the bed sheets. He disappeared to ask our nurse what to do.

But in the hustle bustle, my agony took a backseat. Soon the nurse handed our baby to me. It was time for skin-to-skin contact, a moment I had dreamed about so many times while pregnant. But I could barely hold her.

“I’m still in so much pain,” I told the nurse. My eyes begged for her to help me find relief. Unbelievably, I’d made it through my delivery without any pain medication, but now, I wanted something, anything to take the edge off.

“Yep, that’s common with a third pregnancy, honey,” she informed me. “Your uterus will probably keep contracting for a couple of hours at least. We can get you some Ibuprofen soon.”

I tried breathing deeply as afterpains ripped through my body. It was all I could do not to collapse into sobs. This was supposed to be my time to revel in the joy of having delivered my baby. I wanted to count her fingers and toes, smell her head (don’t all new moms do this?), and gaze adoringly at her perfection. Instead, it was as if my body was turning inside out.

I felt like a hollow soul (Too much? Well, you catch my drift), being wheeled down a long corridor to my recovery room.

The nurse left, having forgotten my Ibuprofen. I used my call button to beckon her back, but it seemed like days before she returned with my meds. Then, finally I threw back a few pills, and soon, mercifully, the pain subsided to a manageable level. Slowly, oh-so-slowly, I became human again.

And I got my special time with my baby. I kissed each of her digits, inhaled her delicious head, and gazed, and gazed, and gazed some more at her miraculous perfection.

But I still wish I could have gotten those first moments back. Darn uterus! And couldn’t someone have warned me this would happen!?

Did you know afterpains were a thing? And if you’ve experienced them, please share!

Photo credit: Flickr

Postpartum exhaustion, tears and a cheesesteak


Leah Speer

posted in Mom Stories

Standing in the moonlit laundry room, I remember how I rocked him, bounced him, and did calf lifts with him– anything to get him to stop crying. Did anyone ever tell me how exhausting this was going to be? Even though it seems like he’s asleep most of the time, when he’s awake and crying, five minutes can feel like an eternity!

We’d been home with Luke, our precious firstborn, for a week. My husband had just put him down in the bassinet next to our bed after a nice feeding. I thought we’d get a couple of hours of quiet to enjoy a delicious cheesesteak and watch mindless TV…which just so happened to be “Intervention” on A&E.

I’d just found the right spot on the couch and that first bite was amazing! Ahhhh…I let out a breath and took a sip of my ice-cold root beer. I think I got in two more good bites before I could hear my little angel’s high-pitched newborn cry. I looked at my husband as tears pooled in my eyes. My eyes told him everything. Can’t I get a break?? We were the only ones here now since my mom had returned home.

It was either him or me…

Finally, beautifully, my husband put his sandwich down and nodded at me as if to say, “I’ve got it, babe!”  It must’ve been that tear that encouraged him…or scared him.

Five minutes later–isn’t it amazing what your own baby’s cries can do to you–even after a diaper change, it was apparent my husband couldn’t fix it. He was probably hungry. Well, maybe. Who knows, really? I motioned for his daddy to bring him over to me. I tried, and tried. It didn’t look like his hunger was an issue. His fire truck sleeper seemed to keep him comfortable and at the right temperature, but he was still fussy.

So here I am, trying out every room in the house in hopes of soothing him, even every different motion my body could handle. He’s crying. I’m crying. I’m starving, thinking about my cheesesteak in the other room and the couch, and the TV, and the peace. Then, finally, Luke takes in a couple of quick breaths and sighs. It’s quiet. I don’t believe it. I keep the motion going, checking the clock until it’s been five whole minutes of quiet. I tip-toe upstairs to his bassinet and ever so gently lay him down. I’d successfully survived another night!

Was your first week home with your newborn a shock or do you feel like you knew just what to expect?

Survey: Allowance, bribes & rewards really add up


Carolyn Robertson

posted in Mom Stories

Ten dollars for allowance, five for a good report card, fifty cents because they were just so good in that long line at the grocery store. It may not seem like much, but a new survey reveals that all of these little bribes, rewards and payments, all of these incentives for good behavior, really add up.

According to the survey, conducted by, the average American child aged 5 to 10 years old receives $1,360 per year, or $113 per month, from his or her parents. Of the 2,174 respondents who took part in the survey, 71% revealed that they regularly give cash to their kids. Here’s how the payments break down:

  1. Monthly allowance – 77%
  2. Rewards for good behaviour/achievements – 61%
  3. Bribes to make them behave/be good – 55%
  4. Special occasions (birthday, Christmas) – 46%
  5. In exchange for chores – 44%

All of this adds up to a whopping $1,360 per year, which most parents – 65% to be exact – admitted is more than they want to give their kids. So why do they hand over so much money? Forty-five percent said that they feel “in competition with other parents.” A quarter worry about disappointing their children if they were to give less and 17% revealed that their child “likes expensive things and needs enough to buy them.”

It’s hard to tally just how much money I give to my two kids. We never give them money for special occasions and they don’t get an allowance, so that cuts down considerably on the grand total. I will occasionally give my 8-year-old a few dollars in exchange for an unusual chore, like helping to weed the garden or wash the car. That’s not to say, though, that I don’t do bribes or rewards; they just normally come in the form of special treats – an ice cream outing or a My Little Pony – rather than cold, hard cash.

What do you think of the survey results? Does $1,360 per year sound about right?

Photo: Flickr/MFer Photography

Who knew breast milk could fight off Coxsackie virus?


Stacy-Ann Gooden

posted in Mom Stories

When it comes to a baby’s nutrition, some say breast is best. During my first pregnancy I researched the benefits of nursing. I’ve learned that a mother’s milk promotes optimal health and development for babies, including fighting off illnesses throughout the first year and beyond.

There are also many benefits for moms. But, on a recent trip to the pediatrician, I was surprised to learn that  breast milk can help in fighting off Coxsackie virus.

When the pediatrician revealed that Baby O had contracted the virus, I had no idea what to do to treat the infection. Apparently, it’s been going around at daycare. So, it was just matter of time before he got it. While some kids show no symptoms, others may develop high fever, muscle aches, sore throat, abdominal discomfort, or nausea. It usually lasts for a few days and then disappears.

“He’s having trouble eating. All he wants to do is nurse,” I told the doctor.
“That’s okay,” he said.

He went on to explain that antibodies in breast milk would aid in fighting off the virus. In this case, it functioned as a topical medication. Not only was he getting healthy nutrition from my breast milk, the liquid also soothed and helped in getting rid of the sores in his mouth.

Fortunately, Baby O didn’t have a severe case of Coxsackie. But he did suffer from a fever, sore throat, and rash. The doctor advised over the counter medicine to reduce the fever, and advised washing hands frequently. As for the rash, he said that my breast milk would be good for that too!

Other moms I’ve spoken with also recommended something cold to nibble on, like a teething toy or ice pop, depending on the child’s age. My breast milk has been my baby’s remedy of choice. As it turns out, there are so many other uses for breast milk including, soothing sore nipples, getting rid of pink eye, and easing an upset tummy.

Have you used breast milk to fight off any infections?

Stacy-Ann Gooden (aka Weather Anchor Mama) can be seen delivering the weather on the news weeknights in New York City. But her most important role is being a wife and mom. She writes about balancing career and motherhood in her blog, Weather Anchor Mama. You can also follow her on twitterPinterest, and InstagramBe sure to head over to Weather Anchor Mama to enter to win baby products!

Is there a best season to be pregnant in? Worst?


Sara McGinnis

posted in Mom Stories

Many of us didn’t get the opportunity to be picky about which months of the year our pregnancies would be in full bloom, but if you could, which would you choose? As the hot sun begins to beat down every year memories of my first time expecting flood into mind, and they’re not pretty.

In 2004 my husband and I moved across the state in early June, and into a tiny two-bedroom apartment in a bad part of town. We’d just finished college, had yet to start working ‘real’ jobs, and were broke. The humble residence we eventually brought our son home from the hospital to was in the middle of a giant complex surrounded by a sweltering blacktop parking lot — which our car was stolen from.

Never once, from the day we first pulled up until the babe took his first breath, did I make up the three flights of stairs to our front door without breaking into a full-on, underboob, trickling-down-the-thigh sweat.

Now, I understand much of the country finds Pacific Northwest summers laughable, but the factor I beg of you to keep in mind while I complain is that barely anyone here has air conditioning in their homes. We certainly didn’t in our sketchy abode. I’d huff and I’d puff while hefting our groceries up the stairs, fling open the door and strip. Clothes were simply intolerable that long summer.

6911095157 223b55fe32 z Is there a best season to be pregnant in? Worst?

It’s funny though, how quickly you can forget discomfort as the air cools. Just before our son’s first birthday we decided it was time to try for baby two because we wanted our kids to be close in age — not because I had the forethought to try and skip being hugely pregnant in the summer once again.

Luckily, a test turned up positive in late September, and baby two arrived just at the end of spring the following year. The sweating was kept to a minimum that pregnancy, and I was much happier.

Of course, I then had a newborn clung to me through the hottest months of the year, and longed to go back to the crisp fall days of baby-wearing I’d so enjoyed the first time around. Figures, right?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.
Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

What was the best thing about the season your were full-term in? Worst?

Photos: Flickr/Sarah Spaulding, Flickr/Ju Blasina

A look at some famous moms who’ve sported ‘huge’ baby bumps (defined as when you’re not wearing the bump, the bump is wearing  you) in all seasons:


Did you have any of these bizarre pregnancy symptoms?


Nicole Mabry

posted in Mom Stories

Pregnancy is frightening!

I was chatting with a younger, single, childless (by choice, for now) friend who made that statement to me. They say people who have no children don’t know anything about them, but my friend was absolutely right. Pregnancy is, indeed frightening.

Just about everyone knows about the typical pregnancy symptoms, weight gain, nausea, strange cravings. But there are some symptoms so strange that they’re downright frightening.

Pregnancy dreams Pregnancy dreams can be so vivid and strange that they’re frightening. Sometimes they’re so vivid, it’s as if they’re actually happening. Sometimes they’re so strange, there’s no way that they could.

Stuffy nose  Stuffy noses are common in pregnancy. You can thank pregnancy hormones for the swelling nasal tissue and thick mucus.

Bloody nose I personally had this symptom. Again, swollen nasal tissue is to blame.

Bleeding gums Who knew pregnancy could cause you to bleed….from everywhere? Extra bloodflow is one cause, but pregnancy periodontitis can be a more serious concern. Pregnancy can cause the body to be more sensitive to bacteria which can lead to tooth decay. Keep up with your dental checkups while you are pregnant!

Deep raspy voice Sounding like Barry White? Swelling vocal cords can change the sound of your voice temporarily. However, it may not change back to normal until after the baby is born.

Skin changes Dark or red patches of skin? A dark line that runs from your pelvis to your sternum? Itchy? All normal if you’re pregnant.

Swollen feet At one point in my pregnancy, a nurse told me my toes were fat. Thanks a lot, lady. In some cases (like mine), swollen feet are just another pregnancy symptom. In others, swollen feet can be a sign of preeclampsia.

Bathroom issues Did you pass gas again? Leak when you sneeze, cough or laugh? Can you just not poo at all? All common pregnancy symptoms.

The list could go on and on. So, yes, my friend was right. Pregnancy is frightening. And guess what? Parenthood just keeps on getting more terrifying! Labor, birth, the newborn phase, toddlerhood….and let’s not even talk about the teenage years!

However, pregnancy and parenthood, despite all the horrors involved, is still the thrill of a lifetime! I face the fear every day because the love is so worth it.

What is your strangest pregnancy symptom?

 Photo: BabyCenter member AJ0617


Drive like your kids live here: Would this make you slow down?


Laurie Gelman

posted in Mom Stories

We live on a busy road and cars tend to treat it like a highway even though it is lined with houses. It makes me crazy. So I was thrilled when, driving home the other day, I noticed a new sign in my neighborhood. It was red with bold white letters and it said Drive Like Your Kids Live Here.

I thought it was really effective. I have to admit, it made me check my speedometer and ease up on the gas a bit even though I wasn’t speeding. At first I thought one of my neighbors made it, but then I started noticing more signs around town.

A trip to Google ( told me it is a grass roots campaign that was started in Connecticut by Petulia Pugliares. Her mission is to get people to slow the heck down in residential neighborhoods in the hopes that horrifying facts like these can be changed: Every day in the U.S., an average of four children are killed in motor vehicle accidents, an average of 500 children are injured in motor vehicle accidents  and motor vehicle accidents kill more children than any disease.

Since its roll out three years ago, signs have been popping up all over the U.S. one town at a time – mine being one of the latest apparently, because I’d never seen or heard of it before. The signs have inspired some communities in states like Arizona, Utah and South Dakota to lower their residential speed limits to 20 MPH.

On their website they sell the signs for $9.99. They also sell bumper stickers, magnets and reflective street signs for $49.99. They strongly encourage people to start campaigns in their own home towns or use the signs as a way to raise funds for local projects.

I really hope these signs have the same effect on other drivers that they had on me. My only worry is they will become part of the landscape and eventually ignored – kind of like the speed limit signs are.

Just something to think about as we all drive around this holiday weekend.

Would this sign make you slow down?