Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cleaning Bath Toys, An eye opening experience!

My children have cute, little bathsqueezy toys that shoot water out when you apply pressure to them. They’re fun and make for a great distraction when you’re washing hair. We even have Thomas the Tank Engine toys that my three and a half year old son, Buggie, adores. The problem: That nasty black film-like gunk that will occasionally make its way out of the toy when it’s squeezed. Add to that gunk the thought that your child is probably like mine and squeezing that water into their mouth and you’ve got yourself totally skived out!
I had been toying with the idea of just throwing them away but then the thought of these plastic toys just sitting in landfills was almost as sickening as the black gunk that make an appearance in the water during bath time. I have excellent news for you; there are ways to clean those toys. Here they are:

Good ‘ole White Vinegar
White vinegar is the mother of all natural cleaners. Relatively easy and definitely void of harmful chemicals white vinegar is probably the best route to go with cleaning bath toys. Simply fill a bowl with hot water, 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. Let the toys soak up to 15 minutes. Once the toys are finished soaking, place the toys (water squeezed out of the squeezy toys) outside to dry in the sun.
According to a few articles I read on the Internet this should be done weekly.

Bleach: An absolute Last Resort
If the vinegar soak isn’t working to get those yucky toys cleaned then use bleach. When in doubt bleach it out! That’s what I say. To do this you’ll need to fill a gallon bucket with hot water and add ¾ cup bleach to it. Then, by using a small brush or toothbrush (one that you won’t use again) scrub off any visible signs of mold on the toys. Rinse the toys off in warm, clean water. Any toys that still have mold or mildew on them should be discarded. *Sigh! What about the landfills!?*
As a general rule be certain to squeeze out any excess water left in toys after bath time, store toys in a dry room (so not inside the bathroom) or in the bathroom with the fan kept on so that the moisture doesn’t build up. You can also wash toys in the dishwasher weekly.

Elizabeth (aka Bert) is a stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for She Thinks Media. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Ben, her son Buggie, and daughter Lady Bug.  When she's not trying to convince Buggie to expand his interests beyond Thomas the Train or put his pants back on she's writing about her experiences as a mom on her blog, First Time Mom (FTM). After all, Bert maintains there's a first time for everything, even if you  have more than one child! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Luvaboos of Rochester, NY asks Diapering Dads to stop by and take the I CAN Challenge!

Who IS the Fastest Daddy Diaper Changer?

To celebrate Father's Day, Cottonbabies /BumGenius is launching The CAN Challenge, a chance for the man in your life to compete for the ultimate title - The Fastest Diaper Changer!

This epic showdown between man vs. diaper will take place from June 16 to August 4 and all classes are eligible! Whether it's a proud papa, grandpa, friend, or brother, we want to put his diaper-changing skills to the test!

The CAN Challenge is a fun and unique competition designed to help broaden awareness of cloth diapers and showcase the benefits of cloth diapering to its toughest critics - men. In the end, there will only be one winner nationwide. Cloth diaper-loving men from all over will be competing for this sweet grand prize:
  • 24 Cloth Diapers (BumGenius, Flip or Econobum! You choose!)
  • BumGenius Diaper Sprayer
  • Diaper Pail and Liner
  • 24 BG Flannel Wipes
  • 1 Case of BumGenius Laundry Detergent
  • BumGenius Bottom Cleaner
  • Wetbag
Luvaboos of Rochester, NY and select other retailers around the nation are holding diaper fold-offs in their stores! Stop by with your diaper changing dude and they'll time him showing off his cloth diapering skills! For more details visit Luvaboos of Rochester's Facebook Page or I Can Event Page.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Celebrating baby's arrival with a Party just for their siblings!

Throw a BIG Brother or BIG Sister party and celebrate "siblinghood!"

My second child and only daughter, Lady Bug, will be turning one this week. It’s crazy to see how time has flown by this past year and I’m finding myself rather nostalgic. When I was pregnant with her I would often find myself looking at my oldest and only son, Buggie, feeling sad. I was sad about how I was going to change his life drastically. I was sad about how our life of three was going to change. Since I stay at home with him I was sad about the little things we did together that I knew were going to change with the birth of another child. I knew my time, energy and attention would be divided between the two of them. Expressing this sadness to a friend one day she offered perhaps the best advice that had been given to me since I got pregnant with baby number two. “Throw him a Big Brother Party,” she said. She went on to explain that when she had her second party her OB suggested the idea to her. The idea behind it is to celebrate the older sibling taking on a new stage of his or her life – siblinghood.

About a month before my due date we really started talking the idea up with our son. We told him about the cake, ice cream and presents the baby would bring him. We read him a book about being a big brother and taught him her name. He waited with anticipation for her arrival just as much as we did – although his motives were more about the cake and ice cream than it was for her!

The day came and I went into labor. Our beautiful daughter was born and Buggie was finally a big brother. After we had been home for a week we had our family members over for his party.

We had cupcakes. (I had a deal for them from one of those deal websites.)

We celebrated together out on our deck by eating those yummy cupcakes. As you can see Buggie thoroughly enjoyed his. Lady Bug was there too snuggled up on Daddy’s chest.
Then we came inside to open presents. We have been given a lot of hand me down toys from friends with older children. Frequently we stash these and will use them later depending on the quality of the toy. For his Big Brother Party we used a lot of these toys as the gifts.

One of his most prized gifts from his baby sister was an Arthur book he had been asking for.

Whatever you decide to do remember to make adding another child into the mix fun for your little one(s) because they’ll pick up on your excitement and anticipation but probably won’t be as thrilled when baby comes home and life drastically changes.

Have you done anything fun with the birth of a second, third, fourth, etc., child? What did you do?

Elizabeth (aka Bert) is a stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for She Thinks Media. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Ben, her son Buggie, and daughter Lady Bug.  When she's not trying to convince Buggie to expand his interests beyond Thomas the Train or put his pants back on she's writing about her experiences as a mom on her blog, First Time Mom (FTM). After all, Bert maintains there's a first time for everything, even if you  have more than one child! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

EIGHT Sleep Tips for Every Child, from Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Lack of sleep affects every minute of every day for every person in the family because lack of sleep isn't just about being tired. Sleep has a role in everything your child does and how he feels -- dawdling, temper tantrums, hyperactivity, growth, health, and even learning to tie his shoes and recite the ABCs. Sleep affects everything. The following ideas are of value to almost any sleeper, of any age. These tips can bring improvement not only in your child's sleep, but also in her daytime mood and last, but not least - improvements in your own sleep and outlook as well.

#1 Maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time.
Your child's biological clock has a strong influence on her wakefulness and sleepiness. When you establish a set time for bedtime and wake up time you "set" your child's clock so that it functions smoothly. Aim for an early bedtime and stick to it seven days a week for the most consistently positive results.

#2 Encourage regular daily naps.
Daily naps are important. An energetic child can find it difficult to go through the day without a rest break. A nap-less child will often wake up cheerful and become progressively fussier or hyper-alert as the day goes on. Also, the length and quality of naps affects night sleep - good naps equal better night sleep.

#3 Set your child's biological clock.
Take advantage of your child's biology so that he's actually tired when bedtime arrives. Darkness causes an increase in the release of the body's sleep hormone -- the biological "stop" button. You can align your child's sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights during the hour before bedtime. Exposing your child to morning light is pushing the "go" button in her brain - one that says, "Time to wake up and be active." So keep your mornings bright!

#4 Develop a consistent bedtime routine.
Routines create security. A consistent, peaceful bedtiem routine allows your child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state of sleep. An organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function on auto-pilot at the time time when you are most tired and least creative. And a bedtime routine can be a lovely way to end each day by bonding with your child.

#5 Create a cozy sleep environment.
Where your child sleeps can be a key to quality sleep. Make certain the mattress is comfortable, the blankets are warm, the room temperature is right, pajamas are comfy, and the bedroom is welcoming. Add comforting pictures on the walls and stuffed animals nearby. Lots of kids enjoy having a small bedtime pet nearby for company - such as a fish or turtle.

#6 Provide the right nutrition.
Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrates can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few ideas for pre-bed snacks are: whole wheat toast and cheese, bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt, and low-sugar granola. Vitamin deficiencies due to unhealthy food choices can affect a child's sleep. Provide your child with a daily assortment of healthy foods in three meals plus several snacks for health and good sleep.

#7 Help your child to be healthy and fit.
Many children don't get enough daily physical activity. Too much TV watching and a lack of activity prevents good sleep. Children who get ample daily exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed. Avoid activity in the hour before bedtime though, since exercise can be stimulating - they'll be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!

#8 Teach your child how to relax.
Many children get in bed but aren't sure what to do when they get there! It can help to follow a soothing pre-bed routine that creates sleepiness. A good pre-bed ritual is story time. A child who is listening to a parent read a book or tell a tale will tend to lie still and listen. This quiet stillness allows him to become sleepy. Older children might enjoy listening to an audio book as they drift off to sleep.

Work with these eight ideas and you'll see improvements in your child's sleep, and in your sleep, too.
Excerpted fromThe No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley
Look for Elizabeth's book coming soon to!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

DIY Kale Chips! Easy, Cheap and the WHOLE Family will Love them!

I started my own raised bed gardens the summer that my daughter, Lady Bug, was born. My parents, who are avid gardeners, helped my husband and me plot out our little garden which was great. I really wanted to be successful at this whole gardening thing! The major benefit of using a raised bed garden is that you can control the soil - that's a beautiful thing when you're dealing with clay in your soil like we are. In our raised garden beds we used organic soil purchased at Home Depot. My parents use the natural soil for their garden beds and often they commented on our how veggies were fuller and healthier than theirs. It’s just something to think about when considering whether or not to plant a garden.

My dad was interested in trying a kale plant so I figured it can't hurt to try it too so we split the four plants. Kale is one of the most nutritious greens out there. According to WebMD, "One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus." Kale when cooked is an excellent source of fiber and aids in lowering blood cholesterol. Anything that I can grow that's this nutritious is worth a shot!

Kale is best planted in full sun in a cooler climate. While it can withstand hotter temperatures it doesn’t thrive in constant heat. Kale is a great addition to any garden because once harvested it will produce more buds making it productive all season long.

When my kale was ready to harvest, I had a ton of kale to use and no idea how to use it. I figured that kale chips were the way to go. I found this recipe on - Crispy Kale Chips. My husband and I loved it, my son, however, liked eating the kale raw from the garden. (Kale has a really bitter taste and I have no idea why he liked this!) I have heard from my friends that kale is excellent in green smoothies and on salads. My dad prefers to add kale to his sandwiches.

Have you tried kale? What is your favorite way to eat this most nutritious green vegetable? 

Elizabeth (aka Bert) is a stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for She Thinks Media. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Ben, her son Buggie, and daughter Lady Bug.  When she's not trying to convince Buggie to expand his interests beyond Thomas the Train or put his pants back on she's writing about her experiences as a mom on her blog, First Time Mom (FTM). After all, Bert maintains there's a first time for everything, even if you  have more than one child! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

FIVE Things you didn't know about sleep, from Elizabeth Pantley Author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution

1 - Poor sleep causes crying, tantrums, whining, and fussing.
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Pantley
Beyond the challenge of parenting issues involved in sleep problems - your child's sleep habits can affect every single waking moment of every single day. A sleep-deprived child is simply not as happy as one who gets adequate sleep every day. Tired children cry more often, lose patience easily, break down in tantrums more often. If you have a fussy kid on your hands take a look at the daily sleep schedule and make adjustments in naptime and bed time.

2 - One in three children wakes up at night.
As frustrating as it can be to parents, night waking is normal. All human beings wake up five or more times each night, when shifting from one stage of sleep to another. The issue, then, is not for a child to sleep all night without waking up, but for a child ro be able to fall back to sleep - totally on his own - each time he does wake up.

3 - The first five minutes of naptime reduce tiredness.
The first few minutes of a nap eliminate tiredness for the moment. If woken just after falling asleep a child can't return to sleep easily - he'll have a second wind. Yet, at least an hour long nap is important to refresh a child for the remainder of the day. That second wind doesn't last long can can easily morph into fussiness. So be on the watch for a child who nods off in the car, the stroller, or in front of the TV. A five minute catnap can prevent a child from having a long, healthy nap.

4 - Early bedtime means better sleep.
The majority of children have a natural, biological bedtime that is early in the evening. Most babies, toddlers and preschoolers respond best with a bedtime between 6:00 and 7:30 P.M. Most children will fall asleep easier at this time and then actually sleep better and longer when they go to bed earlier.

5 - A dark room and sleepy sounds bring better slumber.
Take advantage of your child's natural biology so that he is actually tired when his bedtime arrives. You can help align sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights in your home during the hour or two before bedtime. Also, noises in the house and neighborhood can prevent a child from falling asleep or wake him up after he's gone to bed. To mask noises and to create a strong sleep cue, use white noise, such as ocean waves or rainfall (use a sound machine), lullabies, soft music, or a radio set on a talk station.

Excerpted fromThe No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley

You'll soon be able to purchase Elizabeth Pantley's book at Luvaboos!  Make sure you follow us on Facebook for updates.