Friday, May 29, 2009

The Early Bird: Waking up too early

Q: "I don't need an alarm clock. Every day my daughter wakes up early - usually before 6:00. Is there any way to get her to sleep longer, or is she just an early bird?"

A: It is true that some children seem to be natural early birds, but only about 10% to 15% actually have a biological tendency to be a complete lark. Another small percentage is somewhat larkish, but most early-rising children are simply waking up early for outside reasons that affect their rising time, and these can be changed.

You may be able to tell if your little one is really a lark is if she:
  • wakes up on her own -- cheerful and chatty
  • is most active and energetic in the late morning to early afternoon
  • sleeps soundly
  • gets tired after dinner
  • goes to bed early and easily
  • wakes up early no matter what time she goes to bed

If this describes your child, you may indeed have a little lark on your hands. Even so, you might be able to squeeze a bit more sleep time in the morning if you make some changes in your child's routines by applying the ideas that follow. If your early-riser doesn't fit the previous description it's likely that she's not a natural-born lark and you'll have good luck encouraging a later wake-up time.

Read more expert advice from Elizabeth Pantley: The Early Bird: Waking up too early on

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Plastic Cup Flowers

April showers bring May flowers, but why wait until May? Create your own beautiful bouquet with goodies from around the house. All you need are some plastic cups and whatever else you have on hand to decorate them with!

You will need

plastic drinking cups
hot glue gun
white craft glue
12" dowel or stick
items to decorate with (beads, buttons, pom poms, tissue paper, paint, etc)

To get the instructions please visit Plastic Cup Flowers on

Friday, May 22, 2009

10 Tips to Help You Save on Gasoline

Gas prices continue to be near all time highs meaning that car travel is taking a larger portion out of each of your paychecks. AAA estimates that the cost of driving a car including all direct and indirect costs has surpassed 50 cents a gallon with that price expected to rise.

Reducing the cost of driving your car can be done fairly easy simply by paying a bit more attention to your car. Here are 10 easy ways to cut the amount of gas your car uses:

1. Purchase your gasoline when it's coolest outside such as in the early morning or at night. Gas becomes denser in cooler temperatures. Since gas pumps only measure the volume of fuel - and not the density - you'll get better overall gas mileage for your money by purchasing fuel when it's cool outside rather than in the heat of the day.

2. Religiously check your car's tire pressure each month (make sure to purchase a good-quality dial-type gauge for yourself -- pencil-style gauges and the ones mounted on the air hose are unreliable according to federal government surveys). Under inflated tires reduce fuel efficiency by 2% for every pound they are under inflated. Under inflation also causes premature tire wear giving your tires a shorter use life.

3. Slow down and drive at the speed limit. Cars use about 20% more fuel driving at 70 miles per hour than they do at 55 miles per hour.

4. Avoid using air conditioning whenever possible. Air conditioning reduces fuel economy by 10% to 20%. Use the air ventilation system instead.

To see the rest of these 10 Tips to Help You Save on Gasoline visit

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Patriotic Water Bracelets

Water bracelets are easy to make and fun to wear. Put these patriotic water bracelets together for the 4th of July or just anytime! Wear them to the July 4th parade and display your craft talent with pride.

What You Need

24 inches of vinyl tubing, 3/8 inch diameter
3 inches vinyl tubing, 1/4 inch diameter
(available at home improvement stores)
1/2 cup water, separated into 2 glasses
red and blue food coloring
2 tbsp. salt
small funnel

For the instruction on how to make this craft visit Patriotic Water Bracelets on

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Daycare Dilemma: When Your Child Cries

Does your child cry when you try to exit the daycare center and head to work? Leaving your child in the hands of another person is stressful enough, but to receive the guilt trip from your little darling doubles the pain. Read our expert's tips on how to ease the transition and make for a smoother morning all around.

Think about it:
As frustrating as this is, when you stop to think of the real reason your child is crying, it may give you a different perspective and a bit more patience. Your little one is crying because she loves you so very much that she can't bear to be parted from you. That kind of love isn't easy to come by.

Don't rush in the morning.
Wake your child early enough so that she can adjust to the day before being whisked off into the car. Give your child something from home to keep in his pocket, such as a picture of the family, a lovey toy or a t-shirt that smells like Mommy.

Schedule five minutes to settle your child at the daycare center.
Ask, "Is there something you'd like to show me before I leave in five minutes?" Show interest in something and try to get your child started in an activity. This brief amount of time can help your child make the adjustment to daycare. (Avoid letting the time extend to longer and longer amounts. Your good bye should be short and sweet.)

To see the rest of parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley's tips and advice go to Daycare Dilemma: When Your Child Cries on

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sandwich Kabobs

Tami Rose, resident Kid's Recipe expert for, shares these two great kid friendly lunches! Kids will love finding these kabobs in their lunchboxes. They are the perfect size for little hands, making a lot less mess to clean up afterwards. Made from all of their favorite sandwich ingredients, moms can rest assured that their kids are eating healthy and not trading with their friends for something else!

Ingredients for 2 Club Kabobs

2 slices of toasted bread
1 slice turkey lunchmeat, cooked
until partially crisp
1 piece of turkey bacon
1 slice of Virginia baked ham
1 slice of American cheese
2 sweet pickle chips
2 Popsicle sticks

What You Do

Remove crust from toast and cut into 4 squares. Roll up lunchmeat, trim ends to square off, then cut into 4 pieces. Cut turkey bacon into 4 pieces, along with the cheese slice into 4 pieces.

Start the layering with a square of toast, then bacon, meat, and pickle. Repeat layers, this time replacing the pickle with cheese.

Best if made the day it is to be eaten. Pack into Ziploc baggie in lunchbox. Serve with a side of ranch dressing for dipping. ** Don't forget to pack an ice pack into the bag to keep everything chilled.

Ingredients for 2 Roast Beef & Cheese Kabobs

1 French or Italian baguette
1 slice deli roast beef
2- 1/4 in. thick chunks of cheddar cheese
2- 1/4 in. thick chunks of Monterey cheese
2 whole black olives
2 Popsicle sticks
fresh lettuce or spinach leaves

What You Do

Slice baguette into 1 in. slices (4 slices needed), and then trim crust and cut each slice into a cube of bread. Roll up roast beef; trim ends to square off, then cut into 4 pieces (you will have 2 pieces left over). Chunk cheese into 1/4 in. thick pieces. Drain olives well on a paper towel before threading on stick.

Start the kabob with a cube of bread. Follow by adding roast beef, one cube of each cheese, the lettuce or spinach and end with another cube of bread. Top each kabob with a black olive.

Best if made the day it is to be eaten. Pack into plastic baggie in lunchbox. Serve with a side of honey mustard for dipping. ** Don't forget to pack an ice pack into the bag to keep everything chilled.

There are a variety of ways to mix and match ingredients to change the flavors of these kabobs so that the kids don't tire of them. Try layering bread, sandwich pepperoni, Mozzarella cheese, a fresh mushroom and a cherry tomato for pizza kabobs or bread, meatballs and Provolone cheese with spaghetti sauce for dipping for a meatballs sub kabob. Get the kids in on the fun! Their imaginations will run wild trying to come up with more and more ideas to create their own "unique" kabobs.

To access a printable version of these Sandwich Kabobs go to

Monday, May 18, 2009

Children's Museums: A Hands on Learning Adventure

May 18th is International Museum Day!

Once you've plucked an apple from its tree, there's no putting it back on. Or is there? Like hundreds of other youngsters that will pass through children's museums daily, 2-year-old Dominic discovered that almost anything is possible. From Velcro trees, to make shift recycling centers, complete with magnetic cranes for separating aluminum from tin, there are learning opportunities around every corner.

If you haven't visited a children's museum in the past, you may want to mark it on your calendar as a "don't miss" event. Open year round in most cases, these child friendly environments are entertaining as well as educational.

Visit Children's Museums: A Hands on Learning Adventure on for a comprehensive list of children's museums all over the United States and Canada

Friday, May 15, 2009

3 Step Solution to Cleaning for Busy Moms

Children need picking up after soccer practice? Super Mom to the rescue! Dinner needs to get on the table? Once again, Super Mom is there! A task at work that no one else wants to tackle? You already know who will deal with it - you. With the stresses of your day-to-day life, housecleaning is likely the last thing on your mind. And yet, it's hard to ignore, since the proof of it equals a cluttered, messy house - definitely not the happy haven you want your home to be.

Here, then, is a simple 3-step solution to help finally solve the hassle of housecleaning. If you're a 'happy slob' like me - just a laid back, fun natured person who'd rather be doing anything but cleaning - then it might be exactly the solution you've been looking for.

The 3-Step Solution Simplified:

1. Two daily cleaning bursts. What is a cleaning burst? A cleaning burst is an intense burst of cleaning - getting maximum results in minimum time. Try to do one cleaning burst in the morning and one in the evening. You decide how much time you can budget for each burst. Only five minutes? Fine! If you've got twenty, great! Use a timer to keep track, and when it rings, you're done. During your cleaning bursts, stay focused on cleaning - and clean your impact areas first (the areas that people see the most in your home.) Get family involved, even if they only help for a few minutes.

Read the rest of "3 Step Solution to Cleaning for Busy Moms" on

Thursday, May 14, 2009

10 Tips For Good Study Skills

One of the main things that kids struggle with during their school years are proper study habits. Developing a habit can take a couple of weeks, so be consistent, and implement these ten tips to help them study better.

1. A consistent time and place is best. If your child has a desk, have them use it to study, and they should study at a regular time each day. If no desk is available, establish a "study place" to use each time.

2. Studying should begin immediately when your child sits down. Don't let them fall into other distractions, like answering emails from friends or doodling. They can do those things later, as a reward for themselves, when they get their studying done!

3. Help your child plan what they need to accomplish. At the beginning of the study session, help them write down exactly what they want to get done (complete two pages of an essay, finish a paper, write a short story, answer ten math questions, learn a new computer function, etc).

4. Large tasks should be broken down into smaller ones. For example, if an essay is to be written, the tasks might include coming up with a thesis, writing a solid first paragraph, planning out the points that need to be covered, researching those points, writing each section, etc.

Visit for all 10 Tips for Good Study Skills

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cardboard Tube Campfire & Mashmallows

Children love to pretend, so nurture that creative side by making this easy campfire and roasting marshmallows from toilet paper rolls and cotton balls. Your child will love pretending she's roasting tasty treats on an open fire!

What You Need

6 cardboard tubes
brown acrylic or poster paint
large paintbrush
tissue paper: yellow, red and orange
2 twigs
cotton balls
white craft glue
hot glue gun

For instructions and a larger view of the photo please visit Cardboard Tube Campfire & Marshmallows on

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Basic Herb Gardening

Everyday in grocery stores across America, people are standing in the herb aisle in amazement! How could such a little bottle of something cost so much! If you do decide to buy the herbs you find in the stores, chances are the taste is not what you had hoped for. Today, herbs are very popular and consumers have to dig deep to afford the herbs they need for tasteful healthier cooking, medicinal needs and crafts. Still, what other choice do you have?

Grow your own! They taste great, smell great and have many uses. It's easier than you think and with spring coming now is the time to started.

The First Step
Most herbs can grow just about anywhere. I remember many summers as a child chewing on wild mint from the yard. You too, probably have wild herbs growing in your backyard. Some herbs do well anywhere but others need specific climates and care to thrive. Choosing herbs for your climate helps ensure a successful garden. You can find your correct zone by looking at gardening websites or on your next visit to your local library. You can also call your local county agricultural office or 4-H extension agent. Other things you will want to decide is what kind of herbs do you want to grow? What kind of herb garden do you want? Inside or outside? Formal? Informal? How do you choose plants? What methods of planting should you use?

Let's Get Started
There are many types of herb gardens. Many gardeners use them all. Heres a look at a few to see what kind you would like best.

Read the rest of Basic Herb Gardening on

Monday, May 11, 2009

Backyard Discovery Zone

Many zoos and nature centers have "discovery zones" for kids to learn about different animal skins and other items in nature. You can do the same thing in your backyard. All you need is a bandana to use as a blindfold, paper and pencil, a table and nature from your backyard.

Setting up:
Using your picnic table or other flat surface, place items from your backyard in a row. Prepare this step where the kids can't watch. These are the types of items you can use:
Flowers; especially ones that have interesting texture such as globe thistle.
Seed pods like milk weed (open it up to the silky part), acorns, pine cones, and flower seeds too.
very tiny stones

Basically, you want to look around your yard for any type of natural item that the kids can feel and try to identify. Set up each item in a "station" with a number in front of it. This becomes your Backyard Discovery Zone.

Using Your Discovery Zone
For ideas on how to use your discovery zone visit Backyard Discovery Zone on

More You Might Like:
Garden Bug Rocks
Spring Bug Cupcakes
Visit a National Wildlife Refuge
Backyard Camp
Fun Outdoor Play

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beyond The Blues: Kids and Depression

Over 11 million prescriptions were written last year for kids with depression. That did not include those who didn't even see a doctor.

Growing up is never easy. It is a time of upheaval and emotional storms. The very openness children exuded and were rewarded for seems to invite penalties as they grow beyond adolescence They are exulting in their hoped-for independence even as they are frightened by the demanding, often-uncaring world of adulthood. During this confusing period, they end up changing from one mode to the other so often and so rapidly that it confounds their parents. Teenagers often turn to actions that provide emotional stimulation to counteract feelings of self-induced emptiness and low self-esteem.

All kids get sad or upset about things now and then: getting a bad grade on a test, arguing with a friend, being grounded, or being without a date for a big dance. These temporary disappointments are not necessarily depression, but stress in its many forms and the inability to deal with stress is a major factor in creating and exacerbating the problem.

Changes in behavior are normal as our kids try to figure out who they are and what they believe in. Most depressed kids are troubled by who they are, how others perceive them, and what parents, peers, and the world at large expect of them. Researchers believe depression affects 3 percent to 5 percent of preteens and up to 15 percent of adolescents with girls suffering from depression at twice the rate of boys. In an alarming study by Seventeen Magazine, 28 percent of girls said they feel depressed every day or at least a few times a week. Girls are looking to peers for validation and it is often hard for them to retain a positive self-image. Adolescent girls undergo more life changes than boys and for yet unknown reasons, they are more vulnerable to negative life events, while the sources of stress in boys are more commonly school performance or other factors outside of social relationships, such as a move to another home. The good news is that serious depression in our children is treatable but it is often difficult to diagnose. The symptoms may be mistaken for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) causing misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment.

What should parents and teachers look for?

See more about Kids and Depression on

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cats: Scratching Furniture

Your cat needs to scratch and climb. Scratching conditions your cat's claws by removing the old layers of the nails. Scratching and climbing are highly enjoyable feline activities and are part of the essence of being a cat. Since your cat will want and need to scratch, provide her with a variety of scratching posts and teach her to use them. Until your cat can be trusted not to scratch and claw your furniture, she should not be allowed free run of your house when you are not there to supervise her. If your cat has a single favorite scratching site, this may be temporarily protected by covering it with some netting or loosely woven fabric. Cats do not like to snag their claws.

Confinement - Training
As a temporary measure you can confine your cat to an area where she cannot get into trouble. Confinement is not the answer to the problem, but it can be used to help train your cat to use a post when you are not home to actively train her. The confinement area should be well stocked with a variety of scratching and climbing posts. Since your cat will have no other choice of things to scratch, she will learn to scratch and climb her posts.

Scratching Posts
You can buy scratching posts at your pet store or you can build one yourself. Rough hewn 4x4's set vertically with a few horizontal resting platforms are ideal. Whether buying carpet to cover a home made post or purchasing the finished item, remember to take along a comb to check that there are no loops in the carpeting which will snag the cat's claws. You can also attach the carpeting underside-up, as the backing has a rough texture that cats enjoy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

13 Tips To Help Get Your Kids Organized

We all know that we want to be a good example to our kids.

What habits will they grow up with as they watch our organizational behaviors? If we don't respectfully put away our things, why should they? It's not difficult to get them involved. They want to improve the rooms they live in. Ask them if they would like a new paint color and watch how excited they get at the choices you just gave them. Choice is at the heart of it all. They want to be able to decide. They love being given that authority. Let's encourage that!

Let Them Help! Let them tell you what they are ready to get rid of. Often it is the adults that are more attached to the memory of the item than the child. Keep only those things that you both can't live without.

Sort, Toss, Donate. They should be a part of the organizing process. When purging items, have kids pick out their favorite toys and discard the old, out grown or broken ones. Give good used toys to a local charity. Kids love knowing they are helping someone else. Donate clothes too.

Use clear plastic containers with hinged lids, for storing small toys. Make the storage age appropriate using labels with pictures instead of words for young children. Let them help make the labels. Use filing boxes for awards, cards and reports. Make one file for each child.

One In / One Out. Utilize this important organizing rule. One in One out simply means, if you bring home one new toy or one new pair of shoes, you should be willing to give one of the same away.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Painted Coffee Mug for Mom

Painted Coffee Mug for Mom

Painting on a coffee cup is just as easy as painting on a piece of paper or wood. Use this simple yet cute design for your Mother's Day coffee mug, or create your very own! The possibilities are endless.

You will need

white coffee mug
*acrylic enamel paints in pink, yellow and green
paint brush

* We used FolkArt Enamels™ and found them at Michael's Craft Store in the arylic paint aisle.

Go to Painted Coffee Mug for Mom on for instructions!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mother's Day: Breakfast in Bed

Mother's Day is to a mom what a birthday celebration is to a child -- a special day in recognition of no one else but her. Make it truly memorable by fluffing her pillow, smoothing her blanket and tenderly kissing her forehead before bringing in the kids with a breakfast tray filled with all the goodies she loves -- delectable scones spread with her favorite jelly , a steaming cup of coffee served in a cappuccino cup and saucer, and a chocolate mint truffle tucked surreptitiously on the side. And remember, presentation is everything. She'll appreciate the thoughtful touches you've added, such as a linen napkin and a dozen pink roses in a crystal vase. When she smiles in delight, tell her it's just the beginning...

Perfect for that special breakfast in bed

Gather the children 'round, then pile them into bed with mom (being ever so careful not to spill!) in anticipation of the moment they've been waiting for...her reaction to the special gifts they have created just for her. There's the macaroni necklace strung on a length of pretty pink yarn, a sparkling tiara adorned with lots of silver glitter, and a Popsicle-stick penholder painted forest green. After the oohs and ahs have subsided, Dad will give Mom his gift -- a breathtaking necklace and earrings he has chosen just for her. 

Fancy delicacies she is sure to love

It's a Mother's Day made in heaven for any mom, and one she's sure to always remember. But regardless of the gifts you buy her or the presents the children create, it is made special because of your love for her. Do tell her how much you appreciate her and how much she means to you, then demonstrate your affection by giving her all your time and attention this one special day of the year. (And don't forget about the rest of those chocolates...she'll want to nibble on those all day long!) 

Friday, May 1, 2009

5 Exercises Kids Should Never Do

Fitness isn't just a fad; it's a way of life. Sooner or later, your kids will want to make it a part of their lives, too -- if they're not too turned off by their gym classes, that is -- and you should encourage them be as active as possible. However, not all exercise is good exercise when it comes to kids. 

Jordan Metzl, M.D., a pediatric sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, explains that kids go through rapid physical changes between the ages of 8 and 12. For girls, a growth spurt will occur usually around the age of 8 or 9, and boys will encounter the changes around the age of 11 or 12. "During this sort of adolescent growth and development," says Metzl, "kids' bones are growing a lot faster than their muscles." Because of this phenomenon, kids lose flexibility as they grow, says Metzl, because the rapid growth puts pressure on their tendons.