Nifty vs. Thrifty

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surrounding yourself with healthy people!

If you were to ask many successful people in this world, they would tell you that surrounding yourself with positive people is essential for success. What healthy means can be different to different people. I am not the position to say who is healthy and who is not. But I do know that having people around you that have the same goals as you is empowering.
People naturally surround themselves with people that they feel comfortable with.

If you want to quit smoking (for example), it will be easier to quit if the people you are with are not smoking. This doesn't mean you should alienate yourself from a friend that smokes but it does mean asking them not to smoke around you if you are trying to quit. If they care about you than they will be willing to respect your wishes or else spend less time with this person.
If you find yourself having a negative attitude about things in your life, really try to be around people that are encouraging and supportive. If you are with people that are attaining the goals that you want, you will be reminded that you too can accomplish those goals!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Great cookbooks for keeping it simple!

Martha Stewart has a cookbook that is for simple cooking. What could be better than learning the best simple recipes from the cook or all cooks! This was given a 4.5 stars out of 5 from readers and is only $16.47.
And if thats not enough, Rachel Ray has a 30 minute cookbook for kids meals! this is only $9.32.
This was rated 3.5 stars out of 5 on

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Showing your kids the real priorities in life!

Life gets so busy and it's sometimes unclear what's REALLY important.
Every time my husband and I depart from each other, we kiss and say I love you.
It occurred to me just how important this is to me and our family. This little ritual reminds us of what's important and what's a priority. There's nothing that can't wait for you to greet your loved ones and show them some love when you walk in the door. Sharing eye contact and exchanging a kiss is a great way to remind each other that you are loved. After a long day (crying babies, poopy diapers, and no interaction with other adults!), seeing my husband's smile and friendly greeting makes me feel the warmth that marriage and family bring to my life.
Even when we are going through a rough patch where you and your loved ones are not exactly seeing eye to eye, it's still important to say "I love you". In a busy, hectic world, these small gestures are ways of reminding each other what's important and setting an example to your children of what you find a true priority in your life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Teaching kids manners during the holidays

It can be nerve racking going to a family gathering and hoping your kids will be appreciative and use their manners. Preset your kids before going to the gathering and let them know what your expectations are. It's important that they understand that even if it's something they don't like, they should still use good manners, say thank you and show appreciation.
You can play "the manner game" to get your kids ready for showing their manners. Have your kids find things throughout the house and give a present to each other. When they open the gift(even if it's toilet paper), they must say thank you and something nice about it. This is a fun way to get your kids ready for the holidays!! Make using manners fun and of course praise them when they do a good job!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Teaching the value of giving during the holidays

If you want your children to appreciate the things they get during the holidays, have them donate a used toy for each one they get. This will teach them the value of giving, not just getting.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Baby product reviews

I have tested many baby products and come up with some conclusions and ideas to SIMPLY life with a baby.

1. I LOVE the baby food snack containers. They are essential for formula when you are on the go and cheap (usually $5-$10). As your child gets older you can continue to use this for snacks. Available at Babies r us.

2. The Fresh fruit feeders are great! You can put veggies, fruit or even meat into these mesh bags and your baby will enjoy sucking and biting as you relax knowing that they will not choke on pieces that are too big. The best part is that they are easy to clean and I can give it to my daughter while I'm making food or cleaning up and it keeps her occupied. I like the Munchkin brand which is $7.49 for 2. I wish I would have started using these sooner since it can be used starting at 6 months!

3. A practical (but cute) diaper bag is a must. This diaper bag has many compartments plus a storage bag for your diapers and one for your food and bottles. You DO NOT want to have food spill at the bottom of your diaper bag-it sucks! A special bag is perfect to take out and put back in! As much as I love things that make life simple, don't skimp on style momma! You still need to feel in style while sporting that big ol bag around! Get this diaper bag for best of both worlds!

4. Oxyclean - you gotta have this!! This is a must for keeping baby clothes clean. It has saved many clothes that I would have thrown out! You can get this product at Babies r us or Walmart. It costs $10.00 online. I recommend the powder kind and the large tub lasts forever!

5. Snap n go stroller by baby trend - This stroller is ideal for when you are going anywhere that doesn't require a cart (the mall, the gym, or a small restaurant). Even though you will only need if for the time when your baby is small enough to be in the infant carrier, it is a great product to have. It's name suits it well since it is very easy to get in and out of the car without a fight (or breaking your back!). You can buy this product at Babies r us or Target. Suggested retail $59.99.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to make a classy party look simple

Weather you are hosting a family dinner during the holidays, having a party, or even if you want to make your house look festive, here are some cheap and easy tips to get you going.

1. Decorate your entrance way. It is the first thing your guests will see and it doesn't take much to make it look fabulous. Take a planter from your porch, put some greens around it and even some christmas lights to make it look festive.

2. Dress up your table. Put ornaments in any tall vases or unique glassware you have laying around to add a festive flare. Use a martini glass for a dip or cocktail sauce. A wreath (fake or real) around the base of a punch bowl adds a great touch as well.

3. White Christmas lights and candles always add a nice soft touch to your elegant evening. Both are cheap and easy!!

4. Don't plan on making more than a few recipes that you have to bake since you only have one oven! (Sometimes you can substitute the microwave)

5. Don't go crazy trying to make fancy dishes. They take too much time and people usually just want the old faithful party food. Here is a list that Simply Siena gathered from a poll of what people said they wanted most at a party. You will be surprised that they aren't extravagant!

Pigs in a blanket

Spinach dip

Buffalo chicken dip



and anything with cheese!

6. Plan your time well. Part of being a good host (or hostess) is also spending a good amount of time with guests. If you are still in the kitchen when guests arrive, designate someone to sit with them while you prepare last minute details.

7. Finally, enjoy yourself! Having fun is contagious! You set the mood for your party, so find some time to relax and enjoy all your work!!

Setting your goals for the new year

So, you've thought about your goals and what's important you. Now it's time to make it happen! It's simple. If it's something you WANT to happen, you will MAKE it happen. That simply!

In 2007, I started this exercise and I've been using it ever since. This exercise was taught to me by Mr. Stuart Bryant, owner of Mr. Stuarts Martial Arts. Every single goal I've set, I've made happen!! My goals included findng Mr. Right, getting married, starting a family, getting my black belt, loosing ten pounds, and making a certain amount of money from my job. The important thing is being real with yourself and accepting the challenge. Saying it out loud and taking steps toward your goals. I love this saying. "Seldom does an individual exceed his own expectations." - author unknown.

So, lets get started...

1. Set your goals. Be realistic but don't underestimate yourself. If you want to be an astranaut, set goals to make steps toward that dream.

2. State your goals. Say it out loud. Write it down. This helps to make it concrete.

3. Keep it SIMPLE. Choose your top 3 goals and write them down. Then write the steps you will make in the next three days, three months and three years. Try not to think too much about it or you might talk yourself out of something you really want (for example, "oh, I will never be able to get my PhD".

4. Visualize. Close your eyes and picture yourself doing the things you will create in your goals.
5. Line up your support. As humans, we need support in order to succeed. If we create a loving and caring support system of people who believe in us we will find a way to make it a reality.

6. Make it happen. That's it. It's SIMPLE!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why do I keep doing the same thing then regret it and feel guilty?

One of the amazing things about being a mommy is seeing the world through a child's eyes. The wonder, the excitement and the honesty that children bring.


Having a child can bring back many patterns that evolved during your childhood-the good, the bad, and the ugly. We don't realize that we create the patterns that we utilize on a daily basis out of survival from our childhood. It sounds complicated but it's actually very simple. If we had a parent that depended on us as a child, then we develop a sense of pride from helping people and a lack of feeling control because the parent was depending on the child. If we had a chaotic childhood (perhaps fighting and/or divorce), than we might have developed ways to act out to get our parents attention. If we were abandoned in some way as a child then we might find a way to control our environment in order to feel security. If you were abused as a child than you might do anything and everything we can to be the exact and TOTAL opposite of your parents. We develop coping mechanisms for survival as children in order to get our needs met.

Patterns are cyclical and it's rare that you will find a child who does not grow up to be a parent similar to their parents, it's human nature.

That being said, if you can find the strength and courage to take a good look at your childhood, you may realize why you do things the way you do. If it's something you don't like, understanding fully why you've developed that pattern can help you to change your ways. You can start to recognize these patterns and tell yourself that you don't need to use these behaviors anymore because you are an adult and have the power to control the situation in a different way now. If its something you like, appreciate the talent that your parent gave you!

Journaling or talking to a therapist is a great way to work through these issues and grow as a person, a wife and a mother. Remember, this does NOT mean that your parents were bad parents-it just means that they made mistakes (just like we will!!) Understanding your inner child can help to unlock your patterns and help you to create new ways of doing things.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My black belt guide to setting goals for the new year!

If you asked me 5 years ago if I would be able to get a black belt in Martial Arts, I would have told you "you are crazy!" I would have never thought that I had the strength, knowledge or even courage to attain a black belt. Five years later, with a great support system, a commitment to be a black belt, and a strong body, I accomplished the impossible.

I don't believe in New Years resolutions. I think that you should focus on what you want to do rather than what you don't want to do. For instance, instead of setting a goal to quit smoking, set a goal to be healthier (including being a non smoker).

Without goals, how do you measure your accomplishments? Whether your goal is to loose 10 pounds or even spending more time with your children, goals are essential for success! So, what are your goals? Are they realistic? Are they attainable? Anything is possible but think of the work it takes to make them that something you're willing to commit to?

Start thinking about what you want now and I will have a goal setting exercise for you next week! You can do it!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler. -Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Different views on spanking your child

First of all, I feel this is a delicate issue. There are many people who are on each side of this hot debate. It often divides parents and others who view discipline differently for their children.

I know that there will be plenty of times in my future that I wished I had reacted differently to my child's behavior. It may not be spanking but I'm sure there will be times when it's not appropriate or what is in her best interest.

That being said, teaching your children consequences to behavior is difficult but necessary no matter how you look at it. Children need to know the difference between right and wrong and learn that there are consequences to their behavior. The hard part is figuring out the best way (and using it when your most angry!)

There is a difference between spanking out of anger and giving a consequence with a level head. If you are spanking out of anger, the child will be learning (on some level) that it's ok to hit when you're angry. If you take a deep breath and try to calm yourself when you're child does something wrong, you are less likely to regret what you've done. Also, if you do any one method ALL the time (ie. screaming at them, spanking, or timeouts) they will tune you out and maybe try to do those things to get your attention. If you are saying no all the time, what is your yes worth? If children hear "yes" often (ie. "good job!", "yes, you did that right!", "You are doing a great job sharing with your sister!") they will look for attention in positive ways.

Time outs are often effective when you are giving positive reinforcement to something besides them (their sister or something else) and not giving them attention for their negative behavior. Children innately want positive attention.

Many experts believe that spanking is not always wrong. John Rosemond, executive director of the Center for Affirmative Parenting in Gastonia, N.C., and author of several books on discipline, notes that 50 years ago almost all children were spanked. Yet by all accounts, children are more aggressive and prone to violence today, and at earlier ages, than they were back then.

Whatever side you believe to be correct, the most important thing is to talk to your children after disciplining them about why they were disciplined, and then letting them know that you are doing it because you care about them want them to learn good choices.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Substitute beans for meat for a healthy, cheap alternative

Looking for great ways to make cheap and easy recipes? My husband and I love beans but sometimes I forget to incorporate them into our dinners. Did you know that beans are low in fat and cholesterol free? They are also high in fiber and also used to replace meat. Buying beans in place of meat is a great substitute. It will save you money on your grocery bill and yet you will still get a healthy meal. There are many recipes with beans (baked beans, black beans, chili to name a few!)
Here is one I really like (and I hope you will too!):
*If it does not appear below click on the red line

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Making indoor snow! simple and fun!

Playing with the snow outside is lots of fun but don't forget you can make snow inside! These decorations are easy, fun and make great decorations for your house! You don't need to go to the craft store or spend any money! All you need is paper, scissors and an imagination! You can also use colored paper, add sparkles or anything else you have around the house.

Hang them on your refrigerator or tie a string and hang them from the ceiling! Kids will love it!

Great ideas to keep decorating simple and inexpensive!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

the hottest trends you should be wearing (and things YOU should be asking for from santa!)

I know, I know, we want some presents for christmas too!

Ok, here's some ideas you can pass to your hubby or family members. I consulted with my fashionitsa friend and looked up the latest trends to help you look like the coolest mom on the block in 2010!

Clothing: Metallics, glitter and sequins continue to be popular. Grey is very popular especially in shoes and leggings. One shoulder shirts are perfect for a night you're feeling sassy (and you need to feel sassy sometimes! Make it a priority gorgeous!)

Plaid, plaid, plaid!!!

Accessories: Motorcycle jackets (grey or black), Scarves (pretty much any and every color or pattern), and lacy tights or leggings. Hurley hats (also known as slouchy beanie hats) are so cute and perfect to throw on if your having a bad hair day and need to get out of the door quick!!

Jewelry: Stacked bracelets, Versatile long strand necklaces or necklaces that make a big statement, pearls, necklaces with heart pennant or key pennant, and statement cocktail rings.

Shoes: Ballet flats and any shoes with embellishments or hardwear. Don't forget the red bottomed Christian Louboutin pumps which are very popular. Gladiator shoes or high bootie pumps are all the rage (especially with leggings or a skirt). Slouchy boots are great too.

Handbags: Jewel toned totes and bold, patchwork patterns (this will have to grow on me but I am way over Vera Wang so I welcome anything else!)

Here are some of my favs:

Now, hopefully Santa will really deliver great presents to those who were good this year! Hey...a girl can dream!!
Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do you have a good relationship with your childcare provider?

Having a good relationship with your child's teacher is essential for your child to have a positive experience in the classroom. Just like every relationship you have in your life, the one with the person who is taking care of your child is an important one. Do not underestimate this. I don't mean you should be best friends with them (actually that makes things more challenging), I mean you should have trust and good communication (both ways). I have come up with some ideas to help you along.

Communicate As a child care provider, I really appreciate any information about the child's night or morning when they are dropped off. It helps me to understand the child's needs and allows me to see the big picture. Let them know if they had a particularly difficult evening or morning. If something major is going on at home (such as divorce or a death in the family) your child care provider should definitely be informed so that they can help your child if they are acting out or feeling sad. This also opens the door so that they can communicate with you if there are any issues. In general, being approachable is a good thing so that the teacher feels they can talk to you if your child is having any issues.

Respect There are some crappy teachers out there but MANY good ones. Your child is going to have both through the course of his or her life and they will learn lessons from both. Even though you may not particularly like your child's teacher, you need to be respectful to him or her.

If you have a major issue, confronting your child's teacher is a must. Be aware of your timing. I know it's often challenging to find the right time to talk with a teacher since they are often trying to do other things (especially during drop off or pick up times). Respect their time by talking to them at an appropriate time. If you need to chat with them for more than a minute, try sending a note or coming in early when there isn't a lot going on. If face to face communication is a must, ask them when a good time to chat would be.
Do not speak badly about your child's teacher in front of your child. This will create a triangle and being direct is a much better way to handle the situation. If you need to vent, talk to your spouse or friend about the situation.

Say thank you to your child's teacher often! Show them you appreciate their hard work and dedication either in person, in a note or by giving them a small handmade gift from your child.

Build trust Trust is an important part of your relationship with your childcare provider. I know some teacher's do not like when the parent hangs around while dropping their child off (it can be a disruption if the teacher is in the middle of something). But there's nothing wrong with you taking your time hanging things up or a quick chat with a teacher (unless you are having difficulties with your child during these times which can be a problem). If your childcare provider allows the chance for you to participate in a party, take them up on it. This is a good opportunity to see their interactions with the children and spend some time in their classroom.
Listen to your child- Ask them about their day. Children are pretty good at giving you an idea of what their day was like. Follow your intuition. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, ask the teacher about it.

Talk to the teacher about any issues. If you have a concern that's really bothering you, talk to the teacher about it. Approach the teacher in a non threatening way by stating what you know and asking if they know anything about it. It may sound something like this "Sheila has mentioned that a certain child is being mean to her quite often. I have talked to her about ways to deal with it but it seems to be reoccurring. Do you know anything about this?" Ask your child's teacher before jumping to conclusions. Be open minded. There may be a very good explanation or a different perspective (and your child might be part of this problem!)

DO NOT GO TO THE CENTER'S DIRECTOR FIRST! If you want to jeopardize your relationship with your teacher than go right ahead but if you want to build a positive relationship with them, I strongly recommend you talking to the teacher first. Nothing burns a bridge more than stepping over someone and going to their boss.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My great trip to the mall!

I don't normally do the typical blogging of what my day consisted of. I think that what I normally do would be pretty boring to read normally but I had to share my morning with you!

I went to the mall this morning with Siena. I pulled into the parking lot expecting mass quantities of people and instead the lot was empty. What the heck?!?! Then I realized that even though I had put in practically a full day, the mall wasn't open yet because it was 9:55am! I went to Gymboree and returned a $50.00 coat that I bought Sienna (why I thought she needed a$50.00 coat, I am not sure!). Next, I went to the food court because I wanted something. I wasn't technically hungry or thirsty but I wanted a treat! I decided on a Starbucks grande gingerbread latte (no fat milk and only 2 pumps of the syrup, no whipped cream). It was $4.95! Almost as much as a lunch would be. So, I decided if I'm going to pay that much I might as well enjoy it. I sat down with Siena. Watched her play and savored the taste of my special treat! I looked at the beautiful tall Christmas tree all lit up and listened to the wonderful Christmas music.

Next, I walked into the Gap and immediately was told about the wonderful B1G1 free sweater deal! Oh, so hard to pass up! The sweaters were $34.95. That's not bad I thought. I picked out 2 sweaters I really liked (they were SOOO cute!) and was on my way to the register. I stopped myself and thought "do I REALLY need this?". Of course the answer was no, so I put them back and walked out of the store. I said to myself "that was a good decision! Good job!" (not out loud don't worry!) It actually felt very good to know I was being responsible with my money.

I left the mall with such a good feeling! Not because I had a hot outfit to wear tonight but because I was doing the right thing and had spent some quality time with Siena!

Why don't I do this more often I wondered?

So many times we are doing 10 things at one time and forget to enjoy all the many treats life has to offer! Remember to stop and smell the roses and count your many blessings!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gifts and tips-how to budget for the holidays

Feeling stressed and depressed about the holidays? Wondering how you're going to pay for all gifts you need to get? STOP!!! Enjoy the holidays! Simply Siena has researched MANY resources and has all the answers to help you along and allow you to enjoy!

1. Set a budget and stick to it. Be realistic. In these days of economic hardship, people should understand if you are in a difficult financial time. Sit down and make a list of everyone you need to buy for including teachers, hairdressers, etc. All of these can add up quickly.

2. Be creative. Take a minute to think about what each person really likes. I was a teacher for many years and I remember the most creative, heart felt gifts more than any expensive ones I was ever given. Last year, my aunt gave us a recipe of my grandma's (who has since passed) "top secret" chocolate chip cookie recipe. I loved it and it didn't cost a dime!

Include the children. This is a wonderful time for children to learn the value of giving. Older kids can learn the value of money (if you set a good example). If you overspend and then don't have money for bills- you will be setting an example that it is ok to be irresponsible (of course easier said than done!). Everyone wants to make their kid have the biggest smile and excitement when they open their presents but think of the big picture and don't spend money you don't have. This is a great opportunity for them to learn financial responsibility and also a lesson that time and love are the best gifts of all. Just don't be surprised if they don't thank you for not getting them the xbox they wanted so badly :) !

Go to an arts and crafts store and have your kids make something (although be careful-items can add up fast in those stores!)

Use pictures to make a collage or photo album. has great deals on items you can put pictures on (grandmoms especially love this!)

3. Use online resources. Here are the best websites which have been featured in Newsweek, Rachel Ray, Good Morning America, and Consumer Reports for 2009. I checked out this website and couldn't believe that discounts on all the stores I shop at. Definitely a good site. A great website for homemade, unique items at GREAT prices. Don't me scared by "homemade"- these items are very nice! My friend really likes this website. Just remember there's no returns.

There are many more out there but I haven't found any that really seem easy and worth the time. Please post a comment if you have one you really like!

4. Buy more than one item at the same store. Many stores including Kohls, Old Navy and Macy's often have deals where you can get a significant discount if you spend a certain amount (usually $75.00 or $100.00)

5. Who to tip and how much? Follow this general rule when tipping those whose services you use often:

Teachers (including coaches, music teachers, etc.) - a gift from your child

House cleaners - up to one weeks pay

Trash person - $10-30 (if private)

Mail delivery person - USPS employees are not allowed to accept cash but can accept gifts up to a $20 limit.

Regular babysitter - one week's pay plus a small gift from your child

Hairstylist: Cost of one haircut or an equivalent gift. If you're an infrequent customer, simply double your usual tip.

Here's a website with lots of other helpful information for tipping!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Keeping the Holidays Peaceful with In Laws

It's that time of year again! The holidays are often a time when stress levels are high, money is low, and everyone is streched in a million directions (then we add in lots of quality time with family and the in laws that you might not always see eye to eye with!) While the holidays can be a stressful time, they don't have to be! If we set healthy boundaries, communicate effectively, and bring positive energy, the holidays will surely be a success. Here's how...

First of all, step back if you can, and remember that your inlaws are a very big part of your significant other's life (as well as your children) and they love them dearly. That will never change. You MUST be respectful towards them (even if you feel they are not respectful to you). You're significant other needs to see that you are respectful to them and your children need to see it as well. If you get frustrated with your inlaws, try NOT complain to your spouse. Vent to your friends. That only puts him in the middle and complicates the issue. If one of your inlaws says something that you don't like or something you think is rude, it helps to approach them directly about it. It may be a misunderstanding, or it may be an inappropriate comment but addressing it will help to move forward in a positive directions.

When addressed in a direct but respectful way, you will likely reach a common ground. Try saying something like, "When you ask me about the way I do things often, it feels like you are putting me down. Maybe I'm misreading your statements?" These conversations are VERY difficult to have, however, holding resentment is not going to get you anywhere and can create turmoil between you and your husband. Asking these kind of questions can be a subtle but effective way of setting boundaries with a loved one such as an in law.

Setting boundaries is very difficult but very important. If you feel that you have addressed and set boundaries (but they are ignored) than perhaps it's time to take a different approach by thinking of how you can limit your interactions or seperate yourself from taking things personal on certain occassions for the sake of your family. Taking the high road is usually the best way to go but don't give up on confronting your issues. Chances are, you will need to have many more "difficult conversations" with those who don't always respect your boundaries. Maybe one day they will get it...but they may never change (and that's ok!)

It may come down to only speaking occassionally or at holidays but you owe it to your significant other and your children to make sure that you approach the issues to attempt to resolve them. If you do not feel comfortable having them babysit in your home for instance, make other arrangements and explain to your significant other that you would prefer to hire a babysitter than to risk the chance that bad feelings might occur with the inlaws. Explain that you care about your relationship with your inlaws and you don't want to jeoperdize it by pushing the limits, when it may be best for all to ask a neighbor to care for your child (or children).

Setting boundaries can feel very uncomfortable if you grew up without many boundaries, but it does get easier as you do it more and more. If this seems difficult (or IMPOSSIBLE!), practice a script and say it in the mirror. It sounds silly but can often help with these difficult conversations.

Want to avoid these conversations? It is often much easier to avoid these conversations all together (believe me-I've done it) but it will not help things in the long run. Also, remember that little eyes are watching and learning how to handle difficult situations. How do you want them to handle difficult situations? Do you want them to think that if someone is not treating you the way you like than you should avoid it and/or complain to someone else?

Remember that there are things about your inlaws that have made your significant other who he is (and thats the person you fell in love with!). Enjoy your holidays and make it a positive experience for your family! You have the control to make it a good one!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Plan Ahead and Avoid Overscheduling

Notice this child's face is not a happy one?

I went for a walk with my friend last night who's daughter just went back to school. I asked her when she would be able to walk again and she quickly became very flustered talking about picture day, back to school night, swim team tryouts, and viola practice. The tone in her voice immediately changed and I could sense the stress in her voice.

Although my daughter is not in school yet, I totally get how it can be so stressful to balance family life with school aged kids sometimes. When I was a nanny, I remember seeing countless activities and commitments filling up the calendar in the blink of an eye. When your child is eager to try something new, you want to jump at the chance to give them the opportunity.

This morning on Good Morning America, a psychologist was talking about how stressful back to school can be on parents and how children become stressed as a result.

So, what can we do to avoid these struggles? Here are some ideas..

1. Think before committing to anything. These days so many after school activities are a huge commitment both financially and responsibility. Remember, there will always be other opportunities if you miss this one!

2. Talk to your kids. Find out exactly why they want to sign up for the activity and let them know all the expectations. If you feel like they have to follow through til the end of any activity then let them know that is the expectation.

2. Assess all the logistics. Look at the big picture. Will this activity affect bedtime? Will this affect meals? Will this affect homework time? How many hours of practice are needed? Commute time?

3. Is this really what my child wants? Am I doing this to fulfil a childhood dream of mine?
This is always a tough one to come to terms with but if you can be honest with yourself you will all be happier in the long run.

4. Can my child handle this? I have a friend who has one child who does extremely well when her schedule is packed with commitments. In fact, this child's grades fall when they are not in a busy routine in the evenings. Her other child, however, does not do well with many commitments and needs a lot of down time to complete homework and relax. Knowing your child can help you to consider what's best for them at different stages of their life.

To sum up my feelings on the issue, do your due diligence and follow your intuition. If your child is interested in a certain sport but the commitment is too much, look for an alternative such as a different school or someone who might be interested in doing a few lessons in your home for a few extra bucks (without such a big commitment).

Embrace this wonderful time in your child's life and enjoy watching them grow and learn all the many wonderful things that they enjoy and feel proud of.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Saving money on groceries and still keeping my sanity

Call me crazy but I do not see the point of coupons. In fact, I despise them. Every time I try to save money with coupons I end up with an expired coupon or forgetting to even present the coupon. It drives me nuts and creates a lot of frustration.

To shop simply, I skip the manufacturers coupons and shop conscientiously with in store sales. I take advantage of the store brand items which are often much cheaper than the name brands. I do check the circular for in store coupons but that's about as far as I go in coupon clipping.

Choosing a store that seems to have the best prices for the things I purchase most helps keep my life simple. Shop Rite is the grocery store I seem to get the most bang for my buck. Shop Rite has a baby club that gives $10.00 back if you buy enough baby items during a certain time period (which is easy to do with diapers and formula!) Many other grocery stores offer similar baby clubs which add savings to your shopping trip.

Shopping from a list and setting a budget ahead of time forces me to be creative and take an inventory of what items I have in my kitchen before going to the store. I try to plan my recipes for the week and try to use things that are going to go bad in the next week or two. I plan a meal or two for the week based on whatever meat is on sale that week.

It seems to me that different stores are better for different families. For instance, the Acme in our area constantly offers Buy 1 get 1 free deals which would help a large family but does not help my family of only 2 adults. However, Shop Rite's baby club suits us better. Shopping in wholesale stores such as Costco can bring savings to large families but does not really offer savings for small families.

Independently owned produce stands can be cheaper but they often have limited hours which are not conducive to most working people.

I know many people are going to take issue with these ideas saying that they save a lot of money clipping coupons and jumping from grocery store to grocery store. I have seen people on the news that end up practically having the store give them money. I do not understand how they do it!? I do occasionally clip coupons and check out the sales going at other stores nearby but I feel like it's a part time job which I don't have the patience for. I find keeping things simple helps me keep my sanity.

OH, of course, never go to the store hungry! You will want to buy EVERYTHING!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Keeping a simple perspective

I am not a numbers person. When I was in college I took probability and statistics 3 times until I finally passed by the skin of my teeth. However, sometimes it helps me to think of things in a mathmatical way. For instance, if I'm feeling guilty about something crappy I ate or a mistake I made with my daughter (which is quite often by the way!) I ask myself to look at the big picture. I might ask myself am I making MOSTLY good choices when it comes to my daughter?

When I'm struggling with life and wondering if I am doing the right things I picture a pie chart. I take into consideration the way I'm spending my time. If I were to draw a pie chart and drew how I am spending my time, does it look the way I want it to? If I'm spending MOST of my time complaining about something than I need to reevaluate my role in that particular situation. If I am spending MOST of my time with people who are not positive for me than I need to reevaluate my relationships.

This concept can be applied to food. Look at the food pyramid. It is far from a diet plan and yet it gives a great visual representation of how your diet should be. If you follow the recomendations for the food pyramid you will inadvertantly loose weight. Notice they use the word "sparingly" meaning moderation.

What about money? Is your money being spent MOSTLY on things that help you work toward your goals or are you wasting money on things that are not important?

Everyone makes mistakes and everyone needs to veer off the path occasionally so don't beat yourself up for a few bad choices. What matters most is that you are heading in the right direction overall. Sometimes stepping outside the box and taking a look at the big picture can help keep you on the road to your success.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Creating special memories during the holiday season

How do you want your children to remember the holidays during their childhood? The holidays are right around the corner. In fact, there's only 9 weeks til Christmas. Can you believe it? The stores are filled with beautiful items, your neighbors' house looks festive and fun, and commercials are showing the excitement of gift giving. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the materialism of the holidays and forget what it's really about.

I have to admit, some of my favorite memories of the holidays as a child do include the synthesizer I wanted so badly and the cabbage patch kid doll that I got from Santa. But the memories I treasure most are the ones that include family traditions and activities.

My mother is very creative and crafty when it came to these ideas. She started a few traditions for our family that did not involve money or possessions. One of my favorite traditions was a tree decorating activity. We put a different ornament on the tree representing something special that had happened that year. Our ornaments include everything from a mini diploma to a smashed up matchbox car (my sister was in an auto accident and everyone was ok but we couldn't think of anything else!) We keep a list tracking each year and the ornament we chose to represent that year. We always decorate the tree as a family and reminisce about all the years passed. I'm sure there were many years when I was a teenager that I complained about this tradition (isn't that my job as a teenager??) Overall, this tradition tends to bring a few tears and many laughs. But most of all, building happy memories as a family every holiday season.

When I met my husband, he shared with me his favorite holiday memories with his family. Every year his family gets together at a fire hall on Thanksgiving and many relatives come from all over for this special event. They share food, laughs and say a lovely grace. Then, the fun begins. Everyone gets their guitars, drums, they hook up the amps and begin playing music together. Family members of every age join in and contribute to the fun weather it's dancing, singing or just listening. It's so wonderful to see everyone having so much fun with one another and enjoying the holiday.

When planning your holidays, make a list of what you want the holidays to be like. Think about what your family enjoys and how to incorporate that into your festivities. Are you musical? Crafty? Do you enjoy cooking? Giving to a soup kitchen for the homeless?? How do you want your children to remember their holidays as a child?

When it seems easier to buy an expensive gift than to force your back talking teenager to have a family night, think of what the holidays are really about and what your kids will remember fondly as an adult. Keep it simple and create the holidays that you want. The memories are pricelss.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is your home a reflection of your happiness??

Does your home reflect your life? Is the space you live in organized or cluttered? Do you feel relaxed in your own home?

Recently, I was watching a special on hoarders. There were people on the show who had lost control of their homes and were living in pure filth and chaos. There were items, clothes, and trash everywhere piled waist high. I felt so sorry for these people as they shared their story. Most of these people had an incredibly difficult time letting go of something in their life and this had manifested into not wanting to let go of physical things. I realize that the average american is not living like this but it did make me think about how our environment can reflect what's going on inside us.

First of all, I strongly feel that we should show respect to our physical things and take care of the things that matter to us. If we take good care of our things they will last a long time and be good to us. This is a lesson that I often teach to children that I work with but one that all of us should remember as well.

Next, if you are someone who often accumuates clutter, ask yourself what it is you are afraid of letting go of? Remember that clutter encourages fear (ie. what if I need that?).

Finally, think about different areas of your home and how you want to feel when you enter those places. If you are working on bettering your relationship with a spouse, take a look at your bedroom and make sure that it is a comfortable, relaxing, peaceful place to be. If not, use softer lights, add fabrics to windows, and light a candle with a great scent. How do you feel when you enter your house? Get rid of any dead plants or broken chimes and make your entrance one that is welcoming. Incorporate different elements of nature into your home (ie. wood, metal, fire, and water) to provide a balanced energy and relaxed atmosphere. To learn more about these ideas, you can research Feng Shui which plunges deeper into these concepts. Overall, remember that your home is your sancuary and a place for you to feel happy and alive. Ask yourself, what do you need from your home and is it serving it's purpose for you? Hopefully, asking yourself these questions and making some adjustments can help you make your space a productive one for you and your family.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to motivate Dads

The maternal instinct is something very real and very empowering. Many women struggle with feeling alone in the childrearing process and feel like their partners do not do enough or take an active role in the parenting process. A recent study by Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University suggests that fathers who are given positive feedback by the mothers are likely to be an active participant in the child rearing process.
Many people overlook the power of posititivity. I know there are days when you might say " I can't find one good thing he does". Well, your job is to find it and start giving positive recognition. Even if it's the way he kisses your child goodnight or talks to her in a nice way. Maybe he took the trash out or cleaned up some clutter. Find some positives and start giving compliments and you might be surprised at the outcomes. Being positive will also encourage your children to give more praise and you will be moving in the right direction toward family teamwork.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fun activities that don't cost a dime!

It’s getting to be the end of the summer and we’re all running out of ideas (and money) for what to do with the kiddos…

There are many things you can do with your children that will build memories for a lifetime and don’t cost a thing and you don’t need to buy expensive toys. Remember, it’s all about presentation!! The majority of the time, if you enjoy it-they will too!! Also, take one for the team and remember that sometimes you have to get dirty or do boring things but spending quality time with your kiddo is what really matters! Here are a few of my ideas.

1. Go to your local library Whatever your child’s age, the library can be a great place if you make it fun. Enjoy story times, read books together, or play with the train sets or toys they have. Be sure to get down on your child’s level so they feel like you want to play WITH them (especially if they are shy around other children it helps to have you there!)
NOTE: Almost every library these days has computers with games. BEWARE- Make sure you put limits on computer time before going into the library or your child will only want to do that and nothing else!!!
Remember-some area libraries are better than others or offer different things-check out more than one library in your area to change things up!! Search on the internet for your area libraries!

2. Take a Walk – make walking fun! Depending on your child’s age you can turn finding things on your walk into a game! For example “Do you want to go on a nature walk? What do you think we will find?” or “Should we go visit the stream or the horsies? You pick!!” Giving options is always helpful and makes children feel included and not just bossed around-even though you are still the boss!;)

3. Treasure hunt – this is always fun for ALL ages. It takes some prep work but they LOVE it! Make a list of 10 places where you can hide little prizes (can wrap pretzels in aluminum foil or gold fish, a few candies, etc.) Give the child a list of 10 questions pertaining to the places where you hid the prizes. For example for a 9 year old you may say “I like to mix things up” for something hidden in a blender. For a 3 year old you might say “people lay on me and I often hear stories” for an item hidden in the bed. Obviously it should be much easier for the 3 year old. This game can take a while and be very fun!!

4. Go to a Park – Try a different park or bring different toys to the park. Maybe even meet someone new to mix things up a little. Many parks in the area offer very different things from sand boxes to a jungle gym that might just have a slightly different swing or monkey bars that they might love!! I used to bring different toys to a nearby park that had a sandbox and the 3 year old I was watching loved it!! I also would get in the sand and played with him which often helps when he would get bored. Check out parks using the internet-there might be one close by that you have never seen!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Being the "Good Enough" parent

It’s so easy to get over whelmed by the tasks at hand when you’re a parent. Weather it’s spending enough time with your child, keeping the house clean, paying the bills on time, keeping a job, providing healthy meals, helping with homework, or being a good wife (or significant other). The list goes on and on of the priorities we have as parents.
There are some days when the dishes pile up, the laundry goes undone, and the floor is a MESS. Ask yourself whats most important? Does that mean you’re a bad mother? Absolutely not! Step back and look at the big picture. Is your child happy? Are you happy? Is the house safe? Are all the bellies fed?

We put enormous amounts of pressure on ourselves, often to be let down by unrealistic expectations. We read about omega 3’s, tap water, vaccines, multivitamins, allergies and on and on. We compete with the Jones' and want to give our children the best toys, house or bike. It’s enough to worry us into the grave sometimes. Remember back to when you were a child. Most likely, you will not think back and wish that you’re parent had spent more time on housework or had healthier meals. You probably won’t wish that you had Atari before the other kids. For the most part, to meet a child’s needs is simple. Give them love, keep them safe and provide a nurturing environment. What does being a good parent mean to you? Chances are, you’re child will not go to their therapist as an adult and say, “I really wish my mom would have dusted more” or “My parents should have made sure I went to church every week instead of every other week” (and if they do than their in denial because you’re going to screw up a lot worse that that!!) Enjoy your children. Hug them. Kiss them. Smile at them. Being given the gift of life is one of the most special things that we often take for granted in every day life.

Unfortunately, it often takes the loss of a loved one for you to really enjoy what’s in front of you. But it doesn’t need to be that way if we slow down and look around us. Step back and appreciate the joy of parenthood. Look at the beautiful smile on your child’s face and remember that parenthood is a gift.

Sometimes, we have to put down our parenting books and say, “I am a good enough parent and that is ok!”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are you a nag?

Do you feel like you are often asking, begging, or pleading for something to happen and no one listens? Maybe you need a different approach!

Women are often not very good at putting healthy boundaries in place. It is often seen as “being a bitch” if you put your foot down on something. But this isn’t so. Putting your foot down on something and then giving consequences is often a healthy and productive way of getting to a solution.

Children, especially, crave limits and boundaries. They will often push you to your limits to find out if you really mean what you say and if they are safe someone who is confident and secure. This set of behaviors which invole testing starts at a very young age and can easily go into adulthood. There are steps you can take to allow a more productive outcome (and a happier family dynamic!)

First, ask yourself if the expectation is reasonable (i.e. is it fair to make my 3 year old clean the toilet rim every time he pees for example, or do I need to just choose my battles). Next, if your expectation is reasonable, set the rules and expectations in a clear, age appropriate way and explain why it is necessary for the problem to be solved (i.e. “You room needs to stay clean so that it’s a safe place and you learn responsibility when you’re on your own”. A three, for example, they do not need to know all the reasons other than you are the parent and that you know whats best for them. Then explain the consequences.

Consequences are tough but a necessary part of raising a child. If your child doesn’t learn consequences now it will be a lot tougher when they are out on their own and they don’t think they have to pay their bills or get to their job on time. When giving consequences, do it in a direct and unemotional way. DO NOT DISCUSS DURING THE CONSEQUENCE!! You can discuss later if appropriate but NEVER during the consequence. IF you get in a debate about it then it will seem like you are trying to prove yourself as if what you’re saying may be negotiable. If you have thought long and hard about this situation than feel confident that you are doing the right thing. Believe me, they will respect you for it later!

Are you sick of asking your husband or significant other for the same thing over and over again? Think about the problem and the solution and sit down with your husband and explain that you do not want to keep discussing this problem and therefore ask him how the 2 of you can solve the problem as a team. Use “we” statements. Instead of “you” need to fix this problem, say “we” need to fix this problem! If the problem is that you need more help around the house for example, explain how you feel than set boundaries by stating that if the problem doesn’t change than you will need to hire someone (for example). Set a deadline and then drop the issue. Sometimes it takes some creativity to come up with a solution that works for both of you so be open minded.

If you’re a person who is known to give empty threats than it will take some time for people to learn that you mean what you say and this can be a grueling task for all involved. Hang in there…the payoffs will be a happier you and ultimately a happier family!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Planning a birthday party?

Having a child’s birthday party can be very stressful and frustrating if it’s expensive and chaotic. KEEP IT SIMPLE (and fun!) with my tips to have an awesome party.

Keep your party simple
Kids do not need a lot! A change of scenery, their friends, and some cake will almost always ensure a great time!! Remember, knowing that it’s they’re special day is the fun part of a birthday party and that is FREE!

Be prepared
Think ahead, make lists and ask for help. Remember, the more prepared you are the easier everything will be when the day comes. I have found that people are more than willing to help if you ask. LISTEN to your child and ask them what they would like! Give some ideas or suggestions to get them started. Have them help with decorating or picking out items to get them excited! Giving them a job (making signs or invitations) can make them feel proud and keeping them busy will allow you to do what you need to do!

Ask for ideas
Talk to other moms about what they have used, what they liked and what they didn’t like. A friend of mine had an idea for a fishing party. She posted a question on her facebook status to see if anyone had any ideas. You wouldn’t believe the amount of ideas and suggestions that came “floating” in (no pun intended!)

Shop efficiently
Set a budget and stick to it so you won’t regret spending too much. Remember, fun does NOT = expensive. I promise you! The dollar store and party stores are great places to shop for birthday supplies. Oriental Trading is also a great resource. Subscribe to their catalog for great theme ideas and all-in-one stop shopping (and it’s cheap too!)

Be realistic
If you are not the kind of person who likes hosting a party and you have the money, SEND THE PARTY ELSEWHERE! (No-this does not mean you’re a bad mom!!)
BOUNCE companies are popping up everywhere and kids (and adults) absolutely LOVE these places. These places are essentially an indoor playground of inflated bouncing machines. From the experiences I have had most of these places are safe, easy and fun for all. A nearby place offers a complete party for $430.00. This includes up to 25 guests, pizza, cake, t-shirt, invitations and professionals to run the party.

Whatever your child’s interests are (dancing, soccer, martial arts) ask around at the place your child takes lessons or places that offer lessons. NOTE: This can be a great opportunity for your child to find out weather he wants take lessons in that particular thing!

Savor your child’s youth and excitement-it won’t last forever! Take lots of pictures (another thing you can ask someone to do!) and remember that in time you will miss these days.

Do you have more questions or need more help? Check out this great article for more great tips for kid’s birthday party

Monday, July 13, 2009

Simply Egg-cellent Breakfast

Simply Egg-cellent Breakfast

You want to eat healthy starting from the beginning of the day, but your mornings are so busy that it gets away from you. I understand. Just getting my coffee (which is a MUST have for me!) is a big production and takes time away from everything else. Without a little preparation and planning you end up eating your child’s leftovers, a donut, or some type of quick carb-alicious breakfast! Here’s a great, simple way to eat healthy amidst a hurried morning!

Whatever the diet is, nutrition/diet experts will agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Without a healthy breakfast, you will most likely start a day of sugar rushes and crashes leading to eating other unhealthy foods throughout your day. You might end your day by eating late in the evening (usually an unhealthy snack) leading to not being hungry in the morning. This is a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating causing weight gain and lethargy. So, don’t skip breakfast!!

OMELETS are one of my favorite foods but often take a lot of time to prepare. Chopping up the ingredients and then cleaning up the pans all require a lot of time. Here’s my SIMPLE trick to eating omelets in a hurry.

Buy a large pack of eggs (I buy an 18 pack). Pick a time when the kids are busy (i.e. Dad is home or the kids are napping or in bed). This is a time when you can focus on YOUR health (for once!). Get all your ingredients out (see below). Start cooking your LARGE batch of omelets to have throughout the week. Spray your pan with a little olive oil or some Pam spray. Use 3-4 egg whites for EACH omelets (I like to throw in a little of the yolk). Add veggies, garlic, salt and pepper. Get out a Tupperware container and put each omelets in the container separated by a piece of wax paper (or even just a paper towel!)

WaaaLaaaa.. you now have your omelets ready for the week!! Just heat up each one in the microwave when you’re ready for a healthy, yummy, great start to your day!!

Tips for adding some ZEST to your omelets so you don’t get bored:

Use different veggies (I usually get whatever is on sale). The list of things you can add to omelets is ENDLESS-mushrooms (canned or fresh), tomatoes, peppers, onions, avocado, spinach are all great ingredients (just to name a few!) You can throw in anything you have that you want to use before it goes bad. Even shrimp or clams can add a great addition if you want to be fancy!

Try different spices - Lately, I have been on an oregano kick but parsley, basil and many other spices add a great flavor as well. Garlic is usually a must have for me personally. I buy the minced garlic in a jar because it’s easy.

Use different cheeses – Using different cheeses can really make an omelets taste different and add flavor. I love feta but will usually use whatever I have or whatever is on sale.
*****If you are really rushed-Whisk eggs in a bowl and microwave them for an instant breakfast!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to Save Money Buying Used Goods

How to Save Money Buying Used Baby Goods

As wonderful as having a baby is, it can mean a huge dent in your pocket. Between diapers, nursing items or formula, daycare, babysitter, and co pays at the doctors (just to name a few) there are many new expenses in your budget. Don’t let these expenses get you down!

Remember that people go through baby items SO quickly they are often trying to get rid of things that are gently used or sometimes not even used at all.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for a baby (or updating old baby items!)

Shop consignment for baby/kid items. Moms of multiples sales are great with products that are barely used! Churches often have annual or bi annual consignment sales. I have walked away with bags and bags of items for under $50.00 at these sales. Butterflies & Blossoms Consignment Shop in West Chester is one of my favorite place to buy my daughter's clothes. They also have a whole room of great quality maternity clothes, some toys and some other items such as a bouncer seat or bassinet.

Do you need furniture for your child? If you are lucky enough to be handy or have a handy husband, don’t hesitate to buy used furniture! It usually only takes some paint and some new hardware to make an old item look brand new! Go to a store that sells used furniture such as Good Will or The Habitat for Humanity. Both of these are nationwide chains. There is Habitat for Humanity store in Coatesville, PA that often has some great items for dirt cheap!

I personally LOVE Craigslist for any of your childs needs. Even though it is a gamble, I bought many baby items including 2 swings, changing table, exersaucer, pack and play, crib sheet set (just to name a few!) and I never had a bad experience. If you use Craigslist, one helpful tip is to type in the town you live in where you search, that way you do not have to drive all over the state to get items you want. Also, remember to try to talk people down in price. People are usually just trying to get rid of the item and will lower their price if you ask. Also, remember to ask them if they have any other baby items they are trying to get rid of. We often got several items from the same person giving a discount for all items.
When using any classified website, be sure to meet people in a public place in daylight and let people know where you are. If you have a bad feeling about it, DON’T do it. Use your common sense.

One final tip when shopping for baby items, keep it simple! Babies don’t require fancy toys or gadgets-they respond mostly to human faces, funny noises and love. Babies also ruin or out grow clothes very quickly.

What are your ideas that have helped you save money with a little one? Please write a comment and let us know!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why do women worry so much and men seem so carefree?

It seems as though many women (especially moms) worry constantly. Is this normal?

A friend of mine was recently talking about the guilt of sending her child to day care.
She explained that she would feel guilty about her monetary contribution to the family if she didn’t work. She thought long and hard about this decision before going back to work and researched the best daycare centers but yet still feels guilty.

I was chatting with another friend the other day who was expressing her frustrations about breastfeeding. She would like to stop breastfeeding but is afraid she would feel an enormous amount of guilt. I believe this to be a very common frustration among new moms. She further explained that she is not producing enough milk. She dreads feeding her child.
The thing is-she is not happy either way. If she quits breastfeeding then she will feel guilty. If she continues breastfeeding, then she will feel frustrated because every feeding is so stressful for her.

Sometimes, I find it so hard to live in the moment and enjoy the wonderful things in my life. Why do we worry so much about the decisions that we make? Why do men seem to be so carefree? I have been thinking about this topic for a while and researched some ideas. I found the articles to be very interesting. The one thing that all articles seem to agree on is that women DO NOT worry more than men-they simply express it differently.
Check out this article and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Getting a good nights sleep is essential for providing a happy, productive environment for you and your baby. During the first 3 months a baby needs food frequently (especially if you are breast feeding which a baby digests quicker than formula). It is almost impossible to get a full night's sleep at this point. Even if your baby is sleeping through the night early on, your doctor might suggest waking him or her up to feed. At this point if you’re lucky enough to be able to sleep when your baby sleeps (I never could!) than you definitely should do that! Taking naps during the day is a wonderful thing for moms with newborns. Try to take advantage of your ability to run errands while your newborn will sleep right through. Pretty soon you won’t be so lucky and you will see the need for putting your baby in their crib for nap time.

I have researched many ideas and theories on how to provide good sleeping habits for a baby. I feel that it is an integral piece to their health and well being. There are 2 books which are very helpful-‘The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer’ by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau and ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’ by Marc-Weissbluth are both excellent resources on the subject. The baby whisperer also has a great website for seeing how much your baby should be sleeping at different ages and what different other babies schedules look like. I took bits and pieces from many different sources and made a routine that worked for me and my family.

Many people find it very helpful to keep a bedtime routine. This is something you can start very early. It can include bath, feeding, rocking, reading a book and singing. Starting to put the baby in her crib is also good for you and your significant other to get some alone time. Once the baby is down for the night, keep any feedings or diaper changes very quiet (no talking or playing) and keep the lights off with just enough light from a night light or hallway light for you to see what you’re doing. My baby really had her days and night mixed up and this helped a lot.

After around 3 months your baby can start getting A LITTLE bit of a routine. Remember every baby is different and what works for one family may not work for another. One thing all experts seem to have in common is that you should never wake a sleeping baby and never try to keep them awake or “wear them out”. At 3 months, I stayed home for a week straight to really figure out my daughters sleep habits. I learned her signs of tiredness and started putting her in her crib for naps. This really helped. Every 2 hours is a good baseline for most babies to start needing sleep. Once a baby gets overtired it can get really ugly for you and for the baby. When my daughter started getting better naps she started sleeping MUCH better at night and would only waking to eat-fabulous!

Remember, these are just ideas of what worked for me. It’s best to listen to what works for others but then create a system that works for you and your family. Also, don’t hesitate to call your doctor with any questions or concerns. I call my doctors office frequently. One time I called my doctor 3 times because my child was sleeping SO MUCH! The nurses were very understanding and never annoyed (at least they didn't seem to be!) Anyway, you pay them good money for your baby’s care they should be able to answer your questions!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Simply siena on facebook

There are many posts and articles that I update on simplysiena facebook page that I do not put on here! Be sure to add simply siena as your friend!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Feeling lonely while home with a newborn??

It's very normal to feel lonely, sad or even CRAZY during this huge time of transition! First of all, remember that your life just did a 360. As wonderful as the experience of having a child is, it is a huge time of transition for many things. Your body has changed. Your hormones are raging, your job status has changed (even if it's only for the interim), the relationship with your significant other is different, there are increased pressure on your finances, and you are getting to know your new role as a mommy!!
There are many, many women who have been in the same boat as you and it can feel very overwhelming!

Follow these helpful hints to get you through your times of difficulty...
1. Get outside! Sunlight has been proven to help with depression!
2. Exercise! I know it's the last thing you feel like doing but just a little walk or an exercise video can make a huge difference!
3. Talk to friends!
4. Join a playgroup! Even if it's your first child and your child won't get anything out of will!! You may be surprised at how many playgroups there are if you look. Search for playgroups in your county online or talk to other mommies in your neighborhood. If you don't find any that your like, make your own!! You can start a group for $35.00 and can access calendars, message boards and pictures of your group!
5. Try to eat healthy! I know it's hard when you are having cravings or are simply trying to throw down whatever is easiest at the time. But try to eat mostly fruits, veggies, and whole grains so you are putting good gas in your engine!!

REMEMBER....postpartum depression is VERY real and can strike during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth. If you are having the blues for more than a week or 2 seek help from a professional!!
Paula Padget Counseling and Coaching Associates is an excellent place to go for life coach/therapist in Chester County, PA. She specializes in women and depression and offers great tools to get you through difficult time. See her website for more details

Tracking babies eating and sleeping

I know whats it's like....Days are turning into nights and through your blurry vision you can't keep track of when your baby is going to be due for food or a diaper change. Sometimes, you need to let your pediatrician know how many times your baby is doing something in particular but it's difficult to keep track of the endless stinky diapers that cross your baby's bottom.

One easy way to help keep track of these essential things are the handy trackers on
http://www.thebump/ website. These are great date sheets for moms tracking patterns of sleeping, eating and many other things. They are also handy for passing on information to your spouse or babysitter of what your babies day looks like.

As we mentioned before, the ITZbeen baby care timer is a great device for timing your babies sleeping, eating, and anything else you need to track. See the earlier post for more information.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My New Body

My body is not what it used to be. Will it ever be? I’m not sure. I secretly really enjoy wearing the comfy maternity clothes that now make me feel skinny! My wardrobe is only one of the many crazy changes in my life right now but having a baby and being a mommy is the most wonderful thing I could imagine.

Before having my daughter, I used to do karate, push ups, run, lift name it. Suddenly these things have changed. I can now do most of these things but it's taken a while. I had to have some patience to allow my body to get back to what it used to be able to do.
Having a baby has taught me to SLOW down. It wasn’t until I had my daughter Siena that I was able to focus my mind enough to do yoga or walk down the street and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells out what was around me. Last year at this time, I would have sped right by the beautiful sights with my ipod blaring and pedometer clicking. I would have been wearing the latest work out outfits (and looked damn good too!) I walk with my baby tucked in her baby bjorn, all I think about is how blessed I am and how beautiful life can be. If I pass a neighbor I might wonder, does my outfit even match?!

Don’t get me wrong…I will be on the mats again and pounding the pavement with my running shoes. But if I never have six pack abs will all be worth it for the amazing miracle that I can call my daughter.
I went to a fitness center in my area right after I was cleared to work out again. They offer a ongoing special 60 days for $60 (not including childcare) The only requirement is a doctors note (which my doctor easily filled out the paperwork and faxed it the day I asked for it). I took advantage of this when I was cleared to exercise (6 weeks after my daughter was born) and it was a great chance for me to get out of the house and have some me time…plus I lost weight and felt better about myself!! Get your body moving and you will start to feel like yourself again!

How to stay balanced and be productive

Trying to be your own boss and keep a productive schedule is nearly impossible these days!

A day in my life sometime goes like this...
The baby is down for a nap and I QUICKLY run to the computer to check my emails and next thing I know the baby is awake, crying and I didn’t get A THING done!! What happened to the time?? Between facebook, email, and my "to do" list I am easily over my head and feeling pulled in a million directions. DEEEEEP breath. Why do I put stress onto myself??

I always knew I had a tendency to be a little ADD. Then I started martial arts and quickly learned that structure and discipline was my best friend. Having a plan and sticking to it helps me feel safe and productive.

There are 2 things help me immensely when I feel pulled in a million directions. First, I have a goal sheet that is hanging in my office and on my refridgerator. The goals are very general (ie.-eating healthy, being a good mom, being a good wife) but they help me to focus on what’s important. I revise this list every 6 months and make sure that what I’m doing on a daily basis matches what I am working toward in my life. Secondly, I keep a "to do" list for the week and one for just today. I try to map out a schedule of the day and stick to it. I do allow myself time for updating my status on facebook or chatting when I need some adult interaction (and God knows we need a break sometimes!) Although this works for me, I realize that different things help different people.

I received my black belt in karate 2 years ago from Mr. Stuarts Martial Arts. Not only did I learn to defend myself and get in excellent shape but I learned the art of self discipline, focus and structure. These skills are priceless in a culture full of playgroups, cell phones, media, and distraction. We all have out gifts and talents but being pulled in a million directions prevents us from being successful in anything. Learning to focus is a great tool that can help us accomplish anything we set our mind to do.

Whatever works for you, write it down and stick to it! Take one step at a time to accomplish the things you want and make it happen!!

For more info. on the martial arts program go to:
or call 610-888-8212

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The best things in life are free..

My husband and I started to plan our weekend. Summer is here and this summer we have a little baby to tend to. Things are a little different. Last summer we would go out for a run, go to a Phillies game or sit out and have drinks outside a restaurant in West Chester.
This year we have a baby in tow. We couldn’t decide on what to do. Sesame place? Nah…she won’t get any enjoyment out of it. Phillies game? Nah…too much work for an infant (and again…she won’t get any enjoyment out of it!) Some of my friends were heading to the park with the COOL jungle gym-nah-she’s too little. The beach? Nah…Too much sun and again…she won’t enjoy it! So…what do we do? We decided to make our on fun and for once…make people come to us. Bar-b-que at our house it is!

We had some friends and family over, enjoyed each others company and the great weather. So, the lesson I learned from Baby Sienna this week is to enjoy the simple things. She doesn’t need a $50.00 ticket to the Phillies or a trip to the beach. Sienna simply needs a place to sleep and a little rattle to make her laugh. A walk around the neighborhood, food, and lots of love.

As I did some work around the house, and had a slow dance with my husband, I remembered to be present and enjoy the little things in life-and guess what…the best things in life really are free.