Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bink-Tees: Never Lose Another Pacifier


OK. So I haven't actually tried this product, but it's so clever, I had to share it with you. Bink-Tees are t-shirts with a with a hidden velcro-attachment to hold your child's pacifier. My daughter mostly used her pacifier when she was sleeping and she was done with it by 4 months, so I don't have any experience with pacifier clips or other ways of hanging unto the pacifier. But this is definitely the cutest way to hang onto it that I've seen.

Chocolate Espresso Goat Milk Pudding: Milk-free, Corn-free, Vanilla-free

I had to heavily adapt a pudding recipe to come up with something I can eat. Cornstarch, cow's milk and vanilla are all no-no's for me. The coffee adds a kick of flavor (the kick depends on the strength of the coffee) to replace the missing vanilla. Using condensed goat milk allows the pudding to remain creamy, even after replacing half the milk with coffee. Tapioca flour is a great substitute for cornstarch in puddings.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Espresso Goat Milk Pudding - Cow's Milk-Free, Corn-Free, Soy-Free, Vanilla-Free

1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups evaporated goat milk
1 1/2 cups warm coffee (make coffee strength to taste)

1. Combine the tapioca flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk and coffee, scraping the bottom and sides. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the pudding is smooth and thickened, remove from the heat. (I didn't actually use a double-boiler, even though that's how you're supposed to make pudding. I cooked it in pot on medium heat.)

2. Pour into individual serving dishes.

3. If you like pudding skin, pull plastic wrap over the top of the serving dish(es) before refrigerating. If you dislike pudding skin, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.




Thursday, May 29, 2008

How to Load a Dishwasher - I challenge you both to a duel.

b(LIST)fullness and WorksForMe have been fighting in person about the best way to load the dishwasher for at least six months. This minor issue is of great concern to them because we all live in the same house. Now, they've taken their feud online to the blogosphere. I've joined in by challenging them both to a dishwasher loading duel. I'm not sure how to create the rules. Should it be:

  1. Who can get the most items in the dishwasher using any dishes in the kitchen
  2. Put out a set number of dishes and see who can load the dishwasher and wash the fewest dishes by hand
  3. See who can load the dishwasher and wash any remaining dishes by hand in the least amount of time?
  4. Some option I haven't thought of
Help me out with this. I would like to resolve this issue that seems to follow my family everywhere. Help me, please!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pancakes with strawberry jam: Wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free

Cooking minus the most useful foods has been challenging, but it can be done. Today I made Brown Rice and Garbonzo Bean Pancakes. The Brown Rice has little flavor, which is nice, and it adds a grainy texture, like cornbread. The Garbanzo Bean flour keeps the pancakes moist and not too gritty. These pancakes are denser than a wheat- and egg-containing pancake, but I like them.

Brown Rice and Garbonzo Bean Pancakes

1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. garbanzo bean flour
1 tsp Hain's Lite Baking Powder (it's corn-free)
2 TBSP brown sugar
pinch salt
2 tsp En-R-G Egg Substitute

1 cup water (warmed. Don't use water from the hot tap to cook with. Take a look in your water heater and you'll understand why! Yucky bacteria. And hot water absorbs metals.)
1 TBSP canola oil


Mix dry ingredients and then add liquid ingredients. Wisk together. Pour batter onto a oiled, hot skillet in 1/4 cupfuls. When the top bubbles, flip. Serve warm, or freeze and toast later.

CERTO Strawberry Freezer Jelly

Prep Time:
30 min
Total Time:
24 hr 30 min
Makes:
About 4 (1-cup) containers or 64 servings, 1 Tbsp. each
2 cups prepared fruit (buy about 1 qt. fully ripe strawberries)
4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1 pouch CERTO Fruit Pectin
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

RINSE clean plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly.

STEM and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into large bowl. Stir in sugar. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally.

MIX pectin and lemon juice in small bowl. Add to strawberry mixture; stir 3 min. or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy. (A few sugar crystals may remain.)

FILL all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Squeaky Shoes Discount Code


If you are looking for squeaky shoes, see my previous post Squeaky Shoes--They're Cute, Encourage Walking, and Keep Kids from Sneaking Away. I've listed many brands and websites to purchase from.

The Squeaky Shoe Mom is offering a 15% discount on squeaky shoes with this coupon code 0987654321. Have fun shopping! I know I will.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sleepy Moms Struggling to Get Children to Sleep

It's so nice to hear that other mom's are going through the same thing. After a week of being consistent with scheduling and how we put Munchkin to bed (not leaving her to cry one night and then staying with her the next. We stay with her for now.), Munchkin is starting to return to her sweet, fairly easy to get to sleep, self.

My advice:

  1. Come up with a plan.
  2. Stick with it for 7-10 days.
  3. Continue to tweak the plan until both you and your child are happy with the results. For example, right now I stay with Munchkin until she falls asleep, but soon I'll be moving further and further away from her bed until she goes to sleep on her own. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. We've seen dramatic results in just a week. You will, too!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wii - Bringing Marriages and In-Laws Closer Together

After Munchkin was born, the amount of time Bryan and I spent having fun together without the baby nosedived. It was hard to get out of the house for dates. So, we bought a Nintendo Wii. It was a good investment. Not only do we have fun together racing cows, killing rabid rabbits with plungers and stretching our brains with Big Brain Academy, so do all our guests. From boxing to bowling to fishing, there is something for everyone. And there are plenty of games to choose from, so everyone will have fun. Even my mom, who took a year to learn email (now she's email queen and has moved on to Facebook).

Moral of the story: if you're having a baby, or in-laws visiting, buy a Wii. Everyone will be happii.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Introducing Art to Young Children



Baby Einstein teaches babies and toddlers about art, but can parents be as entertaining (or more so) and accomplish the same thing? Definitely, and even if you don't know anything about art today, you can help cultivate an interest and an understanding in both you and your child. Ginger Carlson gives several suggestions at Being Savvy.

Here are my favorite suggestions:

  1. Introduce your child to all kinds of art--it's easy to do at an online museum like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  2. Ask your child what they like about the piece of art.
  3. Ask your child how the piece makes them feel.
  4. Talk about textures. My two-year-old loves art projects with texture: rough, shiny, smooth, puffy, etc.
  5. Look at children's art books. I would love to have Can You Find it?: Search and Discover More than 150 Details in 19 Works of Art by Judith Cressy.
Now, I'm not planning on going out and teaching my two-year-old the names of all the famous paintings, but I will ask her different questions when we look at the art around us.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Maybe the Secret is that Mommy Whispers Too Much

Tonight, my husband took over putting our daughter to bed. She cried for me, but he told her I would only come after she had stayed in bed for awhile. After she was calmed down and in bed, I came in. As soon as he left, she started talking to me about her day. And I realized, I usually whisper something in response. So of course she's staying up later to talk. Tonight, I told her it was time to sleep and we would talk about it tomorrow at breakfast. She was good with that and five to ten minutes later, she was asleep. Yeah!

Now, let's see if mommy can keep her mouth shut tomorrow night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Orgasmic Birth? Great Marketing!

Ina May Gaskin is a remarkable woman. She started a commune and taught herself to be a midwife. She has gained international acclaim for her skills and knowledge. She followed her own quirky path and made an impact.


Now she has created a movie called "The Orgasmic Birth" to promote home births and midwifery. And why the title? Because she knows it a good way to market to today's mothers. Hey, you are reading this aren't you?

Gender Bias in Schools a Myth?

Jennifer Jordan's post on gender bias in schools intrigued me. Is there a gender bias in schools? When I was in jr. high and high school, the gender bias was toward males. They had the opportunity to be more than a cheerleader or a volleyball player. They could play soccer, softball and basketball, or wrestle. Females could choose to play the cheerleader, or do nothing, except during volleyball season.

The implied (and not always just implied) message that girls were inferior to boys bothered me even in elementary school. I started a petition to add girls basketball as high school sport when I was in 6th grade--I must have had an impact, they added the sport 6 years later when I was a senior.

So it's interesting to me when people say that schools now favor girls over boys. What do you think? Are girls given preferential treatment in your children's schools? Do teachers understand that there are uniqueness between the genders, but that both genders can learn and choose their own paths in life?

Articles on Gender Bias
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121124997995106091.html?mod=2_1559_topbox
http://www.american.edu/sadker/genderequity.htm
http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/genderbias.html

Monday, May 19, 2008

Are our pets toxic? Of course, they are! But do we care?


Mommy blogger Science-Mom recently posted findings from a study that shows pets often have toxic chemicals in their urine. Of course they do! They live in our toxin-filled houses (carpet, furniture, foam-based products, harsh cleaning products, etc.). They romp and play and do their business on our chemical-laden lawns (fertilizer, weed killer, ant killer, etc.)

So yes, they are as toxic as we have made them (and ourselves). Am I worried about having a dog in the house? No. I'm guessing my family tracks in more chemicals on the bottoms of our shoes than he does on his whole 11-lb body.

But, I do plan on switching to more natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia. It'll be better for my family...and my dog.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Baby Whisperer for Toddlers Solves Sleep Issues part 4

Tonight we finally got our good little sleeper back. We kept her up a little later and followed the new routine we've been using for the last several days. She crawled into bed. We covered her with a blanket "just like mommy and daddy," and I patted her back for several minutes. She never tried to get out of bed or make shadow puppets with her hands or feet. She never formed my fingers into letters in the ASL manual alphabet, and she never cried. Yeah! Is it the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers? Probably to some degree. Is it that she was really tired and had no other distractions? Again, probably. Was it the suggestion that she was a big girl like mom and dad? Could be. Which brings me to another point...why do parents get upset when their teens bend to peer pressure when the parent has been using peer pressure to bend the child to their will since infancy? Just a thought.

Wish us continued luck in getting our toddler to sleep at night.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Zaky: An Extra Hand--Literally


When my daughter was a tiny baby, she needed a hand on her back while she fell asleep. We would stay with her for what seemed like hours, but was probably only 10-20 minutes, leaning over her crib, and keeping pressure on her back. I dreamed of having an extra hand so that I could at least do yoga while I watched her fall asleep. Mommy Writer Blog has a similar issue, so it wasn't just me.

Awhile after my daughter (mostly) outgrew this stage, I discovered the Zaky. Is this the coolest thing ever invented? Or just plain weird and a SIDS hazard? I wasn't sure then, and I'm still not sure about the Zaky, now. Watch a video clip and tell me, what do you think of Zaky?


Friday, May 16, 2008

Chicken Artichoke Saute-Allergy-free recipe: Milk-free, wheat-free, soy-free, nut-free, egg-free

I created this recipe all by myself, and I love it. It's quick and easy, too. Best of all it's free of all my allergens, and probably your food allergies, too.

Chicken Artichoke Saute (Doesn't that sound better than hotdish?)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
5-7 chicken strips (non-breaded) or 2 cups cubed chicken
1 can artichoke hearts (drained)
1/2 cup frozen spinach
Oregano
Basil
Paprika
Sea Salt

Heat the olive oil and then fry the chicken until cooked and brown. Cut chicken strips into chunks. Add artichoke hearts and spinach. Stir and continue cooking. Add oregano, basil, paprika and sea salt to taste. When artichokes and spinach are hot, remove from heat and serve.

Mmmm....I wouldn't even know I was cooking an allergy-free meal.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Signing Baby, Fireese, is the Signing Time Star



Some of you have wondered about the identity of the little girl in the video section of my blog. Her name is Fireese. She's an amazing signer, speaker, and reader at 2.5 years old. My daughter loves to watch Fireese on YouTube, which is how I first met her mother, Laura. Laura is the owner of My Smart Hands, a company that teaches babies and their caregivers to baby sign language (ASL). And obviously, she's good at what she does. Fireese is the Signing Time Star for the month of May.

Laura has created several baby sign language videos on MindBites. The videos are only 1.99 each, so they are a very economical way to learn signs and get tips from an expert in the field (Laura teaches at colleges about the benefits of ASL for babies). My daughter loves signing, "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring," along with Fireese in the video, Children's Songs to Sign and Sing.

Mold Allergy? Mini dehumidifier works well in bathroom



I'm allergic to mold and the bathroom in our master bedroom does not have a window. It tends to get steamy and wet after we shower, and the fan just isn't enough to combat the humidity. I recently purchased the Eva-Dry Electric Petite Dehumidifier. It works great. We don't even leave it on all day. Generally, I leave it on for an hour or two after a shower. No more musty smell and no more mildew coating my shower curtain. And presumably, better health from sleeping in a mold-free environment.

Baby Whisperer for Toddlers Solves Sleep Problems, part 3

I'm so glad that Tracy Hogg wrote in the book Baby Whisperer for Toddlers that progress can be slow. She suggests looking for the small improvements instead of only looking at the final goal. My daughter did great going to bed and going to sleep at daycare yesterday. In addition to following the Baby Whisperer tips, we've added a reward for laying down and staying in bed. She gets a lollipop if she does well. Yesterday, she stayed on her cot at daycare. She would open her eyes and peek out at the teacher, but that was it. So, she got a lollipop. Great!

And last night, she did great going to bed following the new routine. Until she scratched her leg with her toe nail. She got upset and we couldn't get her settled down for another hour and a half! Frustrating!

But, if I look at her progress, I'm encouraged. So, if we cut her toenails (which I hate doing, I clipped skin once) maybe we'll have a great night tonight.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Baby Whisperer Solves Toddler Sleep Issues, part 2


Night two of the new plan went fairly well. It's not perfect yet, but we've cut out a half-hour of her yelling and screaming and wasting time asking for water and to go to the potty, etc.

The major struggle came when we asked her to get in bed to read her last book. She refused. Then she draped her torso over the bed. Next she tried sitting beside the bed with her feet under it. After a little while of this, I told her she had to the count of 3 to get in bed or we wouldn't read her book. She didn't get in bed, so we put the book away. She still wouldn't get in bed, so we gave her to the count of 3 before we would leave the room. Still, noncompliance. So we left after explaining that we would come back when she got in bed. (The Baby Whisperer probably would stay in the room and ignore the child until he did as requested, but, I think I would get really annoyed with my daughter if I did that.)

My daughter yelled and yelled. After a minute or two, my husband explained again using the same words I had. She kept on screaming. Then he used simpler terms and she stopped crying and went to bed. From there on out it was smooth sailing and she was asleep in minutes. And, when we prayed, she asked to pray for Dad and Mommy. She still likes us!

Moral of the lesson? There are several. Kids love coming up with ways to ALMOST do what you ask. And, make sure your directions are very clear.

If you are interested in connecting with other moms of toddlers who use the Baby Whisperer methods, visit the online forum.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Baby Whisperer for Toddlers Solves Sleep Problems


We recently moved our daughter to a toddler bed. She was too tall for her crib (for safety you should remove your child from the crib when the child is 35 inches tall or when the crib rail only reaches to 3/4 of their height. They are top heavy and can fall out and land on their heads. It happened to my friend's daughter--twice) and it was starting to get to warm to keep her in her sleepsack (which kept her from being able to climb out). Also, lifting a 30+ lb. kid everyday was getting hard on my back and her little legs were bruised from all the times I smacked her shins on the railing while lifting her out. So, while I think the advice to keep kids in the crib as long as possible is good, it wasn't safe to keep her in any longer.

The transition wasn't too bad, but this past week has been horrible getting her to stay in bed. She screamed and cried and stalled and giggled and drove us crazy for hours every night. And our daughter has never been that difficult--energetic, yes. Desperate for my quiet evenings back, I pulled out the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers. A quick review of the bedtime and napping section helped me sketch out a plan of action to turn my daughter into a wonderful sleeper again.

We were making the mistake of winding our daughter up when she was supposed to be calming down. It was an innocent mistake. She had started wetting her diaper about 15 minutes after falling asleep, so, I started taking her to the toilet right before putting her to bed. But, the excitement of the potty that sings when she pees and two proud parents cheering for her successes was disrupting our calm routine. So, tonight, I moved potty time after her bath and before book reading. And we read books to her while she was already in bed. The change wasn't completely smooth. She didn't like going to the potty before she read books. But, when it was time to sleep, she drifted away within minutes.

Thank you, Tracy Hogg, for leaving your legacy of parenting techniques in the Baby Whisperer books.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Not your mother's mom club - ParentDish

Adventure Mom's clubs get mom out of the house and away from the kids to do something adventurous--like kayaking. I think this is a great idea! I agree with the author that it is easy for mothers to lose a part of themselves when raising kids. This is a great way to get some of the sass back!

read more | digg story

Raising a Signing Baby: Two Year Old Finger Spells "Dora"

My two-year-old daughter adores Dora. She even has a Dora ball--try saying that three times fast, or even just once. "A Dora ball. Adora ball. Adorable."

Anyway, she loves going grocery shopping so she can see the shiny Mylar balloons with Dora on them. Of course, the free cookie probably doesn't hurt either.

In the checkout line today, my daughter pointed out a shiny Dora balloon. Making conversation, I asked, "Can you spell Dora?" My daughter promptly replied, "D" and finger spelled "D" using sign language. I had to help her with the rest of it. But she said and signed each letter and then proudly said, "Dora!" in spelling bee style.

Sign language continues to open up her mind to new concepts, and using sign language, she continues to show me just how smart babies are.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

How To Teach Babies Sign Language - By Rachel Coleman

My 15 month old daughter loves Signing Time, which is produced by Rachel's company Two Little Hands Productions. It's kind of a no brainer that when a baby can communicate with you, you're going to be a much more effective parent and caregiver. This article does a great job of explaining how to get started teacher your child sign language.

read more | digg story

Sign Language Helps Babies Get Early Start With Language

Eyewitness News 5's Tyler Suiters talks with Rachel Coleman (co-creator of Signing Time) about teaching babies American Sign Language.

read more | digg story

Friday, May 9, 2008

Baby Signing Time Teams Up with Hooked on Phonics



Hooked on Phonics and Baby Signing Time created a kit for parents who want to teach their infants to sign. The Hooked on Baby Learn to Sign Deluxe kit looks amazing! It contains:
2 special edition Baby Sign Time! DVDs
2 sets of flash cards
Audio CD with 8 songs from the DVDs
Good Night Baby audio CD
36-page parent's book
Milestone poster and stickers
Reference chart

This kit contains everything I needed and wanted as a new signing mom. DVDs, flash cards and a reference chart that all show the same signs! I always struggled to find a small, easy-to-read reference chart to send along with my child when she went to daycare or nursery. I had a chart, but many of the signs were not ASL and weren't the version we used. I would mark through the ones we didn't use or try to redraw the sign over the image. It got very complicated!

If you want to teach your baby sign language, get this kit. You'll have everything you need for a smooth start. But be careful--if you get hooked, Signing Time has almost 30 DVDs for sale!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sign Language Dictionary with Search Feature

I discovered a great new resource for those of us learning sign language. Daily ASL has a search feature that allows you to type in the word (or portion of the word) you are looking for. It then searches TEN online databases for signing translations. This is great if you have ever tried scrolling--yes scrolling!--through site after site looking for a work like FLAMINGO or ARMADILLO. When the word is included in multiple dictionaries, you can view several different signers and get a better understanding of how to sign the word or of regional variations.

I know you signing mommies will love this!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Mommy Philosophy

My number one rule in parenting is: "Never underestimate your child." Well, I mean number one after the obvious ones: love them, feed them, provide for them, etc.

Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn shaped my parenting attitude with their three books: Baby Signs, Baby Minds, and Baby Hearts. It is amazing what a baby is capable of! Because of them, I began exposing my daughter to the alphabet and spelling before she was one. Now, she can say and almost fingerspell the entire alphabet. And she's starting to spell words.

Tonight, I broke my number one rule after the obvious ones. My husband suggested we go strawberry picking this weekend. I thought that would be fun and said that my daughter would have fun picking the plants. My husband defended my daughter's abilities and insisted she could pick strawberries if we showed her how. And he's right. I'm sure she can.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yummy dessert for milk-free, wheat-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, everything-free diets

Finding a great dessert with a restrictive diet is hard. But here is one of my current favorites.

Bowl of frozen berries (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry mix)
Squirt of lime juice (to taste)
Sugar (to taste)

Toss everything in a dish-no measuring required. Microwave for 30 seconds. Just long enough to get a little juice, but not long enough to make the berries warm. Stir and eat. Or stir, wait until the berries are really juicy and eat. Either way, it's great. If you take your time eating, you can have the berries both ways!

Monday, May 5, 2008

HOW do you watch Signing Time?


My daughter and her friends learn to sign HOW with Rachel. If you don't have Series Two: Vol. 13 Who Has the Frog?, you need to get it. It's our new favorite and it's the first song my daughter ever sang to me.