Monday, January 30, 2012

Top Five Must-Have Baby Items

By Rachael --

Photos via Creative Commons
Walk into the baby department at any store and you’ll find aisles stretching to infinity filled with “must-have” baby items. There are a few basics most parents agree are necessary, like cribs and car seats. Beyond that, though, what is worth spending the money to have? It will vary from family to family – and all babies have their own preferences and quirks – but here is my own list of the top five most useful baby items.

1.      Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper bassinet. Hold on, those of you opposed to co-sleeping. Despite the name, this isn't the same as having your baby in bed with you. This bit of sleepy time heaven looks similar to a Pack and Play with a bassinet insert, and it attaches securely to the side of an adult bed. The baby sleeps in her own safe space next to mom. I love that I don’t have to get out of bed and feel my way down the hall to comfort my baby in the night, and it is bliss for breastfeeding moms who can prop themselves up in bed or lie down to nurse. I love this bassinet so much that when we traveled during the holidays and the baby slept in a borrowed Pack and Play a few feet from our bed, I was bummed that I actually had to step out of bed to care for her at night.

I love my baby carrier... and so does Abby
2.      Baby carrier or sling. It’s not easy to set a fussy baby down, but there are some things that just have to be done every so often, like washing dishes or doing your hair. The solution is to free up your hands by wearing your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends carrying your baby in one of these while shopping instead of perching the car seat on top of the cart. Besides, people seem to think it’s extra adorable when you wear your baby while shopping, and they will smile and compliment you like it’s show-and-tell day at the grocery store! A word of warning: it may be tempting to tote your baby around in a carrier all day, but young babies tend to fall asleep when they are carried like this. If you want to improve the chances of your baby sleeping more at night, go easy!

Beating Winter Blues

By Katie

I live in a climate that most would not consider very wintry. The temperature here is supposed to reach the low 70s by this afternoon and I'm looking out my window at the bright sunlight beaming across my backyard. Growing up in the Midwest, people often ask me if I miss the snow. Um, no. Not even a little bit. I enjoy it in small doses when I visit my family around the holidays but so far that lack of "four seasons" from living in Florida has not disturbed me much.

A sunny view helps but isn't always enough
Still, lately I have found myself with a case of the "winter blues." I remember having the same feelings when I lived up north and knew it would be months before I could walk to the coffee shop without my coat, hat, scarf, mittens and industrial strength snow boots. It feels sort of like a season of limbo -- with the holidays behind me and the excitement of spring and summer still a few months ahead.

In my life, the start of March launches a huge series of birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays (Mother's Day, Easter) that culminate in June. So the period of time between the traditional holiday season and the second round of family holidays tends to get me a down a bit. Add in the fact that I am gaining weight weekly, need a haircut desperately and am sort of just "waiting" to hear back on several writing opportunities and I feel rather blah lately.

So today I spent a few bucks at CVS on Aveeno Tinted Moisturizer and some new face wash. Later this week, I plan to get a haircut -- even if it is just a quick trim that costs me $20 or less.I want to clean out a few cupboards in my kitchen as well and start to get better organized for my little girl due in May. The combination seems just right for beating the winter blues, based on my personality.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mommy 101: How To Get Things For Free

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Rachael

This week, I've given readers some tips on how to live on one income and how to take advantage of the secondhand market. Those tips are great for surviving and having the necessities for your household. But let's say you’re looking for some entertainment and a few ways to save even more money. Look no further.

Here are 10 ways to get things for free.

Some free fun at the Sachs Butterfly House
1.      Use your library. It’s okay to buy new books once in a while, but resist the urge unless it’s a book you’ll really treasure. Instead, check out books from your library, which your tax dollars already support. We also check out movies and music, and we go to weekly story times and other special events. In the past year, we’ve seen a performance by an Irish dancing school, met live birds like hawks and owls from a local bird sanctuary, decorated pumpkins, and met the mascot of the St. Louis Blues hockey team. All for free!

2.      Find out if local attractions offer free – or reduced – admission on certain days. We have it particularly good in St. Louis where our zoo is always free, and the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House offer free admission to county residents on specific days of the week or month.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thursday Three: Indulgences You Can Make Yourself

By Maddie

Everyone loves to spoil themself from time to time. There's no harm in that. But if you feel like spoiling yourself a little more than your wallet will allow, there are some creative ways to make it happen. Here are three of my favorite splurges and the ways that I have found to make them on my own at home:

1. My favorite Starbucks breakfast
Chai latte via
My personal favorite Starbucks breakfast is a low-fat Chai latte and a bowl of their Perfect Oatmeal. It costs $6.39 to buy. I have definitely gone through spurts where I stop there 3 or 4 times a week and buy breakfast! The past few weeks, I have tried re-creating the whole breakfast at home. A box of pre-sweetened Chai (I use Tazo brand and so does Starbucks!) concentrate and 1% milk make a pretty darn good replica of a Chai latte. It would be even cheaper to buy the tea bags and make it at home, but I am willing to spend a dollar or two more to make it more like the real thing, and thus make myself more likely to enjoy my own. The oatmeal is also super easy to replicate. A canister of quick oats, some brown sugar and a bag of raisin/dried cranberry mix is just right.

Wordless Wednesday: A Few Missing Keys

Photo courtesy of Sh*t My Kids Ruined

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mommy 101: Buying Secondhand

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Rachael

On Monday, I talked about ways to save money and get by on one income.

So let's say that you’ve made cuts to your budget. Maybe you’re eating more meals prepared at home, driving an older car, and couponing like a mad woman, but the money is still really tight. You should consider getting things that you need secondhand.

Here are six ways to take advantage of the secondhand market:

Secondhand Slide Love
1.      Buy things you need at garage sales. I get almost all my daughters’ clothing from garage and yard sales. They’re also great places to find inexpensive toys, and if you’re sneaky about it, you can buy nice toys and save them for birthdays and Christmas. Other good finds we’ve gotten from garage sales include a toddler bed, television antenna, small television for our kitchen, and speakers for our home theater system.

2.      Sell things you don’t need at your own garage sale. Be on the lookout for unused or unneeded items all year. As you come across an item in your home, put it in a box designated for your garage sale. At the end of the year – maybe sooner – you’ll have lots of things to sell. You’ll clear clutter out of your home and make a little money in the process. Get together with friends and pool your stuff so your sale will be larger and appeal to more buyers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where Does Your Extra Cash Go?

Families are usually pretty strapped for cash. It seems that all of the money that comes in goes right back out to pay for things like, oh I don't know, food? Shelter? Gas?

But there are times when every family finds a little pocket of extra cash. Maybe it comes in the form of a gift or a tax return. Or maybe you just discover that somehow you have gotten ahead for the month. What does your family do with that cash?

Take our weekly poll (in the right hand column) and tell us what your family does with that elusive extra buck.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mommy 101: Getting By On One Income

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Rachael

Ever wish you could quit your job and stay home with your young children? Feel like you can’t afford it? Some families truly do need both incomes, but with a little creative budgeting, many families may find they really can pull off living on one income.

Here are 10 things that our family has done to get by on just one income so I can be at home with our daughters. Hopefully these ideas will help you as well.

1.      Track your budget. Create a spreadsheet and keep track of every dollar spent, or use a site like It can be helpful to see just where all of your money is going, and it may help you spot ways to cut back. Did you really spend that much on lattes last month?

2.      Eat meals prepared at home. This is one of the most obvious ways to save. Scour websites like for new recipes to try. We like to try replicating our favorite dishes from restaurants. A Google search will help you track down recipes for everything from Red Lobster’s stuffed mushrooms to Chevy’s salsa. You can also do themed nights. Taco Tuesday, anyone? Or how about Meatless Monday? In our house, Sunday is frozen pizza night and we enjoy soda as a treat.

3.      Entertain friends in your home instead of going out. This goes along with eating meals prepared at home. We take turns playing host with our close friends. When you have young kids, you may not want to spend an evening corralling them at a restaurant anyway. It’s less stressful to let them play with all the toys at their friends’ house while the grownups visit. Also, if you like cooking or have a great go-to recipe, having friends over is the perfect way to showcase your culinary skills.

Memoir Monday: Double Confirmation

** Memoir Monday is a weekly series that features pieces of Katie's memoir-in-progress that covers her first pregnancy. Click here to see past entries. **

By Katie

Once back in the exam room, a male nurse with broken English entered. Though he was required to write down the answers to my family kidney disease questions, he looked up and smiled a lot. The combination of language struggle and kind eyes endeared me.

For the first time since seeing the plus sign that morning, I began to breathe. Deep breaths in conjunction with shoulder rolls and eye closing. After an especially long eyes-shut episode, I opened them to find the nurse standing next to the exam table. Pen clutched between his knuckles, he rested his hand on top of mine.

“It wheel be oh kay Cat-ee. I am right here.”

I nodded vigorously. He returned to his short green metal stool and asked me a few questions about sharing needles and my life history of HIV testing.

“And vii are you coming to see Medicahl Associahhts today?”

“I think I’m pregnant.”

There. You said it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mommy 101: Working From Home (Part II)

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Katie

Finding work on has worked for me
Last week I gave a few tips on how to be efficient and maintain your sanity while working from home. Those tips were general and hopefully universal in nature. This week, I'd like to take a look at some specifics of working from home and how to make money.

Keep in mind that this post is based solely on my experiences and is geared toward people that write. Some of the tips can be applied in other industries, of course. This post is more about going out and finding the work on your own and being paid as a contractor (generally no health benefits, paid time off, etc.), as opposed to working full time for a company that just happens to let you work from your home office from time to time.

So let's get started. If you have more questions about this post, email them to me at I may do a follow up post based on questions that I receive.

1. Create profiles on several online websites that cater to contractors. The website that has worked the best for me is Guru. You can create a free profile that includes things like your resume and work samples. Employers who want to hire contractors for short term or long term projects can peruse profiles in particular subject areas, like creative writing, copy editing or administrative assisting. You are also alloted a certain number of "bids" per month that you can use to bid on projects that employers post. If you consider yourself a writer but also want to try your hand at being a virtual assistant (return emails, make phone calls for an employer), you can create two separate profiles in those two subject areas. You can create as many profiles as you like for free.

Single During The Holidays -- An Adjustment

By Melissa

My Christmas companion
As the holidays arrived, I was reminded how different my life is than most of my friends.  I am straddling two different worlds, one that requires caring for a 2 year old mostly on my own and one that tempts me to go out and enjoy my limited free time.  Most of my friends are married and have young kids, which is great for those random Tuesday afternoons in the summer when we meet up at the beach but it is a little difficult when it is family time and I am single with a rambunctious toddler.  I don’t really fit in with the ideal family crowd as I am the only one running after her to make sure she doesn’t grab a glass picture frame or eat food that will require me to use the epi pen. I also do not fit in with the swinging singles since 7AM comes quickly!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does Staying At Home With Your Kids "Suck"?

By Katie

Being a mother is one of the hardest "jobs" on earth. Not many people would dispute that. It is not hard to love your children. It is not hard to become a mother (in cases where fertility is not an issue). It is hard to find the energy needed to make it through even the most routine days as a mom (forget the days when the car is on the fritz and stomach flu strikes all of your pets at once).

My little worker bees
Working moms, stay-at-home moms... whatever way you slice it, mothering is serious business. I have a part time job, and another part time job, and fit in some work from home in there too. I'm not sure if everyone would put me in the "stay-at-home mom" category.

I think I qualify though. A few days per week, my husband packs his lunch and gym clothes and leaves me with three small children for about twelve hours straight. I cook three meals (plus whip up endless snacks), read books, clean up constantly, put them down for naptimes, pick up a preschooler at the end of his day (two younger sisters in tow) and yell "We do NOT slam doors!" about 35 times per day, every day. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry. On those days, I am a full-fledged, stay-at-home mom.

Wordless Wednesday: Watching Sis

Submitted by Katie

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Really Is In A Name? Take Our Poll.

By Katie

What's in a name?

Do you know the meaning and significance of your own? According to family lore, my name was supposed to be Adam Joseph. I was supposed to be a boy, you see. When it was determined that I was not in fact a boy (post birth), my parents were left to scramble for a proper girl's name. My dad suggested Vanessa. Vanessa Powalski. My poor mother was exhausted, sweaty, hot and in a lot of pain from recently delivering her first child. She knew that I was not Vanessa material. Suddenly, my mom remembered my dad's favorite aunt -- Aunt Kate. She suggested Katie and my dad was so moved by the family connection that he severed his emotional connection to Vanessa. Katie Powalski went home with her parents and two years later, Adam Joseph was born.

In this, my second pregnancy, I have spent a decent amount of energy trying to find a good name for my little girl. Like most parents, I want something that is different but not so different that it looks like I spent nine months trying to be difficult or overly witty about a name.

Memoir Monday: A Bad Lifetime Movie, Starring Me

** Memoir Monday is a weekly series that features pieces of my memoir-in-progress that covers Katie's first pregnancy. Click here to see past entries. **

If workplace gossip spreads like a wildfire, then restaurant workplace gossip reacts like a firecracker thrown into a dry clearing in a Florida swamp in the middle of a July drought -- doused with accelerator. Fast, loud, explosive gossip that rages long after the firecracker’s impact.

I awoke from my two-hour nap after the pregnancy revealing appointment to find 23 text messages. A few were sensitive “Call me if you need me” texts. Some were from numbers I didn’t even have saved in my address book. An especially memorable text came from a young busboy who liked energy drinks to a fault.

“Holy s&^#! You’re f----ed !!!!!!”

Thanks Red Bull Man. Thanks a whole lot.

I decided to ignore all the texts for the time being. There would be time to respond in person. About 36 weeks or so. I wondered if I would even keep my job at the restaurant. I had signed on full-time at the newspaper as a news assistant but had kept a few restaurant shifts just to pass the time, make friends and earn some extra cash.

Crap. The newspaper.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mommy 101: Working From Home (Part I)

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Katie

Working from home is no trip to the beach, but "break time" can be
Love your job or hate it, you have probably thought about the possibility of working from home at one time or another. If your job does not lend itself to working from home, maybe you have researched "work from home" jobs. I work from home and have done it in some capacity for the past four years. I want to help others who are considering it to succeed.

Today I write about some simple things that you need to know when setting up a home office. Next Friday I will post a second part to this post that includes more specifics about the places that you can look for work to do from home and where I have had the most success.

Find Your Spot. The idea of working from your laptop on the couch may seem like a novel one, but that's not going to cut it if you really expect to get some work done. Do yourself a favor and set up a workspace. If you have a spot for a desk, great. If you have a dining room table that you do not use much or another place that can be your designated work space, use it. Do I sit on my couch or bed to do work? Yes, of course I do. I get more done when I'm in my work zone, though.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday Three: Ways Adults Should Be Like Two Year Olds

By Katie

I have two little women in the house under the age of four. Some would say that I have a "terrible two" and a "terrible-er three" to contend with on a regular basis.
"Terrible Twos" photo via
While I resent the term "terrible" in regards to my children, I can see where the term originates. Children of this age tend to be stubborn, opinionated and unafraid to let you know how they really feel. This can range from inconvenient to downright embarrassing depending where you are when a meltdown takes place and the severity of it. If you have children this age or ever have, I do not really need to go into more detail here.

For all of the terrib... um .... difficult times, children of this age group have some pretty admirable traits too. In fact some of the characteristics are one in the same if you look at them from different perspectives. Listening to my little girls interact with each other this morning, I realized that there are a few traits that I could use a little more of in my own life too. Here are a few ways we could all use a little more "terrible" toddler in our adult lives.

Kids Tell You What They Want. Kids not only tell you what they want, they downright demand it. No amount of distraction can sway a young one from repeating something that they want over and over again. And then again, like two minutes later. This can be frustrating for parents and caregivers but kids are actually demonstrating something that adults tend to lack: determination. **my two-year-old stepdaughter is repeatedly crying "Snoopy Book!" from her bed because I just took it away so she would fall asleep** The truth is that most adults back down more than they really should. If we want something, we should learn to have a little bit more determination and keep at it until we have it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Holiday Overboard: A Follow Up

By Maddie

I know it's a bit late but the end of my holiday season was hectic!

Rejected Mini Cooper, via Target
As I admitted before, I purchased way, way too much stuff for my 3 year old for Christmas. Amazon sucked me in. So did Target. And Toys R Us.

So I took to heart a comment from a reader, and decided it was a great idea to donate some of the things I purchased. I packed up a good size box of play food, art supplies, toy cars and several other things. My husband and I agreed that we would like to donate to a local cause, so we chose the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. I had to work on the day my contact requested we drop the toys off, so my husband very nicely drove it over for me. He was in total agreement that I had purchased too much, and also agreed that it was not worth the time/hassle to ship everything back. I think it made us both feel really good to give even just a few things to kids who needed them way, way more than ours.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Night Nurses For Newborns: Would You Do It If You Could?

By Rachael

They say money can’t buy happiness, but did you know that money can buy you a good night’s sleep when you have a newborn in the house? That sounds like an awful lot of happiness to me.

No night nurse for my little one
Before I gave birth to my second daughter this past fall, I mentally prepared myself for the coming long, sleepless nights. It’s just part of having a baby. Like all middle class folks, I assumed I simply had to suck it up and deal with the sleep deprivation.

Then some older friends of mine became grandparents of triplets, and I learned about night nurses. Parents can hire a night nurse to come to their home and care for the baby at night. Mom sleeps peacefully in her bed and the nurse brings the baby in for feedings if she’s breastfeeding. If mom bottle-feeds, she doesn’t even need to be awakened. The night nurse handles all diaper changes and comforts the baby between feedings, and she sleeps in the nursery or a nearby spare bedroom.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How Close To Homeless Are All Of Us?

My daughter in 2009; photo by Jacob Langston

By Katie
In a heart-wrenching tale of the current state of the economy and its effect on families, the Department of Children and Family services in the greater Orlando area released a "call to action" statement on Friday about the shockingly high number of homeless children in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. It is predicted that 10,000 children alone will be classifed as "homeless" by the summer of 2012 -- up a whopping 79 percent since 2009.

If you do not live in Central Florida, you may be saying, "Orlando? Isn't that where Disney World is? The happiest place on earth?" Well, your geography is spot on. The irony is that one of the single largest employers in the state offers most of its employees low paying positions that do not accurately reflect the cost of living. It is impossible to support a family on one or even two average Disney theme-park salaries.

It is not all Disney's fault, of course. It is not the fault of any one business, person or place. According to a story by my friend Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel, the very organizations designed to prevent families from winding up with no home are out of money. With no resources, the problem is snowballing; the end result, an estimated 10,000 children with no place to call "home" by the end of this school year.

How close are any of us, at any given moment, to homelessness?

One pink slip? One car accident that requires recovery time past the disability pay that our job offers? One missed paycheck?

Who would you call if you found your family with no roof over its head?

The "homeless" of 2012 do not fit the stereotypical mold that the rest of us would like to believe they do. They are not all dirty, or drug addicts, or "lazy" people who just need to find a job. For many of the homeless, finding a job -- any job -- would be welcome. These are working class folks, middle class families, who have been hit hard by layoffs, bad home loans and other tough life circumstances.

The faces of these families are not angry or broken. They are hopeful -- a sign that they plan to improve life for their children just as soon as they find a foothold. These faces could just as easily be your family. The homeless families that I read about in articles by Kate and others could be me and my family. And almost were...

Let me explain.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Top Ten Nutrition Tips For Parents

A guest post by Carol Cottrill, C.N.C.

Childhood obesity is on the rise. The Office of the Surgeon General says that the number of overweight teens has nearly tripled in the past 2 decades. And that extra weight comes with some serious consequences, like an increase in Type 2 diabetes in children, and high blood pressure. Is there anything we can do to reverse the destructive course we currently find ourselves on?

Parents can cultivate healthy values towards food, but it begins by setting a good example at home. I have compiled a list of nutrition tips for parents to implement that will set your children on the right path from an early age.

Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Parents

● Set a positive example—your children learn from you. Shop together, try new foods and recipes together, and above all else, eat together.

● Offer a variety of foods, and allow your children to develop a taste for new and different foods.

● Start with small portions. A proper child’s portion is ¼ to ½ of the size of an adult portion.

Let Kids Talk Back (Researchers Say)

By Katie

At your wit's end with the endless string of arguments from your teen? Chores, friends, grades... you name it, there is an argument there waiting to happen.

Photo via
I don't have teens. But I have toddlers and they are like mini-teens. Even when there is absolutely no reason to disagree with me or complain, they do. All three of them do. So I found a recent study to be very relevant to me, even though I'm about a decade away from the worst of teen behavior in my home.

Researchers from the University of Virginia published the results of a study that took several years to complete in the journal Child Development. In it, the researchers found that teenagers who "talked back" or argued often with their parents actually fared better in life outside the home. These kids were more likely to succeed in school, say "no" to peer presssure and deal with social situations later in life with much more confidence.

Now this study is not meant to tell parents to let teens screaming fests win out. Ever. The expert psychiatrists associated with the study say that parents should allow some room for discussion and debate though, especially when it comes to issues of teens attempting to earn some independence from their parents.

Mommy 101: Managing Stress During Pregnancy

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Tricia

By nature I am a worrywart and an obsessive planner. So you can imagine how well I handled the news when, at seven months pregnant, I found out that I had cancer. No words can describe the panic and fear. It was the only time in my life that I ever truly understood the phrase “my blood ran cold.” Mine continuously did for about 24-hours straight. After I cried and panicked and went through multiple sleepless nights I started to have even more worries about what all the stress was doing to baby.  I knew I had to get my fear and emotions under control in an extremely stressful situation.

These are a few things that got me through that anxiety-filled time. I hope that they can help some other moms facing stressful situations during pregnancy.

Prenatal Yoga, via
Quiet time and meditation. I had never meditated in my life before my diagnosis. I’ve always had bouts of insomnia and I’ve found that meditation helps with that also. It doesn’t have to be formal meditation with tapes and chants (who has time for that?) but if you can take twenty minutes of silent time and really concentrate on your breathing, it’s amazing how clear your thinking can become. I downloaded a couple of guided meditations from iTunes and found them to be very simple and helpful.

Turn off the negative. Shut down all the bad stuff. Don’t watch the news or read a newspaper for a few days. I hate the feeling of being out of the loop but sometimes it’s best to just block the world out if there’s nothing positive coming back from it. If anything major happens in the world you will find out. Sometimes mother and baby just need time to be at peace.  Asking a few friends for an uplifting book recommendation is a great way to find something that you may not think of on your own. A couple friend’s recommendations turned out to be the best books I ever read.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thursday Three: Ways To Keep Resolutions

Today marks five days into the New Year. If you are not a parent, you may still be catching up on your sleep after the festivities of New Year's Eve. If you are a parent, you are probably also trying to catch up on your sleep from, well, the glorious time known as the holiday season.

Parents and non-parents alike share a commonality this time of year: making resolutions. Studies show that nearly 95 percent of New Year's resolutions are long forgotten by the end of the month of January. The other five percent have a pretty slim chance of sticking around in the months that follow. Resolutions are made with so much heart, so many good intentions. So why are they so tough to keep up?

Photo via
Life gets in the way. Work schedule gets hectic. Kids get a vicious case of the stomach flu one week into your monster workout routine plan. You get the vicious virus the following week. Your husband is called away for work and you have no time to get outside and do your forty-five minute walks that you promised yourself on December 31 would happen every single day of 2012. A lot of legit things seem to get in our way on the road to resolution-keeping. The best that you can do is to try to pick up where you left off and move forward. Missing one day should not mean waiting until December 31 to make the resolution to try again.

Here are three easy ways to improve the chances that your resolutions will stick this year:

Tell someone your resolutions. By saying your goals out loud, you are now accountable to someone other than yourself. Insist that the listener keep you on task and do not ignore their texts asking how it is going so far.

Wordless Wednesday: Winter Butterfly

Submitted by Maddie

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Seven Real Signs That You Are Pregnant

By Katie

Since finding out that I am pregnant, I've signed up for a few weekly emails and visited a few websites that inform me of the way that I should be feeling, or might be feeling, or should expect to be feeling. Most of the time I just get a horoscope-type feeling about the things that these emails and sites tell me; in other words, I feel like the information does pertain to me but in a very vague, glossed over way.

Forget those other lists.
My little banana baby

Here are seven sure signs that you are pregnant...

1. You read the back of your bottle of vitamins and immediately pull out your notepad that has name ideas and start copying down prenatal ingredients.

2. Though you are at the height of gassiness for your entire lifetime, the mere sound or smell of someone else's gas (or even the kind that you put in your car) makes you ill. Strangely, the smell of toast has the same effect.

Mommy 101: Ways To Successfully Combine Your Family

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each  mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Katie

Neighborhood stroll in our lil' red wagon
When my husband and I got married in May, we had four children in the wedding party. Three of those kids we call our own, and one is my niece. This means that the day after the blessed affair we were already busy at work, "combining" our families, as they say. Our kids are young, which certainly helps our situation. They like each other a lot, which also helps. Still, the instant family thing proved to be a little overwhelming at first for everyone, including (mainly) me. There are still days that it feels like we have not yet meshed/blended/combined successfully. So the combining of our families is a work in progress and likely will be for awhile.

I have learned a few things, however, in these months about families where there are several parents involved in the parenting and a few different homes in the mix. I wish someone had said these things to me. So, for what it is worth, I am saying them to you.

Ways to successfully combine your kids:

1. Avoid divisive speech. Choose your words carefully and make sure that your vocabulary is full of unified terms. For example, if you are talking to your husband about your stepson, do not say "your son did this." Instead, use first names. In my case, it does not make sense for me say "our son," or "our daughter" when I talk about my stepchildren. There are plenty of times when the phrases "our kids," "our home," or "our family" do make perfect sense and I try to implement them whenever I see an opportunity. Even if you do not use words that divide purposefully, the kids are listening. You can explain how important family is and what the new shape of yours means as much as you want. They will learn what it is really about by watching and listening to you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Few Things I Know About Christmas, New Year's And Two Year Olds

By Melissa

In true reality TV junkie style, I thought I would kick off the New Year paying homage to Bravo TV's Andy Cohen and write "Here's What I Know." I am definitely not an expert at anything, especially motherhood, dating and keeping it all together so I figured I would just write about what I DO know.

Here is what I know this week (Christmas edition):
Fact: 2 year olds like packaging as much as toys
I know...

1. ...2 year olds just like a few presents at a time and mostly just the boxes. Lindsay was spoiled by all of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends in addition to the gifts from her dad and myself. She has been playing with the presents she opened while walking around Santa's face and Toy Story wrapped rectangles. I am sure she will open the rest by the summer!
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