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Best Gadgets for Mom

Uncategorized By August 10, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

I love gadgets, but I admit that they’re intimidating sometimes. The purpose of a great gadget is to be easy to use and to make your life simpler and more streamlined. Modern mums have to be tech-friendly to a certain degree, especially hip mums like us, right? Besides the essentials (smartphone or PDA, iPod/MP3 player, laptop or tablet computer), check out these mom-centric gadgets that will make your life a lot easier…plus they’re a lot of fun!

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The 50 Best iPad Apps for Kids and Moms

Uncategorized By August 10, 2011 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

The iPad has expanded our horizons; it’s fun for everyone, from little kids to older adults, great for reading, playing, working and shopping. Here are 50 great apps for kids and moms, organized by who loves them and what they’re good for!

Kid Apps

Educational

Critteroos By rights, this could be under fun and games, too, but it’s so very educational! Mix and match the various parts of animals to find the “right” combinations, or make hilarious new combos (imagine an emu and a groundhog!).

Cutie Match This is for kids age 5-12, and it is a memory-boosting game that is just so much fun to play, even for older and younger ages!

World of Safari 123 This interactive math game combines learning with animals, always a winning formula when it comes to kids.

Zoo for Kids Little guys can build their own 26-animal zoo in this educational app, coloring them, hearing their noises, and sharing them with friends.

Smarty: Tic-Tac-Toe 1.0 Help your kids learn how to count better and tell time better with this fun tic-tac-toe app.

Fun and Games

Toca Boca The games put out by this company are unbearably cute and funny. The Salon game is hilarious, the Robot Builder game is fun. Paint butterfly wings, be a doctor, the list goes on. These are colorful and irreverent games that even youngsters (2 and up) will love.

HeyHey Colors There are lots of coloring apps out there, but this one is really fascinating and stimulating. Featuring interactive art by the street artist, Blue the Warrior, your child (even young ‘uns) can color, draw and doodle in new and interesting ways!

Doodle Grub This game is similar to “Snake”, where a variety of bugs can be chosen to maneuver around, chasing after apples to eat. Varied and stimulating, and just plain fun.

Virtuoso Piano Free 2HD If you want your kids to learn piano basics but don’t have the space or budget for a real piano, try this app! They will learn the basics of music reading, chords, fingering, and more…and you can plug in the headphones!

iWriteWords This game is technically educational, but it’s so fun I put it in the games category. This will help kids to perfect their handwriting in an enjoyable and stimulating way!

Special Needs Kids

ArtikPiks This flashcard and matching game app is ideal for children with speech sound delay issues

Grace App This app is not just for kids. It is an interface app that non-verbal children and adults can use to interact with the speaking individuals in their lives and communicate their wishes and thoughts. The app uses photos, drawings and has writing and verbal functions, too.

In My Dreams For hearing and non-hearing children alike, this useful and entertaining app helps learn the basics and more advanced principles of sign language.

See.Touch. Learn. Especially made for children with autism and other special needs in mind, this interactive and attractive app helps to track the child’s responses to stimuli, much as picture cards used to.

iPad Apps for the Learning Disabled Here is a link to several other apps for those with learning disabilities, ranked and organized by Match-a-College, an organization that supports kids and adults.

Books

Papa’s Boy This amazing eBook is simply beautiful , with language that doesn’t talk down to a younger child. The animation is fantastic. About a family of mice that live in the leg of a piano, Papa’s Boy isn’t to be missed.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore Written and animated by William Joyce, who once worked for Pixar, this eBook is interactive and visually stunning.

Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime This interactive book of the most beloved nursery rhymes is ideal for bedtime and funtime.

The Penelope Rose A richly animated and engaging new fairy tale, it’s about a fairy in a mythical forest. Full of beautiful music, animation and entertaining games, even your little boys will love it!

The Cat in the Hat What list of kids’ books would be complete without a Dr. Seuss book? This can be read aloud, will auto-play, and can be read by the child. Check out all the Dr. Seuss classics besides this most well-known example!

Free Stuff

Parachute Panic HD Lite This ultra-cute free app looks like flip-book animation drawn out on graph paper, but it is super fun. Rescue your parachutist from the jaws of sharks and other perils!

UConnect Lite An addictive and challenging puzzle game

Cut the Rope HD Lite A mysterious package arrives, with a cute little monster inside, and all it wants is candy! This game is so much fun, and it’s free!

Miss Spider’s Tea Party From the very popular Discovery Kids show, here is a sweet, interactive game with great animation for the little ones who love Miss Spider.

Talking Roby the Robot for iPad Roby the Robot is a customizable robot that you can program to speak words and phrases you type or say in his cute, mechanical voice. Oh, and he dances hip-hop, too!

Mom Apps

Time Management

Intuition: Mom’s Personal Assistant Organize your life with this personal assistant app. Make your to-do lists, shopping lists, organize your calendar, find coupons, and do much more, all in a very colorful and feminine, easy-to-use interface!

Siri Assistant. This virtual assistant can make your life much easier. It works through voice recognition software, so you can tell it to remind you to give to dog his medicine, or what is the best place to get fried chicken in the neighborhood, or call a taxi!

Parenting

Sit or Squat: Bathroom Finder Everyone’s been there: road trip, someone’s gotta go. This handy app locates the nearest bathroom location—including photos, reviews, etc. It is completely dependent on user submissions so may be lacking in some areas, but it’s well worth the free price!

Lie Detector OK, this should be in entertainment. But it is very useful for parenting: this free app tests the stress levels in a person’s voice, potentially indicating that they’re lying. Whether it works or not at truly predicting the truth is debatable,  but it could be very useful for coaxing the truth out of your kids!

OurKids Keep track of all those important family events and moment with this versatile app. Record milestones, vacations, holidays, etc., using photos, text, video and audio—even GPS data! Keyword searchable and chronologically ordered, easy to use.

Mom Maps What mom hasn’t said to herself, what do I do with these kids today? Mom Maps is a free app that helps find fun stuff to do, wherever you happen to be, in the local area.

Craft Finder This free app is put out by Disney, and is indispensible for finding great, fun crafts to do at home with your kids.

iReward Chart In lieu of wall charts and stickers, this app allows you to set up chore/reward charts for your kids on your iPad, then keep track of them. It suggests tasks and rewards, and much more. Customizable, easy to use, and motivates kids to do their stuff and set and follow through on goals.

Finances

Pageonce Bills In order to keep your finances in order, use this free app to upload bills and get statements and reminders on when they’re due, plus bill histories, summaries of where all your money is going, and more.

Health

Period Tracker! Lite Women love this app because it helps them remember and predict their monthly cycle, whether for their periods or for ovulation and fertile times. This cute, lightweight, free app can be upgraded for a chartable version.

SMART-ICE4Family Pray you never need this app, but In Case of Emergency, it’s there! It stores all the vital info about your family members (medical conditions, allergies, contact information, etc.), even record an audio message that can play when the app is opened by emergency responders. You can dial 911 from it, and it will sound an alarm periodically when activated, just in case you can’t be found. Morbid, but very useful!

LoseIt! This great app with help you lose weight realistically. Set goals, log in successes and failures, exercise sessions, calories and foods, etc. It will even tell you if your goal is unrealistic or if you’re being too hard on yourself—or too soft!

Merck Manual Although $9.99 is on the expensive side for an app, this is definitely worth it for your typical worrisome moms. This hefty, comprehensive app remembers searches and compiles lists for you, but more than anything it lets you check symptoms and know when something is wrong.

Entertainment

Words with Friends This game is similar to Scrabble, but you play it via iPhone or iPad, with your chosen opponent receiving a push notice when it’s their turn to respond. It can stretch on for days!

How to Cook Everything Mobile I put this in Entertainment because I love to cook, but it’s also super handy. This app version of the actual cookbook has 2000 recipes, including personal picks from Mark Bittman, handy tips and hints, shopping lists, and all kinds of fun and useful info.

Angry Birds This mobile version of this wildly popular game needs no explanation. It’s simply addictive fun!

Crosswords Anyone who loves crossword puzzles will adore this app, which pulls puzzles from newspapers all over the country, including the New York Times, Chicago Times and even The Onion!

Netflix This is the mobile version of the internet service, which is indispensible!

OverDrive Media Console—Library eBooks and Audiobooks For my fellow bibliophiles, this app lets you tap into the digital catalogs of libraries in your area, so you can read and listen to the bestsellers or your faves.

Shopping

Grocery IQ Use GroceryIQ to create interactive shopping lists by scanning in bar codes from items in your pantry, then check them off as you go. It also searches for coupons, creates menu plans and more.

Target for iPad Say it right: “Tar-zhay!” This awesome all-in-one store is now fully accessible on your iPad, so get all your shopping done, make shopping lists, get updates on sales and specials, and locate stores in your area. Super handy.

Windowshop by Amazon Amazon has everything you could ever possibly need from the net, and it’s all here on Windowshop, but in manageable, customizable, bite-size chunks perfect for window-shopping.

Unique

Flipboard This organizes the highlights from your social networks into a single, comprehensive “magazine” for others to follow instead of multiple streams. Fully customizable.

Notebooks for iPad Use this app to doodle, make lists, write on the go, and more.

Home Routines This will keep you organized and efficient around the house, from bills to chores to kid stuff.

 

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How Do I Wean my Toddler off of the Pacifier?

Uncategorized By August 9, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Most parents must wage the “great battle of the binky” eventually, although many of them dread the prospect. Pacifier use is something that is a lot like politics: everyone has an opinion, but not everyone shares it. Some parents refuse to give their baby a pacifier. Others offer the pacifier to their baby as soon as they can. Yet others, in despair of ever sleeping again, try to get their child to use a pacifier, and it does not work for some reason, because the baby won’t take it. For those parents whose children grabbed onto their pacy and soon found it to be as indispensible as their diaper or their bottle, there is hope. That battle can be won—it just takes some patience, ingenuity and, sometimes, some subterfuge.

Pacifiers aren’t “evil,” despite what the anti-binky purists say. Most kids will leave their pacifier behind on their own after a while, and those kids that use them don’t have long-term effects from having used them for a long time. Sure, there are some studies which link slightly delayed speech or self-soothing habits to pacifier use, but it isn’t as if the child were bungee jumping or swimming with sharks. However, when your child has pitched a major tantrum in a very public place because they left their binky at home, you will want to end that dependency, as much for your sanity as theirs. Here are some tactics that have had success. Remember that every child is different, so there is no “magic bullet” to this pesky problem.

1.     Go cold turkey. This option requires some serious mental and emotional fortitude on the parent’s part, because it can be as traumatic to them as it is to the child. This tactic works best on children with a milder temperament who aren’t as fixated on their pacifier. Some parents “lose” it, others simply take it away and deal with the consequences. Be prepared for some hard-core crying, but since children of this age group have short attention spans and get past things quickly, it might be a viable option for you.

2.     Build up to it gradually.  This one takes some strategy, but it is accepted as the “best” method by childhood development and psychologists. Start out by pointing out “big kids” to your child while at the playground or the store that aren’t using a pacifier. Set a date in the future for giving up the binky: make a calendar, check off the days with star stickers, and on the big day have them throw it away, with or without a nice reward (some parents think that’s bribery…but it does work sometimes…). Or, invest in a book like The Binky Ba-Ba Fairy, by Heather Knickerbocker-Silva, where a fairy takes children’s pacifiers and give them to younger children in need, and let them feel good about themselves for helping others and being a big boy or girl. None of these methods will stop the child from having some residual pining for the pacifier at certain times, but these esteem-building experiences give something to the child instead of simply taking them away.

3.     Interference methods. These are somewhat controversial, but none of them is abusive in any way. These are “old-timey” methods that our moms and grandma’s used before…and they do work. These methods work by interfering in the child’s ability to enjoy their binky. Some moms swear by dipping the pacifier into a cup of strong-brewed coffee or in lemon juice, giving it a bad taste. Some moms will cut a little nick into the “nipple” portion, which changes the pacifier’s smooth texture and makes it harder to suck on.

4.     Let the child decide. As stated before, every child is different, and there is no 100% foolproof method of getting a child to stop sucking that pacifier. Sometimes, when you’ve tried everything and it hasn’t worked, you find out that it’s best to allow the child to decide when and where to let the binky go. Many children will wake up one day and mysteriously have no interest in it anymore. Others will go to school, see other kids without pacifiers, and conclude that they don’t need one, either. Regardless of how or when, they will eventually let it go.

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Watching the News with Kids When there's a Crisis in the World

Uncategorized By August 9, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

The world is a big, scary place, and as our kids grow up we know that they need to understand that…but we’d really rather protect them from the bad things that happen. Unfortunately, in this information-heavy society it is impossible to hide unpleasant things from kids forever. After all, when Osama bin Laden was killed, Twitter and Facebook lit up with young kids asking, “Who the heck is Osama bin Laden?” If they don’t hear things from you, they will hear things from others, and by controlling the situation you make sure your child gets the right information in the right way. Here are some age-group appropriate tips to watching the news with kids when there’s a world crisis or serious event happening.

Younger kids (8 and under).

This age group is very limited in their grasp of the fact that there is a larger world beyond their small orbit. They will hear other adults talking and hear snippets of news, and they will be confused by much of what they hear. They also have a hard time distinguishing what they see on TV and the internet from reality, which is why scary movies and shows bother them so much: they think it’s real! This age group might not benefit from watching a news broadcast with you, because the images might frighten them in the case of natural disasters or violence. If they ask questions, explain things to them in simple terms: “Some groups of people are really mad at each other and are fighting each other. But they are very far away, and there is no chance anything they do will hurt us.” Or, “Sometimes big storms and bad things happen in nature, but we are safe here right now.” Don’t go into too much detail or you risk scaring them; on the other hand, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Unfortunately, things happen when they are least expected.

Tweens. This age group is insatiably curious about everything. They are mentally and emotionally coming into their own, and are really beginning to grasp the enormity of the world—and that bad things do, indeed, happen. They can even be morbid at times, fixating on death and destruction. This is a crucial time for parents to begin connecting with their kids on a mental level, because they need your guidance more than ever. Watch the news with them, and try to explain things as clearly as possible. Use the time as an opportunity to have a discussion, but don’t lecture or you risk boring them. Sometimes TV news may be too graphic, so switch to the newspaper or magazines for lower intensity. If you run across an issue you don’t understand well, take the time to explore the issue together. This cultivates the understanding that parents are humans, too, and that you are approachable and don’t think you are perfect.

Teens. By this age, the child should be well on their way to having their own personal and philosophical beliefs, which you helped to formulate. Discussions about the bad things in the world should come organically, and should be used as chances to firm up your relationship and deepen your understanding about how your child thinks.

As with many mature subjects, pay close attention to your child, and whenever possible, watch with them.  Discuss, and make them feel secure in their own environment.

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Top Baby Names for 2010

Uncategorized By August 9, 2011 Tags: , , No Comments

Choosing a baby name entails the values of the family, it requires a match to the last name and a suitable middle name, and it marks the start of a new life blessed with a specially picked name. Baby name trends are tracked all around the world, from year to year, and most popular baby name lists date back to generations ago. Those lists are scoured for the perfect baby name by parents on an hourly basis.

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The Best Kids Cookbooks

Uncategorized By July 17, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Kids love to create, and so by extension they love to cook. Cooking is both science and magic, producing edible wonders. Cooking for kids should be age-appropriate and easy to do. Here are some of the best kid’s cookbooks for sharing fun time in the kitchen with your brood. All of these cookbooks can be found on Amazon.ca.

Best All-Purpose Cookbooks

The Everything Kid’s Cookbook: From Mac’n Cheese to Double Chocolate Chip Cookies-All You Need to Have Some Finger Lickin’ Fun, by Sandra K. Nissenberg. This cookbook is packed with easy recipes of every kind, from snack and appetizers to main courses and desserts, as well as fun activities like puzzles, cooking tips, and even trivia. The language is very simple and direct, and is ideal for younger children. The recipes are generally healthy and low-fat, with nutrition facts and calorie counts for each one.

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Top 10 Travel Destinations for Kids

Uncategorized By May 16, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Once you have kids, the days of stolen mini-breaks with your honey are pretty much gone, unless you have a great nanny or very forbearing parents nearby! Traveling with a family can be tricky and expensive, but it is possible to enjoy a vacation with the kids; in fact, sometimes it’s even more fun than vacationing alone with your partner…although it is a different kind of “fun!” Here are the top 10 travel destinations for kids.

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Watching the News with Kids When There’s a World Crisis

Uncategorized By May 13, 2011 Tags: , , No Comments

The world is a big, scary place, and as our kids grow up we know that they need to understand that…but we’d really rather protect them from the bad things that happen. Unfortunately, in this information-heavy society it is impossible to hide unpleasant things from kids forever. After all, when Osama bin Laden was killed, Twitter and Facebook lit up with young kids asking, “Who the heck is Osama bin Laden?” If they don’t hear things from you, they will hear things from others, and by controlling the situation you make sure your child gets the right information in the right way. Here are some age-group appropriate tips to watching the news with kids when there’s a world crisis or serious event happening.

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How Not to be a Soccer Mom (even though you may drive a minivan)

Uncategorized By May 11, 2011 Tags: , , No Comments

For those urban chic mommies who detest the label of “soccer mom,” don’t despair. It isn’t a dirty word, after all. A soccer mom is a mom who is involved in their kids’ lives, and the trademark minivan just makes that easier. There is a bit of a darker connotation to the term, though. It has replaced the term “yuppie” in our cultural vocabulary. There are also a lot of expectations of moms nowadays, and a soccer mom is one who is always on top of everything, supposedly, who makes all the other “normal” moms look bad.

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Moving a Toddler from a Crib to a Bed

Uncategorized By May 10, 2011 Tags: , , No Comments

When you move your baby from a crib to a bed it’s official: they’re not a “baby” anymore. When a child gets tall enough that they can actually reach over the crib bars it is time to move them into a bed, or else you risk dangerous accidents. But here comes the fun part: that child is no longer confined to a cage…er, crib, anymore. They can, and will, get up and move around, wander about, and come and find you. Frequently. How do you make the transition easier and faster?

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How Do I Wean My Toddler off His Pacifier?

Uncategorized By May 9, 2011 Tags: , , No Comments

Most parents must wage the “great battle of the binky” eventually, although many of them dread the prospect. Pacifier use is something that is a lot like politics: everyone has an opinion, but not everyone shares it. Some parents refuse to give their baby a pacifier. Others offer the pacifier to their baby as soon as they can. Yet others, in despair of ever sleeping again, try to get their child to use a pacifier, and it does not work for some reason, because the baby won’t take it. For those parents whose children grabbed onto their pacy and soon found it to be as indispensible as their diaper or their bottle, there is hope. That battle can be won—it just takes some patience, ingenuity and, sometimes, some subterfuge.

Pacifiers aren’t “evil,” despite what the anti-binky purists say. Most kids will leave their pacifier behind on their own after a while, and those kids that use them don’t have long-term effects from having used them for a long time. Sure, there are some studies which link slightly delayed speech or self-soothing habits to pacifier use, but it isn’t as if the child were bungee jumping or swimming with sharks. However, when your child has pitched a major tantrum in a very public place because they left their binky at home, you will want to end that dependency, as much for your sanity as theirs. Here are some tactics that have had success. Remember that every child is different, so there is no “magic bullet” to this pesky problem.

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What Cleaning Products Are Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Beyond?

Uncategorized By May 6, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , 1 Comment

Sorry, moms-to-be, being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t use cleaning products.  (i.e. You can’t use pregnancy as an excuse to hire a maid—unless you just want to..)  In years past, cleaning products were much harsher and more dangerous than they are now, but that doesn’t mean that everything is safe or recommended for use while pregnant. Luckily there are lots of options out there to choose from. Here are some helpful tips regarding cleaning products during pregnancy and beyond.

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