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Summer Reading for Kids (with Giveaway!)

Contests By June 12, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 79 Comments

American Girl GiveawaySchool is almost out, and UrbanMommies wants to make it easy-peasy for you to focus on summer reading for kids. I push the kids to read all the time, but one area where I fail is not reading enough myself. I need to set a better example. I know I should go into Chapters Indigo to buy books, but they have so many amazing gifts and decor items I always lose myself in that particular department… Well, it’s going to get even worse now…. Chapters Granville in Vancouver will be revamped, revitalized and rebranded as Indigo on June 13th, 2015!

Through these renovations, thousands of additional titles will be added to shelves, and favourite departments will be upgraded. Once open, Indigo Granville will host Vancouver’s very own American Girl specialty boutique, and an expanded and re-imagined !ndigoKids department.

1,800 square feet, baby. In the new American Girl specialty boutique alone!!  A Doll Hair Salon will also open its doors within the specialty boutique, where fans can treat their dolls to a brand new hairstyle or ear piercing.

To celebrate, we’re giving away an incredible prize….

• 1 American Girl Doll
• 1 SandsAlive Kit
• 2 National Geographic Kids Books
• 3 American Girl books

Total value: approx. $200

Indigo has also just launched their Kids summer reading guide giving parents top picks for their kids this summer. Reading with my kids is going to be a huge focus for me this summer, and I’ve learned that the key is to get them books on topics they adore. How do you keep your kids reading in the summer? Use our handy Rafflecopter form to enter to win! Canada only, excluding Quebec. Ends 6/26.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Tips to Get your kids to love reading

6 Tricks to Get your Child to Love Reading

grow, LIVE By May 20, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , 1 Comment

Convincing your kids to start enjoying reading books is an extremely important thing to do as a parent. Sometime in the future, it will be worth the investment of time and energy. Reading is learned in school however most kids associate this endeavor with something that it work-related, and not with something done for pleasure. Consequently, their desire to read is lost; and that’s exactly what should entice them – the interest and curiosity to see what books have to offer.

Tricks to get your kids to love reading

1.      Read books to your kids out loud

One of the most productive and efficient ways of encouraging kids to start loving books is to read them stories out loud. The sooner you start the better. Make reading a special time spent together on a daily or weekly basis, and share the pleasures of unfolding the mysteries of a good story. A well-written book for kids can be an incredible delight, and with a bit of luck you might even have a bookworm child.

2.      Allow kids to choose

Convince your kids to start reading by offering them books they can understand. This way, if they enjoy it they will ask for another one. It’s important to allow toddlers to choose; this creates excitement and motivation. Comics, vampires sagas, sports books are all excellent choices. And since technology prevails, allow them to use an e-book or tablet to read. Colorful images help boost the experience and thus make them enjoy the story a whole lot more.

love reading3.      Set up a book nook

Have you ever thought of setting up a book nook for your child? Organize it properly to entice the senses of your little one. Colorful cushions placed on a comfortable sofa with underneath open shelves for book storage is an excellent idea. Use your imagination with these storage spaces and fill it with new books weekly. Don’t forget to include proper lighting; it would be great if you could arrange the book nook by a window.

4.      Be a role model

When they’re little, kids like to imitate their parents in their daily chores. If your child sees that you prefer to read a good book before bedtime rather than watch TV, they will become curious. Have the patience to answer all their questions and you might convince them that reading is fun and interesting. Encourage them to choose a book and start reading, too. Make this activity a 1-hour reading session before bedtime, and in a few months the results will be amazing.

5.      Make reading fun

Don’t force your kids to read whole books, and start slow. Begin with short stories, use book charts to explain ideas or paragraphs they haven’t understood in the first place, and have enough patience to explain words and phrases that seem challenging to grasp. Use post-its for challenging words and stick them to the fridge; this way your child will also learn new words daily.

kids reading6.      Use technology to draw attention

Today’s kids are part of the new generation. They’re not used to actual books; their school notebooks are either a tablet or a laptop, and as soon as they get home, they see parents using some sort of smart device too. Rather than ban technology, you should embrace it. Kindles, nooks and other ebooks are great devices. Allow children to use them to read stories and they might develop a passion for reading as an activity. As they grow older, they might even end up appreciating real books too.

There are numerous other tricks parents can use to convince their kids to read. It’s all about making this activity seem fun and engaging. Don’t force a child to read a book because he will grow up thinking you’re punishing him for something. Make this whole endeavor seem fun; the safest way to do this is to select great books and stories. Start reading out loud and really dive into the subject. A cool trick to preserve the engagement is to stop reading right when things get interesting. This way, your toddler will want to know more. He will be curious and he will impatiently wait another day for you to finish the story, and start a new one.

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the yellow balloon

My Yellow Balloon (helping children deal with loss)

books, GEAR By May 20, 2015 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

My Yellow BaloonThere has been a lot of crappy sadness in the news this week, month and year. It’s no secret that our children are directly or indirectly exposed to and aware of life’s most difficult occurrences, and in their true curious nature, they may have questions.

Whether your child has observed a loss or dealt with one of their own (death, divorce, moving away, deployment, etc.), helping them understand it all can be challenging. Tiffany Papageorge, sought-after speaker and author, addresses this difficult topic with her inspirational new picture book, My Yellow Balloon.

Breathtakingly illustrated by a Dreamworks artist, My Yellow Balloon tells the simple, powerful, and heartfelt story of a young boy who gets a yellow balloon while visiting a fair with his parents. He loves the balloon dearly until it accidentally slips from his hands. Without his yellow balloon, all of the color drains from the boy’s world, until one day when the boy sees the yellow balloon reflected in the sun and knows it will always be with him, even if it’s not in his hands anymore.

Providing comfort and clarity, My Yellow Balloon can help parents begin a difficult conversation with their children. Loss is very real, but doesn’t have to be so scary.

We also have a few pieces on helping kids deal with grief. Hug them tight.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Year of no sugar

Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub

books, EAT, FAM, GEAR, health, snacks By May 2, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

Have you ever thought about how much sugar you consume and it’s affects on not only you, but your family?

Have you noticed that eating sugar with every meal has become the norm and that we live in a time where there is an abundance of food and yet our children are more undernourished than ever before?

Have you considered that there could be a link between high sugar foods and heart disease, obesity, stroke, diabetes, cancer and increased behaviour and emotional issues that could be associated with the enormous rise of children being diagnosed with ADHD?

Eve Schaub noticed and woke up to the fact that sugar is everywhere and it’s making us fat and sick. She has started a conversation that we all need to hear and will help us to redefine the word ‘treat.’

Eve is the friend down the road sharing her sugarless journey; the pitfalls, challenges and revelations and she implores us to start taking some responsibility for our own nourishment so we can set up our children to make better choices that will support their long term health, and ours. Written in a way that every mom will understand and relate to and all backed up with science.

Reading this book will not only inspire you to look at how much sugar you are eating on a daily basis but will provide you with the tools you need to navigate all it’s pseudonyms while learning to reconnect with the food that you eat and it’s importance in nourishing and caring for our bodies.

In short, Eve has done a brilliant job in doing all the hard work so we don’t have to!

 

– Tisha Bryant is currently working towards a certification as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. 

Using nutrition to heal a persistent health issue was the catalyst that spurred Tisha on to become a certified Whole Food Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach. She is a raw food chef and also gained a certificate in counselling in 2005 while living in the UK. She is currently working towards a certification as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Tisha runs A Pinch of Lovely.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Explaining Breast Cancer To Your Children

books, FAM, GEAR, health By January 2, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

Breast Cancer. The unthinkable has happened.  You want to scream, cry and prey that the doctor was wrong.  But before the shock, sadness and anger has even a chance to register, your mind has already gone somewhere else: what are you going to tell your children?

Let’s face it, we don’t want to hurt or upset our loved ones.  Breaking the news about a breast cancer diagnosis may be more difficult than actually hearing the news from your doctor. You may feel concerned about upsetting your family and friends and worried about how they will react. Even worse, you may be afraid that you won’t be able to answer their questions.

Before approaching the topic with your family, it’s important to remember that you are in control of the conversation.  This means that you can decide how much information you may wish to share. The content and the tone of the conversation are entirely up to you and may be shaped depending on whether you are talking to a younger or older child or both at the same time.

Talking to A Young Child

As the parent (or grandparent) of a young child (ages 3 to 9) you might feel that the best thing is to shield the child from the facts. Truthfully?  You may be causing more harm than protecting your little person.  Even very young children can sense when family members seem stressed or anxious, or when usual routines are disrupted. They will notice changes in your appearance and your energy level, and they will know that you are spending time at the hospital. In two words: THEY KNOW that something is wrong.  If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want to know what’s going on?  Wouldn’t you want the person (or persons) you trust the most to explain the changes that may occur in your life?

Although young children do not need detailed information, they do need honesty and reassurance from you as well as from their other caregivers. Without any direct explanation from you, children may imagine a situation that is actually much worse than what will really occur. Being honest with your child builds a sense of trust that will be helpful in facing not only this situation, but also other challenges that life inevitably brings.

  • Plan out the conversation in advance. Decide what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. This will give you a framework for the conversation. Involve your partner or another adult the children trust if you think their presence will be helpful.
  • Use direct, simple language to define what cancer is, where it is in your body, and how it will be treated. Experts agree that naming the illness is important — “cancer” should not be a forbidden word. Even very young children can grasp simple explanations of what cells are and how they sometimes don’t “follow the rules” and grow as they should. You might also explain that the doctor has to remove all or part of your breast where the cancer is, and then use special strong medicines make sure the cancer is all gone from your body. A doll or stuffed animal could be a useful visual aid.
  • Make sure children know that the cancer isn’t their fault and they cannot “catch” it. Young children may worry that the situation is their fault or that they did something to cause the cancer. Also, children tend to associate sickness with catching colds or sharing germs. Be sure to explain that no one can catch cancer from someone else.
  • Tell children how treatment for cancer will affect you. Prepare them for the physical side effects of treatment, such as losing a breast, hair loss due to chemotherapy, or feeling sick or tired at times. You might explain that the medicines for cancer are powerful, and that side effects show that the medicines are hard at work inside your body. Tell children that you might feel sad, angry, or tired, but that these feelings are not their fault and are normal. Always alert them when you will need to be away from home: in the hospital or at the doctor’s office.
  • Reassure children that their needs will be met. Experts agree that young children need reassurance and consistent routines in times of crisis. Let your children know that you may not always be available to take them to school and special activities, play with them, or prepare their meals. Hugging, lifting, and bathing them may be off-limits for a while, too. Tell them about the trusted friends, relatives, or other care providers who will be helping out until you feel strong again.
  • Keep usual limits in place. When there is an air of uncertainty around the house, it can be tempting to let children have more treats, watch more TV, play more computer games, or buy more toys. However, maintaining the same sense of structure you always have is likely to reassure your children more than giving them special privileges or treats. Keep their usual routines as consistent as possible.
  • Invite children to ask questions and learn more. Let children know that you will answer any questions they may have. If your children are old enough, you might consider bringing them to one of your doctor’s appointments or allowing a visit during treatment. This can help to take away some of the mystery surrounding cancer and its treatment.
  • Let children know you will still make time for them. Carve out a special time in the day just for them. Simple activities like reading a book or watching a movie can help them know that you are still there for them, even when you’re tired or not feeling well.
  • Set a positive, optimistic tone without making promises.  Even if you are sad or frightened, try to project a positive tone during your conversations with young children. Children may feel overwhelmed if you seem overly anxious or emotional. Make sure they know that your doctors and nurses are doing all they can for you and that most people with breast cancer do get better. Reassure them without making definite promises about the future.
  • Let teachers, school counselors, coaches, and other caregivers know what is going on. Other trusted adults who spend time with your child need to know about the diagnosis. Changes at home often cause changes in children’s behavior in other settings. These adults can help you know how your child is doing, and they can become a source of additional care and support.

Talking To An Older Child

Older children can be just as vulnerable and scared as smaller children but they may not show it.  In fact, their reaction may be more intense because older children are likely to be more aware of the seriousness of the disease than younger children.  While much of the advice for talking to young children also applies to children in middle school and high school (ages 10 to 18), older children actually have additional needs. Most importantly, be sure to talk with your older child and not at her.  She needs to feel that she is part of the conversation.

  • Be truthful about your diagnosis and course of treatment.  Shielding children from the hard facts can harm their sense of trust in you. Even though you do not want to worry them, you need to let them know what is happening to you.
  • Schedule regular family meetings or other discussion times. Older children can be involved in talks about how family activities and responsibilities might change while you are undergoing treatment. You may need to ask them to handle more household tasks than they normally do. A family meeting gives everyone a chance to have a voice in the changes that are taking place.
  • Anticipate children’s questions about the future. Older children are likely to have heard that people can die of cancer. It is natural for them to be afraid that you could die and to wonder what will happen to them. Make sure your children know that most people with breast cancer do get better and live long, healthy lives. Reassure them that, no matter what happens, their needs will be met by the adults in their lives.
  • Anticipate children’s questions about their own health. Your children may fear that, since you have cancer, they may get it too. This is an especially common fear among teenaged daughters of mothers with breast cancer. Even if breast cancer does not seem to run in your family, breast cancer still happens to 1 in 8 women in the United States during the course of their lifetimes. Therefore, it’s a good idea to bring up the issue at your daughter’s next doctor’s appointment. Talk to the doctor together about some steps your daughter can take now — such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking or using alcohol — to help lower the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
  • Give children permission to keep up with school and social activities. Even though older children and teens can take on more responsibility at home, they are still children. Let them know that they should continue focusing on their schoolwork, other activities, and time with friends. Children need to maintain that sense of normalcy, but they might only do so if you let them know it’s what you want.
  • Realize that older children may express feelings that seem inappropriate, such as embarrassment or anger. Preteens and teens may express emotions that seem unkind or even completely out of line. They may be embarrassed by changes in your appearance, such as hair loss or weight loss and avoid going out with you or bringing friends home. They may be angry about the ways that your illness limits them and their activities. Although their reactions may upset you, remember that teens are at a time in their lives when they value appearances and their growing sense of independence. If you’re able to show acceptance of your own appearance, you can set a healthy example for your child.
  • Connect them with books and other resources. Talking about cancer can be hard, even in families where communication is strong. You may want to look for books or other publications written especially for young people who have parents with cancer. Your child also may find it helpful to confide in an adult outside the immediate family, such as another relative, close friend, or even a professional counselor. Reach out to relatives and friends and ask them if they can be available.

Great books about how to discuss cancer with your children

  1. What Is Cancer Anyway?: Explaining Cancer to Children of All Ages
  2. The Hope Tree: Kids Talk About Breast Cancer 
  3. Because . . . Someone I Love Has Cancer Kids’ Activity Book
  4. Our Mom Has Cancer
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Top 12 Summer Reads for Kids Under 6

books, GEAR By May 25, 2012 Tags: , , No Comments

Top 12 Summer Reads for Kids Under 6

On those lazy days at the beach, what better way do you have to connect with your children than through learning fun.  When you’re not writing letters in the sand and counting incoming waves, lay down under an umbrella and jump into one of these stories.  Here are our picks for the under-six set.  (Just don’t get so involved you forget to reapply the sunscreen).

1.  Here Comes Hortense, by Heather Hartt-Sussman

2.  Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog, by J.H. Lee

3.  E- Mergency! by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer

4.  Rokko by Paola Opal

5. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems

6.  The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

7.  Mother Goose, ed. Iona Opie

8.  Alice in Wonderland, (Disney Edition)

9.  Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

10.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

11.  We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

12. Corduroy, by Don Freeman

Available at Chapters/Indigo.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Tips for Teaching Kids to Read

FAM, kids By January 9, 2012 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

Family readingReading to your babies and kids is one of those important things like brushing teeth and eating veggies that can sometimes slip by the wayside (or can give your mother-in-law fodder for more unwanted advice).  UrbanMommies loves books (make sure you check our Get Reading section regularly), so we asked a child reading specialist for some helpful tips on making sure your kids are well versed (so to speak) in reading.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Top Children’s Summer Book Picks

books, GEAR By May 10, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

What better time than summer to clean out the bookshelves and get ready to work on some education through the dry spell.  Here are our top picks for little ones:

Press Here, by Herve Tullet

We read this with the kids and were commanded to not turn another page while they ran to the potty.  Interactive, exciting, and educational, ‘Press Here’ helps kids review colours, counting and actions in a super-fun way.  The kids are asked to press, rub, and shake the book to ‘move’ the dots.  What a way to develop a love of reading!

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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100 Classics You Need To Read In Your Lifetime

100 Classics You Need To Read In Your Lifetime

books, GEAR By December 9, 2009 Tags: , , 3 Comments

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 classics you need to read in your lifetime. How do your reading habits stack up?  Note… when you’re travelling is a great time to crack open one of these tomes and start ticking off these 100 classics.  Feel free to comment on this article and add some of your own selections.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma-Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Does a Duck have a Daddy

Uncategorized By October 1, 2007 Tags: , , , No Comments

October book of the month for babiesAn Early Experiences Book
Fred Ehrlich, MD, illustrated by Emily Bolam

This book is a friendly, funny question-and-answer format compares people to animals. The perfect vehicle for introducing children to experiences they will soon encounter in real life. All animals have daddies, but not all animals need their daddies after birth. This book tells you about animals who don’t need parents after birth and those who do.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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