How to dine, my bag of tricks…

For the past seven years I have carried a bag or bags of tricks as I call it.  Children have a short amount of time until they become bored, or lose interest in sitting, and I have found that bringing the following things have made dining more enjoyable for all!

Infants-Babies I used to bring soft books great for Teething children, Sassy flip picture cards, suction cup Sassy toys, and Sassy connecting rings which I kept in a ziplock bag (It kept my diaper bag orderly and I would wash then as soon as I got home.)  Also for those who are starting to eat, I used the disposable placements that adhere to the table, which are colorful, and kids enjoyed looking at the pictures, lastly I used to use the powdered formula holder also from Sassy, (It has four compartments) to put Cheerios, Plum Baby Puffs, Yogurt Melts, and Plum Baby Hearts & dried fruit.  Lastly the Sassy Teething Feeder, to put a large piece of fruit or food in a mesh bag holder. (All products can be found at Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Target and some supermarkets & drug stores.)

Toddlers-Kids I always bring coloring books, Playdoh or homemade (see past blog for the recipe), stickers, Matchbox cars, small figures/dolls, Wikki Sticks, drawing Pad, Crayola Color Wonder Markers (love them, for they do not damage clothing or table cloths for fancier restaurants lol), Legos or Duplo’s for younger children, Magnet Books,Paint with water books (they come with a paintbrush so you just need a cup of water), or any small favors from parties I always save in a box and bring them as well, for it is like getting a special gift, as well as something new to play with.  (All of which I store in Ziplock bags.)  For those who love technology, the IPAD and IPHONE has great apps for kids too!

Foodwise I always pack some cut cucumbers, or bring a vegetable my children like, so that they don’t fill up on bread, or to buy some time while waiting for a table, or their dinner.  Also I aways pack some fruit, or cut up fruit so that when we are having our main course, the kids had something to eat before dessert.  It is a good idea to keep prepackaged snacks that your child likes for those, just in case moments, and Tootsie Pops are a lifesaver as well!  If I knew we were going to a restaurant that my children didn’t eat that type of cuisine, I would pack a meal in a thermos and inform the restaurant my child is a picky eater, or had a food allergy, and have never had an issue at all.

These small tips have helped tremendously for the past seven years, and we have happily dined, as well as traveled vis airplane, and continue to do so!



How do you cook dinner & keep the kids busy?

I have a few great suggestions that have worked for me for the past seven years.

Birth-non crawling:

*Put the baby in a bouncy seat, baby swing, or car seat for some, so that he/she can watch you, and talk to them while you are cooking.  It sounds crazy, but this is a teaching time for you and your child, for they are learning sounds/words which will pay off when they start talking.

Babies who are sitting up/crawling:

*Sit your child in a high chair where they can see you, and give them a few measuring cups or plastic bowls to play with.  I am always reluctant to spoons, for they can choke or gag themselves which is scary for both you and your child.

*Also there are great suction cup toys and bowls by, “Sassy” (found in Target, Babies R Us,Buy Buy Baby, or any baby specialty store) that stick right onto a surface.

*Links from a baby play mat are great as well!

*Cherrios, or Puff snacks in bowls/cups keep the baby busy too.

*For those who are crawling, I always keep a drawer and a cabinet where my children loved to explore.  They were filled with their bowls, my Tupperware, or any kitchen items that are not dangerous.  (All my cabinets and drawers either have locks, or pull down locks to prevent dangerous accidents or messes stop right in their tracks. 🙂

Children ages 2 and up:

* While cooking I give my children the scraps from the vegetable, with a cutting board and a plastic cabbage/salad knife (totally safe and found at Bed Bath & Beyond).  They chop away and have a ball!

Give your child a smock, then pull up a chair and turn it backwards near the sink where you are prepping/cooking your meal, and let them wash vegetables, or scraps in the sink and watch the smiles on their faces!

Children love to explore and watch their parents, so enjoy these fun tips!


Skype or not to Skype?

We just set up a Skype account a few weeks ago which was sooooo much fun for our family!  We had our children talk to relatives in Florida, grandparents, as well a neighborhood friends.  It was easy to set up (my husband said, lol for I am not too technical), and a great way to talk to friends and family.

For example, when my son lost his tooth, he was able to show his grandmother which one, as well as what the tooth fairy left him.  The look on their faces was priceless, and we decided to do this more frequently.

Skype is a great tool, and one to check out!  So I say, “Yes to Skype!’



Just 2-5 minutes a day can = a peacful mind!

Our lives as parents can be so rewarding, and yet can be so hectic, that  we too need to clear our minds…

From taking Yoga three days a week, I have learned that for just breathing through the nose, (with your eyes closed) for 2-5 minutes, has many advantages.

It can give you that, “recharged feeling”, and clears the mind to focus on, “just you”.

Whether it be in the car waiting to pick up your child from school, or at home, in a place you feel like sitting comfortably, you deserve that, and watch how your body reacts!



How to gain 10 minutes each morning…

Every morning can be tough, to get the kids dressed, pack lunches, get breakfast on the table, and get out the door in record time right?  I have found that by setting up for the next day, has made my morning routines run smoothly, which gives me a few extra minutes, & is less stressful.

A few helpful tips:

1.) Set out your childs clothes for the next day in their room, so that he/she knows what they will be wearing, or have them set out their outfit. (This helps with battles in the morning, and makes things so much easier.)

2.) See what the weather will be like for the next day, and have their jackets, accessories, lunch boxes, shoes, and book bags by the door, ready to go. *If your child is at the homework stage, then after they complete their work, have them check that they put back everything back in their school bag.  (This way everyone knows that their things will always be in the same spot everyday, so no one is running around the house looking for gloves, books, etc.

3.) Set the table the night before for breakfast, as well as set out lunch boxes to prepare lunches in the am, or make lunches the night before. (This cuts a few minutes time for your morning routine, and gives you a few minutes.)

These simple steps makes things less stressful for everyone, and I swear by this method, for we all could use 10 extra minutes to actually sit with your children and take a sip of HOT coffee for once right, lol…

Hope this helps!


What are great parent guide books for a new parents to be?

There are two books I highly recommend which are, “Baby Bargins” by Denise & Alan Fields 2010 Edition, (as seen on Oprah) which rates every possible baby product you could ever imagine.  It fits right in your bag, which is great for when the parents begin their registry adventure.  It is a wonderful guide, and I think it is the best tool for new parents, for it can be so confusing having your first child!  The internet has a world of information, but this book is so organized  by categories, which is the best gift of all!

They also have, “Baby 411”, written by Denise Fields and Ari Brown MD 2009 Edition, which was my personal Bible when I had my son seven years ago, as well as the sequel, “Toddler 411” written by Denise Fields and Ari Brown MD 2010 Edition. They answer every possible question, regarding illness, immunizations, are great guides and quick reads when you are left puzzled.

There were many nights when I needed help while waiting for the pediatrician to call back, and this book was right on! Or in the toddler edition to learn about teething, when to potty train, or how to handle tantrums, etc.

Parenting is an ongoing learning process, and books are a great way to guide us on how to handle everyday situations…





What is going on with children’s television?

Have you noticed how children’s television is drastically changing?  That is always apart of any playdates I have been having lately.

It is not just the material, but the commercials which lead to, “Mommy I want that!” comments from your children.

I have thought of a way that both child and parent benefit that is, either choosing On Demand shows on cable, or renting DVD’s from Netflicks, the Public Library, Blockbuster, or better yet having a Playdate “Trade Date”, where you borrow a few DVD’s from your friends for a few weeks.

I have purchased classic shows like, “Punky Brewster” and “Full House” which the kids love, minus the commercials! More importantly, I can choose which episodes are appropriate, so that everyone happy.

It is only the beginning, but at least with technology today we have many options where everyone wins…


What do you do with all your kids artwork???

A funny thing happened over dinner last night, when a few of my girlfriends and I were laughing at what we had in our pocketbooks when the bill came.

I had my usual, “bag of tricks” crayons, snacks, hair bows, action figures, etc… and my friends had their own collections as well, when they asked me, “What do you do with all of you children’s artwork?”

I began to laugh and say how I save what I think will not disintegrate or fall apart over time, but have recently been taking pictures of all of their work and am going to make a book the end of this year on Kodak Gallery.  To be honest, most materials will fall apart over time, and scanning or taking pictures is the best way to preserve their, “masterpieces” I feel.

My son’s school has joined,  “Artsonia“, in which the art teacher scans all of the children’s work to their website, and you can purchase, shirts, mugs, and an abundance of things with one of your childs pieces.  Check out the website and see if the school your child goes to can participate, for it is a great idea.  I believe you could do it as well, as long as you scan the work and set up an account, but I am not sure.

Lastly,  if you are a parent who likes to keep everything, then I would suggest purchasing a professional portfolio case vinyl, or plastic (from Pearl Paint or online), versus the cardboard ones they sell for children.  They have a large zipper to protect all of the pieces, and store them in a cool dry place.

For who knows, you might have the next Picasso on your hands…



What to do on a Snow Day…

As we have had a snowy and icy January and,  “There seems less things to do with your kids” says a neighbor or mine.  “Not true I say.”

Well there are many things to do, as well as great websites like. “Family Fun” that feature fun ideas to do at home.

Two fun ideas of the day…

Snow Play Indoors: Place a beach towel on the kitchen table, then fill a  baking tray with snow, and get measuring spoons, cups, and let the kids have a great time !

Pasta Art: Take construction or computer paper, and fill bowls with a variety of dried pastas, you will also need Elmers glue,  and guide your child (if they need assistance) with the glue on the paper and let them make a pasta masterpiece!

Children need to learn to explore and get their hands involved, as well as with a parent.  These little stay at home activities are ones that your child will always remember, for they are different, and something FUN to do with you!