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“Focus on the Positive”

Naomi Rubinstein, M.Ed.
Family Educator
Play Nurture Grow, LLC

Ever wonder how the parent behind you in line at the grocery store gets her two-year old to stay seated in the cart?  Believe it or not, that parent does not have a magic wand.  Chances are, one thing that parent does is focus on the positive.  Today I am going to share five simple steps to ensuring your survival and sanity.

Step One: In the Midst of the Negative, Compliment the Positive

Focus your attention on the things you want your children to do, not the behaviors you don’t want them to do.  Saying no to a child often equates to positively reinforcing a negative behavior.

Take this situation, for example: Your family is eating dinner.  You are loving the fact that, for once, both your kids are actually sitting on their chairs, when, all of a sudden, your younger son gets off his chair and begins skipping around the room.  You suddenly flashback to yesterday, when you thought it was a good idea to grab your child’s hand and skip with him, while singing “Skip to My Lou.”  Does this sound familiar??  If I have just described a typical evening in your house, read VERY carefully.  Whatever you do, do not say a word to your skipping child.  I repeat: DO NOT say a word to your skipping child.  Simply look at your elder son and say, “Wow!  Jack, I love the way you are sitting on your chair.”  If this statement does not get your younger son to sit down on his chair, be sure to really lay it on thick.  “Oh my gosh!  Jack, you are doing such an amazing job of staying seated at the table.  That is so polite and expected!”  Now, if your younger son continues to completely ignore you, do not give up hope yet.  Continue to compliment Jack on the amazing job he is doing.  You may even want to throw in a hug for Jack for good measure.

Now, if your cute little Joe is really enjoying his skipping around the room, and continues to ignore you, you might need to intervene at this point.  Simply take his hand and ask him if he thinks he can skip all the way to his chair faster than you can.  Most likely, the idea of losing the race to his mom will trump his desire to continue skipping around the room and he will skip back to his seat.  Last resort, give him a choice-he may either come back to the table and eat his dinner, or go to bed.  It is likely that dinner will seem more appealing than bedtime.  When he decides to come back to the table, make sure you compliment him on the good choice he made, and let him know that that makes you feel happy.

Step Two: Catch Your Kids Being Good

Always be on the lookout for positive behavior.  When you catch your kids in the act, praise them for it.  The more you catch them being good and reinforce that behavior, the more they will want to repeat the positive behaviors to earn those compliments.

When you are in a moment when you can’t catch anyone in the act, simply ask your kids, “Who can I compliment?” Sometimes, simply asking the question creates a positive response!

Once again, when you catch them in the act, let them know exactly what they did to earn that compliment.

Step Three: Set the Expectations

When heading out of the house, before you reach your destination, talk to your children and let them know what behaviors are expected.  Try not to focus on what you don’t want them to do.  Instead, let them know what you DO want them to do.  For example, if you want them not to touch anything, tell them, “I expect you to keep your hands on your own body.”  At the event, try to avoid using words such as “stop.”  For example, if your child is jumping around, let your child know he has to have a calm body and use walking feet, but may jump on the trampoline the next time he has gym class.

Step Four: Consequences Should Match the Behavior

It is very easy for parents to fall into the pattern of utilizing time-outs as a consequence, but that may not necessarily be the most productive strategy for changing a behavior.  When your child purposely pours his water all over the floor, ask yourself, does it make sense to put him in a time-out?  If the answer is no, then what consequence does make sense?  Simply let your child know that the water in his cup is for drinking.  If he doesn’t want to drink the water, it needs to stay in his cup.  Then, ask your child to get a towel and wipe up the water.  This would be the most logical consequence for such behavior.

Step Five: Create a Family Plan

With older children, sit down as a family and create a set of rules together.  Your children will love being part of the decision-making process.  Write down ALL ideas on a big piece of paper.  Talk with your kids about which rules make the most sense and why.  Once you have created your own set of family rules, talk about the consequences of breaking the rules.  Once again, make sure the consequences match the behavior.

One Final Word

Oh, and most importantly, remember that this only is one tool.  No strategy works 100 percent of the time, and some days are better than others.  No parent is perfect, and all children are different.  Simply use your judgment and be as consistent as possible, and most of the time, your children will want to make good choices.

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Boobie Boosting Winter Smoothie!

Nutty Apple – Boobie Boosting Winter Smoothie (recipe courtesy of Momme Meals)

Let’s face it, everyone loves a good smoothie. They’re quick, easy to make and deliciously satisfying. When you’re pregnant or nursing and your hunger boarder lines ravenous on a daily basis, they can be an instant lifesaver. (Hubbies take note.)

Nutty Apple - Boobie Boosting Winter Smoothie

This year we’ve partnered with the folks at The 16 Minute Club to design four seasonal breastfeeding support smoothies that are not only delicious but have the nutrients new and expecting moms need most.

Our first recipe is filled with healthy fats like Omega 3’s, soluble fiber, lean protein, calcium and iron. It also contains sunflower seeds – a natural lactogenic, and is 100% dairy free, soy free and vegan.

So get out the blender ladies and have a yummy snack that both you and your baby are bound to enjoy.

2 apples, cored (skin on for added fiber)
5 ice cubes
1 ¼ cups almond milk or hemp milk
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons unsulfured blackstrap molasses
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted/unsweetened nut butter (almond or peanut)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (additional sprinkle for topping)
Pinch sea salt


Place the ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth – about 45 seconds. Additional blending time may be required for traditional blenders.

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Baby Food Taste Test

by: Mamas Link mama Diana Glazer

Introducing “solids” to a baby can be scary, exciting and a bit daunting. In the beginning, new parents often think, “I’ll make my own baby food.” Later they decide, “I think I’ll use that time to shower instead.” So when the inevitable occurs, buying baby food at the supermarket, many opt to purchase “organic” brands. These organic fruits and veggies seem to ease the mind and the guilt.

Pouches and jars line the shelves. Little pouches sit upright, shiny and happy. They look like squat toys, probably part of some devious marketing plan. Some manufacturers still rely on glass jars, which have become the high maintenance option. There has to be a spoon involved, a clean, no germs from double dipping into the mouth spoon, instead of a quick squeeze and go.

When confronted with all the options, the question becomes how to choose a particular brand and type.  The most obvious consideration is taste. Of course cost is also a factor and shelf life.

Which is the best? Are all carrots created equal?

The question led to the formation the official Gallagher Tasting Team. (Dad, Mom, Aunt)

Here are the results of the first Gallagher baby food taste test:

The brands tested include, but are not limited to:

Ellas Pouch – 3.5 oz pouch – $1.69 – use within 48 hours after opening
Earths Best Jar – 2.5 oz – $.89 – 3 days after opening
Earths Best Pouch – 3.1 oz -
Plum Pouch – 3 oz – $1.79 – 24 hours after opening
Gerber Packs – 5 oz total – $1.39 – 2 days after opening
*Veggies ran about 10 cents more than fruits.

** WINNER: Gerber Organic – mild taste, sweet, most carrot flavor
Earths Best Jar – Runny, nice orange color, mild flavor, chalky
Plum – brown in color, acid tasting, “nasty,” Ewww
Ellas (carrots, apples and parsnips) – taste like apple, light orange, bitter lemon after taste.

Prunes: (helpful for constipation, really, really helpful)
** WINNER: Plum – light plum taste
Earths Best Jar – thick, mild taste
Gerber Organic – thick, mild taste
O organics – pretty gross, thick and not much like plums

Sweet Potatoes:
**WINNER: Plum- light potato taste, sweet,
Happy Baby – Light, strange after taste
Earths Best Jar – Yuck, Yuck, Yuck
Gerber Organic – odd grainy texture, nice taste

**WINNER: Plum-light pea taste, sweet
Earths Best Jar – sweet, pea taste, metallic after taste
Gerber Organic – chunkier texture, course, bland, Ick

**WINNER- Gerber Organic – sweet, good flavor, yellow
Earths Best Jar – Yuck
Earths Best Pouch – brown, banana flavor, better than jar

Note- All of the Ellas Kitchen Brand combinations tasted
pretty good, but they all had a bitter after taste of lemon.



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I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Go Away so I can Feed the Kids!

by Devon Corneal

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an exhausted mother in possession of a small child will, at some point in time, forget she’s a wife. If she’s anything like me, she will neglect to look her husband in the eye, make time for stolen kisses, talk about political turmoil in some faraway country, watch late-night TV, hold hands, snuggle, cook elaborate dinners, leave romantic Post-its around the house, ask her husband how his day was and listen to the entire answer before wandering off to finish the laundry, have sex in uncomfortable places at unpredictable times, have sex at all, go on a date or spend quality time together that involves more than pouring a glass of wine and collapsing into bed.

I did all of those things and more before we had kids. Things are different now. Turns out, kids have needs and those needs eat away at the hours I used to spend with my husband. The short period between getting home from work and hitting the sheets, once filled with cocktails and long conversations are now spent making dinner, packing lunch, overseeing homework and baths, brushing teeth, reading bedtime stories, giving good-night kisses, doing dishes and preparing for the next day when it will start all over again. As for weekends, well, let’s say I did not appreciate the luxury of sleeping in and reading the paper until it was long gone. I’m looking forward to Little Dude’s teenage years when I might get those mornings back. I hope my husband will keep me around until then.

Does any of this sound familiar? Please tell me I’m not the only one who has fallen off the marital wagon and neglects her husband. And where I say husband, you should feel free to insert the noun of your choice. If you are raising kids with your partner, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, baby daddy, baby momma, zebra or purple spotted alien from Mars, I do not care. If you are in a loving adult relationship and you can’t figure out how to make time for both the grown-up and the kid(s) in your life, come join me in my rickety boat of self-doubt and angst.

I knew that having kids meant less time for myself. I didn’t fully comprehend, however, how hard it would be to make time for my marriage. I have heard the cautionary tales from friends whose relationships withered and died because someone stopped paying attention to their partner. I don’t want that. I just can’t figure out how to invest as much time in the fabulous man I married as I devote to our kids.

It’s not entirely my fault. My son deserves some of the blame. Since the moment he was born, I’ve been blinded by his shiny, happy, perfect beauty. Small things less than four feet tall with large saucer-like eyes are marital kryptonite for me. I am easily distracted by my son’s vulnerability, his laugh and his enthusiasm for the most mundane things. He is warm and soft and smells good. I let him crawl between me and my husband in bed. I rush to answer his cries.

Want to cuddle, honey? Sorry, Little Dude wants a glass of water. You had a horrible day at work? Just a sec, someone has a skinned knee. Ready to go? Let me give the boy just one more kiss good-bye.

I find my son so magical that I can’t help myself.

Funny thing is, I think my marriage is magical too. Not because we’re perfect people with the ideal relationship. Not even close. There’s the snoring, for one, which in my son is adorable, in a husband not so much. But my husband and I wouldn’t have found each other without more than a little luck. Marrying him is as much a miracle to me as having a healthy child, especially since I got the better end of the deal. My husband is kind, generous, funny, wise, loving, loyal, decent and flawed in ways that make sense to me. He is good at remembering that even though we are parents, we exist outside of our kids. He plans date nights and remembers that in a couple of years our oldest will be in college, and Little Dude will be in school and we don’t want to be strangers to each other when that time comes. He’s the big-picture guy.

My better half reminds me that parenting isn’t just about what we do or don’t do for our kids. It isn’t solely a top-down process. We have to pay attention to what we do or don’t do for each other. It’s fine to worry about what my kids are eating and if they’re happy and what curfew should be. It’s my job to comfort, nurture and protect them. But I have to do the same for that man I sleep next to every night. I overlook that. I forget that we have a relationship that matters every bit as much as the one I’m building with our kids.

This isn’t a question of who I love more or trying to divide time between my husband and kids as if life were a pie I can slice into equal pieces. It isn’t and I can’t. I don’t think there is a way to juggle everything perfectly. Balance doesn’t mean the teeter-totter is always level. It may mean that I have to wait until Little Dude is old enough to go to summer camp before I get blocks of quality alone time with the man I married. I can wait. Until then, though, I can do better. I got into this parenting thing with the man who, this morning, surprised me with a delicate silver necklace “…just because.” No matter how captivating I find my kids, or how tired or distracted I am, this is a man who deserves a few more stolen moments.


Follow Devon Corneal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcorneal

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How to Manage your Home and Work Life

Entrepreneurs often begin their businesses in the hope of creating a better life for themselves and their families. Escaping the burden of long hours and too-little pay is part of the dream, but many new business owners soon find that starting their own companies locks them into the very cycle they hoped to escape. Finding the balance between home and work life is critical to achieving true success as an entrepreneur.

Starting a new business can take up all its owner’s time; creating payroll, writing checks, managing data and keeping records are added burdens and insidious time-eaters that create even more pressure. Outsourcing some of the mundane tasks to an umbrella company can be an excellent way to reduce the burden on an overworked entrepreneur. Facing the problem of time management squarely is critical to a new business owner. Remember, no large and successful company is a one-man or one-woman show. The only way to avoid burnout and develop a successful company is to learn to walk the tightrope between home life and work.

Maintaining the home/work balance

The first rule of finding the balance between home and work is to take care of oneself. A body can no more run without fuel and maintenance than a vehicle can. No one expects a car to run indefinitely without fuel or oil changes, yet some business owners skip meals, skimp on sleep and fail to get enough exercise in their pursuit of success. Time-management means making space for healthy activities, such as exercise, leisure, hobbies and sleep.

For business owners who work from home, it is essential to create a physical division between work and home life. Even if the workspace is nothing more than a computer at a corner desk, a well-defined area in which work takes place and that is separate from non-work activities, creates an important sense of professionalism. Having a dedicated workspace acts as a substitute for the transition from work to home that would be created by leaving the office in a traditional job. By setting and sticking to, a reasonable schedule, it is possible to keep home and work separate, creating a healthy division of the two.

Managing a growing business

There comes a time in every entrepreneur’s business life when the need for staff becomes more pressing than having the cash flow to pay salaries; when this happens it is time to get creative. Some tasks can be outsourced quite affordably, reducing the time pressures on the owner. Other jobs cannot be outsourced easily, perhaps due to the skill level involved or the type of task. When cash flow is an issue, it is time for the business owner to consider other options, such as trading services or even offering a share of the business to a reliable partner who has the necessary skills. Finding the balance between work and home sometimes means accepting that the captain of the ship cannot sail it alone. By accepting help and acknowledging the importance of staff and outside support, the new entrepreneur can create a successful company without sacrificing the life he or she is working to create.


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What is Cord Blood and Should I pay to “Bank” Mine?

Cord blood banking advice for expectant mamas

As parents, we all want the best for our children. Protecting them from harm, keeping them happy and healthy along the route from infancy into adulthood is a long and sometimes difficult journey. Life throws us unexpected curve balls sometimes and suddenly the things we treasure most can be endangered by factors beyond our control.

When children become ill, parents will do anything to care for their child, stopping at nothing to seek a cure. It is therefore good to know that parents today can choose to plan ahead by arranging to have cord blood from their newborn harvested for possible use in future medical treatment. Of course, we all hope it will never be required, but the peace of mind that comes with having that precious blood banked, is priceless.

What is cord blood banking?

Cord blood banking has been used for several years and is a process by which stem cells are collected from the blood of the umbilical cord, soon after a baby’s birth. The unique stem cells harvested from the cord blood have no specific, designated role and as such can adapt to a number of important tasks within the body.  Platelets (vital for blood clotting), red blood cells (for carrying oxygen) and white blood cells (fighters of infection and disease) can all be developed from powerful stem cells and used in the treatment of a number of life threatening conditions. The blood collection procedure is painless and quick for both mother and baby. Parents choosing to bank their baby’s cord blood should organize the procedure in advance, usually before the 34th week of gestation.

Having a baby can be an expensive time and questions of cost may be an issue. Parents will want to know   how much does cord blood banking cost and are there collection and storage fees? Fortunately, there are flexible and affordable payment plans available to cover costs, well worth the investment in a family’s future health and happiness.

Which illnesses can be treated?

Cord blood can be used in the treatment of serious blood diseases such as leukemia and some genetic conditions. Stem cell research is in an exciting phase and new therapies are being trialed all the time. In the area of regenerative applications, stem cell medicine offers hope to those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and heart defects. Although in its early stages, a lot of hope and optimism surrounds the development of effective stem cell therapies in these particular fields.

Other research covering the application of stem cell therapies on existing medical conditions show promising initial results on treatment for brain injuries, Crohn’s Disease and Cerebral Palsy.

Why all expectant parents should consider banking cord blood

Nobody knows what the future holds in store for us or our loved ones, but being better prepared for life’s ups and downs gives enormous peace of mind. Banking cord blood could cure a sick child or other close family member and all it takes is a quick, simple procedure. Think of it in terms of an insurance policy for the health of the family – one that hopefully won’t be needed, but good to have all the same…

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Travel Healthy! by Deb Lowther

Tips for Taking Your Family’s Healthy Lifestyle With You on Summer Vacation

Whether you are planning a week at the beach or a plane ride to an exotic island, you will want to stay healthy while away! Vacations can be a nice break from your regular routine and provide opportunity to try new things, but keeping a few essentials in mind will help you enjoy your health as well as your holiday!

7 Healthy Travel Must-Haves

  1. Water Bottle – Bring it! Hotels, resorts, restaurants, airplanes and cottages usually have jugs of filtered water on hand. Keep your water bottle close at all times and fill up whenever you can throughout the day while travelling and relaxing!
  2. Snacks - Make them! Before your trip, whip together your own homemade version of trail mix with whole grain, low sugar cereals, raisins and almonds, and store in resealable bags. Bake some healthy banana oat cookies for the plane and cut up fresh fruit and veggies for the car ride. Even take a few empty ziploc bags with you to grab a few extra healthy snacks for later.
  3. Running Shoes - Pack them! For every member of your family! Plan to get active on your vacation. Slip in a run before breakfast, a game of tennis before lunch, a hike after dinner. Staying active keeps you healthy and makes all the relaxing more rewarding!
  4. Sun Protection - Do it! Vacations are not all about the tan. Make sure you are using a good quality sunscreen, reapplying after swimming and wearing hats and finding shade. All the healthy benefits from the sun can be found in Vitamin D supplements so make sure you cover up to prevent sun damage.
  5. Vitamins - Don’t forget them! A break from routine is wonderful, but a break from taking vitamins can be unhealthy. Keep your immune system strong with Vitamins D, Multi, and Omega 3s, keep your energy up with B Vitamins and make sure kids are getting enough Calcium if milk is not on the vacation menu.
  6. Sleep - Get lots! If you are traveling to a different time zone, try to get the kids sleep pattern adjusted a few days before hand. This avoids being sleep deprived (and grumpy) for the first few days of your vacation!
  7. Restaurant Rules - Plan them! French fries, ice cream brownies, and Shirley temples are all fun treats, but if you are at All-You-Can-Eat buffets, or restaurants while on vacation, too many treat days in a row may not be so healthy. Plan to have vegetables and fruit every day and ensure there is protein at every meal. Make treat foods, a treat – even on vacation.

Pack it, plan it, bring it, drink it, eat it and ENJOY it! Have a healthy & happy summer, where ever your vacation may take you!

BIO: Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs about Raising Healthy Kids and ensures her own have fun while eating healthy & staying active.

You can visit her websites to learn more: www.iron-kids.com & www.adultgummies.com

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Grandpa, What Is Couple Sex?

An 8-year-old girl went to her grandfather who was working in the yard and asked him “Grampa, what is couple sex? The grandfather was surprised that she would ask such a question, but decided that if she’s old enough to know to ask the question, then she’s old enough to get a straight answer.  Steeling himself to leave nothing out, he proceeded to tell her all about human reproduction and the joys and responsibilities of intercourse. When he finished explaining, the little girl was looking at him with her mouth hanging open, eyes wide in amazement.  Seeing the look on her face, the grandfather asked her, “Why did you ask this question, honey?”  The little girl replied,

“Grandma says that dinner will be ready in just a couple secs!”




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To Buy or Not to Buy (Postnatal Style Solutions)

By Lani Inlander of Real Life Style

One of the most frequent fashion conundrums I’m asked about is whether or not to buy new clothes during transition times such as after pregnancy or when you’ve gained a few pounds from stress. It is natural to think you would be wasting money by purchasing new clothes when you think you will fit back into your “regular” clothes within a few months. This would be a mistake. You are actually wasting time not feeling good about yourself when you DON’T buy yourself some new clothes. Lest you think I’m being extravagant, I have a strategy for you dear reader!

1. KEEP IT CHEAP AND CHEERFUL. Shop at stores like H&M, Old Navy and The Gap, where you can get the most fashion for your money.

2. GO FOR THE TRENDS. If you aren’t spending much you can reasonably assume the clothes won’t last very long, so why not embrace the trends this season?

3. BUY WHAT YOU LOVE. If your post-baby belly is making you blue, cheer yourself up with a bright top or scarf. Yes, you should get a basic black and white tee, but you should also get a hot pink striped one if that is going to keep you excited to get dressed each morning.

4. MAKE IT FLEXIBLE. Boxier tops will still look good with skinny jeans when you are skinnier, a cotton maxi skirt will shrink with you, and a scarf always fits!

5. INVEST IN ACCESSORIES. Wearing good shoes, a pricier bag, and an expensive pair of earrings will up the perceived value of any outfit. And best of all, they’ll always fit!

How about a black maxi skirt instead of the fall back yoga pant for the new mom and others not wanting to deal with denim? The scarf and relaxed silhouette of the top distract from a larger top half and the long black skirt shrinks the lower half. Add a chic but comfortable leather sandal for a complete look.

Old Navy 3/4 Sleeve Yellow Top $29.94
Zappos Black Maxi Skirt $75
Old Navy Zig Zag Print Scarf $16.94
Zappos Kork-Ease Katherine Sandals $135
The structure of a blazer smoothes any lumps around the middle and dresses up a tee shirt and jeans. Gold hued earrings brighten up the face and give you a natural glow. Bright colors add interest and make you feel and look current. Patterned flats make you look oh so fashionable and really bring the outfit together.

H&M Orange Blazer $49.95
Topshop Blue Skinny Jeans $60
Larkspur & Hawk Earrings $1,150
Repetto Ballet Flats $265

Posted in Blog, fashion, motherhood, parenting, pregnancy | Leave a comment