Monday, June 30, 2014

Reusable, Washable Nursing Pads Comparison

I made the decision before my boy was born to use reusable breast pads. I did buy one pack of disposable ones - by Lasinoh - but I still have some left cause I prefer the washable kind. However, I didn't know which ones to get or how many I would need. So in the last 3 months, I've ended up with 3 different brands and I thought that it could be helpful to others were I to compare them. They are Bamboobies, Breast Pads from, and TL Care Organic Cotton Nursing Pads.

The two pads on the left are Bamboobies, the watermelon print is Breast Pads, and the bottom right is the Organic Cotton Nursing Pad.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

A New Technique for Teaching Kids Colors

The names of colors are one of the first things that kids learn - but it is also one of the things that kids struggle with the most. 

My mom introduced me to a great article (called "Why Johnny Can't Name His Colors" by Melody Dye) about teaching kids the names of colors and why it can be so difficult. It describes a study in which 2 and 3 year olds were tested on their colors and many failed. Their parents were worried that they were colorblind!

Prenominal versus Postnominal 
The problem is in the way that English-speakers talk. You may already know that English is one of the more difficult languages to learn (we have many rules that often contradict each other - "i before e except after c"... but there are lots of weird words. Like that one). The English color names can be especially difficult to learn because we use color names prenominally - meaning "before nouns." (Look at the green grass, the black dog, the yellow banana, etc).

Without going into to much detail (if you're interested in all of the mechanics and the study itself, check out the original article - it's a good read!), children can learn their color names faster and more easily if you use the color names postnominally (after the noun).

"When you stick the noun before the color word, you can successfully narrow their focus to whatever it is you’re talking about before you hit them with the color. Say “the balloon is red,” for example, and you will have helped to narrow “red-ness” to being an attribute of the balloon, and not some general property of the world at large. This helps kids discern what about the balloon makes it red."

The researchers then took a group of kids and had them go through some postnominal color name training (they would show them something, like a crayon, and say, "this crayon is blue"). The kids that had that training improved significantly!

What You Can Do
To help your 2- or 3-year-old learn their color names, just change the way you talk about objects. After reading this article - before my son was even born - I started adjusting the way I talked. It was awkward at first, but I wanted to get in the habit of describing things in the best way to help my boy learn. When I read books to him, after reading the page the way it's written (orange tiger), I'll then say the color and object again, but change the structure to the new way ("that tiger is orange").

Books About Colors
Which brings me to a disappointing fact: most books use color names the traditional way (red apple, yellow sun, etc). Even some of my favorites! (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, for example). But thanks to the blog Youth Lit Reviews, I was able to find a few titles that use color names in the new way ("the apple is red," "the sun is yellow")!

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

If you know of any others, or find any others that use color names postnominally, please comment below to let me know! I love to collect books (to my husband's dismay - they're taking over our apartment!) and would love to get my hands on some books that use this new technique of teaching colors.

But for now, I will continue to read the books I already have, and will just start a conversation (yes, with my 3-month-old!) about the color on the page. "Red apple. See that, baby? The apple is red!"

UPDATE 01/16/2015

I have discovered a few more books that use color names postnominally (or, "the right way" as I usually refer to it with my family. Though there is really no right or wrong way, they've only just discovered that one way may be more effective than the other).

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff
A beautiful picture book about a baby bear venturing out into the world and seeing lots of colors. "'Those are the strawberries,' Mama says. Baby bear sees red." "'That is a butterfly,' Mama says. Baby bear sees orange." Etc.

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs by Sandra Boynton
This book is really cute - not specifically about colors, but it's a rhyming book about dinosaurs. In addition to dinosaurs being cute and spiny and mean, one page also says there are "Dinosaurs Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green."

Winnie-the-Pooh's Colors inspired by A.A. Milne
This board book has both prenominal and postnominal colors - one page says "Piglet wears a green sweater" and another page says "Tigger is orange."

UPDATE 01/20/2015

I found two more books! I'm quite excited that this list has grown, since I was a little dismayed by the choices I'd originally found (that use colors postnominally).

Another dinosaur book: How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

Actually a book about counting to ten (duh), one page does use color names postnominally.
The toy trucks are painted blue, green, and red (they are not "blue, green, and red trucks").

I love Tad Hill's Duck & Goose books, and am really glad to see that the color book uses the colors the "right" way.

This entire book appears to be "correct." (I do not yet own it). The sample shows pages that say "The inchworm is green, like leaves." and, "Duck is yellow, like a field of buttercups."

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Getting Baby to Love Water Part 2: BIG Baths

If you missed the first post of this series, look here before continuing.

Once you've given your baby lots of baths that have been successful (my definition of this word in this context merely means: "no screaming or fussing." I'm not saying he has to be smiling, laughing, and kicking every time!), you can move on to this next step!

Taking Baths with Your Baby

To help your little fish like the water, get in it with them! They already love and trust you, so just extend that to water situations. But don't immediately go hop in the pool with them. Take it slow.

This is a great way for dad and baby to bond too! Fill up the big tub (not the baby tub!) to about halfway - use your thermometer! (Baby can tolerate different temperatures than you can, so even if it feels warm to you, it could be too hot for him). It doesn't need to be completely full. Climb into the tub and have your partner hand you the baby. He can rest on your chest a little bit, but try to have him partially submerged in the water.

Taking baths this way also allows your baby to experience floating - it's a new and weird and wonderful sensation. Babies are pretty buoyant (all that adorable baby fat!), so cradle their head and neck and just let their bum and legs float in the water. Try to tell if your little one enjoys the sensation. Baby G looked so confused and shocked the first time, but then started to like floating. His dad would line his feet up against the side so he could push off a bit.

Again, keep baby's exposure to water short and sweet. Don't overdo it or try to stretch it too long - a 5-10 minute bath is sufficient.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Breastfeeding in the tub!

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why I Call My Baby Names

No one likes a screaming baby. Of course, I love my son. But no matter how much you may love your little one, their screaming and crying will be frustrating and stressful. I’ve had my fair share of tears (my own) because of a baby that would not stop crying. Caring for a fussy baby is challenging and nothing like I ever expected. The first few months are the hardest (especially if you’re baby has colic, which usually goes away after 3 months). Dealing with an upset baby can leave you physically and emotionally exhausted and make you isolate yourself from the outside world. From day one though, I found something that works (most of the time) to calm myself down and make dealing with my boy when he’s upset a little easier. I call him names.

When he’s fussing, I refer to him as “Mr. Fussy,” “Grumpy boy,” “Fussy Britches,” or “Fussy Pants.” (What did you think I meant??) I think it’s important to maintain a sense of humor as a parent, even (especially!) in situations that really test you. It’s easy to become angry and resentful because of the crying – especially when you’re sleep deprived. Calling my 3-month-old lighthearted, humorous names helps me not become too serious and stressed out when he’s reaching pitches I previously thought could only be heard by dogs.

It’s not as if the little guy is fussing just to grate my nerves. Babies are not vindictive or manipulative. (Manipulation doesn’t really come into play until they’re 2 or 3 years old!) So it’s hard to stay mad at him, especially if I’m goofing around and poking a little fun at him. This isn’t to say that I’m completely unfazed by his screaming. On the contrary, just like any sane adult, the screaming still stresses me out. It’s meant to. We are programmed to respond to a baby crying, and biology decided that we would best care for a baby and calm them down if their fussing raised our blood pressure.

Also, keeping a sense of humor in situations like that mean that I don’t look as stressed out. Once a baby reaches 6-8 weeks of age, they’ll be able to clearly see your face from about a foot away. They’ll start responding to your facial expressions and feeding off of your mood and behavior. It’s hard to calm down when the person you’re staring at looks just as upset as you! So, when my boy is doing his worst, I put on my happiest face and coo, “Who’s my fussy boy? You’re such a Mr. Grumpy Gills!”

Please note though, that if you find yourself becoming angry and stressed to the max, it is okay to put your baby down for a few minutes and walk away to take a breather. I promise, he’ll be fine (he may even surprise you and calm himself down!). You never want to put yourself in a situation where you may do something you’ll later regret. If you find yourself fearing you may cause your baby harm, please get help. Walk away, get your partner, or call someone to talk. 

Note Feb 04 2016: This post was originally published online at Family Culture Magazine, but it seems to no longer be active. I previously had only a snippet here on my blog, but because the link to the full article was defunct, you can now read the whole thing right here at Prego to Legos!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Charities for Parents to be Passionate About

There are thousands upon thousands of different charities in the US. Many of them are focused on infants and children - causes close to my heart! :) I'm sure you're familiar with some of the more well-known: Make a Wish Foundation, March of Dimes, Locks of Love, Toys for Tots Ronald McDonald House Charities... But there are a lot of great ones that you may not have heard of.

Here's a brief list of charities that I think parents should get behind - and many of them are easy for kids to get involved with too!

Blessings in a Backpack provides a backpack full of nutritional, easy-to-prepare meals for the weekend for elementary school kids who are at risk of hunger. This non-profit organization currently feeds over  63,000 children in 583 schools in 45 U.S. states. These children are able to eat while they are at school, but once at home, may not always have a meal - especially a nutritious one. "Poor nutrition can result in a weaker immune system, increased hospitalization, lower IQ, shorter attention spans, and lower academic achievement." Just $80 will pay to feed a child for the entire school year.

Giving Diapers Giving Hope gives cloth diapers to low-income families to help alleviate the cost of diapering. (Disposable diapers are expensive!!) To help, you can donate money, donate cloth diapers or cloth diaper accessories, or sponsor a "box of hope" (you cover the shipping fee of $35 to send diapers to a family. They currently receive cloth diaper donations from Bummis, Moraki, Apple Cheeks, and Tiny Tush.

The Birthday Box is a relatively new non-profit that provides "children in need with an opportunity to blow out candles and make a birthday wish on his or her special day. An entire birthday celebration is assembled, packaged & then delivered in a recycled box. This party in a box, includes a birthday cake, candles, party plates, a birthday present and party decorations." To help, you can make a monetary donation, or donate a toy, gift card, party decorations (party hats, noise makers), birthday candles, wrapping paper, paper plates, etc. You can also sponsor a box, host a collection drive, or collect gifts at your own child's party to donate to The Birthday Box.

Newborns in Need provides kits that contain necessities for a newborn's first few weeks of life. Over 450,000 babies born are born prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation), 1,210 babies are born to teen moms each day, and 2660 babies are born into poverty each day. You can donate hand-made or store-bought items that will go to a poor or premature baby. They even have patterns you can use to crochet, knit, or sew blankets, diaper bags, hats, booties, bibs, and more. Of course you can always make a monetary donation or purchase an item from their online shop.

Reach Out and Read is a non-profit organization of medical providers that promotes literacy and school-readiness by providing books to children and advice to parents about the benefits of reading aloud. In addition to providing new books to children when they visit their offices, the pediatricians also strive to have a literacy-rich waiting room. You can donate books, bookshelves and children's furniture, story-time rugs, or children's or parenting magazines. You can also volunteer as a reader in a waiting room (in certain clinics and practices - not all) or, of course, donate funds. Reach Out and Read currently serves 4.2 million children annually in the US. Scholastic will be donating 500,000 books to the program soon.

Project Linus's mission is to "provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans..." They have chapters in every state and deliver blankets to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, or "anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug." You can donate a blanket (only handmade/homemade), fabric or materials, or make a financial contribution.

Canines for Disabled Kids is a non-profit organization that provides service dogs for autistic children, hearing impaired children, and other physically disabled children. You can donate funds directly to them, purchase products from a partnered company (though only a portion goes to the charity), or hold a fundraiser for the cause.

For more, has a list of 10 great charities (some of my list is on there)
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Best Free Nook Books for Young Children

As I was preparing for our first vacation with our baby, I couldn't decide which books to bring. I couldn't take too many as we were trying to pack light - we were going to be away for 2 weeks and I needed to save room in my suitcase. Then I remembered I had a Nook and could download books to read to him on our trip! I just didn't want to have to spend a lot of money on more books (since we already have a ton!)

So I've compiled a list of some of the best free (and cheap) Nook books. Keep in mind, these may not all be free for forever. So if you see one you like, get it now! You can get the Nook app on your phone or computer if you don't have a Nook reader or tablet.

The books I'm listing are good for the under-6 crowd, most are great for even younger. (My boy is only 3-months-old). All of them are Nook Read-to-Me books, which give you the option of reading it yourself, having it read to you, or recording it as you read it. 

I've circled the 3 best books that are shown on this screenshot.

Jingle All the Way by Tom Shay-Zapien
This is the Hallmark book you may have seen commercials for at Christmas time. It goes with the stuffed dog, Jingle, that will bark when key words are read.

The Elephant Child: How the Elephant Got His Trunk by Rudyard Kipling
This is a really cute folklore type of story about a baby elephant who was very curious ("nosy").

The Jungle Book: A Baby Lit Animals Primer by Jennifer Adams
I love all of the Baby Lit books - and was thrilled when I found a couple of them for free. I like this one a lot - Each page shows you the name of an animal and a quote from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. (Ex: "Wolf 'Akela... led all the pack by strength and cunning." Like all the Baby Lit books, it has bold, high contrast illustrations that are a lot of fun.

Wuthering Heights: A Baby Lit Weather Primer by Jennifer Adams
Currently the other free Baby Lit book. Like the Baby Lit Jungle Book, this book shows you a type of weather (ex: "Breezy") and then a quote from the actual Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (ex: "The weather was sweet and warm.")

Bell's Big Move by Tom Shay-Zapien
Another Hallmark book that features one of their stuffed animals. Bell the stuffed animal will respond when key phrases are read.

Sense & Sensibility: A Baby Lit Opposites Primer by Jennifer Adams ($0.99)
Another Baby Lit! (Clearly, I love them!) This is one of only 2 baby lit books that is under a dollar. Many of the others are $6 or more. Unlike The Jungle Book and Wuthering Heights baby lit books, this one does not include quotes from the original work, but just does opposites like "Over" and "Under" with cute accompanying illustrations (that are often "opposite" in color too).

Sally Goes to the Beach by Stephen Huneck ($0.99)
This humorous book gives a black lab named Sally's take on a trip to the beach. Some of Sally's musings include what she thinks the captain of the boat looks like (Spoiler! She thinks it's a dog) as well as what was packed in the suitcase (dog toys). I'm a big fan of the illustrations in this one as well - very vibrant and eye catching.

 Sally Goes to the Farm by Stephen Huneck ($0.99)
Another book featuring the black lab Sally. This time she goes to the farm where she meets and plays with a yellow lab named Molly. They have a blast playing with the farm animals - and it made me chuckle - there's a lot of play on words. (Example: they hang out with the pig and "eat like pigs" and play with the horse who likes to "horse around.")

Ruff Says the Dog by Kim Mitzo Thompson ($0.99)
This book is a great introduction to animal sounds for the very young reader. It stars the standard animals found in baby books: cat, pig, horse, duck, etc. The illustrations are high-contrast and quite cute. 

Edgar Gets Ready For Bed by Jennifer Adams ($2.99)
This take on Edgar Allen Poe's works is a Baby Lit First Steps book. A mother Raven instructs her young one through all the steps of getting ready for bed - to which he always replies "Nevermore." As always with the Baby Lit, it has great illustrations - this one all in black and white (with shades of grey).

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Monday, June 23, 2014

AllieLou Baby Bib Review

Disclosure: I received a bib from AllieLou Baby as a trade for a review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

I was introduced to AllieLou Baby, an Etsy shop, through my Ecocentric Mom box subscription. In my last box was a wooden teething ring from the shop. (For my review of that item, click here). Which, by the way, I need to replace, because my naughty dog got a hold of it and broke the ring in half. (Grr, Ace!) Anyway, I love the shop - there are a lot of cute bibs, teething rings, burp cloths and more! You can even have bibs embroidered with a monogram.

Many of the items are organic, and they come in some really cute prints that aren't your stereotypical pink and blue baby fabrics. 

The bib I received was printed with yellow bicycles and backed with chenille. It's 100% organic cotton and has a white plastic snap closure. The chenille fabric is very soft and absorbent - a requirement since the top cotton fabric is not absorbent. I love the bicycle print - the grey bike amidst the yellow ones is very modern.


The bib is quite large - it came almost to the crotch of my chunky 3-month-old (who is in the 90th percentile for height/weight). So it would likely swallow a smaller or younger baby. But, I like that it's long. My little man has been drooling a lot lately, and the front of his onesies always end up soaked. I can't always catch the drool off his chin before it pools on his chest! This way, he's completely covered/protected from drool, and if the bib gets wet I can just take it off and not have to change him completely. Only, the OCD in me won't let me put him in clashing prints - his bibs have to match the rest of his outfit. (I can't be the only one, right?)

He seemed to like the bib! Easy for him to grab and stuff into his mouth.
But that little bit of his onesie showing drives me bonkers! The two prints don't go together! haha.

The bib still looks brand new even after washing - which, for a handmade bib, is impressive. I've made some of my own, and they always come out of the dryer looking a little wonky.

All in all, I love the bib. It's cute, soft and does what it's supposed to! I'm eyeing another bib from the shop... a linen one with utensils embroidered on the front. So chic! :)
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Does My Baby Miss Me? Separation Anxiety and Object Permanence

Does my baby miss me?
I was asking myself this question while I was at dinner with my husband for our first date night since our son was born. I told myself that he probably didn't realize I was gone - he was too young. But when I got home he was crying really hard and apparently had been for most of the time we were gone. As soon as I took him in my arms, he quieted, and just whimpered for a while before falling asleep minutes after the sitter left. I began wondering if he had missed me/us, or if it was something else. (Perhaps he was teething? I also mused.) So I decided to see if it was possible for him to realize we were gone and be sad from our absence at such a young age (3 months).

From what I found, it seems that most babies do not get separation anxiety until they are at least 6 months old. At around that age, babies develop what is called object permanence, which means that they can remember people and things that aren't visible or present. (Which is why 6-month-old babies get a kick out of "peek-a-boo" but younger babies do not). Before object permanence develops, when an item isn't visible, it just doesn't exist to them. They can't remember that they were playing with their toy giraffe only minutes before; if they aren't looking at it, they aren't thinking about it. For babies under 6 months of age, they literally practice "out of sight, out of mind."
Before object permanence develops, his toy giraffe only exists when it's visible to him.

How do I know when my baby has developed object permanence?
First signs of the development of object permanence can be seen when your baby looks around for an object that he dropped or that you took away.

How long does separation anxiety last?
During the second half of baby's first year (months 6-12) is the first peak of separation anxiety. There is another peak during the second half of the second year (months 18-24), though some babies experience them back-to-back for about an 8-month stretch of separation anxiety.

Not all babies will experience bad separation anxiety, though most babies will have at least one bout of it as part of a healthy development. Some babies and toddlers can experience debilitating separation anxiety and develop Separation Anxiety Disorder. But there are steps you can take to make separations less stressful for you and for your little one - but I won't go into those now.

As sweet as it was to think my boy missed me (even though it was heartbreaking hearing him cry like that), I don't think that's what it was. He's a pretty advanced little boy - rolled over for the first time before he was even 2 months old (though he didn't repeat it until he was 3 months), can hold his own weight on his legs (but can't balance enough to stand unsupported), and can almost sit up unsupported - but I think it's a bit early to assume he's developed any object permanence or is capable of experiencing separation anxiety. Although... I did just put a toy in his line of vision, got him smiling, then whipped it away too fast for his eyes to follow... and he seemed to look around a little for it.

If you look at forums, you will find lots of moms that swear their 3 or 4 month old baby missed them when they left, but there is yet to be any scientific research that indicates that an infant that young can experience separation anxiety. Just because your baby cries when you're gone doesn't necessarily
mean that they miss you (sorry!).  But if they have a toy in their hand, keep an eye out when they drop it. If they look around, wondering where it went, then object permanence has started developing, and it won't be long before they do start to miss you.

Heidi Murkoff: What to Expect the First Year
Dr. Greene: Separation Anxiety A-Z
Baby Center: Separation Anxiety
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Binky Monster Pacifier Clip Review

Disclosure: I received a binky clip sample from Binky Monster to review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Binky Monster is a small business (but growing!) that sells binky/pacifier clips, blankets, accessories, wash cloths, and nursing pillows. They just launched their new website too! Their tag line is: "Baby products and goods created for your little monsters!"

 I got their popular "Mike" style (as in Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc).

It is super cute! And Mike's face is much larger than I thought! (No risk of losing your pacifier with a clip this large!)


The character piece is made of felt and appears to be hot glued together. 

The leash is a standard ribbon with two snaps on the end. The leash is a good length - if I have it clipped to the strap of my Ergo, even if he turns his head the pacifier will stay in his mouth.

Unfortunately, the clip doesn't attach to all types of pacifiers. I had three pacifiers on hand - a Soothie, Nuk, and Tommee Tippee and it only attached to one of them. The clip would've attached to the Tommee Tippee if the "female" snap had been the one on the end of the ribbon instead of the "male" snap. Because the protruding part of the snap wouldn't fit through the opening on the binky. (See photo above!)

Clearly this wouldn't attach to the Soothie. But I charge that as Soothie's problem - because very few types of pacifier clips will work with a Soothie. Those little holes are too small and there isn't a handle like with the Nuk.
It does attach to the Nuk because it has a nice "handle" with a large opening.

Bonus: Once your child outgrows pacifiers, you can just cut off the ribbon and reuse the character as a decorative clip! Cutting the ribbon off can also help signify to your kid that they are growing up. Some ideas for how to use it once you cut the ribbon off: clip it to your diaper bag, decorate a baby carrier with it, it could be a reusable gift tag, or use as a cute "paper clip."

All in all, it's an adorable, simple binky clip that has multiple uses and comes in lots of different styles. And at $8.50 it's a good deal! It makes a great gift and you'd be supporting a small business.

Binky Monster's links and social media information is below:
instagram: @binkymonsterinc
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Drama Queens and Kings

I was involved in theater and acting from a very young age and even pursued it as a career before my son was born. It is my belief that theater is one of the best things a child can get involved in, and I am not the only one that thinks so! There are many benefits to being involved in theater, from confidence building, to better posture, to improved academic performance and more.

Me and a cast mate as Desdemona and Iago in Goodnight Desdemona, Goodmorning Juliet. 2005
Theater helps children to be more creative and stimulates their imagination. “Pretend play” is one of the best forms of play a child can participate in, even at home, but becoming actively involved in drama expands on it. Children learn public speaking skills and confidence. Corey Latta, a Teaching Artist at Adventure Theater Musical Theater Center in Maryland says, "One of my favorite parts of being a theater educator, is watching how much each child transforms during their time in a class or production! There is something about the collaborative nature of theater classes that really helps kids come out of their shells, use their creativity, and take ownership over something they have created.”

Acting helps children learn to empathize and read body language. As an actor, if only for a moment, you can experience what it’s like to be someone else. Actors also learn how to hold their own bodies; acting creates wonderful body awareness. When you are required to portray a sprightly child, an elderly person, and a fairy, you learn how to use your body in different ways and become more in tune with it. Actors also tend to have wonderful posture; in order for your words to reach the very last row, you have to know how to stand to facilitate good projection.

Children learn to work as a team in theater. It is never a singular effort; most plays are not a one-man show. When learning to act, you also learn to share your thoughts and ideas as well as give and take constructive criticism and feedback. Actors also have to learn how to handle rejection - you won’t always get the part you want. As I learned as a child, even if you get the lead one year, it doesn’t guarantee you will get it the next year. Disappointment doesn’t really get easier, but you do learn to handle it better.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, acting and theater involvement can also boost academic performance and reading skills. Studies show that children that participate in dramatic activities show significantly higher scores on Reading Comprehension Tests. Consistent participation in drama greatly improves academic performance and significantly bumps up standardized test scores. When involved in theater, you have to read and re-read scripts. (I can’t even count the number of plays I have read in this lifetime). Student actors are also more involved in community service, and less likely to drop out of school.

The best benefit, however, is that it is thrilling and fun. Your kids may not notice all of the skills acting is giving them, they will just enjoy it and want to do even more. As Ms. Latta says, “Take a chance on the arts, and come play!"

Note Feb 04 2016: This post was originally published online at Family Culture Magazine, but it seems to no longer be active. I previously had only a snippet here on my blog, but because the link to the full article was defunct, you can now read the whole thing right here at Prego to Legos!
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Citrus Lane (Baby Subscription Box) Review

One of the box subscriptions I get is Citrus Lane, which I was signed up for as a gift. It's always full of great toys and products I may not have heard of before! (Which is really saying something!)

My June box came in yesterday and I snapped a few pictures before I tore into it. :)

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hospital Essentials: What to Pack When You're Having a Baby

A friend recently asked for my packing list for going to the hospital (to have a baby). So I decided to make it a little cuter than a plain old list.

I had a crazy long packing list when I was pregnant. I searched tons of blogs and websites for the ultimate list. Since my husband was going to be deployed when I gave birth, I didn't want to forget a single thing!

What I Didn't Need:
But it turned out that I brought a lot of really unneeded things. Of course, everybody is different and has their own preferences... Though I have always loved makeup and playing around with it and getting dolled up, during the last few months of my pregnancy I hardly wore it. So I thought for sure I would do the whole shebang after my boy was born when I was getting ready to come home. False. I was breastfeeding practically every hour, and sleeping a lot. I did a little bit of makeup - tinted chapstick and mascara.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Daily Life With a 2-Month-Old

I promised when I began this blog, that I wouldn't solely write about "what I did all day." But, I thought one post about what a day is like for me with my now 3-month-old boy wouldn't be the worst thing. :P I wish I'd done one when he was 1-month-old so that I could compare and see what the difference is. Because it's hard to notice change when it happens gradually over the course of a month.

So, here's what a standard day is like for me. He only turned 3-months-old the other day, so I'm going to write about what life is like with a 2-month-old since that is what he was up until a couple days ago. haha.

Keep in mind, babies don't have set schedules and aren't exactly predictable. So these are just average times and estimates. Babies this age can start to develop patterns, but it's not set in stone.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Getting Baby to Love Water Part 1: Baths

I'm sure no one wants their little one to hate the water. Baths would be frustrating and just forget about going to the beach or pool. But how do you get your kids to like the water? Of course, some of it is ingrained personality, but you can do some things to help them enjoy baths (and eventually swimming). But you have to start at an early age.

You can start giving your baby real baths once their umbilical cord stump falls off (7-14 days after birth, though my little boy's fell off on Day 4. We were quite shocked!) Prior to that, you can only give them sponge baths. But I never even got the chance to - it's not like a baby will really get that dirty in 4 days! Once you are able to give baby a real bath, you want it to be a positive experience.
  • Firstly, you want to make baby's exposure to the water short and sweet. Prolong the experience and he may start to get fussy. 
  • Make sure the water temperature is ideal. Do you like cold baths? Although I love hot baths, they are not good for babies. It does seem that our little man enjoys baths that are borderline hot. We have a handy little bath thermometer that tells us if it's "cold," "ideal," or "hot" and he seems to like it when it's reading both "ideal" and "hot" at the same time. 

  • Take note of how much they are submerged in the water.  Baby G's first bath, he was hardly in the water at all. We were trying not to shock him, but that may be one reason that first bath wasn't wonderful. He didn't get too fussy during the bath, really, just toward the end and immediately once we took him out. (See the bullet on drying baby off fast, below). Just like when you are in a bath, any body part that is not under the water can get cold. So make sure you're constantly pouring a little warm water over his body so he doesn't get chilly. 

  • Be gentle. Especially at first. Their skin is soft and sensitive - there's no need for any vigorous scrubbing with a loofah. You don't really even need a washcloth, you can just use your hands. 
  • Make it fun! Your little one may be too young to appreciate bath toys yet, but you can still have fun. Sing songs, rub them gently, talk to them and smile at them... Figure out what they like! Baby G loves the little squirt bottle that came with our tub. (It's basically just a plastic bottle with a bunch of holes in the lid, so when you squeeze it, it's like a shower). We squirt his belly and head gently as well as hold it up high so he can watch the water fall down into the tub. 
  • Acclimate them to the "bad" parts of water. After you've had a couple short, successful baths, you can start to gently dribble water on their face and let it run into their eyes. (Make sure you're using a tear-free baby soap/shampoo!) Don't overdo it, just get them used to water being on their face, eyelashes, etc. They will get splashed in the face when at the pool - you can't avoid it. You can build up to more and more; actually splashing in the tub and letting it splash onto his face - just take it slow!
  • When it's time to get out, dry baby off fast! We have a few different towels: thin terry ones and a thick fuzzy one. The thin ones get wet very fast (not as absorbent) and then baby gets cold faster cause he's just wrapped in a wet towel! We like the thicker towel better because it's cozier and warmer. After a few baths, we found out that he liked the rub-down. He loves having the towel rubbed on his head, face, and body - we can even get a little vigorous!

  •  Repeat frequently! We give our boy a bath every night. Bonus: it's also part of a successful bedtime routine. The more you do it, the more used to it your baby will get. Babies and young children also thrive on routine - they like knowing what to expect.
Of course, these steps may not always work (and I'm no expert).  Even though it seems like G is turning into a fish, we still have some bad bath experiences from time to time. Like if we're bathing him when he's over-tired, or hungry, or just cranky. Or if we try to push it too long, he will get fed up.

This is just the first part of creating a positive relationship between your baby and water. Stay tuned for the next parts!
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