Friday, December 24, 2010

Eczema in Babies and Toddlers
My two older children had eczema as babies but luckily outgrew it.  So, when the winter weather began and we started running our heater, I knew my toddler's red raw cheeks were from eczema.   

After seeing the pediatrician, I realized there is new information out there about eczema in children.  For example, our pediatrician told us that the medical community is now realizing the most common causes of eczema are food allergies.  This was not surprising to me because my oldest still gets eczema flare-ups if he eats egg whites.  However, since there are a variety of causes I wanted to do some research online to see what others had to say about their experiences and any advice they had to offer. 

Important Things I Learned Along the Way
  1. Eliminate any possible household allergens - dust mites, scented soaps and detergents, etc.
  2. Bathe frequently but limit the amount of time in the bath, use mild soaps and use lukewarm water not hot.  Hot water dries skin.
  3. Use a cool mist humidifier during dry winter months. 
  4. Moisturize!  Even when you child's skin is looking good, moisturize to prevent flare-ups.  It is best to moisturize immediately following bath. 
For More Information 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Christmas Music

I love listening to Christmas during the holiday season.  My top two favorite Christmas song performers are the Celtic Woman group and Bing Crosby.  Below are some videos of Celtic Woman Christmas performances and video clips from my all-time favorite Christmas movie, "White Christmas".  They are perfect for getting you and your family into the Christmas spirit.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Video Message From Santa Claus

Do you want to help a child get into the Christmas spirit?  Visit the Portable North Pole to create a special message from Santa to be delivered to a lucky little boy or girl.  It just takes a few minutes to enter information about them.  My kids love it and get a kick out of receiving their own special video email from Santa.  I'm sure your children will love it too.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Candied Sweet Potatoes/Yams with Marshmallows

Here is a great recipe for the holiday season!  Enjoy!

  • 1 (29 ounce) can sweet potatoes/yams
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • cinnamon (to taste)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Drain sweet potatoes and then put in a medium baking dish.  Coarsely chop or mash if you like.  Then distribute butter pieces evenly over the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Top with a layer of miniature marshmallows.
  3. Cover with aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Uncover and cook for another 5 minutes to brown marshmallows.

Last Minute Christmas Card Pictures

Each year I like to send out Christmas cards with a photo of our kids.  I prefer to take the pictures myself at home but, having three kids makes it difficult to get a picture of all them looking nice at once.  Also, as usually, I was running late on getting my Christmas cards sent out.  So, I needed to find a way to get several pictures on one 4x6 sheet and I needed them really fast. 

I found my solution on!  They have Gifts Ready in 1-hour including 1-Hour Collage Prints.  It was perfect!  You can choose 8x10's, 5x7's and 4x6's.  They have several color options for your border, as well as thin, medium and thick widths.  A title can be added to the top or the bottom if you want with your choice of font.  You have the option to print it in a portrait or landscape orientation and you can use up to 20 photos!  The best part is, not only can you get them in 1 hour but they start at only 19 CENTS each!  It was just what I needed to help me spread the holiday cheer to my friends and family.  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stretch Your Grocery Money

Now here is a mom who knows what she is talking about.  Gina is a stay-at-home-mom with three young children (including a set of twins).  She has created a blog, Moneywise Moms, where she shares all her money saving ideas.  She has tons of great advice to offer.  However, since my favorite ways to save money are at the grocery store my top three favorite posts on Moneywise Moms are:
  1. Cook Once, Eat 10 Times (Chicken Edition)
  2. Saving Money on Groceries (with NO Coupons)
Thank you Gina for taking the time from your busy schedule to share your wonderful money saving ideas with the rest of us.  I look forward to your future posts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One During the Holidays

This year we lost my father-in-law to cancer after he bravely fought it for over two years.  Although we knew it was coming, it has still hit the family very hard.  With the holiday season in full swing, everyone has been keeping to themselves and not said much about him.  In my attempt to help my husband and extended family, I sought out some aide from the Internet.  There is some great advice out there and here are some points I found to be helpful:
  1. Decide For Yourself - You decide how you want to handle the holidays. 
    • Cut back on Christmas cards or don't send any at all.
    • Have the family gather at someone else's home.
  2. Decorate! - If it is difficult for you to decorate, ask someone to do it for you or to help.  You may find the decor helpful to cheering you up and putting you in the holiday spirit.  If you have children in your family, they are missing your loved one too.  Kids always love Christmas decorations!
  3. Change Tradition - My mother-in-law actually requested that we have a "Dirty Santa" Christmas this year.  After some hesitation everyone agreed and I think we are all glad we had.  Usually we each pile up our gifts and take turns opening them.  It would be difficult to see a pile of gifts missing.
  4. Remember - Do something special to remember your loved one. 
    • You can light a candle in their memory or put a picture of your loved one out during family gatherings.  
    • Leave an empty seat for them and place a flower on it. 
    • You could also put a bowl, pen and paper out for people to write down memories of your loved one and put it in the bowl.  Although others to read them or keep them for yourself. 

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is right for you.  And remember, your family is there for support and a shoulder if needed.

Homemade Holiday Decorations

If you are like most of us, you are trying to make most of your holiday decorations this season.  On the verge of endless Christmas parties and the kids winter break, think about making your own Christmas decorations that your children can help you with. 

The website:  How to Make Free Holiday Decorations From Your Garden has some great ideas on how to use free resources you have on hand and may not even know it.

And here are some helpful links on craft ideas for you to do with the kids.  These crafts will surely deck your halls.
The crafts that your children make would make great gifts for family and friends too!  Have fun and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Snacks, Crafts and Printables

'Tis the season for indoor playdates, family gatherings and holiday parties.  With so many events coming up, I had to do some searching for some fun Christmas snacks and activities fast!  After looking all day, I have finally narrowed it down to a few sites I really like.  Below, you will find lots of ideas to get you and your family ready for the holiday party surge.  Happy Holidays and enjoy!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Family Christmas Movies

One of our most favorite things to do as a family during the holidays is to snuggle up and watch Christmas movies together.  We lay blankets and pillows on the floor and have a "movie picnic" with hot chocolate, popcorn and cookies.  Here are the movies we love to watch with our kids:

Great Family Christmas Movies

If you don't want to buy or rent movies, there are wonderful Christmas movies on TV.  The ABC Family Channel airs some of the movies mentioned above and many more during their 25 Days of Christmas holiday event, which runs Dec 1st - 25th.  To download the schedule click here:  ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas Schedule.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How To Host A Playdate

Now that my oldest is in elementary school, he is always asking for his friends to come over.  I love the idea of my kids having their friends over.  However, I was so nervous my first time having a playdate at my house.  I didn't know what to ask the parents, how long the friend should stay over, and if I should plan some kind of activity.  Luckily the first friend my son had over has a wonderful mother.  She was kind enough to answer all of my questions. (Thank you Danielle!)  After hosting a few playdates I've learned a few things:

  1. Communicate with the other parents:
    • Ask the parents if their child has any food allergies.
    • Find out if there are any cartoons their child is not allowed to watch.
    • Let them know if you have any pets and what kind.
    • Tell them who will be at the house while their child is there.
    • If you have any hazards in your home (ex: pool, guns, etc) let the parents know.  Tell them what measures you take to keep the children safe (ex: fence around the pool, gun safe, etc.)
    • Ask for a phone number where they can be reached.
  2. Schedule the playdate for 1-2 hours.  After the first hour or so they may get board with each other.
  3. There is no need to plan activities.  Remember, your child's toys are new to their friend and that will be entertaining enough.
  4. If your child's friend rides the bus home with your child, call the parents to let them know that their child made it to your home safely.  This will also give you the opportunity to confirm pick-up time.
  5. Remind your child and tell their friend of your house rules (ex: no running inside, rooms that are off limits, etc.) upon the friend's arrival.
  6. Stay close by and check on the children frequently, especially if it's the friend's first visit.
  7. Make sure you have snacks and drinks on hand.
Remember, playdates are a great way for your child to make long term friends and a wonderful way for you to get to know your child's friends and their family.

*Helpful Links:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday 2010

Are you kicking your Christmas shopping off today on the internet?  Looking for the great Cyber Monday deals?  Below you'll find links to websites with lists of today's best deals: 
Have fun shopping everyone and Happy Holidays!  =)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stop Throwing Away Groceries!

With money tight these days I do everything I can to stretch every dollar.  So, when I throw away spoiled groceries at the end of each week, I feel like I'm throwing away money.  I knew I had to do something about it right away.  So I began to work on a new grocery buying and using strategy.  

When I thought about it I realized I would buy ingredients needed for only one recipe and those ingredients would go bad before I made the recipe again.  So, I sat down and thought about recipes that share the same ingredients and decided to group all those recipes into one week of meals.  This way I will be able to use all my groceries without leaving anything to toss in the garbage at the end of the week.  This is what I cam up with so far:

Main Groceries:
  • 4 Large Split Fryer Chicken Breasts
  • 2 lbs Beef Rib Meat
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Sack of Potatoes
  • 1 Bunch of Celery
  • 1 Bunch of Carrots
  • Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Tortilla Shells

  1. Homemade Chicken Soup
  2. BBQ Chicken
  3. Chicken Salad 
  4. Chicken Quesadillas
  5. Cheesy Roll-Ups (tortilla shells and shredded cheese; roll up and cook in microwave for 20-30 seconds)
  6. Beef Stew
  7. BBQ Ribs
  8. BBQ Rib Wraps
  9. Carrot Stick Snack (left over carrots)

*Images from

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Place Card Holders

Here is an easy and fun way to display your place cards at your Thanksgiving dinner this year.  All you'll need is:
  • Green Floral Wire
  • Small Pumpkins (real or artificial)
  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  1. Take one end of the floral wire with your needle-nose pliers and make a small loop by twisting your wrist. 
  2. Hold the small loop with two fingers and use your other hand to slowly bend the wire into an open spiral.
  3. When you are done making your spiral, use your needle-nose pliers to make a 90 degree bend in the wire.  Leave about 2 inches of straight wire for a stem.
  4. Insert the stem of your spiral wire into the top of the pumpkin close to the pumpkin stem.
  5. You can purchase small place cards or make your own with card stock and scissors/decorative scissors.  Insert the place cards into the spiral to be displayed.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MRSA - My Family's Fight
  This year my baby girl, 10 months old at the time, developed a very mild diaper rash.  One week later, the diaper rash was gone but, there was a small red bump with a little white head on it in the crease between her thigh and diaper area.  I thought it was a pimple or possible another diaper rash.  So, I put diaper cream on it.  The next day it was bigger, red and the white head looked more green.  My daughter also developed a low-grade fever.  I knew whatever it was, it must have been infected.  We called the pediatrician right away.  When they saw her they right away said it was MRSA.  The doctor said when she had the diaper rash she probably had a very small crack in her skin from it.  This tiny opening gave MRSA a way in to cause an infection.  They drained the abscess (pimple like bump) and put her on oral antibiotics and she got better soon after.  However, she got another abscess in her diaper area two months later.  I was able to catch it early and they put her on antibiotics yet again. 

Unfortunately, it came back again two weeks later and worse than ever.  As soon as I noticed the symptoms I called the doctor right away and they called in a prescription to our pharmacy.  However, it was getting worse within a matter of hours so I called them back but they were closing.  So, they had me bring her into the doctor's office first thing the next morning.  By the time we got there my daughter (then 12 1/2 months old) had spiked a fever of 103 F and her abscess was so large that her bottom was very swollen, bright red, hard and extremely tender.  My little girl was miserable!  As soon as they saw here they said I needed to rush her over to the ER.  The doctor's office had called ahead so there was a team of people waiting for us when we got there.  

In the hospital with my baby girl.
In the hospital they assessed her, gave her something to reduce her fever and then admitted her.  My daughter needed I.V. antibiotics and surgery!  She was in so much pain and feeling so terrible that I wanted them to do whatever they needed to do to make her better.  The doctors told me that MRSA creates an abscess that has a large pocket of pus deep under the skin and off of this large pocket are several smaller pockets also infected with MRSA.  The surgery allows them to scrape out all the infection in the large pocket as well as the infection hiding in the smaller pockets.  If the smaller pockets are left, they will create new abscesses essentially making it recurring MRSA. 

After four nights and five days in the hospital my daughter was released.  However, before leaving I made sure I got all the information I could as to how to prevent this from happening again.  I spoke with nurses, pediatricians, pediatric surgeons, etc. and wrote everything down that they told me.  I never wanted my baby to go through that again!  Nor did I want my two older kids to catch it either.  As soon as I got home I put into action everything I learned at the hospital:
  • Always wash your hands with Dial Foam soap: before and after changing diapers, after going to the bathroom, before and after handling food, before eating, when you come home, etc.
  • Wash your tub with bleach - before and after each bath (while child has abscess) and 1-2 times a week after.
  • Wash all your clothes and linens with non-chlorine bleach.
  • Change your child's linens once every couple of days while infected and once a week afterward.
  • Never use a towel more than once. 
  • Do not share towels.
  • Use paper towels to dry hands instead of hand towels.
  • Everyone in the family should wash their bodies with Dial Bar Soap.  (Only wash infant/toddler's diaper area with Dial.  Moisturize skin with lotion to prevent drying/cracking).
I am not a medical professional and by all means, I am not trying to give medical advice.  But unfortunately MRSA is becoming more and more common, especially with children in diapers.  While I was in the hospital with my daughter, there was a new infant/toddler patient every day that week for a staph infection.  So, I wanted to share my story with other parents out there that might be going through the same thing.  

I hope you and your child(ren) never have to go through the experience of having MRSA.  However, if you think it's a possibility contact your doctor right away!  For more information on MRSA here are some very informative sites:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kids and Colds

It's the time of year when most parents could use their own parking space at the pediatrician's office.  When you have children, especially children in school, someone is always going to get sick in the fall and winter.  However, the last couple of years the pediatricians have stopped handing out antibiotics for colds, sore throats, etc.  This is mainly because the bugs that cause these illness are usually viral and antibiotics don't work on virus.  Taking an antibiotic when it is not needed can do more bad than good.  To learn more go to - Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work.

First, do your best to keep germs out of your house by teaching your kids good hygiene behavior.  These are the rules we have at my house: 
  1. Always wash your hands after using the restroom.
  2. Wash your hands before eating.
  3. Wash your hands whenever you come home from school, from being outside or from the store.
  4. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or cough/sneeze into the inside of your elbow.
You can find tips on how to teach your child good hand washing habits here:
For the times my kids do get sick there are a few things I make sure we have on hand:  tissues, cool mist humidifier, infant/child pain reliever and fever reducer, saline nose drops and a bulb syringe (for babies).  When our kids get a cold there are a few steps I always take:
  • I prop up their heads when they sleep with an extra pillow.  I believe this helps prevent drainage into their ears which can cause ear infections.  (For babies that are too young for pillows, I elevate their crib mattress by putting a folded blanket under it or using a crib wedge that you can buy at most baby stores.)
  • I run a cool mist humidifier in their room when sleeping.  This helps my kids sleep better.  It also helps with their cough and their sore throats.
  • For head and chest congestion - I sit with my kids in the bathroom with the door closed and run a hot shower.  I do not put my kids in the hot shower!  
  • My older children know how to blow their noses but my baby girl doesn't yet.  So, I put a couple of drops of saline solution in each nostril and wait a minute or two.  Then I use a bulb syringe to remove blockage from her nose.  This helps her sleep better.
  • Give pain reliever/fever reducer when needed and as directed on package or by doctor.
  • Make sure they have plenty of rest, liquids and soup!
Here are some great sites to find some tips on how to treat your kids when they have colds:

*All pictures are from the Parents Magazine website. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Crafts and Printables

Now that the weather is cooling off, we are spending more time inside.  And what better way to pass the time with the kids than crafts and games.  Here are some fun ways to spend time with your children and teach them about the meaning of Thanksgiving:

Simply Savings Workshops: Kroger Meal Ideas

This is a great blog that a friend recommended to me. She has a lot of great ideas on how to save money for your family. She also tells you where to find awesome deals and printable coupons.

Since I'm a big fan of easy meals, one of her recent posts sparked my interest. Thought some of you might be interested too! Check it out:

Simply Savings Workshops: Kroger Meal Ideas: "I by no means consider myself to be a great cook (my friends are all smiling now...), but I often have people tell me that they go to the st..."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekly Menu of Family Dinners

I have found that when I plan out our family meals for the week before heading to the grocery store, I save more money and time.  I tried designating a meal for each day but I felt restricted by it.  Instead, I plan five family dinners for the week and get all the groceries needed for them at the beginning of the week.  Each day, I choose one of the meals depending on what I'm in the mood for.  I already have all the groceries, so there's no need to run out to the store again until the weekend.  Here is an example of my Weekly Dinner Plan and Grocery List:

  1. Pork Chops, Green Beans and Stove Top Stuffing
  2. Spaghetti, Corn and Garlic Bread
  3. Shoyu Chicken with Rice and Peas
  4. Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  5. Beef Stew with French Bread
Grocery List
  • Pork Chops
  • Hamburger
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Stew Meat
  • Stove Top Stuffing
  • French Bread
  • Rice
  • Sandwich Bread
  • Canned Green Beans
  • Frozen Corn
  • Frozen Peas
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Butter
  • Garlic Salt
  • Shoyu Sauce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Spaghetti Noodles
  • Family Size Can Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Sliced American Cheese
  • Jar of Pork Gravy
  • Jar of Beef Gravy
Organizing my meals at the beginning of the week has gotten rid of the stress that hits everyday at 4:00 pm when I'm asking myself:  "Uh oh, what am I making for dinner!?!".  I hope this list helps you too! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dirty Santa - The Gift Giving Game

This year our family is changing things up with our gift giving.  My mother-in-law suggested playing "Dirty Santa".  We were all a bit hesitant to agree to it but the more I learned about it the more interesting and fun it sounded.  No, it's not an adults only game.  Also, it is sometimes called "White Elephant".  The rules are pretty confusing but here are a couple of websites that I found that describe it in a way that is easier to understand:

A few sites suggest coming up with a theme for your Dirty Santa Party and a price limit.  The price limit is often around $20-25.   Choosing a theme can make gift ideas easier for those participating.  Some great themes are:  Gag Gifts, Alcohol, Board Games and Small Appliances.  If you decide you don't want a theme, be sure to remind all guests to choose a gift that is good for just about anyone.  You don't want gender specific gifts because the game won't be as fun.

Here are some websites that have great ideas for Dirty Santa gifts:
Have fun and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!