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: