Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sleep Mistakes Most Parents Make & How To Solve Them

Getting your baby, toddler or school age child to sleep and stay asleep IN THEIR OWN bed has to be one of the most difficult tasks you'll face as a parent. This is especially true considering up to 40% of children suffer from one sort of sleep issue or another.

The experts at Baby Center have identified six common mistakes that parents make when it comes to their kids' getting good sleep. After reading their post, I realized that I've made all six of them! The good news is, those mistakes can be undone with some work and effort. Children's sleep experts and veteran parents alike confirm that simple changes to sleep routines and environments can make a big difference in preventing or correcting common sleep difficulties.

Once you've achieved success, meaning your kid goes to bed on time and stays asleep all night, you'll not only have a happier, well-rested child but a happier, better rested family, too. Now, don't be fooled. I'm not quite at this stage yet but it's simply because I am not putting these tips to work. I work full time and get up before 4am so I'm just too darn lazy to spend the time each night to make these tips become a reality for me. Mine goes to bed every night at about 8:30pm after her story from dad and her bath....but she stays asleep only until about 2am....then she wakes up crying, dad picks her up and puts her to bed with us. If we spend even just 5 minutes with her in her room to put her back to sleep, she'd probably stay in there but we're just too tired. And, to tell you the truth, because I'm away from home all day and miss my little bug like crazy, I treasure even our time asleep in bed together. I'm sure this will pass, especially when she doubles in size and her kicks to the head become stronger but, for now, I'm content. Most parents, however, would love some help in the sleep department so here it is....courtesy of Baby Center and relayed through yours truly at The Parent Center!

1. Mistake: Putting children to bed too late
Kids sleep less these days than their parents did growing up. "In infancy and throughout early adolescence, children today get less sleep than they did in the mid '70s and '80s," says Marc Weissbluth, pediatrician and author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. One study found that 2-year-olds now get 40 minutes less sleep than 2-year-olds a generation ago or two. The result of later bedtimes, Weissbluth says, is more bedtime battles, nap difficulties, and night waking.

Maybe you don't have your infant or toddler on a regular sleep schedule or you don't have much time with her after work, so you keep her up a little later to play. "Letting children go to sleep too late as babies and toddlers creates overfatigue," says social worker Jill Spivack, cocreator of The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5. "When they become overtired, they have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep, and they get up earlier than if they were put down at an appropriate time."

In preschool and elementary school, a jam-packed schedule with multiple sports or after-school activities may cut into sleep time. "A lot of kids have too much to do," says Jodi Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and coauthor with Judith Owens of Take Charge of Your Child's Sleep.

Think about it: By the time your whole family gets home, has dinner, does homework, and so on, sleep may become a forgotten priority. Or you might put off bedtime to avoid battles or in the hope that your child will crash, fall asleep without any intervention, and sleep in late. But this is folly, says Mindell, because when kids are overly tired, they get wired.

A Good habit: Set regular bedtimes (and, if appropriate, nap times) and stick to them. And don't wait until your kid is rubbing his eyes, yawning, or whining — that's probably too late. Put him to bed earlier. Even 15 to 20 minutes of extra sleep can make a difference.

While every child is different, Spivack says that during the night, babies and toddlers typically need 11 hours of sleep, preschoolers need up to 12 hours once they drop daytime naps, and older kids should get 10 to 11 hours. Figure out what time they need to be up in the morning and plan accordingly.

2. Mistake: Relying on motion
What parents haven't breathed a sigh of relief watching their baby snooze in an infant swing or doze in the backseat of the car? Often these wonderful moments occur when you least expect it — and most need a break.
But some moms and dads fall into the trap of using motion to get their young kids to nap or fall asleep at night. "If the child is always sleeping in motion — in strollers or cars — he probably doesn't get the deep, more restorative sleep due to the stimulation of motion," says Weissbluth. He likens motion-induced sleep to the type of sleep an adult might get while flying in an airplane.

A Good habit: Use motion for calming, not naps
Before you throw a tantrum at the notion of giving up the musical swing, listen to Weissbluth's next bit of advice: It's okay to use motion to soothe a cranky child. But once your child has fallen asleep, cut off the swing or park the stroller. "The child has better-quality sleep," says Weissbluth. Guilt-free bonus: If you're taking a long car ride and your child slumbers, just sit back and enjoy the moments of silence.

3. Mistake: Overstimulation in dreamland
Take the ubiquitous crib mobile (please): "I did what I thought all new moms are supposed to do — put a mobile on the crib," says Kelly Ingevaldson, the mother of a toddler in Atlanta. But she soon learned that the mobile — with its rotating toys, sound, and lights — was too much of a distraction for her little one. "She wasn't falling asleep with the mobile. There were so many bright colors, it was keeping her awake instead of teaching her it was nighttime."It's not just babies who may be overstimulated at bedtime. If older kids have lots of toys in the bed or other distractions, they may not be getting the shut-eye they need.

A Good habit: Keep it dark, and cut the action at nap time and nighttime
To maximize sleep, put infants and toddlers — who are too young to have developed nighttime fears — to sleep in nearly pitch-black rooms. "For babies to sleep well, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the darkest, the room should be an 8 or 9," says Spivack. Use a fan or white noise machine to muffle any sounds from the street or the next room.

Older kids can have a soft night-light to soothe any fears, but no bedtime entertainment. Think long and hard before allowing a TV or computer in your child's bedroom. Even kids who fall asleep with a favorite DVD on are probably losing a half hour or so of precious shut-eye — a loss that can affect their mood and behavior during the daytime — and it's easier to keep the electronics out of the bedroom than negotiate the issue every night.

4. Mistake: Skipping the bedtime routine
With a baby, you might assume that a routine consisting of a bath, a book, and a lullaby isn't yet necessary. But "having a series of calming, pleasing activities leading up to lights-out is very important," says Judith Owens, director of the pediatric sleep disorders clinic at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. It prepares your child for sleep, she explains.

Parents of big kids who used to have a bedtime routine may drop it because they mistakenly believe their child is too old or because they are too tired themselves to do it. But even adults benefit from having some kind of routine to wind down each night. "We can't expect our kids to go from a busy day to lights off," says Mindell. Plus, she adds, research has indicated that "school-age children who do not have a routine clearly do not get the sleep they need."

A Good habit: A comforting bedtime ritual
Regardless of your child's age, the key is to have a predictable series of steps — or what Spivack calls "sleep cues" — that help him wind down from the day. For an infant, that might mean a simple change into pajamas and some cuddling; with older children, the routine might entail a bath, reading books, singing songs, or saying a prayer.

You can create your own ritual: "What we're talking about is having consistent activities that happen in the same space, in the same order, at roughly the same time every night," Spivack says.

5. Mistake: Inconsistency
A couple of times a week, when he's really whiny, you lie down with your preschooler in his bed until he falls asleep. Or maybe you put your big kid down in his room but allow him to crawl into bed with you in the middle of the night. The problem is not the sleep method but the inconsistent practice of it. Many parents don't mind having their child in bed with them, but too often parents end up with a "family bed" that they didn't plan on.

"Parents bring the child into bed but don't want her to stay in bed with them," says Owens. "The first couple of times the child gets up during the night, the parent will put her back in her own bed and around 3 a.m. let the child get into bed with them." She says this scenario creates "intermittent reinforcement." "It essentially teaches the child to hold out and persist even longer, as she learns she will eventually get what she wants," Owens explains.

A Good habit: Set guidelines for where to sleep
Although it's best to decide whether you want a family bed early on, it's never too late to establish rules. Karen Tinsley-Kim of Oviedo, Florida, has a 3-year-old son who recently started waking up at 11 p.m. a few nights a week and finding his way into his parents' bed. After a couple of months of night visits, sleep deprivation spurred Tinsley-Kim to take action.
Once Tinsley-Kim laid down the law, her preschooler stayed in his room. "I wouldn't let him out of his toddler bed, telling him as gently but firmly as I could that it was time to sleep, and it was time to sleep in his bed," she says.

There are exceptions, of course. If your child gets sick or is afraid of a loud storm, feel free to comfort him by staying with him in his bed or sleeping on an inflatable mattress in his room. But as soon as the illness passes or the storm subsides, return to your usual routine. A child who has had the comfort of snuggling with Mom or Dad might protest, of course. In that case, Mindell suggests taking a few days to slowly ease yourself out — perhaps by standing in the doorway until your child falls asleep for a couple of nights before leaving altogether.

6. Mistake: Going from a crib to a big bed too early
Your child turns 2 — what a big guy! — and you want to celebrate by buying that cute toddler bed you saw on sale. But as soon as you make the switch, he starts getting up after lights out or waking up in the wee hours.

Why? Before the age of 3 or so, many kids are just not ready to leave the crib behind. "They don't have the cognitive development and self-control to stay within the imaginary boundaries of a bed," says Mindell.

A Good habit: Wait till your child is ready for a big bed
When a child is close to 3 years of age, it might be time to move him to a bigger bed. Might is the operative word: If your preschooler has difficulty staying in bed at that age, you can always give it more time.

Much like temporarily going back to diapers after a few disastrous attempts at potty training, returning to a crib is not a failure. "If it's not working out, there's nothing wrong with switching back," Mindell says. Your child will eventually be able to handle a big-kid bed — and may even ask for one. "There's no child going to kindergarten who is still sleeping in a crib," says Mindell.

My Perspective
Having read all of the above, I clearly realize why establishing a good bedtime routine, where kids go to sleep and stay asleep in their own room is important. I intend to work on this soon but, for now, I'm enjoying cuddling with my little one during the night hours before I have to get up for another grueling day at the office!

Hearty, Healthy Protein Packed Scones

A healthy way to start the day...or snack your way through it!
Many times, parents are in a rush out of the house in the morning. After feeding their kids, they rarely have time to grab a nutritious breakfast for themselves. That usually leads to the dreadful drive-thru breakfast sandwich as the only option. These healthy, nutrient packed scones are a great option. They're easy to make and easy to grab on your way out the door!

  • 2 1/2 cups of almond flour
  • 1 cup liquid egg whites
  • 3/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated Splenda
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • a dash of nutmeg
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees & spray the baking sheets with cooking spray (preferably vegetable oil spray).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, egg whites, vanilla whey protein powder, Splenda, oats, dark chocolate chips, chopped almonds, dried cranberries & raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Stir well until blended.
  4. Scoop out scone mix in 2 inch spoonfuls onto baking sheets.
  5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the peaks begin to brown
  6. Cool & serve

Makes 24 scones. Each scone has approximately 135 calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber & 7grams of protein.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Budgeting is Free Online & On Your Mobile Phone

According to researchers at the National Marriage Project, marriages dissolving over money issues have risen dramatically in the last year or so. Read the statistics and it's clear. Couples who argue about finances one a week are 50% more likely to divorce than those who do so only once a month. Newlyweds who run up their credit cards spend less time together, fight more and are unhappier overall than those who manage their plastic spending. Couples with $10,000 in financial assets, such as savings, investments and a home, are 70% less likely to divorce than those who do not have assets. This could be because they've learned to manage money in order to acquire these assets and it's difficult to split up and figure out how to divide assets acquired during marriage.

While it's no secret that we're in the middle of a deep recession, there still doesn't seem to be an end in sight. Because of that, it's now become even more important for couples to communicate about money issues and try to resolve them before it leads to the dissolution of their relationship. One way I found to stay on top of my finances is with new online and mobile budgeting applications. They are free and require little work on your end. Mint and Money Strands are two secure applications that provide secure SSL encryption on their site to protect your financial information. Money Strands even has 24/7 CCTV surveillance at their data center to protect you from any information intrusion.

Money Strands is an application that lets you track expenses with the push of a button on your smart phone! It was developed to help you take control of your finances, save money and all while not having to spend a dime on financial software. Money strands pulls together data from your checking, savings, credit cards and loan accounts to provide an accurate, up to date picture of your financial life broken down by category. They provide a mobile widget that gives you immediate access to all of your financial data anywhere, anytime. Check balances & receive text alerts on the go. They make money by working with third parties to bring deals, coupon offers, financial products and more to its users. Money Strands can be used online or on your mobile phone and you can cancel with them at any time if you wish to do so. When you do, all of your information will be deleted.

Mint is similar to Money Strands and provides budgeting software online to help you set and stick to realistic budgeting goals. Mint will show your financial portfolio alongside your checking, savings and loan accounts so you can see a complete picture of your account. After adding your accounts, Mint immediately pulls balances, purchases, stock trades, etc to give you a complete picture of where you stand financially. It connects securely to nearly every US banking financial institution that has internet banking capability, saving you hours of tedious data entry into expensive budgeting software. It also updates all of your account information automatically even while you're not logged in. You always have access to the most current information available to you for all of your accounts on one site.. Mint uses SSL encription and 24/7 security at their data centers. They are a read only service and no transfers within are possible so your money is secure. They don't ask for your name or any personally identifiable information that would put your accounts at risk. In addition, they notify you of possible fraudulent transactions on your inputed accounts.

Before these websites and applications came along, you were required to pay upwards of $100 for budgeting software. Even after spending that, it was up to you to regularly update the information and keep your balances up to date in order to maintain an accurate, current picture of your finances. With Mint and Money Smart, the work is done for you and it's all for free. You and your spouse can log on to both of these budgeting sites and see exactly where you stand any day, any time. It's worth a try and it very well could save your marriage!

For more information on these websites, links to their websites and reviews on their products, see the links below:

Feeding Your Toddler

Your little guys or gals are up and at it now. Crawling is phased out and, before you know it, your toddler is running around everywhere. The hard part is getting your child to stop so you can feed her. What your child eats during the toddler years sets the tone for eating habits for the rest of his or her life. What she eats now will influence your child's meal and snack choices as adolescents, teenagers and adults. For that reason, parents must ensure that they select nutritious, wholesome food choices for their family and, most importantly, their toddlers.

Important Nutrients
Each meal should consist of at least 3 major food groups. The ingredients in those meals should include wholesome food items that help a child transition from breast milk or formula to solids. Parents should select lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats/poultry/fish and dairy food. Fiber, vitamin E, potassium, folic acid and vitamin B12 are crucial ingredients in a toddlers diet.

Variety is Key
Variety is the most important aspect of feeding your toddler. Early on in toddlerhood, your child should be exposed to as many different foods as possible, Fish, poultry, beef, vegetables, legumes, fruits, etc should all be introduced to help prevent a picky eater. Even if the parents don't eat it, if the food item is healthy and nutritious, your toddler should be introduced to it and be given the opportunity to see for him self if he likes it. It's also important not to say anything negative about a certain type of food in front of your children. If they hear you say something bad about a food, they'll believe it and will not eat it again.

Healthy Fats
Fat is a critical ingredient in your toddler's diet. It is necessary for brain and body development in general. Parents should include some fat in their child's diet in moderation. Making the right fat choices is important, especially in dairy products and oils. Parents should chose low fat dairy products, skim or low fat milk and vegetable based oils such a canola, soybean and olive.

Eating Skills
Some eating skills that parents should look for in toddlers is the ability to feed his or herself easily. Your toddler can start by using his or her fingers and, once he's mastered this, you can move on to eating with a spoon. It may be messy at first but eventually your little one will be a pro! After your toddler has almost a full set of teeth, experiment with textures and feed him a variety of textured foods. This will expose him to a variety of foods early on, hopefully preventing picky eaters in the future.

Hunger Cues
For the most part, your toddler isn't going to come up and tell you he's hungry (unless it's my daughter who says "Eat, me, peeeezzz"). So, instead of guessing when he or she is hungry, look for hunger cues. Some toddlers will use sounds, words or gestures to let you know they're hungry while others will simply throw a tantrum out of frustration. Look for signs early on and try to remember. Eventually, you can ask your child if he or she is hungry when you see hunger cues start up and help improve your communication.

Fullness Cues
Some kids will eat and eat and eat until they are uncomfortably full. They need help understanding when meal time should be over and at what point they should feel full. Others will give clues that they are donw eating and these are actions, words or gestures you should look out for. If your toddler says "no more" or asks to "get down" from the high chair, he is probably full and no longer wants to eat. Some cultures expect kids to clean the plate. For the most part, this is creating a bad habit and forcing your kids to eat past the point that they are full. Encourage your child to eat until he is satisfied and then stop. While this is true, they should not stop eating dinner but expect to eat a bowl of candy instead.

What Should I Eat After I work Out?

Nutritionists tell athletes to consume meals high in proteinsand carbohydrates shortly after exercise to promote muscle growth and speed recovery. What they don't always tell you is what to eat and what not to. They also fail to tell you that this could impede weight loss efforts!

Dr Barry Braun from the University of Massachusetts, Amherstfound that walking on a treadmill one hour per day improved blood sugar regulation by 40%.. This effect is wiped out completely when you consumecarbohydrate rich foods immediately after your workout. Exercise helpscreate a caloric deficit that is greatly diminished by post-exercisemeals. If you are going to eat immediately after exercise, try to eat aprotein snack such as almonds, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, lettuce wraps,etc. A protein shake is also a great idea for a post workout boost. (Health Day, Nov. 14, 2008)

Some Blogs for Mom & Dad

The internet is one of the best resources for anything & everything parenting. There are tons and tons of blogs out there for parents and by parents so how do you find some that have the information you're looking for? Well, start by searching for keywords that appeal to you. For example, if you're a first time mom of an infant, look for a blog written by the same type of parent. If you're the parent of three teenagers and need help deciphering what the heck it is they're telling you and why they may be acting a certain way, search for parents of teens that blog about issues that pertain to you. In addition to parenting advice, you may also want to find blogs that focus on general family topics such as the ever important saving money topic. Moms and dads can be some of the most innovative and creative individuals when it comes to saving money, especially in this economy, so search for blogs that focus on money saving tips. Many times, you can find new blogs by reading comments on blogs you are already subscribed to. Bloggers build their following by commenting on other blogs and will usually have a link to their blog along with the comment. So, enjoy the blogs below and start your search for others. There's many out there with lots of useful information. The two below are unique in their own ways, one by a mom and another by a dad, each appealing to a different audience.

Frugal Dad: He once answered phones at a financial service call center and now offers step by step practical posts that touch on everyday problems. Topics include such as grocery shopping mistakes and more complex problems such as investing in electronic fund transfers. His topics include Become a Millionaire, Best Online Banks, How to Get Out of Debt, Kids & Money and Money Saving Tips. What more could a family in this economy ask for?

Mom Advice: This site offer advice on home cooking, crafting, product reviews, free giveaways, printable family tools, Goodwill hunting and other dollar saving moves. She also offers lots of photographs and a regular list of freebies and deals. She has three running blogs on her website, along with pages for articles forums and resources for parents.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FREE Chipotle Kid's Meals in April!

Every Saturday and Sunday throughout April (and May 1) visit any Chipotle in LA, Orange County & surrounding areas and receive ONE FREE KIDS MEAL with the purchase of a burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos. Visit CHIPOTLE for more information or to see if the offer is available in and around your city.

Munchkin Travel Booster: One of the Best Baby Products On the Market

If you're expecting or if you just had a baby, you NEED to have this product by the time your little one is ready for a high chair. It is one of the best and most practical baby/toddler product on the market today. It's the Munchkin Travel Booster. It's a booster seat that attaches to any chair at home or at a restaurant. It even has a built in storage compartment for where you can store water, bottles, snacks, bibs, utensils & more! It even has four legs that fod in for adjustable heights! What more could you ask for in a baby product? Below are some of the key features:
It's sold at Target and some Babies R' Us locations for only $24.99. You can't go wrong. My daughter gets uneasy in a high chair and uses the foot rest on them to stand up and try to get out. With this booster, she can't do that and she stays seated through the end of a meal. Sitting in a chair with the rest of us at the same level must make her feel better and more part of the group. Either way, it has been an excellent product for us.

Breakfast... The Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast has long been known as the most important meal of the day. It's what fuels a body to make it through a long day at school folllowed by tutoring, sports practice, homework, studying and more! For that reason, consuming a healthy, nutritious meal in the morning is one of the most important things a child does each day. Research has repeatedly proven that a healthy breakfast positively impacts brain function and energy level, which is extremely important for school-aged children. With as many standrardized tests, college entrance exams and homework assignments that they are expected to complete now at school, they need fuel to help them remain alert and make it through hours of work.

Benefits of breakfast There are many benefits to eating breakfast and many reasons why parents should make eating breakfast a top priority for their children Breakfast equals better behavior. Children who skip breakfast are more tired, irritable, or restless by late morning. These symptoms lead to aggressive behavior that causes children to get in trouble in school. Schools already have enough discipline problems to deal with between gangs and Children who regularly eat a morning meal have more energy, are less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, and have a better attitude toward school.

Higher Test Scores Eating a healthy breakfast also leads to higher test scores amongst school aged children. A study published in 1998 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed significantly higher math test scores after children ate breakfast. This and other research has clearly shown that children who consistently eat breakfast test higher in most academic areas. They are more alert and more prepared to endure the testing process.

Better Attendance Eating breakfast has also been shown to lead to better class attendance. Children who eat breakfast are absent from school fewer days a year than children who miss this important morning meal. They also spend less time in the nurse's office complaining of stomach pains. The irony falls in the excuse most parents give for not giving their kids breakfast. Most say that they are too rushed or don't have time for breakfast. This contradicts itself, however, since children who claim they don't eat breakfast due to a lack of time in the morning are tardy more often than those who take time for a morning meal.

Healthy Eating All Day Eating breakfast in the morning also leads children to eat healthier the rest of the day. They are not starving by the first break and aren't reaching for the first bag of candy or chips they see in the school vending machine. In addition, they generally meet vitamin and mineral requirements for prevention of deficiencies. They consume more fiber, vitamin C, calcium and folic acid. Unfortunately, children who miss breakfast do not make up for lost nutrients later in the day.

Weight Control Eating breakfast also helps weight control. With the rising child obesity rate today, it's even more important to make sure children are well fed and eat a healthy breakfast every morning. Eating breakfast helps to establish a normal eating pattern. Eating regular meals and snacks is a key to maintaining a healthy weight throughout life. Increasing childhood obesity is in part attributed to the disappearance of normal eating patterns in many of today's households.

So, not sure what to give your child for breakfast? Don't think you have time? Try some of my favorite choices for a healthy breakfast. They're suitable for children & adults by adjusting the serving sizes.

Breakfast Ideas --1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 1/2 cup chopped cantelope & honeydew and 1 slice whole wheat toast --1 Kirkland Signature Homestyle Waffle, chopped strawberries, 1/2 cup of low sugar yogurt --1 English Muffin w/ 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 apple & a glass of milk

These waffles are delicious, nutritious, inexpensive and easy to serve! What more could you want in a breakfast food. If you want to, you can hand it to your child on his or her way out the door and they can eat it as they would a piece of toast! Kirkland Signature Waffles are an excellent source of 10 vitamins & minerals, including 460 g of ALA Omega-3s, 25% less sodium than the leading brands, no artificial colors or flavors, no high fructose corn syrup and only $ .30 per serving at only $7.94 for 60 waffles! I usually serve them with fruit (cantalope, honeydew, apples, orange slices, strawberries) & half a yogurt so my daughter gets fruit & dairy servings along with healthy carbohydrates.

Work Out Anywhere for F.R.E.E. or...almost Free

Most people want to work out and get in shape but use not having the money for a gym membership or a trainer as an excuse. Well, you can save money and shed pounds at the same time with some money (and weight) saving tips below!

  1. Get Outside & Play: Play with your kids, play sports in a league, play with a group of friends from work or play with your neighbors. No matter what you decide to do, getting outside gives some of the best exercise! Many employers encourage bonding and what better way to bond than with a friendly game of basketball. If you're a stay at home mom or work from home, get outside and play tag with your kids, kick around a soccer ball or practice your dribbling skills. You'll burn 100 - 300 calories per hour depending on the intensity!
  2. Hit the Stairs: Go to your local high school or college stadium and start climbing. Stairs is some of the best exercise out there, burning upwards of 100 calories in only 10 minutes. It works every muscle in your leg while giving you an excellent cardio workout.
  3. Get Apps: There are thousands of fitness apps available for virtually any smart phone on the market. Most don't cost more than $1.99 and give you tons of useful information. Download some apps today and you'll have workout ideas, nutrition advice, exercise tips and supplement advice at your finger tips 24 hours a day!
  4. Hit the Classifieds: Craigs List, the Recycler, your local paper and many online classified websites have tons of barely used gym equipment for sale. People buy it and sometimes never even use it when they finally decide to sell it. Keep an eye out for garage sales in your area too. Equipment is sold at ridiculously low prices at garage sales because people just need to get rid of their items! You can get great deals on gym equipment that way.
  5. Pay a Visit: Go check out your local gym and see if you can get some passes so you can check it out. Most gyms will give you free passes for one week up to a month and give you free access to the facility and all amenities. With the pass, you can go any time of day and see which times work best with your schedule. Maybe you want to avoid the after work rush so you may want to get up and go first thing in the morning.
  6. Buddy Up: Most gyms give their members free buddy passes. They can give it to friends or family members and they usually give you a one week to one month free pass. Not only do you get to work out for free, but you get to do it with a friend or relative!
  7. Got Cable: Get the cable channel and get FitTV. It offers workout, nutrition, health and fitness programming 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Go to for more information or to watch free videos online.
  8. Play Video Games: You wouldn't think that playing video games would be a way to get a workout but it is. With systems like the Wii, you can play video games and get a workout at the same time. Not only that, it will also monitor your weight loss (or gain) and help keep you accountable. If you don't use it for a few days, it'll remind you by telling you how long you've been away! You'll be getting a great entertainment video game console for your home and your family, a fitness program and a DVD player all in one.
  9. Fitness Classes: Community park and recreations programs offer classes at very low cost. They offer them mornings and evenings so that moms and dads can attend before or after work. Clothing stores such as Lucy apparel and Lululemon offer free introductory classes in store. They include yoga, pilates, strength training and more.
  10. Surf the Internet: Log onto websites such as and to find friends to work out with no matter where you live. Most of these sites are free to search and they get people with common interests together for workouts, healthy cooking nights and team sports.
  11. Bid Away: Go Ebay and search for videos, resistance bands, medicine balls, workout gear and more at below retail prices. Just as in classifieds, on Ebay you can items and build your own home gym for under $100.
  12. Partner Up: If your gym allows, split a training session with your best friend. Ask a trainer if he'll train both of you together for the price of one. Not only will you get the encouragement from your trainer but from your friend as well.
  13. Use Your Weight: You don't need gym equipment to exercise. Use your own body weight. If you cant do push ups, pull up a chair and do push ups off the chair. Can't do squats yet, put a ball between your lower back and the wall and guide yourself down the wall with it. Not ready for lunges yet, do them next to a couch or a table, helping you support some of your body weight on furniture.
  14. Download: Download free workout videos from You Tube and podcast websites onto your iPod for workouts anywhere and everywhere you go. Most are only $1 on itTunes.
  15. Cut Coupons: Fitness magazines, newspapers and websites often have coupons to local gyms in your area. Cut the coupons and get to it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Milestones & Household Items To Help Your Child Achieve Them!

Are you wondering if your little one has reached some of the more typical milestones of toddlerhood? Do you want to help your child reach his or her reach important points in development? See if your little one can do the following and, if not, use some of the household items below to help him do so!

Parents place a lot of importance on milestones specific to the development of a baby. Many times, parents will compare their child to others around the same age. The fact is that children grow and progress at different rates. One child may sit up at 4 months while another many not do so until 6 or 7 months old. Some children walk as early as 9 months old while others don't take their first steps until they're a year and a half. Although milestones vary greatly from child to child, parents do play a part in helping their child reach milestones. Parents should work with their child from very early on by encouraging tummy time, sitting up, rolling over, taking steps and more. Are you wondering if your little one has reached some of the more typical milestones of toddlerhood? Do you want to help him or her reach important points in development Do so by helping build fine and gross motor skills and do it with items in your own home. Not sure if or what you need to work on? See if your little one can do the following and, if not, use some of the household items below to help him do so!

By the end of the 1st Year, your baby should:

Sit up for periods of time with no support

Crawl forward and backward

Stand by themselves (sometimes holding onto something)

Pick up an object while standing (sometimes holding onto something)

Move around furniture or walk around it while holding on Mimic others

By the end of the 2nd Year, your baby should:

Walk without holding your hand

Pull a toy while walking

Carry a toy while walking

Begin to run

Stand on tiptoes

Kick a ball

Climb onto and down from the sofa

Walk up and down stairs holding onto support

By the end of the 3rd Year, your baby should:

Climb well

Walk up and down stairs, alternating feet

Kick and direct the motion of a ball

Run easily

Pedal a tricycle

Bend over easily without falling

By the end of the 4th Year, your baby should:

Hop and stand on one foot for up to 5 seconds

Go up and down stairs without help

Kick a ball forward

Throw a ball overhand

Catch a bounced ball most of the time

Move forward and backward with agility

By the end of the 5th Year, your baby should:

Stand on one foot for 10 seconds or longer


Do somersaults

Pump on a swing

Begin to skip

Is your little one not quite there yet or do you want to help him or her meet developmental milestones? Use these household items for help!

Balloons: These are great for visual tracking, throwing and catching! Throw them up in the air and have your little one catch it. It falls slowly so you'll be able to help him or her practice reaction time. Throw it at your toddler and have him duck to avoid it! Test how fast his reaction time is and, the best part is, it won't hurt if it hits him!.

Paper Towel Rolls: When they're empty, fill them up with rice, cover each end and wrap it up in tape. Then use it as a shaker and make music with your little one. Have him mimic the sounds you make and follow a beat!

Hula Hoops: Your little one might be too small to hula hoop with it but she can still jump through it, in and out of it, push it or pull it around.

Sprinklers: Not everyone can have a pool in the backyard. When it's hot, you don't need a pool. Use the sprinklers in your front or back yard for some summer fun. Jump in and out of the water, try to jump away from the sprinkler or bring out a slip n' slide near it.

Pots & pans: Most kitchens have stacks of pots and pans that fit together, one on top of the other, from smalllest to biggest. Separate all of the pots in the pile and have your little one try and put them back in the order they belong in!

Fruit Loops or other Colored Cereal: Of course it's a food that is eaten for breakfast or a snack but, before eating it, learn something with it! Have your little one separate the different colors and name them for you each day before breakfast. In no time, he'll know the basic red, green, yellow and orange colors!

Paper: Have paper that needs to be shredded before being thrown out? Have your little one rip it up for you! The dexterity needed to tear pieces of paper helps them refine their fine motor skills!

Glasses: Even if you no longer use them to drink out of, save those kids' cups you get at restaurants. Place it on the table or on the floor and have your little one practice making it in the cup. Throw a plastic ball, coins, pieces of macaroni or any other object.

Chalk: Take it outside and start writing! Practice letters, numbers, shapes & more. When you're done, leave it out there and let the rain or the sprinklers wash it away! Better yet, draw a hopscotch and start jumping!

Rope: Use it to jump rope as usual, play tug or war or as a line marker on the ground for a race!

Lose 1-3 lbs a Week With These Minor Changes!

Do you want to lose weight but just don't have the time or effort to make the necessary changes? Have you tried many diets in the past and failed? Do you refuse to cut out certain foods? If so, try making small, sometimes inconspicuous changes, to your daily lifestyle. It can help you burn hundreds of extra calories per day without doing much at all. Make all of the changes below and you could lose 1-3 lbs a week!

1) Eat breakfast every day! Get your body burning calories immediately and keep yourself from snacking on processed foods all morning until lunch! Try to eat at least 200 - 300 calories of a balanced breakfast with plenty of fiber & protein. Avoid bagels, donuts, croissants or fast food breakfasts. Try cottage cheese, oatmeal, low sugar yogurt, fruit, nuts and eggs. All of these foods are easy to pack and take to work. They will also provide the nutrients and energy you'll need to make it to lunch time!

2) Add lemon to your water! It has been said by many that the acid in lemons will help burn a few extra calories as you drink your water! Even if it doesn't burn many, it will make your water taste better so you drink more of it!
Truth? Nice in theory, short in practice. Nobody is losing fat with ice cold water. If it sounds too good to be true - you know the rest of the story.

3) Eat 2 whole eggs per day. Whole eggs are a much more viable source of protein because, when the yolk and whites are eaten together, they are more easily digested and absorbed by the body. The egg yolk is also the part of the egg that contains all of the nutrients, 90% them to be exact. The yolk contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, D, E, K, B6, B12, zinc, thiaminecalcium, iron and phosphorus. Eating eggs as a part of your breakfast will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs, along with protein to keep you full through lunch. This should help prevent snacking and help you save a few hundred calories along the way!

4) Eat cottage cheese daily to get your daily dose of casein. Low fat cottage cheese has lots of healthy milk protein, including casein. Casein helps the body absorb sugar and other proteins at a slower rate, preventing a large, rapid insulin surge. This, in turn, helps prevent excess weight gain and makes cottage cheese one of the best fat burning foods around. In addition, the yolk also contains lutein. It's an antioxidant also found in leafy greens such as spinach. It's responsible for slowing the thickening of the arteries that often leads to heart disease.

5) Drink at least 64 ounces of water, if not more! Drinking water not only hydrates your body but it also helps it digest food much more efficiently.. Try to drink at least a cup of water before a meal and continue drinking through your meal, every few bites of food. You'll get full much faster and, if you opt for water instead of soda, alcohol or juice, you'll save hundreds of calories! 6) Take the stairs instead of the elevator wherever you go! The average American woman burns approximately 7 calories per minute climbing stairs. Not only will you be burning calories, you'll also be working your leg muscles and help keep them toned and firm!

6) Go for a walk after dinner each night. Getting moving after you eat, as opposed to sitting on the couch for some television time, will help your body digest food much more efficiently. It'll help prevent heartburn, acid reflux and burn a few extra calories at the same time!

7) Buy in bulk to save money and calories! Those 100 calorie packs can get expensive. Not only that, they are usually high in sugar and carbohydrates, although they are only 10 calories. Instead, purchase bulk items and healthier options of foods. You can choose from raisins, pretzels, almonds and many more snacks that will be much more nutritious than a 100 calorie pack of Chips Ahoy! When you buy in bulk, instead of eating out of the large package, separate snacks into serving sizes to avoid overeating. Buy snack or sandwich bags and measure out your servings so that you are aware of how much your eating. When you're done, you can refill the bags.

(8) Park far away from wherever you go. A little extra walking never hurt anyone. Walking burns calories, even in small
increments. Wear a pedometer if it'll encourage you to walk more each day. Even those steps from your car to the mall entrance count towards your 30 minutes of recommended daily activity so why not make the most of it!

(9) Sit in a stability ball instead of a desk chair. Not only will this improve your posture and help prevent slouching, but it will also help strengthen your core. By sitting on the ball, your body must continuously make adjustments in muscles throughout the core to remain upright and balanced.. The abdominals, gluteals and leg muscles will all be working as you sit at your desk to keep you upright. It's like getting a work out while you're at work at your desk! Many report noticing dramatic improvements in balance and stability soon after making the change from office chair to stability ball. If you suffer from lower back problems and/or your office doesn't allow the use of stability balls as chairs for liability reason, try using a Fit Disk on your chair. It works in the same way as a stability ball, however, it fits on the seat of your chair and you sit on top of that.

(10) My favorite calorie burning activity is playing with my kids! Running around the house playing tag, riding bikes, tossing a baseball, swimming and more burns tons of calories, sometimes more than going to the gym! Not only will you be getting your exercise in and burning calories, but you'll also be spending quality time with your kids. Getting the kids up and moving will also help them get their exercise in. It'll keep them from doing what most kids do....spend time playing video games or surfing the internet.

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