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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Time Saving Tips for Parents

Life itself is an unpredictable ride – but when you add children and the craziness of their schedules to the mix, it becomes even crazier. It’s no wonder that as parents we sometimes feel there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. It’s impossible to completely avoid chaos – and really, would you want to? But with a few of time-saving tips like the ones below, you can begin to make the most of your time.

Watch closely how you spend your time. Most of us spend more time on things every day that can either wait or really don't need done at all.

Prioritize. The key to getting and staying organized is all about making and keeping priorities. Schedule more important tasks to be done and let the rest carry over until you have more time.

Multitask. Every parent has to master the art of multitasking. Use downtime like naps, doctor appointments or school time to get jobs done that are difficult to focus on when caring for your children.

Be prepared. With babies especially it's important to be prepared. Keep a packed diaper bag in the car at all times to avoid having to carry extra baggage when you leave home.

Baskets, not diamonds, are a girl's best friend. Baskets are a great way to store toys, video games and books in your children's playroom or bedrooms.

Prepare for meals ahead of time. When you are making dinner, double or triple your recipe and freeze the extras for future meals. You'd be surprised just how much time this alone will save you!

These are just a few tips that can help parents lead less chaotic lives, spend less time on working and more time on more important things - spending time with our kids.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

33 Ways to Stay Creative

Good Magazine recently posted this "Awesome 33 Ways to Stay Creative" List:
  1. Make lists
  2. Carry a notebook everywhere
  3. Try free writing
  4. Get away from the computer
  5. Be otherworldly
  6. Quit beating yourself up
  7. Take breaks
  8. Sing in the shower
  9. Drink coffee/tea
  10. Know your roots
  11. Listen to new music
  12. Be open
  13. Surround yourself with creative people
  14. Get feedback
  15. Collaborate
  16. Don't give up
  17. Practice, practice, practice
  18. Allow yourself to make mistakes
  19. Go somewhere new
  20. Watch foreign films
  21. Count your blessings
  22. Get lots of rest
  23. Take risks
  24. Break the rules
  25. Do more of what makes you happy
  26. Don't force it
  27. Read a page of the dictionary
  28. Create a framework
  29. Stop trying to be perfect
  30. Got an idea? Write it down
  31. Clean your workspace
  32. Have fun
  33. Finish something

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Helping Your Child Fall Asleep at Bedtime

Helping Your Child Fall Asleep at Bedtime

While as adults, we tend to enjoy our bedtime and welcome it with open arms, our children aren’t as excited when it comes time to sleepy time. Here are a few tips to help make the bedtime struggle with your little ones a little less of a struggle.

  • No big meals right before bedtime – no caffeine either!
  • Once dinner time is over, stay away from over-stimulating activities.  Don’t “wind them up” and expect them to be ready for bed a short time later.
  • Give them a choice when it’s almost bed time – do you want to go now or in five minutes? Only do this once and when it’s bedtime, it’s bedtime.
  • Form a quiet and relaxing bedtime ritual that you can start about half an hour before bedtime. Whatever the routine is, have it end in your child’s bedroom with them tucked in. A bath and reading is good but avoid scary movies or exciting television shows.
  • When establishing that calming bedtime routine, avoid rocking and singing your child to sleep. If he or she wakes up in the middle of the night, they may need that same routine to get back to sleep and can lead to sleep disorders. If you are already doing this, gradually phase this out of your routine.
  • Make sure your child’s bed and bedroom are comfortable – the room shouldn’t be too warm or too cold and the bedding should be comfortable but not restrictive.
  • If your child calls for you after you have left the room, don’t respond right away. This allows them to remember that it’s time for bed and they should really be trying to get to sleep.
  • Finally, set up a reward system of some kind. For example, every night your child gets in bed at bedtime and stays there, he or she gets a star or a sticker of some kind. After a number of stars or stickers are earned, give them a prize.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Dinner: A modern-day dilemma

If there's one daily duty that can confound even the most organized working parent, it's how to get a decent meal on the dinner table when you're exhausted after a long day at the office.

The last thing most of us want to do is slave over a hot stove. Yet a comforting, healthy meal shared at the end of the day can soothe frayed nerves, nourish the body and get everyone ready for the next day's challenges.

How do you make it happen? Try using a Crock-Pot. New recipe books have updated ideas for turning out great soups, stews, chowders and more. You spend 15 to 20 minutes getting the meal going in the morning and when you return in the evening, you have a hot meal waiting for you.

Here's a kid-friendly fish recipe that will have everyone going for seconds.

2 slices of bacon, chopped
3 leeks, white part only, cleaned and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, washed, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 cups fish stock (or water or 2 cups clam juice diluted with 2 cups water)
1 bay leaf
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups cream or milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds firm white fish fillets (like halibut or snapper) cut into 1-inch cubes


1. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove to a paper towel to absorb excess grease.

2. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. Add leeks and celery to pan and cook until soft. Mix in thyme and bacon. Add flour, stir and cook about 1 minute. Add stock and bay leaf, stirring until slightly thickened.

3. Transfer to Crock-Pot. Add potato and stir. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

4. When you get home, heat up cream or milk until just before boiling. Stir in cayenne pepper. Add to Crock-Pot along with the fish. Cook on high 30 minutes or until fish is tender. Discard bay leaf and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

As an alternative, you can do steps 1 through 3 overnight, refrigerate the soup base in the morning before you head off to work, and do step four in a soup pot when you get home in the evening.