Sunday, February 27, 2011

SIMPLE SUNDAY! How to Spark Some Romance in Your Love Life

Are you dying for a romantic night without interruptions?  If you're like me, you dream of just one romantic night with your spouse at a quaint Bed and Breakfast but you don't have the time or money to make it happen.  Until now...
You travel to a nearby B&B where you can get a three course meal which is served on dishes that you don't have to clean!  The lights are dim, the music is faint and there are no highchairs, screaming children, or t.v blaring as you try to finiish a conversation with your husband! Then, the two of you head upstairs to have a romantic night in a private suite with a lit fireplace.  Next, a great nights sleep followed by an easy morning waking up in your spouses arms without anyone crawling in bed with you or yelling "Mommy!" at the top of their lungs.
Sounds too good to be true?  Maybe not!  There are so many bed and breakfasts that people don't even know exist!  The best part is that many B&B's offer one night stays for reasonable rates!  If you are short on time or worried that your babysitter might call you in a panic...check out a nearby B&B (I found one that is less than 2 miles from my house that I never knew existed!)
Here is a great website that can help you find a local B&B at a reasonable price..

Do you live in or near Chester County? Check out these great deals that are hard to pass up!
Do you love Cape May but can't justify the travel time, gas, babysiter, and 2 night minimum cost? Check out these nearby gems that will allow a one night stay!

General Warren Inne, Malvern, PA

$140 per couple in any suite except Presidential or Franklin
$170 per couple for Presidential or Franklin (includes jacuzzi)
Both prices include overnight stay, 3 course prix fixe menu, and served continental breakfast the next morning.

Edges Mill Inn, Downingtown, PA
$110.00 per couple in any suite with breakfast
$125.00 per couple for any suite plus full candlelit breakfast
* Garden hot tub open March thru January

Friday, February 25, 2011

FOCUS FRIDAY! What is Contentment Parenting?

We live in a society where we are rarely happy with contentment.  We find ourselves in the habit of wanting our senses to always be pleased by sweetness instead of water.  We find ourselves wanting a flat screen 3D, high definition t.v with impeccable audio (and of course 300 channels to choose from!) What happened to our phones being used only as a way to call one another?  What happened to buying a simple coffee for .65 cents? 
Today, we can find a cell phone application that will almost wipe our tush after we use the bathroom!! Have we gone too far over the top? What can we do to keep ourselves and our children grounded?

Perhaps the answer is in the word contentment?  If we truly engage in the simple pleasures in life, than we need the fancy things far less often.  Appreciating the nourishment that water gives us for example, will allow us to appreciate life's simple pleasures instead of being disappointed when we can't have the 'special treats'.  When we choose to find more joy in the extravagant things over the simple things, we start habits of entitlement often leaving to let downs and frustration.
In addition, these habits don't teach our children to be flexible and resilient when life gives them obstacles.

Here are some simple pleasures I am learning to appreciate in my life today...

My husband's employment

What simple pleasures have you overlooked today?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TODDLER TUESDAYS: 3 Easy Ways to Engage in Your Child's Playtime

Some days seem so long when our kids are acting out and we can't figure out why. Kids often act out because they are bored! Sometimes we are busy and attempt to give them ideas of what they should do but that's often not enough to keep them occupied. They might need some undivided attention with you engaged in an activity with them. Here are some ideas.

1. Climb onto the jungle gyms. Toddlers need a lot of direction and they learn from watching others.  While it's important for them to play independently, it's also important for them to see modeled play such as how you climb or navigate through play areas.  If you a play area is sturdy for adults, give it a try!

2. Change levels. Get on your child's level by crawling, squating, sitting on the floor or put your child on your shoulders.

3. Unplug. Show your child that they have your undivided attention by turning off outside stimuli such as the t.v, cell phone, or laptop.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Simple Sunday! Avoiding Overscheduling

I went for a walk with my friend last night who's daughter just went back to school. I asked her when she would be able to walk again and she quickly became very flustered talking about picture day, back to school night, swim team tryouts, and viola practice. The tone in her voice immediately changed and I could sense the stress in her voice.

Although my daughter is not in school yet, I totally get how it can be so stressful to balance family life with school aged kids sometimes. When I was a nanny, I remember seeing countless activities and commitments filling up the calendar in the blink of an eye. When your child is eager to try something new, you want to jump at the chance to give them the opportunity.

This morning on Good Morning America, a psychologist was talking about how stressful back to school can be on parents and how children become stressed as a result.

So, what can we do to avoid these struggles? Here are some ideas..

1. Think before committing to anything. These days so many after school activities are a huge commitment both financially and responsibility. Remember, there will always be other opportunities if you miss this one!

2. Talk to your kids. Find out exactly why they want to sign up for the activity and let them know all the expectations. If you feel like they have to follow through til the end of any activity then let them know that is the expectation.

2. Assess all the logistics. Look at the big picture. Will this activity affect bedtime? Will this affect meals? Will this affect homework time? How many hours of practice are needed? Commute time?

3. Is this really what my child wants? Am I doing this to fulfil a childhood dream of mine?
This is always a tough one to come to terms with but if you can be honest with yourself you will all be happier in the long run.

4. Can my child handle this? I have a friend who has one child who does extremely well when her schedule is packed with commitments. In fact, this child's grades fall when they are not in a busy routine in the evenings. Her other child, however, does not do well with many commitments and needs a lot of down time to complete homework and relax. Knowing your child can help you to consider what's best for them at different stages of their life.

To sum up my feelings on the issue, do your due diligence and follow your intuition. If your child is interested in a certain sport but the commitment is too much, look for an alternative such as a different school or someone who might be interested in doing a few lessons in your home for a few extra bucks (without such a big commitment).

Embrace this wonderful time in your child's life and enjoy watching them grow and learn all the many wonderful things that they enjoy and feel proud of.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Would You Want This Teacher to Teach Your Child?

A recent high school teacher in the Philadelphia area was suspended after blogging many negative comments about her students. *See the story I posted below* Some of the comments included, "The students are disengaged, lazy whiners."  and many other derogatory comments.  However, she never used the the name of the kids or the school in any of her postings.
What do you think?  Is this teacher exercising her right to freedom of speech?
As a blogger myself, I strongly believe in freedom of speech, however, I also think that a high school teacher should be professional enough to know that what she writes on a blog can be read by anyone (including students).  That being said, I don't believe she should be fired for this but I can't say I would want my child to be in her classroom.
Perhaps this teacher is bringing up a much needed discussion about today's youth, however, I have worked in many classrooms and have seen great teachers and some not so great teachers. Frankly, I feel that this teacher is in the wrong profession.  Isn't it hypocritical to whine about your students whining?  What about the children who aren't whining? How much attention are they getting in this teacher's classroom?
The teaching profession is one of the most challenging jobs out there and I have a huge amount of respect for the teachers in our schools.  This story brings up the debate as to who is more responsible for our youth's behavior when they are at school.  Teachers feel that parents need to take more responsibility and parents often feel it's the teacher's responsibility. 

As much as I would love to think that more parents will teach their children to be more respectful and appreciative of their education, I am more inclined to think that there will always be those children in our classrooms.  I wish we had more teachers out there who set clear boundaries in their classroom and show their kids kindness and sensitivity.  Perhaps the kids (and their parents) could learn a thing or two from a teachers who instills and demonstrates these values in and out of her classroom. 
If anything good comes out of this story, I hope that certain parents take some responsibility for the children that are causing disruption in the classroom, making it difficult for other students to learn. Also, I hope that teachers who are burned out look for another profession.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Toddler Tuedays: Biggest Mistakes When Giving Time Outs

First, let me say that in all my years working with children, time outs really seem to be the most effective way to give a consequence to a child ages 18 months (depending on maturity) to age 8 (also depends on maturity).  Also, let me add that giving time outs as a nanny is MUCH easier than as a mom!  However, when done correctly, I really believe that time outs can be an effective tool to teach a child boundaries and set limitations.  There are a lot of parents who feel that time outs are a waste of time, however, when parents stick to doing the time outs consistently, they are often successful. 
Here are a few of the top mistakes parents often make when giving time outs.

1.  Overuse.  It's imperative that time outs are reserved for urgent matters (dangerous situations or unacceptable behaviors) There are times when a parent is tired exhausted and may use a timeout when responding to a child's behavior that is not necessarily very critical for needing attention (for example whining, not listening, making a mistake).  These situations may just call for a reminder or warning instead of a time out.  Overusing time outs can lead a child to give up on 'trying to do the right thing'.  He or she may feel overwhelmed with demands and "throw in the towel" while trying to meet your expectations.

2.  Talking to much.  Once you get to the point of a timeout, there's no turning back meaning to discussion.  The only thing you need to say is "you need to be in time out" in a stoic/non emotional manner.

3.  Giving up too quickly.  The initial timeouts are usually the most difficult.  Once your child realizes what's expected (and what will be tolerated), they will give up and begin to stay in time out on their own, however, getting to that point can be brutal! I remember picking Sienna up and putting her back in time outs for 45 minutes the first few times I was using it.  The good news, you won't have to do this every time. Also, you won't need to go to the gym after this work out!;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

How Can we Show Love to our Spouse on Valentine's Day?

Valentine's day is the one day a year (aside from your anniversary) when it's important to really take the time to show your significant other how much you appreciate them. 
One of the best pieces of advice my husband and I were given when we were expecting my daughter is that we should make the marriage the core of the family (the rock) and build the family on that foundation.  I believe this to be true and I constantly remind myself to prioritize his needs as much as my daughters and my own.  It's a juggling act but the payoff is really worth it! 
I know there are times when people feel like they are in a relationship slump so they don't want to extend themselves for this special day but those are the times when it's most important.  Every couple goes through  challenging times in their relationship but if we remember to show that we still love each other is very important! 
Trista and Ryan were on Rachel Ray today (remember them from the bachelor?).  They have 2 little ones now and talked about the struggle balancing every day life with finding time for one another.  Also, they participated in the K-Y experiment which gives ideas for intimacy (not just sex!)  One idea that they mentioned (which I love!) was the idea that couples should hug each other for 30 seconds 3 times a day.  A minute and a half is something that is definitely doable for every couple!!
Show love toward your significant other today and of course don't forget the "special" gifts in the bedroom! 

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Keeping my Identity Alive

How do you stay afloat in the chaos of parenthood? Sometimes, it can be very challenging to keep your head above water and stay sane but preventative care and taking care of yourself really can help to keep your patience and allow you to enjoy family life.  Here is one of my favorite things to do and really helps me stay focused and keep my identity.
First, let me tell you that one of my biggest struggles is battling depression.  Depression is something that creeps up on me when I'm not looking and rears it's ugly head at the worst moments.  It is my worst enemy and something I try to avoid at all costs.  I have been on and off medication in the past and wouldn't be surprised if at some time I need to go on it again but if I can avoid it by dealing with my emotions honestly and taking care of myself mentally and physically I believe that I can usually avoid it. 
One of the ways I take care of myself mentally is go to a neighborhood bookstore by myself and enjoy some alone time.  Let me tell you it is sooo nice!  Sometimes I treat my self to a coffee or treat but the real treat is the quiet alone time I get with any reading material I want (plus, I have found the perfect spot in the upstairs corner where I can retreat and enjoy!) My usual routine is to read trashy mags for an hour, then I read a self help book that my therapist recommends for an hour (right now it's Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie which I highly recommend!) You have no idea how much this routine has really helped me get to know myself and enjoy ME.  It sounds corny I know but it is so important in order to grow as a person and not just the role of "Sienna's mom and Wayne's husband" (which is the identity I take on my easily). 

Another thing that really helps me is blogging!!!  Did you know that there are blogs for anything and everything that you could possibly be interested, cars, cooking, fashion, name it.  Here's the best part, you don't have to be tech savvy or rich to do it. offers a free blog hosting site that is so easy to navigate (I think I initially set mine up in the matter of 3 minutes!)

For me, reading and writing about children keeps me motivated and excited so being able to write and exchange ideas is a great outlet for keeping my passion alive.  So, I encourage you to take time every week and explore what you enjoy...what do you love??

Friday, February 4, 2011

FOCUS FRIDAYS!! How Do You Budget to Enjoy Life and Not Just to Pay Bills?

I remember watching Oprah one day and Oprah said to Will Smith, "It was a lot easier to manage $100.00 a week, wasn't it?"  This reminded me that not matter how much money we make, there will always be difficult decisions involved!
My husband used to take care of all the finances; however, recently I've decided to be more involved.  Yippee!!  First, let me clarify that I want to be more involved not because my husband is not capable of it but I decided that I should know more about what's coming in and where it's going and also take more responsibility for things. 
Our finances are a bit complex (rental properties, side business, etc.) so it gets ovoverwhelming at times for my husband to handle it all but unfortunately, the transition toward me being "more involved" hasn't exactly been easy!  In recent months, I have made a conscience effort to change my spending habits including shopping less, RARELY eating out, picking up a part time job, and going to the bookstore to read a book for my "me" time (rather than getting a pedicure or going shopping).  These changes have been a little bit challenging but definitely a good learning experience for both of us. 
We are trying to work together to cut some expenses.  We have begun cutting coupons together and comparison shopping with the curriculars and we have managed to save A LOT of money that way.  I have attempted to do this in the past but I am not very good at figuring out how much diapers cost per diaper (for example!) in order to figure out how much you are saving!

We also started meeting quarterly to go over our finances...that has not been easy! But in the end, I think it will definitely be a good thing (plus, it's definitely empowering for me!)

Here's the is power.  When you let money control you (which I have always done!), you feel a great sense of chaos and a lack of control.  But staying on top of all the medical bills, student loans, and many other issues that come up can also be very overwhelming (especially for one person!).  So, I guess the great difficulty is how to budget for enjoying life and not just paying bills? That's the million dollar question and the goal that I think most of us are trying to achieve.  I'm hoping that these changes help us to really be real about where our money is going and also spend our money on our future (we started a 401K and 529) instead of spending it on our past!

What ideas do you have?  How often do you and your significant other discuss finances?  Have you found any particular advice helpful?  Please share your thoughts and ideas with us!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter Fun!

Getting cabin fever?! Friday marks the halfway point through winter, so hang on....Spring is on it's way!

Groundhog Day Fun
Groundhogs Day can be great fun for toddlers! Check out these fun activities you can do with your kids to engage them and participate in this fun holiday! 


What you need:
A dark room
Flashlight or a night light (or anything that lights up!)

This game is simple!  Turn out the lights and take out a flashlight (or any light source) and play with shadows.  Use your hands and fingers to make animals on the wall!  Another idea?  Does your child have a light projector that you used on their crib when they were a baby?  This can be a great toy in a dark room (especially if your child hasn't seen it in a long time!) 


What you need
-Brown paper bag
-Any embellishments (markers, googly eyes, yarn, etc)

If your toddler is a bit older, you can make a ground hog puppet with a brown paper bag and then play with the shadows.  This project can be as simple or clever as you want it to be! Enjoy!

 Chinese New Year Fun
The Chinese celebrate the Chinese new year on Wednesday.  It's a huge celebration where even the kids get in on the why can't American kids have some fun too?? 
They can!  This holiday is fun, festive and lively!  Did you know each year a child is born represents an animal in the Chinese culture? This is a great chance for your child to learn about animals!
Check out this website for some great coloring printouts and some cool games