Preparing for the Holidays

Hosting a holiday is my one of my favorite things to do. I love to treat people. I enjoy hosting for my guests just as much as for my husband and children. Only two days until Thanksgiving and I have all my china cleaned and my crystals polished… The fewer things are left for the last minute, the more enjoyable the holidays will be for everyone.

Pumpkin Fun

pumpkin, halloween, carving, jack-o-lanternChoosing a costume, going trick-or-treating, and collecting candy that will last until next Spring are the funs of Halloween. A huge part for children is the pumpkin-carving and that gives you the chance for a small but really memorable family event. When preparing to carve your family’s pumpkin(-s), make sure you have enough time and all necessary tools. Projects like this turn into childhood memories and you should try your best to keep those couple of hours happy and stress free.

For a memorable pumpkin-carving, try to pick the pumpkin with your kids together. They will love to be involved and make decision during a fun (even if short) family outing. When selecting the image/pattern make sure it is something the children could help with or even attempt to do themselves rather then being spectacular and over-the-top. What I love about such projects is that both, the pumpkin and the pattern provide the perfect opportunity to show your kids that there is beauty in flaws and imperfections. šŸ˜‰ Consider picking an ugly pumpkin this year and make it your own and special in every way.

To create anĀ ambianceĀ that is fun and happy, play some harvest songs or start cooking a pumpkin bisque for dinner. For the little family members, there are lots of pictures that can be colored and used for decorating around the pumpkin later. I found a lot of fun things at the Hershey’s website: http://www.hersheys.com/celebrate/halloween/

Dirty Laundry

by Richard Scarry

Winning the battle against the laundry piles is quite an endeavor when you are a mom working full-time. However, when following a couple of rules, the never-ending laundry piles become quite a bit less intimidating.

The more frequently, the better… Waiting until the entire family has collected mounds of laundry won’t make this task any easier. Once you can fill a machine of whites/darks/colors, go ahead and get it done.

Dedicate a certain day/time and keep that FREE… Schedule your time and dedicate it depending on your family’s needs. One load on Monday night and one/two on Saturday morning could be one example. Just make sure you keep that time slot empty.

Don’t start what you can’t finish… Laundry will be less of a stress factor if you allow the process to be completed. When working, I always ran into the problem of having a wash started and not getting it to dry right away or clothes would be sitting in the dryer until wrinkled. Check how long it takes you to wash, dry, fold, and distribute a load and only do it when you can get it done. Ironically, you will find that you will end up using less time doing laundry this way. If time is really hard to find, explore your quick-wash cycle. Mine works for most of the laundry, even when using cold water only.

Request support… You are doing your part by working so don’t hesitate to have your family step up to the plate when it comes to laundry. Every family member of mine has their own hamper. On your dedicated laundry day, have everyone bring it to the laundry room. Distribution of the laundry can be up to themselves (if old enough). You might even want to consider having a triple hamper where clothes can be sorted into by the family members.

And just as an FYI: I read a book called “Dirty Linens” by Jean-Claude Kaufmann back in college. I believe to remember that he talks about how there is not laundry and ironing job done as well as in the military…by MEN… You might want to give that a thought. šŸ˜‰

Product Review: Prince Lionheart WashPod

One of my (if not THE) favorite products for my baby was the WashPod. It keeps baby warm during bathing due to the higher water level than the regular tubs which I found to be sooo cold. The baby rests in fetal position just like it did in the womb. It feels secure by the narrow shape of the “bucket”. Although the WashPod provides much better stability than any other tub, you should never take your hands off your baby while bathing. When 6 months came around we switched to a regular tub and at around 11 months, I took out the WashPod to give my baby a sponge bath. When he saw it he tried to climb inĀ immediately and we got another 2 months of usage out of it.

Pros: small and conveniently stored, safe, warm for baby, womb-like comfort

Cons: not available for toddlers šŸ™

Cost: The WashPod runs at around $25 in stores (BuyBuyBaby, Babies’R’Us, Toys’R’Us, BedBath&Beyond). You can find it for a few dollars less online but would have to pay shipping. There is a comparable “Tummy Tub” but that is easily twice the price and the WashPod holds up just fine in comparisons. Your best deal might be to get it at buybuybaby/bedbathbeyond where it is sold for $21.99. Use your 20% coupon and get it for $17.60.

Veggies Don’t Stink – Stop the Hiding

I am researching a lot of recipes for children to make sure the diet is well balanced and the ingredients low in -or better yet- free off additives and other junk. What I find almost everywhere is the attempt to feed your children their needed veggies by hiding them. The creativity is mind-blowing and the typical veggie mush in the meatloaf only the beginning. I am not a friend of this kind of cooking and here is why: Eating healthy should not be something your kids don’t know about. Veggies are not the evil little devils that sneak into food and spoil all good taste. Eating healthy begins by learning why we should eat healthy and what all those vitamins and minerals are good for anyways. How is your child going to learn liking veggies if it doesn’t even know it is eating them??? Becoming best buddies with their own bodies will promote a child’s understanding of what they need and will be a great step into creating a healthy eater. Don’t force your children but work on them wanting to eat better. Set a good example and comment on why you eat this way. (“I want more of these carrots because I heard that they help you see in the dark and I’ve got to try this.”) If your daily dinners are junky throughout, begin by introducing one or two healthy meals per week and work your way up. Remember: eating healthy and clean is a habit.

One of my mottos with my kids is “Some Things Are Not Negotiable!” Eating vegetables is one of those things.

– remain strict and stand your grounds

– find fun facts or eat your way through the vegetable and fruit alphabet

– chose the veggies they like best and even sprinkle their favorite spice on top

– and -the little more calculated one- load the plate with veggies up when they are REALLY hungry! šŸ˜‰

– just DON’T hide the veggies in the meatloaf

Healthy BBQ

With the summer comes the grilling. What I like most about grilling is not the food (although wonderful) but the pace of the lunches or dinners. While a kitchen-table-dinner is eaten faster than it is cooked, the steps of cooking and eating are in sync when you grill and I love that.

The not so fun part about grilling dinners is my constant concern of the charing of meats and vegetables. I never thought about it much until I became a mom and now all I see is carcinogens. So today, I came across this: “Marinating with lemon & olive oil decreases Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs), chemicals produced by the grilling of meat that may be harmful to human health. …Other ways to decrease HCAs is to grill veggies instead of meat, avoid burning/charring meat, or to opt for beef or fish on the grill (chicken has been shown to produce 2-7 times the amount of HCAs).” [Source:Ā http://healthychild.org/live-healthy/recipe-comments/summer_marinade/]

And, by the way, my daughter (9) loves to make marinates with the items I set out. It is a great opportunity to let your children explore being a chef as there is little room for error.

The Upper Hand on Your $$$

If it happens to you that you make several charges in a week and you can’t recall them (leave alone add them up) by the end of the week, it might help to know that you are not alone. In a hectic work week, it is hard to keep track of what you spend your income on; and your spouse spending even small amounts such as for lunch can through off the little bit of overview you thought you had completely. Gaining control over your income vs your expenses on a monthly and annual basis is easier than you think and our Finance Tracker (click here to get it)is a useful tool that can help you with it. Save your copy to track all expenses neatly categorized and ready to automatically calculate where your money goes. The only thing left for you to do is dedicate about 5 minutes once a day or even once a week to fill in the sheet and you will be amazed how easy it is to be in control again. This tracker is a great tool for budgeting as well. Try it!

Welcome to “Woman in the Burbs”!

The times of every mom being home tending to the needs of their families full time are over; we all know that. For most mothers a second income has become one of the biggest needs their family has and working full time while still managing kids and household effects roughly 70% of all moms. Up until a year ago, I was one of those moms who commute, work a full day, commute back, pick up their child (-ren), run home to get dinner ready which hopefully did not require any last minute purchases from the grocery store, and have an eye on homework which often was a nightmare at by then late hour. In addition there is laundry piling up, the bills and other correspondence finds its resting place in some corner Ā and grows higher and higher. Ā I found all this doable tasks but noticed that the stress level increased dramatically for us as parents and our children.

I now enjoy the liberty of being home with my 1-year-old and often ask myself how I would fit in going back to work full time. Millions of moms do it all. For “Woman in the Burbs” (where we welcome all city moms as well) I have picked those categories which I found to be hardest to juggle during a work week. You will find dinner plans, financial tools, simpleĀ organizingĀ projects, and quick daily tips on living greener and healthier. There is endless information out there on how to make your stormy waters a little calmer and I will do the work of finding it, evaluating it, and bundle it here for your quick and easy reference. Ā I would like this website to be the helping hand I wish I had back when I was a working mother and wife.

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