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Your Online Magazine for Moms
April 2009 ~ Issue # 016

Happy Easter!

Easter is my favorite holiday of the year (yes, more than Christmas). Perhaps it's because it seems so much less stressful than Christmas...

I love this time at my church, worshipping God who came to save me, whose heart is rebellious, and giving me the gift of peace and grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. Cameron and I strive to be thoughtful Christians, willing to ask hard questions, and wait for the answers.

I briefly outline my spiritual journey and continual truth-seeking into "the unknown" in my "about me" page. Click here to see the articles and books that have informed my knowledge of God, and transformed my life.


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In Case You Missed It...

Here are some of the newest articles at The Essential Infant Resource for Moms (EiR) you may have missed.

    infant easter dresses 10
  • It's Not Too Late to Dress Your Baby for Easter!
  • Into the Minds of Frugal Moms: Their Secret Secrets
      What does it take to be inducted into the wooden-spoon club of frugal moms? Is it thrift-shopping? Is it make-your-own-baby-wipes? Nope! (thank goodness) Their deepest-darkest, mother-of-all-secrets, "Secret of Frugality" is...
  • Inspecting Peapod Delivery: Wonderful? or Worthless?
      It's really tempting to sign up for Peapod delivery. Who wouldn't want to order groceries in your slippers and get them delivered the next morning? With a new infant and little-sleep, I was desperate to see if my grocery-cloud actually had a silver lining. Here are the results of my plunge into the world of online grocery shopping.
  • Making Baby Food at Home: Books That Make It Easy
      Making baby food at home is actually incredibly easy. All you need is a food processor, a freezer tray, and about 15 minutes. Save yourself tons of money and invest in one of these helpful baby food guides.
  • Infant Swimwear: This Summer's Go-To Guide for Baby Fun in the Sun
      Summer has arrived, and you're itching to breakout the infant swimwear and introduce your baby to the wonders of the outdoors. This article is a one-stop-shop for high-quality information on where to find the best online deals for baby swimsuits, infant trunks, fun toys and beach gear.

Pages Coming Up at the EiR:

Sign up for the Infant Blog and be notified the moment these pages are online.
  • The Best Meal Planning Guide for Losing Extra Pregnancy Pounds
  • Choosing Your Baby's Doctor: 4 Sure-Fire Tips to find the Perfect Pediatrician
  • A Fresh Look at Genuardi's Grocery Delivery
  • Heavenly Nipple Cream: A Review of Earth Mama, Angel Baby
  • Breastfeeding Tips for Working Moms
coupon

Every month I get flooded with baby-related sales, coupons, and discounts. Since I could never spend enough money to keep up with it all, I copy them down and list them here for you.

Please understand that theses are all companies I feel comfortable recommending. They have good products and services. I use them myself.

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SitterCity

If you are looking for a nanny or babysitter to help out (paid childcare in YOUR home...), SitterCity is the best place to find qualified and trust-worthy sitters. They do extensive background checks and you can even read "reviews" left by other parents about the sitters.

Right now, SitterCity is offering a 10% discount code (SCSAVE10) for you to give them a try. Need a babysitter? Click here to search for a sitter in your area.

The Children's Place Logo (125x125)

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The Children's Place

The Children's Place always comes through for me. It is not uncommon for me to find better deals at their online store than I do at the mall. And with flat-rate shipping, it is now one of my "bookmarked" shopping sites.
  • The Spring Sale has been launched - find clothing for under $9.99
  • Standard $5 shipping on all orders, no minimum.
Click here to visit The Children's Place

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IsaBooties

I love the booties and leather shoes made at IsaBooties. Besides being environmentally-friendly, they stay on my baby's feet (and I always buy large) and they're machine washable.

Adorable styles and good sales keep me coming back. To celebrate Earth Day, Isabooties is offering a 20% off discount on all purchases made by April 10th. Use coupon code "happyearth09" to get the discount. This is a great discount on some high-quality shoes - so stock up!

Click here to see the adorable baby shoes at IsaBooties


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Snapfish

If you haven't discovered yet the convenience of Snapfish for digital photo processing, now's a good time to give them a try. I use them exclusively. It's sooo simple. I click a few buttons to upload my photos...they deliver them to me 3 days later.

In April they are offering some really great deals. Get 50 free prints, PLUS the choice of either 20% off photo cards, are 20% off a photo book. This offer will expire on April 30th. Click here to check out Snapfish digital photo delivery.

little giraffe

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Sleepytime Store

Sleepytime Store carries the much-loved "Little Giraffe" collection of blankets and fabrics. Dubed "The Celebrity Baby Blanket", these ultra-soft blankets can be found in the bedrooms and nurseries of Suri Cruise, Shiloh and Zahara Pitt-Jolie, Violet Affleck, and others.

Recently, they have announced a new coupon code. "Clever10" will give you 10% off anything in the store. Click here to see the fuss about "Little Giraffe" blankets.

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Bed and Breakfast

I stay at a Bed and Breakfast at least once a year. Not only are they ultra-relaxing, private and luxurious, when you consider the fact you are getting breakfast they cost about the same as a regular hotel (except you're getting gourmet instead of Denny's).

When I'm searching for my yearly spousal- or friend-get-away, I start my search at bedandbreakfast.com. They have the largest directory of bed and breakfast inns worldwide. Seriously, I cannot tell you how much I love B&B's. Stay once and you'll be hooked.

BedandBreakfast.com is current offering some great coupons to entice you to leave home.

  • Hop over the border and stay at any B and B in Canada for $50 off any 3-night online reservation. (Choose the Canadian inns displaying the green button for the discount and enter "CANADA50" in the reward code spot before checking out.
  • Tell your husband...Purchase a $100 gift card or more, enter code "MOM10" at checkout for 10% and get what you really want for Mother's Day...a romantic get-away without the baby!
Click here to plan a getaway at BedandBreakfast.com

diaper rash soap
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Earth Mama Angel Baby

If you prefer using organic or natural products on your body (and your baby's), I highly recommend trying the Earth Mama Angel Baby products. They are offering several favorites for 20% off in April.
  • Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash
  • Angel Baby Diaper Rash Soap

Click here to visit Earth Mama Angel Baby.

feature

April continues our procession of articles centered around "Balancing Life with a New Baby: Saving Time, Saving Money". This month, we'll examine the dinner-time chaos that can easily overwhelm a mother in those first few newborn months.

As an organizing freak I've tried every system under the sun. This article discusses the various ways you can organize your family's meals. I urge you to read through the various options, and then choose which one will work best for you and your family. Side Note: If you missed March's article on "Saving Money on Groceries: An Insider's Guide to Smart Shopping", you can still see it here.


Become a Family Meal Planning Professional:
Simple Tips for Busy Moms

family meal planning 2
{Photo by Kieshawn28}
Does the idea of "family meal planning" overwhelm you? This important part of managing your home isn't reserved for Super Moms and Organizing Queens. You can organize your meals in just a few minutes a month.

Find serenity in the kitchen through budget meal planning.

No more 6:00 pm panic. The simple act of having a plan will transform your family's meals and provide peace in your home.

Not only will you eat healthier, but by practicing family meal planning, you will cut your dining-out costs in half. (And who can't use that extra money these days?)

Did you know that practicing family meal planning even benefits your infant? Here's how:

  • You know the saying, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"? That's especially true in regard to your infant. Newborns are particularly in-tune with your emotions. If you're stressed and frustrated every night at dinnertime, your baby will reflect that.
  • When you plan ahead you can identify ways to include your baby in your family meals. If your baby is older than 7 months, she can start finger-feeding some of the food the rest of the family is eating.

      By finding baby-edible food in the midst of your own dinner, you take steps to avoid the "make me my own meal" picky eaters later on. Rice, diced overcooked veggies, mushy bananas...you can take almost anything from your menu and turn it into "baby food" by mashing, pureeing, or overcooking in the microwave.

      The key to including your infant in family meals is foresight. By doing your family meal planning ahead of time, you can research and discover foods within your regular recipes that can be adapted to feed your baby at the same time. I rely on Super Baby Food to tell me what foods are safe for my growing infant. See my review of Super Baby Food here.

  • Eating out too often can lead to poor-health choices for your baby. Grabbing a bottle of baby food for the restaurant is fine once in a while, but doing that several times a week is hard on your budget and not good for your baby.


Setting Up Your Meal Planning Calendar

Before you choose one of these easy methods, you'll need to figure out how many meals a week you need to make. For example, for my small family, I only need to cook 3-4 meals a week.

My husband and I are eating most of the food, since my girls are still small, so I know that a single meal can easily turn into leftovers for the next night's dinner.

Take a moment to look at your weekly schedule. What are the evenings you'll be gone? Which are the nights you need to prepare a meal? Having that on paper is the first step towards stress-free family meal planning.

Once you've done that, it will be time to choose your plan.


Our Series on "Balancing Life with a New Baby: Saving Time, Saving Money" will conclude in May with:

Strategies to Save Money: 4 Practical Tips for New Parents

infant activities

Spending time interacting with your baby is an important part of bonding and development. Use this month's activities as a launching pad for fun.

If you get tired of doing these suggestions every day, read these book reviews of several of the most popular baby game books published today.


0-3 Months: Mouth Music

Hold your baby in your lap, facing you, so he can clearly see your face. Start making noises with your mouth like...
  • Kissing and smooching
  • Clicking your tongue
  • Making raspberries with your tonque
  • Blowing your lips like a motor boat
  • Growling, squealing, gurgling, and cooing
  • Whistling, singing, humming,
  • Animal sounds like duck, dog, cow, cat, horse, pig, chicken, rooster, monkey, snake, bird, donkey, or wolf
If you have them around the house, use a kazoo, harmonica, toy horn, speak through a toilet paper roll, or blow on a blade of grass held between your thumbs. Obviously, center on the sounds your baby seems to enjoy and find most fascinating.

This activity encourages sound discrimination, and promotes imitation and language development. It also draws your baby's attention to one of the functions of the mouth - sound comes from there.


april reading
{Photo by Phil Wood}

3-6 Months: Nursery Rhymes

Borrow a nursery rhyme book (Mother Goose) from the library. Choose some of your favorites and read, recite or sing them to your baby. Repeat each several times. The nonsensical words of these "catchy" rhymes will entertain your baby as he listens.

Show your baby the pictures that correspond with the rhyme. The brief glance taken will help her to develop beginning associations of pictures and words. Repeat the rhymes as much as possible during the week.

This activity develops language enrichment, listening skills, and creates an interest in repetition and rhythm.


6-9 Months: Sock Ball

Fold a sock within itself to make a "sock ball". Let your baby hold and feel the ball, then gently take it and throw it a small distance. Retrieve it and throw it again. Give the sock ball him and encourage him to throw it. Praise him if he responds.

After doing this for a while, transition to the floor, facing your baby. Throw the sock ball gently to him. Does he reach and grab for the ball? or does he just let it fall? Encourage him to pick up the ball and throw it to you. Praise him for any attempt he makes.

Avoid saying " No, No, watch mother". Instead, say "I throw the ball this way, Can you throw it like that to me?". If he doesn't react, set the ball aside and try the activity again later. With practice, he will learn to coordinate and throw the ball.

This activity is to stimulate your baby to throw for a purpose. Babies at this age tend to throw things for no reason. This game helps to develop eye control in focusing on a moving object, it enhances the sense of touch, and works to further develop eye-hand coordination.


9-12 Months: Name and Find

Give your baby a book to hold and allow her to look at it. Tell her she is holding a book. Ask her to give the book back to you. Tell her to watch as you hide the book under a pillow. Ask her to go find the book. If your baby doesn't understand, go get the book, show it to her again, and hide it in the same place.

Keep doing this until your baby gets the idea and starts doing it independently. Praise her for any positive response, repeating the word "book" as much as possible. Encourage her to try to say the word "book".

Do this with other familiar toys, hiding only one at a time, and hiding them in the same place at the beginning. Eventually, you can start hiding it other places, repeating the spatial concept "under". Reinforcing the name of each item will stimulate your baby to listen, and eventually she may start to say the names of these of these items. Much praise and encouragement may be needed to motivate participation in this activity.

This activity develops her ability to follow directions, listen, builds on her language development (names of objects), aids in visual perception in finding the correct objects, and builds confidence and independence.


grass
{Photo by Mommy2Lots}

12-18 Months: What's Outside?

If it's still cold outside, borrow several children's books from the library with pictures of trees, flowers, birds and houses. Read and talk about the pictures, telling the child some of the things that are found outside.

If it is warm outside, go for a walk together. Let him touch a tree and talk about how big and tall it is. Let your child feel a leaf, telling him the leaf is green. Look at the grass and point out that the grass is green too. Let him feel some grass, pointing out that the tree is much taller than the grass. Look up and down at the tree so your son can understand what you mean by the word "tall".

Show some flowers to him, letting him smell and touch the flowers. Instruct him not to pick the flowers without permission. Help him become aware that the trees, grass, and flowers all have green leaves.

This activity builds awareness of the world outside and brings attention to the different colors found in nature, enriching his vocabulary.


heather's hints

The Easter Egg Reborn

eggs
{Photo by veo_}

This may not sound yummy to you, but both my girls LOVED this dish when they were babies. It's mega-packed with nutrition, so I overlooked my own distaste and fed it to them anyway.

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Ingredients and Directions

  • 1 ripe avocado (it should be black, not green)
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • Apple juice (optional)
Pit the avocado and scoop out the green-goodness into a food processor. Blend, adding some water or apple juice until completely creamy and smooth. Peel the egg. Remove the cooked yolk, placing it in a different bowl from the whites. Smash up the egg yolk and mix it into the avocado puree.

Dinner is served! (I told you it will look gross! But your baby will love it, and his little brain will thank you for it!)

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Freezer Notes

Avocado puree freezes really well in ice-cube trays. It lasts up to 3 months in the freezer. Hard-boiled eggs will last 1 week in the fridge before you need to toss them.

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Age Notes

  • Infants as young as 4 months can eat pureed avocado.
  • Babies should be 7-8 months old before eating cooked egg yolks.
  • Because of frequent allergies, babies are not encouraged to eat egg whites until after their first birthday.

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Nutrition Notes

Although avocados and egg yolks have high amounts of fat in them, don't disregard how important they are in your baby's healthy growth. Scientists and doctors say you should not restrict fats from the diets of infants and toddlers.

I'm not talking about McDonald's fat. I'm talking about the healthy fats that come from plants, fish, and dairy products. These fats are essential for visual and mental development. Restricting them at this early age has been clinically proven to harm development.

Avocados (or "alligator pears") are overflowing with monounsaturated fats that promote healthy heart and blood flow. Avocados also help your body absorb nutrients from other vegetables. Most importantly, these fats are great for your baby's growing brain development. It is a perfect food to get your baby hooked on.

Egg Yolks are also very nutritious for your baby. They contain vitamin A, 5 grams of high-quality protein (for bone growth), and vitamin B12. They have 6 grams of fat, 4 of which are unsaturated and 2 are saturated.

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How to Get Your Baby to Try Something New

feeding
{Photo by roxeteer}
Most babies are not "adventurers" in regards to their foods. They tend to like a few things a lot and prefer to stick with those. Don't be swayed! A diet that varies will give your infant the best balanced nutrition. Here are some tips to introduce new foods.
  • Start with a favorite food, like applesauce. Then offer every-other-bite with the new food.
  • Take the new food, and place a little inside his favorite food. Over a period of days, increase the "mix in" amount as he gets used to the new taste.
  • Spread some of the new food on his tray, letting him touch and taste it at his own speed.
Remember that, statistically, you'll have to introduce this food to him at least 7 times before he is used to it. Stick with it, and he'll come around.
If you are interested in making your own baby food at home (and saving hundreds every year), I've reviewed several of the best "how to" books on the market. You can read these baby-food book reviews here.


recalls

There have been 9 recalls since the last Merry Mother was published in March. Just as a reminder, these are all pdf documents. You will need a PDF Reader installed on your computer to read them. If you don't have one, you can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free at this site.

Although these reports are always free, they take a lot of work to update every month. Please consider giving a small donation in return for the reports. $1, $2, $5...the amount is really irrelevant. I just appreciate the gesture! After all, I've a family to feed too!


Toys Recalled

  • Infant Toys from Infantino
  • Shakespeare Casting Game and Fishing Kits
  • State Farm Good Neigh Bears
  • Solar System Kits and DNA Kits
  • What's Inside Soft Toy Box
  • See the details of these recalls.

Baby Clothing & Shoes Recalled


High Chairs and Booster Seats

Pacifers, Teethers, and Rattles

closing

April's Mom Moment

I'm a sucker for beautiful photography. Take a deep breath and lose yourself in this month's photo. Of course, if you're looking for more of these "moments", visit the Mom Moment Page.

mom moment
{Photo by Chris Gin}

So What's My Secret?

Cameron and I recently discovered that we are expecting! Baby numero-3 should be gracing us with his/her presence in October/November. (I don't have a specific date yet.)

We are so thankful (but a little surprised) at this blessing. We're praying for a healthy baby, and healthy pregnancy. I've officially stopped drinking caffeinated coffee (sigh!), and am mentally preparing for being outnumbered by kids.

Yes, we will be finding out the gender (I have the patience of a pea), so I'll keep you posted. smiley

Praise God from whom all blessing flow!


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Thank You Readers!

I hope you've enjoyed reading the April issue of The Merry Mother. The next issue will be published on May 5th.

Thank you so much for reading and subscribing to this online magazine. It is a labor of love. I'm happy to know others enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.

My growing subscriber list shows that you have been sharing it with your friends, and for that, I am deeply grateful. After all, this online magazine is focused on one thing: helping us all become merrier mothers - because merry mothers = merry babies!

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P.S. Be sure to check back at The Essential Infant Resource for Moms, your friend-next-door for questions-answered, stories-told, and laughs-had.

Newsletter Archives

All the previous editions have been archived and are available for you to examine at your leisure.

You can find the link to this page at the Merry Mothers Only Page.



Balancing
Baby and Home

April, 2009

Bathroom Tip #34

Keep as little as possible out on the counter. Not only will it look cleaner, your baby will be safer.

Place hair bands, barrettes, brushes, and combs in containers, under the sink or in another cabinet. Pretty glass jars can be purchased for cotton balls and Q-tips. They look decorative, but have a functional purpose.

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Tips From
Declutter Mastery

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garden path

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