Jan 6


Throwing a party for your birthday boy or girl can be enjoyable and memorable, and, if you follow these four tips, quick! Austin is filled with fun party venues to keep the kids active and excited, but if you are planning an at-home party, the decorating and food falls on you. Don’t fret, with these easy tips you’ll have the perfect party planned in no time.

Think Theme

Choosing a theme will help give you direction for the rest of the party planning. Just having a color or cartoon character to base your child’s party around will open up the flow of ideas for other party products you’ll need, like decorations and cake. Include your child in the decision, and pick something unique and specialized just for him or her.

Popular children party choices include luaus, pirate parties and tea times. If you and your child are struggling to find the right theme, consider Birthday Express party ideas to help you decide on something that fits your style and budget. Those common truck or princess parties can be easily adapted to fit your child’s taste as soon as you decide that’s your theme.

Do Decorations

Decorating for your child’s party may be the most rewarding part. Children love the anticipation and excitement that comes when walking in to a well-decorated party. Make any party memorable with custom napkins.  When everyone walks into the room covered in streamers and filled with balloons, your child will feel extra special knowing it was all done for him or her. Choose tablecloths, plates, cups, napkins and plastic ware that match your theme.

Adapt Activities

You should have a few fun activities planned for the kids, but they can be simple and inexpensive. A pinata filled with candy and small toys can keep children entertained for hours, and the take-home treats work as an easy party favor for your guests. There are all kinds of birthday party activities ranging from arts and crafts to sports and outside games. What you choose to entertain your little guests with should be influenced by the party’s theme and, of course, what the birthday boy or girl enjoys. Texas boasts hot summers, so if you are hosting a party during the warm season, plan accordingly.

Find Finger Food

When planning food for your child’s birthday party, remember that simple is usually best when it comes to kids. A cake that is decorated to match your theme and a big bucket of inexpensive ice cream will usually be a sufficient dessert. A few finger foods, such as pizza, meatballs, chips and vegetables with ranch dressing for dipping, will help curb the kids’ hunger pangs and hopefully encourage them to fill up on too much sugar.

If you follow these tips, you will have a wonderful party planned for your child’s birthday without having to spend too much time or money. Once these basics are covered, the rest of your party will fall into place.

Sep 3

A toddler is a little orb of uncontrollable energy. The auto hyperactivity starts when he turns one and a-half years old and lasts until he is two and one-half. During this time, it’s complete chaos. You just turn around for one second and your child disappears and you’re in panic that he may have run, wandered, and have become abducted. Paranoid. And you get the feeling that you want to put a harness on your child. Of course you can’t do that, not without scrutinizing eyes, but what must you do?

Toddlerhood is a time when kids discover their identities and yearn to explore their surroundings and maximize their independence. For parents, it’s a fearful time. The kid might get hurt and the parent may feel ever more guilty for not looking after her child. There are strategies though that you can apply to help your restrain your active toddler, especially when you are in a potentially dangerous public place. This article is entitled ‘Taming the Escape Artist’. Apply these tips and never lose sight of child ever again. Note: You child still gets to enjoy his independence.


Sep 2

Are you trying to become the best parent for your kids? But are you trying too hard? There is a very thin line between good parenting and Over-Parenting, and over-parenting turns out to be counterproductive for our kids than what we would have wanted otherwise.

Psychologist, educator, author, and consultant Madeline Levine points out some fallacies in some of the different ways we’re doing over-parentinghttp://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Over-parenting-s-faulty-logic-3779426.php. We really want to avoid these if we want our kids to truly succeed in life.

Levine also shares some tips, so make sure you check out the article. It’s a worthy read for all concerned parents.

Aug 28

Summer is great for fun but some kids’ activities could harm the environment – like water balloons. The following ideas from Margaret Hyde of Huffington Post would create the best Eco-Friendly Summer Fun for Kids without hurting Mother Nature:

1. Grow a garden play area
- Plant sunflowers to create a maze or a beautiful natural playground in your backyard. Planting a “pizza garden” (tomatoes, oregano, basil) is also a great idea. Harvest them with your kids at the end of summer and make the best homemade pizza.
2. Create a natural art box mobile
- Materials: box, translucent contact paper, string, pebbles, rocks, small twigs, flowers, and some homemade paint (egg white and red ochre blush and charcoal). View some ancient cave art pictures with your child for inspirations.
3. Make toys and crafts from boxes
- Big boxes make great puppet theaters and tunnel playhouses. Medium boxes could be made into train tunnels or matchbox car highways.
4. Add some scent to Play Dough
- Create an “Around the World” Play dough and add different spices like lemongrass and ginger for an Asian smelling clay, or cumin and turmeric for an Indian scented play.
5. Make your own water sponge toys
- Instead of water balloons, why not play with water sponge toys instead? It’s easy to throw around and leaves no rubber trash behind.
6. Do some finger painting
- No brush use but only fingers. Use non-toxic finger paint [cornstarch, water, and food color] for a fun messy activity.
7. Colored rice and pasta (using non-toxic coloring)
- Use food color and some (quick drying) rubbing alcohol for your colored rice and pasta . The kids could use these in spatial relationship play and/or crafting. Let the kids pour them into cups or use to make necklaces or to glue onto their artwork.
8. Sand box treasure hunting
- Buy some inexpensive environment-friendly toy pirate ‘loots’ (“fool’s good” pyrite) and bury them in your kid’s sand box. Have the kids dress up into pirates and let them dig up their gold.
9. Make a toilet paper tube bird feeder
- Take a toilet paper tube and recycle it by covering with peanut butter and rolling in birdseeds. It’s a worthwhile activity for kids.
10. Create a backyard beach
- Buy several bags of sand from the hardware store or local garden shed and spread it out in the kiddy pool or just anywhere you can enjoy it in your own backyard. Next, place some sea shells, sand dollars, and even driftwood you’ve collected from your previous trips to the beach. Then, take out the beach umbrella and sand toys.

Let your kids engage with fun and nature in these activities. Which of these green summertime ideas you’d be trying with your kids?

Aug 17

The relationship between the mother and father of a child greatly affects the parenting set-up for the child even after divorce or legal separation. This is especially true for ex-spouses who are court-ordered to share legal and physical custody of their child or children.

A new study by the Kansas State University has identified some crucial factors that affect how ex-partner parents succeed in co-parenting.

45% of the mothers from the study group have a “contentious relationship” with their exes even in the area of co-parenting their children. The mothers state that there is a conflict in the way they see their exes raise (or cannot raise) the children, and most of the women said they do not want to share custody, but only have to because of the court ruling.

On the other hand, 35% of the mothers have a “bad-to-better” co-parenting relationship with their children’s father. During the earlier phase post the separation, the relationship was contentious but improved eventually as the mothers began to think that their exes are good parents after all. The mothers also state that they were not able to have a more amicable co-parenting relationship in the beginning because personal issues were in still the way. The parents had to change this relationship for the sake of the children, hence made a conscious effort to work things out in order to succeed in co-parenting the kids. It has been found that good communication between the ex-partners greatly helps with their success in co-parenting.

Meanwhile nearly-half of the subject mothers are still in animosity-terms with their ex-partners, and they still continue to have a contentious (almost no-communication) co-parenting relationship with their exes. They do not see that cooperation and a less-conflicted relationship would help improve their current shared-custody situation.

Aug 16

Parenting children ages 3 to 8 years old can be hard not just for parents, but also for their children. For children, it is a stage of major transitions. At times they would need feelings of security and affection, and other times they would want to feel independent and test the limits within their surroundings. Sometimes, they want to find out what will or will not be tolerated. And as the kids undergo these conflicting needs and pleasures, then may throw tantrums and exhibit destructive behavior during the times when they don’t get what they want.

For parents, this is often shocking and challenging to handle. Parents may feel a loss of control and feel anger and frustration for not being able to get their child to cooperate. On the other hand, parents may sometimes also feel guilt or anxious that they may be lacking enough skills with parenting and are over-all concerned about their child’s progress (at school and whether their child is making enough friends.) With this, parents often feel confused thinking as to how much freedom and control they should give their kids. You must have frequently felt guilty wondering whether you handled a situation right or perhaps whether you have expected too much from your small child.

Parents can use appropriate discipline while also being responsive and nurturing to their kids. This can help their children learn effective ways to self-regulate and solve their problems, and in the long-term help them grow and develop to become more socially competent and less aggressive individuals. It will help advance your child’s emotional, social, and academic development, and you will feel more confident and less guilty in rearing your child.

You can read more on these principles on “Responsive and Nurturing Parenting” – HERE

Aug 15

The sky is great and beautiful this summer – Why don’t you take out your kids and have some fun outside – right in your very own backyard! Natural Parents Network suggests 5 Activities for Summertime Fun that both you and your kids can enjoy:

1. Creating a growing play pot ‘fairy garden’
- What you do is plant a sturdy plant on an extra large pot (a good height for children’s play), cover it with moss or other soft touchable ground covers, and then let your kids decorate it with small stones, pebbles, small animals, toys and trucks, and fairies!
2. Setting up a sensory playground
- To set this up, you will need to use your wading pool (without wat er). Place it outside on the grass or on the porch, or you can take it inside your living during cool or rainy summers. Now dump it with beans, rice, pillows, balls, packing peanuts, and duplos and other colorful blocks and toys. No need to fill it all the way – just a small layer on the bottom and your kids will be ready to dive in!
3. Rock painting and garden decorating
- Go on a walk to where you can find large rounded stones or river rocks you can use for this project. Wash and dry the rocks with the kids. Heat up the rocks in the oven for just a bit, at 225 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel some crayons and let your kids melt the colors away on the warm rocks! Decorate your garden steps or windowsill with your creations.
4. Making a homemade sidewalk or driveway paint
- Mix equal parts of water and cornstarch and add food coloring. Let your kids do the stirring. You can use painbrushes or just let your colors drizzle and drip. You can now paint the ground with your kids!
5. Painting with water
- How about painting with water? Yes, you don’t have to use paint. Your kids’ imaginations are what matters. Best of all, they can paint anything outside with this – the porch table, trellis, the fence, walkway, or even the wall and the entire deck!

What other warm weather activities can you suggest? Have fun this summer!

Aug 14

Summer living may be a lot easier or laid back, but it certainly is not the time to waste the chance for your kids to learn, letting them just slack the entire summer. Summer is the perfect opportunity to let them learn some important life skills they would need as they grow older. You can become a better parent and guide them through in learning the following life skills:

1. Domestic Resposibility. Let them take on the bigger chores at home like doing the laundry or mowing the lawn. This will help them learn some important “move-out-skills” which they would be able to use once they become someone else’s roommate.

2. Self-entertainment. Let them learn to entertain themselves independently, or without the use of a computer or TV. Get your kids a library card or a digital camera (which they can take around the neighborhood to explore and discover things they had never thought so interesting).

3. Time management. This is a very important skill to learn which helps them become more in control of their life and activities. Help them plan out all your family’s upcoming summer activities, marking them down in the calendar.

4. Body-Mind learning. Physical skills are just as important as academic skills. Encourage your kid to be more physically active by letting him engage more in sports, and to learn skills through observation instead of reading.

5. Inter-age communication. At school, your kid is mostly with other kids his age so learning to communicate with people in other age-groups is something he needs to practice outside of school. Assign him to become a baby sitter to his younger cousins or let him chat up with different people in the grocery store, or, you let his grandparents visit often so they could talk.

6. Goal-setting. This summer, let your kids grab the opportunity to set a goal and achieve it, whether finishing reading an (n) number of pages or doing an (n) number of pushups. It will challenge his skills and boost his confidence.

You can read more about how you can help your kids learn some life skills during summer on Babble.com (Article by Asha Dornfest, the Accidental Expert)

Aug 13

It is the London Olympics season and everyone is jeering for their favorite teams. Everyone is cheering for their favorite athelets – and parents are wooing for their kids. When TODAY’s Matt Lauer and co-correspondent Savannah Gurthie interview the proud parents of the women’s gymnastics team USA, the parents leave some advice on how to support your kids all the way in achieving their Olymipic dreams.
The parents share what it is like to see their kids accomplish their great althetics dreams and leave some tips to fellow parents of aspiring Olympians. The ‘golden girls’ of the Olympics gymnastics also reveal how it feels like to have their parents rooting for them during the competitions, and only one thing could be ascertained – that the moral support of the parents to their Olympian kids contribute a huge positive impact on the kids’ performance.

It turns out that it is much more than the parents’ urge to cheer because they feel proud in seeing their kids compete (and win) in the most prestigious sports competition. It is all part of responsible parenting. You help your kids push themselves to perform their best when you are cheering for them. This way, you help them achieve their dreams just by encouraging them.

To quote Mike Maroney, McKayla Maroney’s father, “The best thing a parent can do is just support them, and let them live their dream.” “Don’t make it your dream. It has to be theirs, because if they want it bad enough they’re going to be able to achieve it, and just give them all the tools that can give them that opportunity to have the success that their dream is all about.”

So that is how you can help turn a child into an Olympian.

You can read more of this MSNBC Today correspondence HERE.

Aug 12

Day camp is a great idea for parents like you to have some respite from raising your kids. Summer camp also cultivates a child’s self-reliance, independence, self-esteem, among other life skills. Yet there is much more to preparing for your kid’s day camp than placing his name in all of his belongings or loading up his stuff with sun block and other necessities. Here are 8 ways to prepare your child for summer camp (as suggested by iVillage):

1. Familiarize yourself and your child with the camp site and counselors beforehand.

2. Get your kid involved with the preparations.

3. Foster new friendships.

4. Advocate for your child – if necessary, talk to the camp director or other camp personnel to pay special attention to your child.

5. Share your own camp stories. Share your day camp experiences when you were still a child.

6. Do your assignment. Find out what’s allowed or not allowed in the day camp (for instance personal items like favorite toys) days ahead before camp starts.

7. Don’t let him cop out. If something happens in the day camp that your child doesn’t particularly like, listen to him and help him cope, but don’t let him quit right there and then.

8. Let him go. Let day camp drop-offs go as quick as possible, and lastly..

9. Help your child enjoy his summer camp.

You can read more details on these tips on Summer Camp Countdown! Preparing Your Kid for Day Camp (on iVillage)

Aug 12

You really don’t have to be bothered by kids saying, “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” during summer. There’s a great solution for this, and it doesn’t mean sending him off to “Just go there and play.” All you need is a list of the best 2012 summer readings for kids for all ages:


Dan Gutman’s “Baseball Card Aventures”
David A. Kelly’s “Ballpark Mysteries”
Kevin Markey’s “The Super Sluggers”
S.J. Kincaid’s “Insignia”
Catherine Fisher’s “Incarceron”
Matt and Dave’s “Yuck” series (“Yuck’s Amazing Underpants”)
“Planet Tad”
Lincoln Pierce’s “Big Nate Goes For Broke”
Jennifer and Matthew Holm’s “Squish: Super Amoeba”
“Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers”
“Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants”
Brian Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”


Artie Bennett’s “Poopendous”
Owen Davey’s “Night Knight”
Chris Van Dusen’s “Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit
Charise Mericle Harper’s “If Waffles Were Like Boys”
Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Licktenheld’s “Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site”
Ame Dyckman’s “Boy + Bot”
Michael Chabon’s “The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man”
Peter Stein and illustrator Bob Staake’s “Bugs Galore”


Polly Horvath’s “Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire”
“Charlotte’s Web”
Lissa Price’s “Starters”
Cassandra Clare’s series “The Mortal Instruments”
Lauren Oliver’s “Liesel & Po”
“Junie B. Jones and Ramona Quimby”
“Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly School Bus”
Stephanie Barden’s “Cinderella Smith”
Jennifer L. Holm’s “Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick”
“Letters to Leo”


Matthea Harvey’s “Cecil the Pet Glacier”
Emily Redmond’s “Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo”
Jonny Duddle’s “The Pirates Next Door Starring the Jolly-Rogers”
Peter McCarty’s “Chloe”
Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s “Plant a Kiss”
Amy Beth Bloom’s “Little Sweet Potato”

Have you found any interesting titles for your kids?

Source: Summer Reading 2012: Books for Kids of All Ages (Huffington Post)

Jul 29

Kids grow up so fast! And because they do, don’t you think you should start planning to spend more time with them? Having fun with kids is one of the best rewards of being a parent. So take your time and enjoy activities with your kids this summer.

Child and Adolescent Therapist Signe Whitson from Huffington Post shares 45 Ideas for Summer Fun with Kids that parents could do with their fast growing children. Her summertime with the kids ‘to-do-list’ includes making stepping stones, having a car wash, running through a fountain, organizing a block party for the neighbors, making homemade icecream, selling lemonade at the park and donating the money to charity, catching fireflies, looking at the stars, swinging ‘so high we think our feet would touch the sky’, making swirly designs with sparklers in the night sky, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs on long sticks, wearing glow bracelets and running around after dard, planting flowers, going to a museum, blowing bubbles, swimming a lot, just lying in the hammock, and just enjoying being young spending time the kids!

Remember, children are only young once so make the most out of it. Enjoy the time with them while it lasts, especially while it’s summer. You household and professional tasks can wait. Enjoy the no-school no-hurry mornings, savor the staying-up-late-past-bedtime, and just become a kid again with your kids!

Jul 16

Kiddie apps and games are great practical ways to keep kids and small children entertained while traveling. Keeping them busy during your trip will minimize the noise, tantrums, and just keeps them happy all throughout your plane or road trip. Here are a few suggested apps and offline games you could get for your child: Zingo to Go, Scribblenauts, My Playhome, and Highlights Hidden Pictures.

If you’re traveling with more than one child, then these two ideas are sure ways to give them some fun ways to interact: 1) Checkers for iPad, and 2) Encouraging them to record videos of each other while singing and then later, having them to play it back much to their hearts’ content.

If you want quiter travels though, then engage them in PopMath, Comic Book app, Who am I, Dinosaur Chess, or Doodle Buddy, or just get them a wonderful picture book.

If you’re traveling with your kids with gadgets, the important thing is to let them create fun memories – but make sure you have them turn off their toys once you arrive at Grandma’s. Let them participate in the gatherings and let them spend the in-between sessions by talking with the other family members, exploring, and playing with Gramps or Uncle John.

Keeping their electronic toys shut off and reserved for only during the trips in the car or plane will also keep them excited for it, compared to if they were playing with the gadgets the entire time of vacationing.

Jul 14

We’re pretty sure you’re familiar with this situation – Boarding on the plane with your child or baby, and everyone’s eyes are on you as if saying ‘Oh no, please Lord, don’t let Mrs. Woman-with-Baby sit right next to me.’ It’s not like mothers traveling on the plane with their kids have the plague right? Yes, they might cause other passengers a few, or frequent – “distractions” – but people can deal with it, right?

Devon Corneal, from HuffPost Parents share in her article “Babies on a Plane” why she thinks it’s NOT such a crime to travel with your kids (on airplanes, or other public transportation). She points out that kids have to be kids, and while parents are responsible for keeping their kids calm and occupied throughout the flight, we should still give them some allowance to make a few booboos.

Parents of course need to apologize to other passengers for these slight mishaps, and should even instruct their kids to say ‘sorry’. Letting your child say, ‘Oops, sorry’ when he spills a drink or bump into the person sitting next to him really means a lot to minimize the tension.. The point though is, slip-ups like these do happen in public transpos and that EVERYONE can cause distractions during travel and NOT JUST children. Sometimes, really, we just have to deal with everyone.

Feb 18

Kids have been turning cardboard boxes into playhouses for years, but they’ve come a long way since the days of your childhood! Check out these great ideas for do-it-yourself cardboard playhouses.