Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The 30 Day Mom Challenge

I found this on fellow CMOTC mom Carrie H's site - My Favorite Finds (by the way, if you haven't checked her site out yet, you really need to!). It's a 30 Day Mom Challenge and I LOVE it! Each day for 30 days it gives you something to focus on, think about, do for your child, and so on.

Life is so crazy busy now and days, and I sometimes find myself too caught up in it and forget some of the things on this list. I have found that reading these each day has helped me to remember these important things. Knowing I am probably not alone, I thought I would share with all of you as well. Thank you Carrie for finding this gem!

You can download a copy of this challenge at IMOM.com.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Candy-Free Easter Basket Ideas

Here are some ideas for creating a candy-free Easter that your children will love!

Easter egg hunts are always a favorite activity for all children. The following are items that will fit into the large sized plastic eggs (and some will fit in the small eggs too) and are sure to be a huge hit:

  • Sticker sheets (cut in half or thirds so you don't have to fold them too much)

  • Small raisin boxes

  • Bouncy balls

  • Favor sized play dough containers

  • Matchbox or Hot Wheel cars (most will fit)

  • Bows or pretty barrettes

  • Cool socks (some will fit in the eggs)

  • Jewelry

  • Lip gloss

  • Coupons (like: special day out with mom, stay up late pass, etc.)

  • Small plastic animals

  • Stretchy anything (like frogs, lizards, etc. - kids love these)

  • Money (coins and/or dollar bills)

  • Small figures (like the small action figures that are out now, or Polly Pockets, etc.)

  • Packets of seeds (flowers or vegetables) which you can plant and grow together

  • Packets of Annie's Homegrown treats (crackers and fruit snacks) - they're all natural and shaped like bunnies! (you can find them at Kroger and Giant Eagle - in natural food area - as well as Whole Foods)

Other items to fill the perfect Easter basket:

  • Books

  • Art supplies (crayons, markers, paint, paper, Color Wonder products, sketch books, pencils, etc)

  • Sidewalk chalk

  • Bubble wands or blowers

  • Kites

  • Puzzles

  • Sand toys

  • Balls

  • Craft kits

  • Cool photo frames

  • Puppets

  • Small Lego sets

  • Doll outfits

  • Jump rope

  • Card games

  • Bunny Pillow Pet

Here are a few other fun ideas to do:

  • Put an entire puzzle, piece by piece, into a bunch of plastic eggs. Once your children find all the eggs, you can put it together as a family.

  • Put clues/riddles in the plastic eggs that will lead your children to their Easter basket.
How about you CMOTC moms? What candy-free items do you use to fill plastic eggs or Easter baskets? What Easter egg hunt and/or basket traditions do you have? Or what fun activities surrounding these do you do? Please share with us!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NHTSA Announces New Car Seat Recommendations

In case you hadn't heard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has changed their guidelines for car seat restraints for children. We have been hearing much of this information for some time from AAP, so it's no surprise, and it's still worth sharing. Below is a post from the SafeMama website that details the changed NHTSA guidelines very well.


Repost from SafeMama website.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t happened sooner, especially since it’s been the ongoing recommendation of many car seat manufacturers. But today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration changed its guidelines for car seat restraints for children. In the new guidelines, NHTSA is advising parents and caregivers to keep children in their appropriate seat restraint for as long as possible before moving up to the next style seat. This includes rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seats.

In “keeping pace” with the latest scientific and medical research, NHTSA is following the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends parents keep children in “rear-facing restraints until two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.” The AAP indicates that there should be no rush to move kids up to the next level of seat restraint if not absolutely possible.

NHTSA’s new recommendations aim to help parents in choosing the right seat for their child by selecting seats based on the child's height, weight AND age:

Birth to 1: Children under the age of 1 should always ride on a REAR-FACING car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in 1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

Age 1 – 3: Keep your 1 to 3 year old children in a REAR-FACING car seat for as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep them safe. They should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once outgrown the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a FORWARD-FACING car seat with a harness.

Age 4 – 7: Keep your 4 to 7 year old children in their FORWARD-FACING car seat with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once they outgrow their forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel on a BOOSTER SEAT … but still in the rear seat.

Age 8 – 12: Keep your 8 to 12 year old children on their BOOSTER SEAT until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. Seat Belts – For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.

Please visit the NHTSA website for more information about the new recommendations and to find a Certified Car Seat Inspection location near you.


By the way, SafeMama is a great website! They call themselves "the original one-stop child safety, product recall, healthy, well-being, non-toxic, eco-conscious resource, for parents" and I have to agree with that (been a follower for three years). You can sign up for emails so you don't miss any posts, or if you follow other sites, you can sign up through google friend connect, networked blogs and also RSS feeds. Or, you can like them on facebook where they also feed their posts.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creating a "Guide to my Hometown" book with your children

CMOTC mom Kathleen P. offers a great idea to make spring break (or any time) right here in Columbus a lot of fun! She suggests having your children create a "Guide to my Hometown" book full of the fun things you do that week. Thank you for this great idea Kathleen!


As spring break draws near, it reminds me of how Columbus has so much to offer families. The March issue of Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine lists all the one-of-a-kind attractions our great city offers.

Yet for kids to understand how wonderful their city is it will take some reflection. Asking them to create a “Guide to my Hometown” is a great avenue for them to express their point of view of their corner of the world. The book can include what they love – their local parks, restaurants, museums and stores. This book can be part travel guide, scrapbook, or diary formats – including all three. Also listing what other places they would like to visit and why.

To Get Started:
  • Make a list of all the places you would like to visit or things you would like to experience.

  • Get a binder (3 ring) with clear plastic sheet protectors and tabs if they would like divide up the areas of interest.

  • Gather some basic scrapbook supplies (i.e. markers, glue stick, tape, stickers, and paper for the binder/scrapbook).

  • Ideas for some great items to collect are brochures and pictures of families/friends at the location.

Putting It All Together

At the end of the week (or throughout the week) set up a work space to organize their experiences. When making the book, add as much detail as they would like…dates, times, addresses. Make sure you let each page dry completely before putting your book together.

Ideas for the books:

  • As a special feature, have them look into the history of one of the locations they visit.

  • Try new restaurants, and add to the fun by having each family member “rate” the local establishment and tell what their favorite meal was. (For a dinner idea, try to duplicate the menu items.)

A few great places to visit:

  • Parks and playgrounds offer a day of sun and fresh air (and are great for fun nature activities, like scavenger hunts - see some ideas here).
  • Culture and Arts, this is where your budding artist can express themselves. Possibly copying their interpretation of classics at the art museum or being the author of their own storybook as a reflection of the Thurber House.
  • Go on an African Safari or to the Outback at the zoo. Children can have fun pretending to be explorers, capturing photos and learning facts about the animals.
  • Visit the North Market for a flavor of some fun cultural treats and support of local merchants.
  • Go back in time, through the Progress exhibit, or schedule to build something cool as a family at the Gadgets Cafe at COSI.

Ideas for other books:

  • Have them create books about their sporting events, or what is going on in their favorite sports during the summer or throughout the year.

  • Create a favorite holiday tradition book, this one looks at the whole year and what children love most about family time together.

This can be the start of a great tradition of collecting memories of family trips that they will always cherish, as well as the time together with you.

Also, Groupon's special (until Thursday 3/17) is an 8" X 8" photobook from Shutterfly for only $10. These are great for spring break photos!


Monday, March 14, 2011

A Fun St. Patrick's Day Healthy Snack

This is a repost from last March that we thought you would like to see again.

Here's a really neat idea for a St. Patrick's Day (or any day) rainbow fruit platter that is not only fun to make, but also healthy!

From the March 2010 issue of Family Fun Magazine:
Anyone else have great snack ideas for all of the preschool/elementary classroom parties?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Recipes - Cherry-Almond Breakfast Bake

Here's a great recipe for an oatmeal bake that is not only delicious and good for you, but it will also keep your kids (and you) fueled all morning. An added bonus: you can cut the leftovers in squares and freeze for other breakfasts!

Cherry-Almond Breakfast Bake
(Recipe from August/September 2010 Kiwi Magazine)


  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats (I use multi grain cereal sometimes)
  • 4 cups 1% milk
  • 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dried cherries (I've used many different types of dried fruit, it's all good)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (I've used vanilla extract when I was out of almond)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9 X 13 baking dish.

  2. In a blender, combine the ground flaxseeds with water. Blend on high for 1 minute, until the mixture is frothy. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the oats, milk, almonds, cherries, maple syrup, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt. Stir in the flaxseed mixture.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with additional milk and maple syrup, if desired.

The oatmeal bake will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can microwave individual servings for 1 to 2 minutes to reheat, or heat in the oven until desired temperature.

You can also cut the left over oatmeal bake into squares (or scoops) and freeze for a later date. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and heat up in the morning for a great quick breakfast.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share? Please send us an email.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Katie's Nutrition Nook: Dealing with the Picky Eater

Does one (or worse--both) of your children make meal time miserable by refusing to eat anything except for macaroni & cheese…OR pizza…OR worse? If so, here are some tips to help you teach them to try and like new foods--even the healthy ones!

Limit liquids.

  • Far too often children carry around sippy cups full of milk, juice & juice drinks. Remember that children (and adults) only need about 24 oz milk/day and 4-6 oz 100% fruit juice/day (no more than 8 oz for adults). Other beverages are just empty calories filling your child up with zero nutrition and loads of sugar, which makes them less likely to eat the food you offer them. Watch how much you’re giving your kids to drink and offer only water the hour before meals.

Try, try again.

  • Sometimes kids won’t eat a food the first time it’s offered, but don’t give up. It may take 10 or 20 times before your child finally decides to try that food, but they will eventually try it and they just might like it too!

Disguise if necessary.

  • If you’re worried about your child’s overall nutrition (especially when it comes to vegetables), it never hurts to hide healthy options in sauces or casseroles. Find a food processor-it might become your new best friend.

Offer with familiar food.

  • If you put a plate full of new foods in front of your kids, they are less likely to try all of it. If they’re stuck on macaroni cheese, pair the new food along with the old.

Let them help.

  • Whether shopping at the store or preparing dinner, if they help, they may be more interested in trying it.

Be a good role model.

  • As much as we wish it didn’t matter what we ate, it does. If they see you eating or NOT eating a certain food (or beverage) chances are the child will want to model their parent’s behavior. If you want your child to eat their peas, be sure you eat yours too!

Encourage, but don’t force.

  • Encourage your child to try the food, but don’t require them to eat the entire portion. One bite is better than none and the next time around, they may try more.

Limit TV time

  • Or any other distractions during mealtime. If the TV is on, so will be commercials for sugary cereals and other unhealthy foods that are targeted at children, making the vegetables on their dinner plate look much less appetizing.

So the next time your twins scream about wanting junk food or throw their vegetables across the room, take a deep breath and remember these tips. Hopefully they will ease some of your mealtime stress.

Feel free to comment below or email me with any questions you might have. Whether the questions are about weight loss, specific plans for you, general nutrition needs for you and/or your children, or whatever, I am here to help you!

As well, if you have suggestions for topics you would like me to discuss in Katie's Nutrition Nook, please let me know.

~ Katie
CMOTC MoM and Nutritionist

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