Friday, August 1, 2014

Parenting Pointers: 40 Weeks

40 WEEKS is a movie that answers any pregnancy questions you may have and gives you a window into the lives of a group of real women dealing with all the changes you are.  Journey through the weekly milestones and information of pregnancy while discovering the community you are now part off.  40 WEEKS is here to help with resources and to build a community.

Big Belli, an industry leading film resource for expecting families, presents 40 WEEKS, the first unscripted documentary movie to offer an intimate window into the week-by-week journey of pregnant women across the country.  40 WEEKS is directed by Christopher Henze, produced by Kurt Engfehr, Dominique Debroux, and Kate Rolston, edited by April Merl, and cast by Lisa Singer.

40 WEEKS explores the emotional and physical changes through pregnancy, the hopes and fears and the confusing and often difficult choices that can be presented during this time. Interspersed throughout the film are expert testimonies offering current medical information on key pregnancy milestones.  40 WEEKS examines and addresses topics surrounding pregnancy and child birth such as sonograms, morning sickness, prenatal nutrition, screenings, safe remedies, fetal development, preparing for delivery, single parenting, same-sex parenting, health risks, pre-term labor, low birth weight, home safety, preparing to bring the baby home and much more.

Fun Freetime: Educational Programs on Netflix Selected by Noodle

In an effort to prove there's more to their original program than women's prison and Kevin Spacey speaking directly into the camera in a light, Southern accent, Netflix recently announced a plan to reboot '90s-kids-book-series-turned-TV-series Magic School Bus for a new generation of kiddos. To hold your kids over until the computer animated show reboot debuts in 2016,  Noodle, a company that provides advice on education decisions, rounded up six great educational and kid-appropriate TV shows and movies currently available to stream on Netflix that are quick fixes to any rainy day home with the kiddos.

1. The Blue Planet (2001)

A huge, high-quality undertaking from the folks at BBC, the eight-episode series The Blue Planet is one of those documentaries worth buying an HDMI cable and hooking a computer up the big screen for. This exploration of planet earth's vast seas is plenty educational, tracking the amazing life of everything from coral reefs to frozen Antarctic life, with an emphasis on the interconnectedness of everything. The series was notably a precursor to the crazy popular, Oprah-approved Planet Earth series, making it a great watch for curious, science-minded kids.

2. Chops (2007)
Chops is a great watch for kids who love music, and in particular, kids who are already passionate about an instrument. The inspiring 2007 documentary stresses the payoff of working towards perfection as it follows a Jacksonville, Florida jazz band attempting to win top honors at the world class Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center. Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, also makes an appearance. 
3. The Magic School Bus (1994-1997)
The original animated Magic School Bus series is an easy sell to kids based on premise alone: What if, instead of repeated field trips to your mediocre local museum and awkward old-timey reenactment villages, you could go to space, hang out with dinosaurs, and shrink down to the point where ants were terrifyingly human-sized? Therein lies the appeal of Magic School Bus, which currently has all four of its educational, space and time traversing original seasons available on Netflix.

4. Sesame Street (2006-2011)
The indisputable king of family-friendly educational entertainment currently has episodes between 2006-2011 available to stream on Netflix. Your kids can expect songs on the joy of cookies, culture references way out of their reach; celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris showing up as someone named the "Shoe Fairy," and a lot more. I mean, I don't really need to sell the joys of Sesame Street to you, do I?

5. Turtle: The Incredible Journey (2011)
Like March of the PenguinsTurtle: The Incredible Journey is one of those film reminders of how incredible animals are, how tough they have it, and how us human folk tend to make things even tougher. This warm water tale chronicles the journey of a female loggerhead as she battles the odds to survive a trying 25-year trek from a Florida beach to Africa and back to lay her eggs that only one in ten thousand turtles survives. It's also available on Hulu.

6. Walking with Dinosaurs (1999)
This six-part BBC-produced award-winning documentary is a perfect, kid-friendly and educational way to quench your kid's insatiable love of all things big, loud, and vaguely reptilian. While the CGI — top notch when the series was released in 1999 — might look a little dated now, the series still gets high marks for its quality and narrative style, which brings the action to life by following the stories of individual dinosaurs and dinosaur families, and not treating them as ancient history.

For more Noodlings and education related advice from Noodle, check out

Shopping Savings: My Little Pony Apps

In honor of Friendship Day (8/3) Playdate Digital is offering several My Little Pony apps at a discount through August 7th. Check it out here!

My Little Pony Party of One $2.99 -> FREE
My Little Pony: Best Pet $2.99 -> $0.99
My Little Pony: Fluttershy’s Famous Stare $2.99 -> $0.99
My Little Pony: Hearts and Hooves Day $2.99 -> $0.99
My Little Pony: Power Ponies $2.99 -> 0.99

Thrifty Thinking: Talking to Kids About Money

It’s difficult enough to talk about money with children.Here are some tips that can make it easier. 

First, really listen.
Many parents talk first and listen later. Flip flop that for more effective communication. If children get upset because they’re not going to be able to get something they really want, it’s important to first really listen and focus on your child’s concerns, instead of thinking about what you’re going to say. That’s a great way to talk to children about anything, and it’s particularly helpful when discussing money in a tight economy. Just listen.

Address their concerns.

The pitfall parents get into is when you try to justify, explain or argue with your children and don’t speak to their concerns. You invalidate what they’re concerned about by saying things like, “I can’t believe you’re worried about your doll, when our mortgage is late.” However, what’s important in your child’s world is whether they’ll get that toy, not the status of your mortgage payment.

Give your kids some space and breathing room to go through what they need to go through. If you’re ten and wanting to know why you can’t go somewhere or have something, it’s a legitimate concern. The doll matters when you’re 8. The concert matters when you’re 16. Seeing and addressing these concerns can strengthen your family. Your children’s concerns are valid. The opportunity here is to create a way for your child to see how they fit inside the family unit and then see how they can contribute to the overall family finances and well-being.
What doesn’t work is telling your kids that your 401k is down, or the mortgage payment is late, as that will not translate in their world. It’s important to let them know how it’s going to impact them directly. Things like their favorite toy or getting their expensive shoes … focus on what’s important to children and what affects them.

Talk straight.
This is also about clarity. Strive to understand what your child is saying before you speak. If a child is asking something, and the answer is ‘no” parents often try to soften the blow by saying “not now” or “maybe later.”  It actually helps the child (and frankly you as the parent) when you just say “no” and then it’s decided and clear. If during the holidays, a child expresses interest in a particular toy or item and the family cannot afford it, simply talk straight about how the family budget is tight and work to find creative solutions to save money as a family to afford it over time. Create a game where the kids clip coupons and that money is saved for something they really want to buy later. 

Use these three tips to have a conversation with your child, tonight! Listen first, address their concerns and then talk straight when you answer their questions.

Here’s the most important thing that I can actually say is when the conversations get tough, listen first and then speak. Listening is often much more powerful than what you say. See more communication techniques at


About the Author: David Cunningham, M.Ed., is a communication expert and seminar leader for Landmark, a personal and professional growth, training and development company that's had more than 2.2 million people use its programs to cause breakthroughs in their personal lives as well as in their communities, generating more than 100,000 community projects around the world. In The Landmark Forum, Landmark's flagship program, people cause breakthroughs in their performance, communication, relationships and overall satisfaction in life. For more information, please visit

Fun Freetime: Summertime Fun Time with the USPS

This time of year is perfect for making precious memories with your children. One way to do that is by helping them cultivate a pen pal relationship with a friend or family member. The new blog from the USPS, Postal Posts, features tips on how you can get started today, including the best place for selecting the perfect stamps for their letters.

Consumer Critique: Legacy of the Claw

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I'll admit it - I enjoy reading young adult literature. Sometimes the writing is even better than that geared for adults. I also enjoy stories that have an element of the fantastical in them, and Legacy of the Claw, the first book in the Animas series, has just that. The book follows Bailey Walker, who has not yet found his Animas kin - kin being an even stronger bond than family, a bond that links humans with animals and provides the guiding force in the Animas world. As he tries to discover his Animas, there's danger around his Academy, and a new leader calling for domination over their Animas kin.

It's a unique story, and I love fantasy fiction. The book was a very fast read for me, and left me wanting more. The ending was a satisfying conclusion, but the world of Animas lends itself well to many more exciting stories to come. The book is targeted towards middle grades, but would also appeal to teens and adults who enjoy fantasy fiction.


Lego MIni-build - Monkey August 5th

Parenting Pointers: Breastfeeding Tips for World Breastfeeding Month

World Breast Feeding Month starts today, and I have the opportunity to feature renowned lactation consultant and Registered Nurse Shari Criso, who offered her round-up of must-have essentials every new moms needs to make breastfeeding a success. Breastfeeding rates have continued to rise over the past decade, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It’s in large part due to the health benefits of this liquid gold: lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections; diabetes and obesity; and mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers. 
Shari Criso’s Top Breastfeeding Myths:
·         Myth #1: A large percentage of our population just can't make enough milk to fully nourish their babies.
Ø  Fact: Our bodies were made to breastfeed and our species has survived for hundreds of thousands of years this way. It is actually UNCOMMON for a mom to carry a pregnancy, deliver a baby, and then just not be able to feed it. It does not make sense. There are some moms who may have issues with milk supply, but most of the time it is due to inaccurate advice to supplement with formula because of a "perceived" low supply issue instead of a real supply issue.
·         Myth #2: That if your mom or sister couldn't breastfeed, that you won't be able to breastfeed as well.
Ø  Fact: I don’t know what happened with a woman’s mom or sister, but I do know that their mother’s mother, and her mother before that, and so on…were able to breastfeed or they would not be here. We come from a line of women that were able to produce enough and feed their babies because that was the only way. Although the ability to breastfeed can have a genetic factor, this is usually not the case. Most of the time the reason that the mom or sister was not able to breastfeed is due to reasons that were not medical issues, but rather misinformation or assumptions about their bodies ability to make enough milk.
·         Myth #3:  That you have to have the perfect diet and lifestyle to make good and enough milk.
Ø  Fact: This is just untrue. If having the perfect diet, enough rest, not too much stress, etc. were major factors in your body's ability to feed your baby then our species would have died off long ago. People throughout history have lived through some of the most difficult situations and still were able to feed. Although our own health does make breastfeeding easier, it is not critical in making enough or good "quality" milk.  A good diet will keep you healthy, but regardless of what you are eating your milk is rarely effected except in the most         extreme cases.
·         Myth #4:  Breastfeeding will change the shape of your breasts.
Ø  Fact: Breastfeeding itself is not the culprit.  Other factors that can change your breast appearance more than breastfeeding includes BMI, age, history of smoking, large pre-pregnancy breast size and number of pregnancies.
Shari Criso’s Top 3 Breastfeeding Tips
·         Tip #1: Become as knowledgeable and educated as possible about breastfeeding BEFORE you have your baby. Trying to wing it after the baby comes or rely on the staff at the hospital to teach you could be a disaster and the reason why breastfeeding was not successful.
·         Tip #2: Purchase what you will need to make breastfeeding more comfortable and easier especially in the first few weeks when you are first adjusting and it is usually the most difficult time.  You don't have to spend a lot of money to accomplish this, but assume that you WILL be successful and get what you need. You may be able to get help with breastfeeding at no cost, since your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump – and may offer to cover either a rental or a new one for you to keep.  I like the Evenflo® Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump: $99.99-$159.99 
·         Tip #3:  Make sure you are surrounded with support. One of the biggest challenges and reasons for moms not having the success that they want with breastfeeding is not getting the support from the people around them.  Get your partner on board with education and information. A supportive partner is one of the biggest reasons for breastfeeding success. Find friends and other breastfeeding moms who were successful to speak to and line up a lactation consultant before you deliver so you can reach out for help as soon as you need it.
Shari Criso’s Must-Have Products to Make Breastfeeding Easier:
·         Evenflo® Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump: $99.99-$159.99 *available mid-August
Simple way to support breastfeeding for your baby.  Small, handheld, portable convenient and diaper-bag ready.  
The Baby Hobo Bag is a diaper bag that converts into a breastfeeding pillow to provide perfect positioning for moms on-the-go. 
·         Milk Makers: $14.99-$39
Lactation cookies are an easy, delicious, and nutritious way to help boost milk supply. 
·         Bravado Designs Ultra Comfort Nursing Camisole: $34.99
Easy to wear while pregnant or nursing your new baby. Wire-free, seam-free, and has a long silhouette.

Contest: Day by Dei

Dei Fratelli is hosting Pinterest contest to give away free product. To enter, consumers must pin a favorite recipe with #DaybyDei in the description of Dei Fratelli’s Day by Dei Pinterest board.

Through the month of August, two winners will be chosen each week based on the following criteria: 1) Most re-pins of a recipe. 2) Most delicious and unique recipe. Each winner will receive a prize pack, which includes 12 varying Dei Fratelli products. Winners will be announced each Friday on the Day by Dei Pinterest Board as well as other social media platforms.

Check out Dei Fratelli’s Dei by Day Pinterest Board and social media platforms:

More about Dei Fratelli
Dei Fratelli strives to offer the finest tomato products in America and are an asset to any pantry and home chef. As a fourth generation, family-owned company, they have committed to producing the very best gluten-free, all natural tomato products, pasta sauces, salsa, tomato juices, sauerkraut and other household staples.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shopping Savings: Microsoft Products

Did you know that the Microsoft store offers a 10% discount for students and education professionals? It's a great way to save on popular Microsoft products. Offer excludes Xbox One consoles, Xbox 360 consoles, Xbox Live, Xbox Games, Windows phone with contract, refurbished products, Office 365 University, Windows 8 Pro Student Upgrade, and services.

Also available right now are the Surface Pro 3, which is powerful enough for entertainment and productivity; the Xbox One + Kinect with Forza Motorsport 5 bundle, a popular gaming console for when studying is done; or the Office 365 Personal subscription, which allows for installation on one computer and one tablet, and contains Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access and Publisher (also 20GB of online storage for easy ability to work anywhere).

If you want some fun and educational options for your kids, Microsoft stores offer free summer camps for kids 8-13. Check with your store for details on summer camps and workshops.