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American Baby’s Baby Booty: Win a Medela Meal Time Pack Sweepstakes

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Breastfeeding was probably the scariest experience that came with motherhood, for me. From having a baby who wouldn’t latch on to getting a handle on the torture that my shirts went through after falling victim to my new leaky faucets, it was embarrassing and frustrating in equal parts. But I was determined. Even when I went back to work, just 2 months after my daughter was born. She wasn’t going to drink formula, no matter what I had to do.

So I marched off to work (secretly crying in the bathroom every hour) with a manual breast pump tucked awkwardly in my purse.

The manual pump was a baby shower gift, so I gave it a fair shot for about a week, but my breaks at work were never long enough to get anything done manually. My husband got me an electric pump for my second week back, but it was massive, and came with a bag that looked more like a carry-on suitcase. By my fourth week back to work, my daughter was drinking formula.

None of this would have happened if this giveaway was available to me back then.

Leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Wednesday, October 23rd, and you could be the lucky winner of a Medela grand prize package that includes a Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump (no suitcase necessary) and an e-certificate to online Breastfeeding University where you’ll learn everything you need to know about nursing.

The grand prize package also includes Quick Clean breast milk removal soap (so that Baby’s bottles will sparkle) and a Calma breast milk feeding bottle.

What could make this giveaway any better? Nine runner-ups will also win an e-certificate to online Breastfeeding University! That’s a total of 10 winners!

Read the official rules here. Goody luck!

 

Congratulations to our Winners:

Grand-Prize:
Danielle Ferrer

Runners-Up:
Julie Brass
Ashleigh Hancock
Alicia Finn Lee
Amanda Pacurar
Julia Durgan
Carissa Pape
Olivia Rubin
Dana Amorosi
Lina Nunez de Moreno

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Reading Roadblocks

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

When my daughter started kindergarden, she hated reading. There I said it.

Her teacher always sent her home with books from which she was to read for at least 20 minutes every night. But whenever she sat down with a book, I’d watch her body slump and her mind wander to far away thoughts of magical moving pictures from the glorious TV in her room.

She was no stranger to reading before she started school. She had an entire library in her room that I filled with all of the classics. I’d been reading to her since she was in the womb, and she’s always loved reading hour, which we have every Saturday and Sunday after lunch. But this was different. Being in kindergarden meant that she had to decipher the strange letters on the page on her own, and that was no fun.

She once started to say “I hate rea-” to which I gasped and forbid her from ever having such thoughts. As an English major and a lover of books, this was like a punch in the stomach for me. I felt a sense of loss for all of the amazing stories she might miss out on; all of the lives she wouldn’t live if this feeling continued. Dramatic, I know, but it’s really how I felt.

So of course I did what every wise, all-knowing mother does when she encounters an obstacle: I called my mom.

“Being a mom means being a teacher,” my mom said. “Put your teaching pants on.”

Apparently moms have all kinds of pants in an invisible mom-wardrobe that we just have to whip out and pull on when called for. So I did.  I pulled on my teaching pants, and they weren’t comfortable, but they fit.

After watching her read each day, I took to the chalkboard in her room and made lists of word families that I noticed gave her trouble.

Practicing “ou” brought mountains and clouds to life on the page for her. I bought books that were fun, like We Are In a Book, by Mo Willems. She cracked up reading that one and asked for more of his books. One Saturday I encouraged her to write a letter to her favorite author, and a week later she received her first piece of mail – a response from Mo Willems himself. He thanked her and promised to keep writing “Funny jokes to make her laugh.”

It took some time, but soon enough, she was reading books at home that were well beyond the reading level that her teacher was assigning.

Now as a 1st grader, new books have become rewards for completing her chores and finishing other books.

Some of her favorites are Amelia Bedelia, and The Show Must Go On. She recently finished  The Adventures of Captain Underpants (in 2 days) and I challenged her to read Wayside School is Falling Down in 1 week. On the line – the entire Captain Underpants box set.

I’d be lying if I said that my daughter loves every book that she picks up. She’ll still swap a book for the TV if the story isn’t funny enough, but she’s come a long way from the days of (almost) hating to read. And I get to put the teaching pants back on the hanger during reading hour.

 

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New Halloween Traditions Your Kids Will Love

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

October is finally here! I wait for this month all year around. Our family’s annual pumpkin-picking trip is approaching, as are our haunted-house and corn-maze trips. We love our traditions. But after years of doing the same things, I wanted to try something new. So I brainstormed and asked around for unique Halloween traditions, and I couldn’t keep these ideas to myself. Here are the top 5 new Halloween traditions that my friends, family, and I have come up with:

1. Pumpkin Painting Party

Gather your crafty kids for an afternoon of pumpkin art.  Mini pumpkins are perfect for little hands to paint, and your guests can take them home as favors.

Add a movie: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

2. Witches Brew Party

Give each of your culinary creators a bowl and the following ingredients to choose from:

Cranberry Juice
Ginger Ale
Apple Cider
Gummy Worms
Red Jellybeans
Raisins
Candy Corn
Milk Duds
Gum Drops
Black Shoestring Licorice

Watch them create and name their own witches brew.

Add a movie: Matilda

3. Harry Potter Party

Have your guests come dressed as their favorite witch or wizard. Supply the following and help them decorate their own broomstick and wizard hat:

Broom sticks
Glue
Glitter
Streamers
Fake bugs
Webs
Pencils, Markers, Crayons
Colored Paper

Add a movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

4. Scare Games

It’s not too cold for the outdoors yet! Get the kids outside for Monsters University inspired Scare Games. Adult referees can dress in costume, and the kids can compete in potato sack races, tug-o-war, and hula hoop contests. Award candy bag prizes to the winners, and end the day at home with a big pot of pumpkin soup.

Add a movie: Monsters Inc., or Monsters University after the October 29th DVD release date.

5. Spooky Sleepover

Get out your pumpkin pajamas for a halloween themed sleepover. Roast pumpkin seeds, make s’mores and swap scary stories deep into the night. Add to the fun with a Halloween craft like this adorable paper owl.

Add a movie: Monster House

For more Halloween ideas visit our 100 Days of Holidays page.

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American Baby’s Baby Booty: Win a Baby Brezza Formula Pro Sweepstakes

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Sometimes I really miss when my baby was a baby.  I wish that I could have that sweet baby smell and cute giggle forever. But the approaching colder months make me remember all of the things that I don’t miss at all, like removing full-body coats to change a diaper, or finding a place to warm a bottle while out running errands.

Now that I think about it, bottles were a hassle all year around. You have to measure and mix and heat (but not too hot!). Thankfully, the folks a Baby Brezza feel our pain. (A little too late for me — I have a 6-year-old, but right on time for you!)

This week we’re giving two lucky winners a Baby Brezza Formula Pro, each worth $150! The Formula Pro is a meal-time mommy saver, mixing and warming baby’s bottle with the touch of a button. And it works with all bottle sizes.

Leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Wednesday, October 2nd for your chance to get out of bottle duty.

Read the official rules here. Goody luck!

Congratulations to our winners Olivia Rubin and Marvin Torres!

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The Master Manipulator

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In the past week, my 6-year-old has lost 4 teeth.  She has trouble eating, and I just can’t help snapping a million pictures of her toothless smile and video taping her talk. I asked her what her classmates think of her new smile and she said “No one in my clath hath teeth.” The poor thing. 1st grade is rough.

The other night, I reached under her pillow to swap a tooth for a dollar and I found a note written on an index card that read: “This stuff is for you the tooth fairy. I love you. Love, Leli.” And, as if it couldn’t get any cuter, she drew an arrow at the bottom and wrote “Write back.” Her tooth was sitting in the middle of a bracelet with a toy flower, a button, and a bead. I melted. I took all of the gifts and wrote on the back of the card in swirly letters, “Thank you, Leli. You are so special and I love you.”

It seemed like the only thing to do, but when she woke up in the morning, ecstatic and dreamy eyed, I felt pretty guilty. She said, “If I knew what size the tooth fairy wore, I’d make her the prettiest little dress,” and I thought, What am I going to do when she finds out the truth?

What am I really doing when I forge a letter from the Tooth Fairy, or wrap the presents from Santa in different wrapping paper? Am I making her childhood magical, or am I setting her up for heartbreak?

I remember when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher told a boy in my class to stop telling the truth about Santa, because some kids still believe. I went home to my parents and said, “I don’t know why my teacher made it seem like he’s not real.” That’s when they broke the news, and that’s the first time I experienced the feeling of betrayal.

Not to get all dramatic, but  7-year-old me couldn’t believe that my parents (who I thought loved me) would lie to my face and make me look like an idiot. That’s really how I felt. So why am I doing this to my child?

Honestly, part of it is because I want to make the most of her innocence before it’s gone. I can be Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Mama, and best friend, until she’s around 12 when I’ll become Mom, and my only super power will be the ability to suppress and annoy her. But another part of it is that losing your teeth without the Tooth Fairy would be the pits. And wrapping gifts at midnight while she sleeps without the cookies for Santa would be unfair (whoops, that’s me again).

I’ve come to terms with the fact that one day, she’ll peek behind the curtain and find me — the master manipulator; but I’m determined to rack up as many smiles as I can before that day comes. Hopefully love will magically make her forgive me.

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Win a $200 Chasing Fireflies Wish Card (Think…Halloween!!!)

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

If your family is anything like mine, you’ve started your Halloween preparations. Our October schedule is already filled with trips to haunted houses, pumpkin farms, and spooky festivals. We even added a scary sleepover to the lineup this year, complete with booby traps and scary movies. And for the main event: trick or treating in contest-worthy costumes.

This year, my daughter will be a minion, I plan on being Waldo (you know—Where’s Waldo?), and my husband will probably be a werewolf. Last year, I was Cruella De Vil, my daughter was a Dalmation, and my husband was a werewolf. The year before, I was a clown, my daughter was a bat, and my husband was, you guessed it, a werewolf.  In his defense, that werewolf costume does scare people every year.

And now you can you can coordinate your costumes (and cover the werewolf of the family) with this week’s giveaway!

Leave a comment below, up to one a day, between today and Monday September 30th, and you can win a $200 Chasing Fireflies Wish Card. That’s a lot of costume cash!

Finally, if you’re looking for more Halloween Ideas, do you know we have a 100 Days of Holidays feature on our site? Expect daily Halloween and fall ideas for the next month, then watch it transition into Thanksgiving and Christmas ideas.

Here are the official rules. Happy planning, and Goody luck!

Congratulations to our winner Katie Bohmann!

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American Baby’s Baby Booty: Win a Pretty Vera Bradley Baby Prize Pack

Friday, September 20th, 2013

When your baby starts eating table food,  watching her try new new things can be super fun (and messy!). She’ll spit out her pureed brussel sprouts, demand more carrots, and toss her peas on the floor just to watch you clean them up. Her little fingers will struggle to manage her toy-sized utensils and it’s so cute to watch, you’ll want to squish her cheeks (just make sure she’s wearing a bib).

This week, to help you and baby prepare for your culinary adventures, we’re giving one lucky winner a delicious Vera Bradley Tutti Frutti Bib Set, and a Baby Dish set that has everything she needs for mealtime: a plate, bowl and cup, each featuring adorable best friends, Bunny and Bear! Crafted in durable melamine, all three pieces are dishwasher-safe and BPA-free.

And because Mama will deserve a treat after the endeavor,  we’re also giving away a Vera Bradley Make a Change Baby Bag in Heather. The stylish baby bag has an exterior zip-down pocket that reveals a roll-out detachable changing pad and two elastic slip pockets. Slightly longer straps make it perfect for the mom with places to tote her little one.

Here are the official rules. Goody luck!

 

Congratulations to our winner, Twila Witmer!

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One and Done

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Last week, when the winds of the back-to-school  storm were just dying down — the 2-page list of supplies were purchased, new clothes and shoes and accessories had their way with my wallet, afterschool plans were set and paid for, the pediatrician saw us, and any sneaky lice were evicted from my 6-year-old’s head — my sister asked me, “When are you going to have another one?”

I kindly asked her to zip it.

She’s not the only person concerned with the contents of my uterus. Since my daughter’s first day home, I don’t think that I’ve gone a full week without someone asking when I plan on giving her a friend.

“She has plenty of friends,” I reply. “Friends that I don’t have to pay for.”

But everyone from my grandmother to strangers on the subway tells me that I am doing my daughter a disservice by “forcing her to go through life alone.”

At this point I wish I had a big buzzer like the ones that go off on game shows when a contestant gets an answer wrong, because according to studies (and me—Mother knows best) my only child is going to be just fine.

In a study titled, “Good for Nothing: Number of Siblings and Friendship Nominations Among Adolescents,” researchers found that the very modest social deficit sometimes seen in kindergarten evaporated when only children reached middle school. A large number of children (13,500) in grades seven through twelve at 100 different schools were asked to name ten friends. The only children were just as popular as their peers with siblings. Furthermore, the authors noted, “These results contribute to the view that there is little risk to growing up without siblings-or alternatively, that siblings really may be ‘good for nothing,’” reports Psychology Today.

So there you have it. She won’t be lonely. But what about the self-centered only child stereotype?

Confession: When I was in middle school, people always said, “You’re so bratty. You must be an only child.” And then they would find out that I’m the youngest, and that fit too — it’s always something.

In a study titled Behavioral Characteristics of the Only Child vs First-Born and Children with Siblings, researchers found that the status of being an only child is not associated with a poor outcome in several areas of the development.

“Simply, we tend to succeed at significantly higher rates than people raised with siblings, whether it’s at school or in our professional endeavors. Solitary pursuits like reading train our focus and curiosity and the verbally rich environment of life among adults accelerates our learning,” Lauren Sandler writes in her book One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One.

I suppose I cannot say for certain that the future doesn’t hold another child for our family; we haven’t done anything to make it technically impossible. But it is reassuring to know that, while I’m comfortably balancing my career, marriage, and one child, my daughter is not lacking in a single thing.

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