As a big fan of Suzanne Collins’s book series, I love how Sesame Street transformed Cookie Monster into Cookieness Evereat, whose goal is to survive the jungle by eating his way through the “Hungry Games.” His companions include parodies of Peeta (now an animated piece of pita), Finnick (wielding a fork instead of a trident), and Wiress (who keeps staying tick tock while holding an alarm clock). For more on the names of popular characters, check out Lisa Milbrand’s “In Name Only” blog post on why names from the Hunger Games haven’t taken off.
Even though your kids might be too young to understand the inspiration behind the latest video, they can still help Cookieness as he faces challenges related to food. Kids will learn basic pattern and shape recognition by guessing which food type comes next in an apple-banana sequence and which food shape comes next after a circle-square sequence. Parents can just laugh along at the funny antics and jokes.
Plus: Sesame Street characters Elmo and Murray recently visited our offices! Below, watch a video where they give tips on tackling picky eating. And watch Elmo and Murray give more advice on bedtime routines and getting along with siblings!
If you’re a Harry Potter geek like me, you’ll recognize Mary GrandPré as the illustrator of the famous U.S. book covers and chapter art. So when I got the chance to meet and interview her yesterday, I felt like a bona fide fangirl.
GrandPré was in New York with children’s book writer Jennifer Dewing to talk about their new book, Goodnight Little Me, a dreamy bedtime book that can be personalized with your children’s names, ages, and birthdays.
The book, out later this month, is the newest title from I See Me, a line of personalized children’s books. What makes I See Me truly special is the unique way they integrate a child’s name and photo into the illustrations on each page. For Goodnight Little Me in particular, your child’s name can be seamlessly woven into a starry sky and the socks of dancing dogs.
Take a virtual tour of Goodnight Little Me — you’ll see how Dewing’s lyrical rhymes dance and propel the story forward and how GrandPré’s whimsical illustrations saturate and pop off the page. And note all the places where “Elizabeth” can be replaced with a different name.
Can’t wait for the book to come out? You’re in luck! You can now purchase the Goodnight Little Me book or Goodnight Little Me gift set (which includes a plush lamb). Even better, ISeeMe.com has provided Parents.com readers with an exclusive discount code that gives you 15% off your total order. So you can add Goodnight Little Me and other titles to your shopping cart.
Starting today, use the coupon code PARENTS during checkout to receive the 15% discount. The code expires on Sunday, December 15, 2013.
And stay tuned for my full interview with Mary GrandPré and Jennifer Dewing in the coming weeks!
Rounding up the family together for Thanksgiving (and having them get along) is already hard enough without the added worry of creating dishes to satisfy certain diets and picky eaters. And if you have family members who have certain food allergies and sensitivities (especially to gluten), you might feel even more overwhelmed.
But don’t throw in the towel yet.
Hosting a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast is possible — and Udi’s Gluten Free has simple and delicious recipes that can even convert gluten lovers (like me). Recently, another editor and I were invited to a special Udi’s Thanksgiving luncheon, along with other Meredith editors, to sample gluten-free takes on classic holiday dishes. As a foodie and someone who believed going gluten-free meant eating pale imitations of “real” foods, I was surprised by the versatile spread and even more surprised by the delicious flavors.
On the menu was a whole course that incorporated gluten-free bread, chips, and cookies:
Best of all: these gluten-free dishes could easily substitute Thanksgiving mainstays (without sacrificing tastiness) and be worth repeating for Christmas, perhaps served with an additional dessert like ice cream sandwiches made with Udi’s maple pecan chocolate chip cookies. So now that you have some new recipes, I hope this year’s dinner planning will be just a little easier!
If you had to sum up the birth of your child in one word, which one would you pick?
WOW. There isn’t one word that is strong enough to describe the feeling. Birth was absolutely incredible. My husband said it was a miracle, and I agree that it was pretty miraculous. I didn’t realize I could love something so deeply.
Some new moms write down when they feed the baby and change her, and how long she sleeps, so they can learn their child’s pattern. Have you done the same? What is Carmen’s schedule?
I was writing everything down at the beginning, especially before she gained back her birth weight. Now I am at the point where Carmen and I are in sync with each other, so I no longer have to write everything down. Carmen wakes up around 11 P.M. and then again around 2 A.M. and 5:30 A.M.
I read that baby Carmen has her days and nights confused. How are you coping with the situation?
We had some nights that were rough. She is up every two to three hours because she needs to eat, but she also likes to hang out and spend time with us.
What has been the biggest adjustment you had to make?
I am definitely sleeping differently, but I think my last trimester prepared me for the lack of sleep, because I was waking up all the time needing the bathroom! (Laughs) Aside from the sleep issue, I’ve also had to adjust to having another person in the house. My little person has needs, and because we love her so much, we want to cater to her every single need and make her as happy as possible. Another thing I have adjusted: priorities. I used to run to this meeting and that meeting, and now my life revolves around home, where we build everything around Carmen’s schedule.
What books or websites have you found useful?
When I was pregnant I read, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. If I have any other questions, I go right to the Internet or I ask my baby nurse or my mom.
What books do you like to read to Carmen?
Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman. I even read it to her in Spanish because I want her to speak Spanish. When I read this book, Carmen just coos, shifts her head from side to side, and smiles.
Your husband has been down the baby road before, so has he given you any advice?
It was so long ago — it’s really apples and oranges. He feels that this is a brand-new experience. But you can tell he has done this before. He’s so at ease when he holds the baby. I honestly feel like we are both new parents who are taking this journey together.
If you’re a shutterbug and you have a child who’s heading (back) to school, consider picking up a School Days Kit from Hallmark’s Pics ‘n’ Props line. Also featured in the Goodybag section of our September 2013 issue, the kit comes with fun, chalkboard-themed photo props (a chalkboard and inserts for preschool through 12th grade) that your child can hold up for the camera each year on the first day of school. A photo album is also included, along with journal cards for your child to write down his first-day thoughts.
After taking first day photos, don’t forget to post them to Instagram and include #parentsbts. We’re regramming select photos on the Parents Instagram page.
Nick Cannon is in the dog house, literally! The America’s Got Talent host and husband of Grammy Award–winner Mariah Carey owns eight Jack Russell terriers. It’s no surprise, then, that Cannon teamed up with IAMS So Good to teach pet owners how to keep their loveable pooches happy and healthy. Parents.com caught up with the famous TV star to find out how he and his famous wife teach their children (2-year-old twins Monroe and Moroccan) about animal safety.
How did you teach your toddlers how to pet the dogs? Did you and Mariah rely on a book or watch a video to teach your children how to pet the pooches?
Mariah was the one who taught them, because not only is she a long-time dog owner, but we had our puppies and kids at the same time. She demonstrated over and over how to pet the dogs nicely and with care. She would take our kids’ hands and let them do it so they really grasped the concept of how to be kind to the dogs. Over time, they got it. The kids are really good to the dogs and treat them like precious babies.
Do you and Mariah give the twins any jobs when it comes to caring for the dogs?
The kids love to help feed the dogs. They know when the dogs are hungry. When they see the bowls are empty, they say, “Daddy, we need to feed them, so put food in.”
When you and Mariah read books to the children, do they gravitate to stories about dogs? What’s their favorite book that has an animal as a main character?
They love stories about animals in general. They love stories that have to do with dogs, bears, and lions. They especially love lions right now! Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, is their favorite.
How do you get your children to play with the dogs?
The kids love to run around in the backyard with the dogs. Not only are they getting exercise, but they are really bonding with the dogs. As the dogs try to keep up with them, the kids laugh because they are having so much fun.
As a family how do you, Mariah, the children, and the dogs like to spend time together? Pets are known to get jealous sometimes when their owners have children. Have you experienced that?
We all go swimming, play with the ball, or go for a walk together. We do a lot together as a family. When we do family activities that include the dogs, they never feel left out.
In addition to pets being a big part of your life, I assume music is, too?
Music is on all day long. The kids love when we sing them lullabies to sleep. During the day, we play a lot of soul music. The kids are naturally musically inclined and they love listening to it.
I’m a big fan of Martha Stewart and I like to think she’s my crafty kindred spirit. Not only do we both love to bake and make DIY projects, but we’re both also alumnas of Barnard College. When I was offered the opportunity to interview her over the phone about her latest how-to book, “Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids,” I was really excited! I found Martha to be a funny and engaging person — and she spoke openly about some bygone handcrafting skills that are slowly disappearing.
Some of these skills include sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, hemming, measuring hats, setting collars, making the back of shirts, gathering a ruffle, and tatting. Even though I consider myself crafty with other little-known skills like quilling and heat embossing, I could check off only two of the skills she mentioned (sewing and and knitting), but even they’re basic at best (I never mastered a sewing machine). And I had no clue what tatting was (turns out, it’s the process of making lace by hand using loops and knots…not the process of making tattoos). While knitting has seen a revival in the past decade and sites like Etsy.com and Folksy.com show there are communities focused on artisanal products, most handcrafting skills are not commonly used. While I can certainly learn these skills in short-term group classes, they often come with a hefty price tag.
Skills that are fading away can be more than ones related to handcrafting — they can be any specific ones that were once popular or common but have now disappeared (or are in the process of disappearing). An article in the February issue of Parents magazine (“Skills of Tomorrow“) focused on how old-school educational skills (cursive writing, library research, and analog time-telling) are now being replaced by new-school skills (keyboarding, online research, and digital time-telling).
I’m a millennial, which means I’m part of the generation that relies heavily on technology (smartphones, computers, tablets) to communicate and to make life easier (like buying an embroidered pillow rather than making one). As technology keeps changing and expanding and our lifestyles keep getting faster and faster, there is certainly less focus on slowing down and taking time to create and make things with our hands. So all this got me thinking: What other skills are we losing or have we lost? Share with me your thoughts below!
Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.
Volumes have been written about kids’ developmental progress—when they first roll from front to back, sit, walk, utter their first words, and countless other baby benchmarks. But often lost in the glow of babies’ accomplishments are the parallel milestones parents achieve after their kids are born. Similarly to how the age of a child’s first steps and first words can be roughly predicted, I’ve identified 14 reliable markers you can anticipate along your developmental path as a parent. So, published here for the first time are Harley Rotbart’s Developmental Milestones of Parenting.
The Womb: Nurture, Nest, and Nausea
The parenting adventure hasn’t even started yet, but there are great expectations mixed with apprehension and mystery. How is it possible that each edition of Heidi Murkoff’s wonderful What to Expect When You’re Expecting gets thicker and more intense than the previous edition? How can there be so much to learn and prepare? What did expectant parents do before books?
Birth to 1 month: Fear, Shock, and Awe
Everything about your first newborn is, well, new! You can’t even begin to know how much you don’t know, but you’re sure there’s a lot. How did your parents ever do this? How did the neighbors? Add to that sense of ignorance a creeping sense of panic, and a sense of responsibility like nothing you’ve ever felt before—not with a new car, a new house, or a new job. Nothing puts more weight on your shoulders than an 8-pound baby.
1 month to 3 months: Warmth and Wide-Eyed Wonder
Now we’re finally getting somewhere. Eye contact, babbling, and smiling all reassure you that there may be a little person hidden in this bundle of blankets and diapers. This is the developmental phase, when intense bonding takes place because the interactions with your baby are now more consistently two-way. If he’s smiling, you must be doing something right.
3 months to 7 months: Vaudeville and Variety Show Performer
Parents now go through what appears to the rest of the world to be a developmental regression: speaking baby talk, making goofy noises and silly faces, dancing daffy dances, singing senseless songs, and peek-a-boo-ing endlessly. Doing whatever it takes for your baby to give you one of those belly laughs that turns your insides to goo.
7 months to 12 months: Biographer and Curator
Although your baby’s first smile and laugh are unforgettable events during the earlier stages of parenthood, the “firsts” now come fast and furiously. The first time your baby sits, pulls to a stand, cruises, takes steps, and utters a word are the firsts you’ll remember most, the ones that you’ll write down and film for posterity. More photographs are taken per minute during this phase of parenting than any other.
1 year to 2 years: Secret Service Agent
Parents are now in full bodyguard and gatekeeper mode, from the time their toddler wakes up until the time he’s asleep for the night (if you’re lucky enough that he’s asleep for the night!). Your tot’s mobility and curiosity are soaring, and the dangers surrounding him are becoming your constant obsession. You feel as though you always have to be one step ahead of your little adventurer.
2 years to 3 years: Designated Bad Guy (stage 1)
This is the stage when parents teach boundaries and rules to their kids, and in so doing they learn to live with being the bad guy. Parents of toddlers say “no” more than any other word, which is excellent practice for having teenagers (when you enter Designated Bad Guy stage 2). Although experts extol the virtues of setting limits and structure for kids, that doesn’t help with the guilt you feel as the constant naysayer.
3 years to 5 years: Best Friend
This is the age when your kids are beginning to form their lifelong memories—and just in time because they’re now able to do so many more memorable activities. Your child is now a tricycler, climber, artist, and actor. Now is also when all their questions start: Whyyyy, Mommy? Howwww, Daddy? Better get your answers ready, because this is the parenting stage when you should become your kids’ best friend forever. This is when they learn to come to you not only with constant questions but also with problems you may see as exaggerated, but your kids see as front-page news. If you handle this bonding time right, they’ll keep sharing issues with you when they’re older and their problems are bigger.
5 years to 7 years: Separation (stage 1)
Some parents are jubilant about their child’s first day of kindergarten; others, not so much. In describing grief, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross noted five distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Just sayin’.
7 years to 10 years: Chauffeur, Choreographer, and Cruise Director
Your kids’ calendar is now filled up, and the tires on your car are worn down. Juggling your kids’ schedules with your own commitments could be a full-time job for a party planner or White House Chief of Staff. But since you can’t afford to hire either, this is when you had better master parental organization.
10 years to 12 years: Life Coach
The so-called tween years of your kids’ lives are also tween years in yours. You’re now transitioning from a period of reasonable control over your kids’ lives (7 to 10 years) to the next phase (12 to 15 years), when you lack all sense of control over anything. Your crisis and stress management skills will be tested in a gentler and kinder way now than they will be in few years, so this is the time to establish healthy parental coping patterns in preparation for what’s to come. This is also when you become your kids’ life coach—anticipating the challenges they will have as teens, you may now feel an uncontrollable urge to tell them everything they’ll ever need to know in their whole lives. That’s okay, but check periodically to see whether they’re still listening or if they’ve put their ear buds back in.
12 years to 15 years: Designated Bad Guy (stage 2)
This is when you catch yourself sounding like your own parents, something you promised you’d never do. The word no returns to your vocabulary with a vengeance. The early teen years force you to answer the question “Am I my kids’ parent or their best friend?” And the answer that most helps you get through the challenges of these parenting years should be “yes.” Kids need law and order now more than ever, but they also need your friendship and love more than ever—a tricky balancing act.
15 years to 18 years: Separation (stage 2)
Now is the time for parents to develop nerves of steel; nothing else will get you through your child’s getting a driver’s license. Driving is your child’s first launch into independence. Although their most dramatic declaration of independence will occur as you say goodbye at their dorm room a few years from now, driving is nature’s way of easing parents into the idea of their kids leaving home. No longer needed to chauffeur or accompany, you now face the challenge of adjusting to the new reality of having near-grown kids. You’ll go to bed before they do, so remember to ask them to wake you when they’re home for the night.
As you notice your children’s growth and development, be conscious of yours as well. Enjoy each stage of parenting for what it is: another leg in the unique journey of your life.
Dr. Harley A. Rotbartis Professor andVice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recentNo Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York TimesMotherlodeblog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).
Image: Two traces of feet made of pebble stones via Shutterstock.