Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review and Activity: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

This book is a classic! Its a fun book to teach children about the alphabet but it also is full of rhyming and repetition. The entire alphabet climbs up the coconut tree in this book but "Chicka chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room?" Once all the letters make it to the top the tree is too full and Chicka chicka boom boom! they all come crashing down. 

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After reading this book make some tambourines with your child. You'll need some durable paper plates, a stapler, crayons or markers and some dried beans. Have your child color each side of the plate using pictures from the book. Add some beans between the two plates and staple them together. Then try reading the book again but have your child shake the tambourine whenever you read the words chicka chicka boom boom! 

Your child may want to shake their noisy tambourine throughout the entire book so before you begin reading start my giving them a sign that means "keep your tambourine quiet". Something like touching your nose or putting your hands behind your back. This is something you can use while reading the story. This will teach them to pay attention, listen and be patient. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Playgroup Activity: Musical Bell Shakers

Kids love creating noise. It's built into their DNA! They love new things, new sounds and they love when they are the ones to discover it! Encourage their creativity by making these musical bell shakers. 

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Here's what you'll need:
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wooden chop sticks
colored pipe cleaners

Have your child thread as many bells as they choose onto the pipe cleaners. Then wrap the pipe cleaner around the top of the chop stick leaving enough room for a handle. That's it! Now you'll have your own musical band to preform for you. This is a good playgroup activity that will encourage the kids to create music together. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


"KBYU Eleven, a local Utah television station, is a great resource for parents and all of those who are helping raise a child.  KBYU Eleven includes quality educational television programs, a safe online environment, and video parenting workshops."


KBYU offers a kids and family section online where TV program schedules are located along with corresponding educational activities and reading resources. This section also includes a 12 video workshop for parents that teaches them how to prepare their children for school and successful learning (READY TO LEARN). Another section that KBYU offers on their website is a community section where resources, events and contests can be found. 

Speaking of contests...check out the Utah County Moms Blog to enter a contest to win 2 free vouchers to this years Deer Valley Music Festival! Click here for more information and to enter. The Festival is Saturday June 29th and the contest ends this Friday June 28th. 

Deer Valley

Music Festival 2011

Monday, June 24, 2013

Supporting Children's Emotional Development

Zach had just finished preschool;  as we pulled away on the last day he got a bit emotional and said:  "I'm gonna miss that preschool.....I'm gonna miss it every single day, I'm gonna miss all the kids there and playing with them and I'm gonna miss the girl I had a crush on.....all of them....Charlotte, and Lindy...."

I have often wondered why my brother Zach felt only sadness while leaving on his last day of preschool. I think a lot of us generally know our children's physical limits but when it comes to their emotional limits, do we expect too much as parents?

Emotional development grows and matures just like physical development. We cannot expect an infant to be able to walk at 6 months when they haven't developed the muscle strength to do so. This is similar to how we cannot expect our children to correctly understand emotions when they haven't yet developed or become aware of the emotion.

There are four primary emotions: Joy, Anger, Sadness, and Fear. There are many sub-categories to each of these primary categories as seen below. These emotions develop at different times and aren't developed until 5-7 months.

Now when they've developed these emotions, meaning they are aware of them and also have the ability to express them.

When do they begin to understand the emotion? 
When are they capable of expressing multiple emotions? 

Let us go back to the story of Zach. He could only feel the sadness of leaving preschool; he could not feel the joy of just graduating or being out for summer. Why? Children below the age of five can only express one emotion at a time and when they express it they express it fully and completely and are not capable of expressing or feeling any other emotion. While they are only capable of expressing one emotion they can alternate pretty rapidly between emotions. This is why Zach could only understand and express one emotion- the feeling of sadness while leaving preschool.

A year has past and I have another story about Zach. Earlier this year my eldest brother had his first baby. When they came to visit the family Zach was not happy about the baby being there. My mother tried to talk to him because she knew he was jealous of the attention the baby was getting and he was mad that the baby had come to visit. But no matter how hard my mother tried to get Zach to be happy about having his new nephew visit he remained firm in his emotions. This is typical for a child between the ages of 5 and 7 years. They can express multiple emotions from the same category, but not two different types of emotions, so Zach remained mad and jealous.

Have you ever experienced trying to change a nervous child's emotions about school to excited feelings. You can see they are nervous and you want to fix it so you start trying to pump them up about seeing old friends or telling them about all the fun activities ahead of them. You expect them to change their emotions instantly but this expectation is unreal. The ability to understand and express two contrasting feelings towards an event occurs between the ages of 8 and 11 years. During this time period a child can express being nervous about starting school and then following that emotion can feel excited to be able to see old friends but cannot express both at the same exact time.

Now you may be asking when will my child be capable of expressing or feeling two contrasting emotions simultaneously (aka having mixed emotions about something)?

One has not fully developed the ability to express or feel two contrasting emotions simultaneously until they are between the ages of 10-12 years. At first this may cause your child to feel confused, which can result in anxiety or distress about what they are feeling. Over time they will develop the ability to reason with their emotions. AND....Then puberty hits and I have no emotional advise nor help for that...So Good Luck, you will need it if they were anything like me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway

Click here to purchase this book at Barnes and Noble

Smiley the shark wants to play with all of his other ocean friends but once he finds out that his smile actually frightens the other creatures he doesn't feel like smiling anymore. His smile later saves his friends from a dangerous situation and he realizes that his smile is special. After reading this story make your own smiley shark like the one below! Put the smiley shark in a place where your child will see it (maybe on the bathroom mirror or on the ceiling above their bed so they'll see it when they wake up). Do this as a reminder for them to SMILE and be HAPPY!

Click here for a printable shark page

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Playgroup Activity: Masking Tape and Cars

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Next time you have some kids over for a playgroup try this easy and non-messy activity. This may be best for little boys but girls will have fun too. Have every child bring some of their favorite cars and search your home for the toy cars you have. Line your floor and couch with masking tape lines to mimic roads and you're ready to go! This will keep your kids entertained for hours!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Corn Activity

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If you have some old corn in your garden or you've purchased some that was too old, don't fret...have your children use them as a painting tool. All you'll need is some finger paint, paper and corn. This is a great texture lesson and will be fun for kids. This could get a bit messy so you'll probably want to do this in your back yard or on your porch. Putting a tarp down is a good idea too. You may want to get some skewers (you can smooth the ends by cutting off the pointy part and sanding the ends) and stick them through the corn as a handle. 

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Nutrition and Fitness After Pregnancy

When a new baby comes into your life it's easy to be selfless. You're constantly thinking about the care of your baby and what they need; changing diapers, feedings, cleaning etc. This is extremely important since your baby relies on you for their physical and emotional development but taking time for your own health is also an important thing to remember. With the proper nutrition and physical activity, after pregnancy, your body will more easily be able to handle the exhaustion and stress that a new life can add. Plus it's a good way to loose the extra baby weight too.


Calories- Know the right amount of calories your body needs daily. If you are breastfeeding, your body needs about 500 more calories a day. To calculate your personal calorie intake visit choosemyplate.gov and click on "Daily Food Plan". This choosemyplate.gov is a new initiative in place of Mypyramid.gov.

Water- We all know we need to eat the recommended 5 a day fruits and vegetables but what we forget is how much water we need. Water is necessary for almost every function in the body and is essential to life. The water recommendation is 8 cups per day if you are not breastfeeding and 10-12 cups a day if you are. 

Whole Grain Pancakes
Whole Grains- Whole grains offer high levels of antioxidants along with vitamins and minerals. Its recommended that women over the age of 19 consume 3 servings a day. These can range from brown rice, whole grain breads, popcorn, whole grain pancakes, cereals and oatmeal. I've recently switched to an awesome brand of whole grain pancake mix that tastes amazing! The brand is called Kodiak Cakes-try them out! You buy these at the following stores: Target, Dan’s, Macey’s, Reams, Harmon’s, Smith’s, Fresh Market, Associated Foods Stores

Calcium- This is one of the most important nutrients a women can get. Calcium helps build strong bones and prevents osteoporosis (porous bones) later in life. Women can  build up their calcium supply in their bones until about the age 25, this is why calcium is vital for young women. Women need about 1,000 milligrams a day and nursing mothers need about 1,200. 


Exercise can help shed pounds, increase endurance and stamina and most importantly to new moms it releases those "feel good" endorphins. 

Post pregnancy fitness ideas

  • Stroller walking/running
  • Go for a brisk walk
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling
  • Home workout videos
  • Smaller things that make a difference like parking further away in a parking lot, taking the stairs or crunches/push-ups during a few spare moments. 
Try to incorporate your baby in the exercises you do. This way you don't need to find a sitter and you can interact with your baby while increasing your fitness. 

Kissing Baby Push Ups

Baby Bend: Hold the baby in front of you and sit all the way down, bringing your butt to your heels while keeping arms straight. Stand up again and repeat.

Leg extensions for Quad work out

Do what you can, when you can
      Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get in a work out or if you didn’t eat the healthiest of foods one day. You are busier and more tired than you probably have ever been, and your new baby is of course your number one priority. Try to get in activity when you can, and don’t get upset if it doesn’t work out. Try to eat the healthiest and best you can as often as you can. Listen to your body and never do anything that hurts, strains, or doesn't feel right. Just making little healthy changes to your everyday life will be extremely beneficial.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman

Purchase this book on iTunes by clicking here
 Bear is enjoying a nice lunch with all of his friends when he finds something wiggling in his mouth. What could it be? His first loose tooth!! 
Purchase this book on amazon by clicking here

After reading this story, try this fun Loose tooth activity. Using pink construction paper cut out some lips. Glue each lip to a popsicle stick and write your child's name on it. Use mini marshmallows or pieces of white gum as teeth. If you lick the mini marshmallows the sugar will act like glue and stick to the construction paper. If you want to use gum or another white candy you'll have to stick them on with hot glue or another adhesive. Have your child count how many bottom and top teeth they have. Then have them count and place the same number of marshmallows on their lips. If they have a tooth missing make sure to leave a gap on their lips. I'd suggest writing the date on the back so you your child can see the changes their teeth have made over time. 

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Playgroup Activity: Painted Rock Tic Tac Toe

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Here's a fun summer time playgroup activity. Have your kids search your yard, neighborhood or park for some fist sized rocks. Bring them home and paint them using craft paint. You could make the traditional X and O shapes on the rocks, paint them a solid color or get creative with any other two designs. Use chalk to draw out the tic tac toe lines on your own driveway or sidewalk and then teach your kids how to play. The first to have three of their rocks in a row wins! Store your rocks in your flowerbed or garden and use them next time the playgroup is outside. 

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Aspire Parent's Group and Ready to Learn Class

Each month the Welcome Baby and Help Me Grow programs of United Way of Utah County assist with the Aspire Parent's Group discussion at the Utah County Health Department. This group is a place where parents can discuss questions and concerns about parenting to help each-other but it also provides a social connection for parents and their children . This group meets every third Wednesday of each month from 11:15 AM to 11:55 AM. Pizza is provided and the group discussion is lead by Janae Moss; a local mother of 7, business owner and parent champion of the Help Me Grow program.

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Right after the Aspire Parent Group discussion there is a Ready to Learn literacy and parenting class taught by Stephanie Anderson, the Welcome Baby Coordinator. The class is from noon until 1 PM and a free book is given to each family that attends this class. The purpose is to help parents better prepare their children for school and successful learning.

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If you are interested in joining either of these free parenting groups or classes email us at baby1@unitedwayuc.org 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Calming Your Baby Can be Tough but Remember to Calm YOURSELF too. Facts on Shaken Baby Syndrome

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We all know babies cry, its natural but it can put us all a little on the edge at times. Sometimes we may feel distraught because the crying last for long periods of time and we can't seem to calm the baby. A screaming baby can add to the stress a new parent, caregiver or babysitter already feels. The crying...the late-night feedings...the constant changing of diapers...the resulting exhaustion...add this to the outside stresses of work, social or financial struggles and this all can lead to a very serious problem known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).

This is a very real and serious problem that every parent should be aware of. Here are some facts presented by the CDC on this issue. 

  • Babies less than 1 year of age (with the highest risk period at 2 to 4 months) are at greatest risk for SBS because they cry longer and more frequently, and are easier to shake than older and larger children.
  •  SBS is the result of violent shaking that leads to a brain injury, which is much like an adult may sustain in repeated car crashes. It is child abuse, not play. This is why claims by perpetrators that the highly traumatic internal injuries that characterize SBS resulted from merely “playing with the baby” are false. While jogging an infant on your knee or tossing him or her in the air can be very risky, the injuries that result from SBS are not caused by these types of activities.
  • Parents and their partners account for 
  • the majority of perpetrators. Biological 
  • fathers, stepfathers, and mothers’ 
  • boyfriends are responsible for the 
  • majority of cases, followed by mothers.

  • The results of Shaking a young infant can be detrimental and even life threatening. 

    SBS can potentially result in the following consequences: 

    ■ Death 

    ■ Blindness 

    ■ Mental retardation or developmental 
    delays (any significant lags in a child’s 
    physical, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, 
    or social development, in comparison 
    with norms)7 
     and learning disabilities 

    ■ Cerebral palsy 

    ■ Severe motor dysfunction (muscle 
    weakness or paralysis)

    ■ Spasticity (a condition in which certain 
    muscles are continuously contracted—
    this contraction causes stiffness or 
    tightness of the muscles and may 
    interfere with movement, speech, and 
    manner of walking)8

    ■ Seizures

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    Recommendations and Prevention

    The first thing to remember is that infants cry a lot, especially during the first few months. Another important thing to remember is that you are not a bad parent just because you can't sooth your baby. It's not your fault they are crying and neither is it theirs really, its natural. Because it's normal for a baby to cry more often in the first 4 months of life it may help to think of this period as the PURPLE cry period. 

    Peak Pattern: Crying peaks around 2 
    months, then decreases. 

    Unpredictable: Crying for long periods can 
    come and go for no reason. 

    Resistant to Soothing: The baby may keep 
    crying for long periods. 

    Pain-like Look on Face. 

    Long Bouts of Crying: Crying can go on 
    for hours. 

    Evening Crying: Baby cries more in the 
    afternoon and evening. 

    For more information about the Period 
    of PURPLE Crying® and NCBS, visit: 

    Lastly it's important to know the signs of frustrations to prevent SBS. If you feel you are getting to the point where your limits have been met, place the baby in their crib or another safe area on their back. Ensure they are safe and walk away for 5-10 minutes at a time. Call a close friend, neighbor or relative for help to calm yourself and try to remember the PURPLE cry period. 

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Book Review: Corduroy by Don Freeman

    This is a book I remember reading often with my Dad. The pictures are great and the story is cute and exciting. Corduroy the stuffed bear lives on a shelf in a department store. One night after the customers have gone, he realizes he has lost a button on his overalls. The search begins for corduroys button but just when he's given up on finding it a small girl purchases him and well...you'll have to read the rest to find out what happens. 

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    Find this book in your local library or purchase it on amazon. After reading this book teach your child to sew large buttons onto a plastic canvas. 

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     Here's what you'll need:

    • Shoelaces or any other kind of string
    • Large craft buttons with holes big enough for a shoelace/string to go through
    • plastic canvas-you can purchase this at your local craft store. 

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Malawis Family Event partnered with United Way and John Lewis

    Yesterday evening we were glad to be a part of celebrating the 250,000 meal donated by Malawis Pizza. Malawis donates a meal to a child in Africa every time a purchases is made at one of their restaurant. Recently Malawis has decided to not only serve those in Africa but those in our community too. 

    With the generosity of Malawis and John Lewis, BYU's  associate advancement vice president and chair of United Way of Utah County's Every Day Learners Initiative, we as United Way partnered with them and created a family event at the Malawis restaurant.  We invited about 20 mommy bloggers and their families to join us in helping our community. 

    The families enjoyed a free pizza, heard from the head chef of Malawis, learned about how to be a part of the Every Day Learners movement and participated in fun activities with their children. 

    Stephanie Anderson, the Welcome Baby administrator read the classic childrens book entitled Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and then each child with their parents made a tambourine out of paper plates to go along with the story. 

    The tambourines were donated to United Way and will be given to parents in United Way of Utah County’s Ready-to-Learn classes offered at the Health & Justice Building and Utah State Penitentiary (women inmates).  Parents were encouraged to talk and read to their children to promote literacy and prepare their children each day to be ready for school and to continue their education successfully. 

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Bath Time Activity with Pool Noodles

    I would have loved this when I was a kid. Bath time was one of my all time favorites. Try it out!

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    All you'll need is some pool noodles, funnels, measuring cups or plastic drinking cups and tape (duct tape or packing tape should work or you could even find some suction cups to stick them to the walls).

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    Monday, June 3, 2013

    "What to REALLY Expect When You're Expecting"

    The inspiration for this blog post comes from a movie I watched recently. If you're in the mood for a good laugh you'll want to watch "What to Expect When You're Expecting". Although its a comedy about pregnancy it had some very valid points. The movie goes through the pregnancies of 4 different women (plus an adoption) and touches on some very real fears, expectations and just an overall idea of how pregnancy really can be. Everyone's pregnancies are different; some have more physical difficulties while some experience more mental struggles and others seem to feel no difference at all, minus the obvious belly that starts to protrude from the abdomen.

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    Although I have 3 nieces, 5 nephews and 72 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 that attend a camp I help run I do not have children of my own. Because of this I decided to poll some friends and family that have recently been pregnant or who are currently pregnant. I've tried to come up with a list of things that potentially nobody has told you before.These things aren't meant to scare you (they are part of the process) but to just give you a REAL expectation. I always want to know the things no-one wants to share so I assume there are other women who feel the same way; this is for you. 

    Here's what I found:

    Hair loss. Did you know about that? Well did you also know you can have new hair growth? A friend of mine said her and her daughter had matching new wispy bangs. Cute? It wasn't her favorite thing.

    After a baby is born there is a possibility that the baby could spit up and aspirate. One friend had her baby throw up blood while she was still in the hospital and was very worried about that. She called in her nurse and the nurse said its actually quite common. Babies can swallow a lot of amniotic fluid before birth and that's just one of the ways they get it out. The nurse then took her baby and pumped her stomach to get the remaining bloody mucous out.

    For a few days after your baby is born their feces will be black, almost tar like. This is another way for baby to get rid of the amniotic fluid they ingest and is completely normal. After that it will be more of an orange/yellow color.

    It's completely normal for you to wake up every 20 minutes your first night home to just make sure your baby is breathing.

    It's quite common to get hemorrhoids after giving birth, ouch! This is because of all the pushing. It'll be hard to use the bathroom regardless but if you're having real problems get it checked out there are medications and creams that can help.

    If you choose to get an epidural they'll send you home with stool softeners. Why? Because the anesthesia makes you constipated. Another reason why using the bathroom after birth is a difficult task. Usually you'll be on stool softeners for about a week. Also, they will put a catheter in. After they remove this it can be tricky to pee again.

    A large percent of vaginal deliveries end up having an episiotomy. In the words of my friend, "so don't go in there thinking you are all cool and don't need one. Even if you do the stretching techniques (which I didn't do) you will probably still need one." This is definitley something to discuss with your physcian.

    A few people told me they shook like crazy during birth and couldn't control it; both for a vaginal delivery and a c-section. If you think about it your body is in a state of shock. It's a trauma for your body even though its a natural process.  

    You can still look pregnant when you leave the hospital. It takes a while for your uterus to shrink back down to size. Breastfeeding is said to help this process along. 

    Your nipples will darken and get fairly large. They'll never look the same again.

    The chances of you pooing while pushing and giving birth are extremely high. Plan on it but don't stress over it. Refer to the childrens book Everybody poops for some support.

    Breastfeeding can hurt! One friend had pain for a month and a half while another tried for nearly 4 months and finally gave up. On the flip side I have a relative that breastfeeds with no real problems for about a year. Breastfeeding gives your baby great nutrients but it can be a challenge. Getting the baby to latch can be difficult but the physical and emotional struggles are very real. You could potential get sores, blood blister, mastitis, and one mother had a phase where she almost resented her baby when it was time for a feeding because it hurt so much. The point is to do what you NEED. Try it out and if the physical and emotional struggles over power the benefits of breastfeeding find other options. Talk to your physician about it. 

    Have you heard of the mucous plug? This develops at the cervix during pregnancy. Towards the end of pregnancy it falls out due to the cervix opening. When you loose this plug it "usually" means you're close to labor. Sometimes that could be up to 2 plus weeks after the loss of a mucous plug. You can also loose your mucous plug twice. This could potentially be that it doesn't fall out all at once or that it has regenerated.

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    Have you heard of the Linea Nigra? This is a vertical line of dark pigmented skin from your belly button down to your pubic area. It appears during pregnancy but should fade after your baby is born. It's usually darker in women with darker skin. My sister has 3 kids and still has this line so there is a small chance it could not fade.

    Circumcision is kind of a controversial issue these days.  Many fathers want to be involved in this decision. A friend of mine that chose to circumcise her baby recommend doing it at the hospital. That way at the two week appointment it will be mostly healed and you can ask questions about it if needed. Another friend only circumcised her baby because her husband was adamant. Educate yourself on the medical benefits and the social norm of it. It's your baby and you have the choice.

    We all know about stretch marks but lets be honest, you have the potential to get them everywhere! Around the belly button, love handles, breasts, upper thighs, arms, hips, inner legs, down the legs to the knees etc. If your mother or sisters don't easily get stretch marks, don't consider yourself out of the woods, its still a possibility.

    Go with your "mommy" instincts. Even if you don't feel like you're ready or you feel you don't have these instincts, you do. My Childhood friends doctor told her, "You are pregnant, you don't have a disease, I will not treat you like you have a disease. You are pregnant, it's your body, you are in control. I will give you suggestions/options, but you call the shots!"