Saturday, June 5, 2010

Little Skink's Tail Review

While Little Skink hunts yummy ants for breakfast, she suddenly is attacked by a crow! But the little lizard has a trick to escape–she snaps off her bright blue tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Readers will enjoy pretending with her as she tries on the tails of other forest animals. One is too puffy-fluffy; another too stinky! Then one day Little Skink gets a big surprise . . . and she doesn't have to dream of tails anymore! The book encourages children to be comfortable with themselves as they are and also includes lots of science.

A "For Creative Minds" section at the back of the book features a mix-and-match tail activity, footprint map, and information on tail adaptations.

My Thoughts - It's no surprise that this book won The Mom's Choice Awards Honoring Excellence. It is beautifully written and has amazing illustrations. This book quickly became my daughters' favorite. My favorite part was that it's educational. It got them thinking, asking questions, and they really enjoyed the creative mind exercises at the back of the book. There is even a website to go and print up worksheets to go along it.  
I found this book is great for preschools or play groups too.It really holds the little one's attention.

Visit Janet Halfmann's website to see her other wonderful books!

Buy Little Skink's Tale

Disclaimer - I received this book for my honest opinion, no other compensation was received.

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3 Tips to Stop Temper Tantrums in Toddlers

Guest Post

I remember when my wife and I first found out that she was pregnant. We started thinking of names, wondered if the baby would be a boy or a girl, and pictured what he or she would look like. One thing that was very far from our minds was a temper tantrum. However, once you have a two year old, because of the prevalence of temper tantrums in toddlers, they are impossible to ignore.

Temper tantrums in toddlers are difficult to deal with and can leave a parent feeling powerless to stop. Having tools to deal with your child and a plan in place will greatly increase your chance of success. While I can't hope to give you an entire plan in a short article, I hope my top 3 tips to stop temper tantrums in toddlers will be a good start.

Tip #1 to stop temper tantrums in toddlers: Sleep, Sleep, and More Sleep!

One of the most common reasons for temper tantrums in toddlers is that they are tired. Research shows that toddlers need at least 13 hours of sleep every day. It is recommended that they get roughly 11 hours of sleep at night and a further 2 hours of sleep during the day. I know what you are probably thinking, "but my kid just doesn't need that much sleep." Well, does he fall asleep in the car? Do you have to wake her up in the morning? These are two signs that your toddler is not getting enough sleep, and that could be greatly contributing to tantrums throughout the day. Just think about how you feel when you are not getting enough sleep, and your toddlers behavior might make a little more sense!

Tip #2 to stop temper tantrums in toddlers: Set a Routine, and Stick With it!

No matter what you have read to the contrary, children want, and need, structure. They like to know that certain things happen at a set time every day. I am by no means telling you to regulate your child's life, but if a parent wants to stop temper tantrums in toddlers, the daily routine is a great place to start. Many tantrums are triggered when a child is tired or hungry. By setting a schedule for naps and lunch, your child's body will adjust to the daily schedule and he will be less irritable as a result.

Tip #3 to stop temper tantrums in toddlers: Don't Give Your Child Too Many Choices

While giving a toddler some choices to make is a very good thing as it will help him to develop independence, it can easily be overdone. Toddlers brains are very concrete and are not yet ready for too many choices which can often lead to temper tantrums in toddlers. Have you ever been to a restaurant with hundreds of items on its menu? The choice can be overwhelming even for an adult who fully understands how to make decisions. Instead of asking, "what do you want for lunch?" ask "would you like a grilled cheese, or a hot dog?" This way, your child is still learning to make choices and develop responsibility, but the stress and confusion is eliminated.

I hope that these three tips are helpful for you and your child. Parents everywhere are struggling, but there is hope! Click here for more tools and strategies and an entire plan for how to completely eliminate temper tantrums in toddlers forever!


Low Fat Recipe For Ice Cream Sandwiches

When watching your weight, try not to completely take away your comfort foods. Depriving yourself of your favorite foods or sweets might lead to binge eating when finally giving in to the craving. Instead, indulge in one of these guiltless pleasures. If you prefer not to have chocolate ice cream sandwiches, substitute the chocolate grahams with plain grahams, honey grahams or cinnamon sugar grahams. The cinnamon sugar grahams make a really interesting sandwich, though it does up the calorie and possibly the point count up a bit! These are extremely low in points if you are following a diet with a point system; look it up or ask your counselor for the exact count.


* 1 box chocolate graham crackers, thawed in refrigerator, if frozen

* 1 large tub low fat, fat free or sugar free whipped topping (any flavor desired)

* 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)

* Sugar free or fat free instant hot chocolate drink powder (optional)


1. On parchment paper line up 10 graham crackers.

2. Spread 3 Tablespoons whipped topping on each cracker.

3. Top each with another graham cracker.

4. Put those ten sandwiches in the freezer on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet until frozen, then put them in a zippered bag with parchment between each one.

5. While they are freezing on the cookie sheet, repeat with next batch of crackers and topping until finished.

For chocolate filling, add sugar free, low fat or fat free hot chocolate drink powder in the topping until desired chocolate taste is achieved.

For added sweetness, dust the top of the finished sandwiches, before freezing with cocoa, powdered sugar or sugar substitute.

Linda Talbott Brewer is the Nashville Comfort Food Examiner for, Nashville.

Linda will be writing many more recipes for ezine as well as for examiner Nashville. Check back often for food adventures, food oddities, comfort foods, healthy comfort food makeovers and food histories.

Visit Linda's Examiner page at


Friday, June 4, 2010

Swedish Meatballs Recipe

My mother was descended from Scandinavian immigrants and had inherited recipes that have been handed down through the generations. I've taken her recipe and made it my own.

2 pounds ground lean ground beef
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk or cream
3 slices of torn up bread (you can also use store bought bread crumbs)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (my dh HATES onions and these are still good without it)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed beef broth
   1 cup half-and-half or light cream 

Combine bread crumbs, onion, salt, pepper, nutmeg and 3/4 cup milk in a large mixing bowl. 
Let milk soak into crumbs for a few minutes. Gently stir in ground beef until well blended; form into balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. 
Brown meatballs in butter in a large skillet; remove with a slotted spoon to a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of drippings; stir flour into drippings. 
Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Stir in beef broth and cream. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and boils for a minute. 
Pour over Swedish meatballs in baking dish. Bake Swedish meatballs at 325° for 35 to 45 minutes. Swedish meatball recipe serves 6.

Love Swedish things? Check out my review of Charlaine Harris' Dead in the Family Here

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guest Post from Author Stephanie Wincik - Making a Case for Life

Over the past several decades, a great deal of political rhetoric has been focused on the often heated debate between those who identify themselves as “pro-life” versus those who embrace a “pro-choice” philosophy. But what does it really mean to be pro-life? Can one choose life in some circumstances but not others? Despite what many believe is a simple black-or-white, for-or-against issue, I for one struggle to decide which side I am on, or if I even need to choose a side.

As a nurse in the field of developmental disabilities, over the years I have cared for countless children and adults who were born “imperfect” by society’s standards. Until relatively recently, the typical advice for parents who produced a disabled child was to simply institutionalize the baby and “try again,” since the child was unlikely to survive longer than a few weeks or months anyway. Contrary to these dire predictions, however, many such children grew to adulthood despite their overwhelming physical and cognitive impairments.

I have often wondered, as a medical professional caring for these children, if perhaps we have done them a disservice by prolonging their lives. Particularly for those who are non-verbal, how can we know for sure that if given the choice, they would choose life for themselves? Or, if faced with the prospect of life in an institution, constantly undergoing painful medical procedures and hospitalizations designed simply to keep them alive, would they rather their parents had instead chosen abortion and thus spared them from a life filled with indignities? On the other hand, is it possible that these individuals are happy with their lives despite the hardships? Certainly many non-disabled people suffer serious, often prolonged, illnesses during their lifetime and still consider life well worth the trouble.

The answer, of course, is that nobody knows the answer, and this uncertainty is precisely why I find it impossible to take a firm position on either side of the abortion issue. However, if forced to make a choice, I would tend to opt for life in nearly all situations, and the reason is simple—nature has been in the business of selective abortion since the beginning of time, an advantage that trumps our meager experience as humans any day of the week. Children who are not meant to be born, won’t be—the naturally occurring process of miscarriage makes that decision for us.

If a child makes it into the world, then lacking any valid means to make a judgment call ourselves, I believe we must assume that he or she arrived here for a reason, even if our limited vision does not allow us to see it from where we currently sit.

Visit Stephanie Wincik's Website
Buy her Book

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Friendly Follies

“Mommy, do we have to go play with Mary today?” asks your daughter, and once again you feel a twinge of regret. You’ve made a commitment for a play date or group outing, and your children are less than enthusiastic.

As adults, we understand that friendships ebb and flow. We know that sometimes we might not enjoy every visit, but we grit our teeth and get through it. Kids don’t always see it that way.

Children are not always the kindest creatures. They play rough, they say whatever might cross their minds and they can be spiteful. We bring up our own kids to be as kind as possible, but we can’t protect them from every hurt.

But it can be a very delicate situation. How do you explain to another mother that your children don’t mix well—particularly if you and the other mom are friends?

There are a few options, but I’m afraid none of them are good ones. If you feel that you know the other mom well enough, you can tactfully approach the subject with her. It will take a great deal of delicate maneuvering to share with her that her child has been unkind or even that your kids’ personalities don’t mesh. If her son or daughter has put your child into a dangerous situation of any type, then you simply must be honest and tell her that while you enjoy the time spent together, you can’t subject your children to that kind of situation.

Another choice is to simply back away from the situation. You can gradually stop making dates and plans with that family, and pretty soon, they’ll get the message. Of course, that may cause more hurt in the long run, and it probably isn’t fair.

Then there are circumstances wherein your child has to grin and bear it. If the other child is an extended family member, for instance, you can’t write him off (although you can certainly minimize the amount of time your families spend together). And if the offending kid is a long-distance friend, it can be easier to console your offspring that this is only a “once in a while” problem and not worth causing upset to anyone.

My own children have experienced this. While we have taught them to be gracious hosts and to always acquiesce to the wishes of a visiting friend, those visitors often take advantage of this courtesy. We’ve also known the situations where the children just don’t get along. Sometimes we’ve gradually removed ourselves from the relationships, and other times, we have not been able to do so. We’ve found that talking about it with the kids is helpful; when they know that Mom and Dad have sympathy for their plight, they seem to be able to bear it a little better. We praise them for their continued kindness, even in the face of hurts and cruelty.

The important thing is that your children realize that you are on their side and that you recognize their distress. We’ve frequently had conversations where we discuss why little Mary is so difficult to get along with or why little Billy hits all the time. When we point out some possible reasons, the children tend to have more compassion and patience.

The easiest solution, of course, is to avoid developing these sorts of toxic friendships at all. Be cautious when making new friends; don’t jump into activities or regular dates until you’re more sure of how your children will get along. It’s far simpler to go slower and then commit than it is to pull back!

Hang in there. With some time, patience and understanding—and perhaps, if possible, a few well-spoken words—it’ll all work out, and you can spend your time with fun, relaxing pals!

Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 9 years to 21 years. She and her husband of over 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a resident writer for Taking Time for Mommy. View more of her Articles HERE. You can also follow Tawdra on twitter and her blog, Publishing Quest



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