Monday, August 27, 2012

9 Great Homework Habits that Work

By , Guide

Since homework starts as early as kindergarten these days, it’s a good idea to get kids into a rhythm of great homework habits as soon as possible. From ways to help your kids get more organized to giving them ways to minimize and eliminate homework stress, here are some great tips for good homework habits that work.

1.) Divide and Conquer:
Kids can often feel overwhelmed when they look over their list of assignments for the week. Help your child manage his assignments by planning out his work on a daily planner. (This can be particularly helpful if you are at work when your child gets home from school; having a list like this can help your child and your childcare provider manage his workload when you are not there.)
For example, if all the homework is due on Friday, you can try scheduling several minutes for different subject such as reading, math problems or spelling words. Or you may want to have him spend Monday doing reading and reserve Tuesday for math, and so on.

Writing down what needs to be done can be a great way to manage homework, and crossing off assignments when they are completed and tracking their own progress can be satisfying for kids and help give them motivation to continue their work.

2.) Cut Down After-School Activities:The reality is that there are only a few precious hours after school to tackle homework assignments. If your child has an after-school activity every day and is unable to manage her workload, it may be time to take a look at which extracurricular activities can be cut out of her schedule. If she has ballet, soccer, piano lessons, and regularly-scheduled playdates, you may want to consider moving a couple of activities to the next semester and making more time for homework.

3.) Get into a Regular Routine:
Maybe your child is the kind of kid who works better on a full stomach or after fooling around with his toys for a few minutes after school. If so, start with snack time and unscheduled downtime, and set up homework time for about 20 to 30 minutes after he gets home.

If he tends to focus better if he goes right into his work after school, then let him get right to work as soon as he gets home. The important thing is to find what works for you and stick with it so that you have a regular routine. If your child knows what is expected and when, it’ll be easier for him to work more efficiently.

4.) Set Up a Great Homework Area:Having a quiet and comfortable place to do homework is essential to building good study and homework habits. Whether you establish her work area at the kitchen table or in her room, make sure she is surrounded by peaceful quiet, free from TV or other distractions.

5.) Make Homework Fun:Kids are more likely to view homework as less of a chore if you help them adopt a more playful attitude toward their work. For instance, if your first-grader is working on simple math problems, help him visualize addition and subtraction by using small toys such as marbles or even playing cards. If a third-grader is working on multiplication problems, challenge him to get as many correct answers as possible while racing you (to be fair, he should be allotted twice the time as you).
And if you’re lucky enough to get fun puzzles and brain-teasers such as Sudoku puzzles in the homework packet, then work with him on those and make it a fun way to connect with your child after a long day. One word of caution: Try not to take over and do the problems yourself. Your child needs guidance and help getting the right answers -- not the answers themselves.

Be sure to check his work everyday, and try to make that a fun routine as well. Challenge your child to find mistakes on your work, or have him check his own work to see if he can spot any errors. If you take a relaxed approach to the homework and adopt a fun attitude about it, your child will follow suit.

6.) Tie-in Homework to Everyday Life:Learning can often be more fun for kids when they are able to relate the material to things in their own lives. For instance, if your child has to read about immigrants and answer questions about them, continue the discussion over dinner. Talk about your own family’s immigrant experience (“Great-Grandma came from Italy and had to work very hard” or some such) or talk about the ways our world has been shaped by immigrants (“What would life be like today without pizza?”).

By making homework something that is an extension of learning and life, you can help your child see that it is not some separate chore or extra work that they are forced to do.

7.) Work Alongside Your Child:Younger children tend to work better when an adult is nearby, ready to answer questions or help work out a problem. You can sit down with your own work or a magazine article or bills -- whatever quiet activity you can do while your child does her homework.

8.) Schedule Breaks:You know the importance of stretching your legs or taking a break here and there during your workday. Just walking away from your desk for a few minutes can often do wonders to help your concentration and improve mood. The importance of breaks applies to kids as well, and may be even more important because kids tend to be more active and full of energy than adults.

Whether it’s a five-minute break to have some fruit and cheese and crackers or other healthy snack or a few minutes to play with a pet or water the plants, schedule a few breaks into homework time. And consider taking a short walk or doing a few at-home yoga poses for kids with your child to rejuvenate his brain cells; studies have shown that physical activity can help stimulate concentration and cognitive function.

9.) Help Kids Manage Stress:
Some kids can experience more stress over homework and schoolwork than other children. If you see signs of stress in your child or your child is experiencing difficulty with the workload, check with other parents to see whether any other kids are having similar problems. For instance, kids in first grade are usually not expected to spend more than a half hour on homework each day; if your child is having difficulty with the workload, find out what the problem may be and schedule some time to meet with your child’s teacher.

Talk to your child’s teacher about any problems and get on the same page about the teacher’s expectations for the school year. Ask her what you can do to help your child with homework. By working together, you and your child’s teacher can find ways to identify and handle any homework problems that may be creating stress for your child.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Peach Cobbler Recipe

Peach Cobbler Recipe

  • Prep: 20 min. Bake: 40 min.

  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • 20 40 60


    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 3 cups sliced peeled fresh or frozen peaches
    • TOPPING:
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Ground cinnamon, optional
    • Half-and-half cream


    • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk just until combined; fold in peaches. Spread into a greased 8-in. square baking dish.
    • In a large saucepan, combine the water, sugars, butter and nutmeg and cinnamon if desired. Bring to boil, stirring until sugars are dissolved. Pour over top.
    • Bake at 400° for 40-50 minutes or until filling is bubbly and a toothpick inserted in topping comes out clean. Serve warm or cold with cream. Yield: 8 servings.

    Thrifty Nifty Mommy: The Busy Mom's Cookbook Review & Giveaway

    Thrifty Nifty Mommy: The Busy Mom's Cookbook Review & Giveaway

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Getting Kids to Clean Their Rooms

    Cleaning is not an intuitive skill. Nobody is born knowing how to attack a messy room and turn it to serenity. Few of us can effectively wield a broom, dust pan, or dust rag without a lesson or two—and a lot of practice. Making beds takes time. Here are some suggestions for making clean bedrooms possible, and defusing the dust bombs.
    • Teach your child how to clean by incorporating him into your own cleaning.
    • Cleaning can be a lonely task, and for the social child, it may feel like a punishment instead of a way to contribute to the family. Become the clean team—make the jobs go faster by working together. Your child helps you clean your areas of responsibility, you help him with his room (you're excused for a cup of afternoon tea while he hides all the pictures of the Baywatch beauties—and worse).
    • Plan a special activity or adventure for the family to celebrate a successful day of cleaning. It's not really a bribe—it's a treat!
    • Be clear about what you mean by “a clean room.” Check out the clean room checklist, below.

    Clean? What Do You Mean?

    We all know what a truly clean room looks like, but how do you get from here to there? How much of it is your child's responsibility? “Go clean your room” could mean tossing things in the closet until company has gone. It could mean clearing the toys from the floor and sorting game pieces into their boxes, throwing the dirty clothes in the hamper and pulling up the bedspread. It could mean changing the bed, dusting, and vacuuming. It could mean polishing the windows and mirror until they sparkle. Here's your choice (you're balancing on a high crag in the wind, choose now, parent, choose now!): Define, or face the conflict!
    Below, I've broken down the process of cleaning a filthy bedroom into small, manageable chunks. You can use these suggestions (and others!) to create an individualized bedroom chore list for each member of the family. If this is successful for you, consider making a chore list for other areas of your home.
    Behave Yourself!
    When it comes to clean bedrooms, keep your expectations very low. Few kids have clean rooms. They like them dirty, it's the only place where they have control over their environment, and for some kids, a dirty room is a point of honor! This may be an area where something needs to give, and that something may be you.
    When you make chore lists for your child, always take your child's age and development into consideration. A five-year-old can get the books back on the shelf and the clothes in the hamper, but she won't be able to do much with the bed. A 12-year-old can do his own laundry with some supervision. Remember, your expectations will change as your child matures.
    Using the list will help you define your expectations. It will help your child organize his time and remember his tasks. You'll have an easy, stress-reduced way to check if things have been done. Keep the list small. Better to have too few things on the list than too many (aim for success!)
    Here are two quick hints: Separate the job into straightening and cleaning, and don't clean before you've straightened, you'll just make yourself frustrated; and, a filthy room is like an archaeological dig. You've gotta approach it in layers.

    Read more on FamilyEducation:

    Coping with Backaches and Edema Discomforts During Pregnancy

    Backache, edema

    The following are the most common pregnancy concerns and the strategies to deal with them while you are on the job: Backache
    Backaches are common during pregnancy because of the increased weight you're carrying, especially if your baby is resting on your spine. Neck and shoulder aches can be due to tension and/or the increased weight of your growing breasts. Lower back pain that extends or shoots down one buttock and into one leg is probably sciatica, caused when the baby's head compresses the sciatic nerve. The tips that follow will help to relieve the discomfort of backaches or avoid them altogether:
    • Drive comfortably—Move your car seat forward to keep your knees bent and higher than your hips. Use a small pillow to support your lower back area.
    • Lift correctly—Stabilize your body first by assuming a wide stance and tucking in your buttocks. Bend at the knees, not at the waist, and lift with your arms and legs, which will take the stress off your back. Lift objects only chest high. If your job demands frequent heavy lifting, ask to be assigned to less taxing duties.
    • Limit your standing—Try not to stand in one place or one position for too long. If your job requires long periods of standing, keep one foot on a raised surface, such as a step or a box, to prevent your lower back from curving inward; or stand on a small, skid-proof rug. When standing at a table, lean forward with your knees slightly bent, and support your weight with your hands or elbows.
    • Use ice or a cold pack—Place a bag with ice, wrapped in a towel, against the small of your back when you're sitting down.
    • Relieve strain—When seated at your desk, prop up one leg on a footstool, stack of files, trash can, or anything else available. When walking, sitting, or lying down, avoid putting stress on your back muscles by tucking in your buttocks. Keep your back from arching forward when you stand or lie on your side. At work or at home, you can also lean forward in a chair and lower your head to your knees for thirty seconds. Rise and repeat six times, up to six times a day.
    • Stretch daily—Try setting the clock on your computer to beep at you every thirty minutes to remind you to stretch.
    • Avoid wearing high heels to work—Wear sturdy shoes, with a heel no higher than one inch. Save higher heels for special meetings and appointments with clients, and place thin, foam-rubber inserts in the toes to reduce pressure.
    • Wear a maternity belt—A wide, soft, supportive elastic band that wraps around your lower back and under your belly can take over part of the job of tired, stretched abdominal and back muscles as it cradles the weight of your growing belly.
    • Poor posture can also cause your back to ache—Try to keep your shoulders and hips in line as you walk, and keep your back straight by tucking a pillow behind you when you're seated.
    Edema (Swelling)
    More than 70 percent of pregnant women experience some fluid accumulation in their feet, legs, face, and hands. This condition is related to hormone buildup in your system, which results in the kidneys collecting more water and salt than normal. If your job keeps you on your feet, you are also more likely to experience edema.
    If you experience sudden, extreme swelling, you should immediately alert your physician. This could be a warning sign of preclampsia or toxemia. Mild swelling, which is considered normal and beneficial, can be relieved by these methods.
    • Raise your legs—Prop up your legs at work on anything available: a stack of papers, books, or a box. Also, elevate your feet and hands above your heart to reduce swelling by gravity. If possible, lie down during the day on your left(heart) side, not on your back. This position prevents your uterus from compressing major arteries and lets your system reabsorb the fluid. Also try walking around the block on your lunch hour.
    • Soak your feet—Tired, burning feet should be soaked at the end of a workday. Rotate your ankles to reduce swelling.
    • Keep water at your desk—Consuming extra water will help to draw fluid from puffy tissues back into your bloodstream to be excreted by your kidneys later. Have a glass or a squeeze bottle of water nearby throughout the day.
    • Wear loose clothing—Although you always want to look well dressed at work, choose looser clothes for maternity wear. Wear elastic support hose, too, and remove tight-fitting rings and other jewelry. Keep an extra, larger pair of shoes in your office to wear when your feet swell.
    • Watch your diet—Stay away from fatty foods, eat plenty of protein, and cut down on salt, which causes fluid retention.
    • Avoid chemicals—Chemical diuretics have been found to be harmful to a pregnant woman. Try taking a couple of spoonfuls of apple-cider vinegar, a natural diuretic, before each meal. Herbal and homeopathic remedies can help.

    Asian Style Beef Stew

    Number of Servings: 6


      1.25 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into chunks
      1 large onion, sliced
      2 cloves garlic, crushed
      1 red pepper, sliced
      20 baby carrots whole
      4 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
      1 10 oz. bottle Whole Foods 365 Soy Ginger Sauce
      1/2 cup water


      Cut all vegetables and put in crock pot, add beef, sauce, and water. Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or 3 - 4 hours on high.

      Makes 6 1-cup servings.

      Number of Servings: 6

    What (and What Not) to Feed Your Kids

    Feeding kids can often become a battle; feeding them healthy foods can be a war.

    “I have found that if you explain to your children why a food is good or not good for them, things become easier,” advises Maria-Paula Carrillo, M.S., a clinical dietitian at Children’s. “Allowing them to make certain food choices also helps. For example, give them two fruit choices with their meal or let them pick the flavor of their yogurt for a snack.”

    Here, Carrillo recommends five healthy foods to serve your kids along with serving suggestions, and she also lists five not-so-healthy choices to think twice about letting them eat and alternatives for them.

    Consider these…


    Stay away from toppings like high-fat meats and extra cheese as well as dips like butter or ranch dressing. But pizza can be a balanced meal if you add some vegetables or fruits and lean meats (like grilled chicken), and choose a thin crust.
    Serving suggestionmake your own at home using an English muffin, marinara sauce, low fat cheese, ham or chicken and their favorite vegetable.

    Think twice before giving your kids ...


    They can have up to 20 g fat and 20 g sugar per serving, and from 250 to 450 calories per doughnut. In addition, eating one of these for breakfast will have your little one sleepy and hungry within a few hours.
    Alternative — offer a whole grain waffle with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ a banana as the topping.


    Good sources of lutein (good for vision) as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals (which help prevent many diseases). Naturally low in calories and fat and rich in fiber. Quick and colorful snack for kids.
    Serving suggestion — blend them with milk and ice to make a refreshing smoothie or layer them on top of yogurt and high fiber cereals for an easy breakfast or afternoon snack.

    Think twice before giving your kids ...

    Candied Fruit Snacks

    These sticky “candies” may contain only a small amount of fruit or fruit juice; are usually made of sugar, gelatin, and more sugar; and can cause tooth decay. May have added vitamins but fresh fruits have them, too, and they are natural.
    Alternative — try a small serving (1/4 cup) of dried fruit.


    The air-popped kind not covered in butter. This snack is a whole grain and good fiber source. Without extra toppings, it is a low–fat, low–calorie snack. For flavor, sprinkle with small amounts of salt or butter-flavored sprays.
    Serving suggestion — for a quick snack, have 100 calorie bags of popcorn ready to pop at any time.

    Think twice before giving your kids ...

    Sugary Beverages

    Juice, soda, fruit punch, flavored milks, sweet tea, etc. These high-calorie, high-sugar drinks can cause many problems in children, including rapid weight gain, decreased appetite, cavities, and change in bowel patterns.
    Alternative — choose water or skim or 1 percent milk.


    Made of chickpeas, which are rich in fiber and protein and a good iron source. High in fat, but mostly unsaturated fats (the healthy ones) that decrease the risk for heart disease. Good alternative to animal protein.
    Serving suggestion — let them dip carrot sticks and pretzels in it or spread it over bread or crackers.

    Think twice before giving your kids ...

    Salad Toppings

    Can be deceiving. Many salads are very high in calories and fat because of the toppings we choose, such as nuts, bacon, cheese, and regular salad dressing.
    Alternative — choose a low-fat dressing (2 tablespoons or less) and limit high-calorie toppings (nuts, bacon pieces, cheese, croutons) to 1 tablespoon per ingredient and no more than four “extra”ingredients.


    Back on the “good” list. A good protein source but also contain choline, which helps regulate the brain as well as the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Good for vision, too, due to their carotenoid content.
    Serving suggestion — include them in more than just breakfast. Eggs are a great variation to your typical dinner protein. Scramble them and mix in a new vegetable or boil it and add it to a salad.

    Think twice before giving your kids ...

    Sweet Cereals

    Many cereals children like best have more sugar per serving than a few cookies. Fiber is also important; make sure breakfast gives kids energy and nutrients that last and help them grow.
    Alternative — choose cereal with less than 10 gram sugar and at least 3 gm fiber/serving.

    West Nile: Is your child really at risk? | Childrens Med Dallas Blog

    West Nile: Is your child really at risk? | Childrens Med Dallas Blog

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Fried Pork Chops with Buttered Beans



    Buttered Beans:

    • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
    •  1 thick slices deli ham (1/8 pound), diced
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 (15-ounce) cans butter beans


    In a heavy-bottomed skillet heat the canola oil over medium-high heat.
    In a shallow baking dish or pie plate combine the flour with cornmeal, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper, to taste. Put the pork chops into the flour mixture coating completely and shaking off excess. Fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the chops from oil and drain on a sheet pan lined with a brown paper bag.

    Buttered Beans:
    In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, then add diced ham and saute until lightly browned. Add the onions, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper, to taste and saute until translucent. Add the butter beans and saute for 5 minutes. Arrange the chops on serving plates and serve with the beans alongside.

    Total Time:
    28 min

    10 min

    18 min

    4 servings

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Crescent Breakfast Casserole


    8 oz. can of crescent rolls

    8-10 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled OR your choice of breakfast meat (ham, sausage, etc.)

    6-8 eggs, beaten

    2 cups shredded cheese (jack, cheddar, colby – whatever you have on hand)

    2-3 tbsp milk

    salt and pepper, to taste

    cooking spray


    1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a 13 x 9 or 11 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray (use 6ish eggs if you’re using the 11 x 9 and 8ish if you’re using the 13 x 9).

    2.) Line the prepared baking dish with unrolled crescent roll dough, letting it come up the sides a bit.

    3.) Press together seams.

    4.) Layer the crumbled bacon and cheese over the crescent dough. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper and pour over bacon and cheese.

    5.) Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the center is set. Let cool for a few minutes and then cut into squares and serve.

    6.) ENJOY!!!!

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Fruit Salsa with Baked Cinnamon Chips

    fruit salsa with baked cinnamon chips sm

    • Fruit Salsa:

    • Juice of 1 lime

    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

    • 1 kiwi, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice

    • 1 crisp apple, peeled, cored, and cut in 1/4-inch dice

    • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

    • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch dice

    • Baked Cinnamon Chips:

    • Eight 10-inch flour tortillas

    • Butter-flavored cooking spray

    • 1 cup cinnamon sugar (scant 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon)

    1. To make the fruit salsa, whisk the lime juice, sugar, cinnamon, and basil together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the kiwi, apple, strawberries, and mango. Pour the lime juice mixture over the fruit and mix gently. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
    2. To make the cinnamon chips, preheat the oven to 350°F.
    3. Coat each side of the tortillas with cooking spray. Make a single stack of the tortillas and slice through the stack to make 8 wedges from each tortilla. Working in batches, spread the tortilla wedges in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the wedges with cinnamon sugar, and spray them again with cooking spray. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until nice and crispy. Repeat to make the rest of the cinnamon chips. Allow the chips to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

    Burrito Cups

    Yield – 4 servings
    Preparation Time – 20 minutes
    Cooking Time – 50 minutes for the rice, none for assembling cups



    • Cook the rice as directed.
    • Set out the black beans, shredded cheese, diced avocado, and salsa (along with any other mixins).
    • Spoon the ingredients into cups. Eat. Repeat.
    • Serve Burrito Cups, as is, or with tortilla chips.

    Corn Toss

    Farmers' Market Corn Toss recipe

    What you'll need:
    1- Tbsp. olive oil

    1- small sweet onion, chopped

    1- red pepper, chopped
    2- ears corn on the cob, kernels cut off

    1- large zucchini, sliced
    1/4cup- chopped fresh parsley

    1/4tsp.- black pepper
    4Tbsp.- KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided

    Make It:

    HEAT oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and red peppers; cook and stir 3 min. Stir in corn and zucchini; cook and stir 5 min. or until all vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from heat.
    STIR in parsley, black pepper and 2 Tbsp. cheese.
    TOP with remaining cheese.

    Lansinoh: Happy National Breastfeeding Month: We're giving away over $3,000 worth of breastfeeding supplies!

    Lansinoh: Happy National Breastfeeding Month: We're giving away over $3,000 worth of breastfeeding supplies!

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Salt Dough Footprint Keepsakes

    Salt dough recipe:

    1 cup salt
    1 cup plain flour
    1/2 cup of water

    Mix together into a large bowl and knead it until smooth and stretchy. This last part is important otherwise the dough remains sticky and quite granular from the salt. If it is still too sticky add a bit more flour, if too dry and crumbly then add a tiny touch more water. A little bit of trial and error is all that is needed and it really is so easy!

    Once the dough is kneaded, divided it into equal parts and found a shallow bowl that was big enough to accommodate the full length of the childs feet.  Then squish one part into the bowl and flattened it around to the edges.

    Then teased it away from the edges slightly and flip it out onto a plate. The underside will be very smooth with a lovely finish, perfect as a canvas for the footprints!

    Then get the child to tread one foot into the middle of their dough plaques, one at a time. A firm straight down impression and then lift straight off again works really well. If it gets messed up, the great thing is that you can reform it and try again!

    The plaques then go into the oven for 3 hours at 100 degrees C (around 200 degrees F). They need to be placed on baking parchment or greaseproof paper so that they don't stick. It needs to be on a very low heat for a length of time to thoroughly dry out and harden. If the oven is too hot they will rise and "cook". The thinner the dough and the lower the temperature, the better these will turn out! If they are still doughy in the centre after 3 hours then turn them over and put them back in for another 2 hours. If you want to hang yours on the wall then you need to add a hole with a straw before it goes in the oven.

    Allow the plaques to cool over night, then feel free to paint & decorate. It's truely that simple & a great keepsake or gift. HAVE FUN!!!!