Celebrate National Reading Month: Best Books for Parenting

March is National Reading Month! Why not treat yourself, or someone you know, to a book to help get through the trenches and celebrate the joys of parenthood.

Today we’re highlighting a few of our favorites from the Best Books for Parenting Shopping Guide. If it has been a few years since you’ve bought a book for an expecting (or experienced!) parent, you’ll be amazed by some of the awesome new options being published. 

Top Books for Parenting

The following are five of our favorite books for parenting.

  1. Librarian’s Choice – #IMomSoHard isn’t exactly a parenting advice book, but it is perfect for parents who just want to laugh with someone who understands where they’re coming from. The authors are relatable, funny, and charming. Chances are, they’ve experienced some of the same parenting pitfalls that you have. For more excellent parenting book suggestions, stop by your local library!
  2. Fan Favorite – We polled our readers and Oh Crap! Potty Training received the most votes. This book was recommended to me by a friend and I dove right in, sold by the promise of “everything modern parents need to know to do it once and do it right.” While no parenting book is perfect, this one was a quick read and had a lot of clear advice.
  3. Scottsdale Moms Blog Writers’ Favorite – We polled our writers and The Happiest Baby on the Block received the most votes. The cover promises to offer new ways to calm crying and help babies sleep longer… What parent doesn’t want a happy, well rested baby?!
  4. Best Themed Gift Idea The Pregnancy Journal makes for a great gift for an expecting family. It gives daily tips or facts about the baby’s growth, as well as provides a manageable space to write your thoughts. Without this, I wouldn’t have made time to keep a pregnancy journal. This made it easy and enjoyable. Combine this book with a gift card to the expecting couple’s favorite restaurant for a pre-baby date night gift! 
  5. Best Book Under $10 – The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living isn’t a parenting book in the traditional sense. However, it will change the way you think about your home and the happiness it creates. The book is a quick read with lots of illustrations. It’s a great reference when the days start to feel busy and chaotic! (Amazon prices may vary by the minute.)

If you’re looking for more book ideas, check out our other Book Shopping Guides. We even have the lists broken down by ages.

Are we missing one of your favorites? Leave a comment so we can keep our list updated with the best options!

Check It Out!

Whether you’re on a spending-freeze or you’ve taken minimalism to the next level, there are many reasons people don’t want to purchase books. Luckily, Scottsdale is home to multiple FREE public libraries

The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.

-Albert Einstein

If it’s been a few years since you visited, it’s time to make the trip. The library is full of thousands (maybe even millions?) of books, books on CD, magazines, movies, digital content, and so much more. There are constantly free events geared toward people of all ages, from babies to seniors. The youth areas are equipped with educational toys, games, and computers for kids to explore. Plus, if you’re looking for a place to beat the heat this summer, there’s really no better place than the adventures you can find while visiting your local library.

Note: Once you click on a Shopping Guide link, it opens to a page with a few of our favorite products, recommended by our writers and readers! When you click the images on the Guides they’ll redirect you to Amazon using an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking our link, it doesn’t charge you any extra money, but it does send a little commission to SMB as a thank you for referring traffic. This helps us bring you more great content for FREE!

Keeping a “Normal” Routine While Staying at Home

I have always been a fan of checklists and routines (you should see my holiday checklist binders). During this chaotic time of uncertainty we are all facing a disruption in our normal routines which can be stressful. We are feeling a bit stir crazy and overwhelmed (well, maybe that is just me).

One thing I have learned this past year from staying at home with my now 9 month old son is that checklists and routines are very important. They help me feel as though I am not aimlessly wandering around the house and prevent me from feeling unaccomplished at the end of the day.

Making checklists and maintaining a routine has kept a sense of normalcy in my life. Each morning I start my day by making my checklist list. I grab my yellow legal pad and physically write down my to-do list for the day. I keep it on the island with a pen and throughout the day I cross off each task that I complete. I write everything down! From laundry to yoga to giving my son a bath or even reading a book. At the end of they day I can look at my list and it helps me visually see that I was productive. 

Maintain a routine! When I was working I stuck to a very strict schedule,but once I started staying at home with my son I saw my routine fall apart and I ended up wasting a lot of time and feeling really lazy. Even while you are “stuck” at home start your day off how you normally would. Shower, make coffee, get dressed, even put on make up! The worst thing you can do is stay in your pajamas until noon. Act as you normally would throughout the day, but do it at home! Create a new “work” schedule, whatever that may be for you, then repeat it the next day.

normal routineMy son typically goes to music class on Wednesdays, but since we are now staying at home and music class is cancelled, it doesn’t mean music class has to end. On Wednesday at the same time of his normal class, we sat in his room with his stuffed animals sitting in a circle and played our musical instruments and sang the songs like we normally would do at Music Together.

I challenge each and everyone of you to wake up each day and make your own checklist and create a new at home routine. I promise you…. you will be surprised by how it helps you stay sane. 

Homeschooling During the Covid-19 Quarantine

There’s been a major shift in our world recently and there are things I said I would never do that I am now forced to rethink, like homeschooling; specifically homeschooling during the Covid-19 Quarantine. In the midst of finding indoor kids’ activities during the Covid-19 virus, I’m starting to realize that after Spring Break, things are going to get real.

I’m not sure of my reasoning, except that my kids are major extroverts and need constant one on one with other children, but I just never considered homeschooling.  I have friends that homeschool and watch them in awe. I’ve always thought that it takes a special kind of patience to be able to homeschool your children. 

Some people just simply have homeschooling fears which stop them from researching a homeschooling curriculum at all.

With the recent events happening in our world like Covid-19, schools are closing and we are being encouraged to start homeschooling.  I’m not sure if the school will have an online curricululm or how it will work. But I do know that it’s not my norm.

For some of us, it’s simple and a continuation of what we already do. But for myself, it’s scary and overwhelming.  I need some tips on how to transition from public school to homeschooling.  I need to learn homeschooling for beginners.

So, I found some homeschooling bloggers that could give their expertise on homeschooling during the Covid-19 quarantine. They say to combine structure and play, get to know homeschooling, use some homeschool planning and find free resources and printables.  

Pin for Homeschooling when you know know where to startLearn to Combine Structure and Play

This post goes into the different ways young kids learn, specifically for preschool age but can be applied to slightly older kids as well. 

Try to Understand Homeschooling

Figure out how homeschooling in your state works and visit other homeschooling bloggers’ sites. Check out homeschooling styles and read up on local laws.

Homeschooling graphicFigure out how Homeschool Planning Works

Set realistic expectations, create a homeschool budget, and figure out a curriculum that works for you. 

Look for Homeschool Printables

Printables help me with everything! I guess I’m a visual person. Find engaging free homeschool printables like these.  The kids are sure to love them and it keeps them busy.

Find Free Homeschooling Resources

Find local libraries, museums, state programs and art galleries.

I think these are all great articles to get us homeschooling newbies onto a great start! What are your thoughts about homeschooling if you don’t already?

How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus

This post first appeared on PBS.org.

As a partner with PBS, we are honored to share this information with you. These are wonderful tips during this time as we all lean in and focus on keeping everyone calm, safe, and healthy.

Earlier this week, I overheard my kids engaged in a round of “I heard” and “Did you know?” while they were getting ready for bed.

“I heard that Margaret’s dad has it,” said my six-year-old.

“Did you know that it’s the worst sickness ever?” added my eight-year-old.

Neither statement is accurate, but they were revealing: I had thought my initial conversations with my kids about COVID-19 had been good enough. But with adults, kids at schoo,l and the news all hyper-focused on this coronavirus outbreak, my reassuring voice needed to be a little louder.

A favorite Mister Rogers’ quote ran through my mind: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.”

So before lights out, we talked. I asked what they had heard about the coronavirus. We got it all out — their questions, their “I heards” and their fears. The rest of the conversation had three themes.

First, I shared age-appropriate facts and corrected misinformation. Because my kids are young, I kept it simple. “You know what it’s like to have a cold or the flu — how sometimes you get a cough or have a fever? This is kind of like that. Most people who catch this sickness stay home, rest and get all better. And we have wonderful doctors and nurses who can help people when they need it.”

Second, I reassured them that they are safe, which is the most important message my kids can hear from me. I know that they take their emotional cues from my tone. “You don’t need to worry. Right now, lots of amazing grown ups are working hard to keep people healthy. Luckily, we already know a lot about how to keep healthy!”

Third, I emphasized simple things our family can do to be “germ busters” — for all types of germs that are out there! As Harvard’s Dr. Richard Weissbourd once shared with me, kids and adults alike are “more distressed when we feel helpless and passive, and more comfortable when we are taking action.” The hygiene routines that slow the spread of the COVID-19 are the same habits that help keep us healthy all year round.

Here are four ways we can help young kids build germ-busting habits.

Wash Your Hands

Make it a family routine before every meal and snack to wash hands. If you do it together, you can model for them how to use soap, rub your hands together and rinse. For a timer, try slowly singing the ABCs together while you scrub. In Curious George, the Man with the Yellow Hat has a cold. He teaches George how germs can move from person to person and that’s important to wash your hands and avoid sharing utensils. Good hand washers, like Daniel Tiger, are germ busters!

Catch that Cough

When kids cough or sneeze, they tend to do it right into their hands — and then they use those hands to touch everything in sight! Instead, we can cough and sneeze into our elbow. Make it a game with kids. Can they catch the cough in their elbow? In the beginning, cheer when they do: “You caught it! That’s what germ busters do!” If they accidentally “catch it in their hands,” they can simply wash their hands with soap and water and start the game again.

“Rest is Best”

Daniel Tiger reminds us that “When you’re sick, rest is best!” This is a good episode to show kids and a great song to sing when they are feeling under the weather. Tell them: When we are sick, we can stay home and rest our bodies; we can be germ busters by not spreading germs or going to school sick. And as parents, we can keep ourselves and our kids home if we have a fever or other symptoms.

Practice Healthy Habits

Remind kids that sleep, exercise and eating healthy foods are good, everyday ways to strengthen our bodies. We will all get sick sometimes! They have probably already had at least one cold this season. But we can be responsible germ busters when we practice handwashing, cough-catching, resting and basic healthy living.

Looking for more easy, helpful tools to practice healthy habits with your children?

Deborah Farmer Kris photoAuthor:

Deborah Farmer Kris is a writer, teacher, parent educator, and school administrator. She works on parenting projects for PBS KIDS for Parents and writes about education for MindShift, an NPR learning blog. Deborah has two kids who love to test every theory she’s ever had about child development! Mostly, she loves finding and sharing nuggets of practical wisdom that can help kids and families thrive — including her own. You can follow her on Twitter @dfkris.

Local Restaurant Delivery & Pickup Guide

Avoid the long lines and empty shelves at the grocery stores and order dinner for pickup or delivery from one of these local restaurants. We want to see all of our favorite local places survive these difficult weeks or months. Plus some of these restaurants offer new family style options that are sure to feed your household. 

Aioli Burgers is offering a weekly meal ordering system with delivery or pickup on Sundays. Orders due on Thursdays. Check out their Facebook page for the weekly order form. Also you can email them for more information ([email protected]). 

Serranos Mexican Restaurants is offering special family meals to go or for delivery. The taco kits would be a hit with my family and I love the idea of ordering the burritos and freezing them for the future. Call ahead to place your order. 

The Sicilian Butcher offers family packs to go that include salads, pasta, meatballs and more. Some packs even include cannolis for dessert. 

The Herb Box offers 3 different family meal plans with salad and entree options. Delivery is available. 

Nori Sushi Scottsdale is offering one free kids meal with each pickup meal ordered ($15 minimum order).

Bobby Q’s $30 family meal with 4 meats & 2 sides, feeds 4-5 people. They are also offering 50% off beer and wine purchases. 

Luccicare Italian Restaurant is offering family meal plans and buy one get one 50% off of pizzas. 

Kitchen United Mix is a take out kitchen featuring 8 different restaurants and cuisines. The meals are available for delivery or pickup. 

S&V Urban Scottsdale on Shea is offering $30 gift card when you purchase a $100 gift card. They also have curbside pick-up available. 

Malee’s Thai Bistro is offering family meals for pickup. The meals include appetizers, main entree, and a side dish. Lots of choices for your family. 

US Egg is offering meals to go. Plus with any to go order you have the option to buy staples like toilet paper. eggs and bleach. 

For most of these restaurants, the most update information is only available on their Facebook page. Please check with each restaurant for any changes. 

Also we will add to this list as more places offer family style menus. Please comment below if you know of one we should add. 

Wondering how to Run with an Infant? Trust Me, it is Possible!

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Hi! My name is Taylor Decker and I’m new to the team. I thought it appropriate to share my two passions in life — my family (dogs included, of course), and running — and how difficult it was to integrate these passions after my son, Liam, was born. 

Running. The dreaded 7-letter word I was afraid of after childbirth. I never believed that I would be able to run another mile, let alone even walk up the stairs again without keeling over in pain. 

My son was born on June 16th, so that meant I was returning to the running world in the heat of our lovely Arizona summer. There were only a few crucial hours of the day where I could go outside and run without overheating. I had my Thule Urban Glide stroller parked in my living room, taunting me… sitting there waiting to be used. Everything I had so carefully researched and read said I had to wait until my baby was 6-8 months old to safely join me in the jogging stroller.

Returning to running is hard enough after having a baby. You pee yourself while you run. You barely have slept. Your breasts are full and about to explode. Now try and find someone to stay home and watch your baby every time you want to go for a jog! 

Here is what my running routine looked like…

On A Good Day:

6AM-8AM: My husband and I would take turns running, while the other would stay at home with Liam. Meaning one of us always got the hotter shift. 

Most Days: (meaning my husband was at work)

I would have to wait until someone was home to hold Liam, which resulted in attempting  to run while it was 110 degrees out at three in the afternoon. You can say it was a pretty miserable experience!

But then my life changed when a friend told me about the Infant Car Seat Adapters for jogging strollers! I have a Thule jogging stroller and a Uppa Baby Mesa Car Seat. I feared that I would have to get a new car seat, but, the infant stroller adapters are universal for most car seats. I immediately ordered the adapter and it worked perfectly! It attaches to the stroller and allows you to strap down your rear facing car seat safely in the stroller. My son was safe and secure, and I was able to start running with him immediately, rather than having to wait 6-8 months.

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Are you scared to start running again, like I was? Believe me, you can do it! It will be painful and exhausting, but in the end totally worth it. Running made me feel like a normal human being again. It was something fun that got me outside and still to this day, my son gets his best naps in during our jogs. 

But, trust me: get the infant stroller jogging adaptor and enjoy your return to running, rather than be miserable like I was.

Follow me on Strava, https://www.strava.com/athletes/22334227 and we can embark on #runningwithbabies together!

Celebrate National Reading Month: Best Books for Bedtime

March is National Reading Month! If you’re finding yourself dreading bedtime, it may be time to change up the routine. There’s nothing sweeter than a calming bedtime story to help your children drift off to a peaceful sleep.

Today we’re highlighting a few of our favorites from the Best Books for Bedtime Shopping Guide. If it’s been a few years since you’ve bought a book for bedtime, it’s probably time to add some variety to your bedtime story collection.

Top Books for Bedtime

The following are five of our favorite books for bedtime.

  1. Librarian’s Choice – Little Owl’s Night is a wonderful story to read to little ones about what happens throughout the night through the perspective of Little Owl. The pictures are charming, the story is nice and calm, and there is a beautiful melodic lilt to the words, perfect for soothing little ones to sleep. For more excellent bedtime story suggestions, stop by your local library!
  2. Fan Favorite – We polled our readers and Goodnight Moon received the most votes. This classic bedtime story has been loved by generations. Its lulling words and sweet illustrations make it the perfect story to read at bedtime.
  3. Scottsdale Moms Blog Writers’ Favorite – We polled our writers and Pajama Time! received the most votes. Sandra Boynton doesn’t disappoint with this lovely assortment of characters and her catchy, rhyming pages. We’ll give you a fair warning, after you’ve read this a few times, you’ll probably be reciting it without even realizing what you’re doing! 
  4. Best Themed Gift Idea Good Night Arizona is part of the Good Night Our World series. This book would be great for anyone living in or visiting Arizona. Create an Arizona themed gift by adding a cactus teether or Squishable plush.
  5. Best Book Under $10 – If you’re looking for a rhythmic, calming book for your animal-loving child, Big Red Barn is sure to be a hit. This was one of my favorite bedtime stories when I was a child, and a generation later, my daughter enjoys it just as much. (Amazon prices may vary by the minute.)

If you’re looking for more book ideas, check out our other Book Shopping Guides. We even have the lists broken down by ages.

Are we missing one of your favorites? Leave a comment so we can keep our list updated with the best options!

Check It Out!

Whether you’re on a spending-freeze or you’ve taken minimalism to the next level, there are many reasons people don’t want to purchase books. Luckily, Scottsdale is home to multiple FREE public libraries

The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.

-Albert Einstein

If it’s been a few years since you visited, it’s time to make the trip. The library is full of thousands (maybe even millions?) of books, books on CD, magazines, movies, digital content, and so much more. There are constantly free events geared toward people of all ages, from babies to seniors. The youth areas are equipped with educational toys, games, and computers for kids to explore. Plus, if you’re looking for a place to beat the heat this summer, there’s really no better place than the adventures you can find while visiting your local library.

Note: Once you click on a Shopping Guide link, it opens to a page with a few of our favorite products, recommended by our writers and readers! When you click the images on the Guides they’ll redirect you to Amazon using an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking our link, it doesn’t charge you any extra money, but it does send a little commission to SMB as a thank you for referring traffic. This helps us bring you more great content for FREE!

Abundance of Grace: an Intentional Shift in Thinking

My favorite title is Mama. Mom. Mommy. Whatever my children call me. I am the only person on earth that gets that title to my three. Gosh, I’m so incredibly grateful. 

This job is so good, so hard, so beautiful. It can also be ugly, weird, and all that is in between. I have moments where I cry because I am so in love with my babies and feel the gift it is to be their mama. And moments of crying because I just cannot stand one more minute with the three crazies sucking the life from me. It’s the weird balance that is motherhood.

I work very hard to be intentional. It doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s easy for me to wake up and manage each moment as it comes. That ends up leading to life happening TO me, which inevitably leaves me wishing I’d done things differently. That’s why, when it comes to my role as Mama, I try to be intentional with my thoughts, time, and actions. I believe, though, that it all starts with our thoughts. I am parenting my children to become adults, which is what they are for most of their lives. Right? Even though it seems like their ours for forever. I focus on what I can do now that will help them become better functioning members of society as well as self aware, confident, loving individuals. Without intention in the little moments, how can I expect to be intentional in the big ones?

It starts with my thoughts. How can I show my children an abundance of grace? When one (or all?) of my children start throwing a screaming fit, I work really hard to have a loving reaction. If it’s a good day my patience comes out first. If it’s a rough day? My anger. So I filter my thoughts first. 

“I am so grateful that I get to be the one to teach my child through this anger. I am so thankful I am here to show him/her love.”

The voices my children hear in these moments are the ones they will carry with them through their lives. I do this with all the things that are hard for me, and that might be different depending on the day. I find when I filter my thoughts to be grateful and adjust my expectations, I can be much more loving in those hard moments. Also, I choose to be their mama no matter how hard it gets. Especially in those hard moments. What a gift.

This also rings true for all of the other “stuff” that comes with being a parent, spouse, home keeper, etc.

“I’m grateful I have food to cook.”

“I’m grateful I have a house to clean.”

When I am grumpy or ungrateful, I become grumpier and more ungrateful when I think about it. I start believing and knowing that’s how I feel, which guides my actions. I switch my thoughts to, “I choose to take great care of my children, and that means this comes with it.” It’s amazing how powerful your thoughts are. I go from being stuck in the grumpy to grateful that I get to do “hard things.” My thoughts guide my actions, and if that’s the case, I want my actions to be loving and full of grace.

What I find is that when I work really hard on my intentionality, it’s MUCH easier to give myself grace in those moments when I’m having a hard time. It’s much easier to say “this is a hard day/moment,” and move on from it. I’m much easier on myself when I don’t respond in a loving way, when I yell, when I’m impatient, etc. because I know I work hard to give my children a grateful, loving mom with an abundance of grace. 

Distance Learning: What a Teacher-Mom Wants you to Know

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School districts, principals and teachers have begun to reach out their district families about distance learning. Teachers are rushing to learn how to use new online platforms, to best engage students from many miles away, and to create online communities.  

Some parents are grateful for these learning opportunities. Students are hungry for knowledge and for something to do during the quarantine.  

Other parents question the necessity of distance learning. I have seen tongue-in-cheek meme after meme about ignoring the idea of homeschooling while letting kids watch Disney+ all day while eating ice cream. It breaks my heart that parents would think so little about learning.

As a teacher who is also a mom, I feel it. I am juggling job of teaching with three little kids who can’t leave the house and want to play with their friends. They miss their teachers, their school playgrounds, and schedule. Our daily walks are the farthest they venture away from home now. 

Here are a few things I want to share as a mom who sits on both sides of the computer during distance learning.

  1. Teachers are all about your kid!

We are teachers because we love learning. We love sharing it with young minds and love to see what they create. Teachers miss their students over spring break and during the quarantine. We are excited to hear from your kid and re-engage their learning!

  1. Learning is meaningful.

Time off is learning lost.  As a teacher, I am looking to create lessons that will be relevant, important, and help them stay on track for their academic careers. Students will go on to next year, and it is important to prepare them. I don’t know how long any of this will last, but if we know that “summer slump” (the knowledge lost during summer break) exists, imagine what a long quarantine could do.

  1. Schools know times are tough.

Schools are well aware that times have changed. Some families are struggling with paychecks lost. Simple survival might trump learning. Other households have limited access to computers, internet, and many kids may have to share with their siblings and working family members. Keeping school going is going to be hard.

Hopefully teachers are offering your child some freedom with asynchronistic learning. This means you can log in any time for pre-recorded messages. Work does not have to be done at a specific hour, but students should keep pace with it. As a parent, you can work your child to set realistic goals and a schedule for learning.

  1. Things will be imperfect.

Teachers are learning as we go.  This is the first time for most of us that we are on tape with an audience far greater than we’ve seen before.  While parents have been in classrooms before, every second of our instruction is now televised. We will pause, make faces, misspeak and correct ourselves. Everything is now up for scrutiny. In the words of my principal, “Laugh at what goes wrong, and know that we’ll keep trying.”

  1. Parents make the best partners.

As much as you can, please support your child. Work with them, check their online grade books and make sure they are doing the work. If they see your high expectations, we all will see greater results.   

When we left classes for spring break, schools had a rhythm and schedule that kids were used to. That normalcy and routine are now gone, but online learning can bring some of it back.

 

But Why Mom? Answering ALL the Questions from Toddler to Teen

I don’t know about you, but my Albert Einstein of a seven year old asks all the questions. From the time he opens his beautiful green eyes until those long lashes fan him to sleep, he is ALL questions. Most of the time he wants to solve all of the mysteries of the universe and figure out the most advanced math equations exactly at bedtime. How can he dare go to bed without knowing how many seconds are in a year? Or how to travel to different dimensions? Or the distance from Earth to Heaven? Or the always fun, “where do babies come from?”

Curiosity and wonder are in the DNA of our children. We are wired to be inquisitive about the world around us. But let’s be honest: sometimes it gets on my last nerve. Anyone else? Anyone?  One thing I have learned as a mom of an adult child and a toddler is effectively answering questions is vital to not only their learning, but is crucial in building the trust in your relationship so that later they come to you with the harder questions in life. It’s so easy to give the ” I don’t know” response or brush their questions off. So how do we effectively answer their questions?

Here are some of the ways I have  handled the inquiry from toddler to teen:

  1. Turn the question back on them. For questions that are very curious based like “where do unicorns come from?” a simple “what do you think?” often will ignite an answer within them that is satisfactory. Not to mention it is sometimes fun to hear how their minds think. I always follow up with a response such as “I like the way you think,” or “I like your answer.”
  2. Acknowledge, Prepare, Respond. Sometimes the questions are a matter of the heart or pertain to a sensitive issue and deserve a thoughtful response. When these types of questions arise I always acknowledge them with “that’s a great question.” Then I offer a time delayed response to prepare a thoughtful answer. “I want to give you the right answer so I am going to think about it/pray about it/research it, and I will get back to you.” This is vital because you are modeling that some questions and decisions need time and proper thought. Most importantly FOLLOW THROUGH and respond thoughtfully. You are building profound trust when you do get back to them. They will know you take their questions seriously. 
  3. Safety, Learning, and Well-being. And for those all day every day rite of passage  mom questions, I always respond from this list of go-tos. Our “BECAUSE I SAID SO” has run its course, Mamas. Why can’t I run in the house with scissors? Because dear (total sarcasm can be inserted here) it is for your safety. Why can’t I eat ice-cream for breakfast? Because my love (more sarcasm) it is for your well-being. Why do I have to sit in time out? Because it is for your learning. Any question can be given one of these thoughtful responses and you know what happens as they grow? They will make decisions based on these three responses. I have seen the fruit in my own adult child. How does this affect my safety, learning, and well-being? But also, it once again reassures your child that you do have their best interest at heart.

The questions never end. But do we want them to? Life is a beautiful unfolding of the curiosity and wonder of the human experience. Often I have found that my children’s questions have ignited that little girl inside of me who still wants to seek and find. Once we stop asking, are we really living? 

Keeping Busy Inside {20 activities for kids}

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keeping busy insideHave you suddenly found yourself with kids home from school? Still need to get some work done during the day?

Solidarity, sisters.  Here are 20 ideas to get you started.

  • Have kids write and illustrate their own story. Or siblings can tag team, have one write and one draw the pictures, put everything together in a book for a special keepsake.
  • Teach your kids to cook, keep it simple and kid safe of course, but if all goes well they can be in charge of making their own lunches when school is back in session and save you some precious time each morning.
  • Are there special seasonal chores that the kids can do to earn extra money?
  • Encourage the kids to work together to write and preform a play. Let them create costumes, maybe some simple backdrops/props and then invite family over for the final performance.
  • Get some creative juices flowing, have kids create a sculpture using recycled materials.
  • Older kids can “tutor” younger kids, keep it simple like fun alphabet/numbers/color games. Younger ones will love the attention and the older kids will enjoy feeling responsible.
  • Children can create their own board game, come up with rules and use cardboard or other materials to make the actual game pieces. Then play over and over again!
  • Wake up your interior designer and have kids rearrange their bedrooms. They can even draw up a few plans on paper to discuss the best options before getting to work and organize/dump some junk in the process.
  • Have an old fashioned dance party! It’s as simple as turning on music and get moving.
  • Decorate some cookies or cupcakes, get different colors of frosting and lots of candy toppings and see what the kids come up with.
  • Plant a small indoor herb garden, they can be in pots or a small indoor planter box, place them on the windowsill to get some sun and use the herbs for cooking.
  • Get creative with a craft box. Fill it with all sorts of random things (paper, feathers, buttons, glue, markers, glitter….) and let the kids create whatever their imagination comes up with.
  • Who doesn’t love to just paint? Paper, brushes, some bright colors…..have the kids look through magazines or books if they need some inspiration.
  • Subscription Boxes are a great way to keep fun coming monthly – there are lots of options Kidstir, Green Kid Crafts, and Little Passports are just a few.
  • Try your hands at a new craft or hobby (jewelry making, knitting, etc.)
  • Write a family newsletter, write articles about adventures or interview dad. Create a layout and add some fun photos. Then send out to close family and friends.
  • Build a fort with pillows and blankets and go camping in the living room.
  • Have a movie day. Make some popcorn, get candy, maybe even project a screen on the wall to make it feel like a real theater.
  • Do some kid friendly yoga. Look up videos online and take some time to stretch, breathe and enjoy the movement.
  • Think of ways to give back, go through clothes and toys and pick some out to donate or make cards to send to troops overseas.

Share your ideas below! What activities do your kids love to do indoors? We are in this together.

Celebrate National Reading Month: Best Books for Older Kids

March is National Reading Month! Chances are, if you have an older kid in your house, they probably already have a favorite series or genre of books. Try surprising them with something new to spark their interest in reading before the summer heat kicks in.

Today we’re highlighting a few of our favorites from the Best Books for Older Kids Shopping Guide. If it’s been a few years since you’ve bought a book for an older kid, you’ll be amazed at the variety of options you have to choose from.

Top Books for Older Kids

The following are four of our favorite books for older kids.

  1. Librarian’s Choice – The One and Only Ivan is written from the unique perspective of a gorilla. This award winning book was inspired by a true story and a powerful tale of friendship, and is one recommended over and over again to both children and parents. For more excellent book suggestions, stop by your local library!
  2. Fan AND Writer Favorite – We polled our readers and our writers and both agreed, Charlotte’s Web is the best! It’s no surprise that this book was a top choice, since it’s on the list of America’s Top 100 Most Loved Novels. This sweet tale is a tender story of friendship, life, and death that is relatable from one generation to the next.
  3. Best Themed Gift Idea – If you’re looking for a fun read, Frindle may be perfect. The main character uses his creativity and determination to try to change the word “pen” into “frindle.” This book could be turned into a wonderful, themed gift by adding a journal or diary, a “frindle,” or even a dictionary!
  4. Best Book Under $10 – Code 7: Cracking the Code for an Epic Life is a quick read that includes short stories about seven students in an elementary school. Each student faces a different problem, either at school or at home. As they navigate their challenges, the students learn valuable lessons. The stories are told from the students’ point of views and are engaging and familiar. (Amazon prices may vary by the minute.)libraries

If you’re looking for more book ideas, check out our other Book Shopping Guides. We even have the lists broken down by ages.

Are we missing one of your favorites? Leave a comment so we can keep our list updated with the best options!

Check It Out!

Whether you’re on a spending-freeze or you’ve taken minimalism to the next level, there are many reasons people don’t want to purchase books. Luckily, Scottsdale is home to multiple FREE public libraries

The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library. -Albert Einstein

If it’s been a few years since you visited, it’s time to make the trip. The library is full of thousands (maybe even millions?) of books, books on CD, magazines, movies, digital content, and so much more. There are constantly free events geared toward people of all ages, from babies to seniors. The youth areas are equipped with educational toys, games, and computers for kids to explore. Plus, if you’re looking for a place to beat the heat this summer, there’s really no better place than the adventures you can find while visiting your local library.

Note: Once you click on a Shopping Guide link, it opens to a page with a few of our favorite products, recommended by our writers and readers! When you click the images on the Guides they’ll redirect you to Amazon using an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking our link, it doesn’t charge you any extra money, but it does send a little commission to SMB as a thank you for referring traffic. This helps us bring you more great content for FREE!

What You Need to Know About Valley Fever

Valley Fever, also known as Coccidioidomycosis, is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides, which lives in the soil in the southwestern US, parts of Mexico, and Central and South America. People, and house pets, can get Valley Fever by breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air, although the majority of people and animals who breathe in the spores don’t get sick. 

In most cases, when the spores enter our lungs, our immune system kills them off without causing any symptoms. Some people may develop flu-like symptoms that usually go away on their own after weeks to a few months. In extremely rare cases, the fungal spores can enter the skin through a cut, wound, or splinter and cause a skin infection.

Only 5 to 10% of people who get Valley Fever will develop serious or long-term problems in their lungs. In an even smaller percent of people (about 1%), the infection spreads from the lungs to other parts of the body, such as the central nervous system.

According to the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in Tucson, approximately 6-10% of dogs living in Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties will become sick with Valley Fever each year.  Typical symptoms in dogs are coughing, fever, weight loss, and lack of appetite. In humans, symptoms are also cough, fever, fatigue, and additionally may include headache, muscle and joint pain, and a rash on upper body or legs.

The most common way that healthcare providers test for Valley Fever is by taking a blood sample and sending it to a lab to look for Coccidioides antibodies. A skin test can also detect whether you have developed an immune response to the fungus. A positive skin test generally means that you’re immune to it and will not get Valley fever in the future.

Certain groups of people are at higher risk for developing the severe forms of Valley fever, such as people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, diabetics, and people who are African American or Filipino.

Most people who develop symptoms from Coccidioidomycosis don’t need treatment because symptoms are mild and go away on their own. If symptoms do last for more than six weeks, are very severe, or you have a weakened immune system, treatment may be needed. This usually includes taking an anti-fungal drug in pill form. More severe infections in the lungs or disease that has spread to bones and joints may require surgery.

While there is currently no proven prevention or vaccine for Valley Fever, you can lessen your family’s risk of inhaling spores by avoiding activities that disturb the soil, such as desert biking or driving ATVs. If your occupation or hobbies include soil disruption, you should consider wearing a disposable respirator mask and wetting the soil before digging. Try to remain indoors as much as possible during dust storms, as the highest prevalence of infections in Arizona is during the summer and fall months.

It’s important to remember that Valley Fever is not contagious between people nor between humans and animals. Your chance of infection is only 3% per year, but the longer that one resides in endemic areas like Phoenix or Tucson, the greater the risk of contracting Valley Fever.

For more information, visit the Valley Fever Center for Excellence or the American Thoracic Society.

Why Grocery Delivery Works for Me

As a former retail manager, I know the benefits of delegation. It took me a long time to understand that even though I wanted to do every task, it takes an entire team to make a store run smoothly. One of my jobs was to teach new leaders how to effectively use the time they had each day by doing the tasks only they could do, and outsourcing less delicate items to other staff members.

As a mom I feel pressured to do everything myself. In my mind I should be playing with my daughter, keeping the house clean, preparing and serving healthy meals, and in general make sure that life is running smoothly for everyone in my household.

The first time I heard about a grocery delivery app, I was shocked! At the time I was finishing up my last semester of classes, and having trouble keeping up with everything. We were eating more fast food then I wanted, because grocery shopping came second to spending time with my daughter, homework, and sleep. I signed up for Instacart and didn’t look back.

grocery deliveryThere is a cost to saving time. Depending on the store I chose, I may be paying slightly higher prices then if I shopped myself in person. There were delivery fees, and I wanted to tip the drivers for doing a job well done. As my life calmed down, I could not rationalize the increased costs of outsourcing grocery shopping this way. I still occasionally use this app if I need something after my daughter goes to bed, or I schedule a delivery when we come back from a vacation to make things easier.

Recently I learned that some Fry’s stores allow you to place an order online, and have curbside pickup. You can try their Click List service the first few times for free. After that, there is a minimal service fee each time. As I run out of things during the week I can add it to my online shopping list, and when I’m ready to order it only takes me a few moments. There is a Click List Fry’s store near my daughter’s school. I pick her up, then our groceries, and then head home to make dinner. This type of grocery shopping works for us right now. 

What are your favorite grocery delivery or pick up choices?

Prenatal Yoga: 5 Postures Every Mom-To-Be Should Be Doing

Practicing Prenatal Yoga is an excellent way to prepare the body for labor and delivery.  Asana, the Sanskrit word for the physical postures, can help to ease tension in the body, manage common aches and pains in shoulders, low back, hips, etc that are often associated with pregnancy.  Postures will also build strength, stability and stamina which mom-to-be will need for labor & delivery.  Prenatal Yoga, especially pranayama (the Sanskrit word for the techniques to connect to the breath) and meditation can help the mom-to-be relax and destress, particularly when feelings of fear and anxiety creep in about childbirth and motherhood.  Above all, yoga also helps the mother become more attune with herself, and the growing life within her.

Due to the uniqueness of our bodies, there is no one-size-fits-all prenatal yoga practice.  As a prenatal yoga teacher, I have 5 postures that I consider to be the most effective for most pregnant woman to help her manage the common physical discomfort of pregnancy, but to also prepare her body for labor and delivery, and to recover postpartum.  In my prenatal yoga classes, I often point out these postures and refer to them as yoga homework for my students.  

Cat & Cow Vinyasa – These are actually two very distinct and unique postures.  Cow pose is a backbend, while Cat Pose is a forward fold.  In a typical yoga class, Cat & Cow are Vinyasa Postures, or to coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. For the sake of my “5 Postures,” I am grouping them together.  Cat & Cow keeps the spine supple and alleviates low back discomfort.  It helps to broaden the pelvic bowl to prepare the body for labor.  Engaging the pelvic floor keeps those muscles strong which will assist in the pushing action of labor, and is important for postpartum recovery.  In the final weeks of pregnancy, Cat/Cow Vinyasa encourages baby to get into position.  It can also be useful to encourage a breech baby to flip!  Come to hands and knees, tabletop (use a blanket or towel under the knees if they feel sensitive to pressure and if a mat is not available).  Draw the belly upwards so baby feels nicely supported and engage through the pelvic floor (think about your Kegels).  Take several deep breaths in and out through the nose while maintaining a neutral spine.  On an inhale breath move into Cow Pose, tilting the pelvis so that the tailbone is moving towards the sky.  As you do this, the belly softens towards the floor and the heart presses forward, as your gaze goes up.  Use the full length of the inhale to get there.  Exhale to move into Cat Pose, tilting the pelvis so that the tailbone is moving downward towards the ground, the back of the heart presses upwards and the chin draws to the chest.  Use the full length of the exhale to get to there.  Move at your own breath pace from Cow to Cat.  Let the breath be deep and slow.  Don’t rush from one pose to the other.  Repeat for at least 5 rounds.  

Child’s Pose (Balasana) – This posture gives a good stretch to the spine, decompresses the lower vertebrae, and opens up the hips.  To come into Child’s Pose, begin in tabletop with the tops of the feet on the floor (toes should be untucked), bring the big toes together to touch, and separate the knees wide.  The hips move back & down to the heels, walk the hands forward and lower the belly and the heart towards the floor.  The belly should not be resting on the thighs, so if it does, separate the knees further.  If it feels good to straighten the ams all the way out, do that.  Otherwise, stay slightly elevated by resting on the forearms.  A blanket or towel can be used under the hips if they feel tight and if they don’t rest comfortably on the heels.  A bolster or pillow can also be used under chest for support.  Please avoid any compression on the belly in this pose.  Stay here for 10 breaths or more and come up very slowly.

Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana B) – This standing pose is excellent for strengthening the legs and building stability in the hip flexors.  Yoga is not just about flexibility and due to the relaxin hormone, it’s best to not stretch too deeply.  Labor and delivery of a baby is on the same level of physical exertion as running a full marathon, so mama must be prepared!  Warrior 2 and other standing yoga poses will give that strength and stability needed for the big day, but also along the way as the joints and ligaments that surround them naturally become more lax.  Begin with the feet widely separated, hips and shoulders facing the long edge of the yoga mat.  Turn the right foot out to the short edge of the yoga mat and the toes on the left foot are facing the long edge and turned slightly inward.  Arms reach out wide, shoulder height.  Take and inhale and on the exhale breath, bend into the right knee, keeping the knee inline with the ankle.  Keep the hips and shoulders facing the long edge of the mat and turn the head to look past the right hand.  Ground into the right heel to engage the legs further.  Hold for 5 full and complete breaths.  Inhale and straighten the right leg, pivot the feet and do the pose on the left side for 5 breaths.  

Yogi Squat (Malasana) – By now the hips will be nice and open and the body has loosened up a little bit.  This is one of the best poses to do throughout pregnancy as it quite literally is the posture of birth.  Knees are wide and come up high towards the underarms. Whether the mother is delivering from a hospital bed, birthing tub or squatting, this is the general position taken when baby emerges.  Practice this pose along with breathing techniques to allow the body to settle into the shape.  Squat with feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, the thighs are wider than the torso to make space for baby.  Press elbows against inner knees and hands come together at the heart.  Soften the tailbone towards the floor and reach the crown of the head to the sky, creating a long spine.  Breathe slow and deep 10 cycles and build up to about two minutes.  A rolled blanket or towel can support the heels if they do not rest on the floor.  A bolster or yoga block can support under the hips.  If those items are not available at home, a small stool can help.  Use the time spent in this pose to connect to breath, to baby and to your inner strength and power.  

Savasana – The most important pose!  This is the posture of rest and rest is NOT a luxury, my dear mama.  It is mission critical to your health and well being.  I know we all have things to do and the list seems to never end.  But we are not a never-ending well of energy.  Stop everything that you’re doing and rest for 7 minutes.  Go for 10! Lay down and be still to quiet the mind.  After moving the body in the previous 4 poses, the energy in you has been rearranged so that you can find the stillness needed to surrender and let go.  In this pose, no work or effort is required of you.  There’s nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to be, than to just simply be.  Lay down on the floor with one pillow under your head and another under the knees.  If laying on the back is not comfortable, lay on the left side and put a pillow between the legs.  Supreme rest.  

A consistent yoga practice throughout pregnancy is so beneficial to a mom-to-be.  Even if she has never practiced yoga before, this is a great time to start.  You can find me teaching prenatal yoga at Modern Milk Scottsdale on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday evenings, and Vinyasa Flow on Friday mornings.  There is even childcare available for the morning classes! 

Celebrate National Reading Month: Best Books for New Readers

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March is National Reading Month! Celebrate a new reader in your life with the gift of a special book. 

Today we’re highlighting a few of our favorites from the Best Books for New Readers Shopping Guide. Although the general idea of new reader books remains the same – keep the words simple and have supporting illustrations – the themes of the books are more engaging than ever.

Top Books for New Readers

The following are five of our favorite books for new readers.

  1. Librarian’s Choice – The Elephant and Piggie series of books is penned by the same author as Knufflebunny and The Pigeon picture books. New readers will enjoy these tales of friendship over and over again. The books themselves are a hybrid of picture books and readers, and are highly recommended for kids who are just learning how to read. For more excellent book suggestions for new readers, stop by your local library!
  2. Fan Favorite – We polled our readers and the Magic Tree House series received the most votes. This series is one of the top selling chapter book series of all time. While some parts are a little scary for young readers, they’re filled with excitement and adventure. Your reader may even learn something new while exploring the series.
  3. Scottsdale Moms Blog Writers’ Favorite – We polled our writers and the Pete the Cat Phonics Box received the most votes. If you’re looking for simple books with a familiar character to practice short and long vowels and sight words, this could be the perfect set. Practicing reading is extra fun with Pete.
  4. Best Themed Gift Idea – If you’re looking for a themed book gift for a nature-loving new reader, I Like Bugs is a a great option. The book is filled with vibrant illustrations and simple words. Add a bug catching net, an ant farm, or even a trip to Butterfly Wonderland and your bug-lover will be thrilled. 
  5. Best Book Under $10 – Learning to read and losing your first tooth often align pretty closely. My Loose Tooth is a great early reader book that turns a scary first loose tooth into a funny story. Whether your child has already lost a tooth or is anticipating the first wiggly one, this will be sure to entertain them. (Amazon prices may vary by the minute.)

If you’re looking for more book ideas, check out our other Book Shopping Guides. We even have the lists broken down by ages.

Are we missing one of your favorites? Leave a comment so we can keep our list updated with the best options!

Check It Out!

Whether you’re on a spending-freeze or you’ve taken minimalism to the next level, there are many reasons people don’t want to purchase books. Luckily, Scottsdale is home to multiple FREE public libraries

The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library. -Albert Einstein

If it’s been a few years since you visited, it’s time to make the trip. The library is full of thousands (maybe even millions?) of books, books on CD, magazines, movies, digital content, and so much more. There are constantly free events geared toward people of all ages, from babies to seniors. The youth areas are equipped with educational toys, games, and computers for kids to explore. Plus, if you’re looking for a place to beat the heat this summer, there’s really no better place than the adventures you can find while visiting your local library.

Note: Once you click on a Shopping Guide link, it opens to a page with a few of our favorite products, recommended by our writers and readers! When you click the images on the Guides they’ll redirect you to Amazon using an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking our link, it doesn’t charge you any extra money, but it does send a little commission to SMB as a thank you for referring traffic. This helps us bring you more great content for FREE!

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Guide To Scottsdale

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