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Book {Giveaway}: 40 Love

40 Love: A Novel

Today we are giving away 3 copies of a new book from New York Times bestselling novelist  Madeleine Wickham. 40 Love: A Novel

“Reading for pleasure” simply doesn’t exist without Madeleine Wickham.  Whether writing her trademark madcap, comedic romps under her real name (Wickham), or creating the next Shopaholic installment as Sophie Kinsella, Maddy continually produces works that epitomize the best of commercial women’s fiction:  fresh, lively prose with just the right mix of humor, warmth and intelligence.

MADELEINE WICKHAM is the author of several New York Times bestselling novels, including The Wedding Girl, The Gatecrasher and Cocktails for Three.  As Sophie Kinsella, she has written a number of international bestsellers, including the Shopaholic series." 

This book just released yesterday! Want to win one? 

Simply enter by leaving a comment on this post. That is it. 

Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to one entry per person.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Friday, September 2 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winners will be randomly selected at
  • The winners will be announced Saturday, September 3.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winners are announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time!
  • US mailing addresses only please.

Poll Results: At what age did you allow your child to get out of bed on own? (approximate)

2 year old
  21 (24%)
3 year old
  33 (38%)
4 year old
  20 (23%)
5 year old
  3 (3%)
6 or older
  2 (2%)
Younger than 2
  6 (7%)

Votes so far: 85 


Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

Child Summary: 6.25 Years Old

Doing his favorite thing--building Legos

Here we have it. The last quarter of life before Brayden starts full day school. This is sad for me. Preschool? No biggie. Kindergarten wasn't any longer than preschool. I cried the last day of Kindergarten, not the first. I will cry the first day of first grade, no doubt. Thus ends the age of his complete innocence. ::Sigh::

Sleep is going well. We haven't had any issues. He is more flexible with sleep, meaning he can stay up late and not turn into a crazy person. He also will actually sleep in the next day (you know, to 8 AM) if he was up late the night before. 

Rest Time
I actually stuck to rest time very closely this summer. He needed it with all of our activities and disrupted sleep. There were days I told him he needed to nap and he actually would. But I think rest time is about to come to an end for the most part. We of course won't have it on school days. I doubt I will on Saturdays for the most part. It might just be a nice Sunday activity (speaking of Sunday, last Sunday our whole family took a nap at the same time. We went camping Friday night and McKenna was accidentally woken up about 45 minutes of sleeping and she thought it was time to get up. She was up until 2 AM! Yes, I am serious. We were all tired).

Eating is still good and uneventful. I guess I might have something interesting next time since we will have lunch at school--so maybe I will have something of interest to share :)

Here is a rundown of different play scenarios he has each day.

The three children play well together. They have lots of fun. I think this will be something much missed once school is in session all day.

Independent Play
Brayden enjoys this. It is a great break in the day when you have it all day long. I am not sure if this will continue to be an every day thing when school is in. I am waiting to decide until we have been in for a couple of weeks. On the one hand, we all know how much I value it. On the other, he will only be home for about 4 hours after school before bedtime, so I don't know if I want one of those hours to be spent away from the family. We will be playing it by ear. He will be getting home at naptime, so it wouldn't interfere with sibling play if he did it then. I also know that he does well with some time to himself, so after being gone all day, he might want some time alone. We will play it by ear and by the next time I write one of these, we will have a policy in place!

We had a busy, busy summer. It was nice because we spent a lot of time together as a family. We didn't have much time to play with friends with all of our activities. I find that when we spend a lot of time together without  influences from peers, life is much smoother. So things might get harder as we face full day school :( But I think it will be good for him to practice what I have taught him. Hopefully I can be in tune with him and continue to help him grow to be a good person.

Here is our summer schedule for cooler weather--which most of our summer is "cooler" in the 80s.

7:00 Wake up. Shower/get ready 
 7:30 Sibling Playtime 
 8:00 Breakfast 
 8:30 Music time/learning time
 9:00 Piano 
 9:30 Chores 
 10:00 Walk/bike ride 
 10:30 Independent play 
11:30 Learning Activity 
 12:00 Lunch 
 12:30 Outside time 
1:30 SSR 
 2:00 Rest Time 
 2:30 Free Play 
4:30 Free Play or TV time 
 5:30 Dinner 
 6:00 Family Activities
 7:30 Get Ready for Bed
 8:30 Bedtime  

Picky Eaters are Made

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Most anyone who is a parent of a picky eater doesn't want to hear this: Picky eaters are made, not born. On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise states "Excluding a medical condition, picky eaters are created, not born" (page 61).

Moms I know who are parents of picky eaters are actually typically aware that they have done something along the way to enable the creation of this picky eater situation. Hindsight is 20/20 and they can see where they should have done things differently.

Now, all children do come with their pre-dispositions. Some children are naturally more cautious with food than others. But you can absolutely do things to help your child be as adventurous as she can be. 

It is important to note the caveat in the quote above: "Excluding a medical condition." If your child has or had reflux, there is an excellent chance she will be at least slightly picky. Many reflux children see food as more of an enemy that causes pain. There are also lots of foods that irritate reflux symptoms. 

Kaitlyn had reflux as a baby and without question is my most picky eater. She never has liked citrus foods (like oranges or tomatoes) and doesn't care for berries (they also create reflux problems). However, she tries these foods often. She will even try them several times in one day (like when it is raspberry season and the whole family is enjoying fresh raspberries). She is willing to try new things and even willing to try old things she has never liked. You could call it picky, but you can also call it smart (avoiding foods that cause pain). So, if your child has any sort of allergy or intolerance for whatever reason to foods, know you have an extra challenge to create a non-picky eater and rightfully so. 

There are things you can do to help create an eater who will eat what is before him.
  1. Don't pass on your prejudices. You will have food issues. You might not like certain foods. You might have an unhealthy relationship with food. Try to not pass these issues on to your child. 
  2. Allow the child to not like foods. Let's be reasonable. Most of us have foods we don't like. There is a children's book called "Eat Your Peas." I can't decide how much I like it because the mom bribes the daughter with all sorts of things to eat her peas. But a great point in the book is when the daughter points out that the mom doesn't like brussel sprouts and therefore doesn't eat them. We all have things we don't like. Brayden doesn't like corn. Strange, but true. Every so often, he tries it to see if he likes it yet. But I don't force him to eat it. He isn't picky and I think we are all entitled to not eat things we don't like. What I won't tolerate is "Yuck" and looks of disgust. 
  3. Try, Try Again. Like I said above, I have my children ocassionally try a food that I know they don't like. You never know when your taste buds will change. There are several foods that have previously been disliked and are now liked. Also, don't give the food once and then give up. Try out the food several times (some say 7-14) before deciding if the child truly likes it or not. 
  4. Try New Foods. Keep your menu interesting. Try new recipes and have your child try the new food. I always have my children try three bites of anything new. I don't have a logical reason for the number three. I just think it sounds fair. Three bites can give you a reasonable idea if you like it or not. Trying new foods will keep your child adventurous.
  5. Feed A Small Amount. When giving a new food, give only a small amount. 
  6. Eat Regular Meals. Snacks can interfere with hunger. A child who is ready for a meal is more willing to try new foods than a child who is satisfied enough because of that snack he ate an hour ago. If you need snack time help, see Snack Time.
  7. Feed Your Food. Feed your child what you are eating for dinner. My most adventurous eater is McKenna. Why? By the time she came around, I stopped deciding for my child if she would like it or not. I tried to keep foods very bland for Brayden so he would appreciate bland food. I think that was a mistake. I think it was far better to feed lots of bold flavors like I did with McKenna. She loves everything. It wasn't a huge blunder; Brayden likes more and more foods all the time and is in no way a picky eater. He just took some time to really like bold flavors. 
  8. Watch the Drinks: Too many drinks can fill a child up to the point of being content to not eat dinner. 
  9. Don't Start a War. You don't want to turn mealtime into a battle ground. 
  10. Don't Feed Snacks Later. If you feed a child snacks after a meal because she was too picky to eat at dinner, you are teaching her she doesn't need to eat her dinner. Keep in mind, snacks are usually more tasty to a child than dinner was. Even if a food at dinner is good to your child, she might hold out for the snack she knows she will get in an hour or two.
These ten tips can help you avoid making a picky eater. Just remember to feed what you are eating, don't over-snack, and keep mealtimes regular and you should be feeding a relatively adventurous eater.

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Design By Tracy {Giveaway!}

This post is written in partnership with Design by Tracy. All opinions are my own. 

Today we have a fabulous giveaway from Tracy at Design by Tracy.

Tracy is responsible for the new design here on the blog. She did my header and my social buttons (facebook, twitter, etc). She also did my button and avatars for websites and a Twitter background. I am so consistent!

She also redesigned the look for Children's Learning Activities--and it seriously is amazing. You must check it out. 

Tracy does everything from logos, to brands, to stationery, avatars, blog headers, full websites, to various print projects. She has a portfolio on her website, but here are some samples of her work:

Tracy is great to work with. She listens to what you want and gives you ideas both in your box and outside of it. 

Today, Tracy is giving away a single blog header. Includes 2-3 concepts, 1 round of changes, and final file for customer use. Fabulous!

Here is how you enter:

For Your First Entry:
Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry
I am a follower!

For Your Second Entry:
Like Design By Tracy on Facebook. Then comment saying you do!

Sample Entry
I like it on Facebook!

For Your Third Entry:
"Like" this blog on Facebook. Already do? Tell me so. Comment saying you follow through Facebook.

Sample Entry
Hi! I am now follow through Facebook!

For Your Fourth Entry:
Share on Facebook. Then comment saying you did so!

Sample Entry
Shared on Facebook!

For Your Fifth Entry:
Follow Babywise on Twitter. Then comment. Include your twitter ID.

Sample Entry
I am following Babywise on Twitter! @valplowman

For Your Sixth Entry: 
Tweet about it on Twitter. Then comment. Include your twitter ID

Sample Entry
Tweeted! @valplowman

For Your Seventh Entry:
Follow Design By Tracy on Twitter. Then comment saying you did so. Include your Twitter ID.

Sample Entry
I am following! @valplowman

Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good.
  • You don't have to do all seven entries...for example, if you just want to follow this blog, you can just do entry one.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to seven entries per person.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Friday, September 2 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, September 3.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time!

Preparing for Kindergarten {Now}

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Parents of four and five year olds often spend that last year before kindergarten trying to make sure the child knows all he should before school starts. There are many things a child needs to know and many things that will make life easier for a child. The most important bit of knowledge is perhaps vocabulary. Vocabulary is build slowly over time, and greatly grows when the child is read to.

Here are some interesting facts listed in The Read Aloud Handbook about vocabulary (page 13):
  • By age two, the child can understand ~300 words
  • This number triples by age three
  • A four year old understands 2/3-3/4 of the words he will use in future daily life
  • Once a child can talk, he will add on average 10 new words a day
How do you help your child reach his utmost potential in learning vocabulary words? By reading to him. Read a variety of books and read the words as written--avoid the temptation to change a more difficult word into a word you know your child will understand (like saying "laughed" instead of "chuckled"). 

Trelease states, "...the child's vocabulary...he or she already knows [upon entering school] determine how much of what the teacher says will be understood" (page 13). He points out that until fourth grade, most instructions given are oral. "That's why school-entry vocabulary tests predict so accurately [children's success]" (page 13). 

So read to your child each day! If you want to prep for school, this is the best thing you can do. 

And notice that we are only on page 13 in this book I so love? If you haven't read it, I really hope you do. It will take me years to get through it :)

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Teaching Charity

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This is the big one. Charity is pure love--specifically the pure love of Christ. It is having pure love, concern, and compassion for everyone.

Charity is something that takes time to develop. It is, however, extremely powerful in our own lives and in the lives of our children in helping us be good people. It is absolutely worth the effort it takes to teach and develop charity.

One aspect of charity I think we all immediately think of is giving to the sick, afflicted, and poor. We might give of our time. Maybe we will donate money or other goods. We might have talents that can benefit people. 

The trick here is to offer charity to all who need it--not just those we think "deserve" it. We also have a love for those we are helping. The Apostle Paul taught these things about charity:
  • We should be filled with good feelings toward all people
  • We should be patient
  • We should be kind
  • We should not boast, be proud, be selfish, or be rude
  • We should forgive others and should not glory in the wrong things they may have done
  • We should not do good things out of a desire to benefit ourselves
  • We should be loyal
  • We should believe the best in others
  • We should be kind
So how do we develop true charity for others? Here are some ideas:
  1. Study the life of Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. When we study how he reacted, we will better know how we should react.
  2. Pray for charity. 
  3. Learn to love yourself. We must respect and trust ourselves. We must repent and forgive ourselves. Oftentimes, a lack of charity toward someone is really a showing of our own insecurities about ourselves. 
  4. Avoid thinking you are better than others. Have patience and have empathy. Try to see things from their perspective. 
  5. Serve, serve, serve. Service does not have to be super grand to be service. Service is something as simple as getting you sister's spoon for her. The best way to teach service to your child is to do service yourself. Also, thank your child for doing service, and talk about the good feeling he gets when he does service. You love the people you serve.
Isn't this list rather simple? Not necessarily easy, but simple. I think these are things we can work on ourselves and also things we can help teach our children. Studying the life of Christ is an easy thing to do with our children. Tell them the stories of Jesus. Having our children pray for charity is also an easy thing to do. 

We can be sure our children love themselves so that they don't feel the need to try to compare themselves to others and bring others down in order to feel better about themselves. This takes lots of time and effort on your part. See my posts on self-esteem for ideas on how to do this.

We can teach our children to see things from the perspective of other people. We can help them to be patient with others. Family life is a great teaching ground for learning patience :). 

Charity is a virtue that is absolutely worth the time and effort it takes to teach not only our children but ourselves.

Inspiration for this post taken from Charity.

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