Category Archives: Parenting News

Tackling Dry Scalp in Toddlers

Back in December, I started noticing that my daughter’s scalp was really, really dry. It looked a little bit like very mild cradle cap, but what two year old gets something that’s normally associated with infants? Apparently lots of them, based on what I found on Google.

I tried switching to Aveeno Baby Gentle Conditioning Shampoo, but the problem persisted. So I did what any desperate mom does these days, I took to Facebook. I asked fans of the Mom Machine page for their advice on dealing with dry scalp in toddlers. Lucky for me (and Olivia), they rose to the occasion!

One mom suggested Aquaphor Baby Gentle Wash & Shampoo. Several moms recommended massaging baby oil into the scalp and then shampooing like normal. California Baby Eczema Shampoo & Bodywash also made the list. But the most recommended treatment, by far, was Mustela’s Foam Shampoo for Newborns.

I decided to start cheap and try the baby oil method. It worked, sort of. Her scalp would be noticeably less dry for a little while, but the flakes would always come back. So I finally gave in, followed the advice of the majority, and picked up the Mustela shampoo. I’ll be honest—I was a little skeptical since it’s specifically formulated for newborns, but since nothing else had worked, I was willing to give it a shot.

We have been using the Mustela shampoo every other night for several weeks now and what do you know? No flakes! It took probably a week’s worth of use before we noticed a difference, but once the dryness cleared up, it hasn’t come back. A big THANK YOU to those Mom Machine fans who jumped in with suggestions—you’re the best! Olivia and I both appreciate it.


*Please note: this post is not a sponsored post, nor was I compensated in any way for writing it. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

50 Lessons I Want to Teach My Daughter

For my sweet Olivia …
1. Your thoughts matter. Your feelings matter. You matter. If someone tries to treat you otherwise, it’s time to walk away.
2. Don’t be beholden to technology. It’s great, it’s convenient, it’s fun, but it will also prevent you from actually living your life.
3. When you’re old enough, read the book The Help. It’s a powerful reminder that we are all human beings and we are all important.
4. You are beautiful exactly the way you are.
5. Sometimes, you just need to say you’re sorry.
6. Be honest … with other people and with yourself, but most of all with yourself.
7. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to play soccer, play soccer. If you want to take piano lessons, take piano lessons. Do what makes YOU happy and not what you think Dad or I expect you to do.
8. Remember the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. It will never steer you wrong.
9. Don’t be a jerk when driving. You never know if the person you’re honking at and giving a rude hand gesture to is really someone you know. It’s embarrassing. Just don’t do it.
10. Read, read, read, read, read, and read some more.
11. There will be mean girls and there will be bullies. Make sure you are never one of them.
12. Think before you speak. You will never regret it. But I can promise you that there will be times when you will regret NOT doing this.
13. Daddy and I love you more fully and completely that you can ever imagine. Keep that with you always.
14. Be kind. Contrary to belief, words can hurt just as bad as sticks and stones … and sometimes those injuries last much longer.
15. If a boy doesn’t treat you the way Daddy does, he’s not worth your time.
16. You are smart. Do not ever be ashamed of that or try to make yourself less to make someone else feel like more.
17. Love is love is love—and everyone deserves the right to love whomever they choose.
18. Do not be ashamed of your low points. They give you the strength to climb to the high points.
19. Remember this quote by Thomas Jefferson: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Know what you stand for.
20. If you don’t know what a word means, look it up.
21. When someone has to say “trust me,” you probably shouldn’t.
22. Diets do not work. Counting every last calorie is a lot of work and will make you obsessive. If you live a healthy life (eat plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains), limit the sweets a little, and exercise, you will be the size and shape you are meant to be. And that is perfect.
23. Cooking can be so much fun, but please don’t do it just because you think you are supposed to (and especially not because someone else tells you it’s what you’re supposed to do).
24. “Woman” does not equal “weak.” You have more inner strength than you know. Just trust yourself.
25. It’s okay to cry. But if you are ever embarrassed about crying in public, stick out your bottom jaw. For some reason, it’s a lot harder to cry like that.
26. Don’t ever accept someone else’s expectations of you. You can be and do anything you want to, even if it seems unattainable and unrealistic to some people (even to me and Daddy).
27. I will make mistakes. I am still learning. Please forgive me.
28. There are truly amazing and kind people in this world. Do not let the media’s portrayal of society shake your faith in people.
29. At the same time, be cautious and follow your gut instinct—it is usually right.
30. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to me or to ask or tell me ANYTHING. Nothing you could say could make me love you any less. Chances are, I have been there, done that.
31. Talk to your grandparents and ask them about their lives. If you don’t, I promise there will come a time you will want to know and it will be too late to ask.
32. No matter how much sleep you get, you will have under eye circles. It’s genetic, sorry. Invest in a really good concealer.
33. While money will not make you happy, it can make life less stressful, so be careful and responsible with it.
34. Travel as much as you possibly can.
35. Be your own person. Trying to be someone else is just exhausting.
36. The fact that you can vote, work, speak out, and get an education is a gift, and it didn’t come without a price. Do not squander the opportunity your foremothers have fought for you to have.
37. If you ever need to escape for a while, read Harry Potter.
38. Listen to others. As much as your opinions matter, so do theirs.
39. If you ever feel overwhelmed, like life is going to suffocate you, make a to-do list. Just take things one task at a time. Chances are, you’ll realize things aren’t as daunting as they seemed.
40. If you have a math question, ask Dad.
41. You will make mistakes. Try not to beat yourself up over them; instead, learn from them.
42. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming big.
43. It’s never a good idea to take pictures or video of anything you wouldn’t want to Dad or I to see. And please, for the love, do not send any inappropriate pictures/videos/messages to anyone. That stuff has a way of sticking around.
44. Family is the most important thing you have in this world.
45. If you want good friends, be one.
46. Good things come in small packages—remember that when you don’t make it over 5’3″.
47. Speak up and make yourself heard. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.
48. Be grateful for your life, your health, your family. Sadly, there are many people who have less than you; show them compassion.
49. Being pregnant is way more uncomfortable than anyone warns you it will be, but it is TOTALLY worth it.
50. Stand on your own two feet. Don’t expect anyone to do for you what you can do for yourself. But if you ever need help or just a shoulder to cry on, I will be there.

To Buy or Not to Buy {Organic}: That is the Question

I try to buy organic as much as I can, but great googly moogly it can be expensive! I usually focus on  the dirty dozen when it comes to produce, and we always buy organic milk, but I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve bought organic meat. So how do you know which organic foods are worth shelling out the extra cash?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently conducted a study on organic versus conventional produce, meat, and dairy. The study concluded that there is no real nutritional difference between organic and regular foods—they have the same nutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc.; however, organic foods have been proven to contain lower levels of pesticides and other chemicals, which is especially important to small children whose brains are still developing.

When it comes to meat, the hormone and steroid levels in conventional meat were not found to be significant or very different from those found in organic meat, thought the AAP notes that the animals who provide the latter are “less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria.” Something to think about and definitely more of an issue when it comes to red meat versus poultry.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the report (to me at least), was that the AAP found no real benefit to buying organic milk. Considering I have been shelling out around $7 or $8 a gallon for organic whole milk (about twice the price of the non-organic variety), I was shocked—and a little embarrassed considering I was the one who insisted that we only give Olivia organic milk or she would surely grow boobs by the third grade. The fear of early puberty is what made my husband cave in. Turns out, I was wrong.

At the end of the day, the AAP report concluded that the most important thing is for children to get plenty of healthy foods, organic or otherwise. As Janet Silverstein, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and an author on the report, notes, “Many families have a limited food budget, and we do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce.”

Last Minute Ideas for a Kid-Friendly NYE

They say that New Year’s Eve is the most difficult night of the year to find a babysitter, and they ain’t lyin’. Not sure about you, but we’ll be ringing in 2013 from the comfort of our own home. Luckily, we have wonderful friends who will be coming over to party it up with us.

Olivia definitely won’t make it until midnight, but she’ll probably stay up a little later than normal, so I’ve been looking for some fun kid-friendly ideas for NYE. Here are some of my favorites:


Mix up some tasty mocktails. Alcoholic or not, these look amazing!

Make a time capsule. Click here for instructions. I think Olivia might be a little young for this this year, but I’m totally keeping this in mind for the future!

Serve kid favorites in miniature—think pigs in a blanket, little taco cups, bite-sized pizzas, sliders, meatballs, mac and cheese poppers—who doesn’t love this stuff?!


Pick up some party hats, poppers, balloons, noisemakers, etc. to get everyone in on the fun and excitement. You can even use a hole punch to make confetti out of leftover Christmas wrapping paper.

Break out the Xbox or the Karaoke machine to get the party going. Group video games like Just Dance get all ages involved—there’s even a Nickelodeon Dance game that features Dora and the Backyardigans!

Ring in the New Year with milk and cookies (or at least let the kids do it!).

Celebrate “New Year’s in Rio” if you’re on the East Coast and don’t want your kids staying up until midnight. Since Rio is three hours behind U.S. Eastern Time, you can count down with your kiddos at 9 p.m.

No matter how you plan on welcoming 2013, stay safe and happy, and I’ll see you next year!

Holiday Tipping for Child Care


This post is from the archives but still very relevant. Last year was our first year tipping our daycare providers, and we wanted to be sure we got it right. After all, these people take care of the most important thing in the world to us (and by now, they are like family). Hope this helps other new parents who are asking the same question we did- what’s an appropriate child care tip?

As this is my first Christmas with a child in day care, I’ve been thinking about what’s appropriate in terms of a holiday tip or bonus. I’ve done some research online and found that suggestions range from a handmade gift from the child to two weeks’ pay, quite the chasm.  Shockingly, some holiday tipping guides leave out childcare providers altogether, which just baffles my mind. Let me get this straight—I should tip the person who cuts my hair but NOT the person to whom I entrust the most precious thing in my life on a daily basis? Riiiight.

I found several helpful guides online, including:

CNBC’s Holiday Tipping Guide: 2011

Emily Post’s Holiday Tipping is Really Holiday Thanking

Kiplinger’s Holiday Tipping Tip Sheet

Real Simple’s Holiday Tipping Checklist

After some thought, we settled on one week’s pay for our day care provider, half a week’s pay for her assistant and a small gift from our daughter for each of them.

But I’m curious, what’s the norm? Especially in metro areas like Washington, D.C., where do others fall on the tipping spectrum?

And Your Top Potty Training Tips Are …

We’re getting ready to dive into the potty training pool (which sounds gross, but you know what I mean). So I recently asked my Facebook followers to share their #1 potty training success tips to help psyche me up. The advice was so good that I couldn’t just keep it to myself!

Marlayna said:
Rewards. My daughter gets a mini M&M so she really likes going potty now. 

Lisa said:
We tried every bribe in the book. The only thing that worked was taking her to what would be her preschool and telling her she can’t go to school if she wears diapers. That was it. . .!

Jessica said:
Evan was motivated by Thomas the Train underwear. He really, really wanted to wear them, but we only let him if he was using the potty. The one thing I learned that seemed counter-intuitive was not making a huge deal out of it when they go potty. Let them know they did a good job, but if you get too excited it can cause them to be anxious next time.

Charity said:
Keep a pack of post it notes in your purse to cover the automatic flushing sensor in public bathrooms! Nothing more scary than a toilet flushing while you are holding on for your little life trying to potty!

Penny said:
My sisters and I all did the same thing – during the day, we simply put them in underwear. We didn’t make a big production of it. We didn’t reward or scold. All 6 were potty trained quickly and most never had an accident. We started when they were between 27 and 30 months.

Danielle said:
… don’t start too early (because then it’ll just take longer and frustrate everyone involved!), and be consistent. They really do just wake up one day and “get it.” 

Margo said:
Just remember it is unlikely he will still be in a diaper at 16. Which means, he will get tired of it in due time …

Nancie said:
A step stool so a big boy can urinate standing up, and paper targets to sink! Oh, and M&Ms are a very good thing.

Elaine said:
… I just started offering underwear or pull-ups, and eventually they chose underwear. Plus I would do a lot of asking during the day if they want to go to the potty. No rewards other than a lot of jumping up and down and clapping!

Thanks to everyone for such great, tried-and-true advice!

Halloween Safety Tips

Be sure to share these Halloween safety tips from the Polly Klaas Foundation with your little “monsters” to help keep them safe from the real life ones.

Halloween Safety Tips

  1. Have older kids take along two or more friends trick-or-treating. If your child is 12 or younger, you or another trusted adult should go along.
  2. Remind your child to stop only at houses that are well-lit and stay in neighborhoods that are familiar.
  3. Have your child carry a flashlight.
  4. Tell your child to NEVER enter a person’s home or car for a treat.
  5. Get to know the entire route trick-or-treaters intend to follow and agree with your child on a specific time to return home.
  6. Tell your child to stay on the sidewalks and only cross the street at intersections.
  7.  Make sure your child’s costume is flame resistant, allows for safe walking, is easily visible at night and does not obstruct sight. Consider putting reflective tape on your child’s costume and bag to increase visibility.
  8. Tell your child not to eat any treats until they return home. Inspect all treats and dispose of anything that seems to have been tampered with.
  9. If anyone bothers or approaches your child, remind them to take 3 steps back, yell “NO!” and run away quickly. Tell them to seek out a group of trick-or-treaters accompanied by an adult and tell what just happened.

Founded in 1993 in memory of 12-year-old Polly Hannah Klaas, the Polly Klaas Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to children’s safety, helping to find missing children, and advocating for public policies that promote child safety and welfare.

How Dora Made Family Game Night Just a Bit Awkward {and also hilarious!}

During our vacation this summer, my family was playing a nice, wholesome game of Bananagrams before dinner one night. Everything was quiet as we all concentrated on building our words. Olivia sat quietly on the couch nearby watching Dora the Explorer, as bits and pieces of the cartoon floated through the background. All of a sudden, we hear “Use your hands and squeeze really hard!” Umm, a little weird, but okay, let’s see where this is going. Then Dora and Boots start singing:

“I love to squeeze my squeaky squeaky squeaky!
I squeeze him up high!
Squeaky Squeaky Squeaky
I squeeze him down low!
Squeaky Squeaky Squeaky
I squeeze him reaaall slow!
Squea-ky    Squea-ky    Squea-ky
I squeeze him fast too!
Squeaky Squeaky Squeaky
Squeaky, I love you!”

This might not sound that bad when you read the lyrics, but I promise you that it sounds downright dirty when you hear it. I tried to find a clip of the song, but I didn’t have any luck. You’ll just have to trust me on this one—it’s ripe with innuendo.

I made the mistake of glancing up at my husband, who of course, was thinking the exact same dirty thought as I. But what made this whole scenario really hilarious/awkward was that my brother, his fiancé, my step-mom, my dad, and my little sister were all trying (and failing) to stifle their laughter as well, and nobody wanted to acknowledge exactly what they found so funny because, well, did I mention I was sitting next to my dad??

No sooner had we all returned our attention to the game when Dora announced that she and Boots needed to go to the Gooey Geyser. Well any semblance of composure that we had totally crumbled. Olivia, not realizing what we all found so funny starts yelling “Gooey Geyser, Gooey Geyser, Gooey Geyser!” which made me both cringe and laugh harder. Then through our laughter, we hear The Map exclaim, “The Gooey Geyser spurts out goo! Kersplooge!” Umm, did anybody at Nick Jr. watch this episode before it hit the air?!

At this point, we’re all laughing so hard that we’re in tears. Seriously though, I wonder if anyone at Nick Jr. voiced any concern about this episode or if they all just read the script and said, “Really into squeezing Squeaky. . . okay I buy that. Gooey Geyser spurts out goo, yep. ‘Kersplooge’—great adverb. The kids will love it!”

To the cartoonists, who I find it hard to believe didn’t know exactly what they were doing, I’d like to say THANKS. Dora the Explorer is usually one of the most annoying cartoons Olivia watches, but you guys decided to shake it up a bit and provided these parents with a much needed laugh.

“Here comes the goo!”

Pint-Sized Sexy Costumes Give New Meaning to “Trick or Treat”

My future sister-in-law, Caity, recently posted a picture on Facebook that made my jaw drop—and then made me want to go take a shower. It was of a child’s Halloween costume she came across while out shopping. The costume was called “Naughty Wizard” on the packaging. Mind you, this was a child’s costume.

Yeah, kind of makes your skin crawl doesn’t it? As if the name itself isn’t bad enough, this costume looks eerily similar to the Naughty Wizard costumes you see in the “Sexy” section of all the costume websites. Sure, why not dress your 10-year-old like one of the drunk 20-somethings you see stumbling around the bars? What could possibly go wrong?

Are you freaking kidding me?!

I thought surely this was an anomaly. No way is there some dirty black market of sexy kiddie costumes. I was wrong. These costumes were all in the Girls section of a costume website—not even Teens or Tweens, but Girls (not that Teens or Tweens would have been much better) and come as small as size 6.

My first thought was OMG, are they wearing platforms?! My second thought was, I’m pretty sure I’ve worn one of these costumes before. . . when I was 22!! 

That last one is called “Red Hot Riding Hood.” Perfect for your average 5th grader, right? I think I was a bunch of grapes at that age, complete with purple balloons and a lime green ponytail.

I haven’t even told my husband about these because he’s freaking out enough about our daughter hitting puberty as it is. . . and it’s still many, many years away.

Let’s just hope Olivia’s really into ghosts or something so we can just cover her with a sheet!

Should you lie about being a mom to get a job?

As if being a mom wasn’t hard enough (what with the mommy wars, sleeplessness, constant worry, and puberty), a new study shows that there may be a “motherhood penalty” when it comes to landing a new job. Brian Serafini, a University of Washington doctoral candidate in sociology, and Michelle Maroto, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Alberta, co-authored the study, which sheds light on the employment disparities between moms, dads, and single women.

The study found that married moms are going longer between jobs, are less likely to even find a job at the end of the day, and if they’re lucky enough to get a job, will make considerably less than married fathers or single women doing the same work.

I have read a lot of articles, op-eds, and blog posts about this topic over the last week, and I am seeing one bit of advice over and over again: lie. As in, do not reveal during the interview process that you are a mother. It’s against the law, after all, for an employer to ask if you have children or if you are pregnant; however, if it comes up in casual conversation or in a roundabout way, simply lie.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I get that a job is a job and it’s none of their business if you have children or not. You should be hired on your abilities and merit and not discriminated against because the hiring manager buys into some stupid, misguided stereotype that moms don’t care about their work.

On the other hand, I would have to ask myself if I really want to work for a company that a) wouldn’t hire me simply because I am a mom and b) clearly doesn’t have any respect for work/life balance or the fact that family should come first. Again, beggars can’t be choosers, and a paycheck is a paycheck, but I would have to think long and hard before lying about my daughter (or even feeling the need to withhold that information).

Just say you do lie about having children and you get the job, then what? The first time daycare calls to say your baby is throwing up and has to go home and your husband can’t be reached. . . yeah, that’s going to be one awkward conversation with your boss.

If employers can’t see that being a mom essentially makes you the ultimate multitasking, conflict mediating, resourceful, efficient working machine, then they have either never had kids or they’ve handed their kids off to their spouses to raise while they stuck their heads in the sand (or their paperwork).

In my experience, some of the most dedicated and focused career women I know are moms—and they don’t lie about it. They come into work, they get their shit done, and they leave on time—they don’t waste their day visiting their coworkers or checking Facebook or taking long lunches. Because they have little hugs and bath time and bedtime stories waiting for them when they get home, which are all the motivation they need to get the job done.