Category Archives: Guest Posts

Guest Post: Toilet Training – For the patient and unwearied

This is a post from dekota at dekota marie blog. Be sure to stop by her place today!

Toilet training has never been easy.

And, I have to say, I am absolutely not an expert. The only true, sound advice I can give you is to be patient.

However, there is something I have heard from the time I became a parent that I never thought would ring true today.

Wait until your child is ready for toilet training.
You, and your child, will know when he or she is ready.

When my son was two, I honestly thought that I would never see the day that he would be potty trained. That he would still be using diapers on his way out the door for college. That I would still be asking him if he did a stinky before he leaves for his first date with a girl.

It often times reminded me of an episode of yes dear. Two parents struggling to potty train their son, often day dreaming of their son pooping in the corner in his diaper in his 20’s.

I tried everything I could. I did everything that books tell you to do. He had his own potty, a training seat for the “big boy” toilet, books, dolls, m&m’s – you name it, we tried it. I was at my wits ends, I was frustrated, and I was DONE. I gave up. I was willing to wipe his hiney until he was an adult. It would have been less frustrating, right?

Until one morning he woke up and got out of bed. His diaper was so full and so heavy that it fell right off of him. This wasn’t unusual because this boy could pee and did a lot at night.

All of a sudden, he started crying and screaming. I, of course, panic and run to his side to find out what is wrong. I GOT TO GO PEE!

Of course, knowing me, you would know that I started to laugh. This, after all, angers him slightly. We rush to the bathroom and with delight he goes in the potty! We do our happy dance, flush the toilet, and hop on out of the bathroom.

He has been toilet trained ever since.

So, simply said, it was just easier to wait until he was ready over pushing him to be ready because I no longer wanted him in diapers. I couldn’t keep forcing him to try to do something that was unnatural for him. Peeing and pooping in a diaper was what was natural for him since day one.

I know this is easier said than done, but when you are at your wits end and ready to be done you should know that there is hope! He or she will be potty trained, it just takes a lot of time and patience – or waiting in my case :).

dekota marie recently moved from Florida to North Carolina where she is a stay at home wife, mother of a two year old and four year old, a full time student, an avid eBayer, and the owner of dekota marie blog. She writes about her experiences as a mom, as a wife, and as a woman along with sharing recipes, crafts, and awesome products she finds online.


Guest Post: Fun Summer Reads for Kids

This guest post is by Theresa at Our Life in Words. Stop by her great blog today!

Long hot summer days are a great time for lazing away with a good book.

Even if your children want to be active during the day, why not cuddle together at night with a good book?

When my girls were little, I looked forward to reading to them in bed at night. Now that they are 9 and 11, one of our favorite things to do is pop a big bowl of popcorn and snuggle together in my Queen size bed, each reading our own books. Sometimes we read really funny or good parts aloud to each other. I believe that if children associate reading with a quiet, cuddly, snuggly, comfortable family time where they feel loved, they will be much more inclined to grow up to enjoy reading.

As a children’s librarian, one of my favorite things is helping children to find books that will inspire a lifelong love of reading. These may be different books for every child. Honestly, many of the books that were said to be “wonderful” when we were kids will no longer inspire a love of reading in children.

Here is a list of New books that may, hopefully inspire a love of reading in your child. Please ask your local librarian for more help and if you still need recommendations, please email me at my blog and give me an idea of what your child likes and how old they are and I will be happy to try to point you in the right direction!

Toddler – PreK

Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is a New York Times best selling author of children’s books and a three time Caldecott winner. He has changed the face of children’s literature.

McDuff series by Rosemary Wells
Children delight in this series about a West Highland terrier. Beautiful, retro illustrations make it pleasurable for parents as well.

Olivia by Ian Falconer
Who can resist Olivia? The funny, formidable little pig will delight your children and the illustrations are sure to keep parents enjoying these books as well.

Biscuit series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
This adorable pup can grow with your child. There are board books, story books and then easy leveled reading books for when they start to read on their own.

Grades K -2

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Parents will remember this amusing literal minded housekeeper from when they were learning to read. These books provide delightful lessons into the true meaning of what we say and keep children laughing.

The Grandmas Books by Emily Arnold McCully
These books are very funny and perfect for emerging readers.

Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold
A boy meets a fly that can say the child’s name and together they set off on a series of adventures that will keep emerging readers entertained.

Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Parents may remember this family of tree house dwelling bears from their own childhood. This vast series covers all kind of life lessons and social issues from chores to going to the dentist to sibling rivalry.

Grades 2-4

Baby Mouse series by Jennifer & Matthew Holm
Reluctant readers and even children who love to read delight in this comical graphic novel series about a mouse and her adventures.

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne
Mystery, exploration and adventure abound in this series that covers historical and scientific events. This series is often recognized for teaching children to predict, infer and visualize- all key skills in building strong readers.

Ramona & Beezus series, Ralph S. Mouse series, Henry & Ribsy series – Beverly Cleary
Parents may remember these series from their childhood and indeed they are still popular with kids. Children can relate easily to these characters and the pace of the novel is just right for the reader who is ready to read chapter books independently.

Weird School Daze series by Dan Gutman
Boys love this off the wall series of impossible scenarios. Reluctant readers will have no trouble being entertained and children who love to read will delight in this fun series.

Grades 3-5

Allie Finkle by Meg Cabot
Moms may be familiar with Meg Cabot and now she has branched out into children’s novels. My daughters love this series about a quirky character who encourages individuality.

Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick
This series is really more for the 3-5 grader. In each book, the author introduces a work of classic literature and makes it more digestible for today’s young audience by having a fictional book club of girls from all different walks of life and their mothers read and discuss the books as part of their book club. Girls will relate to the modern day character’s lives and emotions while reading the book.

Baseball Card Adventures (Babe and Me) by Dan Gutman
Boys are able to time travel back in time to experience that greats of baseball at their finest, to meet them and get to know them. A fantasy for any young boy who loves baseball!

There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom, Wayside School series, Holes – Louis Sachar
Louis Sachar writes books that kids want to read. Kids find his characters likable and enjoy the crazy situations he puts them in.

Theresa gave up the glamour of being a kindergarten teacher to stay home with her kids for nine years. She now works part-time as the Assistant Children’s Librarian at her local public library.

Guest Post: Parent Club

This is a guest post by Dana from YouthMuse. She has a lot of great stuff on her blog, so be sure to check it out!

It’s The Parent Clubs, Not the Kids That Can Drive You to Drink

It is not the children in one’s classroom that lead a teacher to drink (or seek some other, “healthier” stress reliever); it’s the Parent Teacher Association, a.k.a. “Parent Club”.

In an attempt to put together a celebratory Thank You dinner for the most active members of my school’s Parent Club, I’ve had 3 calendar dates rejected after setting them, 3 venues rejected after booking them and 2 finalized dinners cancelled altogether. We’re talking about a “Thank You” dinner paid for by the school – not a fundraiser!
Interestingly, the rejections came from parents who had complained one way or the other to a teacher about their kids’ problems.

Parents can be far more concerned about the daily foibles of their kids than kids are. Although some of their concerns are valid, others need to be confronted by and worked out by the kid himself.
But parents who bombard teachers with “His feelings were hurt,” “He can’t lose his recess even if he didn’t turn in homework for the week,” or “I know you are watching 20-plus kids at a time, but mine didn’t drink enough water and it’s hot outside” are factually doing a disservice to their child.
Coach the kids, don’t resolve the problem yourself, and don’t expect your child’s school teacher to resolve it, either.

Most of the time the real problem is not the one you think it is, anyway!

The child is the one ultimately responsible for his education and environment. By the time he / she is 6 and older, they need far less hand-holding and far more “It’s your life, how do you want to live it?”

YouthMUSE would say the top three goals any parent should have and be responsible for are:
1. Insisting their child become actively self-reliant.
2. Ensuring their child is moral, both through education and parental example.
3. Helping their child get the best general education possible in his / her environment.

These three things alone will give us ethical, productive and intelligent future generations.

There are no parents around to guide our everyday decisions in adulthood. Perhaps the roots of teen delinquency fall back to parents failing to do #1 through 3 above.

Dana Houston Jackson

YouthMUSE was created as an outlet for truly exceptional books, games and real life examples to guide and inspire children to discover their own super powers. Dana is an elementary teacher by trade, fumbling blogger, and understanding junkie. Join her at

Guest Post: Top 10 List of Things to do with Toddlers this Summer

This is a guest post by Stephanie from Always Just a Mom. She has some great ideas for keeping your toddlers busy this summer. Be sure to stop by her blog and say hi!

Hi!  I’m Stephanie and I’m stopping by today from my blog Always Just A Mom!  I’m a stay-at-home mom to String Bean (3) and Biscuit (2) who are just 13 1/2 months apart, so we’re always doing something!  This summer has started off HOT!  I’ve had to adjust the way we do things around our home because of the heat and the fact that I’ve got two very active toddlers…so I thought I would share with you my…

Top 10 List of things to do with Toddlers this Summer!

1.  WATER:  Get them in the water and get them drinking water!  We have invested in a small inflatable pool (found on sale at Toys R’ Us for $69.99) but even if you don’t have the money for the pool get a sprinkler!  (I got a great ring sprinkler for $6.00 at Walmart the other day…perfect for toddlers because you adjust the height and strength of the water!)
It’s also important to get them to drink water.  This has been a challenge so we invested in some fun CamelBak water bottles for the boys…they now reach for them in the fridge.  I let them pick them out (we had a 20% coupon from REI) and we carry them with us all the time now!  You can also get great reusable kid water bottles at Target ($3.00)!
2.  PARK:   Get up and go to the park.  The beds can be made in the afternoon, the dishes can get done later.  Get your kids outside before it’s super hot.  We are very lucky to have a park up the road…we can actually walk to…but pack some granola bars, some water and get to the park!
3.  PUDDING:  Make pudding with your kiddos.  This is great for your toddlers!  Get a Tupperware container, put the pudding mix in, add the 2 cups of milk, secure the lid and let them shake it until their little hearts content!  Then stick it in the fridge and they’ve made pudding.  It’s such a little thing and they will have helped make the dessert for that evening (add some whipped topping and a few bits of candy and you’ve really made something fancy for dinner). 
4.  GARDEN:  No you don’t need an acre of land or a green thumb.  Go grab a box of triscuits or wheat thins that have the plant the seed logo on the box.  All the directions are on the back and you can plant fun herbs in your house in a small pot (Terra Cotta pots are like $2.99 at Joanns).
5.  NIGHT OUT:  Let your kids be outside after dark.  This is really tough for a mom like me because I’m all about the schedule but I usually just let them sleep an extra 30 minutes or so on a day we’re going to do this, then let them run around outside as the street lights are coming on.  They love playing in the backyard with flashlights and chasing lighting bugs!  It’s just a change for them…it’s also fun to give them a yummy Popsicle or some other messy, cool treat.
6.  MAKE ICE CREAM:  Some of you are thinking…WHAT?!?  Make ice cream with toddlers…well not the ice cream maker ice cream.  Take some fresh fruit (strawberries), blend it with some ice and some milk, pour it into little containers, freeze for 20 minutes, add some craft Popsicle sticks and let them freeze for a few more hours…you made ice cream.  Yes…your toddler will think you are AMAZING!  (Remember they are impressed with very simple things!)
7.  TAKE PICTURES:  Take pictures of everything they are doing.  Let them have fun and pose and be silly.  Just try to capture all those summer events.  You can later make them into fun little cards/notes for family far away and share a little of their summer with them.  Very easy!  Don’t want to pay for printing pictures…just use your computer printer, print on regular paper, cut it out, glue to some fun cardstock or a card you already have and just let them “color” a little note.

8.  THANK YOUs:  My kids love to paint with those little water paints (little cup of water, get the hard paint color wet, make some pictures).  We use those for Thank You notes.  They paint them and then I hold on to them throughout the year to send as “thank yous” to family and friends when they receive a gift or have a special day with someone.  They have painted them, and then I write the words they want me to write over the painting.  It’s just a little more personal and it makes them part of the process!!!  (Who doesn’t want a cute little water color painting from a toddler hanging on their fridge door!)

9.  INDOOR PICNIC:  It’s HOT!  I hate the heat.  Summer is my LEAST favorite time of year.  Plan an indoor picnic.  Put on a movie, get some cheese, crackers, grapes, and juice cups and sit on a blanket in front of the TV.  Just changing the environment where they eat and getting to watch TV while they eat a meal (something we rarely do) is a noteworthy event!  This can be done for dinner with PB&Js just sayin’!
10.  PLAY IN THE MUD:  Let your kids play in the mud.  Although I have two very rowdy “BOYS” and they are all boy…let your girls play in mud.  You can put it in a little plastic tub and let them just put their feet in it…mud is fun!!  It’s messy, it’s a pain to clean up, it’s a picture you’ll cherish and it’s fun you can’t replace!

I hope you enjoyed my Top 10 and I hope you try a couple ideas!  These are nothing Earth Shattering but sometimes it’s the little things we forget to do!  Summer is here and like the lyrics say “There’s a 104 days to summer vacation…” enjoy these days and enjoy your little ones!!!  Have a great summer and thanks for letting me share a little bit of me with you!!!  Look forward to seeing you over at Always Just a Mom!

Guest Post: Food as Tradition – Norwegian Butter Cookies

The following guest post is by a fellow Goose, Retha, from Mommy Bee Wisdom.

Growing up every Christmas Eve we went to my Great Grandpa’s house, where all of the family would be gathered. The table there is so large, you can fit around 16 people at it. But there were so many family members, and so much food that no one ever sat at that table. The table would always be covered with food from edge to edge. My dad’s family is Scandinavian, so I believe the word for it is Smorgasbord. We would have a turkey, ham, goose, and some sort of fish as the main meats. The sides would include stuffing, rice pudding with an Almond (the almond is a prosperous sign, and who gets it gets pregnant or married), potato sausage, pickled Herring, lufka (a salt cured fish of sorts), and several cheeses. The desserts would include pies, cookies, and breads. My favorite of all the cookies would be the butter cookie. Our family refers to it as the Norwegian Butter Cookie, but in all actuality the recipe is the same from Russia, to Germany, Poland, etc. These little cookies are a bright yellow, not very big, and so crumbly soft that you can’t just eat one.

This recipe is so very simple, only has 5 ingredients and such a big flavor they are always a hit!

Warning: DO NOT eat the whole batch yourself or you WILL get a tummy ache! Don’t ask me how I know this.


4 eggs: Hard boiled
2 stick of softened butter (use real butter, margarine will not work right)
1/2 cup of white sugar (Splenda will work here if you need to use that, but add a dash of salt to it to stop the after taste)
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of Almond or Vanilla extract (imitation will work, but the real is best)


1. Start by hard boiling the eggs. Try not to boil them for longer than 2 minutes. As you want a bright yellow yolk, a green yoke means you cooked it too long.

2. Once your eggs are cooled off enough to handle, separate the yoke from the whites, and eat the whites. There’s no point in wasting anything. And preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Cream (use an electric mixer or food processor) together the butter, sugar and egg yolks.
4. Slowly mix in the flour and extract.
5. Your dough will be quite thick and crumbly (almost the consistency of play dough) This is normal and don’t be tempted to add more liquid.

6. Take a soup spoon and scoop out pieces of dough, roll into a ball and lightly press on to your ungreased cookie sheet. These cookies will not expand, or change shape.

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are a light brown, and the tops look fluffy.
8. Allow to cool, if you can!

I can never wait for the first batch of these to cool, it’s like pulling Christmas out of my oven. And more often then not I am playing hot potato with a cookie. I hope you all enjoy these cookies as much as I do!

Retha Barton blogs at Mommy Bee Wisdom where she teaches other moms that living life from scratch isn’t as hard as it sounds. Retha shows you that you can make it without a lot of money and that sometimes doing things the old way can be more rewarding.

Guest Post: Traditions, Truces, and Cartoon Moments

The following guest post is by a fellow Goose, Anne, from Homeschooling 911

Traditions, Truces, and Cartoon Moments

Family traditions are important in that they give us a connection to our past and strengthen the family bond. However, when a couple gets married, traditions can actually become a point of contention. After all, you have two people, possibly from very different backgrounds, each having their own traditions, memories, and a lifetime of experiences – joining their lives together.

For instance, maybe you grew up in a family that bought their Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and had all the decorations up that weekend, while your spouse’s family never bought their tree until just days before Christmas (or even the day before like my husband’s family).

It may sound simple enough to adjust and make peace with each other’s traditions…if you don’t understand how humans really work!

After all, you went through the planning and execution of a wedding – hmm…maybe execution isn’t the best word – but keep in mind that infused in that event was a romantic element that helped to cushion some of the tensions.

When the day-to-day of married life hits and the holidays start to roll around things can take a turn…for the annoying or possibly for the comical!

When my husband and I first married, even though our background was somewhat similar, how our families approached and celebrated the holidays was very different. And it did cause some, uh, lively discussions in our home! After sharing this predicament with my mom she clipped a cartoon out of the newspaper that illustrated our dilemma perfectly, and hilariously.

The cartoon was titled “Cathy.” You might remember this comic strip – it ran from November 22, 1976 through October 3rd of this year. The comic my mom had clipped showed Cathy and her boyfriend Irving decorating for Christmas. The gist of it was that they both had their own ideas of how it should be done – and at the end of the strip Cathy is standing there with a tangle of Christmas lights all over her. It was perfect.

Over the years we adapted and called truces and found our way through the holidays. These days my husband and one of my sons decorate the outside of the house in style. The four children decorate the tree. I try to stay out of all the decorating if possible. Not my cup of tea anymore. But I do send out approximately 100 Christmas cards every year and cook a bang-up Christmas dinner.

So take heart. You too can combine those traditions that work for you as a couple and a family, as well as forging those special traditions that belong to your family alone.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” (Unknown)

Anne Galivan is a home-schooling mother of four whose website is dedicated to helping prospective and current home-schoolers find answers to their questions about home education. Check out her website for home-schooling tips, curriculum reviews, and much more!