Thursday, June 28, 2012

Better Bedtimes: Tips and Tricks for More Peaceful Bedtimes with Your Kids

It’s eight o’clock at night, and you’re tired.  The kitchen is still a mess from dinner, the kids are still in their school clothes and you need to toss in a load of laundry.  You check your email and clean up the kitchen, and it’s already eight thirty.  When you finally have yourkids in jammies and get them in bed, they all want a story.  Or they need water.  And before you know it, it’s after nine at night you’re about ready to scream.

Sound familiar?

Bedtimes can be quite chaotic for some families.  After a busy day at work or home, parents are tired and in need of downtime themselves.  But before anyone can sit back and relax, there is dinner.  And let’s not forget about homework and activities.  Add in a reading log and picking up toys and many parents don’t sit down before ten o’clock.  And when they finally do sit down they can barely keep their eyes open.

Bedtimes don’t have to be chaotic.  The trick is to start a routine that works for your family, and to stick to it as much as possible.  Here are a few easy tips to help you and your family get on your way to better bedtimes:

Don’t Wait to do Homework

Weeknights are often very busy for most families.  There is very little time to get everyone fed, homework done and to their activities.  If possible, try to get in the habit of having your kids do their homework after school.  If you can get them to have a snack and start their homework, it leaves less to do when bedtimes start rolling around later that evening.

Stay Away from Electronics

Television and computers are huge time wasters.  It’s very easy to jump on the computer to check your email and find yourself still online twenty minutes later.  Make an effort to send and check emails during the day, the same for phone calls if possible.  Keep your focus on your children and what needs to be accomplished after you get home from work.  Once they are in bed, crank open that laptop or find your favorite show.

For kids, television and video games can cause many bedtime problems if boundaries aren’t set.  Decide on times that are okay for your children to watch television and play video games, and stick to your schedule.  Bedtimes become a battle when your kids are engrossed in their favorite show or in the middle of a video game.  Tell your kids they can play after they finish their homework, or only between the hours of four and six.  If all else fails, save video games for the weekend.

Create a Routine

After you’ve established homework and television guidelines, make a bedtime routine for your kids.  An hour before bedtimes, limit loud and stimulating activities.  As much as Dad loves to tickle and chase the kids, this is not the ideal time of day for stimulating play.  Stick to quiet imaginative play, books or bedtime shows.  A half hour before you’d like your kids in bed, it’s time for pajamas and brushing teeth. Leave enough time for a book and a talk with your child.  Kids thrive on one on one time with their parents, and bedtime is the ideal opportunity to talk with your kids.  

Finally, once it is lights out, tell your children they have to stay in bed.  No requests for water, no last minute emergencies.  Make it clear that bedtime is lights out, and there are no exceptions.  

After a few days of sticking to a bedtime routine, you’ll be amazed at how your children will settle down for bed.  The trick is to identify bedtime trouble makers, such as after dinner video games or wasting time on the computer.  Once you have your bedtimes ironed out, you’ll have more time for yourself (and your email).  And better yet?  The house will be quiet.

About the Author:

Mikki Hogan is a proud mother of eight who enjoys helping other parents through her own personal experiences. Whether sharing BOB Revolution stroller reviews, recommending healthy recipes kids enjoy or B Ready reviews for active parents Mikki aims to help others like her enjoy their families in today’s hectic lifestyle.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

6 Inexpensive Summertime Fun Activites for Families

Now that the kids are out of school and the days seem so much longer, it's time to open our minds and come up with activities that the children will love to do - and, of course, will fill up the long summer days with more than television, computers and game consoles.

I know that, although it's much easier to let the children attach their minds to technology, children need activities to keep their minds active in other ways during the summer break. And, to get the children involved, you, as parents or guardians, need to get moving and involved, too! Yeah, the water parks, amusement parks, zoos, and movie theaters are fun, but they can also be EXPENSIVE.

Here are some fun ideas for activities for you and your children to enjoy this summer that will break them away from the technology addiction:

1) Yard Mini-Golf  - One activities my husband started to do recently with the children is grab the ol' golf clubs, golf balls, and tees and set up a mini-golf course around the house. We start out at one point of the yard, with a specific "finish point", rather than a hole. (Our finish point happens to be a big pine tree.) And, despite what many would think, golf can work some muscles you didn't even know you had! (I know I had some aches and pains the next day!)

2) Book-A-Thon - It's a well-known fact that the reading skills of children take a dip during the summertime, especially if they are not book lovers. But, even book lovers are not necessarily inclined to keep up their reading during the summer if we don't encourage it. Take a weekly trip to the local library to give your children a selection to choose from that is comparable to (or better than)  what they would be able to find at school. Also, check with your local library for fun activities to bring the children to during the summer - many of the programs are free!

3) Local Activities - Not everything fun has to cost money, so check with your town's website to see if they are planning any fun activities for children during summer break. Many towns even have a recreation center that hosts free, fun activities for families during the summer. Check out summer concerts or festivals in the area. If a few dollars won't hurt the pocket, check into the local YMCA or town pool to see when public swimming is allowed.

4) Nature - Get the kids out of the house, take a walk through the neighborhood or at a local park or nature preserve. Go to the beach, the lake, anything "nature" will get everyone some fresh air and exercise, which we all know is vital for our bodies.

5) Fresh Fruits an Veggies - Are there any local farmer's markets? Strawberry or blueberry patches? Take the kids to pick out their favorite fruits and veggies - they will actually be more inclined to eat them if they choose their own, and the prices at local farmer's markets will usually be a lot less than the grocery stores, because there are no packaging, handling, or shipping fees added.

6) Water Fun -  Get out the water hose, fill up some water balloons (Dollar General, only $1 per pack of 100), and spray each other down on those hot days! Summer is never complete without some water fun!

Think about the learning experiences that your children will get with these activities, too!

What other activities can you suggest for families during summer break that are healthy, free or minimal amounts of money, or simply fun to do?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eclos Plant Based Beauty Review #EclosBeauty

There's no doubt that we all want to stay looking younger as long as possible! I, for one, started using anti-aging products when I was in my early 20's, basically because I loved how anti-aging products immediately improved the appearance of my skin.

Just recently, I found a line of products that not only show immediate results, but also create LASTING results! The products are called éclos Skin Care, and I am in LOVE!


éclos features Apple Stem Cells that have been extracted from a rare Swiss apple. The ability to stimulate the stem cells in the skin helps to encourage your skin to appear - and act - like "younger" skin. The Apple Stem Cell technology is mixed with plant extracts, vitamins and good old anti-oxidants.

What I saw in the mirror immediately after using the 5 product system was fantastic! My husband and children said that it looked like my skin was more blended, just like I had added a layer of foundation...yet all I had done was wash my face with the éclos products and then apply the regenerative and restorative creams and serums.

For those of us who are tired of spending our hard-earned money on expensive products, éclos has put together a fabulous Anti-Aging Skin Care Starter Kit of sample sized products (and a little goes a long way). Here is what you will get for $19.99:

• Facial Cleanser Skin Prep
• Cellular Activator Face Serum
• Moisture Therapy Regenerative Cream
• Restorative Eye Cream
• Instant Radiance Facial Scrub
• Skin Renewal Clay Mask
• éclos Terry Cloth Head Band

Again, like I said, a little goes a long way. One little dab will be suitable for one use. The sample sized bottles, while they seem small at first, will easily last 2 weeks, if not more, depending on how frugal you are. The OUTCOME is the best. Think make-up free face with the appearance of makeup! Also, because of the exfoliating properties of the Instance Radiance Facial Scrub, you will also reap the benefits of exfoliated skin that not only has a smooth, shiny appeal, but it will also have a rosy appearance, too!

And, éclos is giving away a sample kit to one lucky Mommy Rantings reader, so:

Leave a comment on this blog post stating which product in the kit you are most excited to try. (That's it, U.S. winner only. Winner to be announced Friday, July 6th. Good Luck!)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kranich's Jewelers - A Family Owned Tradition of Finely Crafted Jewelry

I recently had the chance to work with Kranich's Jewelry, and if you know me, you know that bling bling (otherwise known as jewelry) is my weakness! And, I know that many of Mommy Rantings' readers love some bling bling, too, but there's a big difference between our favorite Lia Sophia and Park Lane (to name a couple) and Kranich's jewelry!

As a matter of fact, I'll just say it. There's a big difference between "costume jewelry" and Kranich's jewelry - which is THE REAL DEAL.

I say this, because I have spent hundreds, and maybe thousands, on jewelry from Lia Sophia and Park Lane, so I know the pricing points and what you get for your money, and I was shocked to find out that for the same amount I would pay for a necklace or belt from Lia Sophia or Park Lane, I could buy a *real* diamond necklace from Kranich's!

Taken Aback

I am going to be absolutely honest, as usual, and reveal my true reactions and thoughts...

Here is what I saw in the picture in the brochure and what I expected:

Actual photo taken close-up with my smartphone
When I first received the diamond necklace in the mail, though, I was a bit taken aback. It was extremely dainty and, although it resembled the pictures that I saw of the diamond necklace, the diamonds were difficult to see and I initially felt like if I had purchased the necklace, I would have been let down when I received it. Here is the actual size:

Actual picture of necklace around my neck

However, I took the necklace to a local jeweler who took a close look at it with his handy-dandy magnifying tools and he said that the necklace was definitely worth every bit of the retail value that Kranich's sold it for on their website, if not MORE. It was 14K white gold and the diamonds were not only real, they were also quality diamonds.

Then, I took it took the Indian reservation near our home, where they have their own jewelry store and appraisers. They also told me that the necklace would retail at, or above, the price tag that Kranich's had on it.

I also took the diamond necklace to a local pawn shop for a third opinion. Here, the man explained to me that the price of gold had recently dropped and that a pawn shop would only offer about 1/5 of the value of the necklace, due to its weight. However, I wasn't interested in selling the necklace, I simply wanted to know what others said about the value. The owner of the pawn shop let me know that the pawn value of the necklace was an insult, and that the piece of jewelry was worth every bit, if not more, of what Kranich's put on it for a retail price on their website. (Little did he know, I wasn't interested in selling it!)

So, I digress. I will admit that my initial reaction was wrong. And, it was proven wrong by three knowledgeable sources!

More from Kranich's - Diamond Engagement

After being married for over 15 years, I highly doubt that I will ever have to be worried about another diamond engagement ring, like the Verragio Engagement rings. However, I know many of you out there will be planning to jump into the ultimate commitment, so I want to show you how beautiful the nuggets on your ring finger can be...

If you have thinner, longer fingers, like me, you might like the Princess Cut Diamond Rings. If my husband were to ever get me another ring because I deserve it, it would definitely be a princess cut ring and it would look quite similar to this:

Breathtaking, huh?

A Little Background on Kranich's

Kranich's has been around since 1903, and I think that speaks highly about a company. They are family-owned, which always touches my heart, and the person I've dealt with has been nothing but wonderful, helpful, courteous and patient!

Show 'em Some Love!

If you love jewelry, go ahead and give Kranich's the thumbs up on Facebook (in case you don't know, that means "Like" them!) and take a peek at what they have to offer. If you're a Tweet fanatic, be sure to follow Kranich's on Twitter. And, pay close attention in he never know, they might just decide to sponsor a giveaway on Mommy Rantings, but in the meantime, let them know that they have our support!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kohlcraft Stroller RECALL, Finger Amputations!

CNN reported on Friday that Kohlcraft has been forced to recall approximately 36,000 defective strollers that were manufactured in China. Between January 2006 and June of 2012, The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that these Kohlcraft Contours Options three- and four-wheeled strollers were sold in the U.S. and Canada, between January of 2006 and June of 2012, retailing between $150 and $160. 

The Reason for the Recall?

Smashed fingers of two reported adults and fingertip amputations of three children are the culprit of the recall. According to reports from the safety commission, the opening that is created by locking and unlocking the hinge mechanism of the stroller. (see photo below)

Check Your Model!

If you have a Kohlcraft stroller with a model number starting with the following, please be sure to contact Kohlcraft:
  • ZL002 - number and date printed on sticker above left wheel
  • ZL005 - number and date printed on the label sewn into the edge of the back of the seat pad.
  • ZL008 - number and date printed on the label sewn into the edge of the back of the seat pad.
  • ZL0015 - number and date printed on the label sewn into the edge of the back of the seat pad.
  • ZL0018 - number and date printed on the label sewn into the edge of the back of the seat pad.
PLEASE DO NOT USE THE STROLLER UNTIL YOU RECEIVE AND INSTALL THE REPAIR KIT FROM KOHLCRAFT! (Also, be sure that your children are not playing with it until it is safe, either!)

Friday, June 15, 2012

How To Have a Merry Little Summer With the Kids


Have you ever noticed how people smile a bit brighter, laugh a bit louder and share a bit more during the holiday season? Why does this good cheer have to end when the New Year rolls around? We don’t think that it has to! If the holidays your favorite time of year, why not incorporate them into your everyday life? Here are five ways that you can keep the holiday spirit around you and have a merry little summer with the kids:

1.Send a Card

Do you only send cards for birthdays and holidays? If so, it’s time to get writing! Sit down with the kids and make cards for aunts, uncles and grandparents. Give your kids paper, crayons, glitter and glue, and let them busily create their own masterpieces. If your kids haven’t mastered the art of handwriting yet, help them write a cheerful message on the inside of their cards.


Do you tip the mailman, the paper carrier or your stylist a little bit extra during the holidays? Why wait for the holidays to roll around before you show your appreciation again. Think of all of the people that help your kids on a daily basis: their teacher, the classroom aide and even the bus driver. Let your children pick out a small gift for each of these people. You don’t have to get extravagant; a $5 gift card will do. Showing people that you are thankful is a great lesson to impart on your children no matter what time of year it is.


Whether you choose to donate money or your time is up to you, but donations shouldn’t be restricted to one week a year. Call the local animal shelter and see if they need dog walkers. Talk to someone at the food bank and see if you can help stock shelves on the weekend. No matter what you decide to do, it’s time to give back! Turn donating your time into a family affair and take the kids along. Volunteering your time is a great way to show the kiddos how important it is to give back to the community.


Do you get particularly crafty during the holidays? Are you well-known for your hand-made gifts? Sit down with your kids on a rainy summer day and make something together! Keep a box or tote full of craft supplies so you can pull it out whenever the mood strikes. Take the opportunity to teach your kids how to sew, crochet or even scrapbook. The time you spend together will certainly put you in the holiday spirit!


Christmas songs are one of the most revered traditions of the holiday season. You don’t have to burst out with your favorite rendition of “Jingle Bells” if it makes you feel silly. Download some of your children’s favorite songs onto your iPod and have a sing-along the next time you’re driving to the mall. Alternatively, if you are a family that carols together during the holiday season, join the church choir this summer or have a family song night once a month.

You don’t have to lose the holiday spirit just because the season has ended. The holidays are all about giving and sharing, and those are two very easy traditions that you can carry with you throughout the entire year!

Brenda Little is a freelance writer and blogger living in San Francisco. She writes for www.santasquarters .com where you can find Santa’s Quarters Christmas trees for sale.

Barratts for Back to School Shoes - New Sponsor

Mommy Rantings is excited to announced our new sponsor, Barratts!

It may seem difficult to think about school shoes this time of year, when school is just coming to an end, but inevitably, our children with the fast-growing feet will need something new to kick off the beginning of the school year in!

Okay, so maybe you're just not ready to face the feat of school shopping yet. That's okay, because Barratts has some of the cutest summer sandals for everyone - they're worth checking out!

So, show our newest sponsor some Mommy Rantings love!  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Backyard Safety: Keep Watch & Prevent Illness and Injuries

In the comfort of our own homes, it’s easy to forget that our children could be at risk for injury or harm. When were at home or our friends’ homes, we’re in our own comfort zones, which means we are more relaxed and calm, which can be a dangerous combination for our children. 

A few years ago I attended a pool party. A pool party seems harmless enough, doesn’t it? There were several adults and children present. The adults congregated around the deck to mingle and smoke hot dogs on a fire pit while all the kids swam in the pool playing a variety of games, including Marco Polo. I can still remember hearing those shouts, “Fish out of water!”

There were probably at least twenty adults outside drinking and barbequing on the fire pit and a handful inside enjoying the air conditioning. In general, most adults were within ten feet of the pool and with so many adults present, you would assume someone, anyone, was watching the children, right? Wrong…

As I listened to a story, I suddenly heard a loud bang. It was the sound of a door crashing into the wall. I turned and saw my uncle running full speed out of the house. He jumped over the patio fence and dove into the pool fully clothed. A child was at the bottom of the pool...No other adults had noticed even though we were all only a few feet away. None of the other children had noticed either since they were too caught up in their competitive game of Marco Polo.

It wasn’t until my uncle surfaced with the child did the panic set in. This child was a good swimmer and about six years old, but he almost died that day. Luckily, he didn’t because my uncle just happened to see from the second story window of the house that a child was at the bottom of the pool, not moving.

In this situation, I think everyone assumed someone else was watching, but no one was. So as a safety reminder when you’re in your backyard or anywhere for that matter, never assume someone is watching your kids unless they specifically indicate they are or will watch them in your absence. No one wants to lose a child, so don’t put your child at risk.

In addition to being 100% certain your child is being supervised at all times, remember these summer safety tips: 
         Always wear sun block. Even on cloudy days, sunburns still occur and they occur often. Prevent peeling skin, premature aging and cancer by applying sun block to your little one every few hours.
         Always have plenty of water and snacks on hand and make sure your child is actually eating and drinking. We can’t rely on children to feed themselves since when they are having fun, fun always comes first.

         Practice fire safety. If you use camp fire pits in your backyard like me, make sure the fire is always attended and never allow children to get closer than three feet from the flames, unless they are directly assisted by an adult.

         Always check your backyard thoroughly before allowing your children to play outside. Even in our own backyards, surprises can happen! I found a mouse carcass once, so keep your eyes peeled for other traces of animal activity like droppings, snake holes, etc. Most kids are explorers at heart, so the last thing we want is our children to stick their hands in snake hole or eat droppings. 

We all know summer is about having fun with our families, but when we have fun we sometimes forget safety. Before your next backyard party or outing, remember these easy safety reminders to ensure your day is fun and free of harm. 

As Rosalynn Carter once said, “There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.”

Author Bio
Karen Ho Fatt is an outdoor enthusiast who loves using her camping propane fire pit whether she is at home with family cooking marshmallows or out in the woods. You can read reviews at her website on different campfire rings for sale and get the latest fire safety tips for your family.

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