Mummy Tummy October - Workout Maniacs!

This month's MummyTummy is hosted by (in abc order):

- Jenny from Jenny Loves This (Twitter @Jenny_LovesThis)

- Tracy from Sweet Harper (Twitter @SweetHarper)

- Wendy from Kiboomu (Twitter @Kiboomu

And then me. Please check out each of these ladies' sites! They are awesome gals & amazing mompreneurs!

#MummyTummy is an online workout club for moms (or anybody) on Twitter that I launched back in July. You will be sent 4 dedicated #mummytummy tweets per day - each one a reminder to do a set of 20 crunches, situps, or whatever ab workout you're comfortable with.

Introducing #MumBum
Jenny from Monkey-Toes Shoes, co-host this month, a creative genius and one of my favorite Twitter friends, suggested we switch it up by alternating days. One day abs, the next, SQUATS! That's right, the dreaded squats, deal with it whiner, and you'll be glad you did! You can thank Jenny for your soon-to-be-firmer butt by following her on Twitter here.

Introducing #AnistonArms
Every now and then we may ADD arm exercises to your #mummytummy or #mumbum by adding the hashtag #anistonarms. Because, I mean come on, who doesn't want arms like hers? Feminine doesn't have to mean wimpy!

Let's Get Physical!

In honor of #MummyTummy and #MumBum October I'd like to veejay a song for you. Otto and I were dancing to this today and it is just so fun and gets me in the mood to be physical, strong and get moving!

Sign up For MummyTummy October! Do it. Do it.
Just comment below with your Twitter name and from October 1 through 31 one of us will tweet you 4x a day! And don't stress it, we're all busy with lives, there's no penalty for skipping a set or a day. This is just a fun way to motivate each other and even make new Twitter connections.

Workout Maniacs!

25% off Coupon Code IntelliCeuticals & IntelliGender (Giveaway CLOSED)

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!
This Giveaway, Coupon Code, and Review would be especially desirable for mamas-to-be, new mamas, trying-to-conceive mamas, and baby/toddler mamas...

A little history: The IntelliCeuticals and IntelliGender brands were founded by two moms in 2006 with the goal of providing high quality, fun, affordable pre-birth experiences for the expectant mother and healthy essentials for mom and baby. This includes an at-home urine-based gender prediction test (IntelliGender) that is 82% accurate, as well as healthy, natural remedies to help moms and babies feel their best (IntelliCeuticals).

IntelliCeuticals products:
- conceive-ease flower essence
- peace of mind flower essence
- elasti-oil
- nature's nipple prep
- baby's best milk drops
- episi-prep cream
- new mom rebalancing drops
- clear-away cradle cream
- harmonic baby massage oil

The Review:
I was given the opportunity to review IntelliCeuticals "harmonic baby aromatic massage oil" which retails for $19.50 (see code below for 25% off any order).

I've been a fan of the soothing benefits of baby massage since Ot was just a few weeks old. We joined a mommy group through the local birthing center (where Otto was born) and the doula who led the group taught us how to massage our wee ones from head to toe. Otto, from the get-go, has been a "foot man" and especially loves it when I spend extra time massaging the soles of his feet and toes.

The IntelliCeuticals massage oil has a really pleasant weight about it - not too heavy or slippery like a few oils we have tried - and smells amazing. The first ingredient is mandarin oil and you can smell the citrus flavor on top of other, earthy aromas. It smells like an orange grove in an evergreen forest where someone is brewing tea, mmmmmmm. I massaged Otto with a focus on his feet, like he likes, before his afternoon nap. I think we were both relaxed by the process and the smell. The oil worked its way into Otto's skin, leaving it soft and hydrated but not oily. Here's a picture of my mellow man post-massage; he's ready for his nap.

25% off IntelliCeuticals Coupon Code... How to Buy It: If you'd like to purchase IntelliCeuticals products right away, you can order directly from their website. When you check out, use the Coupon Code IC025 to receive the discount.

How to Win It: 1 winner will receive the Prize Package pictured to the right, valued at over $60! The prize package includes:

- 1 IntelliGender Gender Prediction Test
- 1 IntelliCeuticals Episi-Prep Cream

- 1 Gender Neutral Flannel Baby Blanket

Many Entry Opportunities (none of these is mandatory; pick and choose the modes of entry that you like, and enter as many times as you like!):

- Follow the newly launched IntelliGender Blog (3 entries)

- Follow IntelliGender on Twitter (2 entries)

- Leave a comment telling why you want to win this giveway (it's that easy)

- Follow TidbitsParenting via Google Friend Connect (if you already follow that counts too)

- Follow @OttosMomBlogs on Twitter (if you already follow that counts too)

- Tweet about this giveaway (your tweet should include link to this page and mention @Intelligender and @OttosMomBlogs). In your comment, put a link to your tweet (up to 3 bonus entries per day / 1 per tweet / 30 min apart or more please)

- "Like" TidbitsParenting on Facebook (if you already like us that counts too)

- Grab the TidbitsParenting badge (on the right) and in your comment leave a link to your badged up blog homepage (3 bonus entries) (if you've already got the badge that counts too)

Please Note:Just remember to leave a comment for EACH entry. For example, if you follow the IntelliGender blog, since that's worth 3 bonus entries make sure you leave 3 comments for that.

Make sure that I can reach you if you win - via email or Twitter. I will contact the winner during the day on October 29 and they will have 48 hours to claim the prize or we will choose a different winner.

Giveaway will be closed for new entries at 11:59pm Pacific Time on October 28. Open to US & Canada. I will use Random.org to choose a winner and will verify that the winning entrant has played by the rules so it only makes sense to be honest! Note: I was given a complimentary massage oil for review and was in no way compensated for hosting this giveaway. I want to sincerely thank IntelliGender / IntelliCeuticals for their generosity in providing the item for review and the prize package!




No Sour Patch Kids! Dinner in the Park With Captain Crabby Pants

This afternoon I napped while Otto napped, until 4:30, so when we woke up it was just about dinner time. This has been his usual nap sched lately (not for me, ahem, but for the kid) and I kinda love it because it leaves all day up until about 2:30 for us to get errands done, play, clean, whatever. The drawback, a major drawback, is that the couple hours between wakeup and bedtime is Hell. On. Wheels. My man wakes up sour, gives us all the biz, whines, cries, and spreads a cloud of bad humor wherever he goes. I hate that the end of the day has to be such a melodrama.

Yes, this golden boy can put on a serious pout face and spew some rancid crabbiness in the late afternoon!

So today I jumped up from my nap and said, "we're going to the park! Dinner in the park!" The ten minutes it took to pack a picnic, grab some toys, and get us on our way was a montage of all the sourness I've come to expect late in the day. But as soon as we set out the front door to Reid Park (which is a football's throw away from our house) everything changed. I had my little boy back!

Ask me what he ate for dinner. Wait, what's that over there? ::runs away::

It's finally nice enough to step foot outside in the early evenings without vaporizing. Hello autumn and the low 90s! Unblinded by sweat, we had the best evening ever! Otto ran and played and had a great time. I even took a picture of me, that (as always) turned out ugly, but I salvaged it by making it Rock & Roll...



Kindly get your hand off my boob, please.

The following Guest Post (Yay! Yay! Yay!) from Alana broke my heart. I've grown to know and love this girl recently and if anyone came NEAR her to bother her or offend her or grab her boob I would be first in line to go all berserker on them and they better watch out! But then it also had me laughing while I cringed (which kinda hurt my face) and then nodding and mumbling, "yeah, yeah, yup!" to myself and then laughing again. I love Alana (you may know her as @Mamainlalaland on Twitter and if you don't already, go follow this mama, stat!) she is the yang to my yang, we only disagree about 2 things: olives and cats, and I am so excited to share her awesomeness with you now!
- Lindsey

Let me first say a big *muah* and thank you to Lindsey for asking me to be a guest blogger. I am new to this blog world so this is a huge honor for me. I adore Lindsey on so many levels so I am beyond happy that she asked me to come into her space!

Becoming a mama has been more than I have ever expected on so many levels. The pure and utter joy and happiness on a daily basis is indescribable. That little face of his trying to take it all in. The world is so new to them. So pure and so kind. Becoming a mom is one of the best things I have ever done. The trust my Baby D has for me is beyond what I would ever have for someone. The smiles, laughs, babbling and now the almost crawling is amazing. Every single milestone is better than the next. I am working on convincing the hubs we need another! Baby fever is in the air and I only have an 8 month old. I am nuts, I know.

Along with all the fantastic moments are the not so fantastic (hello sleepless nights and major poop). I have read so many posts lately about the constant barrage of advice, on and off Twitter, to moms. I am all for advice, unsolicited or not, to an extent. I have never done this mom thing before. Now whether I choose to take your advice and run with it, OR thank you politely and think in my head you are effing crazy is my business, not yours. You don't live in my house. You don't get up in the middle of the night with my baby when he is teething or not feeling well. <----- (This blows) You don't make all of his food for him and worry over allergies to things. You don't take him to the doctor for his shots and leave in tears because you are afraid he will remember that visit and hold it against you. (I can be a bit neurotic. I am working on this!) So while the advice is often appreciated, it sometimes is so bizarre, off the wall, straight up crazy and in those cases I can only think of what my mom always said, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all."

Exhibit A: While taking my then 4 month old to the post office in April while it was 70 degrees and sunny in Los Angeles, I was told by an older woman that it was too cold for a baby to be outside. I smiled as if to say "Um ok! Thanks for that!" and went on my way. She followed me and continued with the whack advice saying I "really should have a jacket on the baby! He could get sick!" Word to your mother, you can't get sick from being cold. You get sick from germs which in this case could have very well happened considering she was all up in my baby's grill. So take your face outta my kid's and kindly mind your own business. It is 70 freakin degrees outside. It is not cold. It might be COOL, but it is NOT COLD. YOU, dear, have 3 layers of clothing on and are old. Maybe it is cold for you but not for us! Now get!

Exhibit B: I had a VERY hard time nursing my baby. This brought so much depression and tears to my life. It was so, so tough and those that can breastfeed and produce enough milk are my heroes. Seriously! I hope with the second baby I can do it and not have so many issues. Latching on was a huge problem and I got all the help I could. I had more lactation specialists handling my boobs in the first 2 weeks than I care to count. I did everything I could to help us both out. Eventually we had to supplement with formula because I wasn't producing enough milk and I have a baby that can EAT. He is big and can eat! We are saving pennies now for the teen years! I am sure he will be eating us out of house and home. (I am raising a future NBA star here) While at a certain clothing department store that happens to rhythm with Bordstom, I was in the mom's nursing area feeding my baby. Now I was already hesitant to go in there because I knew I was going to eventually feed him a bottle that I had with me. It had kind of become the trend with us. I was afraid of the looks I was going to get. I strategically placed myself away from others so I wouldn't feel uncomfortable if I had to do so. Sure enough he fussed over eating. He wasn't happy, he was crying, I was freaking, it got really hot in the room, and I was sweating. It was all too much! I pulled out the bottle. I wanted him to eat and stop crying and being unhappy so I could get the hell outta there. I was feeling trapped. The other moms were looking at me with sympathy all except for one. That one that has to ruin it for all the others. The one that feels as though she knows more than you about YOU and YOUR baby and she is going to make sure you know this. The one that probably took every single class out there before she had her baby so she could be prepared and dole our advice when she felt so inclined. (I took zero classes by the way!) Well here comes that mom making a beeline towards me. I smiled, she smiled, she gave me that look, and I knew what was coming.

"Let me help you out!" she says. "Let me help you with latching on."

Um...WHAT???? Help me out??? This is my boob thank you very much! I don't need your help and I don't need you grabbing it. Yes people, she wanted to help my Baby D latch on.

"Let me help him latch on properly because that is why he is upset. He isn't latching on the right way. I watched you struggle and want to help. This baby needs his mothers milk!" she continued.

"Um, thank you, I guess, but I'm good," I said in a quivering voice.

If I could have dropped kicked her right then and there I would have. I was mortified. I grabbed my bag, my bottle fed baby and bolted. I was so embarrassed. Everyone in that room witnessed the scene and I was in tears. I honestly felt like the most inadequate mother on the planet. I was so horrible at this mom thing that a stranger, not a lactation specialist, not my mom, not my best friend, felt the need to help me breastfeed my baby. I haven't been back to that store since. I am scarred for life and afraid I will see her again and it might get ugly!

I ran across an article after these 2 incidents and it hit home with me. CNN ran an article on the "Mom Mafia". That was it! That is who I ran into at the post office and in the bathroom at the department store. The "Mom freakin Mafia!" They were after me and out to get me. Instead of inviting me over for homemade marinara, cannolis, and Chianti, they took a hit out on me. They wanted to feed me to the fishes. They were Tony Soprano and Paulie!

Why is it that some moms can't support one another? Who made these "Mom Mafia" types the end all be all of mom advice? I just don't get the fact that we all can't be happy that we are on the amazing journey that only women (well except for that one guy who was on Oprah) get to experience. Instead of cutting each other down and making one another feel inadequate, why not share stories and HELPFUL advice. Not grab at someone's boob in a department store bathroom.

This is the hardest job on the planet and one I would never give up. I love every single second of it, good and bad. But I don't need others making me feel like I am not good at it, therefore doubting everything I do. I have an amazing mom and I try to be like her every single day. That is enough pressure I put on myself! I don't need it from strangers. Yes, I know I am in control of my own feelings and whether or not I let it get to me. I am trying really hard to get to a place where I can just take it for what it's worth and move on.

I'm sure you have been in my shoes one time or another. Hopefully not the boob part! Have you been approached by the "Mom Mafia?" Have they tried to put a hit out on you, too? How did you deal with it?

- Alana  Life On The Mom List


Wordless... Ode to Mila's Daydreams (My 3MO Nephew, King)

Cheating and using words: I'll post more about my time babysitting my nephew last week sometime soon. But I just wanted to say that if you haven't already visited the Mila's Daydreams blog you really, really should pour yourself a cup of coffee and hunker down there for a while; it is amazing. Adele takes the most amazing photos of her little one while she naps and my "ode" is just a wink in that direction because King was sleeping like this all on his own and it reminded me of the photos from her blog, so I snapped this shot!



So Major! Today I'm Guest Blogging at "Life on the Mom List"!!

I'm so excited/scared/nervous (even a little pukey nervous) about my first guest blog and couldn't be happier that it's for my awesome mama friend Alana! Alana just launched her blog "Life On The Mom List" a few weeks ago and it's already a big big favorite of mine. I feel like I grew up with this girl, even though we only met this summer, bonding on Twitter over mom stuff, ab workouts & the Rachel Zoe Project. And that's what my guest blog is all about!

Please go visit the post and while you're there check out the rest of Alana's blog & give her a little GFC lovin! I promise, she's a dolly doll doll! As is her chubby cheeked munchkin, D.

Here's a link to the guest post:

#ZoeMG! The Magic of Rachel Zoe and by the way This Twitter/Blog Friendship Stuff is Bananas!



"More Crackers Please" and "Poop" - Our Experience With Baby Sign and a Guest Article From Primrose Schools

When Otto was 7 months old I got together with some local mamas & their babies for a private baby sign workshop (I think once a week for eight weeks) through Sign With Baby Tucson a wonderful tutoring program led by Libby Quinn, who teaches ASL. 

Anyways, our experience with baby sign has been textbook perfection. Even at 7 months Otto quickly learned to recognize some of the signs we used daily, like "more" "milk" and "all done" and by 9 months he was signing those and a few others back to us! We always coupled the signs with the spoken words. I really felt, almost right away, that the baby signs were allowing us to communicate and connect with Otto much earlier and with more clarity than we would have otherwise.

Meals, Snacks, Naps and Poop...

Everyone knows babies do 3 things more than anything else - eat, sleep, and poop. Honestly, the baby sign was helpful to us in all three areas. EAT - He's been able to tell us what he does/doesn't want to eat (one day when he was 13 months or so he fell to the floor bawling when he signed "more crackers please" and I misunderstood and said, "you want a cookie?" because he'd been so used to us understanding exactly what he was "saying". NAPS - Since he was 10 months old Ot's been telling us when he needs a nap. He puts his hand to the side of his head (the sign for "sleep") to let us know he needs a little peaceful nap time. I can only guess that without the "nap" sign Otto would probably have gotten overtired instead and understandably frustrated without the ability to tell us, "hey dudes, I need a nap, like NOW!" POOP - I've been told the poop sign is considered crass in the deaf community, but for our purposes it's been great. Otto lets us know when he's going to poop, and sometimes you'll catch him in the act, making the sign while he's doing it! Super-funny yes, but also cool because he'll tell us about his dirty diaper right away and I'm thinking it'll be a nice leg-up as we start toilet learning.

So in a nutshell - I'm all for baby sign - now at 20 months Otto has well over 100 spoken words and is already combining them into 2 and 3-word groups. Most often "no mama" which I can't tell you how much I LOVE (umm, no I don't). Obviously there was no control group in our home to prove that Otto wouldn't be just as verbal without the sign, but I know in my gut that the baby sign helped him to communicate and to learn the spoken words more easily & much earlier. And even now we continue to sign certain words and Otto will revert to the signs when he's frustrated or tired, which further shows me that they act as a helpful crutch in the communication department.

Ok, well I went ON and ON much longer than I'd intended! Now for the guest article from Emily and Kathleen with Primrose Schools. They approached me to see if I would be interested in sharing their article and I am MORE than happy to. Read on for a more academic look at the benefits of baby sign for lil ones...

GUEST ARTICLE - Early Childhood Education – Acquiring Sign Language
One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility – and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled – primarily the deaf.

At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities – and if current trends continue, it's likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Signing Before They Can Speak
A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:

"...by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves before they know how to talk." (Glarion, 2003)

The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).

The Best Time To Start
Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Georgia child care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose child care schools. Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.


Wordless (But Not Grooveless) Ya Can't Touch This Vid of Otto's Wedding Dance Stylings!

ps. I know, I know, I already linked to this video earlier in the week. Well, can I help if it's my favorite music video of all time!? Just wanted to share my pride and glory. And in the spirit of wordlessness, that's all I'll say!


Overstock.com Exclusive 10% Off Code - Let's Go Halloween Shopping (Or Anything Shopping!)

TidbitsParenting is offering an exclusive 10% discount on any purchase - plus free shipping if it's your first order - and $3 shipping after that! 

Years ago when we lived in New York I got 2 gorgeous pairs of Steve Madden shoes (well knee-high boots, really) from Overstock.com for a steal! And I sashay/shante'd the crap out of em through rain, sleet, snow, and subway rubbish.

These days I'm a semi-hippy mom habitating in Tucson, AZ so the need for knee-high fashion boots has evaporated along with my sweat and skin elasticity, but I'm always looking for great deals on unique, quality clothes for Otto and Overstock.com has kids clothes too!

Halloween Waits For No One...
I've been toying with becoming obsessed lately trying to come up with the perfect Halloween costume for Otto's first "Halloween plus lucidity" (you know, cause last year he was a little weirded out by the lion outfit but otherwise had no idea what was going on). So I was pretty stoked to find that Overstock.com has a selection of kids costumes - like really charming, non-TV character based, your-neighbor's-kid-isn't-gonna-have-this-same-costume costumes. In a word: awesome.

Here are the links to some of my fave costume picks, which I've used to decorate this here blog post:

Baby/Toddler Fawn Costume ($23.39 after discount)  
Infant Bluebird Costume ($23.39 after discount)
Infant Furry Caterpillar (24.29 after discount)

For the 10% discount, just use the Coupon Code 121728 at checkout.

Please note: All the ideas and opinions expressed are my own. No monetary compensation was received for doing this post, however, I was provided with a discount code.


Also - I'm a dork so I gotta say it - I LOVE comments. For real. Throw me some love. If you use the code let me know what you get, how it goes, etc. Thanks, muah, sorry for begging like a pathetic little worm but there you have it.


Letting Otto "Spread His Wings" ...on a 4-Wheeler... While I Cried...

Otto still talks about holding the kittens and pantomimes for us just how careful you have to be. He's my little serious man; god I love that kid.

So, onto the topic at hand, you know, I don't really ASPIRE to be a helicopter mom. But yeah, I pretty much am one, like 250%. I've got my propellers spinning over Otto's head 24/7 and I'm leaning out the side of the heli with my sniper rifle cocked (does one cock a rifle?) and ready, even enthusiastic, to shoot down anyone or thing that threatens my little baby. Annnd, many of you guys already know that we went on a short family vacation to North Dakota last weekend to celebrate what I can only describe as a "meant to be" wedding (just meaning these two people are totally perfect and awesome together) on hubs' side of the fam. It was a whirlwind trip that was probably the most fun of Otto's whole life and included one of my favorite moments of all time: Otto's 2 hour dance marathon at the wedding which you can see the first 2 1/2 minutes of (including snippet of me rockin a pretty immodest mini dress) on youtube here. It's way cute and along with being a heli-mom I'm also a braggy mom so I can't help but share "look, my kid is CUUUUTE!"!

This trip was all about Otto being a 20 month old KID, no longer a baby, exploring and enjoying this lush, green, farm-riddled foreign magic kingdom of North Dakota. I tried as hard as I could to sit back and let him do his thing, get his hands dirty, play with cousins, and just, you know, be a kid. And I was doing a pretty good job of appearing to be a laid back lady until we visited a family farm on Sunday. It started out all kittens and rhubarb happiness, but then the boys started grunting and beating their chests and jumping up and down like monkeys and the hairs on the back of my neck went up. Rifle cocked, propellers whirring, heart racing, I knew... they were gonna take the 4wheelers for a spin. And immediately Otto's Papa asks if he can take Ot for a ride.

The blog post I'm not ready to write right now is about whether or not I'm even sure I made the right decision. In that moment, I knew I could snipe Papa with a, "no" and keep my baby perfectly safe in rhubarb and kitty land. But I didn't say, "no" I said, "ok" because I knew Otto would be thrilled to ride on the 4-wheeler with Papa. Otto adores his Papa, and cars/trucks/tractors/trains/younameit, and even at 5mph it was the ride of his life. So I sat back and hid behind my shades and put a smile on my face... and cried. Even writing this right now I'm tearing up again - because I hated every second of it.

I mean I hated it.

But... Otto loved it.

And I think this was one of those rite of passage moments for me as a mom. Stepping back so Otto could do HIS thing even though it was completely the opposite of MY thing. And moments later I got to go back to helicoptering, my comfort zone. And we all survived. Sigh. (Like I said, still not totally sure I chose wisely, still feel fear just looking at the pictures, ugh.)

Back in my comfort zone, happy heli-land...



CSN Stores!

I've been seeing mucho mucho CSN Stores giveaways buzzing all around the blogosphere for months now and have even entered a few (fingers crossed!). CSN sells almost anything at their 200+ linked stores with one "shopping cart" and at lowwww prices. From a much needed stylish coffee table for my living room (lovin on the cocktail ottomans and not just because we call Otto "OttoMan" sometimes) to the world's darlingest John Deere toddler cowboy boots for my OttoMan!

CSN Stores is giving me the opportunity to do a review, which I'll post here soon (and which will probbbbably be for the above mentioned cowboy boots). I'm no cowboy but Ot can rock those bad boys Billy Corgan style, gents!


Guest Blog Post by Punflay - Save a Frog, Dissect an iPad!

Feeling pretttttty cool about having a guest blogger - it's our first time! Please enjoy this post by Punflay, a super friendly company I've gotten to know a few people from on Twitter. They are so nice and their apps are educational & geared for kids of all ages and seem to be in the $1-$5 range. You can check their blog out online here. Man I wish my high school had offered the following frog dissection alternative, I would have been ALL OVER IT! Of course that was 250 years before the word "app" even existed!


Guest Blog Post by Punflay - Frog Dissection App

My images of frogs have been largely influenced by Arnold Lobel's beloved Frog and Toad series. Their adventures and heart-warming tales of friendship have always kept my kids and me in splits. Who can forget The List, Ice Cream, Cookies, etc! Long story short - that's the extent of my knowledge about amphibians. I felt that frogs and toads belonged belonged only in the classroom when teachers and dreamy kindergarteners discussed Frog and Toad's friendship over milk and cookies.

Until I heard that we were going to develop an app called Frog Dissection.

I had nearly forgotten that there was a thing called animal dissection. Since I had opted out of high school biology, I skipped dissecting frogs. I had only a vague idea about dissection and I never gave it a serious thought.

After doing a bit of reading on the subject, I learned that animal dissections are still part of the science curriculum in most parts of the country, but there are some states in the US that offer alternatives. As for suitable substitutes, there are models, simulation software and now, apps that can help you learn the procedure. We are happy to say that our Frog Dissection app was released earlier this year and has been received extremely well.
In a Schooling Setting:
If you are curious about Frog Dissection's use in the classroom, imagine this situation. The teacher could begin the dissection lesson with an introduction to amphibians and why scientists use this model to study anatomy and physiology. They could then move on to a demo of the app and explain the procedure. Bonus: no shrieks and wails because it is completely virtual. Even the most faint-at-heart can participate. And the app has updates such as interactive quizzes.
It's easy to see why such apps can be very effective in the classroom. I am glad to see that frogs and toads can still remain in the classroom where they are welcome. Besides teaching us a thing or two about friendships, they can also allow us to learn through a virtual world. Three cheers for Frog and Toad!

-Punflay (Guest Blogger)
You can also check out ABC Numbers and Number Sense HD.


A Delish Dish! Egg Free Banana Bread Recipe

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

This dish was an impromptu discovery the other day when I started peeling a banana for Ot & all 3 bananas on the bunch broke open at the top. The stars had aligned, I was required to use the other 2 bananas for banana bread, I had to! But then halfway through getting all the ingredients stirred together I realized I'd thrown out all our eggs in fear of the Dreaded Salmonella Eggs! Even though we always buy organic eggs, the whole recall thing just freaked me the [beep] out so I'd tossed ours "just in case"... Back to the dramatic banana bread story... (I know you're on the edge of your seat)... So, I thought back to my vegan days and decided to do a little subbing: applesauce for moisture/sweetness/binding and cornstarch for add'l thickening/binding. The result was eggless and sooooo good - extra moist and just 100% a success! Obvi from the pic, Otto couldn't wait to get his chubby little paws on it and he/we gobbled it up!

1. Preheat over to 350'
2. Get your ingredients together:
- 1 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat) (but for a gluten-free bread use brown rice flour - you may need a smidge more flour)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 5 Tbsp butter - melted (salted butter)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 ripe bananas mashed
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed into 2 Tbsp cold water
3. Stir it all together and pour the gloppy batter into a greased bread pan
4. Bake for 50-60 minutes (until a fork stuck into the center comes out clean)
5. Then set oven to "Low Broil" and broil just a minute or so until the top is nice and browned. You can also brush a little extra butter on top before doing this step. Nom!

My prediction: Just like Van Gogh, you'll eat it all up! Unlike Van Gogh, you'll smile!

Serving suggestions: I lovvvve banana bread crumbled up over yogurt! Or heated and topped with a scoop of vanilla icecream!