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Now If Your Mom (Or Pops) Didn’t Teach You How To Clean House…

Last week, I blogged about a dad who started a YouTube channel to guide kids and young adults who are growing up without a father figure so today, I’m blogging about those of us whose mama didn’t teach us certain things about keeping house.

Just in time for Sprie I get accused of being anti-feminist. Here is some back story:

My roomate in college grew up in a military parent household. Her dad learned how to properly make a bed and crease the corners perfectly . She was great at folding laundry. Her shirts were exquisitely creased. Her socks drawers were meticulous as well. Her mom, I assumed, was all about organization and order and structure.

I envied my friend Richiey, who I had also went to high school with before we both matriculatated to the Unviersity of Maryland at College Park.

While I always have considered myself a neat and orderly person, I could not match the pristine way she was able to keep her things and phsyical space in tip top shape all the time.

She was the best roomate.

Now as for me, my mom worked as a housekeeper when I was a child  so you’d think I would have learned a thing or two about cleaning from her. Nope! After a day of cleaning hotel rooms, she had no energy left to teach me the proper way to clean house.

That is why I was so excited to receive this book called “Home Comforts: the Art and Science of Keeping House” from my law school class mate years later as a wedding present back in 1999.

It was a hardback book, not too fancy but amazingly went through everything in painstaken detail. They do not sell it any longer though you can still probably get a softcover version HERE!

I have a full review on the blog you can read HERE. I recently did a quick video review that you can watch here:

Bedtime Story: ‘So Much’ by Trisha Cooke {Video}

Today, I’m reading one of my favorite bedtime story books I used to read to my children when they were little: “So Much” by Trish Cooke. You may recognize the illustrations because they were done by Helen Oxenbury who is world famous for her board books for babies like “Tickle, Tickle“, “Clap Hands” and “All Fall Down“.

It was published in 2008, but  I enjoyed this book so much that I purchased several copies for my family and friends and shipped them out to them so they could read it to their kids!

If you enjoy this story, you can purchase a copy from Amazon so you can read it to your own kids. It only costs a little over $5!

Parents: Solution to That EFC/Family Contribution Sticker Shock? {College Backer Preview}

woman shocked face

 

woman shocked face
When we were starting our families, a lot of us then-young parents really did not place a high enough value on the importance of investing in a college saving 529 plan when baby was born.

At that time, we might have been two income earners with young families but we also like going on Summer vacations, saving for our first home, and were busy paying off our own school loans.

Each year, we would say to ourselves, “next year” and next year came and went. We might have opened up an account but did not fully fund it. Then would come the day our kid is finally applying and getting accepted into colleges and he or she fills out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) that all schools require to determine how much aid an applicant would qualify for and then we’re hit with that dreaded EFC.

The EFC stands for Estimated Family Contribution. The number represents what the government believes you can contribute towards your child’s college expenses each year.

Middle class parents earning close to or above $100K annually ( an amount that is barely enough to get by in many cities) quickly learn that they are expected to shell out $30,000 or more!

The sticker shock!

Boy would that 529 come in handy now even if its use is limited to colleges within the home state, those funds could also be used for other expenses like books, travel and boarding fees.

Well, once bitten twice shy. If you are like my husband and I and have other children, we have another bite of the apple.

This time, in lieu of a 529, I’m considering CollegeBacker, a service that is part crowdfunding, part remote investment portal and part 529 plan. In short, College Backer allows your family and friends to pitch in towards your child’s education.

In lieu of a birthday, graduation, Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift, they can contribute towards your future rocket science.

The San Francisco company behind CollegeBacker is called Principly and has been around since September 2016

What is CollegeBacker?

There is no fee for the service though some investments you select may have modest ones. And there is also a tip jar option that is not mandatory.

How is it Similar or Different from 529 savings plans

CollegeBacker is similar to state-run 529 college savings programs that have tax deferred benefits, meaning the gains from the investments are free from capital gains and dividend taxes and can be withdrawn without penalty so long as they do towards  qualified educational expenses like tuition, books, housing, and school supplies. The funds curated from one state’s plan can be used universally in a qualified school in another state and at more than 6,000 colleges and universities in America and over 400 abroad.

CollegeBacker is different in that it is one singular program that can be contributed to via a single link provided by CollegeBacker to make one-time or recurring contributions, and payments can be made via credit or debit card, or a bank transfer.

SEC-registered Investment advisers walk new users through opening up the plan, give advice on low cost funds to reduce the investment risk and because the entire process is automated, users never really even have to actually speak to an investment adviser over the phone to be upsold to.

And while at first blush, I can see concerns over the security of financial information being shared online, the platform is said to be run on cutting-edge encryption and security practices to safeguard your personal information.

No contribution limits

There’s no minimum contribution but the IRS only permits gifts up to $15,000 per child per account to be given tax free for each tax year.  And separately, each state has its own max contribution limit with some as high as $500,000, in South Carolina and Virgina, for example.

While I found out about this platform when the company was pitched to me to become an affiliate partner with this blog, I’m all on board. I’ll share my own personal onboarding journey when we start.

If you would like to check it out, please do so via this affiliate link which earns the blog a small commission should you elect to open an account.

I used to foolishly think crowdsource campaigns would not add much to a $50K annual college bill but every bit of help helps.

Here are the Strollers Celeb and Posh Moms Use

celebrity stroller

It has been 10 years since I last posted the annual Bellyitch Most Expensive Strollers post. It was a yearly blog post staple and used to get tons of traffic because, honestly, I think people, generally, are obsessed with knowing what baby items are used and coveted by the super wealthy and celebrities.

Since the last post, a few stroller companies have gone out of business. RIP to Orbit, Maclaren and newer brands 4Moms and iCandy, which were once considered “it” strollers in their day but no longer manufacture luxury strollers.

In 2013, I published the list as part of the Bellyitch 100, a book of the top crib makers, maternity wear designers, stroller makers and baby clothes brands.

You can get your Free Copy of The Bellyitch 100 here!

Anyway, so I used to publish the Most Expensive Strollers list at a time when I was raising a young family and brands would boast that they were on the list.

My social circle at the time included professional working women, stay-at-home moms, and mom bloggers, several who were affluent and looked at the stroller as a status symbol.

Here is another secret about what happens among moms at the park, at the school pick up lot, in the mall and other social places where mommies congregate. They check out what strollers they’re pushing a baby or child in and make judgments.

Yes, there is a definite hierarchy in quality of strollers and believe me when I tell you that certainly check out what stroller another mom’s child is being pushed in and make judgments.

When I was raising my children as a young lawyer, I went through 6 strollers, which is a low number considering many of my friends at the tiem had way more.

Our first stroller was a Peg Perego  which converts from a baby carriage or pram to a push stroller. At the time, it was among the best. Then, when my first born turned into a toddler, we ordered the Inglesina Swift umbrella stroller from the Italian stroller manufacturer. It had a great run!

To pair with the Inglesina, a sturdy Italian brand, we got a lower cost Combi umbrella stroller for travel, a stroller we could beat up which was so much less that so that we wouldn’t mind if it got lost by the airline or damaged during travel.

Then, when I was expecting baby #2, I got as an amazing shower gift from my co-workers at my old job: a Peg Prerego Aria double stroller!

By the time baby number 3 rolled around, the Inglesina had hit the dirt, we left the Combi on some island we visited for vacation once and we had loaned out the Peg Perego Buggy to relatives who didn’t take good care of it.

The wheels on the double gave out and we opted to give to Goodwill rather than try to fix it or get the company to repair it.

B.O.B.

We opted for a lesss expensive Graco Snug Ride for Baby #3 and a B.OB. jogging stroller (the air-filled jogger stroller with hand activated rear wheel brakes that can ride smooth on any terrain) when I was ready to get back in shape.

Now, while we didn’t get any of them to make a statement, I have had many moms and dads comment on the pricier high end ones while walking in the parks, malls etc. People are always looking for a status symbol and there is a preconception that most expensive means the best!

It’s no wonder, you can see celebrities strolling their children in many of those on this list. The celebrities know that too. That is why Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony sued Silver Cross from publishing on their website an unauthorized endorsement which featured a People magazine photo of them pushing their twins in two Silver Cross prams.

People flock to buy whatever celebrities purchase and that stroller companies know that endorsement mean lots for their bottom line.

Anyhoo, on to the list. Of course, as a disclaimer, this list is not exhaustive. As usual, this list is based on my own personal research and I urge readers to point out other vehicles that should grace this list. Certainly, I would amend the post to reflect corrections.

In the meantime, check out this year’s list of “it” strollers pushed by the most Poshest of moms and celebs out there (I’m updating this list with a few more after the initial post so come back and ping me on Twitter if you don’t see one you think should be on this list)

SILVER CROSS

DESCRIPTION: For over 128 years, Silver Cross has been handcrafting traditional prams in Northern England. This hallmark company is known for being pushed by Royals in the UK and across Europe and beyond.

The Silver Cross Balmoral Pram model boasts three coats of high shine lacquer, English leather and is painted by hand and individually numbered.

GET IT FOR: $5,000 at the company website

There is another less expensive line you can get for $4,025 from an exclusive line of Aston Martin Silver Cross strollers.

If you like the look of a British pram but not the funds to shell out $5,000, you can still get the Limited Edition Doll Pram from Harrod’s for just $902

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Geri Halliwell Horner (“Ginger Spice”), Nicky Hilton

MIMA

DESCRIPTION: Mima® is an established Dutch designer and manufacturer of strollers and high chairs and a favorite brand for European new parents that want high-end design, functionality and a very chic aesthetic.

This relatively new entrant to the market makes a very functional and innovative stroller that features a patented “carrycot inside” system.

The popular Xari Black Chassis Stroller can be used as a carrycot or as a stroller and comes with a reversible seat that allows your baby to face you or the world ahead. It has one of those super fancy simple fold mechanism. It is very stylish and chic and has a design that grows with your child and provides enhanced convenience for parents.

GET IT AT Buy Buy Baby for $1,999 or a little less.

CELEBRITY OWNERS:  Kourtney Kardashian, Alex Curran Gerard

CYBEX

DESCRIPTION: CYBEX delivers Versatile, elegant and convenient line of top-notched quality strollers, many that features a reversible seat, one-hand seat recline, and a quick-fold chassis usually in an ultra premium, lightweight design that adapts to your growing family’s changing needs. This American-made Massachusetts company makes renowned products.

The Cybex Priam Cherub Stroller is part of the Cybex Platinum Priam range in collaboration with renowned designer Jeremy Scott, this 3-in-1 stroller has been made from high-quality fabrics with a smart, luxe appearance. Its flexible frame can be turned into a travel system with matching carry cot, combined with one of the brand’s award-winning infant car seats, or transformed into a luxurious stroller sporting a reversible seat unit. A vibrant cherub print and golden wing attachments offer a heavenly touch to suit your little angel.

GET IT AT Harrod’s from $1,645

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Serena Williams, Rosamund Pike, Anne Hathaway, Olivia Wilde, Irina Shayk 

STOKKE

DESCRIPTION: The StokkE brand of stroller is an “it” stroller indeed. And about a decade ago, this Norweigian company’s strollers slowly replaced the Bugaboo as the favorite or wannabes, posers and the nouveau riche. The babies inside these strollers are decked out in mini-adult Designer clothes. The diamonds on the hands of the moms pushing these things can put your eye out, I mean the shine is that bright. And they are being folded and thrown in the back of Land Rovers. Pretentious? Naaaah! Their owners just appreciate a gorgeous quality crafted stroller, that’s all (wink).

The Stokke™ Xplory® Complete baby stroller is the only stroller you’ll ever need to buy! The Stokke Xplory Complete is an innovative urban stroller that adapts to your changing needs.

GET IT AT: Neiman Marcus for $1225.00

CELEBRITY OWNER: Chris Hemsworth, Sienna Miller, Stacey Keibler

BUGABOO

DESCRIPTION: This Dutch company has had a major mark in the business since the early 1990s. The strollers Bugaboo manufacture guarantee a full of smooth ride, no matter the surface, city street or bumpy park. The brand has long been considered a posh status symbol and continues.

The classic Donkey buggy is fully loaded with push handle to shift the wheels to tackle any terrain, 5 harness straps, multiple recline position, a spacious under carriage bassinet, as well as a reversible, fully reclining seat.

GET IT AT: Albee Baby for $1067

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Leelee Sobieski, Amy Poehler, Julianna Marguiles, Jon Stewart, Matthew McConaughey and Gwen Stefani 

PHIL & TED’S

DESCRIPTION:  Phil & Ted’s is a small New Zealand company that has made children’s products for over 20 years and about a decade ago was known for its super sturdy brand of tough terrain buggies and strollers for the rugged athletic and sports enthusiast parent who takes baby out on jobs and mountain hikes. It is still the market but has retreated to a smaller share given new competitors on the market.

Its Sport Stroller line feature a smart handle with one touch brake, smart fold, aluminum frame, and top quality tough, washable cloth.

GET IT AT: It is currently an Amazon Choice item and you can get the Double with the kit for $499

CELEBRITY OWNERS:  Jessica Alba and Cash Warren, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts

JOOLZ

DESCRIPTION: Joolz is a very new entrant to the market. This Australian company hinges its products on sustainable and eco-friendly renewable design and materials.

The Joolz Geo² Studio Complete Stroller features a modular design that offers 3 different configurations that make it the ultimate stroller for any family adventure. The award-winning design captures ergonomic comfort, ease, style, and maneuverability. It can be used as a toddler stroller, a modern pram for newborns, and an infant car seat carrier

GET IT AT: Buy Buy Baby at $1,050

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Harry Judd, Carey Mulligan

UPPA BABY

DESCRIPTION:

Another American company is Boston, Massachussets-based UPPAbaby which makes innovative, high-quality strollers and car seats that fit the needs of parents, while appealing to the sense of style they’ve always had.

The VISTA convertible stroller allows for multiple configurations to transport up to three children, making it a great choice for growing families. The included bassinet features a longer, ventilated mattress, while the toddler seat is perfect as your little one grows. It has a telescoping handlebar and a large, easy-access under-seat basket that holds up to 30 lb. make the VISTA fuss-free for parents.

GET IT AT: Albee Baby at $719.99

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Katherine Heigl 

PEG PEREGO

DESCRIPTION: When I started having a family, the Peg Perego was the it stroller. It is an Italian family-owned brand which makes baby strollers, car seats, high chairs and kid-sized riding toys for children and babies all over the world.

The versatile and agile Duette Piroet inline double stroller by Peg Perego can easily pass through narrow places, folds compactly, and is travel system ready. Comes with two independent adjustable seats with reclining backrests and two-position footrests. Peg Perego Duette Piroet features a versatile and extremely agile Italian inline double stroller design that can easily go through narrow pathways and allows various seating configurations for twins or different age siblings

GET IT AT: Buy Buy Baby for $499.99

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Rachel Zoe, Minnie Driver, Gwen Stefani, Heidi Klum

BABYZEN

babyzen yoyo stroller

DESCRIPTION: This is another relatively new arrival for city dwellers and traveling families. Babyzen manufactures and markets baby products and designs, produces, and sells collapsible baby strollers. Babyzen offers its produces to retailers throughout Europe and internationally.

The BABYZEN YOYO+ comes ready to roll, complete with the YOYO Newborn and Seat Color Pack Fabric Sets. The YOYO+ is an incredibly lightweight, compact stroller and steers easily even with one hand, allowing you to navigate corners and tight spaces. An underseat storage basket makes a convenient spot for on-the-go items, and an included travel bag is perfect for storage.

GET IT AT: Nordstrom for $724

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried , Justin Timberlake, Keira Knightly

QUINNY

Quinny

DESCRIPTION: Yet another Dutch stroller manufacturer whose name has been synonymous with top quality is Quinny. This company is among Europe’s most respected stroller brand and set the standard for engineering, design and trendsetting style.The Quinny line offers clever solutions for the confident parent of today; solutions that are made with parents and their lifestyles in mind.  Stroll with ease and in stylish comfort with the rugged and innovative

The Quinny Mood Stroller features a unique hydraulic system that automatically unfolds stroller, plus never-flat, all-terrain tires that allow you and baby to conquer any terrain.

GET IT AT: Albee Baby for $599.99

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Allyson Hannigan, Ali Landry

AUSTLEN

DESCRIPTION: This is another American baby product company. The Austin, Texas company boasts a staff of in-house engineers, mostly made up of parents, that make products to accommodate the daily lives and frustrations of new moms and dads. They’ve stopped at nothing to create intuitive, purpose-driven, well-made products that make family life easier and more fun — giving parents more freedom to live in the moment without being overwhelmed by more and more.

The flagship model, the Entourage, is perfect for families on-the-go. This one-handed expandable frame has three positions, 5 recline positions, a market tote and expandable lower storage area, giving you the freedom to travel anywhere in comfort.

COST: Get it at Albee Babyfor $849.

THULE

DESCRIPTION 

Thule is an established Swedish outdoors and transportation products manufacturer that is a leader in cargo carriers for automobiles. It recently expanded to get into the stroller biz.

The Thule Sleek is a stylish stroller for on-the-go travel adventures with the ever-innovative, marvelously multifunctional which features a ventilated canopy, a convenient window, a reversible seat, generous seating options and more.

GET IT AT: Bed Bath And Beyond for $829.99

MAXI-COSI

DESCRIPTION: Another Dutch company is Maxi-Cosi which started in the 1980s as one of Europe’s first permiere car seat manufacturers. It has since expanded and updated its quality of strollers to the point that is competes with the other exquisite brands out here.

Travel everywhere with ease with the Lila Modular Stroller is a convenient, compact and extra comfortable, making it great for dining out, shopping or vacation that is good with maneuverability and can accommodate an infant seat. It’s perfect for a growing family because it can easily turn into a dual stroller.

GET IT at NORDSTROMs for $850

BABY JOGGER

DESCRIPTION This Richmond, Virginia-based company launched one of the first jogging strollers in the 1980s. It designs and manufactures jogging strollers and all-terrain strollers and offers strollers and joggers, such as urban use and three wheeled all-terrain strollers; and accessories. The company also provides dependable push chairs for children and adults with physical disabilities.

The City Select LUX is a rugged yet streamlined stroller features an extra seat with a telescoping handlebar adjusts to just the right height, while the hand-operated decelerating and parking brake provides additional peace of mind.

GET IT AT: Nordstrom for $829

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Toby McGuire, Ellen Pompeo, Elizabeth Banks, Miranda Kerr

NUNA

DESCRIPTION: This Dutch company started out as a baby furniture maker and expanded to strollers. Today, it is a premiere must-have stroller for the upper echelon. I love the logo.

The Nuna MIXX Travel System includes a stroller and the company’s featherlight PIPA Lite LX Car Seat which makes one superb travel system. An ideal set for you, but especially for your little one.

GET IT AT Albee Baby for  $849.99

CELEBRITY OWNERS: Gwen Stefani, Molly Sims, Jaime King

There you have it! Good luck stroller shop or social climbing, whatever floats your boat!

cover photo Cella Jane, Pinterest

The Journal That’s Helping Me Beat Procrastination {Review}



I was watching social media coach Vanessa Lau on YouTube who recommends among other tools for keeping her business Intelligent Change ‘s Productivity Planner which incorporates elements of The Pomodoro Technique or method for achieving optimum progress in  your day.

As a compulsive list maker who is addicted to planners and journals, I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time, money and effort trying to be more productive, procrastinate less and advance my goals efficiently.

From bullet journaling to digital online tools like Evernote and Trello, I’ve tried it all to varying levels of success… or non success.

I purchased the  5 x 8 journal from Amazon and it cost just $24.99 which is quite reasonable compared to many other similar journals I’ve found out there.

The Pomodoro method requires you to set a timer for 25 minutes and breaking down tasks into 25 minute intervals separated by short breaks.

Each interval is known as a pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato’, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that creator, business coach Francesco Cirillo, used as a university student.

To put The Pomodoro Technique into effect you’re supposed to:

  1. decide what task needs to be accomplished (it can be school work, house work, business or anything)
  2. disable all distracting alerts, pop ups and possibly uninstall or delete addictive social media apps like
  3. Set the pomodoro timer, ususally using an app or your mobile phone or Alexa or whatever 
  4. Work on the task.
  5. End work when the timer rings and check it off
  6. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
  7. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step

A goal of the technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow. A pomodoro is indivisible; when interrupted during a pomodoro, either the other activity must be recorded and postponed

Intelligent Change’s planner offers two different types of methods for checking off tasks: the “Get It Done” and the “Hit the Target” methods.

In the former, your job is to do the task, in 25 minute breaks, no matter how long it takes. You just keep working until it’s done. With the latter, you predict how long it will take or assign a specific number of pomodoros to the task. As you complete one, you fill in a bubble then when you’re done, note down how long it actually took you to complete the job.

At the end of the week, there are pages that let you jot down weekly wins, what tasks were accomplished and which were not and what learned, then goals and targets for the next week.

There are also inspirational quotes, mini motivational passages interspersed in between the daily journal pages.

I had a rough start and struggled to complete my list each day, but am still working through it. I’m determined to get better each day.

What I love about the planner so far is the accountability. It forces me to track how much time I spend on my tasks and forces me to be more efficient.

Each day has a rating system for you to give yourself a 1-10 rating on how well you did with a few lines for you to explain what happened. It’s great for keeping yourself honest.

And also, you don’t even have to use the method if you don’t want. I love it!

Consider investing in your own! Get it at Amazon for  just $24.

productivity planner

 

Eco Friday: This Vegan SakRoots Crossbody Is A Mom’s Best Accessory {Review}



It’s been a while since I blogged an Eco-Friday, my series when I used to highlight eco -friendly products.

I’m bringing it back today with my recommendation of the Sakroots Crossbody Bag.

It is totally VEGAN and made of all man-made material.

I think it’s the perfect bag for a new mom or any one  who need their hands free.

The best part of this bag is the compartment in the front that can hold a mobile phone.

It fits my iPhone 11 perfectly.

I wear mine in the front so I can keep an eye on my phone and wallet.

It has loads of compartments inside for holding all your credit cards, business cards, receipts and more.

There is a coin purse in the middle and two sections on the outside where I put my cash.

For me, this is a great option because I can separate cash I set aside for miscellaneous petty spending and for specific purposes like school lunch, game snacks, tutors etc.

There is a wristlet strap so you can also easily and quickly convert it to a wristlet.

Take off both and use it as a clutch.

I love the pattern on the one I got. It features Black women with an Afro along the bottom.

It is soooo me!! There are other patterns too!

And for about $44, you cannot beat it!

Buy yours at Saks’ website or Amazon!

What to Add To Your First Baby Registry

It has been a long while since I have highlighted what’s popular and most wanted on Baby Registries these days so I searched  the web sphere and revisited my past posts then cross referenced to determine a List.

Now this is not necessarily the essentials.

Below are some of the top items and I urge Moms-to-be to still consider my list of things you do not need no matter how many books or ads tell you that you do

Diapering

Burt’s Bees Baby 100% Natural Ointment ($8.45; amazon.com)

Hiccapop Wipe Warmer and Dispenser ($34.92; amazon.com)

Sophie The Giraffe Teething Toy ($23.75)

Infant Quickchange Portable Changing Pad ($7.99; amazon.com)

 

Out & About

Ergobaby Carrier Omni 360 ($171.49; amazon.com)

Britax Back Seat Mirror ($34.99; amazon.com)

No Cow Protein Bar(box of 12) ($27.99; amazon.com)

Sustainable On-The-Go Essentials

Reusable Food Storage Bags ($10.99; amazon.com)

Welly Traveler Stainless Steel Bamboo Water Bottle ($33; amazon.com)

Rosti Mepal Ellipse Reusable Lunch Pot ($16.95; amazon.com)

Nursery

LectroFan High Fidhttps://amzn.to/2Mkc9PQelity White Noise Machine ($49.99; amazon.com)

Google Nest Cam (169.89, originally $199; amazon.com)

aden + anais Silky Soft Bamboo Swaddle Blanket ($42.75; amazon.com)

Sandra Boyton Board Books Library (54.95)

Feeding

Boon Bundle Feeding Set ($29.87; amazon.com)

BEABA Babycook 4 in 1 Steam Cooker ($149.95; amazon.com)

 

Medela Pump In Style ($196.97)
Inglesina Fast Table Chair ($69; amazon.com)

For Mom

Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk Tea ($23.33; amazon.com)

My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow ($42.99; amazon.com)

Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites ($27.99; amazon.com)

Bath Time

Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover ($9.95, originally $13; amazon.com)

 

hop skip jump

Baby Nasal Aspirator ($17.63, originally $20; amazon.com)

nose frida

The Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash ($8.99, originally $9.99; amazon.com)

honest

Happy registry making!
baby registry 1010

11 Parenting Books To Read in the New Year

End of Year Book Review:

I’ve been gifted dozens of books and offered the opportunity to review hundreds this year. I simply cannot and do not have the bandwidth to read, digest and thoroughly review them all.

However, as the year comes to a close in a few short days, I know that a lot of readers are looking for guidance and inspiration to carry them in the new year. So, I curated a sampling of some of the top parenting books  are among those that I thought would be helpful to parents, new moms, expecting parents and others.

1. The High School Survival Guide: Your Roadmap to Studying, Socializing & Succeeding by Jessica Holsman

I have a child who entered high school this year who had to deal with the transitioning to more difficult classes, traveling from class to class, taking notes,  meeting new friends, and navigating all the in between. I gave him this book to read which he managed to devour in a few short days.  It offers a lot of common sense suggestions and inspiration, study tips and more.

The book is authored by Jessica Holsman, a popular YouTuber of “Study with Jess” and “Life of Jess” web series. It makes a good gift for a middle schooler or teen already in high school.

The only thing I would change is the cover which features a girl and gives the impression it is tailored to girls. It is not, but that could dissuade some readers or parents from picking it up.

Get it for $11.99!

2. The College Bound Organizer by Anna Costras and Gail Liss

This is part guide, part work book, part inspirational book and part organizer. It’s a book for a kid or parent who needs (or at least wants) to have a place to journal college visit tours, information researched on various colleges, and then the application process (recommendations, transcripts, test scores etc).

I like the organization, tips, blank pages and the way it is arranged. Some sections are too generic for me to tailor to suit my way or organizing information so I will just leave those blank or use them as inspiration to put my own checklist or form together. Overall, it’s a pretty decent handbook.

Get it for $12.89.

3. The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children  by Ronald F. Ferguson

As a parenting expert, I am constantly looking for insights and perspectives on how to master this difficult task of raising good, conscientious, able-bodied and decent children. The authors of this book describe  “Eight Roles of Parenting” which as one reviewer put it is a “framework is a really clean way of looking at the messy reality of parenting.”  It basically refers to the roles a parent should have during different portions of their children’s’ development. I like it even though the author seems to establish the benchmark for success as acceptance into Harvard. That bar is a bit high and also, one can be successful without attending Harvard or a top college at all.

Nonetheless, I love how the book lays out the foundations though it doesn’t offer enough tips on how the average unlearned person could accomplish the steps other than by simply trying to figure out how to model success. It is pretty comprehensive and a very well researched and thorough read! I felt validated and challenged.

Get it for $18.49

4. Heart, Sass & Soul: Journal Your Way to Inspiration and Happiness by Greta Solomon

I think a lot of us get stuck in a rut and struggle to break free from it. During this time of self-doubt, unsurety, and relative darkness, we find ourselves procrastinating, stagnant, and simply not doing what we need to do to advance our lives or goals.

This book starts with prompts and inspirational passages to help us overcome these self-inflicted hurdles to define our path without judgment.

The back includes a journal with writing prompts that connects it all together. I’m still reading this one but so far, I’m enjoying it. It’s not rocket science but a lot of times, we simply need someone else to roadmap what we already know. The readers get to experience the examples of the author’s own path to journaling and learn a lot from the experience of a previously reluctant journaler to expert.

From the publishers, “Writing for yourself is an incredible way to heal your heart, find happiness, and reconnect with the things that matter most. Journaling and freewriting can bring you a deeper level of self-awareness, allowing you to truly know who you are. Heart, Sass & Soul will show you how to develop a writing practice that nurtures inner strength and promotes a rich, fulfilled life.”

Get it for $12.85

5. The Story Behind: The Extraordinary History Behind Ordinary Objects by Emily Prokop

In a casual and conversational tone, Emily Prokop gives some perspective and insights into the backstory and history of everyday objects that have extraordinary place in our lives in terms of usefulness and functionality.

This is a cool gift book to give that kid or older adult who loves trivia and loves wowing others with information. The only downsides is the lack of reference to the facts which may cause the detail-oriented person with a skeptical brain and fact-checker perspective to not trust some of the information. But beyond that, it’s a really cute and to-the-point and easy-to-read, skim and skip around book.

This is not an inspiration book, per se, but by learning about the quite mundane and ordinary start of some pretty fantastic inventions, the reader could draw motivation and encouragement on what they could achieve.

Get it for FREE on Kindle

6. Top Students, Top Parents: A Manual for Parents Who Want to Help Their Children Become All They Can Be  by Kathleen Burns

This book is a collection of brief but cogent academic articles and essays by experts about children’s learning and how early environmental factors come into play. Many people assume that children inherit learning ability. Whilst this is true to some extent, the book discusses how critical environmental factors are in facilitating a child’s curiosity and desire to learn, one reviewer writes.

I’m still digging into this book, but so far, what I find most fascinating about it is that it shows you the way you should be speaking to, engaging, instructing and guiding your child to maximize his or her ability to absorb knowledge, be a better reader, have a stronger work ethic and patience. That fact sets this book apart from others, like some mentioned in this list, that simply outline and explain what makes a grade A student or a top parent.

Get it for $18.95

7. Your Complete Vegan Pregnancy by Reed Mangels

From the mind of an expert nutritionist with experience in veganism comes this book which provides useful tips, hints and suggestions on how to feed your body when a pregnant vegan.

For a long time, and I believe still today, a lot of doctors have NOT recommend vegans stick with their strict diets while pregnant. They argue that animal fat and proteins are needed to help a developing baby in utero.

In modern times, and with more recent studies, and experiences, and also with more options available in regular grocery stores, it is very possible to feed a vegan body and a baby.

This guide offers yummy recipes along with the guide that can be used all throughout a pregnancy and after. Even those who are not expecting can benefit.

Get it for $10.39

8. You Can Be a Winning Writer by Joan Gelfand

Is 2020 the year you finally get your book published, a literary agent or self-publish your first book?

There is a reason why there are  millions of books and authors out there but only a fraction of successful published books and authors, comparatively.  The reason for this paradox has to do with the fact that not all authors are able to connect with readers, deliver a compelling story or message, keep readers engaged and have them coming back for more.

In Joan Gelfand’s book, readers will  learn of the 4 C’s (Craft, Commitment, Community & Confidence) and be inspired to get to work and to put in the effort to finally get their book written or published this coming year.

I gifted this one to my husband who is writing his first novel. I also plan to dig into the formula some more as I explore fiction writing in the coming year.

Get if for $15.99

9. Why Will No One Play With Me? The Play Better Plan by Caroline Maguire

Many children lack important social and executive functioning skills that allow them to navigate through the world with ease.

I got this book a little while ago and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Inside, parenting expert and former coach at the Hallowell center provides a very well-written and clear manual for helping parents who have children who struggle with social interactions and with connecting with others. She offers a step-by-step guide with examples and very relevant examples. She suggests using tools:

*Social Sleuthing: learn to pay attention to social cues
*Post-Play Date Huddles: help kids figure out what to look for in a friendship
*Reflective Listening: improve your child’s relationship with their peers
Every parent wants their child to be okay–to have friends, to be successful, to feel comfortable in his or her own skin and this guide book is meant to give them the tools to do that.
With compassion and ease, this program gives parents a tangible, easy-to-follow guide for helping kids develop the executive function and social skills they need to thrive.
This books has dozens of 5 star reviews and there is a reason for it.

Get it in Hardback for $18.59

10. The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook by Jenna Helwig

Jenna combines the Instapot/quick crock pot craze with the new trend of moms who prefer to cook and prepare their own baby food rather than rely on commercially prepared jars and pouches. In this book, moms can expect to find over 100 recipes made of whole foods including some the entire family can enjoy.

It’s well organized and could make a great gift book.

Get it for $12.99

11. Sailor to Student: How I Made a Quarter of a Million Dollars, and You Can Too by Tony Elion Jr

This former sailor offers tips and suggestions in lay terms on how he uses investments to earn big bucks. I was surprised when his publicist or publishers sent me a link to access. It was a quick read but the advice within it is succinct, helpful and memorable. It’s a great thing to read to start the year especially if one of your goals is to get financially independent.

Get it for $14.99

There you have it! A bunch of books to kickstart your new year!

Small Business Saturday: Support My Partners and Brands

It is Small Business Saturday!

Last year, I encouraged my readers to support the brands for which I am an affiliate for but this year, I’ve opened up three online shops and am offering discounts and deals in hopes that you will continue to support this platform and purchase from me.

This year, I also opened up a consulting company, JayJayGhatt, where I counsel, consult,  guide and train those who want to earn a living in social media or blogging to do it. Sign up for a consultation here!

Shop by Bellyitch – The Mom Charm Shop

My Mom Charm Store is an online store of  this Parenting blog and it sells novelty tees, and lifestyle items like mugs, pillows, a fun quirky clock and more.

My Etsy shop Digital Publishing Academy sells legal, marketing and productivity templates for online digital business owners like Podcasters, YouTubers, Bloggers, Vloggers and eCommerce shop owners!

Get 20% off any item when you purchase today, Small Business Saturday thru Cyber MONDAY! ENTER Promo CODE: ETSYCYBER2018 at checkout for discount!

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Also, I’m offering a steep discount of $20 OFF for my Blogger’s Legal and Marketing tool kit, regularly priced $29! This Brings the price down to $9!!!! Available to the First 25 buyers!

marketing kit for 9 bucks


discount valuation ebook

Get my Ebook on “How to Valuate Your Blog for Venture Capital Sale” for just $2.99, which is 60% off the Original Price. GET IT HERE! 

We are new

Get Over 500 Stock Photography Images from Picnoi for $34.00 OFF the Original Price!

USE CODE CYBERWEEK at Check out of CLICK HERE!

 

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Photo: Gift Habeshaw

How to Host a Friendsgiving Right

In the past five or so years, hosting a Thanksgiving meal among friends a week before the actual holiday has become a standard part of the celebration for many young adults, an Atlantic article proudly boasts.

Friendsgiving is a mashup of the word “friend” and “thanksgiving” that refers to a large meal among friends eaten during the Thanksgiving season. The level of formality is dependent on the participants, but the word first appeared around 2007 as an informal replacement for the holiday typically spent with family.

While the trend is credited to the GenY/Millennial generation, personally, my friends from college and I  who are GenXers have been gathering during the Thanksgiving season to gather, reconnect and have a great time. I guess thanks to our young friends, we now have a fancy name for it. (Add Friendsgiving to Bingewatching, Bromance,)

As  the Atlantic notes, “slapping a catchy name onto an existing concept can, after all, make it seem trendy or suddenly ubiquitous, even if the thing itself has been around for decades.”

True !

A blogger over at CHOWHOUND has ideas of how to host your own based on her experience:

Potluck – Designate a dish and create some competitions amongst your friends. Even the worst cooks can bust out a family standby dish that will impress! We send out a Google Sheet so people can sign up for dishes. You can see our list this year to the right. We expect between 18-26 people, so we broke down dish categories asking people to make enough food for 10. This not only takes care of all the staples, but it also allows some creativity and inevitably tasty food.

Booze – Depending on your crowd, you will probably do some drinking. Supplying wine and beer for the entire crowd can get expensive. We have a line item on our food spreadsheet so friends can also sign up to bring wine in 2 bottle increments (we learned a lesson last year, more wine!).

Table/Settings – This next section is a serious tip, not just for Friendsgiving, but for any time you are hosting a party. Get your house and table ready way in advance. If you can do it the night before, do so! It will save so much stress and time if you get all of the gritty details done the day before. Clean your house, set the table (or at least plan out your settings), and separate glassware, flatware and dinnerware so you aren’t furiously cleaning the day of the party.

Large Parties – Our table got big last year. We sat 27 in our tiny apartment. Outside of the logistics to get seats and table space for everyone, the one thing that helped the most was getting disposable (compostable) plates and larger serving plates. We wanted all the food on the table, so we had the turkey and all the side dishes separated on smaller multiple serving dishes places throughout the table.

Fun Tips – Since all our friends don’t know each other, we made everyone pick a # out of a bowl and numbered all the seats so everyone was randomly seated next to each other which was a big hit!

Enjoy! Go Big or not at all. If you have a Friendsgiving, please tag us in the photos at @Bellyitch on all social!