Snacks for Mommy!

Has your friend recently had a baby? Check out these brilliant 25 recipes, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks; all perfect to bring to new parents!As parents we all know how cooking is always the last in a long line of priorities when you have a newborn. Caring for your beautiful new baby is all-consuming in those early days and any kind of mealtime routine for Mom and Dad usually goes straight out the window. When I had my first baby we relied heavily on takeout! But when our second came along, I was conscious that we also had a toddler who we needed to ensure was eating well. This is when I was particularly grateful for friends who came bearing gifts of the edible kind!

If your friend has just had a baby then check out these delicious and nutritious meal and snack ideas which can be prepared in advance and are easily transportable. I can guarantee that they will be met with a lot of appreciation!

1) Breakfasts

Carrot & Apple Breakfast Cookies

Sugar Free Granola

Cocoa Banana Overnight Oats

Lemon Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Banana Oat Bars

2) Lunches

Spinach Lasagna Soup

Farmhouse Egg Bake – make ahead and keep in fridge. Reheated

Savoury Pumpkin Soup

Chilli Prawn Pasta Salad

Cous Cous Salad

3) Dinners

Veggie Meals:

Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese

Vegetable Pot Pie

Quinoa, Cauliflower & Butternut Squash Curry

Slow Cooked Bean Chilli

Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew

Non Veggie Meals:

Chicken & Vegetable Risotto

Fruity Chicken Curry

Mutton Stew with Minted Dumplings

Chicken & Chorizo Stew

Slow Cooker Beef & Pancetta Stew

4) Snacks

Quinoa Coconut Granola Bars (pictured)

Chocolate Chia Energy Bites

Easy Ginger Cake

Healthy Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Detox Bites

What are your favourite recipes to cook up and bring to new parents? Let me know in the comments below!

Snacks for Mommy!

What to do When it’s Cold

Indoor Fun Around Cincinnati


$$= Less than $10 (per child/participant)

$$$= $10-15 (per child/participant)

$$$$= over $15 (per child/participant)

Indoor Playgrounds/ Zones:

There are several of these located through the greater Cincinnati area and are a great way to just let your kids run and be mobile. Though at times a little crowded, they are sure to tire those little ones out.

  • Run, Jump, and Play $$. Located in Mason, OH. Open traditional playground area including netted in trampolines, inflatables, basketball, Comic Glo Arena for Mini-golf and bowling. Cost varies depending on play option. Season passes available.
  • Jump and Jacks $$. Located is West Chester, OH. Large Playground/ Jungle-Gym, Inflatables. Special area for toddlers ($4 for children 2 and under).
  • Bee Active Adventure Zone $$. Located in the Cincinnati Mills Center (AKA the old Forest Fair Mall). Inflatables and Gymnastics Gym. Offers $5 Fridays. Has separate structured gymnastics classes available to sign up for. Cost varies for age and skill level.
  • Totter’s Otterville $$. Located in Covington, KY. Playground and educational discovery areas. Designed for children 10 and under. Season Passes available.
  • EnterTRAINment Junction $$$. Located in West Chester, OH. Trains, fun house and more.  They are running a $12 do-it-all special through January, so now is the time to go.
  • Recreations Outlet $$. Located in Milford, OH and Liberty Twp, OH. Several indoor traditional playground area including netted trampolines. Season Passes available.
  • Kid Zoo $$. Located in Hebron, KY. Similar to Recreations Outlet.
  • Pogo Play Center $$. Located in Blue Ash, OH. Indoor Playground, building and creating zones, sports courts, and special toddler zone. Open play and special program. Season Passes Available.
  • Ozo Play Café $$. Located in Montgomery, OH Open play space to imagine and be creative. For children 6 and under.
  • Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center $. Located in Northside, OH. The play cafe is $3, but they do offer fun and educational semesters of classes for a fee as well.
  • Chik-fil-a $$. Locations all over the city.  Do your kids love the small play space as much as ours do?
  • Parky’s Playbarn $. Located in Finneytown, OH.  There is a lot of outside play to be had at Parky’s Farm as well, but this indoor play area features a ball pit, slides and tons of climbing fun.
  • Adventure Station $. Located in Sharon Woods. This is a fun indoor play area that looks a lot like kids are climbing up into a tree house.  There are slides and a ball pit as well as an indoor nature center to explore.

Sports/Large Motor Activity:

In addition to the locations listed below, many towns have local community centers that offer a wide varied of classes, programs, or sports leagues. Many offer discounts or one day passes to residents.

  • The Little Gym $$$$. Located in Mason, OH. Register for weekly gymnastic programs for ages 4mo-12 years. Or join the CMB during our “Play Day Events” to try out the gym.
  • Gymboree  $$$$.Located in Mason, OH. Register for weekly classes for large motor and music classes. For children 0-5 years.
  • Sky Zone  $$  Located in Springdale, OH. Indoor Trampoline Park. 30 minute sessions. Specific toddler times available. Recommended to call ahead to schedule jump time.
  • Zip City Cincinnati $$$$ Located in Sharonville, OH. Indoor zip lines, trampolines and rock wall.  30 minute sessions and single zips available for under $10 if you want a short experience. Must be at least 3 years old and 30 inches tall.
  • Castle Skateland Located in Loveland, OH
  • Sports Plus  Located in Evandale, OH. Indoor ice skating rink and sports courts.
  • Western Hills Sports Mall $$. Located in Western Hills, OH. Sports courts and leagues. Kid Zone with inflatable.
  • Crossgates Lanes $$. Located in Blue Ash, OH. Bowling for the whole family. There are many bowling alleys throughout the greater Cincinnati area this is only one centrally located suggestion.
  • Laser Kraze $$-$$$. Located in Erlanger, KY and Mason, OH. Laser tag, arcade and more.
  • Scallywag Tag $$-$$$. Located in Anderson Township, OH and the West Side. Laser tag, blacklight mini golf and arcade.
  • Indoor Water Parks: $$$$+
    • Coco Key Water Resort Pool, splash zones, and water slides. Day passes to park available. Season passes available.
    • Great Wolf Lodge Water Resort Must stay a Great Wolf Lodge to enter waterpark. Pool, splash zones, and water slides. Lodge has many other attractions.

Arts and Crafts:

Letting your kids get creative and messy is a great way for them to get energy out, especially when their physical activity is more limited. It’s also something fun that kids and parents can do together.

  • Pottery Painting: $$$-$$$$. There are several of these located in almost every area of the greater Cincinnati area. Fees and cost of pottery pieces vary. Here are a few options though:
  • My Little Red Haus $$$. Located in Montgomery, OH. Open art times as well as scheduled programs and lessons. Many different forums of art offered.
  • Contemporary Arts Center $. Downtown Cincinnati, OH. Program every Thursday morning at 10:30 designed for children 3-5 to be creative.

Museums and Educational Spaces:

We are fortunate to live in a city with several museums that appeal to all sorts of interests and activities that are kid friendly.

  • Cincinnati Museum Center $$$ (for all museum pass) Located in Cincinnati, OH. Three great museums in one: Cincinnati Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History and Science, Cincinnati History Museum. Can visit just one or go to all three. On the upper floor there is also an observation deck to view the trains as that come and go out of the terminal that few people are aware of. Season Passes are available.
  • Cincinnati Art Museum $ (additional $4 for parking). Located in Eden Park, OH. May appeal more to older school age and teenage children, though some younger children may also enjoy. Special free programming on last Wednesday of month mornings for toddlers & preschoolers. Additional programs available for school age and adult children though usually there is a fee.
  • Newport Aquarium $$$$. Located in Newport, Ky. One of the top aquariums in United States. Many interactive and hands-on experiences.
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center $$$. Located in Downtown Cincinnati. Self- guided and program tours available.
  • Queen City Underground Tour $$$$. Located in Downtown Cincinnati. Explore history of Cincinnati OTR district as well as venture under the city for a tour of the underground tunnels. Reservations required. Tours on Weekends only. Better suited children 12 and up (and parents).
  • Cincinnati Zoo Educational Programing $$$. Located in Clifton, OH. Programs for all age ranges of children/ teens. Most programs are hosted in the zoo education center.
  • Drake Planetarium $$. Located in Norwood, OH. Open for public shows though tickets are required.
  • Loveland Castle $$. Located in Loveland, OH. What better location to engage your little princess, pirate or knight in some imaginary play?

Don’t forget that we have a pretty incredible library system in the Greater Cincinnati area and there are endless FREE programs available through them.  Check your location for specific details.

What to do When it’s Cold

Reminders about the Babysitter

10 Tips From a Teenage Babysitter

When I got the call from Mrs. Leary* saying that my friend Hannah had recommended me as a babysitter for her two little girls, I accepted without hesitation. Mrs. Leary asked if my mom could drive me over on Friday night at 5:45 so that she and Mr. Leary could go out to dinner and the theater.

The girls, 3 and 5, were adorable, and nothing about those first few minutes at the Learys’ indicated that I was about to have one of the most disturbing experiences of my babysitting career. But after that evening, it occurred to me that with a little communication, some of the most difficult problems could be avoided. So I spoke to more than a dozen other teenage babysitters and came up with ten tips for parents who are contemplating hiring an adolescent to care for their kids.

Don’t assume I have my M.D.

When I arrived at the Learys’, the girls were well-behaved and happy to meet me. As Mrs. Leary was heading down the front steps, she casually turned and said, “Susannah will show you how to apply her compresses. She has a tiny rash, but it’s nothing to worry about!”

One hour later, I discovered that the “little rash” was actually full-fledged boils, as oozing and disgusting as anything I’ve ever seen. The application of the compresses involved keeping the water extremely warm, wringing out the cloth repeatedly and reapplying it over the course of two hours. I was shocked that Mrs. Leary would trust me to handle this task.

When I got home, my mother stood over me to make sure I washed my hands thoroughly, and the next morning she called Mrs. Leary to discuss the matter. Needless to say, I haven’t been back since. My suggestion to the Mrs. Learys out there: Warn the sitter ahead of time if your child requires any medical attention. Give her (and her parents) the chance to decide whether it’s appropriate and something she can handle.

Discuss details before you dash.

Too many teens have spent long hours sitting, sometimes for several children, only to have the parents hand them half of the going rate. And I suspect that many parents are stunned at the end of the evening when a sitter charges them twice as much as they’d expected to pay. Bringing up the issue of money can be embarrassing and awkward for teens: A friend of mine started turning down a family that didn’t pay enough simply because he was too nervous to ask for more money. To avoid confusion, negotiate the fee ahead of time, preferably before booking the sitter. If you’re unsure of what to offer, check with your neighbors or a local youth-employment office.

Another important issue: Make transportation plans in advance. Not all teenagers can drive, own cars or have parents who are willing to pick them up late at night.

Don’t expect me to have ESP.

Does your child need to sleep with a certain stuffed animal that tends to get lost around the house? Will she eat her grilled cheese sandwich only if it’s cut in triangles? Does he have a special word for his blanket or his bottle? Tell me before you go out. My friend Karen Clark, 16, of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, was putting a little girl to bed when the child requested a massage just like the one her father gave her every night. It was part of her “religion,” she said, and she couldn’t fall asleep without it! Karen rubbed the girl’s back but was put off by being asked to do such an intimate task; she might have felt less uncomfortable if the parents had explained it to her.

Once when I was caring for the 2-year-old across the street, I spent half an hour trying to interpret the word “fod.” I held up one object after another until I happened upon the little green frog he wanted.

Hide the evidence.

It may sound obvious, but don’t leave anything lying around that may embarrass you. If it’s something you wouldn’t want your mother, minister or child to see, it certainly shouldn’t be out where the babysitter can stumble upon it. A 16-year-old sitter from Nashville had the shock of her life when she went to the freezer for ice cream and found a bag full of marijuana. She didn’t say anything but felt incredibly awkward with the parents after that. Other embarrassing finds: pornography on the bookshelf and sex manuals under the coffee table.

Stock the fridge.

That night at the Learys’, I was instructed to give the girls dinner. I looked in the refrigerator and found only a small plate of ravioli, possibly enough for the two kids but certainly not enough for me as well. The freezer held one old carton of soy ice cream (but no marijuana, thank goodness). The cupboards were bare. Another time, Karen and I were babysitting together and discovered that every snack, dairy product and canned good had expiration dates from literally months before. While sitting for some people she describes as “health food freaks,” Mandy Blake, 17, of Dobbs Ferry, NY, discovered after the fact that the crackers she was told to give the little girl as a snack were teeming with mealworms. Nobody expects a pantry loaded with junk food, but there should be something that’s simple to prepare if you expect the sitter to feed your kids and a little something for him to munch on.

No surprises, please.

What I don’t know can be hazardous to my health, your child’s safety, or both. As Karen’s older sister, Maureen, 19, was putting the neighbor’s little girl to bed, the child asked Maureen to lie down with her until she fell asleep. Not a problem-until the next day, when the mother called and said, “I forgot to tell you. My daughter has lice.” Luckily, Maureen remained louse-free.

On one of my babysitting jobs, it was only after the parents returned that they told me their phone lines were out of order. I had spent hours that evening wondering why I couldn’t hear anyone who called and why I was repeatedly cut off when I tried to make a call.

Timing is everything—part 1

Nothing is worse than turning down a date or another job and then finding out at 5:30 PM on a Friday that my 6:00 job has been canceled. In the best circumstances, the family should provide at least a token payment. And if I’m your regular sitter, I will still need to know which night and what time you’d like me to come this weekend. Don’t call me half an hour before you need me; let me know early in the week.

Too far in advance can get tricky too. It’s hard to commit months ahead of time for ordinary weekend babysitting jobs, so unless it’s a special occasion or event, ask me only one or two weeks prior to the date.

Timing is everything—part 2

Be clear about how long you plan to be gone. It’s troubling when you expect parents to return at 11 PM and are still waiting for them at 1 AM. Renee Campbell, 15, of Branford, CT, has often been told it will be strictly a three-hour job and then found herself still babysitting six hours later. Obviously, sometimes this is out of your control—a concert runs long, there’s an accident on the highway—but call if you’re going to be much later than expected.

Don’t give me more than you can handle.

If you find it hard to comfort a crying infant and feed your toddler at the same time, imagine how difficult it will be for me. Giving me the option of bringing a friend to help is a good idea. This would have been a great solution for Holly Fellows, 16, of Hastings-on-Hudson, who found herself stuck with rambunctious twins who tormented her to the point of tears.

There are two approaches to the double-sitter situation. The first one is to hire two people and pay them both the going rate. The second is to tell your babysitter that she’s welcome to bring a friend along; the two of them will work out how to divide the money.

Rules are meant to be spoken.

A babysitter doesn’t instinctively know what’s off-limits. Can I use the phone? (If so, do you have call waiting? I won’t use the phone if I know that I’ll be tying up the line.) Is there a particular TV that you’d prefer I watch? Is any food being saved for tomorrow’s lunch?

Now that I have you scrambling to hide your X-rated videos and to stock your cabinets with gourmet treats, let me make a final point. For every parents-from-hell story, there’s probably an equally harrowing sitter-from-hell tale. But teenage babysitting benefits the parents (who have cheap, reliable labor), the children (who get an entertaining playmate) and, of course, the teenager, who, when the circumstances are right, makes some money—and has fun too.

Reminders about the Babysitter

Family Fun Activities

Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids


Want to pry your kid away from the screen? Try these fun ideas:

Design a nature-friendly backyard

Involve your tween in building a birdhouse, say, or planting a butterfly garden. (Find more ideas at Motivate him to keep an eye on his creation by setting up an observation station nearby, with binoculars, a camera and a journal.

Take a hike

Get your kid to help plan a trek to an enticing destination (like a waterfall). Then—and this is key—let him invite a friend. He’ll be way more into a day trip if he’s got a pal along.

Make a splash

Challenge him to a water fight. Use the old standards, like water balloons and squirt guns, or think outside the box with thick sponges, plastic cups and squirt bottles.

Tap into his techie side

Send your budding director outdoors with a digital video camera to film a movie with his friends. Or if you’re feeling Spielberg-esque yourself, make up a video scavenger hunt: Give your kid a list of silly things to hunt down, and film as he finds them. He can upload the footage and relive the fun with you when the sun goes down.
Rebecca Cohen, author of 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids, has three more ideas:

Speed racer

Design an obstacle course in your backyard or at a local park. Climb over a log, touch a rock, race to the third tree and run back!


Have everyone collect sticks and spell out letters, words and special messages. Want to make the task tougher? Have them build a tunnel of branches to crawl through.

100-yard splash

The fun doesn’t have to stop when it rains. Suit everyone up in rain gear, and head outside for a good ol’ puddle-splashing jamboree. The one with the largest splash wins!

With warm weather try these water games.

Family Fun Activities

Need to Know for Teachers


Top 14 Teacher Blogs

Blogs that have taught us a few things, made us laugh, made us cry, and reminded us that we are not alone in this sometimes stress-inducing, always awe-inspiring profession.

1. Best for Hands-on Activities

Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog
The Lowdown: Canadian first-grade teacher Kathy Cassidy invites readers into the classroom to interact with students and her dynamic lessons.

Why We Love It: Besides sharing fun ideas like making fairy-tale characters out of clay, Cassidy lets us witness her students’ learning firsthand by posting lots of videos and photographs. And another bonus: We get to learn from Cassidy’s many guest speakers, too!
Why She Loves Blogging: “My favorite thing about blogging,” says Cassidy, “is that the students literally have a worldwide audience. They see themselves as writers because people can and do read and comment on their work.”

2. Best News From the Trenches

Teach for Us
The Lowdown: Teach for America teachers share the ins and outs of the sometimes controversial program.
Why We Love It: Whether you want TFA dirt (like how tough the boot-camp training really is) or warm fuzzies (like one blogger’s quest to get her student to love books by reading with her nightly over the phone), you’ll find the goods in this collection of blogs from TFA corps members working all over the country.

3. Best for Art Teachers (or Other Happy Finger-Painters!)

The Teaching Palette
The Lowdown: Teachers Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee cover useful resources (like the best iPhone apps for art teachers), classroom-management techniques, and art-worthy news.
Why We Love It: With arts programs always under threat, it’s nice to feel like there’s an online home for people who value the importance of watercolor and oil paints.
Why They Love Blogging: Both McGee and Andrlik enjoy the opportunity to connect with teachers nationally and internationally. Says McGee, “Art education has a unique set of challenges, and blogging has created an online forum to share ideas.” Adds Andrlik, “Our readers often give us new insight on a topic or provide a fresh perspective based on their unique experience.”

4. Best for Super Science Ideas

The Lowdown: Middle school science teacher Darren Fix entertains with science lessons and experiments.
Why We Love It: Watch his Mr. Wizard-style experiments, like using a jellyfish to learn genetic engineering.
Why He Loves Blogging: Says Fix, “Posting stimulates my creativity and leads to new ideas. It’s a positive experience in a profession that unfortunately dwells on the negative too much.”

5. Best Superintendent Straight Talk

The Principals Page
The Lowdown: Illinois superintendent Michael Smith chronicles his day to day.
Why We Love It: Smith’s blog discusses everything from Ferris Bueller to teaching conferences to a surefire way for President Obama to fix education.
Why He Loves Blogging: Says Smith, “It allows a small-town superintendent to be involved in national or worldwide discussions on education issues.”

6. Best for Kid Book Reviews

A Year of Reading
The Lowdown: Teachers Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn review new children’s books.
Why We Love It: The reviews are always teacher-focused, pinpointing possible readers as well as how a book might be used in the classroom.
Why They Love Blogging: Says Sibberson, “The writing helps us stay current on books and with teaching.”

7. Best Student-Written Blog

Youth Voices
The Lowdown: Students and their teachers participate in a “colossal ongoing discussion about everything” via podcasts, videos, and blogs.
Why We Love It: This blog turns the typical student-teacher relationship on its head with both parties acting as equals and learning from each other.

8. Best Laugh-Out-Loud Blog

Regurgitated Alpha Bits
The Lowdown: An anonymous elementary school teacher blogs about the students she loves and the job she hates.
Why We Love It: This blog gives you totally true antics of the elementary school kind and tips you can really use: Preview “educational” videos before showing and be alert for fourth-grade make-out sessions! Perfect with a good cup of coffee, when you need to block out irritating colleagues, and when you could use a good laugh to start your day.

9. Best for Media Specialists

Techno Tuesday
The Lowdown: Media specialist Cathy Jo Nelson provides tips on incorporating library technology into lessons.
Why We Love It: Nelson shares creative research ideas as well as humorous daily tidbits.
Why She Loves Blogging: Says Nelson, “It enhances my ability to be reflective, to see how I have learned from others.”

10. Best for Problem Solving

Top Teaching
The Lowdown: Hear straight from Scholastic’s team of teacher advisors on topics ranging from reader’s workshop to discipline and organization.
Why We Love It: All of the photos and videos! Almost every post features a photo showing exactly how the teacher advisor implemented an idea in his or her classroom. You can also subscribe to the posts for just your grade level.

11. Best Substitute Secrets

Just a Substitute Teacher
The Lowdown: “Mr. Homework” tells harrowing tales of substitute life.
Why We Love It: Let’s be honest. Sometimes we’d rather come in sick than call in a sub. Mr. Homework, however, is one of the good guys. His outlook on the sub life (e.g., “Sometimes it’s not about actually teaching anything”) makes us wish he was in our district.

12. Most Entertaining Math Blog

Hooda Math Blog
The Lowdown: Math teacher and creator Michael Edlavitch uses games to teach math.
Why We Love It: The word games may conjure images of worksheets with cutesy pics and fill-ins, but Edlavitch goes way beyond that. His arcade games with Flash — complete with worksheets teachers can print out — are reminiscent of old favorites like Pac-Man. Check out Edlavitch’s new blog for his games and how they align with Common Core State Standards.

13. Best Classroom Use of Blogs

Learning Is Messy
The Lowdown: Brian Crosby discusses how he uses blogging and other technology in the classroom.
Why We Love It: Crosby’s creativity can’t help but draw us in. He has used Skype to broadcast a class visit from Christa McAuliffe’s mother and to communicate with a student who is on home instruction due to leukemia.
Why He Loves Blogging: Says Crosby, “It is the strongest resource I have experienced in 28 years of teaching.”

14. Best View of the Inner City

The Jose Vilson
The Lowdown: Artist, poet, and math educator Jose Vilson gives the inner city a human face by blogging about sometimes touchy topics.
Why We Love It: Vilson does not shy away from tackling the controversial, such as his entry about the shortage of black Latino male teachers like himself. He’s passionate about changing education and exposing inner-city reality, and his passion is contagious.

Need to Know for Teachers