Archives for April 2013

30 Blogs with the Best Tips for Dealing with Cranky In-Laws

When you enter into a romantic relationship with someone, you aren’t just inviting a new person into your life, you’re inviting his family, too. Not everyone gets along with their significant other’s parents though, and if you reach a stage where you start referring to your husband’s family as “the dreaded in-laws,” then you know you have a problem. Cranky, overbearing or pushy in-laws can put considerable strain on a relationship, and while you can try to avoid your in-laws, that inevitably just creates more problems. The best option when dealing with cranky in-laws is to face the problem as a couple. These 30 blogs will help you understand why your in-laws are so cranky, and what you can do to deal with the situation.

Understanding Cranky People

The first step towards creating a harmonious relationship with your in-laws is learning what makes them cranky. In-laws are no more predisposed towards crankiness than anyone else. There are psychological triggers involved; all of which are easily overcome with the right approach and attitude. These five blogs delve into the minds of the cranky, angry and confrontational and provide you with invaluable insight into the psyche of your grumpy in-laws.

Preparing for a Stress-Free Visit

There is much that you can do to prepare for visiting in-laws before they arrive so that everything goes as smoothly as possible. By making sure that you are completely stress-free in anticipation of your in-laws’ arrival, you can set the tone and atmosphere for the visit. Every relationship is a two-way street, which means you bear equal responsibility for making an effort. In these five blogs you will find expert tips on preparing for visiting in-laws.

Advice Column Tips

Sometimes just getting things off your chest can go a long way towards relieving the frustration of dealing with in-laws. Communicating your feelings with your partner is important too, without letting anger or resentment rule over the discussion. It is also good to know that you’re not alone and that others have had similar experiences with their own in-laws. These five blogs contain first-hand accounts, tips and advice from people who have dealt with cranky in-laws.

General In-Law Tips

Problems with in-laws can involve any member of your partner’s family. Remember, you did not get to choose who your in-laws are, nor did they get to choose you. There is a very good chance that you will have conflicts with at least one person in your partner’s family, so it’s best to know how to deal with any situation. These five blogs provide general advice on dealing with cranky in-laws; whether it’s your mother-in-law, sister-in-law or your partner’s second cousin, twice removed.

Pushy Parents and Grandparents

Parents and grandparents are the most likely in-laws to become cranky; which usually results from you or your partner not doing things their way. They may have the best intentions in the world, but if it is causing problems in your relationship, it’s time to set the record straight. Remember, this is a very sensitive situation, so read these five blogs for tips on how to approach pushy parents and grandparents.

Vacationing In-Laws

A flying visit is one thing, but when you are spending an extended period of time with your in-laws, relationships can become quite strained. You can survive vacationing with your in-laws; you just need the right tools and tips to get you through. These five blogs will help you make the most of your holidays, without worrying about those cranky in-laws.

10 of the Best iPhone Apps to Track Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is both a wonderful and challenging time in a woman’s life. From the planning stage right through to the day of delivery, tracking your baby’s progress becomes a labor of love. You will want to know what your baby looks like, how he is coping and whether you are doing everything right to keep him safe and well nourished. Equipping your iPhone with the best tools to guide you through your pregnancy is a good place to start. These ten apps from the iTunes store are perfect for helping moms track every stage of pregnancy.

  1. What to Expect – From the authors of the book that has been dubbed “the pregnancy bible of America” comes the free app, “What to Expect when you’re Expecting.” You can accurately calculate your due date, track your baby’s progress week-by-week, and set a countdown to your due date. The app is an extension of the huge community of expectant and new moms at the What to Expect website.
  2. Pregnancy Sprout Lite – Whether you are expecting your first, second or tenth baby, this free app is an extremely useful tool. Expectant moms can use Sprout to plan doctor visits, record symptoms and create a hospital bag checklist. The app also has a number of other features, including the ability to create a list of useful comments and advice from the “Doctor Says” section of the app.
  3. ExpectingBaby by Enfamil – This free app from Enfamil is packed full of features that will take you through every stage of your pregnancy. ExpectingBaby comes with a built-in countdown timer, weekly developmental facts and intelligent checklists to help you stay organized throughout your pregnancy. When you begin experiencing contractions, the app will help you keep time, as well as allow you to contact friends and family with a quick notification feature. If you should find yourself too far away from your chosen hospital, use the app’s integrated map tool to find the closest alternative.
  4. Pilates for Pregnancy – Complete – The main purpose of this $9.99 app is keeping mom fit and well during all stages of her pregnancy. Pilates for Pregnancy is broken up into three stages, which reflect the exercise needs of expectant moms according to trimester. Although this app focuses on pregnancy fitness, there are also a number of other features, including a pregnancy planner, photo album and journey.
  5. My Pregnancy Today – Encapsulating the knowledge of their own Medical Advisory Board and that of a 25 million strong community of moms, Baby Center has released this magnificent free app. You can track your baby’s progress with images, checklists and videos, monitor your calorie count and manage all your appointments with one easy to use interface.
  6. WebMD Pregnancy – Expectant moms can put many of their pregnancy concerns to rest with this free app from WebMD. With over 600 articles that deal with nutrition, common pregnancy conditions, symptoms and concerns, the app essentially has the answer before you ask the questions. There is also a customizable “ask my doctor” feature, which provides you with a list of common questions that you can take to each doctor appointment.
  7. Pregnancy Health – This no-frills, free app acts as an aide to expectant moms who are concerned about pregnancy and baby-associated health risks. Every health-related topic is covered, including cesarean section, child birth, diabetes and postpartum care. The app uses a customized search engine, which returns results specific to pregnancy and healthcare.
  8. Baby Names – There are over 60,000 boys’ and girls’ names available on this free app, which are searchable by name, meaning or popularity. You can learn practically everything you need to know about each name on the list, including origins, pronunciation and popularity ranking.
  9. Pregnancy Food No-No’s – One aspect of pregnancy that often causes confusion is what mom can and cannot eat. The simple, free app “Pregnancy Food No-No’s” is a comprehensive guide to the foods you need to avoid. The app is broken down into easy to navigate categories according to common food groups.
  10. Pregnancy Handbook FREE – If you’re a bookworm and expecting mom, this is a free app that you’ll want to have on your iPhone. There are 12 chapters in all in the Pregnancy Handbook, with familiar eBook functionality that allows you to easily navigate and mark chapters. This app is both an enjoyable read and comprehensive reference tool for prospective and pregnant moms.

25 Blogs with Inspiring Ideas for Throwing a First Birthday Party

Planning your child’s first birthday party is a big deal.  While it’s unlikely that your child will remember anything about the day, the pictures from this momentous occasion will last a lifetime.  So much happens during a baby’s first year, and your “baby” graduates into a toddler around his first birthday. As you start to plan the party, take into consideration different themes that you enjoy and that reflect your baby’s growing personality. Once you decide on a theme, you can order or make your invitations.  Then, gather some decorations that build on the theme and decide where and how you are going to use them.  The next thing to focus on is food.  Decide whether you want to make the food yourself or purchase it ahead of time. Lastly, you might think about party favors that you can send home with your guests so they can remember the day.  For help with these steps, check out these 25 blog entries.

Theme

When deciding on a theme, there are a couple of options to consider.  You can tie the theme to the birthday child by looking at his nursery theme, what toys he likes to play with or what his favorite food is.  Another option is to pick a theme that makes you happy.  The birthday boy won’t remember this day anyway, so you are doing this as much for you as you are for him.  If he loves cookies, throw him a milk and cookie party. If he loves to play with a rubber ducky in the bathtub, throw him a rubber ducky bubble party.  Take a look at these five blog posts for more help with figuring out a theme.

Invitations

Choosing an invitation for a first birthday can be as easy as going to the party store and picking from the selection they have, but there are so many more interesting ways to create an invitation.  You can make invitations that reflect the theme or you can order personalized ones online.  Another trend with first birthday invitations is to include photos of the birthday boy every month of his first year of life.  If you have these pictures, you can create an invitation like that and give everyone that’s invited a keepsake.  For more ideas on invitations, glance through these five blog articles.

Decorations

Decorations help create a certain feeling for the party. Do you want the party to be pink and girly? Then go with fluffy pink decorations!  If you have a theme, try to tie the decorations in with it so that your theme carries through everything you do.  You will find plenty of inspiration for creating the perfect decorations when you look through these five blog posts.

Food

If you like to cook, then you can make the food for the party yourself. If you find that too overwhelming, consider cooking part of it and buying the rest.  Sometimes it’s hard to tie the food into a theme, but if you can it will add a fun detail to the party.  If the theme is about monkeys, then have a banana flavored cupcake.  Sometimes you can rename the food something funny to tie in with the theme and create a crafty label telling everyone what they are about to eat.  Food can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it, so take a look at these five blog entries for more ideas.

Party Favors

While party favors aren’t absolutely necessary, they do give you an opportunity to thank your guests for joining in the celebration. Something as simple as a decorated cookie in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon can make a sweet party favor.  Kids at this age aren’t expecting bags of toys, so don’t feel like you have to go that direction with a first birthday party.

How to Help Your Baby Learn to Self-Soothe

Sleep deprivation affects parents and babies alike. Teaching your baby to self-soothe can make the difference between waking refreshed in the morning and reluctantly dragging yourself out of bed to make it through one more day. Some parents may be wary of the process of self-soothing because it can seem heartless, yet when done properly, parents and baby both benefit.

Realize that Self-Soothing is a Necessary Skill

When your baby learns to self-soothe, you both have easier rest periods and will be more content. For the most part, parents of self-soothers report that their infants are better sleepers than those who are not. Many parents observe that their children quietly play, hum or mumble until they fall asleep. They also notice that their kids spend more time in the crib than being held during the night.

For those babies that haven’t yet learned to self soothe, life can be exhausting for the entire family. When a child wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn’t need to eat, the diaper is dry and generally everything is fine, but she still can’t get back to sleep, parents and siblings suffer along with the crying infant. Teaching a baby to self-soothe isn’t essential to the baby’s health and well-being, or yours, but it may make life considerably easier. When she’s older, however, your child will need to know how to self-soothe so that she’s able to fall asleep independently.

Research Self-Soothing

It may help to know that in a research study led by University of Philadelphia professor of psychology Marsha Weinraub, most of the 1,200 children studied who had trouble sleeping tended to be breast-fed boys. She determined after the study that it was advisable to leave babies alone at naptime or bedtime in order for them to learn how to self-soothe, even if they ended up crying for a while. She found that the crying has no lasting negative effects on the children.

This supports earlier research done by pediatric sleep specialist Jodi Mindell, PhD. She also advises allowing babies to cry it out in order to learn to self soothe. For Dr. Mindell, research came before motherhood, so when she gave birth to her first child people were curious about her experience and wondered if she would stand by her theories. In fact, regarding her findings and book – “Sleeping though the Night: How infants, Toddlers and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep” (Harper and Collins 1997) she is quoted as saying, “Having a baby myself just reinforced how accurate they are.” Even though the first few times may be difficult for parents and babies, Weinraub believes that allowing an infant to get back to sleep without nursing or being held is essential if parents expect for their child to sleep through the night. If the child is over nine months, she especially believes that it’s time to let baby figure out how to self-soothe. As long as you know that your baby is safe and that everything is okay, allowing him to get back to sleep without parental help may actually be the best thing.

Have Age-Appropriate Expectations

According to an article from the National Institute of Health, some infants will begin self-soothing behaviors around 4-6 months of age. Not many studies have been done on self-soothing, but of the ones that have been done, it seems as though not all babies develop self-soothing skills within the first year. For those who are able to do it, the practice increases as the baby grows older.

Tips for Encouraging Self-Soothing

Self-soothing will go much more smoothly when the infant knows that all of her needs are going to be met. Your baby needs to develop a strong sense of security, knowing that she will be taken care of and that you will be there when she needs you. Spending time interacting with your baby and establishing a routine will help her feel secure because she will know what to expect.

Realize that it may take a while before your baby learns how to self-soothe. This means there will be crying involved, and as a nurturing parent you will most likely feel the urge to run to your child’s aid and provide comfort. Resist the urge, and allow your baby to work it out by herself. As long as she’s not wearing a dirty diaper, feeling hunger or suffering from an illness, your child will eventually learn that you do not need to be there to help her get to sleep.

Establish a regular bedtime and do your best to stick with it. This will get baby in sync with natural rhythms for sleeping. Soon you will find that your baby naturally becomes sleepy when that time comes around.

Comforting routines will prepare the baby for sleep time and send her signals to start self-soothing. A warm bath, a story and a few quiet minutes together are examples of bedtime routines. Some parents have certain music that they play to signal bedtime. If you choose music, remember to make sure it is soft and soothing, not loud or exciting. Put your baby to bed while she’s still awake but beginning to become drowsy. She may latch on to a favorite blanket or toy for security. This is often part of the process. You will still provide comfort for your baby from time to time, for example when you are traveling or when you are away from home.

Keep in mind that learning to self-soothe is a process that requires fortitude and a strong sense of commitment, and that some babies learn it easier than others. If you can stick it out during the initial phases, you and your child will be much happier and much more rested in the end.

10 Personalized Gift Ideas for a Baby’s Baptism

There are many occasions in a child’s life that will call for gift-giving and celebrations, the first of which is her baptism. Symbolizing absolution from original sin and entry into the religious faith of her family, baptism is an important milestone in a child’s life and is often the first opportunity for her extended family and close family friends to meet her. As a result, it’s customary to commemorate the occasion with a gift. For such an intensely personal occasion, a personalized gift may be more appropriate than a generic one. These are ten of the best personalized baptismal gifts to celebrate the birth and christening of a new life.

  1. Bibles – Baptism is a ceremony that spans several denominations, but is almost solely within the realm of Christianity. What better gift to commemorate a child’s acceptance into the fold than the Word of God? Smaller New Testament bibles and larger, more comprehensive ones alike can be stamped on the cover with any information you’d like, including the child’s name, her birth date or the date of her baptism. To make the gift even more personal, write a short blessing on the flyleaf that she can read when she gets older.
  2. Embroidered Blankets – You don’t have to be handy with a needle and thread to gift an embroidered blanket for a baby’s baptism; local and online retailers alike may offer it as an additional service after purchasing a blanket, or may offer embroidery for a higher price on items that were not purchased in-house. The child’s name or even just her initials will make for a beautiful, cuddly keepsake.
  3. Engraved Baby Cups – Christening cups have been a popular gift to commemorate the baptism or christening of a baby boy since the Victorian era, though the roots of the tradition may extend much farther into history. Regardless of the historical implications, an engraved christening cup is a wonderful gift if you’d like to take a more traditional route.
  4. Savings Bonds – The parents of the baby that’s being baptized are likely to have a staggering amount of baby gear after the baby shower and birth of their little bundle of joy. Rather than adding to the mound of tchotckes, why not show your investment in the child’s life my making a literal investment? Savings bonds are a gift that will be truly appreciated by the child as she gets older, and serve a practical purpose in addition to the sentimental gesture.
  5. Jewelry – Baptism jewelry is particularly popular among those of the Catholic faith, and is easily customized by the addition of a child’s birthstone or an engraving of her initials. Crosses, saints’ medals and guardian angels are popular choices.
  6. Crosses – There are crosses that dangle from a necklace, and larger ones that can be placed prominently on a nursery wall as a symbol of both faith and your affection for the child being baptized. Crosses can be hand-painted to include a baby’s initials, her name or even her birth information.
  7. Personalized Story Books – Personalized story books aren’t difficult to find, but they still tend to be an unexpected and unique gift choice. Some companies specializing in personalized books offer religiously-themed stories in keeping with the baptismal theme, and your special little one will be thrilled to recognize his own name in a bedtime story as he gets a bit older.
  8. Photo Frames – High-quality photo frames, especially those made of precious metals, make an elegant and classy baptismal gift that can be engraved with any information you’d like. Commemorate the day of Baby’s birth, her baptism or create an heirloom item she can cherish throughout her life by choosing a pattern that will age along with her and also includes her name or initials.
  9. Keepsake Boxes – Whether they’re used as jewelry boxes or to hold special mementos, a keepsake box painted, carved or engraved with the name of the guest of honor can be perfect baptism gifts.
  10. Christening Pillows – These decorative pillows aren’t safe for Baby to rest her head on or use in a crib, but they do make beautiful gifts that commemorate her birth and entry to the faith. For added practicality, look for a pillow with a removable cover that can be embroidered with her name and details, as the pillow will need to be cleaned over the years.

Depending on your faith and your role in the child’s life, your gift may need to be a bit more elaborate. Godparents, for instance, may want to make a larger gesture as a symbol of their investment in the life of their new godchild.