Give Your Toddler A Job by Wendy Toone

iStock_000000663880XSmall.jpgWhat can often be a parents’ worst nightmare?? A long wait in a waiting room or lobby with an active toddler or two. Does the thought of sitting in a small, stifling lobby or waiting with youngsters in tow make you cringe? If you’re like me, one giant question races through the mind: How am I going to occupy my children so they aren’t consumed with boredom which results in their running around or squabbling with each other? In my previous article I reviewed a few gross motor exercises you can do to make waiting time go by. In this article, I’ll share with you some fine motor exercises that work for me.
1. Fingers. Finger songs are great waiting games. “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “10 Little Indians”, “Where is Thumbkin?” are all fun songs for kids. If it’s a quiet room you’re waiting in, whisper singing brings a new twist to the songs. Don’t worry – Paula and Simon won’t be judging you. You’re a parent; you can get away with it. Don’t forget about “Twinkle Little Star”, which is a natural progression to practicing one’s “ABC’s”……weird how they’re the same tune, huh? If you’re really on a roll and there are others waiting with you, earn a gold star by getting everyone to do a rousing chorus of “The Wheels On the Bus”. Party on!!
2. Toes. Yep, wiggling fingers counts as fine motor, but so does the wiggling of toes. Harkening back to the ballet lessons of my childhood, I remember learning “flex” and “point”. Of course, all ballerinas are supposed to point their toes. But it takes muscle control to make little feet point down and flex up to the sky. Have your child sit down and extend their legs in front of them. Using imagery such as lighting a candle (flex their feet), blowing out the candle (point their toes), can sometimes teach the concept to very young children.
3. Carry a scarf with you. Not only can you accessorize at a moment’s notice (fabulous, dahling!), but you’ll be amazed how you can occupy yourself and your child. Smooth it out and teach shapes…. it’s a square…. take one corner and fold it into a triangle…. can you make a rectangle? You can be silly, too. Be a ghost by putting it over your child’s head. Turn him/her into Little Red Riding Hood. Tell the story if they’ve never heard it. (Don’t forget to use funny voices to really hold their attention.) Use your imagination, and your child’s imagination. And encourage them to manipulate the scarf to really get those fine muscle groups working.
So the next time you and your child are waiting, don’t let boredom get the best of you. Don’t worry about your child getting out of control. Use the time to develop your child’s fine motor skills, and watch how the time quickly goes by. I am often asked a question that sounds like this, “Other than fine motor and gross motor exercises, is there anything else I can do to pass the time with my child while waiting anywhere?” Do you know the answer? Hint – I Spy, children’s digital picture books!
wendy.jpegWendy Toone is a child expert having owned and operated a leading franchise children’s fitness center and now producing MobiStories, Digital Books for KidsTM, as well as being a mom to her two children. To experience the world of digital children’s picture books, visit
Mommy's HHShoesCover510x680.pngTo download a free copy of Mommy’s High Heel Shoes for your PC or Mac, visit and enter the promo code: MHHS0710. The offer expires 8/22.Mommy’s High Heel Shoes is also available for download as an app via the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad in the iTunes store where you can check out more great story apps from MobiStories: To order a hard cover copy of Kristie Finnan’s book, Mommy’s High Heeled shoes, visit her at
*This advertorial post is sponsored by the Role Mommy Writers Network.

The Waiting Game: Tips to Keep Kids Busy Guest Contributor Wendy Toone shares great tips on how to keep your kids occupied when you’ve got tons of errands to run!
iStock_000012475640XSmall.jpgAs a mom of two, I know I’m not alone when I say how challenging it is to keep young kids occupied while doing any sort of waiting. And by challenging, I mean “grit-your-teeth, pull your hair out, I can’t believe they’re doing that in public” challenging. How many times have you had to stop in to the bank for a quick transaction with a toddler in tow, only to find a line so long you think you made a wrong turn and ended up at the DMV. What to do?? You look at your toddler…at the line…at the very important banking you need to do…at your toddler…. at the line. It may seem like a hopeless situation, but it’s not. I’m here to help.
Here are a few of my tried and true tips and ideas to try the next time you find yourself in a queue, a waiting room, on a plane, or any other situation where you may need to keep your little ones quiet and at bay. They’ve worked for me; I hope they work for you. The basic premise is to keep your child busy. By giving them something specific to do you’ll be combating boredom, and may have fun in the process. So, give your toddler a job…Part 1 offers Gross Motor Exercises. In my follow up article I offer some Fine Motor Exercises. And the series will finish with the all-important Cognitive Exercises, to keep your little one thinking all the time.
“Gross” Motor Exercises (exercises for the large muscle groups, not the yucky ones)
Youngsters need to be active. It seems as though they’re wired that way. Running, jumping, rolling are all part of everyday life for toddlers – after all, physical and cognitive development is their job. So, since screen time may not be an option, how can we expect them to stand still for any length of time? That doesn’t mean you can turn your little one loose in the lobby. But you can encourage the use of large muscle groups, keeping them active but in one spot.
1. Flamingo Stand – have your child extend his/her arms out to the side for balance, then pick up one foot and see how long they can stand on the other foot. Naturally you’ll want to make sure you both have a bit of room in case of tips and tumbles. But the goal is not to fall down. The goal is to stay up…counting helps and creates an opportunity for improvement as each time they try they get to higher and higher numbers.
Once your child (and probably you as well) tire of the Flamingo Stand, move on to this one.
2. Little, Big – have your child do basic squats. For those of you who workout, you know how fatiguing it can be to burn those thigh muscles. Your child reaches as tall as she/he can, up on tiptoes, then squats down as little as they can, but staying on their feet. Think duck squat. In fact, you can even give a whispered little “quack, quack” if it helps. You can get big, now get little, as often as you’d like. Be certain not to go too fast…. otherwise you move into jumping, which may require more room than you have at hand.
We adults will probably feel the burning sensation in our legs much sooner than your child; however, you can probably stop at any time and watch your child go, go, go, go.
These are just a couple of gross motor exercises you can do with your child. By the way, why do they call them gross motor exercises? I’m sure you can now think of many others along these same lines. When it comes to waiting on long lines, giving your child something productive to do will make the waiting time pass more quickly. I look for anything to pass the time by. Whether it’s Gross Motor, Fine Motor or even just watching digital picture books to exercise your child’s brain. You know, whatever it takes. They’re only this young once!
a5b224b2-03de-47b6-ac1f-08120eaf7d35.jpeg Wendy Toone is a child expert having owned and operated a leading franchise children’s fitness center and now producing MobiStories, Virtual Books for KidsTM, as well as being a mom to her two children. To experience the world of digital children’s picture books, visit
To download a free digital book for your PC visit, click on Summer (in the Ages 2 – 4 category) add it to the cart and Michelle Obama then enter the code SUM0710 in the Coupon Code Box.
*This post is sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network.

Avoiding the Summer Reading Slump

4708541783_73def324fa.jpegGuest contributor and producer Wendy Toone, offers great tips on how your kids can avoid brain drain when they’re out of school. Take a look…
It’s Summertime! Catching fireflies, eating dinner on the deck, swimming, no school!!!
What have your kids been doing? Waking up late, lazing around in front of the TV? It’s nice to decompress after the school year. For a few days. But now what?? Camps, classes, playdates can fill up the days and keep the kids active and occupied. But my fear is always that their brains will turn to mush by mid-July, leaving them (and in turn, me) frustrated and floundering come mid-September when they’re back in school with flabby grey matter that hasn’t been exercised in way too long.
According to Kent State Graduate School of Education’s Dr. Timothy Rasinski, professor of literacy education, students can lose as much as 3 month’s worth of reading level over the summer. Research shows that younger elementary school students rarely make up deficits in reading once they fall behind. Conversely, students who read during the summer could end up 3 months ahead, too.
So, why not be even just a little pro-active in keeping your kids reading. That doesn’t mean they need to plow through “War and Peace” by August 24th. Here are just a few FUN ways reading can become part of your family’s summer fun activities:
Don’t fight TV: Kids insist on watching TV? Try letting them… with the sound off and the closed caption on (sneakyyyyy)
Act it out: Get the whole family in the act and tackle one of the classics as a play. How fun is “Charlotte’s Web” when every family member plays a different character and reads aloud…don’t forget to speak in accents and voices, use arm motions, whatever to have FUN.
Campfire stories: The art of storytelling is the original ‘reading’ before the printed page…. Everything sounds good around a fire – family memories, ghost stories, or fairy tales can captivate kids. Try a “make-it-up” story where everyone adds just one line at a time.”
Discover the classics : Treasuries of classic literature is available for even younger readers that may not be ready for the “real” version. Advanced readers can expand their world with the likes of Jules Verne and Mark Twain in addition to Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling!
Log reading hours in a Read-A-Thon : Several non-profit groups such as Reading Is Fundamental and PBS Kids have read-a-thons that can be found on the web. Great goal-setting activity for the summer as well!
Use Your Local Library!! So many summer programs are available for all ages/reading levels. Story/song time for toddlers, book clubs for tweens and teens…And they’re FREE!
Organize a Book Swap: Get together with friends and neighbors to exchange previously read books. This allows the kids to read the latest titles (not always available at the library) while you save $$.
Get your kids excited about reading this summer by getting them excited about stories in new ways to keep them from suffering the “Summer Reading Slump.”
My Photo.jpegWendy Toone is a child expert, having owned and operated a leading children’s fitness center and now produces MobiStories, Digital Books for KidsTM. She is a cableAce-award winning television producer and has worked on hundreds of television commercials as a Production Manager after spending a decade onstage as a professional dancer. Wendy’s two children have been inspirational in the creation of MobiStories.
One more week to win an iPod Touch! Visit this link, re-tweet the road trips post and then leave a comment offering your own road trip survival tips. We’ll share your tips with the team at MobiStories and they will ultimately decide the winner of an iPod Touch! The contest runs throughout the month of June and we’ll select a winner on July 5. Runners up will receive a $25 iTunes card as well as an autographed copy of The Marvelous Toy signed by Grammy award-winner Tom Paxton.
To download a free digital book for your PC visit, click on Summer (in the Ages 2 – 4 category) add it to the cart and Michelle Obama then enter the code SUM0710 in the Coupon Code Box. Here’s a How To video for reference as well.
To purchase more stories, visit Mobistories on iTunes.

Teaching Kids How To Surf

iStock_000012760770Small.jpgSummer time in Hawaii and many other coastal areas usually means a lot of swimming and water sports. One of my favorites is surfing. If your child want to learn, here are some tips to stay active, healthy, and safe in the surf!
Make sure your child is a strong swimmer before taking them out. It’s always a good idea to buy a surf lesson or surf experience for the first time. Waikiki beach is a great place to learn here in Hawaii. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen or better yet a rash guard to protect against UV exposure and your abdomen from constant rubbing on the
board. You should always surf with a buddy and never go out alone.
Here are some pointers for your little surfer to know:
Picking the right board:
For beginners, bigger boards usually mean an easier time catching a wave. I recommend renting a board before you purchase one.
Find the right location:
If you don’t know the area ask around to find a spot with a gentle consistent wave.
Learning to paddle
Position your body in the middle of the board and start to paddle your arms.
When larger waves are coming at you when you are paddling out, do a duck dive where you duck your head and push the nose (front) of the board down.
Catching the wave
Turn your board around and paddle hard when you see a wave coming. When you feel yourself taking off then you can attempt to stand up, which takes some balance and a few tries, but you will get it!
Surf’s up!!
Professional Mom Blogger
patrice[1].jpgPatrice is the creator of “Mom’s Best Bets,” a site to inspire a healthier way of living. Patrice lives in beautiful Hawaii, has a Master’s degree in educational psychology, and is a full time mommy. She is also a wife, model, fashion wearing, organic eating, healthy living mom who strives to discover the BEST in products, food, vitamins, and fashion!

Are Crunches Making You Fat?

Post-pregnancy secrets for a flatter stomach by guest contributor and fitness expert, Chris Kelly
crunchmom.JPGIn my experience as a personal trainer, one of the most common requests from moms new and old are exercises to flatten the stomach back to pre-baby shape. But after several years of sit ups and crunches–which come in addition to the abdominal trauma of the actual birthing process–what I usually find in the quest for a firmer mid-section is a set of conditions which prevent this from ever occurring.
In order to understand what I mean, it is important to examine the subject. The typical Mom I train spends several hours sitting, wears heels on a regular basis and is quite often found anxiously chasing the kids around. Because all of these activities lead to tightness in the muscles which flex the hips forward (hip flexors, quads, etc), the common result is an increased arch in the back which causes the stomach to protrude (or anterior pelvic tilt)–regardless of bodyfat.
During a sit up or crunch, tightness in these muscles causes the lumbar spine to curl the trunk forward–rather than the hip– due to restricted motion at the hip. Much like bending a credit card will cause it’s surface to wear and eventually snap in half, repetitive crunching (or flexion) motions have been shown to be one of the leading causes of back pain.
With this in mind, it is no wonder that studies have shown that a heightened risk of back pain lingers years after pregnancy (It makes me wonder if these women tried crunches to fix the problem?!).
By contrast, the key to a flat stomach post pregnancy is not stronger abs, but rather the ability to consciously and unconsciously contract and control the abdominal muscles to provide support to the body. Much like a weightbelt, contracting the abdominals signals these muscles to tighten around the spine to provide increased support during daily life and exercises such as squatting and bending over.
In this way, the real life function of the core is to stabilize the trunk by preventing excessive movement. In relation to training for a flat stomach, this means that exercises such as planks and side planks which force us to hold the body still are a key ingredient which is often overlooked.
This type of “stability” based training has added benefit of this type of training is the ability to flatten the stomach on command!
But in order to do so, the key ingredient is learning (or re-learning) the ability to consciously tighten and release the stomach. In our work with clients training for a flat stomach, this comes down to a simple three step process:
Step #1: Breath and brace:
For anyone who has taken pilates, one of the major concepts in this form of exercises is learning proper breathing during abdominal exercise. This type of breathing means taking deep, measured through the nose and allowing the belly to fill with air and expand outward without lifting the chest.
By contrast, inhaling through the mouth causes us to lift the chest and shoulders to initiate each breath without proper motion at the diaphragm. In this upper chest breathing pattern, the diaphragm does not move downward causing increased tension in the muscles of the low back–reinforcing the excess arching of the back described above.
Deep breathing sets the tone for the entire core by allowing the diaphragm to move properly. This is why it is important to practice deep breathing along with your training described below. Once this is accomplished, our next challenge is to integrate deep breathing with conscious abdominal contractions.
Described in the accompanying video, engaging the abdominal brace during abdominal exercises ensures the right muscles are moving at the right times. In our system, this bracing exercise is performed as a warm up drill to remind clients to brace during abdominal exercises. Our general progression begins with five 5 second holds and adds 5-10 seconds per week until brace can be maintained for 30 seconds. We will then move on to the next level.
Deep breathing video link
Step #2: Crunchless core training:
According to renowned physical therapist Shirley Sahrmann the primary role of the abdominals is to provide isometric support and limit rotation and extension of the trunk at the lumbar spine. A large percentage of low back problems occur because the abs do not maintain tight control over the waistline.
With that said, my other issue with crunches is that they target primarily the rectus abdominus (or center of the stomach). Because this muscle cannot control rotation, crunches do little to protect the back against pain.
Combine this with daily activities such as hunching forward over a computer and bending over to pick up the kids and we literally spend hours in a crunched position every day! And while the rectus becomes tightened due to excessive use, a major strength imbalance often exists between this muscle and the external oblique’s (side abs)
Much like the traditional six pack, the external also act to prevent excessive arching of the back while also preventing rotation. In most cases, this means our strategy with most clients training for a flat stomach is to ditch crunching motion in favor of movements which strengthen the external oblique’s (side abdominals).
In the above circuit, we combine an exercise which involves movement of the arms to target the external oblique along with two “stability” exercises to train support of the core. Performed along with the brace as a warm up, this strategy is the ideal solution for systematically developing a flat stomach while strengthening the abs for daily life.
In terms of progression, we generally begin with eight reps of the first exercise and add two per week until reaching 12. We will then move to a harder progression. For the plank and side plank, begin by holding for 20 seconds and add 5-10 seconds per week until reaching 45 seconds. Then increase the difficulty as described in the video.
Core circuit video
Step #3: Taking it to the street:
After performing core training on the floor, the ultimate goal is to transfer your results to standing. This means integrating the bracing technique in to daily activities which
test the ability to remain strong and stable. Combined with our core training, practicing the brace in standing positions is truly the secret to allowing us to maintain a flat stomach
at all times during the day.
Standing Brace video
Program Guidelines:
Perform five reps of 5-10 second holds of the abdominal brace exercise as a warm up before your abdominal circuit
Perform deep breathing while maintaining your brace
Perform eight reps of each exercise listed in the abdominal circuit.
Perform these exercises back to back three times
Add two reps and/or 5-10 seconds per exercise for 3-4 weeks before moving to next progression
Practice the standing bracing drill several times per day in order to build endurance and control in the abs
In order to progress this drill, add 5-10 seconds per week until reaching 45 seconds. Then move on to the next progression
Program warm up:
Floor brace progression
Abdominal Circuit:
Plank w/push up
Plank hold
Side plank hold
Standing brace practice progression
headshot1.jpgChris Kelly is the creator of Core Complete, a service providing customized online core programs for runners, models, actors and clients of all types seeking a flat and well defined mid-section. For more information about Chris and Core Complete, visit his blog.

10 Things I Learned When I Became a Father: Guest Post Corner

0470594241.jpegJust in time for Father’s Day, an excerpt from What Would Rob Do?: An Irreverent Guide to Surviving Life’s Daily Indignities, by Rob Sachs.
With one month to go in my wife Anna’s second pregnancy I’m about to become a dad all over again. This time around things seem to be going a lot faster. I remember before our daughter Rachel was born we were running around like crazy trying to get the house ready for her. We’re still running around like crazy, only now it’s because we’re chasing after Rachel, a fast-moving two year old. I’m sure we’ll have things ready for our new arrival, but that’s probably just because we already have most of the things we need: crib, changing table, stroller, bottles, bibs, etc. It’s funny to think of myself a “vet” in fatherhood but I did learn some valuable things the first time around. Now as I enter my second tour of infant duty, I thought it might be good to remind myself of the top ten things that kept me sane during the first year of fatherhood and share them with all the other new dads out there.
1) Get sleep whenever you can.
People worry about how gross it’s going to be to change a diaper. You get over that after the first day. The much tougher adjustment is working on sleep deprivation . . . which brings me to # 2 . . .
2) Just because you’re not the mommy doesn’t mean you get a free pass on calming down the baby.
While it doesn’t make practical sense for both you and mom to be with the baby 24/7, it helps a lot to work out with your spouse a way for you to both feel like you’re sharing the responsibilities. This can be tricky especially if you have a demanding work schedule. The best thing I learned is to figure out a plan and have an open conversation about expectations before any resentment about one person doing more than their fair share creeps in.
3) Accept all hand-me-downs.
We’ve learned to accept as much as our closets will hold without any restrictions on style. Even if you get a whole bag of clothes and only wind up using two shirts, those are still two shirts you didn’t have to buy. The other thing to remember is that if you turn down clothes, you risk offending the giver and cutting off your supply chain.
4) Infants are somewhat boring.
They’re tiny, cute, precious, but they don’t do much more then eat, cry, sleep, poop, and stare at things. Sometimes you feel like you’re watching a puppy and not a baby. Be patient, slowly they’ll start to give back. I remember feeling like I was worthy of a thousand “Best Dad in the World” mugs the first time I was able to make my daughter smile.
5) Don’t lock yourself inside your house.
Like most parents, Anna and I started off being terrified of taking Rachel out of her hermetically-sealed environment. While it is true infants are more susceptible to germs, a lot of parents go overboard and become hermits for the first few months. It was a huge breakthrough for us when we discovered that Rachel actually liked the din of restaurant chatter and that she would even sleep through an entire meal at the local diner.
6) Don’t forget to take pictures.
Of course you’ll be snapping photos at the hospital, but it’s important to leave the camera out for other smaller milestones like the first time they wave, crawl, stand up in the crib, or get their first tooth, and of course, their first holidays. Looking back, their time as an infant is so short you have to remind yourself to document all the great moments.
7) Prepare yourself for the fact that most newborns aren’t very cute at first.
This is something doctors conveniently fail to discuss in the days before the birth. But it makes sense; think about how you would look if your faced was smushed up in a tiny liquid-filled jar for nine months. Sometimes it takes a little while for all their cute features to emerge and that mildly freaky newborn look to disappear. These days I can’t imagine how any sane person would not conclude that our daughter Rachel is in fact the most beautiful girl in the world, but when she was first born I think that opinion was confined to just me and Anna.
8) Plan out alone time with your spouse.
It’s crazy but from here on in — any minute you want alone with your spouse, that’s not within earshot of your little one, has to be planned for well in advance. So now is the time to work out with friends and family arrangements for giving yourselves a break. It’s also a good time to start calling around other parents to get babysitter recommendations…which leads me to #9 . . .
9) Line up the baby sitter first, and then plan the night out.
In the beginning, Anna and would fret so much over whether or not our night out activity was “baby sitter worthy” that we wound up never going out. The problem was that we were setting the bar too high. After a while we realized it doesn’t necessarily matter what we were doing as long as we had time for ourselves. Sometimes we’d just go to dinner or see a movie, and we were always glad we did.
10) The clichés are all true.
Yes, the birth of my child was the happiest day of my life apart from my wedding. Yes, I’m turning into my parents. Yes, my baby is growing up so quickly; and yes, becoming a parent has been the most fulfilling and enriching life experience I’ve ever had. When you have children, people will say things like this to you over and over again and now you’ll be able to nod in understanding because you’re part of the dad club too.
© 2010 Rob Sachs, author of What Would Rob Do?: An Irreverent Guide to Surviving Life’s Daily Indignities
Author Bio
Rob Sachs, author of What Would Rob Do?: An Irreverent Guide to Surviving Life’s Daily Indignities, has spent the last ten years as a producer, reporter, and director for NPR shows, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Tell Me More. He created the podcast What Would Rob Do? in 2006 and serves as its host.
For more information, please visit
Follow the author on Twitter: @robsachs
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For more great writer posts, visit our Guest Corner and if you’d like to contribute, send us an email at

Hawaii Family Vacation Tips

hawaiifamilies.jpgAloha! Summer is drawing near and this means that school will be out soon. Summer is an exciting time that for many families means one eight letter word: V A C A T I O N! Many children here in Hawaii have already started their summer vacation. If you are planning or have ever wanted to visit Hawaii, I have some great Hawaii family vacationing tips for visiting the island of Oahu.
When visiting Oahu, Waikiki is a great place to stay with children because everything you need is in walking distance. Some delicious and inexpensive restaurants that are fun for kids as well as adults are: Duke’s Canoe Club, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and Tiki’s Bar and Grill.
Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and head to Diamond Head early for a short but scenic hike to the top! If you go on Saturday morning, you can have an organic breakfast at Kapiolani Farmer’s market at the base of the hike.
Swimming is free and the most popular activity here in Hawaii’s crystal blue waters. Surf’s up for all who want to try surfing and Waikiki is the spot with surf lessons galore. If you are adventurous and want to check out the colorful tropical reef fish then grab an under water camera and don’t miss Haunama bay.
After your exciting day on Oahu don’t forget about mom, who is probably tired from packing, unpacking, being a lifeguard to her childen, and a sunscreen apply-er. Treat her to some fabulous Waikiki shopping, afternoon high tea at the Moana SurfRider, or a massage on the beach!
Wherever your travel plans take you, have a safe and sunny time. Don’t forget to relax because the fun is in the journey not necessarily the destination, unless we are talking about Hawaii!
Professional Mom Blogger 
patrice[1].jpgPatrice is the creator of “Mom’s Best Bets,” a site to inspire a healthier way of living. Patrice lives in beautiful Hawaii, has a Master’s degree in educational psychology, and is a full time mommy. She is also a wife, model, fashion wearing, organic eating, healthy living mom who strives to discover the BEST in products, food, vitamins, and fashion!

The 02 Diet with Guest Contributor Keri Glassman

o2 final cover.jpgI am so excited about my new book The O2 Diet: The Cutting Edge Antioxidant-Based Program That Will Make You Healthy, Thin, and Beautiful
As Mom’s, we all know how very hard it can be to find time for taking care of ourselves. But, we have to! If you feel better, you are better – at everything! You are better at your job, being a mom, a wife etc.! The O2 Diet helps you focus on YOU – eating better and treating your body the way it’s supposed to be treated, so that you will look good and feel good! Aside from the 2 Day O2 Cleanse, I have a 4 week plan and lots of recipes! This is one of my faves that my husband and kids are slightly obsessed with too!
The salmon provides you with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids – both good for keeping your heart healthy and your skin glowing!
Salmon with Raspberry-Balsamic Glaze
6 fresh raspberries
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ tsp orange zest
½ tsp honey
Splash red wine (about 1 tsp)
4 oz skinless salmon fillet, preferably wild (about ¾”-thick)
1. Mash raspberries and vinegar with fork in small bowl. Stir in orange juice, zest, honey, and wine until combined. Set aside.
2. Coat nonstick skillet with canola oil cooking spray. Place over medium heat, about 1 minute. Cook salmon about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until fish is cooked through. Remove skillet from heat and carefully wipe any liquid with a paper towel.
3. Return skillet over medium heat and add reserved raspberry mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until just thickened.
4. Pour sauce over salmon and serve with asparagus on the side.
In The O2 Diet, nutritionist Keri Glassman translates cutting-edge science into an easy-to-do program that will leave dieters energetic, healthy, and beautiful– inside and out. Kick-start weight loss and boost beauty with an easy 4-day cleanse and a delicious 4-week antioxidant-based program from CBS’s The Early Show nutrition contributor. Glassman shows how dieters can–and should–indulge in foods like Caramelized Pear and Pecan French Toast and Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and actually lose weight!
For once, it’s not about counting calories or restricting what one eats; it’s about eating more of the right things.
o2 diet headshot.jpgAbout the author: Keri Glassman has a thriving nutrition practice based in New York City and has helped millions as a frequent nutrition contributor for CBS’s Early Show and Women’s Health magazine. Keri holds a master of science degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. Keri lives in New York City with her husband, Brett, and two children, Rex and Maizy. To find out more about Keri Glassman and her new book, visit her website, Nutritious Life or listen to our recent interview with Keri on Blog Talk Radio.

Guest Post Corner: Sissy Biggers

VGSissy-1.jpgA mother’s most captive audience is at breakfast time. While the kids may feel like prisoners facing a day of school incarceration, breakfast time is where mom has their most attention. My trick to keeping my girls’ focus was by starting the day on the funny side of life. I realize there’s nothing amusing about incomplete homework or (another!) missing cleat, but greeting the challenges of the day-to-day on the lighter side got me great results. Here are some funny side of life techniques my girls learned to look forward to, plus an extra tip to make sure Mom gets off to a great start too! :
Play High-Low: Ask your kids to predict what will be the “highs” and “lows” of their day. It’s a great way to find out what’s on their minds. You play, too! The payoff comes after school when you see if the highs and lows were realized.
Mom’s morning news: Turn off the morning news and give three of your own “family” headlines. These can be pure entertainment or nimble ways to get your own message across.
In addition to affable coaxing and cajoling, I always took advantage of the convenience of a complete breakfast like Jimmy Dean line of products that are packed with protein and ready in minutes. There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy from breakfast bowls, sandwiches and better-for-you options like D-lights, allowing me to keep the morning carefree and forward moving while my girls got that all important protein to keep them laughing all day. Look at the funny side of life and soon that captive audience will be giving you a standing ovation.
Sissy also offers more helpful tips at

Guest Post Corner: Author & Dad Barack Levin

One Easy First Lesson Toward Raising Independent, Happy Children by Barack Levin
Cover.jpgOnce I saw a three-year old and his mother going to daycare. It was winter time, and the mom was loaded down, carrying her son, his bag, a rain coat, umbrella and his stuffed toy. That simple picture drove me crazy and made me sad for both child and parent. It was not raining and so the mom had no reason to carry the child and his entourage. I decided then and there it would be different with my child.
In my opinion, the key to raising independent kids is to teach them responsibility and accountability. Obviously, you can’t go up to a two-year-old and say, “Listen, Alex, today you will be responsible for cleaning your room and if it is not clean, I will hold you personally accountable for it!” So instead, I am taking small daily actions that teach him these values.
I came up with the following little nifty trick. It works for any toddler who is stable enough and comfortable enough walking on his own. In my case, it happened when my kids were about 14 months old and it always worked:
Step 1:
For a week, start to show your toddler that mommy and daddy carry their own bags, purse, or wallet to work, store, restaurant and friends. Let your little one check the bag contents and go over it with him. (I suggest taking out any “personal” items to prevent embarrassing questions!) On a daily basis, ask your toddler to help you by putting or taking out a needed item into or from the bag. Stand by him while he gets the comb or pen for you and opens the bag and drops it in. Compliment him on a job well done! You’ll see that he is supercharged with excitement because he is “helping” you.
Step 2:
At the end of the week, start showing your little one that big kids from his daycare and friends or relatives carry their own bags. Wouldn’t he like to have one, too? If you’ve done your job exciting him in the build-up about your bag, he’ll probably jump at the chance to be like the older kids! “Now let’s go to the store and let YOU choose your very own, because you are a big boy too!”
Step 3:
Take him to Wal-Mart or Target. They have small carry-ons with wheels for kids. Have your child go over ALL the available bags and choose his favorite. You want your child to be as involved as possible, leading the process. Don’t choose for him. Resist the impulse to say, “Now, dear, wouldn’t you rather have this one instead?” You’d be teaching him not to have confidence in his own decisions. After choosing a bag that he wants, let your little one be in charge of actively paying for it and taking it out of the store. Let him show it off and tell everyone about it!
Step 4:
At home, ask him to bring his favorite items–toy, stuffed animal, snack or pacifier–and place them on the kitchen table or countertop (or any other place he can easily reach). Now ask him, “What would you like to put in your new bag? Go get it!” He’ll run to get it–or all of them–as fast as his little legs will carry him. Let him open the bag and place them inside. Once the items are inside, walk around with him and let him proudly wheel his carry-on around.
Step 5:
Leave the bag close to the door so that every time you leave the house, it will be there, reminding him to take it. You and your little one may be forgetful at first, but within two to three days, it will become second nature for him to take the bag with him. This is wonderful training for taking the bag to and from daycare everyday–not to mention that you can hitchhike on this and put the rest of his items in it as well: such as diapers, towels, food, change of clothes and more.
Just think how this one simple habit will make life so much easier for your child and for you throughout all the school grades! I’d be so happy if the rest of you parents shared your stories and advice about helping our children become happily independent kids.
You may send your stories and comments to me via my site:

Barack Levin is the author of The Diaper Chronicles – A stay at home dad’s quest for raising great kids –