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Diaper Bag Roundup

All diaper bags are not created equal. Some are better for travel, while others are perfect for an evening out with baby. With all the choices out there these days, it’s hard to decide which bag is right for you. Here are some of my family’s favorite diaper bags and when we like to use them.

For Travel:

OiOi Baby Bags Canvas Satchel 

This low-profile bag is perfect for when you’re on the move. The strap is long enough to sling over your shoulder, like a messenger bag. It isn’t huge, which is actually a good thing when you are traveling. You can’t fit too much in there, so it stays organized and doesn’t get too heavy. The straps have magnetic closures in the front, so access to the gusseted front pocket is easy. The main internal compartment has elasticized pockets for easy organization. Plus, there’s an insulated side pocket with a zip closure, perfect for bottles or long, tall sippy cups. The bag comes with a large padded changing mat, insulated bottle holder and a wipes case. We used this bag while traveling to Costa Rica when my son was 18 months old. It was perfect for the plane – not too big and easy access to everything. As a bonus, this bag is very gender-neutral, so Daddy’s won’t have any issue strapping it on and carrying it.

For Events:

timi & leslie Annette Convertible Diaper Bag 

This bag actually looks like a cute purse! If you are going to an event like a wedding or party, this bag won’t make you feel sad about leaving your handbag at home. The exterior is made of easy-to-clean faux leather (PVC free) and boasts attractive hardware in a gold finish. The cross body strap is detachable, so you can go hands-free. Plus, it comes with matching stroller straps, so you can hang the bag safely (and stylishly) from your stroller. Seven interior pockets and a center divider zipper pocket give you various choices for organization, along with the three exterior pockets. Accessories include their specially-designed changing pad with a mesh pocket for storing extra diapers, a zippered sack for soiled clothing, an insulated bottle tote and (my favorite) a stylish clutch with interior credit card slots and zippered pocket. All this and it looks adorable! I save this bag for special occasions. It’s nice to have a fancier option.

For Daddies:

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag 

Although this bag proved too small for me – this is my husband’s go-to diaper bag. Sure, they make diaper bags marketed specifically for “dudes,” but this bag has everything a daddy needs. It’s smaller, compact and more convenient to carry than most bags, plus it comes in an array of colors! The exterior is made of durable poly-canvas, so it will take a beating (and it’s easy to clean). One of the best and most convenient features of this bag is the patented Shuttle Clips. You can easily take the shoulder strap off or use the clips to attach securely to a stroller or shopping cart. This bag works great with strollers. Low-profile magnetic closures make getting in and out of this bag a snap. The front boasts two large pockets and there is a cell phone pocket on one side and an adjustable mesh bottle/water bottle pouch on the other. Eleven pockets in total give many options for organization. The shoulder strap is padded and long enough to wear across your chest, for easy carrying. It also comes with the easy-to-clean Skip Hop changing pad, which fits neatly inside the interior of the bag. My husband always kept this bag really stripped-down – carrying just the essentials. It is still his favorite baby/toddler bag.

For Everyday:

Skip Hop Bento Ultimate Diaper Bag 

I always felt like I never had enough room in my diaper bags…until I got the Bento bag. Yes, it’s big, but if you are looking for a bag that you can carry with you all day long – look no further. I recommend this bag for long days out at the park, museum, day trips, etc. The exterior is made from the same durable poly-canvas, which is easy to keep clean. The patented Shuttle Clips offer many carry options, such as removing the shoulder strap (there are padded tote straps, as well) or attaching to a stroller. The shoulder strap can be worn messenger style across your chest, for hands-free mode. Fifteen pockets offer limitless organizing options, including five mesh pockets, two insulated bottle pockets (on the outside of the bag) and (the best part about this bag) the Mealtime Kit compartment. This insulated zipper compartment is on the bottom of the bag and includes an eight-piece kit with insulated cooler bag, three plastic CLIX food containers (BPA- and Phthalate-free) and a flat freezer pack. This little compartment really makes the bag for me. It’s so convenient to cut up some fruit, cheese and other snacks and take it to-go! This also comes with the padded changing pad, which fits into the interior pockets. I can’t even tell you how many things I have fit into this bag. From the basics like diapers to full clothing changes and even items for me – this bag can haul it. Remember, if you overfill the bag, it does get quite heavy, so you may not want to carry it around all day, but it conveniently straps to strollers or carts.

10 Things to do when you lose it with your child

10 Things to do when you lose it with your child

I have never spanked, hit, pushed… or used any other form of corporal punishment with my daughters. But… I have yelled at them, I have taken their ‘priviledges’ (whatever that means) as a consequence for ‘bad behavior,’ I have even done a couple of time-outs (yes! not time-ins, time-outs). I KNOW none of those actions are right, but in the heat of the moment, on those (rare) occasions when I lose it, for a few seconds, I thought it was fine to do it (but it wasn’t!).

Did they work? No; Did they scare, anger, sadden… my girls? Yes; Do I regret it? Absolutely! And that’s why every day, I work on myself, to better myself as a parent. Because, at the end of the day… when we lose it, it has nothing to do with our children, it has to do with ourselves. It has to do with our lack of ability to cope in a positive, constructive, respectful way in that particular moment. So… to avoid those situations, we shouldn’t try to change our children, but ourselves! Now, that’s another article!

overwhelmed

While I know each day is better, and this ‘crazy momma‘ moments are very rare; I also know that they might never completely dissapear. I wish they would, but I’m human, and therefore, imperfect. So, just in case, I lose it again, I make sure I know what to do AFTER the storm, to repair the connection with my daughters, learn and move forward. This is it:

1 – ACKNOWLEDGE

My feelings: “I got really angry with you when you made a huge mess in the bathroom”

My actions: “I yelled at you for it, and that was not nice or respectful”

My intentions: “I was trying to get you to understand that it is not nice to throw all the bath toys, body soap and towels on the batroom floor. I also wanted for you to fix it. But yelling didn’t accomplish any of that, right?”

My child’s feelings: “I scared you very much, didn’t I?”

2 – APOLOGIZE

“I am so sorry for having yelled at you. That wasn’t nice at all. I disrespected you and scared you, and I’m very sorry about it.”

3 – LET THE LOVE FLOW

“I love you very much, regardless of what you do”

My kids tend to hug my by this point, which is tremendously heartwarming, and a lesson on forgiveness. Our children are incredibly forgiving of our mistakes, especially while they’re young.

4 – PROMISE TO IMPROVE

“I promise I will do my very best, every day, to find ways to control my temper, and not to yell at you again. If I ever do it again, please know that I’m having a hard time controlling myself, that it has nothing to do with you, and that it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you”

I don’t promise them I will never do something again, because you can only promise to do your best to change that behavior. I don’t like lying to my kids, and wouldn’t make them a promise that I might break if I lose control.

5 – ASK FOR HELP

“Will you help me avoid yelling again at you? If you ever see me about to yell, or if I start yelling, please remind me that I am a nice mom and that I don’t want to yell because it scares you and makes things worse not better”

6 – THANK AND CONNECT

“Thank you for being so understanding. I love you! What can we do to have some special time together now?”

It can be hugging, reading a book, racing, having a snack… anything that brings back the love and connection with your child. Always connection, before correction! We will deal with the mess later.

mother and daughter

7 – DEAL WITH THE ISSUE

Now it’s the time to deal with the issue at hand, the one that drove me crazy to beging with.

“How can we fix this mess together?”

8 – PREVENT

“How can I help you remember not to do this again in the future?”

9 – FORGIVE MYSELF

This is one of the hardest steps for me, because I know better, because I am a parent coach; and for some reason, even though I know I am not perfect and will never be, in my mind I still require that of myself from time time and I’m pretty hard on myself when I’m not the best I can be.

10 – SELFCARE

The last step is figuring out what made me lose it, was I too tired?, was I sleep deprived?, was I stressed about something?… what was it that put me in a state in which I couldn’t control my temper? It was not what my daughters did or didn’t do, that I know, so I always try to figure out what was going on with me, that made me too stressed, too tired, too overwhelmed, too distracted… to control my reactions.

More often than not, I blow up because I’m too tired or because I haven’t had the time to just relax and leave my mind wonder. If that’s the case, I make sure to go to sleep early that night and rest, and to take a bath before that to relax and free my mind.

Do you find yourself losing your temper with your children? What are your strategies to reconnect with your children after you blow up?

Much love, gentle mamas!

Diana Blanco~

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Diana Blanco, M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; Positive Discipline Educator; Child Sleep Expert; and the founder of Smooth Parenting, a gentle parenting and positive discipline advocacy, education and coaching center for parents, childcare providers and educators.

Smooth Parenting provides private parent coaching as well as online and live parenting education; helping parents around the world develop gentle positive connections with their childrens, solve their discipline and power struggles, get a good night sleep and live a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Her approach to parenting, discipline and child sleep education is gentle, individualized and effective. New York Family Magazine recently wrote “Blanco was everything she had seemed like on the phone—sweet, smart, and passionate about baby sleep, […] she reminded me of a gentler version of the SuperNanny“.

Diana is the author of  the book ‘Smooth Baby Sleep. 6 Simple Steps to Gently Help Your Child Sleep,’ a clear, easy to read and effective guide to gently help children sleep from birth to toddlerhood. She is also a contributing author of ‘Celebrating Moms and Motherhood.’

To read more articles by Diana and learn more about Smooth Parenting, parenting coaching, healthy child sleep, positive discipline and loving guidance, teleseminars, webinars and events, please visit www.SmoothParenting.com

Claim your FREE copy of our audio class ’7 Strategies to Gently Help Your Baby Sleep’ at http://www.SmoothParenting.com, and receive our complimentary weekly ezine ‘Smooth Parenting Secrets‘ full of simple, proven and easy-to-implement parenting tips that will help you take the guesswork out of baby sleep, potty training, discipline and many other parenting topics. Download yours here!

Follow us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

now also in Spanish http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParentingEnEspanol 

Downtown Adventure Day – A Creative City Trip for Your Budding Artist!

As an illustrator, I’m always looking for inspiration and ideas to add into my artwork. Oftentimes I just go into New York City for the afternoon and take a walk to gaze at new stores, restaurants, art galleries and museums. Here’s an easy trip to take with the kids this Spring in lower Manhattan just steps from the PATH train. I completed this adventure day with my parents when they visited this week and it was lots of fun and a day full of really good memories.

1) Exit the PATH train at the World Trade Center station shop and start heading South on Broadway.

2) Take a moment to gaze at the amazing animals and gargoyles on the buildings surrounding Zucotti Park and Trinity Church yard on Broadway. Have the kids take some shots of their favorite faces and animals with your digital camera. It will be a great memory of the day. Set your camera to ‘black and white’ for a special effect.

3) Head to the National Museum of the American Indian by Bowling Green Park. It’s a free museum with amazing exhibits and kid friendly activities available 7 days a week. DO NOT MISS THIS GREAT MUSEUM! Visit the website here.

4) Finish your day with a trip on the Staten Island Ferry. Another great, free and fun thing to do in lower Manhattan is to take the Staten Island Ferry. It’s about a 25 minute ride each way. You’ll see the Statue of Liberty, a great view of lower Manhattan , and kids will love the sea gulls that follow the ship! Read about the ferry schedule here.

On your way back to the PATH train, try walking on a different street to see even more great sites, such as Battery Park which works its way up the waterfront and is located directly next to the exit of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

 

Embrace your child AS SHE IS

Last week, I was talking to one of my coaching clients and she seemed very unhappy with the way her daughter had turned out to be. I tried to understand what she meant by that and why she felt that way. Her daugher, who is eleven, is a straight-A student, well-behaved. She loves reading, she speaks three languages. She is well-adjusted and friendly, loves volunteering at her local church, playing piano and playing tennis. Finally, she is a very caring and inspiring older sister to her little brother.

Although the mom was proud of all the things her daughter had accomplished at such a young age, her daughter had missed the mark on something that my client considered extremelly important “lacrosse.” The mom had played lacrosse when she was a child until her undergraduate years, and had dreamed about having a daughter who followed her steps on that sport. Her daughter gave it a try, but wasn’t interested at all, she didn’t find it enjoyable, and she didn’t want to miss tennis or piano to go to lacrosse.

The mom was having a hard time letting go of the dream of what her ‘ideal daughter’ would be; and embracing the amazing daughter she had. Of course, the daughter was feeling unloved and unwanted by her mother, despite all the good things she was doing; and didn’t really understand what was going on. Obviously there’s something causing the mom to put so much importance on this particular sport, something that was ingrained in her thoughts and believes when she was growing up.

This story compelled me to invite you to let your children grow as the unique individuals they already are. Allow them to discover themselves, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses. Your children are not you, and they should be able to have their own dreams and aspirations, and more often than not, those will be different from your own dreams and aspirations.

Appreciate the individuality of each child a blessing and pursue ways to expand on that. Be open minded, and don’t push your child into pursuits that they are not interested in. When you find yourself trying to impose your own agenda on your child, look inside yourself, think about what’s pushing you to make that decision, what part of your upbringing is creating this behavior. Believe in and love your kids for who they are. Allow them to be their true self and embrace them as they are.

“The best parents are the ones who let their kids know: ‘I believe in you,’ and don’t add the caveat, ‘but I’d like you to be thinner, smarter, etc.”

Lenore Skenazy

Let’s make sure our children know how much we love them, no conditions, no changes required!

~ Diana Blanco

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Diana Blanco, M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; Positive Discipline Educator; Child Sleep Expert; and the founder of Smooth Parenting, a gentle parenting and positive discipline advocacy, education and coaching center for parents, childcare providers and educators.

Smooth Parenting provides private parent coaching as well as online and live parenting education; helping parents around the world develop gentle positive connections with their childrens, solve their discipline and power struggles, get a good night sleep and live a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Her approach to parenting, discipline and child sleep education is gentle, individualized and effective. New York Family Magazine recently wrote “Blanco was everything she had seemed like on the phone—sweet, smart, and passionate about baby sleep, […] she reminded me of a gentler version of the SuperNanny“.

Diana is the author of  the book ‘Smooth Baby Sleep. 6 Simple Steps to Gently Help Your Child Sleep,’ a clear, easy to read and effective guide to gently help children sleep from birth to toddlerhood. She is also a contributing author of ‘Celebrating Moms and Motherhood.’

To read more articles by Diana and learn more about Smooth Parenting, parenting coaching, healthy child sleep, positive discipline and loving guidance, teleseminars, webinars and events, please visit www.SmoothParenting.com

Claim your FREE copy of our audio class ’7 Strategies to Gently Help Your Baby Sleep’ at http://www.SmoothParenting.com, and receive our complimentary weekly ezine ‘Smooth Parenting Secrets‘ full of simple, proven and easy-to-implement parenting tips that will help you take the guesswork out of baby sleep, potty training, discipline and many other parenting topics. Download yours here!

Follow us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

now also in Spanish http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParentingEnEspanol 

My child doesn’t listen!

Do you repeat the same thing over and over again without response? Are you frustrated because your child doesn’t listen to you?

If your answer is ‘yes’, you’re not alone! Those are some of the most common complaints I hear from parents during my private consultations; and whenever I hear that, two questions always come to my mind:

1. What do we really mean by ‘listening’?

Is it a synonym of ‘obeying’? More often than not, when parents complain about their children not listening, what they really mean is that their children do not drop whatever it is they’re doing, right the second the parent asks them to do something.

Therefore, the issue is not so much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘compliance and obedience.’ I believe in parenting with love and respect, and ‘obedience’ does not fit into this definition. The same way I wouldn’t expect my spouse or any other adult to blindly obey what I say, I don’t expect that from my daughters either. Obedience, in my book, is NOT the epitome of good parenting.

As Alphie Kohn points out in his book ‘Unconditional Parenting’ that when parents are asked what their long term goals for their children are, they say they want their kids to be ethical, compassionate, independent, happy, accomplished, self-confident, etc. No parent says they want their children to grow up into obedient adults. I certainly do not want my daughters to grow up to be compliant women, I want them to question authority, to have their own opinions, to make their own decisions (and their own mistakes), to be creative… and to not mindlessly obey anybody (not even me!).

Most of what we see as disobedience in our children is either natural, curious, discovering, learning, developmentally appropriate behavior; a way of letting you know that one of their needs is not being met; or a reaction to a situation in which they do not feel comfortable or safe with, or have no control over.

Child not listening

The need for children’s obedience that many parents have is usually associated with parents’ fear that…

  • the child will grow up to be a rebellious, sociopath, anarchist monster. This terrible view of humane nature is not based on any empirical evidence.
  • they will be misunderstood by their peers and by family. After all, most people still believe a good child is an obedient child.
  • their child will have trouble at school with her teachers. Many teachers are still not open to the idea of having their students questioning their lessons.

Forcing children into blind obedience has terrible consequences. Children might not learn to think for themselves and will always value their parents’ (or other authoritative figure’s) voice over their own. They might not learn how to make their own decisions. They might be pushed around and manipulated by their peers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating permissive parenting, I am not arguing that children can be disrespectful and have no limits, I am not suggesting that children can do as they please whenever they want. I am proposing a way of parenting that is based on mutual respect, love and cooperation; and that will eliminate the power struggles between the parent and the child and will allow the child to turn into an independent, confident and mindful adult.

 

2. How well do we listen to our children?

As with many other issues in parenting, the way our children do something tends to be a direct reflection of how we do that same thing. What does this mean? It means that in order to get your child to listen, you first have to listen to her. If they feel listened to, they will be more inclined to listen to you. It is that simple and that complicated!

We are giving our children the best example of what listening is all about. We are modeling a certain way of listening and communicating for them. How do you listen when your child talks to you? How do you usually respond when your child talks to you or asks you to do something for her (read a book, tell a story, play on the floor, go see a bug…)? Is your common response any of these…?

  • Delay request (i.e. ‘Just a minute,’ ‘I can’t right now, I doing something else’)
  • Casual nod, but no eye-to-eye connection (i.e. ‘Umm’)
  • Uninterested response while you’re still looking at your cellphone (i.e. ‘I see’)
  • No response, just ignore and go on with what you’re doing
  • Repeated (and not very uplifting) lecture (i.e. ‘I told you many times not to…,’ ‘That happened because you….’)
  • Constant interruptions
  • Frequent commands
  • Response before they are done talking

Ignoring

As parents we often create communication problems with our children, because we don’t really listen to what they are saying. Whenever we don’t listen to our children, they notice. Not listening does not only mean that we are not hearing what they are saying, it also means that we are not plugged in with what they are trying to tell us. We make assumptions about what they are trying to say, we draw conclusions without making sure we understood the message. We talk too much or launch into lectures.

The best way I know to get children to listen is to listening to them first. Listening intently, listening with interest, listening making sure we ‘get’ what they are saying, listening making sure we understand what’s not being said, and listening making sure our children know they are loved, always and that we are listening.

Mom_Talk_vs_Baby_Talk_636x424_0

Parenting is a journey in which we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves, about our children and about human nature. Parenting is the best journey towards self-understanding, personal improvement, mindfulness and consciousness.

Let’s love the ride!

~ Diana Blanco

******************************

Diana Blanco, M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; Positive Discipline Educator; Child Sleep Expert; and the founder of Smooth Parenting, a gentle parenting and positive discipline advocacy, education and coaching center for parents, childcare providers and educators.

Smooth Parenting provides private parent coaching as well as online and live parenting education; helping parents around the world develop gentle positive connections with their childrens, solve their discipline and power struggles, get a good night sleep and live a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Her approach to parenting, discipline and child sleep education is gentle, individualized and effective. New York Family Magazine recently wrote “Blanco was everything she had seemed like on the phone—sweet, smart, and passionate about baby sleep, […] she reminded me of a gentler version of the SuperNanny“.

Diana is the author of  the book ‘Smooth Baby Sleep. 6 Simple Steps to Gently Help Your Child Sleep,’ a clear, easy to read and effective guide to gently help children sleep from birth to toddlerhood. She is also a contributing author of ‘Celebrating Moms and Motherhood.’

To read more articles by Diana and learn more about Smooth Parenting, parenting coaching, healthy child sleep, positive discipline and loving guidance, teleseminars, webinars and events, please visit www.SmoothParenting.com

Claim your FREE copy of our audio class ’7 Strategies to Gently Help Your Baby Sleep’ at http://www.SmoothParenting.com, and receive our complimentary weekly ezine ‘Smooth Parenting Secrets‘ full of simple, proven and easy-to-implement parenting tips that will help you take the guesswork out of baby sleep, potty training, discipline and many other parenting topics. Download yours here!

Follow us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

now also in Spanish http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParentingEnEspanol 

4 Great & Green Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day!

Craft Ideas for kids

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up {March 17} and is one of the most magical holidays for children! Leprechauns, lots of green and shamrocks are popular each and every year and add something special to the upcoming spring season. I’ve come up with four great and green ideas for you to try with your children this year. Enjoy!

1 Leprechaun Lad

Have the kids make a cute, small leprechaun to play with by cutting out bit of green, dark blue and flesh colored paper. A small piece of orange pipe cleaner makes a great beard, and stickers from the dollar store add a special touch as well! Glue your leprechaun on a Popsicle stick to turn him into a puppet for play.

2 Shamrock Sticks

This adorable shamrock stick I made during a workshop last year, and use it as a decoration in my ivy plant. You can buy affordable plant sticks such as this one at your local florist, within the plant section in Shop Rite or make your own with a bamboo skewer and green paper. Add a shamrock stick in all your houseplants this March!

3 Magical Brew

Make a special treat for the kiddos by adding one drop of green food coloring to seltzer water! You can also add a drop of green to milk or a vanilla milk shake for a special and memorable treat.

4 Clover Prints

Perhaps the easiest thing you can do with your children… pour some green paint in a dish and let them use their fingers to make clovers and shamrocks on white paper. Use a green marker for the stems! This is a great idea for the kitchen or dining area. You can have the kids make ‘place mats’ or a ‘tablecloth’ for the table by using a large piece of white paper and decorating it all over with shamrocks.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Make a Real Flying Pig

I usually try to feature crafts that I have completed with my students, and this one was a favorite from last week. This small pig is almost magical as it flies in the air. Both boys and girls love making it and it looks great hanging in a child’s room!

You will need:

  • an empty toilet roll
  • pink paint and brushes
  • pink and white paper
  • string and a loose bead or button
  • a hole puncher
  • scissors, markers and strong glue {hot glue works best if an adult is present!}

1 Cut an empty toilet roll in half. This will be the pig’s body. Punch a hole in the top of the cylinder and the bottom and roughly the same place. This is where the string will hang later.

2 Paint the outside of the toilet roll pink and let dry. After it dries, you can snip two arms and legs on the bottom side with a scissor. {See first image above}

3 Cut a circle for the back of the pig and a face for the front. Use markers to add details:

4 Cut some wings out and use scissors to snip along the edges to create a ‘feather look’:

5 Cut a piece of string about two feet long and tie a bead to one end. String through your pink pig body so that it can ‘fly’.

6 To finish your flying pig, glue the head, back circle and wings to the pink cylinder. Make sure your sting is in place first! Hot glue works best of this {with an adults help} and enables children to play with or hang their pig instantly!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Love Message Bouquet

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! Since we have a few more days until the holiday is here, I wanted to post one last idea for you to try out with the little ones! This is a beautiful craft to make together and is also a great activity to practice spelling and handwriting.

For this craft you will need:

  • assorted colors of card stock or construction paper
  • patterned paper {optional}
  • bamboo skewers
  • green paint
  • green pipe cleaners
  • thin black marker or pen
  • glue, scissors, tape

1 Cut heart shapes out of your paper that will be used as the ‘flowers’ in your bouquet

2 Using a glue stick, attach the hearts to patterned scrapbook paper. Cut around the heart shape so that one side is a solid color, and the other reveals the patterned paper. This step is optional, but makes the bouquet look more professional and polished when displayed in a vase!

3 Paint some bamboo skewers with green paint for your stems. Let dry. Tape one heart to the top of each skewer to make the flower and stem.

4 Cut some white pieces of paper for your ‘messages’. Use a glue stick to attach them to your hearts and write a message that will continue onto each heart. Example, I needed five heart flowers to create “Love is in the Air”.

5 Add a green pipe cleaner to each stem to create the leaves for your flowers. Optional: add some red or pink glitter to your hearts to make them extra festive!

6 Place your heart flowers in a vase or glass and enjoy!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Lucky Tree Craft for Chinese New Year


This fun and easy craft is a great way to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year on February 10, 2013. Considering this is the year of the Snake, I wanted to create something a little cuter… so this Lucky Tree fits the bill! The fruits can be clementines or oranges… whatever you wish!

For this project you will need:

  • brown markers
  • colored dot sale stickers
  • yellow, white and red paper
  • gold glitter and glue
  • a thin, black marker
  • decorative stickers, like goldfish
  • a glue stick and regular glue
  • scissors

1. Using your glue stick, center a small white piece of paper on a larger red piece to create a nice ‘frame’. Prepare a vase shape by cutting it out of yellow paper. Gather some dot stickers {can be found in any dollar store} and cut the green ones in half to use as leaves later.

2. Glue your vase shape on the white paper and draw some branches with a brown marker like the ones below.

3. Now peel stickers off and attach to the branches for the fruits. Orange stickers work best… I used red because that’s a lucky color for Chinese New Year. This is definitely the funnest part for kids! Peel some green cut stickers and use them as leaves. Use your thin black marker to add some faces to the fruits if you wish!

4. For some final touches, add gold glitter around your picture. Lastly, add a sticker to the vase. A goldfish is perfect for the occasion!

Every year I try and attend the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown. It is a fun and educational event for children with awesome confetti, fire crackers and great food. Here is a link to this year’s parade:http://betterchinatown.com/

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.

Fun and Easy Window Paintings for Kids

Moms, this is a great rainy day activity for you and your children! All you need are some acrylic paints which you can find in any arts and crafts store. {I know Jersey City doesn’t have many, so check the art supply isle of Shop Rite or even your local dollar store!} The most important thing is that the paint you buy should be non-toxic, water based paint, because it will be very easy to remove. Always test a small design first to make sure it wipes off of your desired surface easily!

For this project you will need:

  • acrylic paints {water based only!}
  • various small paint brushes
  • window cleaner for removal

1 Choose a design to paint on your window, or even your bathroom mirror! Snowmen are a great choice for January, or hearts for the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. Young children might want to practice drawing their design on paper before starting painting on the window.

2 Dip your brushes directly into the small bottles of acrylic paint and begin painting on your windows. Using too much paint will cause it to drip, so remember to wipe your brush on the side of the bottle before beginning. For multiple colors… let the first color dry first before adding other colors on top. For example, paint the snowman body first. Let that dry, then add black for buttons and a nose and eyes, etc, etc.

3 Let your beautiful creations dry and wipe away any mistakes with a wet paper towel.

4 Remove your drawings any time you wish by spraying with window cleaner, then wiping with a wet rag.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley currently teaches weekly crafting classes with JCFamilies.