Monday, February 27, 2012

The Unicorn's Secret - A Series that Turns Emerging Readers into Eager Readers

OK, this wasn't on the list, but after an exciting, impromptu Twitter exchange with the author of my daughters' favorite series of books, I couldn't resist. I headed straight to Amazon and blurted out (through my fingertips, of course) the following review... Enjoy.

It's impossible to review just one book in Kathleen Duey's The Unicorn's Secret, as each one builds on the previous installment. Each book is magical in its own right, but only together do they truly fly.

I have two daughters, ages 5 and 6. Both are emerging readers who alternate between loving and hating reading. They love being read to, but they resist the effort they have to put into reading themselves. Knowing how much they love unicorns, I searched specifically for a book with "Unicorn" in the title. When we happened upon this series, I knew I hit on something special.

From the first word, all three of us were enraptured by the little girl, Heart, who has led less than an ideal life. Found by a hard, sometimes cruel, man when she was a baby, Heart ached to know who she really was and why she was left behind by her family. Her journey begins when she finds a "horse" with a curious scar on her forehead. With her new friend, threads from her baby blanket and very little else, Heart begins an adventure that spans the 8 books of this series.

Every chapter end had my daughters begging for more (just one more chapter, Mommy!). Don't tell them, but I sometimes stole a peek at the next chapter after bedtime! Every finished book had them demanding the next and when we finally finished the series they cried out for another! The ending is beautifully satisfying (I admit, I teared up!), one that only my exceptionally imaginative 6-year-old guessed (with a "What if...") mid-series.

I highly recommend The Unicorn's Secret to any parent and every child anywhere from age 5 (for a child with a long attention span) to at least 12. There were a few vocabulary words here and there that my 5-year-old didn't quite grasp, but overall it was easy to read and understand. When they couldn't wait for me to read it to them, they would try to read it themselves! At last - they wanted to read! At a 1st grade reading level it got frustrating for them... like Heart as she learned to read... but I was more than happy to cuddle up with them and share this beautiful series together. It was truly magical.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's Going On and Coming Up!

I've been busy with sick children and snow days for the past week. Do you get completely behind on everything when you have a nose or two (or three or four) to blow? Then, of course, after several days of having children cough directly up my nose, I got sick too! Yuck! But, there's no rest for Mommy, so on I go!

I've had an influx of review opportunities with a few giveaways thrown in, so to keep you on the edge of your seat (and visiting frequently) here's a preview of what's coming up on (aspiring) Domestic Goddess Mommy over the next few weeks!

* Crindelstar - Review & Giveaway! An inspiring, eco-friendly story about a young girl whose belief in unicorns is challenged! Digital book, music and wildflower seeds in unique packaging!

* The Missing Secret to Parenting by Denny Hagel - review (a two-part installment). This is the book her website and mission are based upon. If you follow me on Twitter, you've likely seen me retweet some of her memorable, inspiring quotes. This is more than a review. I'll be sharing my own personal experience through the course of reading this book. Look for part 1 this week.

* Get Famous - review. I just can't stop reading this bonanza of blogging brilliance by up and coming blogging expert, Lisa Cash Hanson. If you haven't read her yet, go visit her blog. There's always something funny and inspiring going on there!

* My Memories - Digital Scrapbook Software review & Giveaway! This one is huge and exciting! It's an $80 value that you won't want to miss the opportunity to win! I'm happily working on my digital scrapbook with my girls. Finally, they might have something resembling a baby book and I can't wait to share my results with you!

* The Magic Warble - book review & Giveaway (hard copy or ebook)! Another exciting (I hope! I haven't read it yet!) adventure story that my girls and I will relish reading and reviewing together!

* How Do You Sleep, Baby Dolphin? - Review Opportunity for YOU!

I'm looking for 10 bloggers to review this book. After nearly two years, I've decided to jump ship and self-publish my picture book!!! I'm nervous and excited and I'm looking for moms with kids between 6-months and 6 years to provide an honest review in exchange for the ebook version, which will be available for sale this week! Please contact me at adgmommy (at) gmail (dot) com if you are interested.

That sums it up! What do you think?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Upside of TV Time

The other day, I blogged about Halloween 365-days a year. Some of the comments got me thinking that perhaps not every child plays as much as mine. It's all over the news and web how children spend too much time sitting on the couch, watching or playing on-screen.

When I only had one or two kids, I seriously restricted their Screen-time. TV, Computer, even their own kid-size computers. One to two hours was the absolute max, no more than 5 days a week and they rarely, if ever, watched commercials. I was a Kindermusik teacher! Life was about activity, movement and learning!

Now, I have three kids and my schedule is overflowing. Only one child is in school full-time and I'm trying to earn an income by writing and editing from home when I'm not at my wine store. Sadly, screen time has increased. It's still limited to right around 2-hours, but sometimes it goes over, and it's more often 6 to 7 days a week. They still don't see commercials (thank you, Netflix) and they have to have mommy approval (no Sponge Bob, thank-you-very-much).

Spy Girls
But here's the thing... Whatever they do watch inspires their creativity. Once the TV is off, they turn into Dora or Diego, or lately, the Pink Panther! They run off and spend hours playing with their My Little Ponies or their Barbie dolls. The boy now grabs his Diego rescue pack (his big sister's toy), jumps up and sings, "Al riscote, amigos, rescue my friends!" He's 2!

They become mermaids or wizards, horses or dogs, secret spies or even mommies! They make up new stories, new songs and even write books! The TV, then, is not a brain-drain, it is inspiration for hours and hours of play!

Everything has a flip-side. Use TV wisely and it can truly have a positive impact on your life and your children's. No, you certainly don't need television to spur imagination, but when you need 23-minutes of time for you (the exact length of any Nick Jr show without commercials), it doesn't hurt!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Halloween 365-Days a Year

That's right. I'm writing about Halloween in the middle of February. Want to know why? Because I have 3 young children who loooooooove to play dress-up! Who needs Halloween to wear costumes when you have little kids?

No one! My funny-little-monkeys dress-up at least 3 times a week. Not necessarily as monkeys, though we have one of those costumes too! My kids can dress as princesses, witches, monkeys, dogs, or fairies; if we don't have a costume to suit their current avenue of play, they will make one! Needless to say, our dress-up clothes are put into very good use all year round.

This week the girls are role-playing 'maid-servant' to a princess, who is, in the words of my oldest, "very rude." I believe I may have mentioned feeling like their maid-servant the other day. My best mothering moment? No, but it spurred their imaginations and that is a wonderful thing!

Did you know that by encouraging our children's imagination and providing concrete tools (like costumes, kitchen sets, dolls, etc.) to facilitate imaginative play, you are providing the foundation for future success? Studies show us that imaginative play actually helps our children learn to cope better with stress and build critical cognitive skills like problem-solving and visual processing.

When your little one gets wrapped up in playing and pretending, guess what other awesome skill he's developing? Self-regulation. Otherwise known as self-control. A highly-desired trait that I want my toddler-boy to develop!

Plus, playing is fun. And that's what childhood should be: Fun-filled days brimming with adventures with princesses, fairies and sometimes even a not-so-scary witch! So pull-out those Halloween costumes and get playing!

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by, but the writing came straight from the cognitive skills formed through my many years of happy imagining and playing dress-up!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Good Mommy, Bad Mommy

Is there any one thing that turns you quickly from a good mommy to a bad mommy? For me it is the combination of a whiny child and not enough sleep for me. I stayed up waaaaaaay past bedtime last night doing something I rarely ever do anymore: I watched a movie! A movie that my husband has been wanting me to watch with him for a while.

So, I did. I'm glad I did. There were many poignant, thought-provoking quotes in the movie, The Edge (yes, I'm very behind any movie lacking "Barbie" or "Car" in the title) and it was interestingly analogous to our current business situation.

That said, I'm tired! My threshold for whining goes from an approximate 7 out of 10 to absolutely 0! Zero! No tolerance. I am snappy and sometimes mean. Then I have to comfort them when their faces fall because of "Bad Mommy". It's confusing for them, especially the little one.

So, what to do? Ensure that you get just what you need to stay in the realm of "Good Mommy." Which, for me, means I'm going to let my 5-year-old watch a video and I'm going to catch a nap while the boy sleeps.

What makes you mean? What keeps you nice? Do something for you today! What will it be?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are you an Online Shopper?

I am. I used to enjoy browsing through malls or outdoor shopping strips. Grab a coffee, take a leisurely stroll, try things on or try out products. I used to enjoy doing that. Now, when I actually head outside of my house to shop I'm strapped with three little monkeys who love to run around, scream and generally complain if I linger more than a few seconds over any one thing.

This is why I have done as much shopping as humanly possible online for the past 6 years. And, as I have a keen need to research every single thing I buy on every site it is available and read multiple reviews before deciding on a purchase, I am happy when I discover a site that is basically all in one!

I feel compelled to share this with you, my fellow busy moms!

At you can find anything from electronics to diaper bags. Looking for a mattress? They have comparable mattresses to a Tomahawk Beautyrest! Looking for the fountain of youth? They have SkinCeuticals Serum 20 AOX. Getting married or have a son who's old enough to propose? They have simple engagement rings for women

Essentially, they have everything you need and the research and ratings are all right there at your fingertips.

Ahhh. More time for coffee and reading blogs!

DisclosureThis post was brought to you by and I really do think it is a very cool site!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Keeping the sparkle

Happy Valentine's Day!

Photo from
I originally wrote this post way back in November of 2010, but felt it was a great tip for today! Many of you will be celebrating with your sweetie tonight and Champagne or Sparkling Wine may just be on the menu! Enjoy!

Keeping the Sparkle:

In your Champagne, that is. Or your sparkling wine, whatever fits your budget and your palate!

Since the holiday season is upon us, there will be parties. Holiday parties usually involve a bit of the bubbly. Today's Tip & Trick is how to keep it sparkling if you don't pour it all on the first round.

All you need to do is drop a silver (really any metal should do) spoon into the neck and store it back in the refrigerator. Ensure the spoon has a little wiggle room above it and is not stuck in place. In my experience, the bubbles will last a good 24-hours, though for taste, it is best consumed within a few hours!

There is science behind this, if you're of a curious mind. Here's a link I found while searching for a picture: To Spoon or Not to Spoon

Happy Celebrating!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Me in Mommy

Do you get so wrapped up in your children, your husband and your home that you sometimes completely lose sight of yourself? Do you care for everyone else and yet fail to care for yourself? As mothers we do this often without realizing it. We believe it is our duty, perhaps even our destinies to care for others and we put ourselves last on the list... even behind laundry!

I am guilty of this. Frequently. Fortunately, I often realize that I've lost touch with myself and that it is time to prioritize me for a while.

When I am stressed, overwhelmed and overworked with the demands of being a mother and wife, writer and business owner, housekeeper and cook I get grumpy! Grumpy with life, grumpy with myself, grumpy with my kids and grumpy with my man. None of us deserve that. The remedy is simple: I take time for me.

This doesn't mean hours and dollars getting massages and pedicures, though I thoroughly enjoy it and wish for it weekly. (click donate :) It means letting some things go, taking it easy and getting present with myself. Breathing deeply, thinking about the things that set my soul free in song. It means taking my time and putting a stop to multi-tasking; Sitting down to read with my children instead of trying to write an article while cooking dinner; Closing the computer and watching my kids play while sipping my coffee.

Take a few minutes every day to simply be with yourself. Be quiet. Be still. Just be.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

This Mommy Needs You!

I need your help. Are you an entrepreneur? If you're a blogger, you have the spirit! Are you a business owner? You know what it takes! Are you a mother? You want the best for your children and family. I am all of the above.

In the past I've kept my wine retail business separate from my parenting blog, but now I need your help. My store, Sense of Wine, has been open for 5 months. It rocks. The trouble is, like many businesses, we need cash. Weeks before we opened, our main investor pulled out due to a personal matter. We had two choices - stop in our tracks or go for it. We opened the store with a 1/3 of the capital we had planned.

I could sell you on the concept, but you can visit our website for that, so I'm going to get to the point. I urgently need a private investor or credit partner or our doors will close within weeks. My readers are my largest network, so I'm turning to you for help.

Over the past several months, we've learned that banks won't loan to start-ups. Entrepreneurs like us massacre our credit in the process of discovering that sad point. If the store closes, we'll likely file for bankruptcy, lose our house and start over from zero. Literally.

We're at the end of our financial rope. We seek a visionary who can see what we see and is willing to commit cash, or a person who will become our credit partner.

A credit partner is someone who signs on to the company in name only, allows the business to utilize their good credit history (680+ with 5 years or more of history) and gets 10% of the loan amount granted for their partnership (we're seeking at least $50k, ideally $150k). As a credit partner, you assume none of the debt and it does not effect your credit or credit history in any way. We then set aside enough of the loan to insure repayment for the length of our credit "partnership." After several months, the credit partner can be removed from the company and a few months later, removed from the loan and any potential responsibility for it.

My babes
Are you the person who has vision and wants to be part of a wine revolution?! Or do you want to earn a nice chunk of cash to help me save my business and home by becoming our credit partner? Perhaps you know someone who is.

From the depth of my heart, from one mother to another, I'm asking you for help. For my kids, my business, my life. Consider being my visionary investor, my credit partner and at the very least, a friend who will share this with everyone you know (click any of the sharing buttons found below).

Ready? E-mail me at adgmommy (at) gmail (dot) com or info (at) senseofwinegr (dot) com.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Potty without Training

Potty Learning in Progress
Photo Credit: Manish Bansal
Creative Commons License
Last week I wrote about the reasons why I refuse to potty train my children. This week, I'll tell you how they learned to use the toilet anyway!

Instead of "training," I used Gentle Encouragement. Theresa, from The Outnumbered Mommy, calls it "Potty Learning" in her house. I like that term too, because there's no forcing or control implied.

My Gentle Encouragement method takes longer than the 3-days or a week that traditional training methods require. It can take a few weeks, or months or a year. It depends on the age and readiness of your child. However, it also takes a lot less patience and determination! Begin with the understanding that your child will eventually use the toilet exclusively. Understand that they will want to! Then, simply encourage them to do so.

Note: Your first born will likely take the longest. Younger siblings tend to pick up interest sooner because they see their adored older sibling using the toilet.

The How To - There is no set-in-stone procedure, but to give you a general idea, here's how I do it:

1. Watch for readiness - Our brains are wired for bladder control. Somewhere between 18 and 30 months your child will start to "tell" you they're ready. Signs include staying drier longer, especially through naps; general interest in the toilet; he notices when he's wet or tell you when he goes potty or poop in his diaper; ability to follow 3-step directions; an increased attention span.

2. Encourage the Transition - When my first-born started fighting every diaper change, with every diaper change I would say, "You sure don't like diaper changes! When you go potty in the toilet you won't need them anymore!" Then I would list all the people she knew who use the toilet! "I go potty on the toilet. Aunt Jen goes potty on the toilet. Your friend Ava goes potty on the toilet." And so on and so forth. Use male role models for boys.

3. Frequently recognize and verbalize her (or his) big kid status - "Wow, what a big girl you are! You did _____ (fill in the blank)! Big girls go potty on the toilet too!"

4. Exposure - The more natural, non-demanding exposure to the toilet your child gets, the better. Read potty books, have play-dates with peers who already use the potty and when you need to go, let him know, "Mommy has to go potty on the toilet now! I'm a big girl!"

5. Just Ask - When you're at home and it's convenient, just ask once in a while. No pressure, no forcing, just a simple question. "Want to go potty on the toilet?" My 2-year-old (29-months) now tells me, "Big kaka" ("kaka" is French for poo poo, my kids are bilingual) right before he goes. So, I ask the question. Sometimes he says, "Yes!" and we run to the toilet. Sometimes he says no, so I say, "OK. If you go in the toilet we won't need to change your diaper."

That's it. Easy, stress-free potty learning. You're wondering how long it took my kids?
1st born - started showing interest around 22 months, out of diapers at 30 months (Grandma was coming to visit for Thanksgiving. That day my girl decided she was officially a big girl and diapers were gone forever).
2nd born - started showing interest around 20-months. Out of diapers around 32 months, nights took until age 4.
3rd born - currently 29-months, goes potty on the toilet a couple of times a day. Still in diapers.

Questions? Ask away!