Blog Posts by Charlene Prince Birkeland, Senior Editor

  • Octuplet obsession update: Four babies home and a few details about the baby (times 14) daddy

    photo credit: AP Photo/Jason Redmondphoto credit: AP Photo/Jason RedmondWhen octuplet mom Nadya Suleman brought home the first two babies from her new brood last week, she arrived to the scene pictured at left. Whatever you may think about Suleman, you do have to admit that as a parent, it must have been terrifying to bring newborns home with a swarm of paparazzi and curious people crushed up against your garage door.

    So when Suleman was able to bring another two babies home over the weekend, it was done with the help of an off-duty police officer. Police also blocked her street off so that a crowd couldn't form in front of her pad.

    Suleman also let a few tidbits slip about out about the father of all 14 of her children. In an interview with, Suleman says he was shocked when he learned she was pregnant with seven babies (she said she was unaware of the eighth baby at the time of the conversation). She also says he lives abroad. But watch the video because it's pretty obvious she's being shifty.

    More posts on the Octuplet Obsession:

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  • 6 DVDs your preschooler will love

    Maybe you're looking to assemble a stash of emergency DVDs for those emergency days when your preschoolers are home sick. Or perhaps you just want to stock up your movie library for family movie night (or when you have company and want your preschooler guests to mellow out).

    Either way, help has arrived with DVD recommendations for your preschooler. Check out the slide show for my favorite flicks/shows that your little one is sure to love.

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  • Itty bitty bites: Colorful rainbow cake will blow your kids away

    photo credit: omnomicon.comphoto credit: omnomicon.comThere's nothing like a pretty cake to make your kid smile, especially when it's made on a random day...just for kicks.

    I've filed this rainbow cake under the category of "Must Try Immediately" because it's simply too cool (just like the Hello Kitty cake pops. Side note: I did make these with a twist, but it didn't go as planned. Attempt number two will be documented.)

    Now, it would be fun to surprise your kids with this cake. But it would be almost as much fun to have them help you make it. Need convincing? Look at the pretty pictures! I know, oh, I know, it has crazy amounts of food coloring. But I'm willing to run with it because of its sheer awesomeness. [via Craftzine]

    (Also, since I'm clearly having an "unhealthy food" moment, look at this Root Beer Cookies. Yum!)

    More Itty bitty bite inspiration:
    Birthday party inspiration: DIY Hello Kitty cake pops
    "Star Wars" birthday party 101
    Birthday party inspiration: DIY Curious George monkey business
    Tetris birthday cake

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  • (Don't) Freak out (yet): Lead in old children's books?

    A classic children's read...with lead?A classic children's read...with lead?There's lead in every single thing your kid touches. Okay, not really, but dude. That's how it feels sometimes.

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has asked libraries across the country to remove from their shelves all children's books printed before 1986, saying that those books may have been printed with ink that contains unsafe levels of lead. Lead poisoning in children has been associated with declines in IQ, disabilities and other developmental issues.

    I spoke with Sonia Pleasant, a spokesperson for the CPSC, this morning and she said the organization has not decided how they will test all of those children's books printed before1986 for lead content.

    "We will be issuing guidelines very soon," Pleasant said, noting that those guidelines will be posted on the CPSC's website.

    Jay Dempsey, a health communications specialist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press that "lead-based ink in children's books poses little danger."

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  • Do the Girl Scouts need to move with the times?

    photo credit: aka Kath via flickr.comphoto credit: aka Kath via flickr.comThe Girl Scouts of USA makes headlines every spring as young girls around the country sell box after box of Thin Mints, Tagalongs and my personal favorite, Samosas cookies. (We just polished off our third box!)

    This year, the Girl Scouts is getting a bum rap of being "behind the times." Why? Because it bans the online sale of Girl Scout Cookies.

    If you haven't heard this story already, let me break it down for you.

    Eight-year-old Wild Day Freeborn is a Girl Scout in North Carolina and she wants to sell 12,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Why 12,000 boxes? To raise the funds to send her entire troop to a summer camp. Certainly a commendable goal.

    Freeborn asked her dad, an executive at a Web design and development firm, to help her use the Internet to sell the cookies. He said yes, and the two created a YouTube video, (hosted by her dad's company), which directed folks to an online store where you could buy the Girl Scout cookies from her. According to a Newsweek piece, more than

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  • St. Patrick's Day: Why do I always forget about you?

    photo credit: zakkalife.blogspot.comphoto credit: zakkalife.blogspot.comMy kids set a Leprechaun trap last night. It was a big box filled with a few coins to lure the miniature green dudes, who magically escape after trading the real coins for chocolate ones. Only this year, the Leprechaun missed the trap and didn't leave any chocolate coins (read: Mom fell asleep early).

    A Leprechaun managed to turn milk green this morning, which was a last-minute save. And he might make a sneaky appearance at dinner. If I have enough time, I might even try to make these adorable Jell-O Shamrocks (hat's off to Zakka Life for the neat idea). Or? Maybe a simple Shamrock Shake will do the trick.

    But tonight, I know I'll vow to do a better job planning ahead the next year because my kids go absolutely gaga over St. Paddy's Day.

    Did you do something special for your kids this St. Patrick's Day?

    [via Crafty Crow]

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  • Cool Mom Picks makes shopping for baby showers a lot easier

    We share tons of fun, novel and budget-friendly baby shower gift ideas here at Shine, but I wanted to direct your attention to a sweet little gift guide created by the ladies of Cool Mom Picks.

    You'll find a wide range of ideas, from binky basics, receiving blankets and adorable onesies to books and musical offerings. I also love that Cool Mom Picks included handmade finds from

    Price ranges vary from easy-on-the-budget to hold-onto-your-hat, but you're guaranteed to find something that you'll fall in love with (for your favorite expectant mom, not you).

  • What's your parenting style?

    Photo Credit: Getty ImagesPhoto Credit: Getty ImagesI feel like I'm asking a question straight out of one of those nuvo parenting books, but everyone has a certain flair when it comes to their parenting.

    I recently read a story by Tom McMahon over at where he breaks down the different types of parenting styles and the results of using those respective styles:

    • Authoritarian. Think of this as "My way or the highway" parenting.
    • Authoritative. "Nurturing, loving, responsive and demanding."
    • Permissive-indulgent. The parents want to be best friends with their kids and set few boundaries or rules.
    • Neglectful parenting. Mom and/or dad are minimally involved in parenting and the kids receive little nurturing.

    I think I've seen parents who practice each of these styles (sometimes all at once -- how confusing for the kids!). I've also seen parents who seem like they are permissive-indulgent because they are uuber calm and collected, even when their kids are driving the bonkers. And yet? Their
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  • Parenting poll: Do your kids have active or "part-time" grandparents?

    Photo Credit: Getty ImagesPhoto Credit: Getty ImagesAs we watch Marian Robinson, first lady Michelle Obama's mom, live in the White House to help manage the first family, some are wondering if the bar has been raised for grandparents and how they participate in their grandchildren's lives.

    And in some instances, grandparents only want to visit with their grandkids. The New York Times published an article last week, "When Grandma Can't be Bothered." The story features blogger Catherine Connors from Her Bad Mother. She talks about how her mom "put her on notice" when Catherine had her first baby, letting the new mom know Grandma wasn't going to fit into a traditional role.

    I grew up in a home where my maternal grandmother lived with us. She'd return to her home in El Salvador or travel with her son's family for about six weeks every year, but she was a full-time, hands-on grandma. And she played an important part of my life. My own mom and dad watched my first son once a week for nearly two years when I returned back to work, and the

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  • Lights out: Do your kids have a set bedtime routine?

    photo credit: AP Photo/Ron Edmondphoto credit: AP Photo/Ron EdmondSasha and Malia Obama may be having a blast on their new play structure (which sits on sand in plain view of the Oval Office - how cool is that?). But one thing is certain: Even if their fun lasts well into dusk, they'll still have to go to bed at a set time: 8 pm.

    Over at The New York Times "Well" blog, Tara Parker Pope is leading a discussion about bedtime routines for kids. While most parents know that setting a regular sleep schedule for their kids is a good thing, how many moms and dads actually stick to those schedules?

    Personally, we have set bedtime for our kids but it's definitely flexible if we've attended a special event. It's just something we started when the kids were babies and have stuck to the routine, but adjusted the time the lights must be out. The kids seem to dig it, so there's no reason to stray from it. We also can see the difference in our kids' behavior when they get less sleep on those days when they are in bed later than normal.

    What about you? Do you

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