Blog Posts by Charlene Prince Birkeland, Senior Editor

  • Can you be addicted to having babies?

    Photo Credit: Getty ImagesPhoto Credit: Getty ImagesShortly after Nadya Suleman gave birth to her octuplets, her own mom told anyone who would listen that her daughter was "obsessed with having kids."

    In a Boston Globe article, a psychologist specializing in women's reproductive mental health said "women that have obsessive-compulsive disorder can become fixated on different obsessions."

    Two of those obsessions could be having kids and being a mom. What about an obsession with pregnancy?

    Even though I lost all control over my burgeoning body as the babies grew in my belly, I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of pregnancy. I love my kids and adore motherhood.

    But like many parents who are responding to my post about the octuplet obsession, I can't even imagine having eight newborns, let alone 14 kids. However, I do know a few moms who loved being pregnant. And they'd love to be pregnant again, just to go through the experience and soak in that newborn smell one. more. time.

    So Shine readers, we want to hear from you. Do you think you

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  • Sarah Jessica Parker in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar: Modern mom in the city

    Photo Credit: Peter Lindbergh for Harper's BazaarPhoto Credit: Peter Lindbergh for Harper's Bazaar
    Actress Sarah Jessica Parker can be as glamorous as she wants, but my favorite photos of her are when she's about town in a pair of jeans, taking her kid to school and looking like a regular mom.

    In the cover story of the March issue of Harper's Bazaar, Parker comes off as just that: a modern mom who deals with Lego blocks, has a son who doesn't care when she's dressed up, and takes her kid to the public library.

    The article focuses on the launch of Parker's latest fragrances, along with Parker's tribute to fashion legend Diana Vreeland, who was Harper Bazaar's fashion editor from 1936 to 1962. But what I most enjoyed about the story were the tidbits of information that shed some light on Parker's life as a mom to six-year-old son James Wilke. (His dad is Parker's husband, Matthew Broderick.)

    On spotting the "Sex in the City" tour bus when she's with her kid:

    "...There are times when I'm like, Oh, God, I'd better run in the other direction. Especially when I'm with my son."

    On what

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  • Dispatches from the test kitchen: Homemade croutons 101

    Homemade croutons 101...Homemade croutons 101...

    When I eat salads at a restaurant, the croutons make the dish. The perfect balance of airy bread, seasonings and olive oil (or if you want to be really decadent, butter).

    Homemade croutons take less than 20 minutes to bake. And? You can get the kids involved.

    Here's a little homemade crouton 101 in photos in case you want to have your own little test-kitchen project. Trust me, you'll never buy a bag or box of prepackaged crouts again.

    Slice and tear your baguette...Slice and tear your baguette...

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice one long sourdough baguette* into rounds and then tear up the rounds into rough 1/2" cubes (a good spot to let the kids help). Toss the pieces into a nice, big bowl. We use our salad bowl because the leftover seasonings can coat the dinner salad. You can use any baguette flavor you'd like, but I favor sourdough bread for croutons, especially sourdough covered in sunflower, poppy and anise seeds.

    Drizzle olive oil...Drizzle olive oil...

    2. Drizzle the bread cubes with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Wait! Don't toss the

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  • Teaching little kids to stay in bed

    Until your kids can read numbers on a digital clock or tell time, teaching them to stay in bed until Mr. Sun is awake can be a chore challenging. When my older son was in his toddler/preschooler stage, he woke us up many, many times at 5 a.m. because he was ready to play. Mom and Dad? Not so much.

    We showed the kid how to read 6:30 on his digital clock, followed by the rule, "You cannot come out of your room until the clock says this time...unless you have to go potty and then you have to go right. back. to. bed."

    However, I am smitten with this sweet "Good Nite Lite" (US$35). It's a six-inch night light that glows blue in the evening, letting your kids know they need to stay in bed. In the morning, it shines the sun. Mom and dad set the time the light changes from moon to sun.

    In short, it's brilliant.

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  • Octuplet obsession: Who, what, where, when and...WHY?!

    photo credit: AFP/File/Martin Bureauphoto credit: AFP/File/Martin BureauAs we continue to read news stories about the mother who gave birth to octuplets last week, many of us have even more questions that begin with "who," "what," "where," "when" and "why" and "how."

    All of the questions are tinged with opinion and they usually go like this:

    • Who is going to help take care of these babies? (And how are the other children doing?) Also, who foot the bill for her in vitro fertilization (IVF)?
    • What kind of doctor would implant a single mom -- with six kids under the age of seven -- with multiple embryos? (And who are we to even think anyone has the right to tell a woman how many babies she can have?)
    • Where were the early signs that the mom had some sort of obsession with having babies? (And shouldn't someone, oh, a doctor maybe, have noticed?)
    • Why would a single woman with six very young children, all living in Grandma's three-bedroom home (Grandma filed for bankruptcy last year), want more kids? (Again, who are we
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  • Everything you need to protect your kid's pearly whites

    February is Dental Health Month. Whether your little one is sprouting her first teeth or your toddler or preschooler is battling you when it comes time to brush those pearly whites, you'll need a few essentials to make dental hygiene fun. Or at least mildly entertaining.

    Check out the slide show for some of my favorite products and tips that can help you create healthy dental habits for your kids.

  • Things you don't need for your pet: The Paw Plunger

    When my dog is ready to come in the house after roaming in the muddy outdoors, I usually have a towel near the door so I can wipe his paws off. Even that task is a struggle with a 65-pound puppy.

    Now, imagine trying to dip your dog's paws in something called the "Paw Plunger."

    I do not kid.

    It's a dolled-up black mug that you fill with warm water. You put your dog's paw in it and "soft, deep-cleaning bristles gently scrub away dirt, mud, and harsh ice-melting chemicals."

    It's yours for forty bucks.

    Or you could just use a towel.

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  • Get flu ready: 8 things to stock up on in case the kids get sick

    There's a buzz at my son's school and it's all about the stomach flu. I asked a teacher how her class was doing and she said, "They're dropping like flies."

    Just what a mom wants to hear when her kids are healthy. Also, it turns out that this particular stomach bug is knocking kids off their feet for days.

    Cold? Sore throat? I can deal with you. Stomach flu? Stay. the heck. away.

    I went grocery shopping last weekend and as I came across the soup aisle, I decided to stock up on all the things we'd need if our boys get hit with the stomach flu. Maybe, just maybe, my advanced preparation will ward off the germs. It's wishful thinking, but at least I won't have to make an emergency dash to the store or worse yet, call a neighbor or family member to go out for me if and when a puke fest strikes.

    As I shopped, I realized how much of my sick-day supplies are shaped by what my mom used to feed me as a kid when I was home with stomach woes. Does this happen to you?

    Check out the slide

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  • Mom of octuplets plans to breastfeed her babies

    Multiply by two.Multiply by two.By now you've probably read all about the woman who gave birth to octuplets. More good news was reported this morning when doctors said all eight of the babies were breathing on their own. The babies were born nine weeks prematurely and will be in the hospital for several more weeks.

    Here's the little tidbit of info that amazes me: Doctors say the mom plans to breastfeed all eight babies.

    Can you imagine the feeding schedule? Any nursing mama can tell you that a newborn wants to eat often, but the official word from La Leche League is that a baby will average 8-12 feedings over 24 hours. Most newborns drink about 25 ounces of breast milk a day. Multiply that times eight babies and you've got one exhausted new mom whose body is producing a lot of breast milk. Will she ever be able to leave the house?

    It wore me out to breastfeed one baby for a year. The thought of nursing eight newborns would have scared me to pieces. So for however long she manages to breastfeed, she's to be

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  • Crafty mamas make their toddlers...heart-inspired busy books

    photo credit: lavenderlimes.blogspot.comphoto credit: lavenderlimes.blogspot.comToddlers do have busy hands. And as they try to learn new skills to gain some independence, we like to give them any tools to help them along the way.

    I adore this Valentine's Busy Book made by the proprietor of the blog Lavender and Limes. It's a piece of felt with an assortment of buttons sewn on. The felt hears have little slits, so tiny hands can practice their buttoning skills.

    Easy to make, even for the most un-crafty parent.

    More crafty mama ideas on Shine:
    Crafty mamas help their kids make...a cardboard zoo
    Crafty mamas help their kids make...cardboard masterpieces
    Crafty mamas can try making...a DIY color book for little ones
    Crafty mamas help their kids make....homemade playdough
    Crafty mamas help their kids make...wooden robots
    Crafty mamas let their kids...make postcards out of cereal boxes

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