Blog Posts by Parentables

  • 3 Ways to Make Home Cooking Super Fun

    Our family's new favorite homemade pizza. Post and photo by Amy Suardi.

    We all know that preparing our own food can do wonders for a sagging bank account. But not everyone feels the love.

    Even though I usually don't mind whipping up dinner, I have plenty of moments when I long to toss the kids in the car and head out for Mexican. Our tight budget makes me wait until that craving passes; then I pull up my bootstraps and get to the kitchen.

    Not everybody has the financial constraints we do, but most people wouldn't mind reining things in. Here are three ways to love your night in:

    1. Pretend You're on TV

    After watching your favorite cooking show, print out the recipe to your favorite dish and write the ingredients on your shopping list. When it's time to chow down, ask everyone to rate it: either thumbs up or thumbs down, or one to five stars. If your creation makes the cut, the recipe gets added to your family's favorites.

    The Chow section of Parentables is a

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  • Should a School Require Parents to Buy iPads for Their 9 Year Olds?

    Post and photo by: John Cave Osborne

    Yesterday was a red-letter day for my nine-year-old daughter, as it was the first day in her entire life that she could legitimately say she was more technologically advanced than I. And I'm blaming her school. After all, they're the ones who required that I buy her an iPad, a toy I've yet to even buy myself. And I'm not so sure how I feel about it.

    I mean, on the one hand, I suppose I'm okay with it - at least from a conceptual standpoint.

    After all, my daughter attends a private school, and in my opinion, a private school can ask anything they want of their student body. No one's holding a gun to the parents' heads forcing them to enroll their children there. What's more, I attended that school back in the day, so I know firsthand what a great place it is - I believe in it.

    Besides, I think every single school, public or private, should do whatever it can to deliver the best education possible to its students. And it's

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  • Swap Your Shorts for a Skirt (or Dress)

    This post was written by Susan Wagner. Photo: Banana Republic

    My summer uniform is a slim t-shirt and a knee-length skirt and thong sandals. I wear some version of this outfit to work, to run errands and to hang out with my kids. It's cool and comfortable and easy.

    It's also a little more dressed up than the shorts-and-tee option most moms in my neighborhood are opting for. Which is fine with me.

    Once upon a time -- not so long ago, actually -- women wore dresses all the time. And then the sexual revolution came along and we grabbed the opportunity to wear pants -- and shorts! -- just like the men, and the everyday dress fell out of favor. Which is too bad, really, because dresses and skirts are so easy to wear.

    These days, casual summer wear means shorts, especially for busy moms. Why fuss with a skirt or dress when you can toss on a pair of cutoffs? After all, shorts are so much easier!

    Or are they?

    Shorts are hard to wear -- much harder than a skirt.

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  • The Day My 5-Year-Old Dropped an F-bomb

    This post was written by Amy Vernon. Photo credit: Steven Puetzer/Getty Images.

    It came out of the blue one quiet Saturday at home.

    "F*&^" my older son said when something happened on the computer where he was sitting, playing a game on

    My husband and I gasped, looked at each other and froze in our seats.

    It wasn't that we were so scandalized by the word. We have both, after all, said worse in our lives, though we virtually never have around the boys.

    Rather, our brains were racing, as we tried to figure out how to make it clear to him that he was not to say this word again, yet not make it so enticing that he'd want to use it just to make us or someone else angry at a particularly mischevious moment.

    We also, I suppose, were trying to figure out which of us may have been the offender who slipped up and inadvertently taught our son, who was 5, the dreaded "F-curse."

    I flashed back to my own first grade experience when a boy named Rodney

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  • Michelle Duggar: How to make a family vacation meaningful

    This post was written by Michelle Duggar. Photo: Darwin Wiggett/Getty Images.

    In June and July our family got on our bus for an 11-city road trip to promote our book, "A Love that Multiplies." It was a great opportunity for us to fit in some family sightseeing and field trips together. And it was really great for homeschooling since the kids were able to learn more about the history of the different places we visited.

    When we were in New York we were able to go to the Bowery Mission, one of the oldest missions in New York and in the United States, where we served food and helped cleaned up. That was a real highlight. The children really enjoyed getting to go there and sing and then visit with the homeless people there.

    And they really enjoyed visiting with a volunteer who had been homeless 30 years ago. When he was homeless he actually ended up at the Bowery Mission himself. Now he's serving and helping there, and has just a really neat testimony of how he got back

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  • Easy Steps to Slash Your Grocery Bill by 40 Percent

    Post and photo by Sarah Fernandez.

    According to the USDA, in 2011 it should cost me $523.70 per month to feed my family of two adults and two children ages two and five a nutritious diet on a thrifty budget. To feed the same family on a low-cost plan would cost $667.20; a moderate-cost plan would cost $823.60; and a liberal plan would cost $1,018.80.

    I have a feeling that a lot of people out there gasped when they read that thrifty number because they are easily spending over $1,000 per month on groceries. I see the other people in the grocery store whose carts are piled so high that just the slightest wrong move could mean an aisle blocking disaster. I would say that I fall closer to the thrifty budget of $523.70, but my guess is that my family eats just as much and just as high quality food (I often buy organic) as the family who spends more than double what we do. Oh, and I have a dog to feed and a child in diapers that factor into my number as well. Here are a few of my

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  • Is the Babysitter Judging My Parenting Skills?

    This post was written by Andy Hinds. Photo credit: family mwr/Flickr.

    There are very few enterprises I've been involved in where I haven't been nagged by the fear that I'll be exposed as a fraud. You might think this is simply due to a lack of confidence on my part, and you would be partially right. But that lack of confidence is born, to some extent, of a healthy respect for reality.

    I never had this lack of confidence until I started being placed in positions of authority. Whenever I was the low man on the totem pole, I was pretty sure that I was way smarter and more competent than my employers, or teachers, or parents. But as soon as I was allowed to boss someone else around, I got a little panicky.

    The first time I remember being given authority over others was when I filled in a couple times for a friend who had a regular babysitting gig with two little boys, about 3 and 5 years old.

    I was 13 years old, had never babysat before, hadn't had any younger

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  • Top 10 Advantages to Being an Older Parent

    Post and photo by John Cave Osborne.

    So my wife and I just welcomed our fifth child into the world, a wonderful surprise we've named Grand Finale Osborne. When we're not busy feeding him or tending to our toddler triplets, we're often ruminating about the trials and tribulations that come along with parenting at a relatively older age. After all, Caroline just celebrated her 42nd birthday, and I'm a mere loft wedge away from that very same mile marker, so neither one of us are exactly what you'd call spring chickens. And during these first couple of weeks of Grand Finale's infancy, one thing has become glaringly obvious. He's taking quite a toll on us!

    You see, there's a reason why most people have children in their 20s or early 30s - parenting is a young person's game. But if you happen to find yourself in our same boat, namely that of bringing home a new baby while in your 40s, fear not. For we've also discovered that there are quite a few advantages to parenting at

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  • 10 Family Summer Vacation Horrors

    This post was written by Jessica McFadden.

    While the rest of the nation is shivering in fear thanks to Shark Week, here are the real-life reasons why mothers are afraid to go near the water while on summer vacation.

    1. The Pool Shut Down - On a packed, pefect summer Saturday, the lifeguard's announcement of "There's been a poop in the pool, please evacuate!" is thanks to your child's swim diaper fail. And everyone knows it.

    2. The Torturous Tunes - Your pool plays exactly two CDs - Steve Miller and Jimmy Buffett. And while summery and amusing the first few plays, pretty soon that space cowboy eating his cheeseburger in paradise is driving you to margaritaville.

    3. The Waxing Amnesiatic -You have worked out for months and searched for weeks for the perfect swimsuit. However, upon strutting along the crowded beach you realize you forgot one very crucial grooming step.

    4. The Crisis Call - You are deplaned, unpacked and your first frozen fruity drink is poured. Too

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  • Michelle Duggar: How to fill 19 hungry bellies on a road trip

    This post was written by Michelle Duggar.

    We recently went on book tour with our family on our bus. One of the neat things about this trip was that it was our youngest, Josie's, first road trip with us (and she did really good). Here are some of our favorite snack and meal ideas for road trips.

    When it comes to snacks we reuse animal cracker buckets that we get from Sam's, the ones with the screw-on lids. They're airtight, and they're plastic, so they can't break, and they're big. So we usually have a bucket of animal crackers, a bucket of little whales or goldfish, and then a bucket of pretzels. We don't eat a lot of cookies and junk food. Animal crackers, Goldfish and pretzels -- that's the extent of our junk food.

    We always try to take dill pickles, because that's our favorite snack. And so we will pack a lot of jars of pickles. We also love green beans, straight out of the can! We drain them, put them on a plate, and we spritz them with vinegar and put a little salt

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