• Kids' gift ideas that won't break the bank.Kids' gift ideas that won't break the bank.By Ingrid Simone, Common Sense Media editor

    If you're like a lot of people shopping for kids this holiday, you want to give kids stuff they'll love without breaking the bank. Using digital media in your shopping can actually save you money on gift giving. Check out these ideas:

    • Go for board games -- digital and old-school. If you have a tablet such as an iPad, adding classic board game apps -- Scrabble, Monopoly, The Game of Life, and more -- can be less expensive than buying the real thing. But the old-school versions of these same titles are lots of fun -- and generally inexpensive, too. Whatever format you choose, family game night can be a budget-friendly entertainment experience.

    • Make your own gifts. Creative websites and apps let kids make cool projects as they learn new technology. With apps like Animoto and Magisto, kids can create videos for free and send links to relatives for the holidays. Kids can design their own scrapbooks, comic books, and more with apps like Book
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  • What I Wish Every Mother Knew

    Thinkstock / The Bump

    This is a guest post written by Dr. Winifred Soufi, a mom and ob-gyn.

    Don't skip meals! Be well rested! Stay hydrated! Alleviate stress! Sound familiar? Most mothers-to-be are aware of these common recommendations, but I wish every mother knew a few other less frequently discussed tips regarding the health and safety of baby, which are just as important. As an ob-gyn of Women's Health Associates and a mother myself, I encourage expectant mothers to be mindful of these invaluable tips.

    More from The Bump: "I knew I was pregnant when…"

    1. Monitor, monitor, monitor.

    I remember feeling my baby move for the first time. It is one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy. After all, an active baby is a healthy baby! As early as 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, you can begin monitoring baby's fetal kick or movement counts. Establishing a daily monitoring routine is important for tracking the health and development of baby. Once you start feeling consistent movement, you can check baby's movements

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  • Nia Vardalos, the Instant Mom

    Actor and writer Nia Vardalos chats with us about her journey to motherhood, her recent adoption advocacy award and her new book, Instant Mom.Actor and writer Nia Vardalos chats with us about her journey to motherhood, her recent adoption advocacy award and her new book, Instant Mom.Actress and screenwriter Nia Vardalos was recently honored by The American Fertility Association with the Carolyn Berger Adoption Advocacy Award for her outspoken leadership in the area of foster care adoption. It's an award she couldn't be more proud of as the AFA, an inclusive organization committed to helping others create their families of choice, "welcomes all people and all ways of becoming parents." Vardalos and her husband, actor Ian Gomez, adopted their little girl (almost 3 years old at the time) in 2008, and she has since become a proud advocate for the adoption community.

    With her book, Instant Mom, (a recent recipient of the Mom's Choice Award), Vardalos chronicles the long journey of becoming a mother in a way she never expected.

    After countless unsuccessful fertility treatments, she found the adoption process long and frustrating as well. Finally, with the help of an American Foster Family Agency, she became a mother overnight... literally. (They were given 14 hours

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  • Does it take forever to get your family out the door in the morning? Getting ready for work and school can make you exhausted before you even leave the house. Dr. Natalie Azar joins Ereka for this episode of "Easy Does It" to share helpful ideas for speeding up your family's morning routine.

    1. Get up 15 minutes before your kids. "When the kids are around, they slow you down," Natalie says. Use the short morning quiet time to start getting yourself ready before the kids get out of bed.

    WATCH: Warm Up Your Bathroom for Winter

    2. Motivate with positive reinforcement. Children will respond to small rewards for good behavior. "I usually say to my kids, first one who has dressed, brushed their teeth, and is standing in front of the car will get a treat today," Natalie says. "You take the focus off of the yelling, screaming, and reminding 10 times."

    3. Encourage multitasking. If you let your children watch TV in the morning, make sure they are brushing their teeth, eating breakfast, or getting

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  • The 15 Best Children's Books of 2013

    Each of these books is beautifully written and illustrated,original, offbeat, even strange-with sassy characters perfect in their imperfection. The stories push boundaries. And they have heart. Here are some of my favorites from 2013. By Randall de Seve, REDBOOK.

    That Is Not a Good Idea, by Mo Willems

    Talk about offbeat! Put a sinister-seeming, soup-making fox and a plump goose together in a silent movie that's really a hilarious picture book and what do you get? From the charmingly irreverent Mo Willems--a very good idea. (My kids' school voted it their favorite picture book of the year.)

    The Dark, by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
    Laszlo is afraid of the dark. But the dark--an actual character full of graphic gravitas--is not afraid of Laszlo. One night, it comes to visit and teaches Laszlo how not to be afraid. And that is what will happen if you read this clever and visually engaging book. You will giggle nervously, deliciously so, at first--then in relief at how

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  • How to explain to your boss that you're pregnant. How to explain to your boss that you're pregnant. I know all about this, but probably not in the way you think. Yes I've had three kids in the last five years, but for the first time in my adult life, I've been out of the corporate environment; I've been a consultant working from a fairly cushy home office in Italy, and now North Carolina. No boss to deal with at all. What I know about lame bosses during pregnancy--"Wait, you have another appointment again tomorrow?"--is actually from the other side of the desk. I was the clueless one.

    As a young and ambitious VP of a big media company, it's not that I was ever unsupportive. I certainly didn't think poorly of my pregnant team members, worry about their career prospects or begrudge them that maternity leave. It was more subtle than that. When a mom-to-be from my team would say she'd be out or she was tired, I'd say, "Okay, sure. Whatever you need to do." But in my head, I'd basically minimize the whole thing, thinking judgy thoughts like, "What's the big deal? Haven't people been

    Read More »from What to Do when You're Pregnant and Your Boss Doesn’t Get It
  • by Jay Cardiello for SHAPE.com

    Fitness experts dispel these common myths for goodFitness experts dispel these common myths for goodThere is no shortage of opinions on the best ways to lose weight and get into shape. Over my career I have heard some fitness myths over and over again, and still hear them today! To help decipher fact from fiction, here is some more information about eight persistent assumptions that might be holding you back.

    1. It's better to use a machine.
    Machine-only based programs train your body in a single, linear motion. These one-dimensional forms of exercise make you more susceptible to injury. Think about it: We live in a multi-dimensional world. Completing multi-joint exercises such as weighted squats, lunges, and deadlifts will prepare your body better for real life.

    2. Losing weight only happens in the gym. It takes 250,000 crunches to burn one pound of fat. I believe that 80 percent of all fitness success happens in the kitchen, not the gym. If you spend one hour (or just four percent) of your day working out, you have the rest of you day to nullify your

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  • Who Needs Wrapping Paper?

    Everyone loves receiving a beautifully wrapped present, but going through rolls and rolls of gift wrap around the holidays can feel a little wasteful. This year, get creative with wrapping by repurposing, recycling, and reusing for presents that will look stunning under the tree. Interior designer Jennifer Adams shares some of her favorite ideas on this episode of "Easy Does It."

    WATCH: Best Hot Chocolate Ever

    Sheet music: Perfect for the music lover in your family. If you don't have sheet music around the house, wrap with pages of a book or magazine.

    Burlap: Use a burlap runner to wrap your gift, and fasten with kitchen twine and festive ribbon for contrasting textures that come together for a rustic and stylish presentation. Burlap bags also tend to cost less than traditional holiday gift bags. .

    Cloth napkins: Cloth dinner napkins can add an elegant touch to smaller gifts. Secure napkin corners with a rubber band, and then place a decorative napkin ring over the band for a special

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  • These kids love to cookThese kids love to cookby Jenni Grover MS RN LDN, Mother Nature Network


    It's been documented that kids who cook choose healthier foods.


    With all those holiday parties coming up, and plenty of food prep to go with it, now may be the perfect time to get your children cooking. Not only will it teach them an important life skill, but it also gives them an opportunity to create something they can show off in front of family and friends. Given we tend to have crazy schedules over the holidays, cooking together is also a rare opportunity for some true quality time. But as anybody who has actually cooked with kids knows, more hands don't necessarily mean less work. (And they certainly don't ensure less mess!) Below are some strategies for holiday cooking with children, without losing your mind.


    Make time to do it right
    If you are rushing to get a dish prepared for a holiday potluck and you're leaving in an hour, now may not be the ideal time to get the kids involved. By planning ahead, and carving out some quality

    Read More »from Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Cook This Holiday Season
  • By Raechel Conover, Cheapism.com

    As a parent, you're probably familiar with this routine: You're at a restaurant and your child is squirming, saying "I'm hungry," asking for bread or a snack from your bag. You order a meal from the kids' menu, but when the food arrives your child decides he's not hungry and doesn't take a single bite, or maybe one bite and pushes the plate away, pronouncing "all done." Well, terrific -- might as well throw $5 in the trash. On the flip side, you don't order a meal and this is the night he decides to eat -- and polishes off most of your meal, leaving you to walk out hungry.

    Related: Best inexpensive family restaurants guide

    Find out how to get free meals for kids. id=

    Maybe it's just my picky eater, although I doubt that. It's likely that many frugal parents think paying for a kid's meal at a restaurant is a waste of money. But there are times when you want or need to eat out. What's the work-around? Just head for restaurants that welcome kids with a free meal.

    Rules. The rules are few and mostly

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