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Friday, December 12, 2014

Wonders and Physics of Santa Claus

Did you know that Santa and Physics had something's in common? This infographic shows some pretty cool things about Santa that I never knew.






Moms and Dads, Grandma and Grandpa, don't forget to get those Santa Letters and Packages ordered before time runs out!

Order yours here , support our nonprofit organization with each package your send.

Merry Christmas from

The Mommies Network

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oh You Naughty Little Boy....#tmnpintowin #elfonashelf

Email your naughty and nice Elf On the Shelf photos to our Pinterest Contest, is the email, hurry so they can get more likes on Pinterest!!

Don't forget to order your Santa Letters and Packages

Friday, November 21, 2014

Foodie Friday: Herb Roasted Turkey Time #Thanksgiving #turkey


  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves plus 4 fresh sage sprigs, divided
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs, divided
  • 4 medium onions
  • 5 celery ribs
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 3 medium parsnips


  • In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup oil, garlic, salt and pepper. With
  • fingers, carefully loosen skin from the turkey breast; rub mixture
  • under the skin. Place sage leaves and two thyme sprigs under the
  • skin. Secure skin to underside of breast with toothpicks.
  • Cut onions into wedges and the celery, carrots and parsnips into
  • 2-in. lengths. Place about a fifth of the onions, celery and carrots
  • in the turkey cavity; add sprigs and remaining thyme. Place
  • remaining vegetables in a roasting pan. Place turkey, breast side
  • up, over vegetables. Brush with remaining oil.
  • Bake at 325° for 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 hours or until a meat thermometer
  • reads 180°, basting occasionally with pan drippings. Cover
    • loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly. Cover and let stand
    • for 20 minutes before carving turkey. Discard vegetables; use
    • drippings to make gravy. Yield: 14 servings.
    Nutritional Facts: 8 ounces cooked turkey equals 599 calories, 32 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 245 mg cholesterol, 342 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 72 g protein.

    Read more:

Naughty or Nice List? Santa is watching ,surprise them with a gift from #TopSantaLetters #mommiesnetwork

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baby's First Christmas? New Grand-baby? We have the perfect surprise...

New bundle of joy in your house this year for Christmas? New grand-baby lighting up your entire world these days? The magic of little piggie toes and sweet smelling babies breath is something you will never forget. 
Order a perfect keepsake for your perfect little angel, a Letter from Santa to celebrate "Baby's  First Christmas". Create your own letters and packages of magic memories HERE

Other packages and options are available for all ages, visit Top Santa Letters for more information. 

Your purchase of a Top Santa Letter or Package goes to help fund our non-profit network supporting moms in all walks of life. More information here 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Middle School Makeover Part 9: Dating and Independence

Middle School Makeover Part 9: Dating and Independence

Scenario #10: Going Out, Going Nowhere

In this scenario, Michelle discusses the issue of how to handle when your child begins “going out with” someone. She suggests tackling this the same way you take on your middle schooler developing friendships with a child you’re wary about—by limiting activities, not people. Forbidding your child to spend time with someone will make them more appealing, instead suggest that they spend time at your house where you can supervise and assess the situation. The same applies for who he/she dates. You cannot pick who your child is attracted to.

Before becoming alarmed and jumping to conclusions when your middle schooler starts “going out with” someone, get a clear definition of what this means. To some, it simply means holding hand in the hallway, to others it means supervised dates. Find out what limits are important for you to set and discuss them clearly with your child so they understand your concerns and reasons for setting rules.

You should also view this as an opportunity to discuss what to look for in a partner with your child. Talking with them early about this can set them up for success in future relationships.

Scenario #11: It’s a Great, Big World out There (Emphasis on Great)

A parent asks Michelle how much independence is too much for a kid at this age, concerned about her son’s request to bike two miles alone to a shopping center. It is important to take into consideration personal factors such as your child’s maturity, what kind of neighborhood you live in, etc. But, it is also necessary to factor in the benefits to your teen gaining independence. As stated before, “A tween’s middle school years are all about developing an identity apart from him parents” (page 139); for this reason, once you are confident in your child’s knowledge of safety rules and responsibility, it is a good idea to consider letting them branch out and take on more independent tasks. Although it can be scary, and sometimes sad, to watch your child grow away from you, these experiences are an important part of them growing up to be successful, confident adults.

Scenario #12: “Get Him out of My Room!”

It is inevitable that siblings will disagree. Michelle uses this suggestion to suggest not intervening obviously or right away. Let’s follow the example given, that a thirteen-year-old daughter is picking on her younger brother. Instead of punishing her, which may not get to the root of the problem, take the opportunity to teach your son how to blow off someone who isn’t being nice. Teach him how to shrug it off or use the “botox brow” you learned in earlier chapters.

Sometimes, siblings will fight hard, and Michelle offers a list of suggestions for this on page 144:

            Separate them, literally in neutral corners of separate rooms
            Wait before reacting to a sibling argument
            Approach kids separately and privately about sibling issues
            Do not make comparisons between kids
            Teach your kids how to respond to provacation without making the issue worse
            Express empathy with both children
            React to antisocial behavior with antisocial consequences

It isn’t your job to make your children like each other, but you can mediate problems between them and help teach them how to be civil in rough situations.

Scenario #13: Going at Different Speeds

All kids develop socially at different rates. While some preteens will become interested in boys/girls, others may still like playing make believe. And this is completely natural, however it can leave a child feeling left out. Even though you may want to help, the best thing you can do as a parent is to be patient. 

“You might think that you are encouraging your child to be more social by asking subtle questions about his peer interactions, but to him it probably feels more like pressure to perform than a gentle inquiry.” (page 148)

If you fret over your child’s social maturity and popularity, they may pick up on it and become self-conscious which will only hinder their situation more. Help your middle schooler pursue their own individual interests and enjoy him/her for who they are today—not who you are concerned about them becoming.

Thoughts for discussion:

How have you handled whether or not your child is ready to start dating? Was it effective?

What limits have you set on your child for independent adventures and going places on their own? At what age did you establish them?

Are sibling fights common in your household? How do you handle it with each child?
Have you experienced the feeling that your child may be socially behind others their age? Did you encourage them to find their own interests? How did you help them adjust?

Finishing Touches:

We hope you've enjoyed our Middle School Makeover book club blogs! Are there any sections you'd like to see more or less on? Any suggestions for other books you would like to see broken down and discussed? We would love to hear about it! Thanks for taking part, I know that I've enjoyed it!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Building A Better Student Series: Boys And Books

Boys And Books

Speaking at school PTO meetings often provides terrific content for articles and blog posts. The parents (the P in PTO) ask terrific questions, and their feedback to my presentations gives me interesting new ways to look at issues in education.

When the topic turns to reading, its not unusual to hear a question about “books for boys.” Specifically, some parents want to know why there arent enough good ones.

To which my eyes open wide and I stop myself from sputtering: “What?!”

Were living in an age where there are more great books being written for boys than at any other time. There are a couple of reasons why some parents dont see them.

One, pop cultures spotlight on girl-friendly fiction is practically blinding. Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight - just to name the recent heavyweights - not only have strong female leads, but the associated movies captured the imaginations of millions of young women. I get it; book sales tilt heavily on the side of female readers, and both publishers and producers are anxious to cash in.

There are plenty of great novels that cater to the tastes of boys; they just dont hog the attention of Hollywood. Your school or public librarian would be delighted to steer you or your son toward them.

The second reason has to do with genre. When we think of books for kids we seem to naturally default to fiction. It makes sense, given the cascade of popular fiction that Harry Potter and Percy Jackson spawned. And since so many adults today grew up with either The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew or Choose Your Own Adventure stories, fiction is top of mind.

But its not the only way to go. Non-fiction could very well be the entry point for boys to discover reading.

A dad at one of my talks said that hes always been into music, and his dislike of reading as a kid dissipated when someone gave him a book about one of his favorite rock stars. He devoured it in two days. After that he sought out everything he could find to read about other musicians and bands.

From there he discovered that books on World War II fascinated him. And biographies. Just like that he flipped from a young man who supposedly hated reading to a guy who always had a book going.

Because you love fiction - perhaps even a very specific genre of fiction - you might be limiting the books to which you expose your child. Do they really hate reading . . . or have they simply not been introduced to the ‘rightreading for them?

Its true that girls are much more likely than boys to be active readers, but we can alter the ratio in a positive way. Look beyond the traditional bestseller list (and beyond the hit movies) for hidden gems, and dont confine your suggestions to fiction.

All it takes is one book to change a boys attitude. That just-right book is out there, waiting.

Dom Testa is an author, speaker, morning radio show host, and has kept a ficus tree alive for twenty-four years. Hes also the founder and president of The Big Brain Club, a non-profit student-development foundation. His new book, Smart Is Cool, is now available. More info at

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Middle School Makeover Part 8: Fashion, Trouble, and Cell Phones

Middle School Makeover Part 8: Fashion, Trouble, and Cell Phones

Scenario #7: Camis, Tight Jeans, and Booty Shorts, Oh My!

Michelle starts out this section with an inquiry from a mother wondering how to handle her daughter heading off to school in a strange, unflattering outfit. She responds to this with the same idea she has been coaching us with throughout the book. This is your child’s time to grow as a person independent of you and part of that includes developing their own individual (and sometimes cringe-worthy) sense of fashion. I keep having mental flashbacks of horrible middle school outfits I obsessed over while I am writing this.

While she recommends letting your child explore this way, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t h
ave rules or guidelines about what is appropriate for different social situations. She suggests making sort of categories for various levels of clothing (ex: DEFCON 3 clothes for playing outside or getting potentially ruined, DEFCON 1 clothes for important family occasions or weddings and the like). 

It is also important to go over guidelines and expectations for modesty, BEFORE you start shopping. Such limits may include: no offensive language, no skirts/ shorts that reveal too much when you bend over, no pants that sit really low, no shirts that reveal too much if you bend over, etc. These will be different for each family but it is important to determine what your expectations are before it becomes a problem to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Scenario #8: Your “Sneaking” Suspicions

Here we dive into what to do when your kid goes behind your back and does something you deliberately told them not to, be it borrowed something you did not agree to lend, watch a forbidden film, or something along those lines. While you may want to go full force disciplinarian (a normal reaction, Michelle tells us!) it is important to take a deep breath and not immediately react. A big reaction will draw attention away from what he/she did wrong and could take away from a valuable learning opportunity. 

Then make sure you have proof a crime was committed. You don’t want to punish based on a hunch. Once you have evidence try to form a consequence that relates to the problem. Make sure your child understands the root of the infraction. For instance, if it has hindered your trust make sure they understand that as the reason you are making sure they don’t go out with friends for the week. This way it is clear why they are being punished. 

It is normal for teens to keep things from their parents and sneak around. Be sure to be observant if there are underlying reasons for their lying to you as well. The example given in the book is that maybe your teen daughter borrows your shirt because she’s embarrassed about how her clothes fit her or is being teased about the brand she wears. It is vital to look for these clues to get to the bottom of misbehavior and open up a dialogue about issues with which she may need help.

Scenario #9: Can You Hear Me Now?

In this scenario Michelle discusses at what age it is appropriate to give your child a cell phone. Before divulging a general number answer there are two things she believes are necessary to consider: maturity and need. Is your child responsible enough to have a phone or will they lose it right away and often?  Will they follow the rules that come with a phone? Then, is it purely a social tool, or could it be beneficial to both of you? Will he use it to call after sports practice? Does your child enter the house alone after school? I got my first cell phone when I was fourteen and a half, which happened to be the exact time I got my driver’s permit. Even if you fear your child entering a technological world, you have to be aware of the benefits it can yield for you (Michelle mentions several on page 129). It is recommended though that you purchase the phone that way it is technically your property and therefore yours to police or take away as necessary. 

There are four suggested rules Michelle offers for new cell phone holders, but they may not suit all of your needs, don’t be afraid to add or amend as needed:

     1.) If there is a password on the phone, it must be known to you.
     2.) You have the right to look through texts as you see fit.
     3.) Their phone cannot be in their room past 8pm.
     4.) Since this is new to both of you, you may change the rules as you see fit.

Questions for Discussion:

What was one of your outrageous fashion phases from your middle school days? How long did it take you to grow out of it?

Have you had to handle issues of clothing modesty? How did you and did it work?

What punishments have you had to issue for sneaking behind your back and breaking rules? Was your child resistant or do you think they learned from it?

What age do you think is appropriate to get your child a cell phone?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Middle School Makeover Part 7

Middle School Makeover Part 7: Friends, Fights, and Bullies

First off, let me apologize for being a week late with the posting! I will post this one (from last week) tonight. I will post Part 8 on Saturday to have us back on track for next week!

Let’s start with scenario #3: Good Girls Gone Bad

Michelle explains that a lot of the problems that come from middle school girls excluding those they used to be friends with are a result of them trying to find their own place in relation to their new peers. “This causes some girls to go on the offensive to be sure they’re not the one who will be left out. Psychologists call this ‘relational aggression’, in which one girl seeks to hurt another by damaging her relationship with her peers, often through gossip or public humiliation” (page 98). While it may not completely make you feel better if your daughter is at the hurting side of this, it can be helpful to understand that there is a reason for this behavior other than just cold-heartedness. 

Some helpful tips for guiding your daughter through a tough time with friends:

--Empathize, but don’t go overboard
--Put more effort into making her comfortable, treat her to ice cream, forgive her for being more “snappy” than usual
--Don’t bad mouth the other girls. This is not a good habit to promote and she could take it as you criticizing her judgment.
--Encourage her to make new friends and spread out between social groups. This will prevent her from relying solely on one unstable clique.
--If these methods aren’t helpful don’t be afraid to seek a counselor’s advice or get professional help.

Scenario #4: There’s More than One Way to Be Cool

It can be tough for middle school boys to socialize if they are not interested in, or particularly talented at, group sports since they form such a natural camaraderie for young men. Michelle offers several suggestions for ways for your son to make connections without being an athlete. They are all listed on page 101, but some ideas include: learning to play an instrument, making money, learning to fix things like cars or bikes, or try other physical activities like hiking, archery, or rock climbing. Anything that promotes positive character building skills and builds your son’s confidence while opening up the possibility to make friends with similar passions is a great place to start!

The other side of this is how can you, as a mom, help your son if he is struggling socially?  Don’t worry! Michelle provides a list for that too:

--Encourage a deeper pursuit of your son’s interests (she give the example of a child who likes video games, see if this could translate into a passion for graphic design, CGI, etc)
--If your son is content without many friends, don’t push him.
--Spend a little time, effort, and money to help your son out. This doesn’t mean you have to go overboard but allowing a sleepover with cool snacks (to reference the example Michelle gives) can be a small price to pay to help him fit in to his peer environment.

The main goal is to help your son find a way to thrive in his surroundings, pursuing interests and hobbies he cares about, whether or not that brings him popularity.

Scenario #5: Put Downs and Comebacks

First things first, Michelle puts out a very specific definition of bullying to be clear what type of problem she is a addressing. To be sure there are no confusions, here it is again: “I define bullying as someone repeatedly using his power (social or physical) to degrade, harass, or humiliate someone else” (page 107).

This is not a situation to take lightly, but if your child is being bullied, here are some things you can do:

-- Remember that problem solving process from chapter 5? Use that to help your teen brainstorm ideas and solutions on their own to restore personal power.
­­­­--Let teachers and other involved adults know the situation to monitor progress and make sure things are becoming better, not worse.
--Do not call the parents of the bullies, no matter how badly you’d like to.
--Don’t over-victimize your kid, don’t share this information with your peers, it could add to his/her humiliation.
--Take the situation seriously. Find a qualified adult (counselor or outside therapist) to counsel your child if needed.
--Help your child nurture other positive friendships, activities, and hobbies that can rebuild confidence and forge new connections.

Michelle recommends staying as unflustered as possible by your child’s personal crisis as to not add more self-doubt or pressure. This will model a positive reaction and show your child he/she has your unwavering support.

Scenario #6: Not My Kid—Oh, Wait…

So you found out that your child has been a bully, or maybe has just been mean. The very first thing Michelle suggests doing is talking to your child to get his side of the story. From his reaction you may be able to gauge how badly he feels about his behavior, to give you an idea of how serious a problem you’re dealing with. Other things you can do (page 113) include:

--Set expectations for how others should be treated. Live up to those expectations and set a good example.
--Accept this as a mistake and don’t let it define your child moving forward. Model forgiveness.
--This is no one else’s business, don’t investigate through other families.
--The key to a consequence in this situation is unemotional and stern.
--Do not make her apologize publicly/ in person. This is awkward and unhelpful all around.

Similar to the advice given if your child is the victim of bullying, it is important to respond with love and compassion while still addressing the behavior. Don’t be afraid to seek outside counseling or help to make sure you get to the underlying issue if there is one.

Thoughts for Discussion:

In general, how do you respond when your child has issues with friends? Does he/she confide in you? Do you think Michelle’s suggestions would work for you and your child?
What activities outside of sports have helped your son connect with/make friends?

Has your child been bullied? What measures did you take and were they successful?

Has your child been a bully? How did you remedy the situation and help your child grow from the experience?

I'll see you Saturday with Part 8. As always we love hearing from you, feel free to comment any thoughts, ideas and reactions. Happy Reading!