Author Archives: Melissa Lawrence

About Melissa Lawrence

Mother of Five Rowdy, Sweet, Sassy Kids Co-Founder, CEO and Co-Executive Produce Learn More About Melissa

Your kids will love these healthy after-school snack ideas! > More

Hello, hello!

As a busy mom of five, it seems like my kids are always running from school to one activity or another. They barely have enough time to eat dinner before going to bed! But eating healthy is important for my growing boys. So I’ve been thinking about healthy after-school snacks for on-the-go that my kids could take with them to their activities. For my list of snacks to fuel your tween, read on!
10 Healthy Snacks for Tweens

10 Easy Snacks for your Healthy Family

  1. Layered Hummus Dip : Serve this hummus alongside pita bread, tomatoes, and carrots, and you have a perfectly balanced after-school treat.
  2. Turkey Pinwheels : Opt for these adorable mini sandwiches when your kids get home. The protein in the cheese and turkey will keep them going until dinner is served!
  3. Ants on a Log : This classic never goes out of style. Even though my boys are older, they still love the celery, peanut butter, and raisin combo!
  4. Banana pops : Opt for bananas or almost any fruit. Blend their favorite fruits in a blender, fill a few ice pop molds, and wait overnight. A cold pick-me-up for after school that you can feel good about!
  5. Granola, Yogurt, and Berry Parfaits : Sounds fancy, but it’s actually super easy to make! My kids love them, and I know yours will, too!
  6. PB&J Bites : Your kids will love this new twist on an old classic! And you’ll feel better knowing that the peanut butter, quinoa, and oats will keep them energized until dinner.
  7. Organic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies : This is one of my family’s favorite recipes. They are delicious and I don’t feel as guilty about them because they’re organic and filled with healthy oats!
  8. Leftovers : Never underestimate the power of leftovers. Especially if you kept extras from a healthy dinner or lunch the other day, a small serving would make a great after-school snack!
  9. Peanut Butter Dip : Easy to make and easy to eat! Served with apple slices, celery sticks, or pretzels, your kids will love mixing and matching at snack time.
  10. Homemade trail mix : These are perfect for little baggies to take anywhere! Customize them to your kids’ tastes, but as a suggestion, combine 1 cup whole-grain toasted oat cereal with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup dried cranberries for a healthy alternative.

healthy snacks pie chart

Hope you’ve enjoyed these healthy snack ideas! Comment below with your own!

Is it safe to reheat breast milk? I discuss some of the best practices for reusing breast milk. > More

Hello everyone. J.E. Edwards wrote into the site with a question that stumped me: can breast milk that has been heated up in a bottle and given to a baby (that the baby has not consumed) be restored in the fridge, reheated and given again at the next feeding? I tackle this issue of reheating breast milk in today’s new video.Tips on Reusing Breast MilkThe general rule with breast milk, as I explain the video, is to freeze it when fresh. I advise freezing and defrosting breast milk in small amounts, especially when babies are young and drinking less. Yet despite your best efforts to estimate what your baby will be eating, it is likely that at the end of certain feedings, your baby will be nice and full and yet milk remains in your bottle. Throwing away this liquid gold is painful given how much work went into pumping, storing and defrosting it. So what can you do?

Reusing Breast Milk

As I explain in today’s video, experts fear that bacteria from the baby’s mouth enters the bottle during the feeding process and infects the breast milk, making it un-sterile. Also, the breast milk in question has been out of the refrigerator or freezer for some period of time. For these reasons, when asked, experts say don’t reuse this milk. I have to say, though, that as a practical matter I did reuse breast milk and my babies never seemed to have a problem. I go into more detail in today’s video. Take a look and let me know what you think and what you did.

Oh, and for more on the best practices for storing breast milk, check out this video with breast milk storage guidelines. Please weigh in with your thoughts, and thanks so much for watching CloudMom.

Melissa

Introducing a revolutionary prenatal education program and a terrific giveaway. > More

This is a sponsored post.

Hello mamas and papas. There is nothing we parents care about more than raising a healthy, happy child who reaches his or her potential. Traditionally, it was thought that intellectual and physical stimulation for babies began at birth when we parents can begin speaking, reading, singing and even playing music to our babies. Yet recent research indicates that since babies in fact begin to develop their tiny little brains in the womb, we parents can provide helpful prenatal education during pregnancy.
boosting prenatal development

Enter our giveaway below to win one of TWO BabyPlus prenatal audio systems!

A new product has just hit the marketplace for just this purpose. BabyPlus targets a baby’s development in the womb, offering up a series of audio lessons designed to mimic the sounds a baby hears. The lessons are specifically tailored to every stage of infant growth in the womb and consist of natural sounds similar to the comforting rhythm of the mothers’ heartbeat.
prenatal developmentprenatal education
All you have to do is fasten the BabyPlus pouch around mom’s pregnant belly. Choose the correct lesson, press go and continue with your busy day. As you do dishes and laundry, make conference calls, cook and hurry about your life, BabyPlus is talking to your baby in just the way he or she needs. And you, mama, have the comfort of knowing that you are doing all you possibly can to nurture your growing baby from the get-go.
BabyPlus - prenatal education system
To learn more about this special and unique form of prenatal care, watch my video. Remember, nothing matters more than doing the best you can for your baby.
nothing matters more than doing the best you can for your baby
Good luck!
Melissa

BabyPlus Giveaway

Prize: 2 lucky winners will each receive 1 BabyPlus Prenatal Education System (ARV $199 each)!

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, February 27, 2017 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

BabyPlus

This is a sponsored post. Cloudmom received monetary compensation for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Check out these ten foods and ideas for healthy eating during pregnancy! > More

Hello mamas, especially soon-to-be-new mamas! What an exciting time! Today I want to talk to you about the pregnancy diet. What kinds of healthy and yummy foods should you be eating to nourish both yourself and your growing little baby? You’ll also be looking for nutritious food that can help boost your immune system and stave off that pregnancy fatigue. Think of this as a starting food guide for pregnant women, from one mother to another!10 Things to Eat When You're Pregnant

10 Foods for Pregnancy

  1. Figs – These are jam-packed with goodness. Eating these, you’ll be sure to get the calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and more for yourself and your growing little one! The Vitamin B6 also is thought to alleviate morning sickness – and that’s good news for everyone!
  2. Carrots and Peppers – A perfect crunchy snack to grab on the go! These foods are loaded with beta-carotene, which can help in your baby’s development of skin, organ, and bones. The fiber also helps keep things running smoothly, if you know what I mean. Pack these in little baggies for an anytime snack.
  3. Mangoes – I LOVE mangoes and I craved them during my five pregnancies. Their vitamin C can regulate your digestive tract and alleviate constipation. If you’re expecting a late summer baby, these will definitely be in stock and ready to gobble up!
  4. Oats – If you’re struggling with constipation, opt for oats for breakfast during pregnancy. They can be eaten cold or baked into almost anything – cookies, cakes, pancakes, muffins, you name it. They are full of fiber, Vitamin B, and will help your baby grow!
  5. Grapefruit – Despite being acidic, these power fruits are actually great for pregnancy. They can help  alleviate nausea by neutralizing your stomach acids, and they aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. A total super fruit and so delicious!
  6.  Lean Meats – These protein-packed foods will keep you full for longer and the amino acids are vital for building your baby’s cells.
  7. Calcium – Make sure you’re getting your daily intake of calcium! It is one of the most important things to eat during pregnancy, as it will help in breast milk production and prevent osteoporosis. 4 calcium-rich foods are recommended as well as a prenatal vitamin to reach a daily dose of 1000 mg.
  8. Kiwis – These little fruits are small but important. Packed with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, E, A, Potassium, and Magnesium, they are overall a great addition to your pregnancy diet.
  9. Guava – Did you crave guava when you were pregnant like I did? No wonder, since they’re amazing for you. They can actually regulate your immune system and help your digestive system. For your little one, they help with the strengthening of their central nervous system. Great news!
  10. Lentils – These are a perfect go-to meal for anytime. Bursting with Vitamin B6 and Iron, these are easy on your intestines and vital for your baby’s brain and nervous system formation!

Also, let’s not forget water!! This isn’t technically a food, but make sure you’re drinking a lot when you’re expecting. Water has so many benefits, like helping in flushing out toxins, building new cells, and circulating nutrients to you and your growing baby.

Growing a baby makes me feel like a superhero.

I hope these great food suggestions can help you and your pregnancy menu, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Best of luck and I am wishing you a very happy and healthy pregnancy!

Love,
Melissa

Here are 10 useful ways you can help curb your own iPhone addiction! > More

Hello, moms and dads! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to cut back on my addiction to my iPhone, especially during the evening. If, like me, you find yourself spending too much time staring at that small rectangular box, then listen up! Here are 10 tips on breaking your iPhone addiction.
10 Ways to Curb an iPhone Addiction

Quitting Your Smartphone Addiction

  1. Texting and Driving: We all know it’s dangerous, and there are countless rules about cell phone use while driving. To keep from getting tempted to check your phone while driving, keep your phone in hard-to-reach spots, like behind the driver’s seat in a purse. Nothing on your phone can be as important as your own safety while on the road.
  2. Delete useless apps: Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your phone applications whenever you’re bored? Delete any apps that might be cluttering your phone and your life, including games. This also helps improve useful storage and battery life on your phone!
  3. Delete social media from your phone: I know, sounds drastic right? However, you’ll still be able to access these from your phone’s internet browser and having to physically type in the URL will keep you from mindlessly scrolling through your friend’s Facebook pictures for hours.
    10 Ways to Curb an iPhone Addiction
  4. Take a deep breath: Before you reach for your phone out of habit or boredom, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Think to yourself…do I really need to look at my phone right now? Is it pressing? Is it taking me away from my family/other responsibilities? If you answer these truthfully, chances are you’ll realize that your phone is not the most important thing right now and you’ll move on to another activity.
  5. Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock: Getting yourself a good ol’ fashioned alarm clock will prevent the daily morning check of all of your messages and notifications. How many times am I guilty of checking these before my feet even hit the rug? Too many to count. But using a clock has already decreased my morning time by a good chunk!
  6. Wait until work: Why stress yourself out more by checking your work email even before stepping your feet into the office? Staying off your phone also gives you more time for those precious moments with the family before the kids run off to school.
  7. Set boundaries: Instead of giving yourself the impossible task of sticking to the rule, “Use your phone less”, give yourself specific instructions to follow. For instance, tell yourself that you won’t use your phone in the bathroom or at the dinner table. Baby steps!
  8. Track your usage: There are several apps that you can buy for your phone whose job is in managing phone usage. These apps like Moments, Checky, or RescueTime for Android work behind the scenes to track how much time you’re using your phone from day to day. Just another reminder before constantly checking in!
  9. Wear a watch: This one may seem silly, but using a watch instead of checking the time on your phone will prevent distractions from notifications each time you look at it. Sometimes it’s better to go old fashioned! Also, they can be very stylish and an awesome accessory for any outfit.
  10. Keep your bedroom tech-free: My last tip for mindful mobile use is to charge your phone outside of your bedroom at night (again going along with the old-fashioned alarm clock tip). Keep it turned off and charging in another room so you won’t be tempted to check into the wee hours of the morning. This leaves your bedroom free for other, more important things, like sleep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips on breaking your smartphone addiction! Also check out one of my posts here on what to do if you’ve lost a phone. Any more tips? Share below!

Happy New Year all!

Melissa

A post-baby leaking story plus info on Dri-Fit™ incontinence products and feminine hygiene products! > More

Sponsored by Dri-Fit™ incontinence products and feminine hygiene products.

Hi everyone. Melissa here, and welcome back to CloudMom. One of the things I’ve tried to do on CloudMom since we launched is to level with you guys about the ups and downs of pregnancy, babydom, and parenting in general. I’ve spoken about leaky breasts, trouble with sex after baby, the highs and lows of breastfeeding and milk supply, and even about my difficulty with disciplining my kids. I’ve even opened up about how annoyed I get when my husband naps! Yet it isn’t until now that I’ve opened up about another post-baby reality that has hit me hard: loss of bladder control.
Got a messy and embarrassing story to tell regarding a weak bladder post- pregnancy and birthing experience? Share your story in the comments using #DriFitDiaries and learn more about Dri-Fit™ pads here!Handling Post-Baby Leaking #DriFitDiariesOne of the things that happened to me post-baby that I’ve never spoken about before, and which I still live with everyday, is loss of bladder control. And whereas before I used feminine pads only for those final days of my period, now they are a daily way of life. Yet most pads only last a short while and are not comfortable to wear for longer stretches. With my later babies, as I packed their diaper bags to head out for the day, I also packed my own feminine hygiene products because those I used would tend to get soggy, sweaty or just uncomfortable quite quickly and I would need to change them throughout the day.Handling Post-Baby Leaking #DriFitDiariesToday I’m thrilled to announce a partnership with Dri-Fit™ incontinence products and feminine hygiene products to highlight the stories of real women through the #DriFitDiaries series. Due to a special technology that marries cotton and synthetics, Dri-Fit™ offers absorbent, comfortable feminine hygiene products that do the job while being light-weight enough to let you live your active mommy life. I speak about how much I’ve relied on them in the video above. I can even fit their pads into one of my mommy thongs and tight date night dresses and not look back. Love that!
Handling Post-Baby Leaking #DriFitDiariesBeing a mom is all about feeling comfortable and good in your own skin.Handling Post-Baby Leaking #DriFitDiariesThanks for reading, and for supporting moms and CloudMom.

Gratefully,

Melissa

This is a sponsored post. CloudMom has partnered with Dri-Fit™ incontinence products and feminine products as part of the #DriFitDiaries series. The Dri-Fit™ Diaries series is an opportunity to empower real women by talking about everything nobody told you. It’s a chance to talk about some of the ‘messier’ moments women can experience, but no one likes to talk about. Share your story using the hashtag #DriFitDiaries or visit madewithdrifit.com to learn more. 

Baking with kids can be challenging. Here are 5 tips on how to bake with kids. > More

Hi everyone. Melissa here! Welcome back to CloudMom. Baking with kids is one of those things we idealize in our culture but which in fact turn out to be more challenging than the Norman Rockwell painting. Personally, I’ve had many a time baking with my five during which I wanted to tear my hair out. Having the kids in the kitchen often equals extra stress and this certainly equates to my experience. My kids compete for who gets to do what, saying “I want to stir“, “I want to crack the egg“, “I want to put in the sugar“… I spend my time mediating their arguments. And I inevitably forget how much or what I have already added to the mixture! Ugh!  Meanwhile, eating my kids to cook has been a priority of mine so I have’t wanted to abandon ship entirely.5 Tips on Baking with KidsIn today’s video, I make some suggestions for how to bake with kids in an easier fashion based on my own experience. For starters, I suggest baking with just one kid so that the activity can be satisfying for the child and less frustrating for the parent. I then give other tips. Take a look and share what works for you.

Happy baking and Happy Holidays!

Melissa xx

Stressed out by the holiday season? Tips on stress management to get you through. > More

Hi there, my dears. The holidays can bring us so much joy and a sense of togetherness but for many of us moms, they’re also loaded with stress. You’re already hanging on for dear life with your daily chores, family admin, work and all the rest, and oh yes, don’t forget to bake those cookies, buy the teachers’ gifts, order your kids presents that arrive in time (and which they like) and plan big meals for your extended family members. I’m getting stressed just writing this.

Managing Holiday Stress

At CloudMom from the get-go, I’ve tried to share with you guys ideas for making life easier when it comes to pregnancy, caring for newborns, sleep training babies, disciplining kids, and more. So today I’ve decided to focus on the holiday season. Here’s some help for the holidays for those moms and pops who, like me, tend to get overwhelmed.

My number one piece of advice is to create a “holiday calendar” or, in my case, Christmas countdown, and plan out what you are going to do when. Sticking to this won’t always be possible, but with a plan in place, you’ll feel more relaxed. Don’t leave things like gift-shopping and card-sending to the last minute. You’ll end up bleary-eyed staring at your tree at 1 a.m. with too much egg nog in your tummy. Yuck!

Here’s what my Christmas countdown looks like. I start as early as the summer, picking our stocking stuffers or books I think the kids might  like. As soon as we’ve said good-bye to our Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, I’m shopping for our tree. With that down, I turn to decorating the house in small increments of half an hour, whenever I can squeeze in the time. And then there’s my baking schedule. For more on stress management during the holidays, watch today’s video.

Managing Holiday Stress

Ho ho ho! And remember, stay calm. You’ll get there.

Love, Melissa

Overwhelmed with choosing a family health care plan? A new engagement educates you on choosing a health > More

Hi everybody. One of the many things that becomes more complicated with the arrival of kids is health care. Young kids need to visit the doctor frequently and have easy access to specialists and medications. New moms need the same, especially to make sure that their health is back on track after giving birth. And let’s not forget about our dads, who are facing the stress of child rearing along with their other pressures.

you-know-youre-a-parent-when-you-put-your-childrens-health-first

So whereas selecting health insurance plans as a young 20 or 30-something might not have been your most pressing issue, choosing the right health plan for you family once you’re a parent looms large.

Choosing a Health Plan for Your Family

Health care terminology has always intimidated me.  Start talking about health savings plans or health retirement plans and my brain quivers.  Tell me about premiums versus out of pocket expenses and I’m officially in over my head. With my husband between jobs right now, my family has had to make decisions about our health care plans, which has meant that I have had to get a grasp on what these concepts and terms actually mean.
United Healthcare has designed a new engagement called “Are You a Health Plan Pro” which educates you in a quick and easy way on how to choose the right health insurance plan for your family. In today’s video, I walk you thought why this engagement educates us in such a fun and helpful way. unitedhealthcare-test-your-knowledgeThe engagement walks you through health care terminology, different types of health care accounts, premiums versus out of pocket ratios, and even presents you with a variety of health care situations from least to most expensive (i.e., having a baby, going to urgent care).
are-you-a-health-plan-pro
The parts of the engagement get you up to speed on key terms and concepts so that you yourself can be health plan PRO, informed to make the right choices for your family. Love that!
whats-the-word
And here’s the fun part, when you’re finished learning about all this stuff, the engagement allows you to enter to win one of eight $100 prizes and two $500 prizes, as part of a special sweepstakes.
With family health insurance being such a crucial part of our lives as parents, don’t miss this fun opportunity to get up to speed on all of the health care plan options out there by taking the informative quizes of United Healthcare’s engagement. Watch my video for more information and remember, nothing matters more than your family’s health.
This is a sponsored post.  This post is brought to you by United Healthcare.  The opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Don't miss a special showing of Yo-kai Watch: The Movie on Oct 15 plus special prizes and more. > More

This post is sponsored by Yo-kai Watch: The Movie and The Motherhood.
Hello everyone and welcome back to CloudMom. With all the business of the school year and after school activities, I’ve been looking for some family friendly movies for us to see. Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie is the first English-language film based on the global Yo-kai Watch phenomenon, and features the voice talent from the hit show airing on Disney XD. The anime film will air on one day only, October 15, 2016!

Anime for Kids: Yo-kai Watch: The Movie #Ad

You might not be familiar with anime for kids or be asking yourself, what’s the film about? Yo-kai Watch is a cross-media universe, following the hilarious misadventures of an average human boy, Nate Adams, and his involvement with the mischievous Yo-kai (invisible beings that are the cause of life’s daily annoyances) all around him. Our young hero obtains a special watch, empowering him to discover and summon the mysterious Yo-kai, befriend them and then work together to solve everyday problems… problems that are often caused by other trouble-making Yo-kai!

The film follows Nate Adams and his Yo-kai friends, Whisper and Jibanyan, as they’re transported to the past to help Nate’s grandfather, Nathaniel, battle evil Yo-kai and invent the Yo-kai Watch. Yo-kai Watch: The Movie Event also introduces a new Yo-kai — Hovernyan, a floating blue cat who is Nathaniel’s heroic companion.

The Hovernyan YO-MOTION MEDAL is compatible with the YO-KAI WATCH MODEL ZERO from Hasbro, and can also unlock special content in the LEVEL-5 apps Yo-kai Watch Land and Yo-kai Watch Wibble Wobble and unlock special features and bonuses in the brand-new Nintendo 3DS games YO-KAI WATCH 2: Bony Spirits and YO-KAI WATCH 2: Fleshy Souls. Fans can also collect and store YO-MOTION MEDALS in the YO-KAI MEDALLIUM COLLECTION BOOK from Hasbro.

Don’t miss the opportunity to check out a fantastic anime film with your kiddos.  Go to the Fathom Events website for local screening times and ticket purchase.  Yo-kai Watch: The Movie Event attendees will have a chance to receive a limited edition Hovernyan YO-MOTION YO-KAI MEDAL, while supplies last.

You can see Yo-kai Watch: The Movie at Union Square 14 on Saturday, October 15, at 11 a.m., and have the opportunity to win fun Yo-kai Watch prizes. Check out all of the Hasbro Yo-kai Watch toys, take your photo with Yo-kai and play fun games!

Oh, and for some extra fun, plus the chance to win one of five $50 Visa cards, attend the Twitter party on October 13 at 1 p.m. ET, noon CT, 10 a.m. PT.  Make sure to use the hashtag #YoKaiWatchMovie to participate during the hour of the party.

This post is sponsored by Yo-kai Watch: The Movie and The Motherhood.

Middle School homework strains led me to get rid of my baby nursery furniture for big kids' desks and stu > More

Hi there!  Melissa here, and what a rainy, grey Tuesday it is here in NYC.  Sigh!  Today’s video is about change.  If you’re anything like me, you hate change.  Yet change, especially with kids, not only comes, it comes fast.  When your kids’ needs change and you, mama or papa, are not prepared, your household can go topsy-turvy in an instant.  That’s what happened to us this past September and that’s the subject of today’s video.
Parenting Tweens: Homework Stations
Those of you who have followed my site know how wedded I am to the baby years.  I loved having my babies, breastfeeding my babies, stuffing their changing tables full with extra supplies, filling their rooms with infant and toddler books and toys, and then holding on that nursery furniture as if it would allow me to hold onto those baby years.  Well, it just so happens that like everyone else’s little ones, mine are growing up fast, and they no longer need the nursing chair or the changing table.  To the contrary, they need desks.  My boys (two of whom are tackling Middle School homework every night, and the other of whom is just starting to get assignments) each need a study station: a quiet, private place to sit and get work done, and also some personal “real-estate”, so to speak, a place to themselves carved out of our busy, bustling apartment.  My younger girls,  meanwhile, need a place to do art projects and draw.
SO, after years of hesitation and indecision, this here mama was forced to pile her nursing chair and changing table into her mother’s station-wagon (for safe-keeping for the grandchildren — ha ha) to make way for the future.  I found some super desks on IKEA which are due to arrive any day, along with some adjustable practical kids’ desk chairs.
As nostalgic as I am for my kids to be babies again, I’m excited to be supporting them as growing students.  Here’s to new horizons, to embracing your child as a growing, changing being, and to having the strength to let the past go and embrace the future.  Here’s to being a Mom of preteens.
Thanks for reading Cloudmom.
Gratefully,
Melissa

Looking for printable flash cards for babies and toddlers to encourage their speech and language developm > More

This is a sponsored post. CloudMom received compensation for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Hello everyone and welcome back to CloudMom.  Every so often, a new product rolls my way that is so well thought-through, so essential, that I pinch myself and say “I wish I’d had this for my kids!”  Today’s giveaway of flashcards, bingo games and another fabulous board game devised by Kimberly Marino aka The Speech Mama is one such product, and I’m delighted to be introducing Kimberly’s products to you today.

How to Teach Your Baby to Talk GIVEAWAY

As a mom of five who are all now of school age, I remember worrying so much about my babies’ speech and talking milestones.  Were they talking enough?  Were they saying the right sounds at the right time?  And even more stress-inducing: was I doing everything I needed to do on my part to stimulate them to speak and acquire language?

My pediatrician emphasized that I needed to repeat, repeat, repeat basic sounds and to talk all day to my babies.  Well, this I did.  But when it came to helpful games and activities that were designed with babies first sounds and words in mind, I found nothing. Most of the flashcards were too complex, and the Bingo games proved too complex for my babies and toddlers and ended up getting monopolized by my older kids.

Enter The Speech Mama.  A licensed speech and language pathologist with 23 years of hands-on experience working with babies, toddlers, and kids, Kimberly Marino has devised an amazing set of printable flash cards for toddlers and your baby, bingo cards, and a word recognition game that will help you teach your baby and toddler to speak.

Bright, colorful, and including just the first sounds your baby will utter, Kimberly’s printable flash cards offer you a fun activity that is educational for your child in just the right ways.

How to Teach Your Baby to Talk GIVEAWAY

Meanwhile, her Bingo games take off from these early sounds — and then offer up sounds and words to developed later (in set 2), while not overwhelming your baby with choices.

How to Teach Your Baby to Talk GIVEAWAY

The fact that only four images appear on a card means that your baby can play, people.  He can play, utter, match up sounds with pictures, and learn.  And there ain’t noting better than that!

Enter our giveaway below to win these amazing activities and games and a FREE one-hour consult with Kimberly and be sure to check out her awesome Etsy store here.

I’m crossing my fingers for you, and remember, TALK to your baby.

Love, Melissa

The Speech Mama Giveaway

Prizes: A $240 prize package that includes:

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Friday, October 28, 2016 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

The Speech Mama Giveaway

This is a sponsored post. CloudMom received compensation for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Reflections on the Kindergarten Empty Nest and life as a work from home mom. > More

Hello mamas and papas welcome back to CloudMom.  This week marked a milestone in our family as for the first time, all five of our children were in all-day school.  Not knowing what to call this version of the empty nest, which usually takes place when kids head off to college, I’m calling it the Kindergarten Empty Next.

Confronting the Kindergarten Empty Nest

For all mamas and papas but especially perhaps for work from home moms and dads, this can be an abrupt and brutal change.  Your chaotic household goes silent.  You’re still left with a messy kitchen, unmade beds and stuff everywhere at 8am, but there’s no one to complain to (except perhaps your partner who is not so interested — ha ha!).  The day begins and you are alone at home with a 7 hour stretch of time looking ahead of you like a long dark tunnel.  It’s scary, liberating, lonely, and kind of exciting all at once.  That’s the subject of today’s video.

Are you a mom at home reduced to *1*?  Did you get the blues when your child headed off to Kindergarten?  Tell me about it below!

Here are Marielle and Annaliese as they ready to board their bus to school.  Comforting for me was that Marielle had her big sister to show her the ropes.

sisters-back-to-school

Here’s the lineup — Hedley (7th grade), Lachlan (6th), Beckett (4th), Annaliese (2nd) and Marielle (K).

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We’re way past the diapers, past the wraps, slings, and carriers, past the strollers and buggy boards, past scheduling feedings, burping and breastfeeding.  Yet those memories hold dear.  I talk about the sense of loss and longing for those times in today’s video, even daring to show you my retired nursing chair, which now sits where it always has, housing various stuffed animals.  Parting with this special chair in which I spent countless hours is not an option for me.  I have separation anxiety and don’t like change.

Yet despite these feelings, I’m excited to get back into the groove of work and for my kiddos to have exciting new experiences.  New worlds are opening and I have to embrace them rather than dwell on the past.  I also opine on all that in today’s video, so take a look.

So as I gain back a few more hours during the day, I can turn back to Cloudmom a bit more and stay in my little world of parenting including babydom — yeah!

Watch my video for more and thanks so much for following Cloudmom!

xx Melissa

Our favorite summer dessert from Chocolateria San Gines: churros con chocolate! > More

Hello everyone and welcome back to CloudMom.   Although we’ve been back in the U.S for a couple weeks now, I’m still sharing videos from our summer adventure.  Things with the kiddos have been so busy (this week I’m juggling 8 since I have my sisters kids for a visit, as well) that I haven’t gotten around to filming as many how-to videos as I would have liked.  I’ll be back to those soon, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these little vignette videos from our days of summer.  Today’s video has me and the girls in Madrid enjoying a Spanish delicacy.

Spanish Desserts: Churros in Madrid

What is your favorite breakfast sweet?  Pitch in below and tell me!

Chocolateria San Gines is a Madrid landmark, serving up the Spanish breakfast of choice for decades now: churros.  Crispy and delicious, these Spanish donuts come with a bowl of dark chocolate sauce for dipping.

Getting-Churros-in-MadridChocolateria-San-Gines

After taking a look at the gorgeous deep green wood interior of this famous Madrid eating establishment — complete with photos of the many celebrities who have visited and enjoyed — we sit down to enjoy these yummy churros con chocolate.

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If you planning a trip and figuring out what to have for dessert in Spain, definitely go for churros and try out this amazing spot.

Thanks so much for watching and check back in this week for some more fun content.

Gratefully,

Melissa xoxo

Wondering what to do in Madrid with your kids? Consider the traditional Spanish dance Flamenco. > More

Hello hello! Melissa here, back in the US of A but still making my way through the various videos I filmed during our family’s summer adventure. Today’s video follows me and the girls during an evening out in Madrid complete with tapas and a Spanish dance performance. None of us had ever seen flamenco dance before so we weren’t sure what to expect. We left enchanted.

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When planning my trip with my 5 and 7 year old girls (my boys being away at a sleep away soccer camp), I deliberated over what to do in Madrid.  First off, it was HOT, really hot.  Second, Marielle can make it through an hour or two tops at a museum or restaurant so our sightseeing visits had to be limited.  Finally, the girls are not soccer aficionados like the boys, whom I took last year to see the Real Madrid stadium.

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My girls love dance so I asked the hotel to recommend a Flamenco dancing act.  As we entered the black box theatre at 9 p.m. (yes, Mommy relaxed the bedtime hour), the crowd (all my age or older) sipped wine and sangria.  You get the picture: this wasn’t a kids show.

Flamenco-in-Madrid

What is your favorite form of dance to watch?  Tell me below!

Take a look at my video to see some of the amazing flamenco dancing we witnessed that night and tell me what you think.  Emotional, powerful and raw, this traditional form of dance pairs women with me but also offers many solo performances.  You can feel the pain in the faces and movements of these electric Spanish dancers, each of whom tells a singular, unique story.

Flamenco

Thanks so much for watching and see you back soon on CloudMom.

Melissa

Toledo, Spain proved to be rich with culture, art and architecture. > More

Hello mamas and papas.  Although we’ve been back in the U.S. for almost a week now, I’m continuing to share my little travel videos from our family’s trip to Spain and France this past summer.  This week’s video shows me and the girls on a day trip from Madrid to Toledo, Spain.
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Rich with cultural, art, and architecture, put Toledo on your list as it is one of the best places to visit in Spain.
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Visiting-Spain
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Once the capital of Spain, Toledo is known for being the home of painter El Greco and a melting pot of different religions.  Due to various invasions, the city boats Roman, Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish influences.  The architecture is regal and inviting.

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Thanks so much for watching and check back in this week for some more new posts.

Gratefully,

Melissa

Eager to spend quality time with my girls, we headed to Madrid to experience food in Spain and more. > More

Hello everybody. Melissa here back with another travel video.  As moms, we do the best we can in balancing work and family life.  That rings true for me as a blogger, as well.  I’m tracking my family’s adventures this summer with a little series of travel videos, not intending to step away from our “how to” video fare, but just taking the opportunity to share what we’re experiencing.  I hope you guys like the videos!  Rest assured that I’ll be back with all things baby, toddler and kid related come fall if not before.
Quality Time on the Way to Madrid with the Girls
A few weeks back I took my two girls to Madrid for the weekend.  We boarded the speed train from Barcelona and arrived in Madrid 2.5 hours later.  The girls had fun on this miraculously fast train with their sticker books (which I highly recommend for this age!).
I’m always looking for new ways to spend time with my kids, and love mixing up the composition.  It’s been great to have my girls to myself this summer for small bits while my boys experienced sleep away camp.  The youngest two of five, the girls are often caught in the shuffle during our daily life.  With me focused on the older boys game schedules and homework, I don’t have as much time with the girls as I would like.  So this little adventure was most welcome.
Today’s video takes you all on the train with us, and along for our first evening, which involved a special meal aimed at introducing the girls to some of the food in Spain, and the lights of this magical city at night.
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Hope you like the video and thanks so much for watching.
Melissa

Looking for things to do in Barcelona? Don't miss a stunning example of Gaudi architecture, Casa Battló. > More

Hello everyone.  Today’s video takes place at a Barcelona landmark, Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Batlló.  If you’re visiting Barcelona with your kids, don’t miss this brilliant masterpiece so emblematic of the city’s renowned Gaudi architecture.

Things To Do for Kids in Barcelona - Casa Batlló

This historic house was first redesigned in 1904 by Gaudi and is typical of Gaudi’s Art Nouveau or “New Art”.  There are no visible straight lines in the house.  Rather, lines are curved and sinewy such as you might see in the natural world.  Art Nouveau exploded across Europe at the turn of the century but took on a different character in each country.  Maybe you’ve seen the famous subway entrances of Paris which were designed by France’s famous Art Nouveau architecture, Guimard.  I fell in love with these as a student in Paris during college and have looked for new versions of Art Nouveau ever since.

Take a look at my video and note that on the ground floor of Casa Battló, you see mosaic walls and irregular oval windows.

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On the higher floors, you see stained glass windows in similarly atypical shapes.  Gaudi’s view was that architecture should mimic what happens in the natural world, where we don’t find straight lines.

The roof the building is said to mimic the back of a dragon!

Take a look at my video for more sights from this marvelous site and thanks so much for watching Cloudmom.  And if you’re visiting Barcelona and wondering what to do, here’s your first stop!

Melissa

Trying to teach your kids how to be independent? DON'T follow my most recent tips on raising children. > More

Hi everybody!  So a few weeks back, I posted a video with a new plan I had hatched regarding raising my kids.  My idea was to essentially make each child responsible during one day of any given week for all the various complaints, requests and demands directed at me.  Think “Mommy, can I have some milk?,” “Mommy, where are my googles?,” “Mommy, I’m thirsty!”

Why My Parenting Tips Failed

Behind my plan stood the goal of having my children learn how to be more independent, and also more self-aware.  I wanted them to realize how their demands affect others, namely me — ha h).  A few of you wrote in asking whether the plan succeeded.

In today’s video, I answer that question in detail.  To give you a hint, the short answer is NO!  Actually, it backfired.  My first lieutenant Hedley understood his new commission to be a dictatorship and began shooting out orders and punishments: “you, go to your room!”, “you, no more TV for a week,” “you, no ice cream tonight.”  He missed the helping others sort out their needs part of the equation.  I guess that’s what makes him a kid.  Can you blame him?

So after one brief attempt at raising more independent children who understand the meaning of autonomy, I abandoned ship.  I’m not giving up on the goal, but I need a better way to get there.

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In today’s video, I describe the whole experience and give some parenting tips based on what HAS been working for me this summer as a mom.  Have a look and let me know what your ideas are, and if you agree with me.

Thanks for watching!

Melissa

A beautiful beach we recently found on Spain's Costa Brava in today's new video! > More

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Hello everyone.  Melissa here back with one of our Tuesday videos.  Huge apologies because I usually dedicate Tuesday videos to answering viewers’ questions about all things related to babies, toddlers and kids.  Yet with my family on the move this summer, I’ve not had too much time at home, and I’ve wanted to film the amazing things we’ve seen.  Today’s video takes place on Spain’s Costa Brava, a coastline filled with what are considered best beaches in Spain.  Take a look at my video and let me know if you agree!

Family Beach Time on the Costa Brava

In today’s video, you’ll see my littles ones prancing in the sand of the Costa Brava, dipping in and out of the water, and playing soccer barefoot.

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It was so hot that I had lathered on 60 SPF, and opted for a long dress and a big hat that barely stayed on my head since the wind blew so strong!

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The Spanish sun is scorching hot so I wanted to protect my pale skin as much as possible.

I hope your family is having a wonderful summer and thanks so much for watching.

Love,

Melissa