Archive for June, 2010

By Julie Smart for Ideas That Spark

Toddler cleaning spree!

What can we say, when you get kids motivated to clean, if nothing else...they're FAST!

Here are my top four tips on getting — and keeping — your house super-clean without much effort.

1. Have a basket contest.
Are you playrooms and bedrooms messy and completely disorganized? Give each of your children a basket and have a contest to see who can get the most items in the basket in two minutes. Reward the winning child with a small prize.

2. Sing, dance and clean.
Put on a sing-along, and have everyone sing and dance while cleaning. For young children, try the Barney cleanup song: It’s fun and short enough for a young child to learn.

3. Reward donations.
When children clean out a toy box or room, it may be hard to get them to depart with things they don’t really need. Set a number of items for them to get rid of, and reward them for donating a certain amount. It teaches them to depart with items they don’t really use, and it cuts down on clutter.

4. Give a child a spray bottle.
This tip worked great for my own kids, since every child wanted to help and not feel left out: For children that are too young to help with cleaning, give them each a clean paper towel and small spray bottle filled with water. Ask them to help you by cleaning the refrigerator door or something in the area that you are currently in.

I recommend buying a new, empty bottle that didn’t previously have cleaner in it in case your children spray it in their eyes or mouth. When you’re done, children can put away their “special” spray bottle of cleaner until next time.

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Looking for a furry family friend?

June 22nd, 2010 12:27am

I have to spread the word for those of you who may be in the market for a furry family friend for your home. We have a friend that took in a very starved cat who they responsibly cared for through multiple vet visits to affirm it’s health and condition. After a clean bill of health, she took her newfound friend back to the vet to have it spayed only to find out that her emaciated cat was going to be a momma! She took the cat home and several days later, had a healthy litter of four kittens mewing in her home! She has been torn between keeping them but unfortunately, she is unable to accommodate so many animals in her home (she already has a dog and now two cats). She is looking for homes for these four cuddly little furballs and has asked us to help her get the word out to those who might be looking for a good family pet.

The momma cat is very docile, excellent with families (kid-tested, mother-approved!) and has passed those gentle traits onto her offspring. The kittens are very calm for being so young and very gentle with kids (my two-nine year olds all attest to that!). These friendly kittens have little fear of dogs and are nearly litterbox trained. They are currently eating solid foods while still occasionally nursing from their momma and are about 7 weeks old.

We have included some pictures of these little cuties and if you or someone you know is looking for a new family companion, we hope you will contact us at with the subject of “kittens”. We would love for these good-natured kitties to go to good families.

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Sniffle Solutions: Expert Q&A

June 21st, 2010 10:23pm

Sniffle Solutions: Expert Q+A

How much sleep should my kids get each night? They often seem overtired, and I worry they are more vulnerable to illness.

By Renee Martin for Sniffle Solutions


Sleep deprivation takes a toll on the immune system.

You’re right to be worried, because sleep deprivation does take a toll on the immune system. Getting adequate rest is important all the time, but it’s especially crucial during cold and flu season.

You may be surprised at just how much sleep your little ones need per night, because it’s often much more than adults typically get. The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following recommendations for sleep requirements by age:

  • Newborns: 10.5 to 18 hours per day
  • Infants: 9 to 12 hours at night, plus one to four naps (30 minutes or more each)
  • Toddlers: 12 to 14 hours per day
  • Preschoolers: 11 to 13 hours per day
  • School-aged children: 10 to 11 hours per day
  • Tweens and teens: 8.5 to 9.25 hours per day

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Sniffle Solutions: Expert Q+A

June 21st, 2010 10:14pm

My daughter almost always gets sick after we return home from a trip on an airplane. Is there anything I can do to keep her healthy?

By Dr. Roy Benaroch for Sniffle Solutions

Many cold and flu viruses are transmitted when you touch surfaces. And when you’re on an airplane, you’re touching armrests and tray tables that may not be very clean. Since so many people are touching the same surfaces, it’s all too easy to pick up germs on your hands.

So always have your child wash hands thoroughly before and after using the bathroom on a plane. And when you can’t get access to a sink and soap, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol. If you’re worried about the drying effects of alcohol, use a hand sanitizer that has added moisturizers, like aloe.

And since the air on planes is so dry and uncomfortable, you might also want to bring along some saline nasal spray, which you can use to help keep both yours and your daughter’s nasal passages well moisturized.

It’s also important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water — that goes for you and your daughter.

Finally, try to avoid sick people when possible. If you’re sitting next to someone who’s coughing and sniffling and the flight is not full, speak up and politely ask a flight attendant if you can move to different seats.

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Get Clean on a Budget

June 14th, 2010 6:51pm

Ideas That Spark: Mom2Mom

Get Clean on a Budget

By Renae Chiovaro for Ideas That Spark

By Renae Chiovaro

Cleaning products are a necessity in any home, but for tough jobs in big houses, costs can add up. It is possible to spend less on cleaning products without cutting your cleaning power. Whether you have $5 to spend on cleaning products or $50, these simple tips will help you clean house on a very limited budget.

1. Use old-fashioned soap and water.
Dish soap is a mild cleanser that can be used on multiple surfaces. To clean countertops, use hot soapy water.

2. Clean a little every day.
Put some effort into cleaning at least one thing every day. Cleaning will be less daunting and require gentler cleaning products if it occurs regularly.

3. Clean the dryer vents and refrigerator coils regularly.
Appliances run more efficiently when they are properly maintained. Plus, you will extend the life of your machine.

4. Less is more when it comes to dishwasher and laundry soap.
Using too much soap can lead to appliance damage — plus, it’s a waste of costly detergent. Follow the instructions on the package to use the appropriate amount of soap. If you have soft water, you can use even less soap than the manufacturers recommend.

5. Implement a “no shoes rule” in your house.
This will cut down on the amount of dirt and debris tracked in the home. Place a basket at the door to serve as shoe storage.

6. Reuse used items.
If you’ve just used a paper towel to dry off washed fruit, use the now-wet paper towel to quickly swipe over stains or spills on kitchen counters. A sponge that was once used to clean dishes can now be used to get small spills of the floor.

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Activities to beat the heat!

June 4th, 2010 11:59pm

If you’re an Arizonan, you know exactly where this article is coming from! Those of us sweltering away in the Arizona summer are on the prowl again for some summer fun that does not involve melting away in the afternoon heat! So we’ve got a few ideas for those of you looking for excursions with your kiddos that will wear them out well before the afternoon sun begins to beat us into submission! Incidentally, we’ve included some pricing here but if you want to get in some of these places for free, get to your local library and check out a “Culture Pass“!

Phoenix Zoo New Baby Zebras

The Phoenix Zoo has welcomed two new baby zebras along with a host of other new little ones!

Visit the Phoenix Zoo! If you have never been to this locale before, then it is definitely time! And if you’ve visited enough to say, “we’ve seen it all!”, then we’ve got news for ya…you haven’t! The Phoenix Zoo has welcomed a slew of new babies into their midst. Zebras, marmosets, big horn sheep and even a couple of year old giraffes have joined the crew. Plus, their new summer hours make it a much more enjoyable experience for all. They open now at 7:00am (or 6:00am if you’re a member) and close at 2:00pm on the weekdays and 4:00pm on the weekends. Enjoy the animal encounters throughout the morning, pack a lunch for a picnic with the monkeys at monkey island, and then cool off at the refreshing waterfall, waterslide and splash pads of Yakulla Caverns before departing for a welcomed afternoon nap! Admission is $16.00 for adults (ages 13 and up) and $7.00 per child (ages 3-12).

Sea Life Aquarium of Arizona

Check out the brand new Sea Life Aquarium at Arizona Mills Mall!

Visit Arizona Mills Mall for a unique experience at their Sea LIfe Arizona Aquarium! You can enter through the mall but once inside, kids will see an underwater playground where thousands of marine animals are shown in 12 distinct habitats. You will even be able to walk through a 360-degree tunneled walkway  directly through a massive tank full of schools of tropical fish, rays and sharks as they swim above, below and all around you! There is a children’s play area, video room and educational center. You can purchase day admission tickets, flex passes, and memberships. A day pass will run you $9.50 for kids 3-12,and $17.50 for adults (these are the online prices which are slightly cheaper than buying at the door).

Public Library Programs

Think the library is just for reading? Guess again!

Think the library is just for reading? Guess again! Our Public Libraries not only have a great summer readers program for kids, but they’ve also got some fun events you might want to put into your calendars!…

  • Every wednesday (except June 16th) from 10:30-11:30am, the Main Library offers Toddler Time for Ages 24 through 36 months and their parents/cargivers (siblings welcomed). 20 minutes of stories, songs and fingerplay fun especially for Toddlers! (Limited to the first 50 people)
  • June 8, 1:00-2:00pm (Main Library) Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium activity…Wonders of the Water: Learn about and meet some cool aquatic and semi-aquatic animals. Also available on June 24th, same time, at the Red Mountain Branch as well as June 30th at the Dobson Ranch Branch.
  • June 9, 10:30-11:30am (Dobson Ranch Branch)…Join the puppeteers for a performance of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel. And at 1:30, bring your older kids to try their hand at making their own “ball” book!
  • June 10, 1:00-2:00pm (Red Mountain Branch)…kids of all ages will have a blast with the crafts and bubble blowing at this event! You can catch this event at the Main Library June 15 from 10:30-11:30am or June 16 at Dobson Ranch Branch, same time.
  • June 19, 1:00-3:00pm (Red Mountain Branch)…great opportunity to get your video game addicts out of the living room and into a library! On the 3rd Saturday of each month, the Red Mountain Branch will test your skills on their Wii along with board games and fun for ages 4-18.
  • June 26, 1:30-3:30pm (Main Library, Dobson Ranch Branch, and Red Mountain Branch)…In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you might not be aware of the Eclipse movie coming to theaters at the end of this month. Join the Library in celebrating this books release to theaters with Twilight trivia games for prizes (such as Harkins movie tickets, drink cups, and popcorn coupons), raffles for a book purse made from the Eclipse hardback, dress like your favorite Twilight character (JUST BECAUSE!), sink your teeth into some snacks and if you’re into preparing a little, make and wear your own Twilight-themed T-shirt to enter the “Wear Your Own Twilight T-shirt” contest to win a copy of Eclipse!
  • June 28, 1:00-2:00pm (Main Library)…Express your artistic side through the art of silk screen printing. Learn the basics and create a cool t-shirt (supplies and t-shirt provided)!

Looking for some free books for your kids? Barnes and Noble can help! Sign up at any location for their readers program! Just download their Readers Passport to record your child’s progress. Once your child reads 8 books, they get to choose one for free from their local Barnes and Noble!

Well, that should hopefully get you started! Maybe we’ll see you somewhere along the way! Enjoy your kiddos while they’re at home and don’t forget to mark your planned activities on your child’s personalized calendar so they can look forward to and remember all the fun you have this month!

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