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The little book with BIG resources!

A Little Less Messy…

Do you ever have trouble getting your children to finish their vegetables… or even touch them for that matter? Well I’m here to help you eliminate all the begging and pleading and keep your day with the kids running smoothly.

No more airplane spoons or renaming fruits and vegetables to trick kids to eat them (because I think they’ve caught on to the x-ray vision carrots!). Instead, design your children’s meal in the shape of their favorite toys, animals, characters, etc.

Let me explain…

First decide what it is you would like to feed your children. Sneak in some extra veggies for these meals because they’ll be so in awe, they just might eat every bite.

Next, observe your child’s latest obsession, whether it be tractors, dogs, helicopters, etc. This is where you’re creative side takes a turn. I’ve found, as a frequent babysitter, that no matter what the food (greens or not), rearranging it in the shape of something they are fascinated by will get them to eat it.

Without having to trick them that the food is unhealthy or has super powers, oranges for example, simply create a plate full of something they love.  This will be sure to show them how enjoyable fruits and veggies really are!

Can’t think of anything?
Here are a few examples I created to help jump start your imagination.



















helicopters                                                                                                                                                                 happy faces

Give it a go! Let’s make the lives of parents, nannies, and babysitters just a little less messy around lunch time!

Author: Stephanie Falcone


Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

Thanksgiving seems to mark the true beginning of the holiday season: shopping, baking, snow, family time, and so much more! But what about seasonal family fun activities you can do right here in the Kansas City Area? Well there is plenty! Around the KC area there are tons of places that offer family friendly holiday experiences that your kids are sure to never forget! Here is your Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

1. Choose your own REAL Christmas tree!  This year take a visit to Fort Osage Christmas Tree’s in Independence MO where they offer acres of fresh and fragrant “choose & harvest” home grown trees along with a great family friendly atmosphere.  Along with your tree choosing, sip on a complimentary cup of hot chocolate, take free family snapshots in front of their holiday scenes, and receive guidance to your perfect tree! You may even get the help of an Alaskan Snow dog! PLUS the kids can meet SANTA, take a FREE snapshot with him, and receive a complimentary candy cane & coloring book!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

2. A perfect age old holiday tradition for a family outing is ICE SKATING! Bundle up in your hats, coats, and gloves and Glide around the rink with the ones you love for some holiday fun!  The Crown Center Ice Terrace is the ONLY public outdoor skating rink in the Kansas City area. It’s like a winter wonderland, enjoy holiday music as you skate as well as view the beautiful holiday décor at crown center!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

  • 3. Enjoy Christmas lights one the most beautiful and fun holiday traditions. Rather driving around your neighborhood or going to a showing, lights are always a fun sight to see! One thing everyone in the Kansas City Area should do at least once is see the amazing lights at the Country Club Plaza. Thanksgiving night is the Plaza lighting ceremony where everyone can gather for giveaways, concerts and entertainment while they wait for the “flip of the switch” where the lights come on for the first time of the year! Even if you can’t make it to the ceremony you haven’t missed out the beautiful lights shine from 5pm-3am daily spreading holiday cheer through January 13!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

4. Take the kids out for an unforgettable holiday meal. Trex Café at the Legends Outlets is offering Breakfast with SANTA CLAUS throughout the month of December. Reserve your spot NOW and you and your kids can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet along with caroling, FREE goodies, Raffles and, cool prizes all in the company of Jolly Ol St. Nick himself!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

5. Give the kids a unique Santa experience they will cherish FOREVER by taking a ride on a Christmas train! You can take your ride on the Midland Railway with Santa himself on board! Enjoy caroling, cookies, hot cocoa, shopping and sitting on Santa’s lap! PLUS each little rider will receive a gift from Santa! Another option is to take a road trip to the Branson Scenic Railway and board the Polar Express. Little ones can board the train in their pajamas and enjoy Christmas stories, caroling hot cocoa, and treats all on their way to the NORTH POLE where they will meet Santa and receive special gifts! Both trains provide great holiday fun. Tickets for both are ON SALE NOW!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

  • 6. Head to the City Market for their Whoville Holiday Weekends! Who’s of all ages can meet and take a picture with the GRINCH, PLUS kids are invited to come to Cindy Lou Who’s home to make tons of fun arts and crafts! Whoville Holidays is a FREE event but donations are encouraged for the “Help a Who” campaign. You can bring canned goods, or new unwrapped toys! Give back while having fun!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

7. If you have older kids they may enjoy going with you to the Kansas City Ballets Annual Production of the Nutcracker. With elaborate sets and costumes you will be transported to a magical world of Christmas toys, ballerinas, and sugar plum fairies accompanied by magnificent music and amazing dancing. Now being performed at Kansas City’s new Kauffman Center! Tickets on sale NOW for Dec 1-23!

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

8. Give the little ones a chance to get their shopping done at the “Children’s Small Mall” at the C.W Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth, KS. Tons of gifts are donated from vendors. Each child will get to shop the store accompanied by one of Santa’s Elves and choose gifts of their choice for their Mom, Dad, Grandparent, or loved one. While the kids are shopping parents can sit, visit and sip hot cocoa. After the kids check out they can take a ride on the museum’s historical and fun Carousel! Check out these photos from last year’s event.

Kansas City Family Holiday Fun Guide

9. After the Christmas Holiday winds down comes New Years Eve. Always a fun holiday for both adults and kids. Those kids that are too young to make it midnight are in luck! They can ring in theNoon Year” at Wonderscope Children’s Museum. This event runs from 9am to 1pm on New Year’s Eve and includes performances by Mr. Stinky Feet, Fun Games, Crafts, a balloon drop, snacks and MUCH more! REGISTER NOW! They will have a blast PLUS their party will be out of the way and maybe their parents can enjoy a night out!

There you have it! Who knew KC offered so much family friendly holiday fun!? Hopefully this guide will help you and your kids have one of the most exciting holiday seasons yet. For even more holiday happenings around the area visit: http://www.visitkc.com/events/holiday-events/index.aspx?pix=0&orderBy=


Photo Sources:











Do you like your teen’s friends?

Do you like your teen’s friends?

This is a tough question and even tougher to answer. No parent wants their child to fall into the wrong crowd. But how do parents prevent that from happening? Is it preventable? Is it bad parenting? Do parents push children into these misbehaving groups?

Do You Like your Teen's Friends?

 Dr. Kenneth Rubin, a Professor at the University of Maryland and author of The Friendship Factor, says that even “Good kids, with good parents and good friends, aren’t immune to the temptation to associate with peers who are doing unacceptable things, or to the appeal of a crowd that seems to be exciting or even somewhat dangerous.”

Do you like your teen’s friends?

Young friendships are a large factor in the shaping of a child and molding them into the adult he or she will grow to be. Teenage friends have the ability to validate and support each other in ways parents cannot (or at least that’s what they think at that age!). As a parent, it is normal to be concerned with your child’s social life but there are a few underlying rules a parent must follow in regards to a child’s privacy. If you are having trouble with your teen’s choice of friends… keep reading! These five tips will keep you in check with the “rules” and guide you with your next move as a parent.

  • Keep an open mind. Clothing, hairstyles, music, and slang are very different now a days. Parents… just because the children may seem unusual compared to your child or even your OWN friends way back when, give them a chance. Like they always say, “Do not judge a book by its cover”. Values and morals are not worn on the outside.
  • Never forbid a friend. You know how that goes… Teenagers and people in general, strive for things that others bet against. Just as your motivation to succeed kicks in twice as hard when someone accuses you of failing, forbidding a friend will only make your teen want to hang out with them twice as much (maybe even behind your back!).
  • Never attack a friend. Now I don’t mean physically haha… well of course I mean that too, but mentally, with your words. As teenagers, the last thing a child wants to hear is you accusing THEIR friend of something. This is just a rule of life people tend to forget… if you don’t know about it, don’t act like you know about it. It won’t get you anywhere…
    • Advice: Talk to your child about what is bothering you about him or his friend. Do not go on assuming and accusing.
    • Welcome friends. Do not try to intimidate your teen’s friends. Welcome them with open arms, talk to them, and get to know them a little. This will give you a sense of who they are… and most times, leave you at ease with who your child is spending time with. You will gain their respect by showing them respect.
    • Set clear rules. These rules should be known by your child, of course, as well as your teen’s friends. To ensure this, reiterate your rules and expectations out loud when your teen’s friends come over/ pick up your child. The more friends who are familiar with your rules, the more likely it is for your teen and their friends to obey them. (They will have your rules in mind, being constantly reminded, and feel guilt if disobeyed).

“We shouldn’t! Your mom said no!”  Trust me, it works.

By Stephanie Falcone

Say Y.E.S. to the B.U.S.

How often do you drive your child to school? Every day? Every other? When they miss the bus? Driving your child to school may sound like the best option, but in fact, it is NOT. There are several variables assessed to answer this question so hop on board and I’ll tell you why.
Safety is the number one factor. Driving a school bus is much more difficult than an average size vehicle. That is why all bus drivers are required to pass a written and skill based driving test. Once a Commercial Driver’s License is obtained, additional training is provided by the school’s district. Not only must the driver be accustomed to the rules of the road, but also how to load/unload passengers, and carry out emergency procedures if need be. Not just anyone is permitted to drive students to and from school. A thorough background check and drug/alcohol tests are conducted on all applicants prior to obtaining a license to drive a school bus. This systematic process ensures the children, our rising students, are in the hands of an exceptionally safe driver.
“I’m worried about my child being bullied. 
I don’t want my child around bad language. I don’t feel comfortable with my child around the big kids.”
I’m sorry to say, but it is honestly impossible to remove your child from every off-putting circumstance. This is how children learn. Children, depending on the way they are raised, will make decisions on their own regarding whether to join in on carving their names in the back of the school bus, or quietly chatting with friends in the front. There comes a time when you need to give them a little push and let them leave the nest.
As for bullying, districts monitor the behavior now a days with video cameras inside and outside of the buses. This ensures the children are aware there is an extra eye on them and will not get away with sticking their tongue out at the bus driver when he or she turns around. Bullying is a serious issue and is never treated lightly by school administration.
National Center for Safe Routes to School declared 20 to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic is attributable to parents driving their children to school.
You may be more comfortable with driving your child to school, but each and every parent that feels this way has a negative effect on traffic congestion. It is understandable to chauffeur your child to school if he or she may have missed the early morning bus, but every day is a tad excessive, don’t you think? With the abundance of parents dropping off their child at the school door, school buses and faculty are held up. Holding up the staff and bus traffic causes a domino effect to occur, causing school to be delayed. If all students were to hop on the designated t bus at their correct time and place, the well designed school morning system would go as smooth as silk.
Enough with the worries. What about the positives? Give your child the opportunity to meet new friends. Allowing them to spread their wings and meet new people will make them more comfortable as they grow older. If they are always being held tight, driven to and from school, their communication skills will be hindered. Plus, it’ll give you a little extra free time!

What do you say? Say yes to the bus!

Safe Routes: Traffic Congestion

Parenting Squad: Should Your Kids Ride the Bus to School?


Written By: Stephanie Falcone

What is the Correct Portion Size ?

What is the Correct Portion Size ?


 Last week my family picked up some Chinese take out.  When I opened up the container for what I ordered, I have never seen so much rice in my life!  Good grief, do they really expect you to eat all that?  This lead me to thinking that I probably had about 5 servings of rice in that one order.  No wonder there is such a problem with obesity in America.  Not to mention, your kids are getting these big portions too!

 If you’d like to know how many servings from the food groups that your child should be eating, go to www.hoorayforfamily.com and click on the icon “Laying it on the Table.”  You will find a link titled “How much should my child eat?”

 Below are some good “rules of thumb” on typical portion sizes.

 Peanut Butter – Ping pong ball

Pasta, veggies, cereal – 1 handful

Cheese – 4 dice

Meat, poultry – palm of hand/deck of cards = 3 oz.

Fish – checkbook = 3 oz

Fruit – tennis ball

Rice – ice cream scoop

Canned Fruit – ½ baseball

Pancake or waffle – CD or DVD

Milk or yogurt – adult fist

Dried fruit – golf ball

Baked potato – computer mouse

Oil – 1 adult thumb tip



 Article Written By: Tiffany Glenn Registered Dietitian  

Tiffany Glenn Dietitian Portion Size

“Psssssstttt….. Mom……..Dad…” Sound familiar? How to stop your Child’s Nightmares!

“Psssssstttt….. Mom……..Dad…” Sound familiar?
How to stop your child’s nightmares

 Does your child ever wake you up in the middle of the night because of a bad dream? This is a common issue with young ones. Studies have shown 25% of young children experience nightmares at least once a week. But what is the cause of this terror in these poor kids’ minds?
 Keep reading… these suggestions are worth a try!

How to stop your child’s nightmares sleeping baby

The child’s environment

Is your child’s bedroom a comforting environment for sleeping? It is very important for him or her to feel safe as they close their eyes for the night. To assure this, talk to your child to find out what will soothe them. Most children prefer to sleep with a light nearby. Because the electric bill will sky rocket if you install a light dimmer, a simple plug-in night light will do the trick. In addition to the night light, leaving the door slightly cracked will reassure them they are not alone. Even adults get the feeling of being “trapped” if in a closed-in area for long periods of time.  My third suggestion, which can differ in certain situations, is add positivity to the room with music. A soft and soothing genre of music, country for example, will distract them from negative thoughts and send them to their dreamland with hopeful lyrics in mind.

The child’s troubles/ fears

Even though looking back on those young years feels like all laughter and play, we all know growing up had its pressures. The fear of your first day of school, getting blamed for something you didn’t do, or troubles at home… talk to your child. Talking to them gives them a chance to empty out all the bottled fears from their mind. Diminish their stress and encourage happy thoughts which will lead to happy dreams.

How to stop your child’s nightmares Sleeping Girl

The child’s intake

Get this! This sounds bizarre but WHAT you eat and WHEN you eat it are contributing factors to a poor quality sleep or a night full of nightmares. A study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found those who ate spicy foods before bed were awoken throughout the night due to elevated body temperatures. This being said, bad dreams are known to occur when a child is continuously woken up abruptly during the night. Keep this in mind and save those foods with an extra kick for the middle of the day! Also, foods with high fat content negatively affect sleep… which I’m sure most of us have experienced those nights. Weighed down and maybe even an upset stomach, fatty foods/ junk foods definitely have a negative impact on dreams.

How to stop your child’s nightmares goodnight kiss

The child’s medications

There are many medications that affect children, people in general. If your child suffers from ADHD, it is common for bad dreams to be a side effect of the medication prescribed (ex Strattera). Not that you should put a stop to the treatment, just keep in mind the medication could be a potential factor to the child’s unsettling dreams.

HINT: I know the saying seems to just roll off the tongue when you’re tucking them in, but “Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” isn’t the most comforting thought to leave them with as you exit the dark room. Sleep tight (we’ll leave it at that haha),

Stephanie Falcone


With warm weather comes frozen snacks and this summer was surely the start of something sweet! Frozen yogurt, or better known as froyo, is the latest craze across the nation.

But why? That’s the question that constantly pops into my head when passing the always fashionable ice cream shops. Why are frozen yogurt franchises constantly being built in the same areas? What’s the difference? Let’s get to the bottom of this!

Starting with the basics… ice cream and frozen yogurt can both be defined by simply their name. Ice cream is a frozen mixture of CREAM, flavorings, sweeteners, and thickeners while frozen yogurt is made of either nonfat or regular YOGURT, flavorings, sweeteners, and thickeners. Quite obvious, the major difference is churned cream or yogurt.

Moving on… which is healthier? This is a vital concern for many now a days and I’m sure the question you’re all dying to know the answer to. Well, I’m sorry to say… after extensive research, this is not a flat out yes/ no answer. Choosing the healthiest option of a frozen treat is determined by the nutrition facts of each specific brand, serving size and flavor. You know… fats, carbs, calories… let me break it down for you!

One of the most popular items at a grocery store is ice cream. Ice cream is known to take over lengthy aisles with the vast variety of options (which I’m sure the kids have pointed you in the right direction to already!). Ice cream can be found as reduced fat, low fat, no fat, low carb, no added sugar, and just plain regular. Depending on which you choose, the amount of fat content differs. One might think the best option is choosing the reduced/ no fat products, which is true, but beware of increased sugar content (check the back label!)

As for frozen yogurt, it contains a lot less fat. The fat content is actually 1/3 of what ice cream contains. The healthiest route to go is fat free frozen yogurt weighing in at 0-0.05% fat content, compared to regular ice cream at a whopping 10% fat and higher.

The amount of sugar fluctuates between brands but ice cream generally surpasses frozen yogurt in this category. Ice cream normally contains anywhere between 30-50 grams of sugar while frozen yogurt contains merely 15-20 grams. Be sure to check the label!

Now that’s a language we all understand. When counting calories, both ice cream and frozen yogurt are on the same page. When given the option of regular or low fat, stick with the low fat. In most cases, it tastes just as good and you’ll be consuming 1/2-1/4 of the amount of calories. Low fat ice cream and fat-free frozen yogurt contains only 90-120 calories per serving (topics not included!)

Now you are able to make your own decision on whether to scoop up a serving of ice cream or the new celebrity, frozen yogurt (depending on the what ingredient you are trying to avoid most).



LIVESTRONG: Frozen Yogurt  vs. Ice Cream Nutrition
FITDAY: Frozen Yogurt Over Ice Cream
BUZZLE: Frozen Yogurt Vs. Ice Cream




Children and chores: From Tots to Teens

Children and chores: From Tots to Teens

By Stephanie Falcone

The younger the child, the more time and attention you will need to dedicate to teach the child to listen and follow through with his or her chore(s). Rattling off their chores will only confuse them. To catch their attention, give a specific order. I know this takes more effort than shouting what you would like done, but this method is more effective in the long run.

children and chores mom cleaning bathroom

For example, “I need you to put all of your toys back where they belong within the next 10 minutes. I am setting a timer. If the timer rings and the toys are not put away you will not be playing with them tomorrow.” Compared to repeating, “Put your toys away!” over a dozen times with no daily progress, give it a go! Children, especially age 3 or younger, have a fascination with racing or tasks with a time constraint. On another note, a specific order with a failing consequence is known for producing much better outcomes (and cleaner rooms!).

Consequence. Now that doesn’t sound like the most positive word… and that’s because people tend to associate it with the negatives. When it comes to the children’s chores, be sure to balance the positives and negatives. As would any adult, if a child feels he is doing all that work for nothing, he will no longer put in that much effort. Reward the child with something small, even simple words of encouragement will make a difference.

children and chores girl doing dishes

Moving onto older children… your best bet is a chore chart. If they are at an age capable to read and write, a chart with designated chores each week will keep things on track and prevent bickering. As much as you do not like to repeat yourself, as a parent or caretaker, children do not like to repeatedly be reminded either. With a daily/ weekly set deadline, you will both come to a starting agreement eliminating any future feuds regarding chores.

One of the most common and effective methods, is involving a little sticker action on the chore chart. By rewarding the child with a sticker for the chores he completes on time, he is motivated to keep working! Make a game out of it! Decide together when he earns a certain amount of stickers, that is when he should receive a special treat or favor.

Unfortunately, there comes a time when the sticker party comes to an end. Teenage years are tough because there are millions are other things going through their heads. And let’s be honest, chores aren’t what they consider “life threatening” in their busy young lives. So here’s a little something to keep in your back pocket for those unruly teenage years. Instead of threatening their weekend or night out, simply stay calm and trade chores. You read right! Trade chores with your kids!

children and chores boy taking out trash

For example, you ask your son to take out the garbage while you run to the store and what do you know! An hour later, you return home, and the garbage is still in the same spot. The only thing you want to do at this point is scream… but don’t. Collect yourself and remind him he forgot to take the trash out. “Oops… I’m sorry…” is usually the go to reaction expecting you to do it or give them a second chance to do it later. NOT THIS TIME. Kindly and calmly respond with an “It’s alright, I took care of it. You can do one of my chores. The dishes need to be cleaned.” Not only will this catch him off guard (eyes as wide as an owl), but he will have no excuse but to swap chores since you were so composed with the request.

Remember to stay cool when asking for a chore to be done. Demanding something is not nearly as effective.

Don’t be THAT Parent…

Besides the obvious don’t drink, smoke, or swear parenting rules… I’ve observed a few other dos and don’ts to keep in mind. Hey maybe they’ll sound familiar!

Encourage their likes, not yours:

Too many cases there are parents who relive their childhood through their kid. Just because you weren’t able to land your big baseball career on your own, doesn’t mean you should push and urge your child to love the sport. Encourage what they like, there’s no such thing as too much support. Don’t be that parent.

Applaud for effort, not for grades:

Okay okay, let me clear that up… Yes, grades are important. But is a letter grade so important they should be punished or ridiculed for it? Clearly there is a difference between trying their best and simply not trying at all, and THAT is what you should be basing your applause on. The pressure of making sure they earn “good” grades for YOU only puts more stress on THEM as students. Learning should be fun. Unfortunately, children tend to drift from that mind state at a young age because of the early pressure of getting grades their parents are proud of (or not).

“All As this year! Got it?” Don’t be that parent.

Because I said so:

Is there anything about that phrase that doesn’t make you cringe?! This should never be a go to answer. This is merely an easy way out, and quite frankly the most irritating thing for a child to hear. Nothing beneficial comes from “because I said so…” because you know the child’s next response will be something along the lines of “BUT WHY?”. Do you and your child a favor and give them a proper answer. In the end, they will understand or choose not to accept it. Or… try responding with a question. Either way, you will not have to keep repeating yourself. “Because I said so… because I said so…” Don’t be that parent.

Don’t make me:

You know what’s coming next! The infamous “Don’t make me tell your father”. Don’t put on the act of miss nice guy because you don’t want to be the bad cop this time. All you are doing is giving your child a scary authority figure and that is not fair to your partner. Punishment decisions should be made in agreement without the threat of another loved one. Don’t be that parent.

Written by: Stephanie Falcone