The Best Fish Sticks You’ll Ever Eat

The Best Fish Sticks You'll Ever Eat l Hellobee

The idea for turning this dinner into a recipe to share occurred to me the first time we made it for our son Zane, and my husband Ben told him they were the best fish sticks he would ever have. Although the same shape as the fish sticks we bake off in a pinch, especially when we are going out to dinner and need a quick meal for Z, they’re really in a different league altogether than their frozen counterparts. And while they take a little extra hands-on effort, the total time is no more than it takes to oven bake frozen fish sticks. And the results of this freshly fried version? Undoubtedly worth it.

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Making Sensory Play Manageable at Home

As we head into another long cold winter, the days are shorter and time for playing outside is limited. For those of us at home with kiddos all day, it won’t take long before we are out of “quiet” activities to do. And let’s be honest…the quiet activities usually aren’t the ones that the kids want to do the most anyway!

Sensory play (or, play engaging the various senses) is something that most kids love, because their little developing bodies need it! Children learn by doing, so these experiences are vital for not only their growth, but for the sanity of the adults who care for them! (Still not convinced that toddlers and preschoolers really thrive when given these experiences? This is a great article that explains exactly what kids are learning while they engage in sensory play!)

Pinterest can be both a blessing and a curse. Within seconds, millions of ideas are at our fingertips. But it is easy to get overwhelmed at all of the options, and to decide that these activities aren’t realistic for the average mom. Even though I have studied child development and worked with toddlers in a classroom setting, I still find myself falling into the “but I DON’T WANT to clean flour out of my rug!” camp, and sensory activities have definitely been on the back burner in our home.

But as Little Lion gets older and requires a lot more challenge and stimulation to remain his happy and content self, I have decided that the time has come for me to conquer my fears.  Below are some tips for how we are making the mess more manageable in the Lion household!

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20 DIY Christmas Ornaments

I admit I’m not much for the holidays. As a child of immigrants, my parents didn’t really understand American customs. We did see family around the holidays and I believed in Santa for a while, but as a whole holidays were always small and never a big production. Even after I married Mr. Chocolate, I was never particularly into the holidays the way he was, stemming from his fond memories of childhood. For many years after we were married I never wanted to even put up a tree — so much work for a few weeks of enjoyment and it was sparsely decorated since we didn’t have many ornaments.

Now that I am a parent though, I have come to see the holidays differently. Since Drake was born I have slowly gotten more into the holiday spirit as I watch the excitement and anticipation build up in him. As he has gotten older, Drake has become more aware of the seasons and the idea that Christmas and Santa are coming. Last year was the first year we took him to pick out a live Christmas tree, and the first time he started to understand the idea of Elf on the Shelf. Now as fall has arrived, he has already started to mention how his elf is coming soon and he is going to be seeing Santa. Watching his joy at the idea of Christmas has changed how I feel about the holidays, and I couldn’t be happier by this. Still after all these years our tree is still pretty sparse, and since I always like a good DIY I thought it might be fun to start making ornaments to add to our tree. It will be a nice way to get ready for Christmas and a bonus to do some projects with Drake to help him get even more excited. Here is a roundup of some pretty, cool, and fun DIY ornaments I hope to try out this season.

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Getting Baby on a ‘Schedule’

I’m a routine-driven person by nature; falling into the same pattern day after day is very easy for me, sometimes to my detriment. Ideally, I would like to wake up at the same time, eat the same breakfast, drink the same coffee, and head out of the house at the same time every day. I like predictability, I like being on time, and I like knowing what is coming next.

So, as you can imagine, having a baby really rocked my world. Gone were the days of predictability and schedule. Gone were the structured days with designated meal, rest, and activity times. Instead, I was thrown into a whirlwind of nursing, napping, changing diapers, and trying my best to keep my eyes open when I was only sleeping in 2-hour stretches. To be honest, I was worried for my sanity; this ever-changing infant in my life could very well be my undoing.

I read everything I could get my hands on about putting baby on a schedule, developing routines, and sorting out mixed up nights and days. But a two month old doesn’t understand the EASY method; if she wanted to nurse, who was I to insist it was ‘activity’ time instead? Little Oats was strongly and resolutely anti-schedule.

So, in an attempt to make sense of my changed world, I let go. I let go of the idea of 2-3-4 nap schedules, of knowing that I could eat lunch at 12:00 on the dot, of being able to predict the next step in my day. And instead of focusing on a strict schedule, I adopted the idea of a general routine.

Hold on, you’re saying. Aren’t schedule and routine just two different words for the same concept? Absolutely not. My idea of a schedule going into this whole parenting thing was exactly that; the day-planner equivalent to mapping out my day with a baby. 7:00am wakeup, 7:30 breakfast, 8:00 playtime, etc. But a routine (especially a loose routine) was more a general idea of how the day would go. So regardless of what time Little Oats woke up in the morning, I knew that we’d start our day off with a long nursing session. I knew that she was happiest in the mid-morning; if we were planning to head out anywhere, that was the time to do it.

A typical day for us around the 3 month mark looked a little something like this:

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In Honor of World Prematurity Day

In recognition of World Prematurity Day today and November being Prematurity Awareness Month, I asked some of the bloggers and board members who’ve had preemies to share their stories. According to the March of Dimes, every year about 450,000 babies are born prematurely in the US, and prematurity is the leading cause of death for newborns. These HB babies were born anywhere from 25w to nearly full term, and some are dealing with longer term consequences, and some aren’t. I hope these varied experiences give you all more perspective on preemie babies and parents, and please share your own preemie stories in the comments!

All of the moms were so kind to give me a summary of their preemie’s story, and any advice they have to preemie parents.We’ll go from youngest gestational age at birth to the nearly term babies – starting with Dylan!

Dylan (Baby MrsGreenGrass) / 25w

I went into labor, bleeding first, then contractions out of nowhere at 23 weeks. My friend dropped me off at emergency while she parked the car and I had no idea where to go — ER? L&D? I wandered around while bleeding and crying until a pregnant woman led me to triage. When I heard Dylan’s heartbeat, I thought everything would be okay and that I could go home, but that first night I got up to 13 contractions in an hour and the next day I learned I probably wouldn’t leave until Dylan was born. The suddenness of it all was one of the most traumatic parts.

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Going Back to Work

Dear Baby Checkers,

It’s been real.

We’ve spent about the last year together, you and me. Albeit, most of that time was in utero, and I feel like I am just starting to know you.

In two weeks you will be four months old and I will be returning to work. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I enjoy the work I do and I’ll admit, it will be nice to spend a part of my day with adults who can speak in full sentences again. But on the other hand, my heart breaks when I think about this time together ending. Isn’t motherhood funny that way? One minute we want a break, and when we get one, all we can think or talk about is our kids?

My maternity leave has been so different this time around than when your sister was born. I spent the better half of my leave then depressed out of my mind, mostly because my hormones were out of whack and I wasn’t sleeping, but also in part because I am a little crazy. Don’t get me wrong –  I loved your sister from the beginning. But becoming a new mom is disorienting to say the least, and I don’t exactly thrive on change mixed with two hours of sleep.

With you, I was much more relaxed. I learned to watch you, and not the clock, to tell me when you were tired or hungry. Instead of being a prisoner at home, you and I went out, A LOT. Did you know between the hours of 10 AM and 1 PM, all retail shopping areas become Strollerville? I know this because I am a big believer in 1) getting out of the house after having a baby and 2) retail therapy. A new top or eyeliner or onesie or socks can kind of make up for not sleeping the night before. Or the night before that. Also, Target is the mommy mecca.

In your first two weeks of life, you tricked us. All you did was eat and sleep as most brand-new newborns do, and we told everyone, “He’s much easier than his sister was!” You sure fooled us. You’ve had good weeks and bad weeks, as all humans do, vacillating between easiest and fussiest baby of all time. I’ve now concluded that you’re actually neither; you’re just a baby. But you are fantastic because you are mine.

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21 ikea christmas gifts for the littles

Ikea has some pretty great stuff at incredible prices, and their children’s department is no exception. Until November 25th, they are having Ikea family member prices on select items, including their MAMMUT stools, chairs, and tables – the latter two come in soft shades of pink, blue, and green. I’ve been eyeing some Montessori type furniture for my daughter to work upon, and while these admittedly aren’t wood, a $10 chair is all kinds of awesome.

MAMMUT Children’s chair $10.49  |  MAMMUT Children’s table $24.49  |  FABLER 3-piece flatware set, stainless steel $4.99  |  GRATTIS 5-p serving stand with cupcakes set $7.99  |  LÅTSAS 11-piece shopping basket set $7.99  |  LEKA Play book $6.99  |  UPPTRÄDA 7-piece bowling set $9.99  |  SAGOHUS 4-piece fairytale house set $14.99  |  DUKTIG Toy Cash Register $14.99  |  EKORRE Rocking moose $39.99  |  BEBOELIG Children’s tent $19.99  |  MULA Crane with blocks $14.99  |  MULA Bead roller coaster $7.99  |  MULA Shape sorter $4.99

You can have the best toy at the doctor’s office (you know the one, the Bead maze) in your very own home for under ten bucks. Oh – and something else I’d never thought I could house in my home – a folding gym mat in pretty colors – that brings back elementary school gym memories. The MULA Crane looks awesome with its magnetic pieces, and it even doubles as a shape sorter toy. The LÅTSAS shopping basket is brimming with adorable bowtie pasta, a pineapple, a baguette, an eggplant, and more. I love how the DUKTIG Toy Cash Register has a digital number readout (ok, so it’s an oversized calculator nestled in a nice base, but I don’t think my 1980′s check out register could do division).

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