My husband and I have been trying to decide the best plan of attack for moving our 2 oldest sons into a bedroom together. We have officially run our of bedrooms, and unless we do some pretty hefty construction work to add on a 5th bedroom, our 2 oldest boys just have to double-up.

For us, it was a simple decision.

For our 2 sons, it’s been something they don’t even want to discuss. The thought of moving in to the same room… ahh, it hasn’t been an easy subject.

So we wanted to make the experience as fun as can be. What came to mind!? Let’s get BUNK BEDS!

There have been pros and cons about the bunk bed chat since January. Our oldest son would only be 4. And our second son would only be 3. Not exactly good ages for bunk beds. All I could see and envision was the “who could jump farthest?” type contests going on at night.

On the other side of the coin… bunk beds would be our best bet for more space in the room with the two of them together. And we figured that we could get a queen size bed on the bottom bunk and possibly have them share that for the time being.

But then I came across an article on News for Parents.orgBunk Bed-Related Injuries Not Exclusive to Young Children – which states in it’s opening paragraph that:

Bunk bed-related injuries are not an issue of concern solely for parents of young children according to a study conducted by investigators at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The study, published in the June issue of Pediatrics, found although three-quarters of the children who sustain bunk bed-related injuries are younger than 10 years of age, there is a surprising spike in injuries among individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 years.

This study used national data to examine bunk bed-related injuries among children and young adults (which they classified as up to 21 years of age). There were an estimated 572,580 bunk bed-related injuries during the 16-year study period, resulting in an average of 36,000 cases annually.

Now I had concerns about the safety of bunk beds, which is why I have been looking up research on them, but I never figured the numbers to be this high and this alarming.

To read more of this extremely informative article from News for Parents.org, click HERE.

Every week I spend over $200 at the grocery store. It’s just too much, especially with the prices of gas – and everything else! – on the rise.

So what does the money go to?

Truth be told, I don’t have a clue. I run in, buy the things I “need”… and head home. Basically it comes down to trying to get in and out as fast as can be!

But all that will be changing. I’m getting smart.

I have found Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com… who just may become my new best friend.

Nelson states very clearly on her website that the secret to smart shopping is to plan ahead and combine store discounts with coupons.

So yes, it may not be as easy as a fast shopping… BUT, by doing some “strategic shopping” Nelson proves that a family of four can enjoy a healthy diet for $100 per week or less with some simple changes in their buying habits.

What are some of her simple changes?

First, check out your grocery store’s weekly circular. See what is on sale and plan your meals around those foods.

Second, make your list as complete as possible so you won’t be making unnecessary trips to the grocery store. This can lead to impulse buying. Not good.

Third, make simple substitutions and be aware of the actual cost of items.

Forth, know your store’s saving program. Plain and simple. Generally there are discount cards available in most grocery stores, take advantage of this.

For more tips and advice on saving BIG at the grocery store, check out CouponMom.com.

“Would you let a delivery person bring a pizza while you have a babysitter?”

It may sound like an innocent question, but in this day-and-age… it is a significant question to ask.

As a mother of 3 little boys, at first thought… I may not see a problem. An innocent pizza delivery. Something I’ve done dozens upon dozens of times. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the dangers of that stranger coming to my door. And as I struggled with the idea of that easy and much-loved pizza lunch or dinner, I thought about that delivery stranger coming to my door when my kids are with a babysitter.

No way.

Plain and simple.

This question was posed to several moms, through an informal poll format, in one upper-middle-class neighborhood. A variety of opinions, including some you may not have thought about, were aired.

To read the opinions, see Betsy Flagler’s June 8th Providence Sunday Journal article by clicking HERE.

Most people will answer a resounding, “YES!” to the question –

“Do you need to jump-start your fitness motivation?”

Especially with bathing suit season in full-swing, it’s time to get our bodies bathing suit ready!

According to the July issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine, a new study at Stanford University found that people who used gadgets like an iPhones or a BlackBerry to monitor their fitness routines were likely to actually stick to a routine.

Interesting… huh?

The researchers for this study divided 37 non-exercisers into 2 groups:

The first group of exercisers was prompted twice a day by a digital assistant (i.e. iPhone, BlackBerry, email) to record their activity levels and set exercise goals. If they didn’t respond to the prompts, they received 3 more alerts at 30-minute intervals.

The second group was given sets of exercise educational handouts to follow, with the hope that the exercisers would work out on their own.

The findings?

After 8 weeks, the first group had exercised about 5 hours per week; the second group had exercised for only 2 hours.

So… looks like there may be something to having a digital assistant jump-start your fitness motivation!

What do you think?

Do you need your exercise to be digitally enhanced, or do you have what it takes to go for it on your own?

Recently, John Stamos was interviewed and mentioned that he is the national spokesman for Project Cuddle, a charity that works to prevent babies from being abandoned.

According to Project Cuddle, it has been estimated that there are 57 babies abandoned daily across the United States. 57 babies daily. This adds up to over 20,000 babies a year. This statistic is too shocking too avoid.

Baby abandonment is defined as an infant under the age of 12 months bring “discarded” or left alone for an extended period of time in a public/private setting with an intention to dispose of the baby.

This is where Project Cuddle comes in.

As the website states:

Project Cuddle™ is the result of one woman’s crusade to help prevent infants from being abandoned. Debbe Magnusen fostered over 30 drug-exposed babies, while raising two biological children. Eventually five of those beautiful little ones were adopted and became part of the Magnusen Family.

The Project Cuddle™ crisis line was actually formed from the living room of Debbe’s home, with the hope of ending baby abandonment. Within 12 hours of opening the 24 hour crisis-line, Project Cuddle got its first crisis call. A frightened woman that had hidden her pregnancy from everyone she knew, was due to deliver any and had no prenatal care. There was no time to waste. Debbe had only days to orchestrate a safe and legal alternative to abandonment, Project Cuddle™ was able to retain an attorney, a family wanting to rescue and adopt the baby, as well as an obstetrician, hospital and social counselor, Debbe Magnusen coached this woman through the delivery of a beautiful baby girl. After the baby was delivered into the arms of the adoptive parents, the birth mother said to Debbe. “I feel like I’ve done something good for the first time.” The woman did not break the law, the baby was safe and a rescue couple was overjoyed at having a new daughter in their lives.

To learn more about Project Cuddle and its founder, Debbe Magnusen, click HERE.

With 3 boys all in car seats, and one more due any day… it’s difficult to travel in anything other than a van or an SUV. Especially since we want to have more children.

Right now we own a van. It gets us around. The kids have plenty of room. And there’s definitely room for more babies (and kids). All things that I love about our van.

But… filling it up costs over $65.00. And we fill it at least twice a week.

My husband would like to get something that is more economically sound… but I’m not sold on the idea.

I came across this great article on CNN.comSUV owners keep on truckin’ despite gas prices – that truly outlined many of my own points.

What do you think?

The Girl Scouts is changing its image.

Change is good, right?

The Girl Scouts Organization has announced the appointment of Laurel Richie as its new Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Richie, a former senior partner and executive group director at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, officially came aboard March 24th, 2008.

Her job?

To modernize the image of the Girl Scouts.

Read Ellen Bryon’s article, Girl Scouts Seek an Image Makeover, March 25th, 2008 Wall Street Journal HERE.

But don’t worry… the cookies are still in. That’s the one thing that will remain, well… UNCHANGED!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel has been the “go-to” resource book for thousands and thousands (and thousands) of pregnant women for the past 25 years.

Its popularity among women is the reason why it is been on the New York Times bestseller list for 355 weeks, with nearly 15 million copies in print.

It was the first pregnancy guide written by women, for women… not by any doctors. And it truly revolutionized the world of “pregnancy” for women by being the “pregnancy bible.” You have a question, the book HAS an answer. It’s THAT thorough.

And through the past 25 years, What to Expect When You’re Expecting has been updated and revised with current health and medical information. Something that today’s pregnant women need and expect.

And most recently, for its 4th revised edition, Amazon.com describes it as:

A new book for a new generation of expectant moms— featuring a new look, a fresh perspective, and a friendlier-than-ever voice. It’s filled with the most up-to-date information reflecting not only what’s new in pregnancy, but what’s relevant to pregnant women. Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. More comprehensive, reassuring, and empathetic than ever, the Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy). There’s more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (more advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food–dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what’s hot and what’s not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be.

But finally… there is one change that What to Expect When You’re Expecting has made that was long overdue. Very long overdue.

A new cover.

The cover model-mama has gotten a make-over.

The mama now gracing the cover has long hair, hip jeans, fashionable boots and a formfitting, chic top. She stands, ready to face the world…

No more forlorn looking mama. No more rocking chair.

Jocelyn Noveck with The Associated Press wrote a fantastic article that appeared in The Providence Journal on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008. The article discusses the changes made to the “iconic” pregnancy book, quotes from Heidi Murkoff and speaks of the importance of this “American pregnancy bible.”

Read the article HERE.

And grab yourself a new, updated version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting!

Every new parent enters their first summer season with a certain amount of reservation. With so many things to be wary of, combined with the natural anxiety of being a new parent, it can be challenging to be confident about one’s capabilities. As any parent will tell you, a certain amount of trial-and-error will come into play. On the other hand, a little bit of common sense will go a long way too.

While it is natural to want to keep your baby’s skin covered, parents must be careful not to overdress the little one. Yes, it is good idea to keep baby’s skin protected from the sun. Just be sure that your baby is not overdressed. Try to use clothing that is made from light cotton or linen, and always be sure to cover the wee one’s head with a great, big hat.

It is next-to-impossible to completely avoid the sun in the summer months. Many parents opt to keep their children out of the sun, as opposed to using sunscreen and letting them roam free. This is a very thoughtful approach, but not always practical. Be sure to use a high quality sunscreen, with an SPF rating no lower than 30, when you are in the sun with baby. And don’t forget that the little one will need sunscreen when in the pool, too!

Insects are another consideration, especially those pesky mosquitoes! In the past they were more of an annoyance than a health concern, but in recent times there are some valid concerns regarding West Nile Virus. Aside from the standard mosquito prevention techniques advised by the public health authorities, there are a few alternatives available. As a parent, I would not feel comfortable applying DEET to may baby’s skin. DEET is an extremely poisonous and toxic chemical designed for the military, not for babies. Try using scented oil such as tea tree oil or rosemary. These are safe, natural alternatives. If you are going to be spending time in the wilderness, make sure baby is wearing light clothing that leaves very little skin exposed.

If your little one is old enough to ride a tricycle, be sure that you have a good quality helmet for him or her to wear. Every year, hundreds of children are rushed to the hospital for easily avoidable injuries. Play it safe, and make sure your child always wears a helmet when playing with any moving toy with wheels. For smaller children that are just learning to walk, why not consider using a baby harness? This way, you can let your child run free without having to worry about scrapes and bruises! Have a great summer, and play safe.

Rachel Thompson is the proud mother of two young children, and a member of the editorial team at thebabydepartment.com – a wonderful online resource for parents and caregivers with information about crib safety, bath time, toys and more.

One of our favorite Smart Mama Blogs is Kids Stuff and Stories – a destination where you can find some great books and activities to do with your children.

Blogger and the Smart Mama behind Kids Stuff and Stories shares with us some of her favorite book picks.

Winnie The Pooh: Complete Collection of Stories and Poems

Winnie the Pooh: The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems was originally published in 1994, but this beautifully produced slip-cased edition has been specially created to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the publication of the very first stories about Winnie the Pooh.

It consists of the classic, well-loved, tried-and-tested stories by AA Milne, from “Winnie the Pooh” (1926), “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928 ) and the poetry from “When We Were Very Young” (1924) and “Now We Are Six” (1927).

My favorite story is the one where Tigger and Roo get stuck up the tree…

Please Don’t Chat To The Bus Driver by Shen Roddie

The bus is late so please don’t chat to the bus driver… Various animals get on the bus and are told not to chat to the bus driver. Can you guess what happens next?

This book is so original and so very very funny! You may not have come across this but do not be put off by that. It is a winner and expect to be reading it 3 times a day. You have been warned.

We Honestly Can Look After Your Dog (Featuring Charlie & Lola) by Lauren Child

Lola loves dogs. So when Charlie takes Lola and her friend Lotta to the park with his friend Marv and Marv’s dog Sizzles, Lola is thrilled. Marv lets her and Lotta look after Sizzles on the promise that they don’t let him off the lead…

As seen on BBC TV. You really can’t go wrong with this. It has been a big hit in Britain for the last couple of years.

The Bears Winter House by John Yeoman (Illustrated by Quentin Blake)

This has always been in my top 5 books of all time for young children. The only problem is that it is possibly out of print. There are a few second hand copies on Amazon.co.uk (the British site) and prices range from a couple of pounds up to over a hundred! I think even a battered paperback copy will be fun so why not do what I did and get a battered paperback copy off Amazon, ebay or your friendly neighbourhood second hand book seller.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Quentin Blake who is best known for the work he did on the Roald Dahl books.

The story is all about Bear who starts building a winter house to hibernate in. Along come Chicken and Pig to watch but don’t really want to help. Soon. however, summer is over and the wind is whistling through the hen hut and pig sty and they are getting a little bit chilly.

Will Bear let them stay the winter? Will they behave if he does? You can probably guess the answers to both these questions. A great fun book.