Milestones: My Daughter's Early Learning, Part 4 (August, 2016)

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 my other pages and the news feeds to the right (scroll down).

 This page features my latest article for new moms. Enjoy!

Milestones: My Daughter's Early Learning, Part 4

This month I continue to repeat my 'Milestones' series with Part 4 to, once again, give new parents ideas about how to play with your 1 year old. In addition, I share with new parents the toys and games I that introduced as part of the 'Milestones' series from 2013.


I knew that at some point I would need to begin focusing on introducing my daughter to lots of different colors in a creative and fun way in hopes that she could enjoy exploring colors beyond just the usual colored markers and finger paint. 
Clothes by Ann Taylor, end of summer 2012

When my daughter was 13 months old, I decided that I needed her to pay closer attention to colors.  As mentioned in my earlier post "Milestones...(Part 1, October 2012)", I bought clothes that were much brighter in color that drew her attention to me and helped her to become more familiar with colors. She really enjoyed seeing me in these bright, happy colors and is familiar with her Mom's wardrobe. She now treats her Mom's wardrobe as a bright spot in our home.

Mommy's bright new wardrobe!
My colorful wardrobe bought in the fall of 2012 and the winter of 2013 included lots of bright colors, including a pair of yellow pants (see picture to the right) converted into Belly-Jeans for comfort.

The outfits were bought from H&M, Ann Taylor, Gap and Old Navy. We had a lot of fun buying these outfits and I was always able to keep my daughter's attention and encourage her to focus on these bright and happy colors!

At 14 months old, I decided to use a different, attractive color nail polish on each finger and on one hand (my left hand) in order to expose my daughter to a different color every time I played with her or picked her up.  She liked the combination seen below of the nail polishes that I arranged.  I decided to keep the nail polishes on for 2 weeks.  This gave her the opportunity to see these colors every day for a good amount of time. In this way, I could always have the same 5 colors on display for her to see all of the time, especially if I was pushing her stroller (baby facing me, she always saw my hands).

I enjoyed creating this arrangement of colors for her.  Here is the list of the colors and brands:
Pinky finger:Red "Red Carpet" by Revlon Colorstay #120
Ring finger:Orange"Congaline" by Confetti #027
Middle finger:Green "My Favorite Martian" by Confetti #007
Index finger:Blue "Mesmerize" by Confetti #170
Thumb:Yellow"Margarita Senorita" by Confetti #008

In addition, at 14 months old, I introduced her to the book
"Colors" by bright baby. I love the richness of the colors and the accuracy of the pictures.  She loves this little book, many times she would sit with this book, holding it open and begin a dialogue of her own.  It was so sweet and adorable to watch her enjoying her Colors book. You can purchase Colors for @$5.00 at any Walmart, here is the link: 

If for some reason this book is sold out at, here it is for @$5.00 w/ FREE SHIPPING!:

My husband showing our daughter her favorite book, 'Colors', 5-20-13

Creative play

I really enjoyed watching my daughter use her toys in a creative way.  In the video below, my daughter enjoys using her stroller toy's flower link as a bracelet. She had been using the flower link in this way for one week before I recorded this video.

            Putting on flower link as bracelet, 11-7-12, 00:01:12

Below is a video of my daughter at 16 months and 2 days old stacking her blocks. She stacks the blocks multiple times, including an attempt to stack a block onto a round-shaped block. I enjoyed observing her use as many blocks as she could to construct her different sized block creations.

                                 Stacking blocks, 12-28-12, 00:01:00

Baby understands!

Below are a few videos of my daughter at 14 months old understanding how to use certain non-toys correctly.  I was very proud to see how far her understanding of the world around her had come since she turned 1 year old. 

             Taking puffs out of the container, 11-19-12, 00:03:00

                       Blowing her nose with a tissue, 11-4-12, 00:00:54

Play and Direction Activity

When my daughter was 15 months old, I created an activity that involved playing a game with the Fisher Price Baby's First Blocks (Pink) (there is also a boy version here-*link*) by using the shapes as glasses on my eyes and having my daughter remove them and place the shapes into the bucket (without the lid on), see the video below.

This was a different use of this toy from what it was originally designed to do, but all toys can be played with in many creative ways - this is just one of those ways. My video below shows myself and my daughter engaging in this activity. 

I came up with this idea one evening when my husband and I were playing with our daughter and I wanted to peek through the small holes in the shapes - I immediately grabbed my camera and recorded the video below. As you will see, this activity turned into a very fun game between us.

You will notice how incredibly happy my daughter is while pulling the shapes from my eyes and putting them back into the container (with the pink lid removed). Here is the link to the Fisher Price Baby's First Blocks (Pink) for @ $19:

 Playing with plastic shapes and bucket, 12-8-12, 00:05:00 

At 15 months old, I introduced the Hape Zoo Animals Block Puzzle  (   I sat with my daughter and set up the giraffe design first (as shown in the picture below) because it had a unique shape once completed.

After the set up, I realized that the best way to have my daughter play with this toy was to have her concentrate on one aspect of the puzzle first. I tapped my finger twice on each corner block of the puzzle: I did this to identify the corner pieces and help her understand how to start the puzzle using the corner pieces first.

My daughter typically reached for a corner block of the giraffe design and would turn over a few of the blocks to view the other sides of them. Watching her explore this puzzle and enjoy the friendly animal characters was a very interesting and delightful experience for both of us.
For a list of the other toys shown in this picture, see my post"Toys for Babies and Children" (October 2012)”:

The Problem with "Clean-Up Time"

I wanted my fellow new moms to know that during  my daughter's play time,       I don't force her to "clean up" her toys (since I do not consider this to be a real activity with my daughter).  I do not believe that "clean up time" is necessary, or educational for my child - it just frustrates her, bores her, causes her to protest and become angry.  I do not want my child to resent play time with me because it would involve "clean up time" - and that the frustration from "clean up time" would affect her level of interest during this exploration phase of her life.

I hope my fellow moms and buddies have enjoyed this latest installment of the 'Milestones' series.  Just as a recap, here is my list of the categories of my activities and ideas shown above:

1. Colors
2. Creative Play
3. Baby Understands!
4. Play and Direction Activity
5. The Problem with "Clean-Up Time"

The final installment of this series ('Milestones, Part 5') will follow along with more of my ideas, activities and pictures.  Have a great time this summer and have fun wearing those bright colors!

Happy play time everyone!

Joy E.
Posted August 10, 2016

Once again, I have included the link to our 2013 family photos in the Arnold Arboretum:
Our family at the MFA's Memorial Day Family Weekend, 5-27-13

* is not paid by any of the companies mentioned above.

**Please do not use my articles, photos or videos without permission from me.

Billy Ward Park, Brookline

Children's Museum Visit

My Gym Class and Open Gym fun

Baby Safety this Summer: 2016

resource website created for new moms that provides reliable news, information, support and helpful tidbits.

For more baby related news and information, please review        
 my other pages and the news feeds to the right (scroll down).

 This page features my latest article for new moms. Enjoy!
 Baby Safety this Summer: 2016

Once again, summertime is here and, as parents know, there are different safety concerns during these months.  I am re-posting for my buddies the following news articles and links in regard to baby safety issues, food safety and parenting.

 Mayo Clinic Family Health Book: $39.95
Mayo Clinic Family Health Book is your reliable, comprehensive guide to thousands of health concerns. Discover how comforting it is to know you can get reliable health information anytime you need it from a truly authoritative source.

Grandparents flunk baby safety quiz:

Overprotective parents and teachers 'ruining children's play' because of risk-averse lifestyles: Adults are 'over-supervising' and 'over-scheduling' children; Cambridge lecturer says a lack of play stops normal development:

Dry Drowning: Water in the lungs during swimming can cause 'drowning' within 24 hours, see this important article about Dry Drowning:

Water Safety: Time to worry about water safety as summer approaches: Pools, swimming lessons, etc. Swimming can also help people with arthritis.

Sunscreen for Babies and Children:  The Mayo Clinic offers guidelines for sunscreen use on children:

Finger/Toe Tourniquet: Be aware that hair can wrap around your baby's toes and fingers when wearing mittens or socks, cutting off circulation and causing pain to that digit. Here is an article about Toe Tourniquet Syndrome accidents:

Child Safety Warning: Teething Gels May Be Dangerous: Check out the Orajel Lawsuit:
Here is another article regarding the lawsuit against Orajel Teething gels:

Read about how Red Food Dye affects children:

Paint your child's room in one coat:

Senators Call for Closer Look at Flame Retardants:
**Update: June 7, 2016, U.S. Congress approves bill updating chemical safety oversight:

Educational Benefits of Children's Toys:

CCEI recommends child care safety training in support of safe toys and gifts month:

'Snow Plow' Parenting becoming new trend: or try the old link:

Controlling parents harm future mental health:

Our daughter in her NFM t-shirt!

Links on 
For more information and links in regard to baby safety, click on the 'Baby Safety' tab above. Also, for a useful list of baby care tidbits, click on the '*Tidbits*' tab above.

I wanted to inform residents of Massachusetts that all children between the ages of 0 - 3 years old who qualify for the Massachusetts Early Intervention Program will receive services at no charge. The income-based fee was waived in 2013 for every income bracket (the fee was between $0 -$1500 per child based on income!).

Anyone can make an appointment with Early Intervention and they will send a team of professionals to your home to examine your baby or young child for any developmental delays (speech, motor, etc.).  This meeting is at no cost to the family as well. If it is determined that your child needs services, they will send professionals once a week to your home and provide whatever necessary services your child requires.  For more information, here is the link:

If you want to check the Early Intervention services in your state, here is the link:

Also, below are very useful articles for new moms and moms-to-be:
My husband, Frank, feeding our 5-day-old daughter. Yum!

1. During Pregnancy: Let Me Suggest (May 2016):
2. Lost the Weight, but not the Waistline?:

3. The Lack of Sleep and Stress that New Moms Experience: 

4. Toys for Babies and Children:

I hope everyone finds these articles useful this summer as well as the other tabs above.

As for our family news: we are very proud to announce that our sweet baby has graduated from preschool, Class of 2016!  She will head off to a new school for Kindergarten in the fall. Hooray!
My happy daughter playing with her stickers (10 months old).

I hope my friends and adoring buddies enjoy your summertime fun with your families.

Happy summertime everyone!

-Joy E. 
Posted July 6, 2016                                                                         

Preschool Graduation Day!!!

Ready for her big graduation day!

Leaving preschool after graduation!  So happy! 6-20-16.
 After graduation ready to enjoy her cake at home! 6-20-16.
In robin bird suit playing with fur in the Discovery Center, Museum of Science, 6-20-16.
Viewing the African bull frog in the Discovery Center, Museum of Science, 6-20-16.
Getting in space shuttle in the Museum of Science, 6-20-16.
Hanging out at the Nano exhibit in the Museum of Science, 6-20-16.
Playing with the chains in the Museum of Science, 6-20-16.
Playing with the shells in the Museum of Science, 6-20-16.
Playing in the tunnel at My Gym, 6-20-16.
In the ball pit at My Gym, 6-20-16.

During Pregnancy: Let me suggest.... (May, 2016)

A resource website created for new moms that provides reliable news, information, support and helpful tidbits.

For more baby related news and information, please review        
my other pages and the news feeds to the right (scroll down).

 This page features my latest article for new moms. Enjoy!

During Pregnancy: Let me suggest....

I wanted to share with my fellow moms and moms-to-be the products that I found incredibly useful during my pregnancy in 2011.  These items were absolute necessities and completely worth the investment because of the reliefcomfort and relaxation that I experienced using these products.

Snoogle Original Total Body Pillow

This pregnancy pillow was an absolute life saver!  At 10 weeks pregnant I was feeling a lot of ligament pain at night and had a very difficult time getting to sleep.  I bought the Snoogle that week and used it for the rest of my pregnancy and for several months post pregnancy. When I used the Snoogle for the first time, I had one of the most relaxing night's sleep that I had experienced in a long time.  I was totally refreshed when I woke up and my ligament pain was completely gone.   I highly recommend this pregnancy pillow - it cradled my stomach, my  knees, my legs and gave me back support as well.
 Get the Snoogle and avoid the need for all of those pillows!

For less than $50, this is an absolute necessity, here is the link:

Prenatal Cradle Best Cradle

After the first trimester, I knew that the weight from my stomach and the ligament pain was going to be very uncomfortable when walking.  I found the Prenatal Cradle Best Cradle support harness to be very helpful in relieving me from this discomfort.  I could wear the Prenatal Cradle Best Cradle under my clothes to give me relief from the ligament pain and enable me to walk with comfort during the second trimester.

The Prenatal Cradle Best Cradle support harness should only be used during the first and second trimester only because, during the third trimester, the stomach is very heavy and the cradle will be too small to support your stomach's weight.  Nevertheless, this cradle brought me great relief from the ligament pain and made walking out to my car or in a store a much less painful experience.  They come in a small, medium and a large size.

This cradle was a great product to have during most of my pregnancy and for @ $52 it was worth every penny! Here is the link:

Wheatgrass powder

I ate as healthfully as I could during my pregnancy but still felt that I lacked enough dark green vegetables in my diet.  I bought Amazing Grass Organic Wheatgrass Powder (gluten free) and drank two glasses of it every day with cranberry juice and water.  I had used this Amazing Grass Organic Wheatgrass Powder (gluten free) for 6 months prior to my pregnancy and found that my skin, hair and nails looked a lot better and I had more energy. Since this product was so helpful, I continued to use it during my pregnancy and found that it really helped me with energy and skin issues. 

I highly recommend this product and you can purchase it here for @ $20:

In the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy, I really started to feel anxious about the big day.  These feelings of anxiety were very paralyzing and I did not want to feel this way on the day that my daughter was to be born. I knew I needed something more than just soft music to relax me and give me some sense of control over these feelings. 

I found and downloaded an mp3 from their website to help me relax and prepare for the big event. The video really helped calm me down dramatically.

I watched it 2-3 times per week for the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy. has an extensive program to help women relax and feel calmer, especially during pregnancy. They offer two free MP3s on their website; the one called 'Relax Me' is a nice example video of their program (it is now called 'Instantly Calm').  You can download both example mp3s directly from here, scroll down the page to the free downloads. You just need to register with the website:

Pure Stress Relief by LifeScapes 

I also listened to a stress relief CD called "Pure Stress Relief" by LifeScapes. This CD is a 3 box set that includes a piano music CD, a guitar music CD and a pure relaxation CD (this one was my favorite!). You can find it here:

Both the music CD and the mp3 really helped me to feel totally relaxed and calm during my pregnancy, which ultimately, made my labor a lot easier. (Just as a footnote, I was asked by the maternity ward doctors about the types of relaxation techniques that I had used during my pregnancy because I was so relaxed during labor).   

Hyacinth Diffuser Oil by Seda France 

In the final stretch of my pregnancy, the Pure Stress Relief CD, mp3 and using Hyacinth scented diffuser oil with reed sticks (during early contractions) were an absolute necessity.  

Inhaling the strong, sweet scent of hyacinth oil as soon as a contraction occurred significantly reduced the intensity of the labor pain, making the contraction more tolerable for me. A sweet, strong scent interrupts the brain's pain receptors by activating the brain's pleasure receptors, resulting in less pain during contractions. Here is where to find Hyacinth diffuser oil by Seda France:
Also, here are the diffuser sticks:

Depend Underwear for Women (Maximum Absorbancy)

In the last month of my pregnancy, I wanted to be prepared in case my 'water broke' at an inconvenient time (in a store, in the car, etc.). I came up with the idea of wearing Depend Underwear for Women (Maximum Absorbancy). After I had my daughter, I continued to wear them for another 2 months post pregnancy. I found them very convenient because I could dispose of the Depend Underwear every day and there was less laundry at the end of each week!  Here is the link to the Depend Underwear in size Large:

Also, some women that I spoke to used Doggie Pee Pads to line the seat of their car for extra protection in case their 'water broke' while driving.  The Doggie Pee Pads come in many colors, are machine washable, contain absorbent inner layers and a leak-proof barrier.

You can purchase the Doggie Pee Pads here for @ $21:

Other Necessities to Consider during Pregnancy:

Buying the Medela Breast Pump Backpack

My husband, Frank, feeding our 5-day-old daughter. Yum!

When I was four months pregnant, I decided to begin the shopping for my post pregnancy time and bought the Medela Breast Pump in the Backpack.  This breast pump was an absolute lifesaver! With this breast pump I never suffered from being engorged and my husband could bottle feed our daughter (giving me a little break). The backpack version here allowed me to take the breast pump with me safely on trips and place it on my back which saved room in my stroller storage bag.  I highly recommend buying this version of the Medela Breast Pump as soon as you can (also Babies R Us offers insurance for this product):

My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow

The My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow was a life saver and wonderful to have when I fed my daughter.  It has a built-in pillow for her head, making access to her food easier for her and more comfortable. The adjustable strap allows this pillow to fit a woman of almost any size in the postpartum period.  The pillow is stiff and does not bend in the middle at all (making the breastfeeding easier), is well supported with comfortable padding in the back and has a removable cover for easy cleaning (the Boppy, for example, bends in the middle, does not fit properly around a women's mid-section and was not originally designed as a breastfeeding pillow).

Using the My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow allowed me to feed my daughter without having to hold her up all of the time and wearing down my arm muscles in the process!

This pillow was suggested to me by the instructor for my breastfeeding class that I took prior to my daughter's arrival.  She told me that the My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow was the only one that was actually designed as a breastfeeding pillow - so I bought it right away!  I highly recommend this pillow and purchasing it well in advance of your baby's due date. Here is the link:

Lansinoh Nursing Pads

I initially bought the Lansinoh Nursing Pads and found these to be the most absorbent.  These pads do not break down when wet, leaving part of the tissue lining on your skin. This can be an annoying problem when breastfeeding because the tissue lining sticks to your skin and has to be removed quickly before feeding. If your child is crying and hungry, you don't need layers from a cheap breast pad sticking to your chest and making more work for you at that moment.

Lansinoh Pads have a quilted lining, are individually wrapped and have self-stick tape on the back to prevent them from shifting in your bra.

Think of Creating new Storage Space

My daughter's nursery prior to her arrival!
During the second trimester of my pregnancy, I decided that new storage space would be a necessity in the nursery beyond the closet storage.  I needed it to be easily accessible and I wanted to be able to see all of the products and supplies that I had purchased as well.  I went to Home Depot and bought 3 inexpensive wire closet shelving pieces (these ones can support 20-25 pounds of weight) and placed them behind the door to the nursery (which is normally a useless space).  The diaper boxes were too heavy for the shelving which is why I placed them in the floor area of the storage space.  I bought an asian-style room divider and used that to create a wall around the shelving so that it looked attractive, but hidden.

The newly added storage space!
I also bought several 8 1/2 x 11 inch pre-cut plexiglass pieces and placed them on the shelving. This allowed me to place bottles and other small items on the shelving without having them fall over or fall through the prongs of the shelving - it also allowed me to line up all of the products in order to see them better (see picture above).

Home Depot can cut these closet storage shelving pieces to fit your space - just measure the space out beforehand. To cover the sharp, cut edges of the shelving, I bought ClosetMaid Large and Small Shelf Caps.  This shelving/storage project (which I nicknamed "The Store") worked out really well for us and has been very convenient when accessing our baby supplies and storage. In addition, it made a great storage area out of a completely useless space in the nursery.  (I also had the room painted 6 months before our daughter arrived with a low-VOC paint/primer by Behr called "Southern Beauty" - however, Behr now makes Zero-VOC paint/primer, you can find my paint color sample here:

Piccolo parenting website

Piccolo Universe -  - by Ricky Martin. Mr. Martin is the father of twin boys and created this parenting website for members to share information, experiences and tips, just sign up! In addition, parents can post questions on the forum to seek advice from other members. Comments can also be added to any article.  In addition, Mr. Martin joins the diverse group of contributors on with his own parenting experiences.
Ricky Martin, father of 2.

Mr. Martin, a Grammy winner and long time children's advocate, is committed to the well-being of children around the world through the Ricky Martin Foundation ( that serves as an advocate for children in the areas of education, health and social justice. In 2014, they completed the Tau Center building in Puerto Rico, which serves victims of child trafficking and exploitation.

Tau Center for Children, Puerto Rico, U.S.A.

found these products to be very helpful during my postpartum period:

Dealing with Stretchmarks

During my pregnancy, I found Jean, a fellow 'mompreneur', who sold a kit to help reduce the look of stretch marks after pregnancy.  Her kit included St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub, St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin Moisturizer, Aloe Life Aloe Vera Skin Gel and a hand-held wooden massage brush.  

I applied the scrub to my stomach and scrubbed my stomach in a circular motion with the massage brush 3 times per month (every 10 days), after a 20 minute bath on each side of my stomach until my skin was slightly red.  I then wiped my stomach clean with a wet cloth and mixed in a bowl a small spoonful of the skin collagen and a small spoonful of the Aloe Vera. I applied this mixture to my stomach with my hands.  Every day I applied a small mixture of the Aloe Vera and the collagen to my stomach to help with the healing.  

Although Jean's kit is not sold online, you can buy the St. Ives products online at, the Aloe Vera Gel at and the same massage brush at Also, see pictures of my postpartum stomach below during the healing process.

My stomach, 1 month post pregnancy.
My stomach, 1 1/2 years post pregnancy
I used the kit regularly for 6 months post pregnancy and
intermittently over the next 12 months (in some cases only using the cream after bathing). This remedy was very effective in reducing the look of my stretch marks. At 1 1/2 years post pregnancy, my stomach looks a lot better and the dark scars have significantly faded.

My stomach, 28 months post pregnancy
I  resumed using the kit (at 1 1/2 years post pregnancy) for 4 months straight. I used the healing cream for the next few months and took this picture to the right at 28 months post pregnancy. As you can see, the remaining dark scars have faded and my stomach skin no longer looks as severely scarred and damaged. I am happy with the result from using this kit, especially since it did not involve special skin treatments or surgery.

I found a great service for postpartum women looking to alter their old, pre-pregnancy jeans that don't quite fit anymore. This company recognizes that a lot of women are tired of ill fitting maternity jeans or are not able to find the right fitting jeans to fit their waist!

The website is owned by another fellow 'mompreneur', Cheryl Holst, who, after her 5th pregnancy, decided to use her sewing skills to make her jeans more comfortable during, and after, her pregnancy.

Cheryl can convert almost any pair of jeans into comfortable maternity jeans using a special elastic band, known as the 'Belly Band'.  She offers different styles, fabric choices and other sewing services such as V-Fly extension, hemming and patching.  She can also convert shorts, skirts and other 'jean-cut' style pants.

Half DemiBand with V-fly extension

The average Belly Jeans maternity conversion runs $20 - $25 per pair of jeans (not including shipping).  If you are looking to convert your old or new jeans to fit you better in the waist, check out her site and salvage your favorite jeans! Don't forget to mention!

My Belly Jeans conversion, 10.2.12

Here is a pair of my old jeans altered by Belly-jeans to fit my postpartum waistline (see picture to the left).

As you can see, my jeans have fun waistband color that will compliment my baby's clothes and my stroller.
I chose the 'Full DemiBand' Belly Band with the V-fly extension. I just love my Belly Jeans and am so thankful for this service.  Thanks Cheryl!

Diastasis Recti

According to the old Isis blog (now only on Facebook), "During pregnancy the two halves of the outermost abdominal layer, the rectus abdominis, can become separated. This separation is called diastasis recti, and the separation happens because the growing baby and uterus put a forceful pressure on the connective tissue that holds the two halves of the muscles together, causing the connective tissue to stretch apart and become weak." (To read a copy of this article, see it below at the end of this blog post)

Unfortunately, left uncorrected, this condition can cause long term back pain. There are ways to reduce the stretched muscles and connective tissue in order to correct the diastasis. I know of three:  YogaPilates and crunches at home using a split.  I provide more information and useful videos in my June, 2012 post about Diastasis Recti and how to correct it here:

The Belly Bandit

In addition, the Belly Bandit is a popular splint used by women who are trying to get their stomach back in shape. The Belly Bandit can be found here:

Child Development Classes!

Sign up for child development classes!
I took several classes at Mama & Me in Boston, who have increased their number of classes for the 0 - 3 age group to meet the needs of the Boston community,

Joining these classes is a great way to meet other mothers with children in the same age group and to make 'mommy' friends who can join you for play dates! My Plate

I had used the "My Plate" application and database from 6 months before I was pregnant to help me successfully lose weight.  I absolutely love My Plate - you can set a weekly weight goal using their database, create menus for each meal in your day and check the database for food that you are not sure about in terms of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and sugars. The My Plate program calculates the amount of each of these items based on your weight goal and intake. It also displays the correct amount of each item that you should consume per day!  My Plate on is a fantastic tool and I highly recommend using this site when you are ready to lose weight (you will lose it the right away!). Here is the link for more information and you can sign up for a free account with

Once you are signed up with a free account, set your weight goals and start a My Plate menu

For online weight loss support, go to the tab called 'Community', click on 'Lose Weight' to join the weight loss support thread. This is a very positive and supportive group - one that I found very encouraging.

International MOMS Club

International MOMS ClubThe MOMS Club, according to their website, 'is a support group designed for the at-home mother'. At-home mothers 'need a support group that understands their special needs as an at-home mother and we're it! We are the first, largest and fastest growing support group specifically for ALL at-home mothers.'

By joining the MOMS Club, I have been able to meet other mothers with children the same age in my neighborhood and attend or create play dates for the group at places in Boston that I have enjoyed with our daughter!

MOMS Clubs chapters exist in most states and these support groups allow you to meet other mothers in your local communities and participate in children's and social activities. To find a MOMS Club in your state, here is the link:

This website forum is a great parenting resource for moms, dads, moms-to-be and grandparents. Once you sign up for a free account you can post a thread on GardenMoms that is forwarded by e-mail to the entire membership (you can choose whether or not to receive copies of the threads by e-mail)..

I hope these ideas have been helpful and feel free to e-mail me anytime with questions at

Happy pregnancy everyone!

- Joy E.
Posted May 28, 2016

The article below appeared on the old's blog (they set up a Facebook) and was written by Isis fitness Instructor, Sara Knight, February 15, 2012.

"The Post-Baby Belly: Identifying and treating diastasis recti

Written on by Isis Parenting in Postpartum Fitness, Postpartum Issues and Concerns, Time for You

"The infamous "muffin top".

After pregnancy, many women notice an unwelcome belly bulge; sometimes called the “mummy tummy”, the “muffin top” or the “baby bulge”. Even if you were a fitness enthusiast before, during, and after pregnancy you may notice you just can’t seem to banish the bump! We often think that this new belly is from fat, but it’s actually due to changes in our abdominal muscle structure.

During pregnancy the two halves of the outermost abdominal layer, the rectus abdominis, can become separated. This separation is called diastasis recti, and is the cause of the dreaded belly bulge. The separation happens because the growing baby and uterus put a forceful pressure on the connective tissue that holds the two halves of the muscles together, causing the connective tissue to stretch apart and become weak. Although not all women get diastasis recti when pregnant, it is extremely common. Also, the more pregnancies you experience, the worse it may get.

How can you tell if you have diastasis?
To find out if you have diastasis, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place a hand over your belly button with your fingers pointing towards your toes. Relax your abdominal muscles and lift your head like you are doing a crunch, bringing your ribcage towards your pelvis. Press with gentle pressure and move your fingers from side to side to feel the right and left edges of the rectus abdominis. You have diastasis if the gap between the muscle is 2  fingers wide or more. You may even see a bulge or mound protruding. You can also move your fingers above and below the navel to see how long the separation is.

Can you prevent or reduce the separation?
The good news is, you can help reduce the separation of these muscles by avoiding the following movements:
  1. Sitting straight up from a lying position. Instead, roll over to one side then use your arms to push you up without the help of your abdominal muscles.
  2. Abdominal exercises that work the exterior abdominal muscles, like crunches and oblique crossovers. These will put additional strain on your rectus abdominis.
  3. Lifting and carrying heavy objects or any other movements that cause the belly to protrude out upon exertion.
Can I improve the situation?
Yes. Wearing a splint over your post partum belly will help physically bring the two sides of the rectus abdominis together. Splinting while performing core strengthening exercises can help to heal the separation and strengthen the connective tissue. In addition, be aware of your core muscles. By engaging your core during movements such as climbing stairs or carrying a baby, you can prevent further rectus stretching and maybe even help shorten the gap.
For most women, diastasis recti resulting from pregnancy is unavoidable. However, knowing is half the battle, and once you know that you have diastasis, you can be more thoughtful of your exercises and habits to help get rid of that “mummy tummy”!
Sara Knight
Isis Fitness Instructor  " supports supports
Keep up the great work!!