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Posts from the ‘Family’ Category

Twigtale Books: Mama Always Comes Back.

Twigtale offers parents an innovative way to work through common early childhood transitions smoothly. Twigtale books are personalized stories, scripted by experts, which help your child know what to expect. This covers a variety of issues and topics, such as: starting school, using the potty, moving, a new sibling and many others. They also have an option to create your own book from scratch, so you can cover literally any topic. It’s quite brilliant!


Storytelling is one of my favorite activities to do with children, and it is a helpful way for them to understand bigger situations and life events, but Twigtale makes storytelling that much more effective. Why? Because it’s all about them; your little one.

My favorite Twigtale book is, “Mama Always Comes Back!”

Tt image 1

In all my years working with children, separation anxiety is something every child faces at some point. I’ve personally used this Twigtale book and recommend it to every family I work with. I fell in love with “Mama Always Comes Back!” instantly because this is something ALL children need to be reassured of.

Twigtale books are truly customizable in every sense of the word – right away, you can pick to title the book with the name your child calls you (mum, mama, mommy). You can also customize this to be daddy, papa, etc., so don’t worry dads, you’re included too. Then add a photo to match and voila, your child is the star!

Let your child help you make suggestions for what you’re putting in the book. Ask them, what does mummy like to do? Exercise, read, go out to dinner, spend time with Auntie Jenny – things that you need to and like to do for yourself – that they need to learn are “adult” times.

One of my favorite pages is, “When Mummy says “goodbye”, sometimes I feel sad. Sometimes I cry. This is okay.” – Because it IS okay. They will cry and be upset but as long as they know you will always be back, it will help them cope with the fact that sometimes you have to leave them.


Twigtale is also an excellent tool for your nanny or teacher. Keep it in their cubby or backpack so they can look at it whenever they get scared or are just simply missing mum! It isn’t a security item like a blanket or lovie that they may not be comfortable taking to school. It’s a cool book that all their friends will want to see and make one of their own.

Believe me when I tell you, your child will want to read their book over and over again because it’s all about them. I’ve seen this with the kids I nanny for. They always go to the shelf and pick out one of their Twigtale books. They love the fact that they can look at pictures of their grandparents who live all the way in New York and relive their special moments with mum or dad, brother or sister, and other special family members.

If you’re leaving for a night out remind them, “I always come back! Have fun and I’ll see you soon”, and leave the book out for a special nighttime reading. They will love showing their sitter or nanny the fun book all about them.

Be sure to check out their website!

Win a Family 4-Pack of Tickets to Pompeii: The Exhibition!

Experience a piece of perfectly-preserved history with California ScienCenter’s Pompeii: The Exhibition, opening May 20th. I’m partnering with California ScienCenter and Ready. Set. Grow! to give away a family 4-pack of tickets! ENTER HERE


This isn’t your run-of-the-mill exhibit. Your family will be able to experience what daily life was like in this once vibrant Roman city.

Then, as the floors shake and the walls rumble, relive the volcano’s catastrophic eruption through an immersive CGI experience, culminating in the reveal of full body casts of twisted human forms, asphyxiated by extreme heat and noxious gases and forever frozen in time.

Pompeii includes a collection of over 150 excavated artifacts on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy. Exciting multimedia experiences and hands-on science exhibits give a sneak peek into the lives of a once-vibrant Roman city. Guests will learn the science of archaeology, volcanology and Roman engineering while exploring an ancient civilization that time almost forgot.


One winner will be randomly selected at 5 p.m. PST on May 30, 2014. Please note that only L.A. County residents are eligible to receive a prize. One entry per person. First 5 LA staff is ineligible to enter.

Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. PST May 30, 2014.

App Review: Storypanda Books!

Storypanda Books In-App Purchase

It’s Okay to be Different  by Todd Parr


The first thing that drew me to Todd Parr is his use of vibrant colors, which I have to say look even better on an iPad! His illustrations are simple and smart. The message is that it’s okay to need help sometimes, be from a non-traditional family, have a different appearance, or to have a disability. This is a truly important message to teach our children.

This app will not disappoint when your child is laughing over “it’s okay to have a pet worm,” or “it’s okay to help a squirrel collect nuts.” It’s a perfect app for a child who is just starting to read because the sentences come up in pieces. They won’t get overwhelmed because they can click when they’re ready, so it lets them read at their own pace. It’s also a sweet story to share with your toddler and read together while letting them use their finger.

The app is easy to use and will actually keep your child’s interest. Why? In Todd Parr’s It’s Okay to Be Different they have to tap the screen to enhance the graphics. One of my favorites is “it’s okay to be a different color.” Two black and white zebras are on the page and when you click one suddenly becomes rainbow colored! They provide such fun visuals and sensory images for your child.


The best part of this app? At the end of reading, you and your child can create your own version of the story. You can change the characters, backgrounds, props, etc. You can change almost anything! Storypanda also lets your child share their creation with their friends.


My favorite thing about the Storypanda app as a whole is the homepage. When you open the app you arrive at your child’s virtual bookshelf. Stories for them to read on one shelf, stories they made on another, and stories from their friends on the last. It’s just as if they walked up to their bookshelf at home, but they are able to see all their stories in one organized place (without pulling them out and making a mess!)

Todd Parr’s in-app purchase is definitely worth it because it’s something your child will read time and time again, make their own stories, and save them to share! You can click here if you want to buy It’s Okay to be Different via iTunes!

TV-Tipping: An Avoidable Accident

Do you have your flat screen television mounted to the wall securely? If you still have an older model, is it secured by brackets or tethers? Parents regularly take precautions such as tethering large bookshelves or dressers to walls or locking cabinets, but television safety is often overlooked.

An annual average of 17, 313 children are injured by tipping or falling television sets each year, one study finds. The median age of children hurt was 3-years-old. Kids this age are very probing and don’t quite grasp cause and effect. Climbing on top of an entertainment system or standing on the edge of a table to reach the television can lead to disaster.


NPR recently highlighted the dangers of young children pulling televisions down on themselves, noting that “every 30 minutes a child ends up in the emergency room with injuries caused by a television.”

Head and neck injuries are very common with television accidents, as TVs are generally set up high… just out of an inquisitive child’s reach. Most of the children in the study suffered from bumps, cuts and bruises but some even ended up with concussions, which can be very dangerous to a young child.

A 2012 report by Safe Kids Worldwide said that one child dies every three weeks from a television-tipping related injury. This is shocking considering there are so many ways to prevent this type of tragedy.

Caregivers know that a determined child will make persistent attempts to touch or grab things even when they are told not to. To keep children safe we must take extra safety precautions. Mounting hardware and tethering kits are available at almost any store that television sets are sold as well as many baby stores. The extra effort it takes to install safety straps is well worth it when there are curious climbers in the house!

After drafting this post, I actually found a blurb about this problem in the new issue of Parents Magazine. I snapped a shot of it because it has helpful tips for keeping your child safe. is also an excellent resource for simple solutions!


Giveaway: “The Food Allergy Mama” Cookbook.

Happy Friday everyone! I want to let you know that my new giveaway is starting in 3 hours! If you enjoyed my review of Kelly Rudnicki’s “The Food Allergy Mama” cookbook, you can now enter to win your own signed copy!

Follow this link to the Emma’s Children Facebook page and it will take you straight to my ‘Rewards & Giveaways’ page. You can enter using your e-mail or Facebook and then Follow on Twitter & Tweet for extra entries!

Good luck!

Xx Emma


Book Review: The Food Allergy Mama

I first became aware of Kelly Rudnicki from her Food Allergy Mama blog and digging through her bevy of amazing recipes. She is brilliant in the kitchen and honestly loves the art of cooking. She even tests her recipes on her own children, so you know they are truly ‘kid-approved’!

Her new cookbook The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals is chock full of dairy, egg and nut free recipes for everyday.


Rudnicki is not afraid to make mistakes. She stresses to her children that they don’t have to be perfect and allows them to embrace their creative side, just as she does. She has really jumped through hoops to create tastes that are in line with kids’ picky palettes. This means minimal spices and ingredients.

Her list of substitute ingredients is something you’ll want to tear out of the book and stick to the fridge. She has everything from flour substitutes to dairy alternatives. The best part: “You really don’t need a bunch of special equipment in your kitchen to make fast and easy allergy-friendly meals.”

Something you may not be aware of, or not sure how to go about it, is keeping the risk of cross-contamination away. Rudnicki shares a list of kitchen equipment you should have on hand and only use when preparing allergy-safe foods.

The book is broken up into categories: Snacks, Breakfast, Lunch, Soups, Supper & SidesTreats, Menu Ideas

Her photos make my mouth water (not to mention her family is adorable). Especially the seriously golden cheesy macaroni and her chocolate wonder waffles.

The Food Allergy Mama’s recipes are all dairy, egg, and nut free, eliminating half of the common allergens. Did I mention they’re all quick and delicious? A fan favorite, pasta and turkey meatballs, is prepped and cooked in less than 30 minutes. Perfect for a busy family.


Some facts on food allergies…

There are eight foods that account for 90% of all allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. []

With 1 in 13 children affected by food allergies and rising, it’s nice to have healthy options for mealtime. A food reaction can range from a mild response, like an itchy mouth or skin, to a potentially deadly reaction like anaphylaxis.

Remember, food and mealtime is a chance to create special memories for your children. They’ll always remember sitting and enjoying meals together and your cooking. It’s something that will stay with them as they grow and it will be a familiar comfort.

Beat the Heat with My Favorite Frozen Treat!

The summer is a great time to let the little ones enjoy a frozen treat. I absolutely love popsicles but the kind you can buy in stores are often packed full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. It can be hard to find them just made from whole fruit, but I think they taste much better this way! They’re pretty simple to make yourself, so why not? Here are a couple of my favorite recipes!

Jamie Oliver’s Yogurt Pops – How good do these look?! The color is brilliant!

jamie-oliver-300 Makes about 6 pops.


  1. 2 small ripe & peeled bananas
  2. 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries OR 1 cup frozen blueberries (I like to mix a little of each)
  3. 2 cups nonfat plain yogurt
  4. 2 tbsp. honey


  • Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth
  • Divide mixture evenly into molds (amount will vary depending on size of molds)
  • Freeze for 10 minutes, remove, insert popsicle sticks
  • Put back in the freezer for at least 3 hours; until frozen solid
  • Run mold under warm water for a quick second, gently pull each pop from mold and serve immediately!

You can find popsicle molds at most grocery stores or drugstores. Here’s a great list of BPA-free molds, too! I personally like stainless steel molds. They’re a little more pricey but work wonders at keeping them cold and no plastic involved. You can also find 100 popsicle sticks for about $4 on Amazon.

Watermelon Whole Fruit Popsicles


Makes about 12 pops.


Remember to use seedless watermelon. You can use honeydew, cantaloupe.. really any fresh, organic fruit you have on hand! This recipe can be altered to fit your child’s tastes.

  1. 3 cups watermelon puree (about 1/2 a watermelon)
  2. 1/2 cup blueberries
  3. 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
  4. 1 kiwi peeled & sliced
  5. 1 peach or nectarine diced small
  6. handful cherries pitted & chopped


  • Puree watermelon chunks in blender until smooth & set aside
  • Fill molds with the chopped fruit
  • Pour in watermelon puree until each mold is full to the top
  • Repeat freezing steps from above and serve after 6-8 hours


Hope you enjoy these sweet and frozen treats! Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Emma x

Staying Safe: Fun in the Sun

For those in the northern hemisphere you may have noticed SUMMER IS HERE! The season has already brought on extreme temperatures and heat advisories. Parents may be left with an age-old conundrum: How hot is too hot to play outside and how do I keep my kids safe in this heat?


Even in cooler conditions a person can suffer from heat exhaustion after about 45 minutes of intense exercise! Many kids just don’t know when to take it easy. A day of play in the sprinklers or a soccer game is great for restless children but it can make for a recipe for disaster if certain precautions aren’t taken.

Remember that you’re responsible for your kids. They don’t know when enough is enough or that it’s time to reapply sunblock and have a drink of water. It’s all up to you! There are tons of great options for sun protective clothing and hats, even with moisture wicking material. Make sure your child wears breathable, cotton fabrics and a wide-brimmed hat and stays out of the sun whenever possible.

boy drinking water

If they’re at school or camps this summer make sure you ask about their sunscreen policy. Do you need to drop off a tube? Who’s responsible for putting it on/reapplying? Do you need to put it on before they leave the house? This is important to discuss with your care provider, especially if you have a fair-skinned child. Pack a refillable water bottle, too.

Hydration is key. If you’re not sure if  your child is adequately hydrated, check their urine. It should be colorless with very little smell. The more yellow and the more it smells the more dehydrated you are.


  • Remember to have kids take plenty of breaks and to offer plenty of water (WATER! much better than juice & alternatives)
  • Play in the shade whenever possible
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing that breathes
  • Watch children carefully for signs of heat exhaustion
  • Don’t take any chances; go to the emergency room if symptoms of heat stroke persist

On average, the CDC reports that 675 people die from intense heat related illnesses each year in the Unites States. Children – especially infants to age four – are much more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses because their bodies are less efficient at cooling.

If caring for a baby, they are obviously ultra-sensitive so here’s a link to a helpful article from iVillage about protecting baby from heat stroke.

Heat-related illness is almost entirely preventable and it is important to know the signs of overheating:

  • Light headedness, dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Obvious fatigue
  • Cessation of sweating
  • Obvious loss of skill and coordination/clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • Confusion
  • Aggressive or irrational behavior
  • Altered consciousness
  • Collapse
  • Ashen grey pale skin

Of course everyone wants to play outside in the sunny weather, and a great time can be had by all when precautions are taken. Kids and adults love to play outdoors and these simple tips can help everyone have a safe summer!


Hope you’re enjoying the extra family time!

Xx Emma

Hands Off! Parenting Wisdom From Around the World: A Review of Christine Gross-Loh’s Parenting Without Borders

I originally wrote this review for the HuffPost Parents blog, to which I’m a regular contributor. I loved this book and I hope you do too!


As parents and caregivers, we hold these truths to be self-evident: Children need quality time with us and active stimulation in order to develop properly. Being a good parent means putting our children’s needs before our own. Parents should monitor children’s TV habits to protect them from violent or inappropriate media exposure.

Most American and British parents trust in these fundamental, universal truths. But what if some of them weren’t universal at all?

That’s exactly what Dr Christine Gross-Loh asks in her excellent Parenting Without Borders. In it, she takes a comprehensive look at how parents raise children across the world, investigating what parts of parenting “common sense” are truly held in common and which are rooted in particular cultural assumptions.


Dr Gross-Loh may be uniquely qualified for such a comparative analysis. After earning a Ph.D from Harvard in East Asian studies, the American-born daughter of Korean immigrants moved to Japan with her Jewish-American husband and their children.

While in Japan, she noticed that some choices she thought were normal were earning her strange looks from other Japanese moms. They were surprised, for example, by her close monitoring of her children’s TV watching. Japanese parents are relatively lax about their children’s TV programs and video games — yet Japan has remarkably little violence or crime.

Is it possible, Dr Gross-Loh wondered, that what “good parents” do in America is different from what they do in Japan — and that both could be equally valid approaches? Or even more intriguingly, could parenting practices have evolved to cultivate different qualities and skills in children, with priorities and methods as influenced by the culture around us as the food we eat or the music we listen to?


…..When compared with the rest of the world, Americans stand out by butting in. What do you think??? Do you find this to be true?

Read the full review here

Les Enfants Fantastiques!

This week, I got the chance to read Bébé Day by Day, the follow-up to Pamela Druckerman’s bestselling Bringing Up Bébé. My verdict: Vive la French parenting!


They say that those who fight the hardest are those who are the most alike, so perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised me that when it comes to parenting, the English and the French have quite a bit in common.

It took Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist and mother, to show me as much. Druckerman’s keen observations about the differences between European and American parenting styles were spot-on, and her writing style in Bringing Up Bébé was fun, flirty and accessible, rather than preachy or judgmental.

For parents interested in the ideas behind Bringing Up Bébé who couldn’t find time to read it all the way through, Day by Day is perfect. It’s divided into short chapters based on bite-sized parenting “keys” — a less laissez-faire author would have called them “rules” — designed to be picked up and read in spare moments.


I’ll admit: Not all of Druckerman’s keys appealed to my English sensibilities, but the majority of them did. Here’s my English take on some of her most interesting arguments:

#11: Observe Your Baby
This one is fantastic, and so important. New parents often assume that when a baby moves around, makes noise or fusses, he needs something. But a lot of the time, babies are just experimenting, not asking for help. The only way to know what a baby is trying to convey — and be sure you’re not projecting a need onto him — is to actively watch him and learn which cry means “wet diaper” and which means “I like making this interesting noise!”

One of my favorite things to do with a baby this time of year is take him outside with a blanket and a book. I can watch him spend a half hour or so rolling around, and catch up on weekend reading while he’s engrossed in playing with grass or looking at rocks. Everyone gets some calm downtime, and you get the chance to watch and listen to your baby away from the toys and TV.

In fact, I would pair #11 with #20, Do the Pause, which advises parents to wait and listen when a sleeping baby starts to fuss or cry. Just like adults, children cycle through sleep phases, and scooping her up between cycles or during a light phase can interrupt her cycle and teach her to expect you to come in rather than learn to soothe herself.

Chapter 4: Bébé Gourmet
I nearly laughed aloud at the entire food chapter, because I associate so many of these “French” recommendations with my very, very English mother and her compatriots. In fact, Druckerman arrived at many of the same conclusions I covered in my last article: serving vegetables as a first course, establishing a dinner table culture that embraces new foods, involving kids in cooking and rejecting separate “kid food.” Food and table manners may be where Americans have veered furthest from old-fashioned common sense, and where English and French parents find themselves most emphatically aligned.


To read my full review, follow this link to the original post on the Huff Post Parents blog.


Emma Jenner

Parenting Consultant, Parenting, Parenting Guidance