December 14, 2007

Toy Recalls: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

Seriously, I am exasperated by all of the talk of lead in the paint on our child's toys. Thousands of toys being taken from the shelves because the toy industry has not been diligent about protecting our children from this poison. Until this past week, we had been pretty much untouched by the recalls. When the first recalls were made, I scanned through the lists and pictures. I found one item that we had but according to the dates, it should be safe. I threw away the Dora, backpack and puppy anyway. Just in case. I trusted that the watchdogs were doing their job and that if there was any more potentially sickening or deadly toys in my playroom, I would be aware.
Then this week I saw a story on our local news that talked about how a Fisher Price doctor set, just like the one we got our 2 year old for her birthday, had been pulled from shelves in Illinois because of lead paint on the blood pressure cuff. Sounds OK, but the story went on to say that these cuffs were still on the shelves in every other state. The industry says that it is because Illinois has stricter laws on the amount of lead allowable. The pediatrician they had on said that no amount of lead is safe. He also said that there is reason to believe that the elevated levels of lead in our toys could correlate to the increase in certain learning problems in kids like ADHD. Just great! The toys that I give my children could be causing them to have learning struggles in the future!!
So now I am just mad, and a bit paranoid. As I was walking down the toy aisles looking for stocking stuffers for the girls, I found myself wondering, "which of the toys that I am buying for Christmas will be taken away from my children in the coming months?" Each toy I look at with a suspecting eye. Is this little Strawberry Shortcake doll going to cause my children to have serious learning problems in the future? I have looked into getting a home test for lead but found that the Consumer Product Safety Commission found them to be highly unreliable. So for now, I just have to rely on recall lists and our government to get the information. I have to admit that that is really not very comforting.

Some Resources for Toy Recalls:

Consumer Product Safety Commission Recall Announcements
CNN Toy Recall News Page
Toy Industry Recall Page - not sure I trust an organization created by the toy industry.
Medical Kit Recall
Recalled Lead Toys

December 12, 2007

The Perfect Christmas

Is it just me or do you wish you could buy some extra time during the Christmas season? I tell ya, it is just too busy. This time of year there is an epidemic of hurry up disease and we all have it. What is the cure? Hmmm... SLOW DOWN! Seriously, do we have to take part in every cookie exchange, holiday party, etc. etc.? What would happen if we said "no!" Would the universe as we know it come crashing down?
Last year, I would say our family had the hurry ups pretty extensively. We wanted to take part in every new Christmas experience that Texas had to offer and we were back home in Washington for two weeks to fulfill our established traditions there. When Christmas was over and we were back at our home in Texas, we didn't know where Christmas had gone. With all the rush, we felt that we just flat out missed Christmas with our rapidly aging little girls. So we decided this year, we would take it slow.
We are not volunteering for every Christmas service project that the church is putting on. We are not going to every little event. We are not taking Christmas pictures at the portrait studio or with Santa, we are doing that with our own cameras in front of our own special tree. Not that we have checked out of Christmas. We are just narrowing our commitments. We have about 2 things a week that we are participating in, some more time consuming than others.
I think as a parent, mom or dad, we put some huge pressure on our selves to make the perfect Christmas experience for our kids. We want to create memories that they will take with them into adulthood. Step back though, think about it, what kind of memories are you creating? If your current Christmas schedule is symptomatic of your undiagnosed case of hurry up disease, you may be creating memories of stress and frustration from never achieving that perfect Christmas. I caught myself, well I guess my husband caught me, last week when I was making sugar cookies with the girls getting stressed because they weren't using the cookie cutters "right." I don't want my girls to think that "making Christmas cookies is no fun with mom because she gets grouchy." I really don't want my girls to think that Christmas is a time to be stressed and hurried when really, it is a time to be joyful and thankful for the gift that God sent to earth, wrapped in swaddling clothes. An imperfect Christmas, no room at the inn, no clothes for the new baby. But a perfect child sent to live and die for us. That is the cure for hurry up disease.

November 30, 2007

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Since the season is upon us, I thought it would be good to discuss homemade Christmas presents. Every year since our parents became grandparents, we have provided them with a little hand crafted present from their precious little grandchildren. These gifts are great for many reasons but the two greatest reasons is that they are inexpensive and they are personalized by the kids. Happy for you and happy for Grandma and Grandpa. So in the last four years we have made picture frames with each family member's name (in the perspective of the child like Papa Jim and Uncle Tim) and then put a picture of each person with the child in the frame. Then when My daughter was two, we made dishtowels with her hand prints and the year on them. A set for each set of grandparents, and one for us. The materials were found at Walmart pretty inexpensively and she had lots of fun making the towels along side her friend who was making them as well. This year we are making something that I would love to discuss but cannot, lest I ruin Christmas for Grandparents who check on this site. Gifts that you or your children have made by hand are a much more personal way to say Merry Christmas, not to mention usually more inexpensive.
So, I thought that it would be a good idea to share a couple of resources here. I hope that others will leave comments sharing some of their favorite homemade Christmas ideas as well as great resources for the rest of us. My absolute favorite resource for any time of the year is It is a website based on the magazine of the same name. The website is really easy to search for age appropriate crafts that will warm a loved one's heart. In addition to gifts, Family Fun is also a great resource for decorating ideas that kids can create so that they may have some part in decorating for the season. You can also check out your local library for great craft books that won't cost you a dime. Another idea is to go to Michael's or another craft store (I LOVE Hobby Lobby and I have to say, my friends in the Northwest are truly missing out!!). Anyway, back on topic, The craft stores sometimes have project idea sheets that are free. And Martha Stewart's craft line has a few projects that would be good gifts for grandparents or other loved ones. If you aren't crafty, your child is too young or maybe you are afraid of what your child might do with a little craft glue, there are also many gifts that you can make on online photo centers like Shutterfly, Photoworks,, etc. Ranging from mugs, to t-shirts, calendars to coffee table books, the special people on your list will love a picture or two of their favorite little ones.
So, what have you done in the past, and if you have any other resources to share, please dish!

November 23, 2007

My Little Pack Rats

Ok so it's in their blood. My mom is a pack rat and her mother before her was the ultimate pack rat (when she died it all got passed on to Mom, Thanks Grammie!!). Somehow I rejected this family tradition, though I seriously struggle sometimes to get rid of things that carry the slightest bit of memories with it. But, for the most part, I am able to get rid of "stuff." After all, you can't take it with you and the person after you is not going to have the same attachment to it as you did. So, I was hoping my children would be free from the family curse of having to keep every tiny little thing that they have collected. Not that lucky!
With Christmas coming I was hoping to clean out some of the old toys that are broken, missing pieces or just plain neglected. I found that the only way to do this effectively is to sneak it away. But ultimately, this isn't working for us. I put a bunch of toys into a box for a garage sale, when the sale came, my girls discovered the box and played with ever last bit and they have returned to the overstuffed playroom. A few months ago, I sent a huge box of stuffed animals (do they reproduce on their own??). Last week, my four year old asked where the big dog was. I had to tell her that he went to play with other little kids that didn't have as many toys as her. She was consoled only a little bit. The bigger problem with sneaking away toys is that I feel like the girls are not learning a few valuable lessons. As I see it, they don't need all of this "stuff," they can give their toys away to make other children very happy, and most importantly, stuff doesn't make us happy. So my question to you is, how do you get rid of toys, old and not so old, and have your children help you so that they can learn those valuable lessons?

November 13, 2007


Discipline can be a sticky subject. And before I say anything, I want to reiterate that I am no expert. One of my friends emailed with a question about discipline. Her question was this, "What do you do when your child is completely defiant and doesn't care what the punishment is?" I think even if your child is on the complacent side, you've probably encountered this problem at least once or twice. Some mothers have to deal with it constantly. The little stubborn monster has come to live inside their child. What should this mom do?
I honestly don't have an extensive amount of experience with the stubborn monster. Both of my girls are on the complacent side. Though I have seen the monster and have felt the exasperation that it can bring to a situation. I will say this, having taught 7th and 8th graders, I've dealt with the monster there too, more than once. In teaching, I learned that if there was a problem with how the students were acting in my classroom, I needed to examine myself and see what I might be doing wrong. It is not much different in parenting. It is hard to do and we are usually quick to blame the kids for just being bad, but the difference can be made if we truly evaluate our discipline strategy or lack of.

Let me share with you something that I am working on right now with the way I look at discipline. It may help, it may not but it is worth a try. Recently I was at a Courageous Parenting Seminar at our church. Our Children's Ministry Coordinator spoke about being a thermostat instead of a thermometer in your house. The difference is that a thermometer just reflects the temperature of the family, it has no power to change the temp and merely reacts to what is going on. If every one's happy, a thermometer parent is happy, if there is stress in the house, the thermometer parent is stressed. A thermostat has the power to change the temperature. It is constant, the temp does not go above or below what the thermostat allows, it is in control. The thermostat parent is consistent and unemotional with discipline.

If you think about it, it could be that a child doesn't care what the punishment is because they get the payoff of seeing mom or dad lose control. They win, they have gotten to you and have affected you so much that you feel you have lost control and that you have failed as a parent. If you take away the emotion and the ability of your child to get you beyond angry, then you take away that payoff. Why does a child seek this sort of payoff? Some would say that it is because they are simply looking for some kind of attention from the parent. Good or bad, it doesn't matter, they want it. And in the early years, they are going to seek that attention from you. As they reach adolescence, they will seek it from their peers. So when your children are young, you have the best chance of forming how they seek attention, good or bad. And if you miss this opportunity, it could be big trouble in the future.

So this is what we are trying to do in our household. When a behavior that we want to see go away occurs, such as whining or throwing a fit, we physically turn our backs to the child and wait to hear a change in their action. From whining, to talking or screaming to quiet. And as soon as we hear a good behavior, we complement it. Not with just a "good job," but with a more specific description of the good behavior. "Thank you for asking in your nice voice." When talking to the child we use a happy voice and try to convey true thankfulness (no terse or sarcastic voices). I have to say, for me, the hardest thing is taking the Angry voice out and talking calmly and unemotionally, especially if the child is not displaying the desired behavior. The key is having something to repeat to yourself in these moments to try to calm yourself down. Use a verse or a song or some sort of self encouragement that helps you not give in to the desire to scream and yell. Be aware of what sets you off and prepare yourself with something to concentrate on so that you don't lose it.

I think with any strategy, it takes consistent and honest trial and error to make it work. You can't just try something for a week or a month and because you have failed or the child has not responded right away say that it doesn't work. Discipline is a habit. Anyone who has tried to stop a poor habit and replace it with a good one knows that it is not easy. Don't give up! Anytime I hear someone say "I tried that and it didn't work," I think to myself that they probably didn't try hard enough. Be positive and don't go it alone! Seek partnership from your husband, do it together.

I hope this helps, I know it's a lot but we could probably write a book on this subject. Speaking of books. Try James Dobson's Dare to Discipline. It's a good book to read and re-read several times in your parenting journey.

If anyone has some discipline tips they would like to share, please comment or email me and I will post it for you.

November 9, 2007

Toilet Training

My first potty training experience was just too easy. But my daughter has always been that way. I know it's different with every child, but what are some things that you have done that have worked for your little toilet trainers? Maybe something you have gone through will help another mom out there who is trying to tackle the toilet training monster.
My experience: Completely on accident, we didn't really try to potty train. We were expecting a big 2000 mile car trip and the last thing I wanted was to be stopping all the time for a potty trainer. So, I had planned to try after the trip. About a month before the trip, my 2 1/2 year old started giving me hints that she was ready. Hint #1 was that she was going through more diapers than we had ever gone through. We were buying a big pack a week, which we had never done. I probably wouldn't have really noticed except it was a tough money time and we were trying to save money, not tinkle or number two on it and throw it in the trash. And since I am a math wiz, I realized that a 10 dollar potty seat would be much cheaper than the 70$ a month we were spending on diapers. Hint #2 was that her diapers were usually dry after naps and in the mornings. So, I bit the bullet and I bought a pack of diapers and a potty seat. I never bought a pack of diapers for that child again. In fact, we still have it waiting for #2 to reach that size. She was trained in a week, and I didn't have any stresses, because it was on her timing, not my own. As for the trip, we packed our potty seat in case of emergency, but she only used it once.
I can only pray really hard that the second one is this easy.
If you have an experience that might help others, please leave a comment!

November 4, 2007

Menu Planning

I don't know about you all, but I dread shopping for food. I think as the budget gets tighter, I dread it even more. The dreaded question "what's for dinner?" Sometimes haunts me in my sleep. I wish that I could just fall back on Olive Garden or my favorite burger place here in Texas, Scotty P's, every night. But since we're not millionaires, that doesn't work for us. I admire my friend who can cook up food better than any restaurant and still stay within a pretty tight budget every month.
I can actually go back to my childhood to blame my current meal planning dread. Both of my parents worked and simply picked up dinner makings on the way home every single night (they still do this). I am sure that they could have retired by now on the money they would have saved if they had effectively implemented efficient meal planning. I never really learned how to cook much more than spaghetti and ramen noodles. I have since developed survival skills in the kitchen, thanks to the Food Channel. I do like to cook, when it's a special holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. But for everyday cooking and trying to keep within a budget, I just dread it.
When we first got married a good friend with a little more married life experience than I, sat down with me and showed me how to plan a menu and make a shopping list. We had grown tired of buying Pizza on Monday night and having the left overs for the rest of the week. (Seriously, what my husband must have been thinking?!) She showed me tricks like making a pot roast on Sunday and then using the left-overs in different meals for the rest of the week. All of this information was helpful and useful. But I admit that sometimes, I just can't even sit down and make a plan and a list. And now I have the added pressure of trying to be healthy for my kids.
A couple of things that I have learned in the 8 1/2 years since getting married and being responsible for someone else's full tummy might be helpful to you all so I thought I would share them.
First, a friend of ours gave us a year subscription to Quick Cooking magazine. That's all we needed because those 6 issues have given us 4 years of quick meals since then. They have pages and pages of a variety of types of recipes. Ranging from 5 minute prep time to slow cooking meals. We always go back to those magazines. In fact, I just discovered a new favorite two weeks ago. The recipes are submitted by readers so there are tons and tons of great short-cuts and real life recipes.
Second, a new discovery of mine is online menu planning. For a few bucks a month, you can subscribe to a menu planning website and they do the work. All you have to do is buy and prepare the food. They give you the recipes and the shopping list. It is revolutionary, really. There are a few different sites. Most of the sites have a sample menu for you to look at to see if you would like their product. Is the one that I think I like the best so far. The Six O'clock Scramble allows you to pick and choose from their recipes so that when you print it out, your shopping list does not include the items for recipes you choose not to use. The Scramble is also family and budget friendly. They make each recipe with as few ingredients as they can and they test their meals with test families before sending them out to everyone else. They have received recognition from Real Simple Magazine too. Another site is At Saving Dinner there are several different versions of menus you can select from including vegetarian, low-carb, low-fat, budget minded, and a few others. I have their sample menu for what they call the Body Clutter Menu. It is a little overwhelming but it includes a daytime menu as well as dinner. It can't be modified like the menu at The Six O'clock Scramble. Saving Dinner's strength is in their variety of menus. Some other sites to check out are: and

November 2, 2007

Guest Poster

I said in the beginning that I am not an expert. And that is so true. I really want to get some contributions from other moms out there. My guess is that you all suffer from the same lack of confidence that I do. You probably think, I don't have anything that special to share. But I'll bet you do. We've all had those amazing moments when something just clicks in our head. Maybe someone told you, maybe it was learned through trial and error, maybe you just stumbled upon the perfect answer to a daily problem or difficulty. However You came to learn it, you got it! Now, it is your duty to pass it on to others, so they can have it too. You might give a gift to another mother who is just beginning to struggle with something you learned to deal with long ago. Whatever it is share it with us!!

I want to start something called "Guest Poster." You can write a little blurb about whatever topic you like and I will publish it to the blog. You can email me at and I will proofread and edit (if needed), then post it to the blog. It can be anonymous if you would like. You can literally write about anything that moms might be interested in. A favorite source of information, a favorite toy, a favorite activity for your kids, a favorite product that makes life easier. These are just a few ideas, I'm sure that I haven't covered it all. I really hope that you all take advantage of this and contribute to the blog, I know that I look forward to learning something new from all of you!

October 30, 2007

I Forgive You

These three words mean a lot when they are true. Anyone who has experienced forgiveness knows the value of it. Sometimes it is hard to be the forgiver if the forgiven is a repeat offender. And sometimes it is hard to change our behavior if we are never forgiven for past offenses. So how can we communicate this to our children? They may not understand the true value of forgiveness yet but at some point in his or her life the ability to forgive will be essential to social, emotional and spiritual survival. All that being said, I thought I would share a way that we have decided to communicate this essential and important life skill to our very young girls. Really, I need to give credit to my husband, who probably learned this from his parents.
We all know that children have many opportunities to say they are sorry. Sometimes "sorry" can feel like a throw away word that is extremely overused. "Sorry for hitting you, lindsay" for the hundredth time can make us feel like the offender is really not that sorry. The practice in our house has been to use these times to teach forgiveness as well as being sorry. The dialog goes something like this:
Mom: "tell your sister you are sorry"
Leslie: "Sorry Lindsay"
Mom: "What do you say Lindsay?"
Lindsay: "I forgive you Leslie"
Then there is a little discussion about how sorry means you are going to try not to do it again and I forgive you means you are not going to hold it against the other person. This is good practice for me as well as the girls. They may not understand it but eventually they will learn the importance of these words. Leslie learns that I need to say I'm sorry when I do something wrong, and Lindsay learns that she needs to forgive her sister and move on. The girls know that this is what is expected of them, and that they are more than just words mom and dad want them to say. The words have meaning and expectations behind them. The hope behind all of this is that, very soon, when the issues become heavier than who stole who's My Little Pony, Lindsay and Leslie will know what "I'm Sorry" and "I forgive you" really means.
Unfortunately many never truly understand these concepts and they end up living with guilt or anger that destroys the spirit. It is my prayer that some day, my girls will not only understand forgiveness from their friends and loved ones, but that they will really truly understand the ultimate forgiveness that they can have in Christ.

October 28, 2007

Real Mom Books

I know it is hard for mommies to find time to read a comic strip, let alone an actual book with paper (not cardboard) pages and chapters. But there are a few books that I have found helpful on this mommy journey, and I wonder if you may have some to share as well. Please do!! Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Dare to Discipline by James Dobson- I read this one while I was pregnant with my first, I think that was a little early, but it did get me started on the right path setting up parameters for our children.
2) On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo- This book is sometimes controversial. But I'll tell you that in my experience, this book helped me sanely get through the first year with both of our daughters. My advice is to use their suggestions with your mommy instinct. The book even states that, but those who claim controversy forget that point. Putting our girls on a schedule was the best thing we ever did. But we kept it flexible and we did not allow the schedule to dictate us. My suggestion is to read this before you have your baby.
3) Taking Care of the Me in Mommy by Lisa Welchel - Great book with lots of tools for making time for yourself and becoming a better mommy because of it.
4) Coach Mom: 7 Strategies for Organizing You Family into an All-Star Team by Brenna Stull - I have the privilege of going through this book currently with the Author. Brenna is one of our pastor's wives. She is truly a women of God and filled with the Holy Spirit. That said, this book really challenges you to organize your life and your family so that we can spend less time on housework and the daily tasks of motherhood and more time with our children.
5) Raising your Kids for True Greatness by Tim Kimmel - This is a book that I have started, but have not finished yet. It is really a revolutionary look at the way we are raising our kids in America and how we as Christians can redefine success for our children.

So, your turn. What are some books that you would suggest?? Please leave the title and author's name with a short description in a comment. I look forward to seeing what everyone is reading and hopefully discovering a new book to help me along the journey. Also, if you have read any of the above books, please feel free to comment.

October 26, 2007

Pray For Your Children

From the moment I knew that I would be a mom, I began praying for my baby. After a tearful call to my husband at work, I sat on the floor of my bathroom and thanked God for this extremely frightening and new adventure that we would be embarking on. Four years and another baby later, I know that prayer is the only way I could get this far in my parenting journey. My prayers have changed as time has gone on. "God, please give my baby 10 fingers and toes, " "God, please help this baby sleep through the night," "God, please take the pain from her stitches away," "God, help her learn to walk with that cast on without hurting herself in any other way," "God, when will she ever stop sucking her thumb?" "God, please keep her safe on her bike." Those are just a few of the thousands of prayers for my oldest little girl. But the prayers that never change are for her character, salvation, and future. I think that these prayers will be with me until I die. "Lord, please help her to someday make her relationship with you more than a memorized prayer at bedtime," "Lord, please shape her into a person who cares for others, before herself," "Lord, please bring friends to her that will be positive influences in her life and challenge her to be a better person," and finally, "Lord, please bring her a spouse (in about 20 years) that loves you."
Praying for our kids helps us to focus on what is important in the sometimes chaotic tasks of mommyhood.

October 25, 2007

Real Moms Get Out!

You may have read this job description for mom before (from a frequently forwarded email):

Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills, be willing to work variable hours which will include evenings and weekends, and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

The candidate must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets, and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars, and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute and an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills so that those in your charge(s) can ultimately surpass you.

None required. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when the offspring turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give your children whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While there are no health insurance, no dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays, and no stock options offered, this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if the candidate play her cards right.

It might seem like only a person who has lost her mind would accept such a position. Maybe so, but there are ways to keep your sanity while in the midst of such heavy responsibility. Friends, we need them, and we need to get together with them. For working in the house moms as well as working out of the house moms, this connection is our saving grace. Even if all we talk about when we get together is our kids, there is just something about getting together with the girls. It strengthens us, rejuvenates us, blesses us, informs us, and cheers us up. We can get isolated in our homes and feel like we are the only ones experiencing the struggles of motherhood. That idea crumbles when we hear from other moms that they are going through the same frustrations as we are. Laughter is the best cure-all. Some of the biggest laughs I have had have been at Bunko night with the girls.

So, join a Bunko group, start a playgroup with some friends from the neighborhood, work or church or another organization, plan a girls night, join a book club, make a coffee date for Saturday morning, do something to get that time with your girlfriends.

Getting out with the girls at least once a month (hopefully more) will help you get real!

October 24, 2007

Getting Real

I decided to jump in in finally start this idea that has been floating around in my head. My hope is that Get Real Mom (GRM) will become a place for real advice from moms to moms. It's been on my mind ever since I saw a talk show segment that featured a couple of moms who had started a business giving new moms advice. I had a few questions after seeing that segment: 1) Why didn't I think of that? 2) When do we stop needing advice? 3) why would I pay money for advice that I get freely from my friends who have been there, done that? So out of those questions came the idea to start a blog that is filled with practical advice for moms of all ages and stages.
I am only 4 years into my journey as a mommy, but I certainly feel that I am an expert in those 4 years of life. From the moment I became official (4:09 am, August 5, 2003) my expertise grew quite rapidly. But, I am always needing the advice of those who are ahead of me in the mommy journey. I have found myself surrounded by other moms at various stages of mommyhood. I value the advice of others and have found it to be priceless. Were they ever to charge me for their advice, I certainly couldn't afford what it is worth. But for the love of motherhood, they don't charge me for their helpful advice.
We could look through hundreds and thousands of magazines and books to find what experts say or what companies have paid for in an effort to influence this most influential part of our society (mothers). But the best advice comes from friends, who pass on pearls of wisdom in order to help another mom through the most important job she will ever take on. It is free, it is wise, and it is real.