Tag Archives: Smart Mom University

What Do I Do With the Kids?

28 Jun

Are you looking for things to do with the kids this summer? Download our July activity calendar for some simple fun every day of the month.

Easy, Peasy Homemade Baby Food

25 Apr


Peculiar People

10 Jan

We’re all peculiar in some way or another. Here’s a simple activity to teach your kids that it’s what’s on the inside that really matters.


  • 2 boxes the same size
  • pretty wrapping paper
  • paper bag
  • candy
  • rocks
  • supplies for wrapping a package

Do this step without your child watching.

Put candy in one box and rocks in the other. Wrap the box of rocks in the pretty wrapping paper making sure that the entire package is beautiful and enticing. Wrap the box of candy in the paper bag. You may want to rub dirt on the bag or rub some oil on it so it looks really ratty. Try not to wrap it well.

This next step works best if you have more than one child.

When both presents are wrapped, present them to your child and ask which present he/she would like to have. Most likely, they will chose the pretty present. If there is another child, give them the other present. Have both children open their presents. Once they discover the contents of each present, discuss the importance of it doesn’t matter what is on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that’s really important.

My Favorite Soup Recipe

9 Jan

It’s soup month and even though it’s not cold enough for soup in many areas around the world, I still wanted to share my favorite soup recipe with you. Although it’s a little time consuming, it’s worth it. This soup is really hearty and is great with some crusty bread and a salad. Enjoy!

P.S. Feel free to share your favorite soup recipe.

*From Bon Appetit Magazine via Epicurious

Corn and Wild Rice Soup with Smoked Sausage Bon Appétit | November 1995

Three classic heartland ingredients — corn, smoked sausage and wild rice — combine to give this appealing first-course soup its sweet-spicy flavor and interesting texture.

Yield: Serves 12


12 1/2 cups (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
1 1/4 cups wild rice (about 7 1/2 ounces)

6 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels (about 2 1/2 pounds) thawed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces fully cooked smoked sausage (such as kielbasa), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 carrots, peeled, diced
2 medium onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups half and half

Chopped fresh chives or parsley


Bring 5 cups broth to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add wild rice and simmer until all liquid evaporates and rice is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend 3 3/4 cups corn and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth in processor until thick, almost smooth puree forms. Heat vegetable oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and onions and stir 3 minutes. Add remaining 6 cups chicken broth and bring soup to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer soup 15 minutes.

Add cooked wild rice, corn puree and remaining 2 1/2 cups corn kernels to soup. Cook until wild rice is very tender and flavors blend, about 15 minutes longer. Mix in half and half. Thin soup with more chicken broth, if desired. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Soup can be prepared 2 days ahead. Refrigerate until cold; cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm soup over medium-low heat before continuing.)

Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chives and parsley and serve.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/Corn-and-Wild-Rice-Soup-with-Smoked-Sausage-833#ixzz1iyxIoDSO

Kid-Made Gifts

10 Dec

The holidays are a great time to teach your kids about giving, but there are only so many glittery projects to make. We have four inexpensive, and useful, gift ideas for kids to give friends and families. Get a peek of what they are and then select the instructions for the craft from the links below the video.

Happy gift giving!

Holiday Gifts for Kids to Give

Holiday Note Pad

Glass Plate

Peppermint Play Dough

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows and Hot Homemade Hot Cocoa

Download our activity calendar here.


21 Nov

Today is World Hello Day.

In some countries you kiss, others a special handshake and others just a simple tip of the hat. Yes, there are many ways to say hello in other countries, but how do you say hello to a fellow countryman when their world is filled with silence?

Travelers to foreign countries often learn to say the basic greeting for hello. It’s a form of respect to a native of the country. A few years ago, I travelled down the street to the local hospital. One of my kids had broken something and we were waiting for X-rays. There was a cute little girl, about three, who was also waiting with her mother. The little girl looked at us and we said, “Hi.” Little did we know, she was deaf and couldn’t hear our greeting.

Since I’m not the bashful type, I asked her mom how to say hello in sign language for two reasons. First, I wanted to learn a new sign so I could use it in the future, and second, because I wanted to model for my kids how to interact with someone who was deaf.

The mom showed me that the sign was simple and similar to a salute. When the little girl looked our way again, I gave her the sign for hi and was rewarded with an amazing smile and salute right back. Since learning that simple sign for hello, I have been able to use it several times to greet someone who lives in constant silence. I have also learned the signs for thank you and yes and every time I have been able to use them, I receive a warm and grateful smile.

So whether you travel far and wide or stay near home, a warm hello can make anybody’s day a little brighter.

Recommended Books

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The Man in the White Truck

17 Nov
We welcome back, Dr. Keith Kanner, as today’s guest blogger. Today is Child Protection Day and being aware of your surroundings is one way to keep your kids safe. We do not recommend approaching potentially dangerous people. Always contact the police. 
Also, below Dr. Kanner’s post, we have links that will help you teach your child about personal safety.
Many of us have witnessed this before…a lone man parked in a truck looking at a crowd of people and we ask why? This becomes an even more significant question and concern if the crowd they appear to be looking at are children. With the John Gardeners of the world who stalk, rape, and murder innocent children combined with the greater awareness of registered child molesters, “normal” parents are more aware these days, as they should be.
Two weeks ago I had a first-hand encounter with a man in a truck parked in front of my children’s school 30 minutes prior to the bell ringing. It was a strange experience. I was dropping off my 12-year-old daughter and noticed a man in a white truck eyeing children as they entered campus from the privacy of his front cab. He seemed very interested in something but I couldn’t determine what. I also noticed that his truck was very unusual.  It had no windows on the side or rear of the cab. It reminded me of the elevator in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. No windows and no doors.
Although creepy, I’m thinking maybe he was a parent, a school worker, or had some legitimate reason for being parked in front of the school. But why was he watching patrons coming into the school?  It was also September 12th, the day after our nation’s worst disaster in this century, so that was knocking at my brain as well. I thought about calling 911, but if I was wrong, it could greatly embarrass my kids. I could hear it now…. “My dad called 911 and caused a lock down”.  That’s a lot of points that I could risk losing as a parent. Instead, I decided to exit the parking lot and pull up behind him and watch for a while. It was now 15 minutes before the start of school and he was still gazing. I became a little nervous so I decided to pull my SUV up in front of his truck and introduce myself to get a better read on this man.  This is when things got interesting.
“Hi, how’s it going? I’m Dr. Kanner from Fox News and Ws Radio.”  He was uncomfortable but responded, “Hi”.  His face began to turn inward. “Are you a parent here at this school?” I asked. He replied, “No.” I then asked, “I have three children who attend school here. Are you a teacher or work at the school?” He hesitated and replied, “No”.  I added, “Well then, you must be employed somewhere in our little town here?” “Well, uh…no.” He stammered. I then asked, “SO WHY ARE YOU PARKED 5 FEET FROM A SCHOOL IN A WHITE TRUCK WITHOUT ANY WINDOWS OR DECALS ON YOUR VEHICLE?”  He nervously stated, “I was texting.”  Now I knew he was lying because I saw him watching kids and adults walking onto campus. For safety reasons, and a fear of possibly getting hurt, I decided not to confront him on his lie. The police can do that. So I changed course in my questions and calmed the situation down. “Okay.” I said. “I was worried as I’m writing a news story on child stalkers and you scared me.”  He responded with relief, “Well, that’s a great story!” I knew at this point that I could freely look into the back of his truck and there I saw some sort of strange cage or machine. I was thinking, what the heck is that?  Is that some sort of bomb or something? So now I am a bit fearful and inquired, “Well, after all, you have heard of John Gardener, haven’t you?  “Oh, yeah. That guy.” He replied, “Yes, that guy.” I responded “Who less than 5 miles from here stalked and raped and killed two teenage girls. Does the name Chelsea King ring a bell?” Now he looked puzzled. My goal here was to obtain as much information as I could about this guy and pass it along to the police so they could talk to him. He was clearly uncomfortable. I then felt the need to both try and get this guy out of here before school began to protect the kids, and also contact law enforcement, so I said, “Dude, if I were you, I’d never come back to this town again. I am planning on doing a feature story called “The man in the white truck who parks in front of schools choosing this particular place to text message.” “Don’t you think that’s a bit strange after our conversation here?” “Yes, I suppose so.” He responded.  I ended the conversation with “Seriously, by next week this place will be crawling with cops and I will be looking for guys in trucks like yours to interview for my story.  I’m sure the cops will want to interview you as well.”  “THANKS, MAN, FOR THE TIP.” He sighed. I ended with, “Sure thing.”  I then got into my car, took another snapshot of him, and waited for him to leave. He waited a minute and then started up his truck. I waited. I didn’t want to spook him, so I didn’t call 911.  Instead, I followed him out of our little town tailgating close behind him. I kept looking for a cop, but no luck. Once I got him out of the area while he watched me watch him, I returned to town and contacted the authorities.
After contacting law enforcement, I felt much better.  I supplied them with both a description of the man, photos of his truck, license plate number, and profile. The police and other agencies are checking him out as you read this, and I am looking forward to hearing what information they find on this particular man.
Although I felt courageous, the officers that I spoke with told me that in the future, it’s best to contact 911 even if one just has a hunch. They explained that the 911 operators will ask certain questions to determine if a police unit should be dispatched based on such information. I agreed but told them that my “dad instincts” couldn’t wait for an operator to make the call regarding the safety of my children, especially on the heels of the 9/11 anniversary.
The moral of this story is simple. It takes a village to keep our kids safe.  Be aware and make the effort to make it clear that as parents, we protect our children.
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters
Host:  Ask The Doctors: Relationship Edition
Fox 5 News – San Diego
Lifechanger-EXTRA TV
Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents Download this free booklet developed by the Departments of Education, Justice and Health and Human Services and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Adult Personal Safety Tips Presented on Good Morning America
Child ID Kits CVS offers free Child ID Kits at the check out counters. Although this article mentions an expiration date, they are still available in stores. You can also contact your local police department to ask if they have child ID kits.

November Activity Calendar

1 Nov

Tired of doing the same old thing with your kids, day in and day out? Need some new activities to do with your kids? Look no further than Smart Mom University’s activity calendar. We take bizarre, wacky and unusual holidays for every day of the month and pair them up with something fun to explore, educate or enjoy.  The activities are designed to be easy for parents to incorporate into the day and provide your kids with some creative fun.

Want more than one activity a day? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for even more ideas! Or grow a little as a parent with our daily blog. Sign up for the RSS feed and receive it everyday.

Happy Fall!

Music to My Ears

11 Oct

Hopefully I’m not dating myself but I’m guessing you’ve heard the song, It’s My Party. I’d sing it for you but, trust me, you’d rather click here and listen to it than have me sing for you.

Today is, It’s My Party Day, and what’s a party without music. We sing song’s like Happy Birthday, For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow, and Auld Lang Syne, to celebrate events and achievements. But music is around us every day even when it’s not a holiday.

Research has told us that music is important for a child’s brain development, but music provides so much more. Music provides a closeness between parent and child; when you sing your newborn to sleep or dance together at your child’s wedding. Music teaches us history; wartime struggles, social changes, joyful experiences. We Didn’t Start the Fire, by Billy Joel packs 40 years of historical events into less than five minutes. And, introducing your child to music you love teaches them about your history.

Music encourages creativity; The Blue Man Group and The Voca People have uniquely creative musical styles.  Music helps define emotions. What teenage girl hasn’t found a song to help her through her latest heartache? Music builds reading and math skills, helps with concentration, coordination and relaxation. What more could you want?

Exposing your child to music doesn’t have to be formal. Listen to a bird’s song, the rustling of the leaves in the wind or the bang on some pots and pans. Listen for it. Music isn’t just for celebrations, it’s for every day.

For simple music you can make from foil, visit our site, Smart Mom University.

Discovery Day

10 Oct

Have you ever been with someone when they have discovered something? An infant discovering his toes, a child discovering a nest, or an adult discovering a new passion. If you have ever experienced someone making a discovery you know how exciting it can be and how full your heart can become.

Discoveries don’t have to be big or even right. They just need to be made. Children need to be allowed to make discoveries daily that allow them to succeed and fail so that they learn valuable life skills such as joy and how to get back up.

In honor of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America, we are claiming today to be discovery day! Yes, Columbus discovered America but…he thought he was discovering India. Oops! People of his time thought the world was flat, but he discovered it was round and he didn’t fall off the horizon line when his ship sailed over it.

Today, let your child make some discoveries of their own; good or bad. We’ve given you a few ideas below to get you started.

Remember, not every discovery is going to be perfect, it’s how you get up from the discovery that’s important.

Discovery Ideas

  • Give your child a rimmed cookie sheet with several small bowls. Fill a bowl with, baking soda, one with salt, and one with sugar. Fill another bowl with water, one with vinegar and one with milk. Provide them with empty bowls and let them discover. 
  • Put food coloring in some ice cube trays and give your child an eye dropper or old medicine dropper.
  • Cut straws into different lengths and cut pipe cleaners into fourths and see what your child discovers.

For more discovery ideas, visit our website, Smart Mom University.

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