Everything you need to know to get your child a passport

Posted by Alina on Friday Feb 21, 2014 Under useful tips

Getting a passport for a child before you actually need it can eliminate much of the stress of going through the application process and paying expediting fees. There are plenty of other things to worry about when traveling with young children. A tip for taking a proper passport photo of an infant too young to sit in front of a white back ground is to lay them on a white sheet, snap a photo. I used one of the many passport photo apps on the iPhone, and the pictures were accepted without any issue.

What you should know:

– Every child traveling out of the country needs to have a passport.

– A child’s passport is valid for 5 years.

– Applications for minors, under 16 year of age, must be submitted in person. Both parents/ guardians must appear with the minor, or if only one can make it, he/ she must bring a notarized consent form (DS-3053) from the other parent. For single parent/ guardian situations you can get more information here.

What you need to apply for a child’s passport:

  1. Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
  2. Photo Identification
  3. Parental Consent
  4. Passport Photo
  5. Application Forms
  6. Passport Fees

How much does it cost?

The simplest option, currently, is $105. There is an $80 Passport Book Fee, and a $25 Execution Fee.

Of course various other fees may be paid for expedited processing, shipping, extra pages and more.

For more in depth information and to download needed passport forms (which may be filled out online and then printed), please go straight to the source.

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100th day of Kindergarten

Posted by Alina on Monday Feb 17, 2014 Under projects/ activities

My son’s class was celebrating 100th day of school and the assignment was to put together 100 of anything in some fun way. We decided to take photographs of 100 books that he has read, and arrange them on a poster board. Henry laid out the books, I shot the pictures with my phone, uploaded to a local pharmacy photo printer, and an hour later we had the pics. Henry cut out a picture of each book, with a little assistance, and then he played with various arrangements. He found his favorite  and got busy gluing. He was mighty proud upon completion of this project and loved talking about it at school.

100 books

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Back pain and breast feeding

Posted by Alina on Thursday Aug 1, 2013 Under Uncategorized

It is common to develop mid and upper back pain for a breastfeeding mama. When trying to focus on getting the latch just right, we often forget to think about our own posture, which can lead to prolonged poor positioning, strain to various soft tissue structures and pain which lasts beyond the nursing sessions. Keeping the head forward (looking at the baby’s face) for extended periods can lead to neck pain. Hunching forward can lead to upper and mid back pain. Hiking up the shoulder of the arm which supports the baby, can lead to pain in the shoulder, neck and upper back.

It is important to try to bring the baby toward the breast, rather than bringing the breast to the baby.

To help reduce or prevent upper and mid back pain, try the following:
1. Assume a comfortable position, placing a small pillow behind low back for support.
2. Use a Boppy, My Breast Friend, or any pillow to support the baby, thus bringing him/her up higher toward the breast and reducing hunching forward.
3. Place a pillow or use the arm rest of a couch or chair to rest the elbow of the arm which is supporting the baby.
4. Make a conscious effort to lower the shoulders, they have tendency to ride up toward our ears, when we are focused on other things.
5. Try to straighten out your neck, if possible sit in a chair that is high enough to support your head. Avoid sitting fro prolonged periods with a forward flexed head/ neck.
6. If sitting to breast feed still feels straining, try a side-lying position instead.

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Amazing books for babies

Posted by Alina on Saturday Mar 3, 2012 Under Baby Products

indestructiblesI have recently discovered a new type of Indestructibles book for babies. You may be thinking of board books, but this is something different. These are thin books, they feel like paper, are very colorful, cannot be torn, and can be washed with water and soap! And the best part is, babies seem to love them, well at least my baby and my friends’ babies. My seven month old son has chewed, pulled, scrunched, thrown, and done whatever else he could to this little book, and even after a good washing with dish soap, it looks great, and the colors remain vibrant. This book can even be washed in the dishwasher or washing machine. This is definitely a new favorite in our household!

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Infant Car Seats

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Oct 19, 2011 Under Uncategorized

graco snugrideSome people think that an infant car seat used with the base is safer than one used without. This is not true. It is equally safe to buckle the infant car seat with a seatbelt directly as snapping it into a base, as long as it is tightly attached and “locked” with the seatbelt. In most cars, the seat belts have a safety feature that if pulled out all the way, and then retracted, they remain locked in that position and can no longer be pulled out. One would have to return the belt all the way to it’s shortened position to release the lock. The base is just here for convenience, so that moving the seat in and out of the car can be a snap. To learn more about car seats, check out this website:

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Water Walking Balls: Safety Alert

Posted by Alina on Thursday May 5, 2011 Under safety

water walking ballsWhen traveling in Sweden with my family last year, I saw, for the first time, these Water Walking Balls offered in a large public park on an above ground inflatable  pool. It looked like a lot of fun, and only cost a few dollars for 10 minutes. My son was too young for it then, so we just watched the other kids “walking/crawling” on water inside these balls.

Here is how it works:  a person climbs inside a large, see-through plastic ball, the ball is inflated with a blower and then closed with a zipper which makes it airtight. The ball is then pushed onto a body of water and as the person tumbles around inside,  the ball stays afloat.

Although it looks like a blast, it can be quite dangerous. On March 31st, 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released an alert about exactly this type of product, warning of danger of drowning, suffocation, and impact injuries. According to the article, “CPSC does not know of any safe way to use this product.” To  read the complete article from CPSC, CLICK HERE.

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Big Boy Bed

Posted by Alina on Saturday Dec 4, 2010 Under Baby Products

In anticipation of potty training at some point in the not too distant future, we have decided to switch our two year old son to a big boy bed. We chose a twin with a bed rail rather than a toddler bed as it would last much longer and  my husband or I can lay with our son when we read before going to sleep or when he is sick.

I brought my sonIMG_0291 to a furniture store to help me pick a bed, in hopes of making the transition easier. He seemed to gravitate toward any bed with blue colored sheets/covers. The bed didn’t matter at all, as long as he liked the linens. So, instead, he helped me pick out a quilt for his bed, which was blue (his favorite at the moment), with clouds and airplanes, and he could not be happier. We told everyone about his big boy bed and he would bring all visitors to his room to show it off. He slept beautifully in it from the first night and has never looked back at the crib. In fact, he is now refusing to use a crib at his grandparents’ houses. I worried about him waking up at night and getting out of the bed, but it has been about five months now and although he is physically able to do it himself, whenever he wakes up, he calls for one of us to come and get him. I guess old habits are hard to shake.

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Toddlers, car seats, and body mechanics

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Oct 13, 2010 Under body mechanics, health, toddlers

Screen shot 2010-10-13 at 11.32.25 PMLately, when I drop off or pick up my son at daycare,  I have noticed how much some people strain their bodies when placing and removing their young children to/from car seats. My son weighs 32 lbs, and it is becoming difficult for me these days to lift him into his seat, so one day I asked him to climb in himself, and, to my surprise, he did it without a problem, and actually liked it!

My first recommendation to decrease the strain on the parents’ bodies, would be to have the child climb into the car seat on his/her own. You may have to give them a hand in the beginning, but they learn quickly. If the child is unable to climb up independently, then parents should use proper lifting mechanics. Don’t just bend forward at your hips and back and pick up your toddler with extended arms. The pressure on your spinal disks as well as strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back, neck, shoulders, and wrists is quite significant, especially repetitively, and is likely to result in injury. Either squat down with both legs, sticking your buttocks out, hold the child close and then use your legs to straighten up. Or, kneel down on one knee, hold the child close and then stand up from there. Once you have the child and are upright, get as close to the car seat as you can, place one foot in the car, and facing the car seat, place your child in.

Next, comes the buckling in of the squirmy little person. I now ask my two year old to place his arms through the belt loops on his own, which he is usually happy to do. If your car seat is installed in the center of the back seat (safest position), then you should try to get as close as possible to it, by getting in and kneeling on one knee, or both, to avoid straining your back and neck. If the seat is installed behind the driver (next safest option), then placing one foot  just inside the car, with the knees and hips bent, and facing the car seat, should provide a good base of support for your center of gravity, and greatly reduce the strain on your back, neck and extremities.

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Formula Recall

Posted by Alina on Thursday Sep 23, 2010 Under Baby Products, baby safety, health

Screen shot 2010-09-23 at 11.29.40 AMAbbott Laboratories is recalling Similac powedered infant formula due to possible contamination with insect parts. Liquid formula is unaffected. The company said, insects were discovered in one part of a manufacturing plant in Michigan and the area was shut down for investigation. Although the affected formula does not pose an immediate health risk, it may cause stomach ache and indigestion, according to the FDA.

To check if your batch is affected and for a refund, go to, or call the company’s hotline at (800) 986-8850.

Here is the press release from the FDA.

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Savings Program for Parents

Posted by Alina on Monday Sep 20, 2010 Under Baby Products, pregnancy, toddlers

Screen shot 2010-09-20 at 12.18.49 PMThe new Amazon Mom program is a free membership program, that allows primary caregivers of young children to save on various products. You can get 30% off on select diapers and wipes with Subscribe and Save, as well as get 3 months of Free 2 day shipping with Amazon Prime. More free months can be earned when you make purchases. Subscribe and Save allows you  to sign up for automatic diaper and/or wipes delivery service, on a schedule of your choosing, which is a great feature for busy parents! You can modify or cancel this service at any time. If you provide your child’s name, birthday, and gender (which are all optional), Amazon will help you find the deals geared toward your child’s needs at the right time in your baby’s development. The program, despite it’s name, is not only for moms, but is open to all primary caregivers.  Amazon does state that parents of younger kids will enjoy some extra benefits. Overall, it sounds like a great deal! And it’s FREE!

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