Need Some Help For Home Office Remodel

Posted July 30th, 2014 by Ashley

So, it has finally got to the stage where we need to remodel our home a little bit. The room in the house we had originally set up as a home office for me and my husband has gradually been taken over by kids equipment and toys. Last weekend we finally took a look at what can go and how we can rearrange things, and we came to the conclusion that that space is just more suitable as a kids play room than an office.

This means that we now have to remodel what has been functioning as a nursery. It’s a smaller space so we need to think about this smartly. Our desk will still fit and it is important to both of us to keep the desk. As my husband is quite tall he needed one that was height adjustable and we spent quite a bit of money on it. What we are looking for is a smarter way to store files and books, which we have quite a few of.

The first thing we need to invest in is a better phone system as we both tend to make quite a few calls for work. We have a VoIP system that works really well and has 3 incoming phone lines that are used quite a lot. What we need is some reader recommendations about desk and cordless phone systems that will help solve our problem. Currently we have an old IP phone which my husband uses for business conference calls. This is kind of something we still need, but the phone we have has seen better days and the audio quality is not great either.

Essentially we are looking for a combination desk and cordless phone system, all integrated into one. Ideally two cordless devices and one desk phone with answering machine. We did find some good cordless phone reviews and are currently considering a Panasonic KX-TG7642M. Do any of my readers have experience with it?

Secondly, we need to extend our WiFi range a bit, as when one of us is using the office for a call, it really is distracting for the other to be in there. We have looked at WiFi extenders that plug into wall sockets, but I’m just not sure how well these really work. Have any of you out there got some good feedback? Otherwise we will just have to get another Apple WiFi device, which aren’t that expensive.

OfficeThe final piece of the puzzle will be storage, which is going to be a bit of nightmare. Both of us have quite a few files and my husband also has a lot of reference books that he has accumulated over the years. We are going to start looking at them all to see which ones we really need and which ones can go. We already did this with lots of other books, but there is still going to be quite a bit left. What we need is a better storage solution that can transform small spaces. We’ve been to a few furniture stores and there are some reasonably good things available, but nothing so far has really grabbed our attention. Does anyone have some suggestions?

Baby Wheels Latest Stroller Advice Ebook

Posted April 10th, 2014 by Ashley

One of the biggest purchases you will face as a parent is what kind of stroller, or strollers, do you need. There are different types, styles, models, sizes, restrictions, compatibilities and of course prices. It is a very complex decision to make, as you don’t want to waste money on something that will not suit your baby’s or your own needs. Thankfully, there is an extremely helpful Ebook available from www.babywheels.net, which talks you through all the possible factors you need to account for.

Unfortunately we came across this book after we had had a bad experience with a stroller we had bought. Basically, it did not stand up to even normal usage, and it is one that is not on BabyWheel’s recommended list. The book is basically broken down into four sections. The first one covers general information and tips about what to look out for. You’d be amazed about how many pitfalls there are with all the different strollers. Things that seem so obvious when you read them never occurred to us when we made a bad buying decision.

The second section then covers lightweight umbrella strollers and the differences you can encounter. There are huge differences in price here, and at the high end you can end up paying several hundred Dollars. So if you are planning on spending a little more than for just the basics you should really know what the best umbrella stroller is for your individual needs. The great thing about these strollers is that they fold down into a very small package, making them ideal for travel and small car trunks.

Next, there is a lot of detail about double strollers, which is a situation you may find yourself in quite quickly. I only ever thought of people with twins needing a double stroller until we had our second baby. Two kids under 2 meant we needed another stroller, and thanks to Baby Wheels we were able to make a pretty good decision.

Finally, the ebook covers strollers for the sporty type. If you want to get back into a fitness regime after you had a baby, then it will be made quite difficult with work life routines. Your partner probably works during the day and by the time evening comes I personally was never in the mood for going for a run. That’s when we went to choose the best jogging stroller on the market. This is where we did decide quite a bit more money than we had first hoped to, but it was very important to us that the stroller would be comfortable for the baby and also would not require us to adjust our running stride and posture. We went for the Mountain Buggy Terrain because it was lightweight, very sturdy and as my husband said, looked like a sports car. Both of us now regularly use the stroller to go for a jog, and I have lost a ton of that baby weight!!!

To this day we have not regretted our purchases made with the help of this ebook, it even helped us find the cheapest place to buy them saving us more than we paid for the book. There is also great practical advice for travelling with a baby by air, and also recommendations for getting into a running and training routine. Overall, this book was great, simple and to the point.

Great First Aid Book And Advice For Families

Posted August 19th, 2014 by Ashley

First aid is very important in sorts of situations, but I think as a parent it becomes a lot more important. Many people have a reasonably good idea of what to do to help someone who may be suffering a heart attack. But CPR is a little bit different when it comes to children and babies as you serious injuries can result from incorrectly done. At the same time you don’t need to go through advanced EMT training to have a good understanding of how to help an injured or sick child or other family member.

red crossThe first thing I would suggest is to buy “A Family Guide To First Aid” from the American Red Cross. It is by far the most comprehensive book with very professional advice on how to be prepared. You will be able to read about all sorts of different emergency situations, and the great thing is that the book comes with a DVD as well. Being able to read and see all this information really helps to remember all the info.

There is also great advice on how to set up your own home first aid kit, and the great thing is that the Red Cross have first aid kits of varying sizes available to be purchased at the Red Cross store. This takes a lot of the guess work out of it and you can be sure that you have the most important things for the most common emergencies.

I would also strongly recommend that parents sign up for a first aid course which are regularly offered by community colleges and many private training centers as well. They range in price and in how much they will teach so the best thing is to start with an introductory course and then see whether there are additional course with more advanced training.

Reading first aid books can give you a good understanding, but you would really need to study the book. The reason for this is that in an emergency you will most likely not have the time to find and the research what the best emergency treatment might be.

When our first child was born my husband and I made the decision to go through a training program that took place over two Saturday’s and it was absolutely invaluable. So far we have been fortunate that we haven’t had to make use of what we learned, but we still look at the printed material to refresh our memory from time to time. It might even make sense to do a refresher course someday, now that I think of it.

Considering that even EMTs and paramedics have to go on refresher courses every couple of years it may well make sense to book into one on a regular basis. My kids are now a little older as well so I would probably have very different questions for a first aid trainer. So, I’ve made a note for myself to remind me to book another first aid course in the coming month. Let me know if you have done similar courses or have found other material that is helpful.

The Happiest Baby on the Block

Posted June 18th, 2014 by Ashley

The author of this book is Harvey Karp and he has some pretty good credentials. As a professor of pediatrics at UCLA and a private practice he has certainly got what it takes to write a great book about making babies happier. I picked up this book at an airport a few months ago, but only recently got around to reading it.

At 267 pages it is quite a short book, but the author does a great job at bringing his points across in a very clear and concise way. The main idea in the book is to help parents with babies that cry A LOT in the first few months after birth. I myself had a baby that was almost inconsolable and can feel for any parent that goes through the same.

What Karp does in this book is suggest 5 steps to help calm a baby that has suddenly been taken from the womb and thrown into a noise and very alien world filled with things that are the cause of the discomfort. As parents we might think that the nursery we have carefully assembled is a haven, but for a new baby it is not, or so Karp argues.

imagePart one of the book goes into great detail about why babies cry, without making it a very complicated physiological thesis. Colic is one of the main reasons and Karp has some great insights into causes and explanations.

In part two Karp discusses ways of soothing that have been around for millennia which he breaks down into the “five S’s”: swaddling, stomach, sound, swinging and sucking. I don’t want to regurgitate every bit of detail, but I can say that after reading this chapter I was very impressed with how logical it all seemed.

This part of the book is concluded with some really good practical advice about how certain actions can combine all the recommendations. I don’t have a baby young enough to trial this on, but if you are in a situation where you have a baby that will not settle, then I would certainly recommend this book. I will be giving it to a friend of mine who is due a baby and will provide an update when I hear from her how this worked out.

No matter what age your kids, or grandkids, are, this book will be of huge benefit. The author, Kenneth Barish, is a professor of psychology and written a very easy to understand book that does not distract with complicated medical and psychological terminology. This book was so interesting that I flew through the 280 pages in two evenings, and then went back over some of the chapters.

prideThe first section is all about Emotional Health of children and what makes them thrive emotionally. Even some of the most complex and up to date research in psychology and neurosciences are delivered in a way that make it very easy to understand and then make real world connections. I personally always struggled with psychology, even though I find it a fascinating subject, but this book stands out from the rest.

There is very specific information provided about the importance of Optimism and Positiveness, and most importantly an entire chapter on how to use all this information and apply it to your own family.

When I saw the title of the second section I first thought that this book may be intended for so-called “troubled” families. All about Solving Problems, this chapter gives fantastic common issues that will be all too familiar to most parents. Things like discipline are hot topics of today, with lots of discussion going on around physical discipline and how to best approach this. But even the more simple and everyday problems homework, tantrums, media and games, and motivation are covered in a very clear way.

Overall this book delivers a huge amount of food for thought, and it has certainly helped me to come up with better ways to deal with my kids. At the end of the day, you will not find all the answers, but you will be in a much better position to be a more confident parent and knowing that you are better serving your child’s best interest.

One thing to note as well is that I am not alone in my positive thoughts for this book. The current average Amazon rating is 4.9, which is incredibly high, and some of those reviews brought me to buy the book, so go ahead and check those out as well.

simplicityThis book by Payne and Ross was a very interesting one to read with some very good advice for the modern parent and family. It was a really inspiring read that made me think about a lot of modern life and media and the way it affects a child. It is certainly a very contemporary topic and one I hadn’t thought about much. I grew up in the 70s and while I was exposed to computers in the 80s, they did not dominate our lives back then.

Today, we are inundated with technology and information and it certainly has a huge amount of benefits to it. But we do have to understand that children absorb information differently and the way their brains are stimulated is very different. With iPads and iPods and on-demand TV shows and advertising our kids are certainly bombarded with information and as parents we need to take a step back and assess how this is impacting the development of kids.

The book covers four main trains of thought with practical advice on how to change your family life in a positive way. The four areas are (1) streamline and simplify your environment, (2) create rhythms and routines, (3) step away from ridged schedules and (4) control exposure to media.

Essentially it is all about how to look at stimulation for kids and how to control this in a better way. There is a fantastic section about toys, and once I finished it I spent a few days to watch my kids playing. And it just so turned out that there were way too many toys and I gradually got rid of some.

I basically got rid of anything that my kids only played with for very short periods of time before getting bored. This has left a much more manageable play environment and my kids have reacted very well to it. The toys that are left now really stimulate their imagination, and this does not mean that they are expensive toys, some are plain simple wooden blocks.

The result has been that I feel less inclined to be involved in the playing process and my kids demand far less attention from me when they are playing. Before they seemed to get bored a lot quicker, despite there being so many more toys.

As the title suggests, it is all about simplifying things and, for want of a better word, “going back to basics”.

One final thought is that I really enjoyed the section about not exposing your kids to the problems and realities of the adult world. It really gave me food for thought and I bet that any parent will be amazed at some of the findings in this section.

Overall, this is a really good parenting advice book that is perfectly set up for the modern family environment. I may not have agreed with all the advice, but to me that is not a negative, as all the ideas are very thought provoking.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

Posted April 7th, 2014 by Ashley

This is probably one of the top go to books for pregnant women. It was given to me by a friend of mine who is a midwife and she said she got so much out of this book with her own pregnancy that she just gets ot for all her friends that are expecting their first. Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel are the authors and they really did a fantastic job with this book. It literally covers everything from conception to the weeks after the birth.

What I particularly like about this book is that each month is its own chapter. This makes it so much easier to understand what is going on with your baby and also your own body. The illustrations are really good which really helps people like me who might have some difficulty visualizing what is going on.

Each chapter is also packed with possible questions you might be wondering about. There is practically nothing missing in this book and I rarely found that it was not able to answer a question I had. Oh, and even my family doctor recommended this book as a first point of reference if I was uncertain about anything.

What is also great is that there are several chapters that cover the immediate weeks after childbirth when your body is adapting again to being “normal”. This is a huge transition period, which can bring on a whole load of new questions and concerns. It is also a time in your life where you have to be very aware of any signals your body is giving you.

expectingWhether you gave birth naturally or by C-Section, there is a lot to look out for and these chapters really help you avoid stresses and ailments and also helps you to plan to get back into shape and adjust your own food consumption to better suit you.

While most of the book is laid out to cover a “normal” pregnancy, there are chapters designated to complications that can occur. This is really helpful information as you can be aware of any abnormal symptoms to look out for, that may be an indication to seek medical advice. My general advice is that you should always trust your instincts, they are much stronger than anything that you read in a book; and if you feel like something is wrong, then you should check out medical advice immediately.

One thing I can suggest is to get your partner to start reading it as well. Some men may shy away, but my husband found this a very fascinating read as it really goes into the science behind a baby’s development. There is also a section for dads specifically and it does really help them with the pregnancy and birth process.

Finally I should mention that this book has over 1100 reviews on Amazon making it one of the highest rated pregnancy books available. And I personally would agree with giving it such a high rating.

Your Baby’s First Year

Posted April 7th, 2014 by Ashley

your babys first yearFor new parents this is an essential book to own. Out together by the American Academy of Pediatricians, this is one of the best books you can get in order to be at least a little bit prepared for the earlier days, weeks and months of your baby’s life. One thing to keep in mind though is that no matter how many books you will read, you face situations that will take you by surprise. And please avoid studying the book too much as well.

The book is very conveniently divided into sections that make it easy for the reader to understand the various important factors of each stage. It essentially starts with the preparation before giving birth. This is really helpful, as pretty much all pregnant women will go through a phase of nesting in the last weeks before the birth. There is a lot of stuff to be done to prepare yourself and your home.

There is an entire section dedicated to this period of time, which covers advice on pre and post-natal care for both you and your baby. But it also has chapters dedicated to the things that you will need to have prepared in your home. While there is not a huge amount of stuff you will need, the last thing you want to happen is to arrive home from the hospital and then realize in the middle of the night that something rather important is missing. Stresses like not having baby formula at 3am are best avoided altogether.

For first time moms the first days at home with the baby can be the most stressing of all. You are suddenly faced with a situation where a tiny little human is entirely dependent on you for all its needs. This book makes a fantastic job of giving you an idea of what to expect and most importantly it also tells you about things that are perfectly normal.

At this stage of the book, the authors also go into the very important topic of the mother’s and father’s feelings and emotions. Post natal depression is something that can set in at any time from days to weeks after birth, and understanding the signs is very important.

Once you are over the first few weeks things will start to settle into a routine and parents will become more confident. The main thing on a parent’s mind will be whether growth and development is normal. Again, this book covers this area in great detail by providing specific information about how to check your baby’s development. It also provides information to help you identify when your baby may be sick.

Once your baby gets to a stage where it starts moving by itself on the ground, there is whole lot of new things to understand about keeping your child safe. You may have thought of many things, but this book does a great job of highlighting some of the most commonly made mistakes. It also gives great advice on how to provide additional safety features in your home to avoid the most commonly recorded accidents.

The second part of this books then goes into medical details of the most commonly encountered illnesses. This is a fantastic reference section to have for you to try and understand what certain medical conditions may be encountered. You probably do not want to study this section in too much detail, as it will have you petrified of what can all go wrong. But when your baby does show some signs of being sick, then you have something to fall back on.

Just always remember, if you are in any doubt about your baby’s wellbeing, seek medical attention immediately. Your baby cannot properly communicate what is wrong, so professional medical services are often the best solution.

Overall, this is a fantastic book to own, and I find that I often pick it up even now on my second baby; you never stop learning. It is also a very highly rated book over at Amazon, which is always an encouraging sign. And

your babys first year

the great thing is that it is available on paperback and Kindle!

Welcome To Basically Amazing Ashley

Posted April 4th, 2014 by Ashley

Hi and welcome to this completely redesigned blog covering book reviews specifically for parents. There will be brand new content and a complete visual redesign. The initial focus will be on parenting advice books, but I will also be covering children’s books. If there is anything you would like added then please use the comment section in the individual blog posts. I will be more than happy to review specific requests.

 

Hope you enjoy this,

Ashley.