Parenting Authors & Experts Interview: 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know

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Author: 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know

Question: How did you first get into writing?

Answer: I’ve always enjoyed writing, but 8 years ago, while pregnant with my third child, I quit talking about writing a book and actually started to work on one. I began by writing essays on motherhood, then I spent five years writing three novels, all unpublished. It’s easy to consider all that unpublished work a waste a time, but I don’t see it that way. I needed the practice to hone my writing skills and find a voice that suits me. 

Question: How did your original blog post, 10 Truths Young Girls Should Know, turn into a book?

Answer: I published that post in July 2013 on my blog, and immediately it started getting shared all over Facebook and Pinterest. I knew from the emails I got (from moms, dads, and youth pastors) that the message struck a chord. It was two months after all the excitement calmed down, when everyone had moved on to other stories, that I heard from an editor at Thomas Nelson who expressed interest in expanding the post into a book. They wanted the book to release before Christmas, so the whole process - from me writing the book to them launching it - happened quickly and in a year’s time.

Question: If readers were to take away one key lesson from your book, what do you hope it would be?

Answer: The main thing I want my young readers to know is that God loves them, God sees them, and God has a plan for their life. I want them to know there’s more to life than junior high and high school, and by making good choices now, they set themselves up to thrive long-term. 

Question: For the moms out there like me, with young girls, what is the most surprising thing we should prepare for in the tween/teenage years?

Answer: The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how early the negative influences start.  After talking to parents, school counselors, psychologists, and others who work with adolescents, my eyes have been opened to the hard realities of teen culture today. For our kids to make good choices, we need to prepare them for difficult situations and have some uncomfortable conversations so they don’t enter this world blindly and follow the crowd simply because they’ve never been given alternative options to consider.

Question: Your #1 Lesson is Everything You Need to Find Peace and Happiness is Inside You. How did you teach your girls that truth?

Answer: I try to teach my daughters to trust their instincts. When something feels wrong, there’s a reason. When someone seems untrustworthy, there’s a reason. I’m a big believer in tuning into your conscience and what that inner voice says, because that’s God talking. Even at a young age, kids can understand that when they’re kind to others, it makes them feel good, and when they’re not kind, it creates unrest. The sooner they get a handle on their feelings, and develop some sort of emotional intelligence, the better equipped they’ll be to recognize cues that can help draw them closer to God.


Kari Kampakis started her writing career with her first PR job out of college. She began writing fiction novels while pregnant, and played the chicken-and-the egg routine to getting an agent or publisher. Then the door opened when two community newspapers began carrying her column.

In 2013, she re-launched her website and began blogging. Four months later, her first blog post went viral. Titled 10 Truths Young Girls Should Know,  it caught the attention of Thomas Nelson, a major Christian publisher, who expressed interest in creating a book. On November 4, 2014, Thomas Nelson released 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, written for teen and tween girls.

Ella, Sophie, Marie Claire, and Camille are her pride and joy.


Facebook: Kari Kampakis, Writer

Twitter: @karikampakis

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Child Development Authors & Experts Interview: Lise Eliot, Ph. D., Author of Pink Brain Blue Brain


Author of Pink Brain Blue Brain

Question: We are big fans of your book, What’s Going On In There?, so we were very excited for your new book to be released. What inspired you to write Pink Brain Blue Brain?

Answer: Like many parents, I was fascinated by the differences between my daughter and sons.  But as a neuroscientist, I was curious how these differences are reflected in their brains. And if there are differences between boys’ and girls’ brains, what causes them—nature or nurture? I’ve also always been fascinated by the degree to which our personalities and abilities are shaped by innate factors, such as genes and hormones, versus environment—learning and experiences. Sex differences are a perfect distillation of this question, because there are obviously inborn biological differences between boys and girls, as well as deep differences in the culture boys and girls grow up in. I relished the chance to dig into the actual scientific data on the comparative roles of nature and nurture in creating sex differences in children’s brains and behavior.

Question: If readers were to take away one key lesson from your book, what do you hope it would be?

Answer: That boy-girl differences are not as “hard-wired” as many parents believe. Yes, there are innate differences, but they are more like biases, not absolute preferences or abilities.  And these small differences become magnified through all sorts of influences—marketing, parenting, and especially kid culture itself.   

There is so little we do with our brains that is actually hard-wired.   Most of our abilities, preferences, and even personality traits are shaped through neural plasticity—the brain’s fantastic ability to adapt to whatever culture, peer group, and educational system it is growing up in.  A better way to think about it is that whatever you do with your brain is what it becomes “wired” for.   So any time you see an obvious difference between men and women, or boys and girls, you have to ask yourself: How did they spend their time over the past three or thirty years to make their brains so good (or so bad) at certain skills?  And more importantly, if boys or girls are struggling in a particular area—whether it’s math, reading, or just sitting still in class—how can the right environment and forms of practice help them catch up?

Question: Did anything unexpected come out of your research writing this book?

Answer: Yes. As a biologist, I started out focused on figuring out precisely how boys’ and girls’ brains differ and the role of hormones in creating such differences. But the data just aren’t there! Scientists have identified very few reliable differences between men’s and women’s brains, much less between boys’ and girls’.  So rather than focusing on the “nature” side (for which there is very little evidence) I shifted my emphasis to the “nurture” side of the equation—toward uncovering the many ways in which parents, teachers, and especially children’s own beliefs about gender-appropriate behavior trigger the neuroplasticity that magnifies small initial differences into more troublesome boy-girl gaps.

Question: Which genuine difference surprised you the most?

Answer: The writing gap is much larger than I appreciated—especially when you consider all the great male writers through history. Boys clearly need more attention in this area, and I’ve suggested several ways to do this in the book. I was also frankly surprised that the sex difference in spatial navigation is as large as it is. I love maps and always orient myself in terms of north-south-east-west, so to learn that women, on average, really are poorer at this than men was eye-opening, and makes me all the more determined to use such “direction-speak” when I’m driving my kids—daughter and sons—around town.

On the other hand, I was honestly surprised at how weak the evidence is for hormonal effects on our mood and thinking abilities. While prenatal testosterone has some influence over play behavior and perhaps later sexual orientation, the sex hormones that rise at puberty and remain elevated in adults have surprisingly modest effects on our thinking—except for sex drive, which testosterone elevates in both men and women!

Question: You have two sons and a daughter. Do you think either girls or boys are harder to raise in a gender-balanced way?

Answer: Things have changed a lot for girls; parents’ preaching “you can do anything you want” is paying off, especially in sports and academic achievement. Girls really can do anything these days, and while some still restrict themselves to certain activities (for example, because they see computer programming camp as a “guy” thing), their parents are not usually the ones feeding them such ideas.  We are definitely seeing girls moving into areas they didn’t broach before, like playing hockey, the trombone, or running for student council president.

With boys, it’s harder, because our society is still very homophobic and many people seem to believe that sending a boy to ballet class will make him gay.  So we are freer to raise our daughters along a broader expanse of the gender spectrum, but boys are being painted into an ever-tinier corner as both they and society yields ground to girls.  It takes a community-wide effort to make a difference. In my town, we happen to have a great choral teacher who gets considerable numbers of middle-school boys singing and dancing. But this is just one lucky happenstance of local culture. Most other activities are distressingly gender-segregated, which is bad for both boys and girls.

The only way around this pink-blue barrier is to require kids to engage in certain activities. When I was in middle school, everyone had to take woodworking as part of art class. Nowadays, we let kids choose woodworking versus painting, so guess who ends up in each class? As I argue in the book, we need to reign in some of kids’ choices if we want to reduce the gnawing gaps between boys and girls.

On the other hand, as a mother of a teenaged daughter, if you ask me which sex is harder to raise, regardless of gender issues… well, answering that will just get me into a lot of trouble.


Lise Eliot is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science. A Chicago native, she received an A.B. degree from Harvard University, a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and did post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In addition to teaching and writing, Dr. Eliot lectures widely on children’s brain and gender development. She lives in Lake Bluff, Illinois with her husband and three children. 

Website:  Twitter: @Lise_Eliot

Infertility Authors & Experts Interview: Justine Froelker, Author of Ever Upward


Author of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life

Question: What inspired you to start the blog, Ever Upward?

Answer: I was honest within my very first post in November 2013. I started Ever Upward, the blog, to build credibility and the platform for the book. Never could I have imagined the life it would grow all on it’s own. The people I have met, the relationships and connections that have grown, the support and love I have felt are simply immeasurable!

Question: Please tell us more about your upcoming book, Ever Upward: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed World.

Answer: Ever Upward is my hopeful story of what I did to change my life for the better after the heartbreaking, devastating and life-long losses of infertility. Ever Upward begins with my incredible story of surviving life through two back surgeries, a year in a body cast and two rounds of IVF with a gestational surrogate. I guide the reader through the strategies I used to overcome the loss of my dream of motherhood and chose to thrive through the ownership and acceptance of my childfree life.

Question: What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Answer: I hope they will be entertained by my life story and, better yet, changed to know that we are all capable of changing and redefining our lives. I hope to start and continue the conversation around breaking the silence of infertility of any kind.

Most of all, I hope to give readers the permission to own all the parts of their story; to accept and even love every version of the happy endings, no matter the loss, trauma or tragedy suffered, especially in infertility treatments.

Question: Do you think your experience as a therapist made the infertility journey easier or harder on you?

Answer: Honestly, both. Easier in that I read, research and know many resources for life improvement, even just beyond the therapeutic theory. But also more difficult in that there were times through my recovery from infertility that I felt like a fraud in fighting my own struggles and in searching for my own recovery. What I know now is that my struggles, my ownership of my fight and my recovery are what make me a great therapist. As I have done my own work I have seen how much more I can give to my clients in helping them through whatever they are facing right now. I also know my struggles and my story of infertility, especially my ending in which many would say can’t be a happy ending, helps me tremendously with understanding others going through the journey, no matter where they are in it or what their result.

Question: What is your favorite piece of advice to give couples dealing with infertility?

Answer: Talk about it and maybe even seek outside professional help. I think to only rely on each other and your medical team is way too much for any relationship to handle. You don’t have to tell everyone in your life and you don’t have to write a public blog or publish a book like I have. But, I think, if we actually break the shamed silence of infertility and own all the parts of our stories, our treatments could have higher success rates, we could get the understanding we so want and need and we will be happier and healthier versions of ourselves, no matter what our happy ending looks like.


Justine Brooks Froelker, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Candidate (based on the research of Brené Brown) with a private practice in St. Louis, Missouri. For the last 14 years she has helped her clients achieve success in improving their quality of life as it relates to anxiety, depression, relationships, infertility, addictions, perfectionism, eating and weight issues and common discontent, using a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy.

In addition to her private practice, Ms. Froelker is an adjunct faculty member at Saint Louis Community College, where she teaches General Psychology. She can be seen regularly on the St. Louis KMOV live midday show, Great Day St. Louis. Ms. Froelker contributes to the monthly publication, St. Louis Health & Wellness Magazine, as an expert therapist. She is also currently updating her blog, Ever Upward, about her personal experience with infertility, which can be found at Her book will be available late 2014 or early 2015.

Website: and

Twitter: @JustineFroelker 


Kid Favorites: A Great Book Series for Toddlers in the Car

This is our favorite book series to have in the car for times when we're waiting and need entertainment. Sydney (5), Sabrina (3) and Luke (2) all love them. Sabrina has looked at the "Animals to Spot" version every day this year while we waited for Sydney's school pick-up, without ever tiring of it.  

While I was snagging this picture for the blog, I decided to buy four more. 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea, 1001 Things to Spot on Vacation and 1001 Things to Spot in Fairyland and 1001 Things to Spot on the Farm. I had to buy some of these of used, as they're not all still in print. 

Now if I could just figure out how to avoid them fighting over which one they want...

Infertility Authors & Experts Interview: Barbara Blitzer, Author of The Infertility Workbook

Q&A with Barbara Blitzer

Question: What inspired you to write the infertility workbook?

Answer: I was inspired to write the book after years of working with people struggling with fertility issues. I observed that instruction in specific mind-body, stress reduction skills were empowering and helpful. Those who understood the challenges of fertility issues went through the process more easily, had better relationships, and could make decisions more effectively. I wrote the book to share the techniques and insights that have been effective with countless clients and to make them available to a wider audience. 

Question: What types of exercises and worksheets are in the book? Are some of them geared to have couples to do together? 

Answer: This is an inclusive book. It addresses conceptual, emotional, and practical issues related to fertility. For each topic there is an informational section, a set of exercises that help the reader explore her personal experience and a Take Charge section with instruction in mind-body practices that relate to the specific topic discussed. Topics include the mind-body connection, understanding and reducing worry, coping with the emotional roller coaster of hope and disappointment, and working with the body. There are also chapters involving more practical issues such as choosing a fertility practice, understanding the fertility workup and some common diagnoses, and making decisions about treatment options. There is an entire chapter on working with relationships with discussions of how infertility impacts couples and specific instruction in communication techniques and ways of strengthening your bond. This chapter lends itself especially well to couples but all of the chapters can be shared by couples. When I wrote this book I wanted to offer as many techniques as possible so have included work with thoughts, imagery, meridian tapping, meditation, cognitive therapy, breathing, journaling and more.  Not every chapter or technique is for every person but there is a lot to choose from and something for everyone. It goes beyond basic stress reduction because it relates all techniques to specific fertility issues and also helps people understand and express their feelings. 

Question: Therapy is your specialty.  In what ways can therapy help couples that are dealing with infertility?

Answer: Infertility is a huge emotional challenge for couples. It can create depression, and anxiety. It you are dealing with infertility it can leave you feeling isolated from friends and families who don’t share your experience or who don’t seem to understand how to say and do the right thing.  Infertility can be very lonely and very stressful. Having someone to talk to who listens can be helpful all by itself because it breaks down some of the isolation and allows a time and space to explore feelings, thoughts and options. Therapy helps people develop coping strategies, good communication and realistically optimistic ways of thinking. Mind-body technique integrated with the therapy, can give couples a sense of control, a way to reduce stress and pain, and a path to greater peace and deeper connection with themselves and with each other.

Question: There are several recent news articles linking stress with infertility issues. What are your thoughts?

Answer: I’m a long standing believe in the power of the mind to affect the body and vice versa which is really what the mind-body connection means, but, having said that I would never suggest to anyone that they are causing their infertility. People get pregnant under very stressful conditions all around the world. Also, people have fertility issues for different reasons. Not everyone is the same so what may be helpful in one instance may be less so in another. The truth is that we don’t have all of the answers yet but we have to act upon what we do know as well as we can. I like to go back to basics on this issue. We know that infertility is stressful and also that there have been several studies indicating a correlation between stress reduction and improved outcomes. If you are going through infertility, you are most likely investing a lot of money, time, and energy. If reducing stress has any chance of increasing your chances of success, it seems like something to try. The only side effect is giving you skills that will help you feel more peaceful and in charge.

Question: You’ve recently added a new Infertility Workbook coaching program. Sounds awesome - please tell us more about it!

Answer: The Infertility Workbook includes lots and lots of exercises to help people explore their own personal fertility issues and to learn techniques. It is designed to offer resources that people can use on their own. The process, however, can open the door to emotions, questions, or the need for support. On their own, people can get stuck. They may not know how to apply or practice the skills. They may want some encouragement or instruction as well as someone to listen and support them as they go through the book. They may want to deepen and improve their experience. That is where the coaching program comes in. I am here to help people as they go through the book. If I am coaching you and you are reading the chapter on relationships, for example, we can talk about your relationship specifically and I will help you. If you are trying to breath, or tap, or do a meditation, I can help you move through any obstacles and make your experience more successful. We can focus on any issues you might have or we can work through the chapters of the book together with you, your life,  your concerns as the focus. I am working by phone, skype, as well as in the DC metro area. The program is flexible and anyone who is interested can contact me and we will explore what will work best. 


Barbara Blitzer, LCSW-C, MEd, is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and expert on mind-body techniques and their application to fertility. Formerly a faculty member at The Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington, DC, she now works in private practice, with special focus on treating anxiety, depression, and infertility through talk therapy and mind/body approaches. She is available for individuals throughout the Washington, DC area in addition to offering services via telephone and SKYPE. She is a professional member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Resolve, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Greater Washington Clinical Society. Her work has been cited in the Washington Post, Washington Woman, Conceive Online, (The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination) and on several websites. If you would like to learn more about her private practice, or to learn about The Infertility Workbook coaching program, please visit

Infertility Authors & Experts Interview: Jill Blakeway, Author of Making Babies


Question: What inspired you to write Making Babies: A Proven 3-month Program for Maximum Fertility?

Answer: I wrote Making Babies with an MD because we wanted to combine our knowledge and experience into a comprehensive plan. That way we could give our patients and our readers the best of Eastern and Western medicine.Question: We followed your “fertility boot camp” when we headed down the in vitro route, including a reduction in strenuous exercise, acupuncture and nutrition.  

Question: Do you have a cheat sheet that our readers can follow to maximize their fertility?

Answer: One of the main messages of Making Babies is that there is no one-size-fits-all method of getting pregnant. In the book we created five fertility types for both men and women. Each type follows a slightly different plan in order to maximize their chances of conceiving. But the cheat sheet I give my patients is as follows:

  • Eat whole foods and minimize your intake of processed foods. Make sure you get enough lean protein, some whole grains and lots and lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut back on coffee and alcohol and cut out bad habits like smoking.
  • Find a way to manage stress. Acupuncture is a good way to offset the effects of stress on reproductive hormones.
  • Understand your cycle and get help to correct hormone imbalances. Chinese medicine can be a great way to regulate a cycle.
  • Get your timing right (there’s lots of advice about this in the book)
  • Make sure you take steps to improve pelvic circulation. The self-massages in Making Babies are particularly good for this.
  • Make sure your doctor tests you for common fertility problems and some uncommon ones if you’ve been trying to conceive for a while. The tests you need are all outlined in the book.You can also find your fertility type here. 

Question: Of all the advice in your book, what’s the biggest takeaway for women trying to get pregnant?

Answer: That the things you do to support your general health such as eating well, taking supplements, getting an appropriate amount of exercise, receiving acupuncture, etc. will all enhance your fertility.

Question: You’ve recently published a new book, Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido. I love that there are “He Said” boxes written by your husband.  What was that process like, collaborating on a book together?

Answer: It was fun. I’ve been married to my husband for a long time but I was still surprised by some of the things he said in the “He Says” section of the book. The book is for couples that want to revive their libido.  It’s based on some ancient Taoist texts brought right up to date for modern couples. My husband’s contribution was vital because we’re both practitioners of Chinese medicine but we see the Taoist texts quite differently because men and women see sex differently.

Question: You and your husband work together as well. Your NYC clinic is such a unique complementary medical center. Where did the idea for opening the YinOva Center come from?

Answer: The YinOva Center really evolved. We simply set out to give our patients the best care we could and the center grew by word of mouth. These days it’s one of the biggest Chinese medicine practices in the country.  We added services because our patients asked for them so these days we have 10 acupuncturists/herbalists, a naturopath, a massage therapist, a nutritionist, a yoga teacher, a social worker and Pilates teacher. The whole team works together to provide our patients with comprehensive complementary medical care.

Question: How did you find the time to run a medical center and write books too? 

Answer: Frankly, I have a wonderful team so at this point, I’m not running everything. Everyone at YinOva cares deeply about our mission to provide people with great health care. Giving people access to information about their health is part of that mission. So writing books, along with our blog and the work we do on social media, are all ways we connect with people. To be honest it’s fun and it doesn’t feel like work. 


YinOva founder Jill Blakeway is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist, clinical herbalist, and both a highly skilled and an empathic and intuitive practitioner. She is also an author and speaker. She specializes in the care of women and children, and in particular in using Chinese medicine to enhance fertility and fertility treatments. Her work helping women achieve a healthy pregnancy inspired the New York Times to call her one of the city’s top acupuncturists and a “fertility goddess.”

Follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter

Infertility Authors & Experts Interview Series: Marc Sedaka, Author of What He Can Expect When She's Not Expecting




Q&A with Marc Sedaka

Question: What inspired you to write What He Can Expect When She's Not Expecting?

Answer: Plain and simple, it was the book I wish I had read when my wife and I were suffering with infertility (for 7 years).  As I’m sure you know, there are plenty of books geared towards women, but none at the time were geared towards men.  And since we represent 50% of married sufferers, I thought it was high time someone did something about that.  It was also a way to impart my wisdom and, quite frankly, let other husbands learn from my mistakes.

Question: Was writing the book different in any way from your experiences writing for TV and film?

Answer: In many ways it was more fun and more rewarding.  Not only did I have a great deal of passion for the subject, but I knew that, in the end, I would be helping people overcome a major life crisis.  Also, even though it was a “serious” book, I still tried to infuse as much of my comedy background as possible.  My wife likes to describe it as the written equivalent of taking a guy to a bar and telling him everything he needs to know (and probably never wanted to know) about infertility.

Question: What was the toughest part of your infertility journey?

Answer: Without question, seeing my wife lose her sense of self.  With every failure it was as if a part of her died, and that was very difficult to take.  

Question: What is your favorite advice to give to men dealing with the craziness of trying to get pregnant?

Answer: Men should know that they can play a role in all this even if it doesn’t always seem like they can.  Even something as simple as going to the appointments with your wife shows your support and your solidarity.  This isn’t HER problem and she should never be made to feel like it is.

Question: You wrote a children’s book with your dad. How did that come about and what was that experience like?

Answer: The project actually started out as a children’s album when my girls were about two years old.  My father (Neil Sedaka) decided he wanted to write children’s lyrics for some of his early hits and I agreed to collaborate.  Shortly thereafter, a publisher approached us about turning some of the lyrics into books, and from that, Dinosaur Pet (based on my father’s song “Calendar Girl”) was born.  The whole project has really been a joy.  My kids sang background vocals on the original album and we still go to signings and reading whenever we can.


Marc Sedaka has written scripts for Disney, New Line, Fox, Paramount, and Warner Bros. His most notable feature credit is the romantic comedy “Overnight Delivery”, which stars Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd. On the TV front, he has written for such shows as NBC’s “Inside Schwartz” and CBS’s “King Of Queens.” He is also an award-winning New York Times best-selling author of children’s and self-help books. When not writing, Marc teaches screenwriting at UCLA, Columbia College, and Laureate University. Learn more about Marc at


Book Review: The Whole-Brain Child

I just finished reading The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. It's now in my Top 5 list for child development books.

The idea is to turn everyday interactions into brain-shaping opportunities. There's what most of us usually do as parents - for example, dismiss and deny. And then there's what we should do to help develop their brains.

There are 12 Whole-Brain Strategies in the book. The first strategy I tried - "Name It to Tame It" - worked immediately for all three of our kids. Now I tell everyone my new trick to stop the tears after a fall. You simply get them to talk about it, or for younger kids like Luke, repeat what's happened. "Ouch! You were running really fast and tripped on that rock!" That turns on their upper brain (thinking and reason), so that they're no longer stuck in their lower brain (fight or flight/tears).

The Whole-Brain Child talks about the science of our brains, but never speaks over your head. The content is fascinating. The examples and illustrations are simple and smart. The strategies are easy to implement. 

The book is geared toward parents and kids alike. Both of our girls sat down with me for over an hour looking at the pictures and having me read the examples. Sydney loved it so much, she has asked to see it again several times over the last few weeks. And when I find myself in a challenging situation, like Sydney crying because she suddenly doesn't want to go to school when last week she begged the doctor to let her go back, I've referred to a similar example from the book to help get us through the crisis.

Two other brain books I also recommend are Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten, by Dr. David Perlmutter and Einstein Never Used Flash Cards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff. The overall theme is that spending time with our children - talking, singing, interacting and playing - is the most important step we can take to help them learn.