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Cooking with toddlers isn't easy, but it teaches them independence and teamwork

I admit I may—at times—have tried to show my daughter my own love of certain hobbies in hopes that she would be interested enough in them that we can enjoy them together one day. I mean, right now she's two and her current hobbies include screeching when she doesn't get her way and eating the Cheerios under the couch. But—I hope that by exposing her to these certain things, she will be able to realize how big her world really is.

Growing up, I remember helping my mom bake cookies for Christmas and my dad teaching me the fine art of properly loading a dishwasher and cleaning up after meals. But I don't really remember cooking much of anything until I was in middle school. So it didn't shock me that I was a pretty terrible cook when it came to meals later on in life—my husband has even gently reminded me that he still liked me even though I couldn't sauté chicken to save my life.

What did shock me though, was that I ended up being pretty self-sufficient in the kitchen after some practice. I learned to knead homemade bread, I bought a sous vide, and I can whip up dinners with 25 ingredients that always make my parents laugh as they remind me how I used to not be able to boil water.

So, because I own every kitchen gadget known to man and love nothing more than dipping homemade pretzels into cheese sauce, it's only natural that I want to share this passion with my own little girl. I didn't learn how to cook until I was a teenager and it was several years of awful dinners and boxed Kraft before I improved. I want my daughter to learn how to cook now and there are two reasons for this.

First of all, I'm curious to see if she will like it, really and truly like it, like I do. I know no matter what you do, your kids will have their own interests. But if she's willing to participate, both my husband and I are willing to teach her.

And second, I think it's one of the most important things I can do as a mom. Not for her to be able to make spicy tortellini alfredo with her eyes closed, but to be able to learn the importance of working as a family.

I want to show her that meals are so much more than eating. That there was actual work put into her enchiladas, and that homemade dough—while not always feasible—is always better than store-bought. I want to show her how to mix batter, and for her to be able to taste it as she goes. I want her to put her hands in pizza dough and sample cucumbers from the salad and watch ingredients be transformed into a meal.

However, she's also really messy and that tends to throw a wrench into the whole thing...

I've had to take deep breaths when she knocks a bowl of shredded cheese on the floor and wait in painful silence when she puts the chocolate chips into the batter—one chip at a time. There are days I want to just get it done, and chop the things and throw those things into the oven, but there she is, dragging a chair up, getting it caught in the rug and screeching in frustration.

It's not always easy, and sometimes, I really don't like including her.

But then she scoops the flour into the cup and knows to level it off with the flat edge of the knife. She is learning to sprinkle ingredients instead of plopping them in one big lump. And the smile she gets on her face when we ask her if she wants to help makes it all worth it.

The truth is, kids are messy. They're messy and they have no concept of cleanliness and food dropped on the floor for the dog doesn't faze them. One of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever got was that you have to start them young. You have to start them helping you when they really aren't even totally capable. You have to start them in the kitchen when they fling ingredients and miss the bowl, and eat flour. Because it's the only way they're going to learn and get better.

So here I am, continuing to invite her to pull up the chair. To help stir the pot and scoop sugar, and use a butter knife to practice cutting bread for crumbs. Because she's getting better, and because she loves it. And also because it's teaching her independence and instilling confidence ingredient by ingredient.

I know one day she'll be proficient. She'll make excellent knife cuts and know what deglazing means. But practicing with her now, when she's still messy and clumsy is so important. It helps me practice patience and it is an opportunity to spend quality time together. And that makes me forge on.

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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