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Tales of a mom with a wardrobe in black, living an authentic life, while rambling about 2 headstrong girls, quitting her day job, and the gas-passing bulldog who sneaks into her bed at night.

Shivani is a winner of Top 25 Tech Moms - 2013

What's your favorite kid-friendly app?

Recently, I learned that my daughter was not a phonetic reader, but rather a whole word reader. Although while learning to read, the end result should be that children become whole word readers, while going through the education system, phonetics are an important part of the process. I decided to begin searching for the best tools to help her so that she would not struggle the next few years. She loves to read so my fear was that if she hit a few walls while learning, that love would soon deteriorate. Fortunately, I found the ABC READING MAGIC apps for children whether they are phonetic readers, or whole word readers. They are a series of apps and are for free! After falling in love with these apps, I introduced them to my daughters school and they have been a staple in their app program since.

What tips would you give a mom who wants to become more tech savvy?

For any mother who wants to become more tech savvy, the best advice I can give is to jump right in! Don't be afraid to pick up a new tech toy, gadget, or anything of the like. Technology is enhancing our experience in many areas of life. The majority of tech tools you use have tutorials associated with them. I take those myself. There is no way to keep up with all of the new technology available, and nobody is expected to. The goal should be to get to know the few you are actually interested in using or need to know how to use. You might be surprised at how easy it is and how much you like the new technology available!

What's the most innovative gadget for children you've seen?

What is the best place to raise children: city, suburbs, or a rural town?

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Raising my children in the suburbs wins my vote! I love the cultural aspects of the city but, when it comes to my little ones, the suburbs are home for the time being. Knowing thy neighbors is comforting. The suburbs have a close knit community feel that compliment the likes of our family.
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What item should moms splurge on?

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A great bag! Nothing beats the feling of holding a fantastic bag! Living in a time where totes are popular, spending money on a fabulous bag is worth it! Buy a carry all while your kids are young and use it as a stylish diaper bag! As the kids get older, you now have a bag for their books, take along toys and all of your things too! Kids get even oldèr, you go back to work (or not), and now you substitute it as a briefcase... It's all about the statement bag! Go for it!
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Why is the stay-at-home vs. working moms debate so passionate?

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Regardless of whether you are a stay at home mother or you have a full time job, we all have a few things in common. We are all mothers. Our hopes and dreams for our children are very similar, and the reasoning behind each of our decisions are driven by our personal situations. Although being passionate about what we do should be the main focus, it seems many mothers are too engrossed in trying to defend their decisions or justifying what they do. The reality is, each of us does what we have to. Whether it be financial, or quite possibly maintaining our own sanity that drives whether we stay at home or work, one should not have to explain themselves or the decision they make. I had the luxury of living both lives. My reasoning for returning to work was financial, but a few interesting things happened when I did. Initially, I found myself feeling ample amounts of guilt. As the first year of returning to work progressed, I realized there were some benefits to it from a different side. My organization skills were much better, I was a lot more scheduled and the time I spent with my daughters was cherished even more so. On the other hand, when I stayed at home, I loved the attention I was able to give my girls. Maintaining the house on a daily basis and not devoting errands to the weekends was a luxury. Clearly there are many more benefits I can state about both, being a stay-at-home mother as well as a working mother. Regardless of which one chooses (or not), in the end, we are all mothers who love our children, and should respect one another for that alone.
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What is the appropriate age for children to start tidying their toys away?

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Similar to my standard thoughts related to children and parenting, I am not sure if there really is an age that is appropriate or not. Every child responds differently. I can say that from experience as I have two girls, 16 months apart that are very similar, yet, VERY different. With my eldest daughter who just turned 6, at 14 months, she was helping me clean up after playing with each toy. She always liked things tidy. That made for an easy transition when it was time for her to start cleaning up after herself without my help. By 21/2 years of age, I rarely had to ask her to clean up her playroom. My second daughter, now 4, was a different story. She was not interested in anything being tidy. In fact, the more of a mess she made, the happier she seemed. Like my first, I began by helping her clean up as soon as she was able to walk (just about a year old). She, on the other hand, still gets upset when I tell her to clean up after herself. Her typical reaction is filled with drama... "oh... but... but... I am just soooo tired!" End result, my eldest does most of the cleaning up while my baby walks around the room pretending to work hard. Once in a while, she puts in a lot of effort. When she does, she feels pleased with herself. Due to this, I have to constantly remind her how good she will feel once things are clean and how happy she and her sister will be with a clean room... When that doesn't work, I use another approach... "Do you know what will happen if you don't clean your room? Bugs will start crawling around... Some that bite, others that are black and furry... Next thing you know, they will be in your hair and your clothes! You really don't want that do you?" That usually helps a lot. :)
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