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About the author  ⁄ Lisa

Lisa Kobrin is a mom to three children, aged 13, 16 and 18. She is passionate about education and loves home décor and fashion. She is the Sassy Mom to the Savvy Sassy duo and manages a team of creative contrbutors that work hard to keep moms up to date on the latest trends. Lisa loves social media and works on a variety of social media campaigns with brands big and small. Connect with Savvy Sassy Moms on Instagram

25 Must-Have Children's Books

Whether you are looking for a book to read with your children, a gift for a loved one, to enhance your own library or taking a trip to the public library, we have compiled a list of 25 must-have children’s books to enjoy.

Although my children are now older, I still have many of my favorite children’s story books that I use to enhance literacy skills in the classroom, recommend to other parents or to share with family members. These are the books that have stayed in my collection and some that I have added to my library over the past few years.

25 Must-Have Children's Books

The Party

Stephanie’s Ponytail

Where The Sidewalk Ends

Duck, Rabbit!

The Gingerbread Man

It’s Okay To Be Different

the OK book

Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse

Where The Wild Things Are

Press Here

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chrysanthemum

CHALK

OLIVIA

Dot.

Little Pea

The Giving Tree

Chester

Mabel Murple

Scaredy Squirrel

From Head to Toe

The Napping House

Gruffalo

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus

Cuddle up and read to ensure that you use this time to bond with your child. Lifelong learning leads to lifelong success and being a reading role-model will assist in the reading fun. While reading, make the experience fun by using your voice to imitate a character speaking or role play to stimulate your child’s imagination. Try pointing out letters, individual words, rhyming words or pattern text to encourage your child to participate in the reading.

Don’t forget to give your child a chance to select their favorite books or to choose books of interest at a level that is relevant to your reader. Books with repetitive text, rich illustrations and predictability will give your child an opportunity to engage in the reading and explore and internalize a variety of texts.

While reading to, and with your child, through listening and speaking you are encouraging oral language skills, vocabulary development and print awareness skills.  

By promoting and supporting a love of reading, it is our hope that this passion will last a lifetime!

Which children’s book do you love reading over and over?
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The time has come for your daughter to go to the prom and she has been dreaming about her prom dress for ages. But, while the task of finding a prom dress may seem easy enough, there is so much more to it than you realize. Here’s what every mom needs to know before she goes prom dress shopping with her daughter.

Prom Dress Shopping: What Every Mom Needs to Know

There is a Facebook group

You heard correctly. There is a Facebook group for the girls to post their prom dresses. They post their dresses the second they purchase them so there are no repeat offenders the night of prom. Occasionally, girls will post multiple dresses, claiming more than one dress so no one will buy them. Thus, it is important for your daughter to be loud and clear about which dress she intends on buying. Often, a certain style may be more popular amongst the large group of girls, so it is important to ensure your daughter that though her dress may look similar to another, she will still be able to add unique touches with hair, accessories and makeup to make the look her own.

Start shopping early

Many girls have an idea of what styles of dresses they are interested in, but once they try something on, it may be different than anticipated. Prom dresses are already stocked and in the store early. If you want a premium selection, I would suggest starting the search in January. Some of the girls may need some time to see what is available, what suits their frame and what colors are in stock.

All about photos

Some boutiques do not allow you to take pictures at all, but if they do allow photos, take some. Personally, I think it is extremely helpful to take a picture of your daughter in their dress if they are undecided or if they are deciding between multiple dresses. They can also revisit the photos later when they do not feel that purchase pressure and will have time to see a selection at a different retailer, narrowing down the options.

Skip online shopping

We know that there are so many retailers specializing in prom dresses, however, shopping online may be a little disappointing once the dress arrives at your home. When you are anticipating the dress that you ordered, you may have to have it altered, pay shipping fees, may even have to ship it back once it arrives and start the shopping all over again.

Test out makeup and hair, pre-prom

Do a trial run before you settle on a style. Trying something very different the day of prom may result in an unhappy daughter, and even worse, an unhappy mother. Pinterest is a great place to pin different hairstyles and makeup tutorials to give you inspiration on looks to try.

Additional wardrobe required

Not only does your daughter need a prom dress, she needs a graduation outfit to wear under the cap and gown AND an after-prom dress. Please note: the beautiful prom dress that you spent hours debating about and purchased that was sealed for preservation in the garment bag for months will probably be thrown to the sidelines as your daughter prepares for her after-prom activities. This dress is not a gown — it will probably be a “nightclub” type dress for the remainder of the evening.

Remember a change of Shoes

Make sure the shoes selected are comfortable or they will not even make it through the evening or even the pre-prom activities! I suggest, walking around in the chosen shoes for a few weeks before the event. Plus, purchasing running shoes or flats to change into part way through the evening will ensure a fun and comfortable evening for your daughter.

Good luck, moms!

What style of prom dress would you like to see your daughter in? 
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Over the winter break, we decided to travel to London as a family. The trip ended almost too soon, it seems, since we were having so much fun. Over the course of five days, we enjoyed many teas, tons of shopping and quite a few tourist attractions throughout the city. Through our travels, we learned 10 tips for taking kids to London, through trial and error.

10 Tips for Taking Kids to London 1. Location is key

Select a hotel in a convenient location. London can be expensive and when traveling as a family of five, it is occasionally challenging to find an accommodation that works, especially when a destination is not within walking distance. Most of the hotels we looked at could accommodate four, but once we added the fifth person, it became quite costly. We decided on a hotel close to everything, ME London, located in the theatre district. Just a block away from the River Thames, we could walk to Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

2. Contact the hotel concierge prior to your stay

Don’t be afraid to email the concierge team at the hotel before you arrive for suggestions about tours and restaurants. They have a wealth of information and are experienced in getting around town and picking great restaurants. The team at the hotel even asked questions based on our children’s interests prior to making suggestions.

3. Get an Oyster card when you arrive

Traveling around London is very expensive. The Oyster card is a smartcard that can be used as a travel card to give you access to public transportation based on your preference of travel. These cards can be purchased at nearly any corner store or at any local underground (subway) station. If you purchase a pass and have leftover funds, you can return it at the end of your holiday or top it off if need be. We used our Oyster pass daily, and the savings were huge. You can take the bus almost anywhere and we definitely didn’t feel guilty if we needed a break in touring midday to head back to the hotel and then head out again.

4. Plan your tourist attractions in advance

London in December is busy! At some of the landmarks, we had to wait for long periods of time. Book tickets and print them off prior to arriving at your planned sightseeing locations. Some tourist attractions even have fast passes, similar to Disney! We could only get in two attractions per day because of the massive lines. We visited the Tower of London, where we waited for a long period of time to see the Crown Jewels and chose a tour with a guide.

10 Tips for Taking Kids to London

The world’s tallest Ferris wheel, The London Eye, in South Bank by the River Thames was a great place for photo ops and to see London from a 360 degree perspective! The line moved very quickly, so you don’t need to buy a fast pass for this one.

5. Book a play

Since we were staying in the theatre district, we decided to see the play, Beautiful based on Carole King’s life story. I found myself smiling throughout the entire play because of the absolutely incredible singing and dancing. My family loved it, and we all considered it a highlight of the trip.10 Tips for Family Trips to London

6. Take a bus tour

My favorite thing to do when I arrive at a new place is to take a tour to get perspective. Taking a bus tour allowed us to acclimate to our surroundings and to see what sites were close to our hotel.10 Tips for Visiting London in Winter... with Kids!

7. Dress for the weather

Prepare to be cold if you’re visiting London in December!  Layer up when going out and don’t forget your hat and gloves.

8. Get New Year’s Eve ready

Central London is closed off during New Year’s Eve for security purposes. If you are planning on going for New Year’s Eve, you will need to purchase tickets to access the streets of London or to get to the London Eye for an incredible fireworks display at midnight. At our Concierge’s suggestion, we booked a restaurant for the latest seating possible, in close proximity to the London Eye. We received wristbands from this reservation, which gave us access to the fireworks. Our wristbands allowed us to walk around freely, which was amazing, especially since most of the streets were closed off for New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m., as well as the next day for the New Year’s Day parade.

9. Allow for travel time

Be prepared for crowds. You will need to plan for the always-heavy traffic if you have booked reservations. Be sure to leave plenty of travel time and consider the traffic.Where to have high tea in London

10. High tea is a must

My family and I enjoyed a high tea at the Savoy! Having a high tea midday was the perfect time to debrief about our day and take a break from all the walking. Plus, the food was absolutely delicious.

Overall, my family and I loved our trip to London. Though we were traveling, the most important part of our trip was spending time together. With my daughter away at university, it is a rare treat get a full week together with the entire family.

Check out Where to Stay in London: The Ultimate Sightseeing Guide by HotelsCombined to enjoy more of London with the family!

What are your tips for a great family holiday?
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Everyone has a different style for the holiday season! Though it can be stressful hampering around your closet, pulling past about a dozen Christmas sweaters and about 10,000 sparkly numbers to get to that perfect blouse for a family dinner, it’s also fun to revisit the Ghost of Wardrobe’s Past.

2016 Holiday Style

Holiday fashion pieces for 2016

We know that it can be daunting to regenerate the basics you already have when creating a new look this season. Of course, you don’t want to dress like everyone else, and we know that it is always important to be you, so we wanted to include some of our must-haves in our 2016 Holiday Guide. If you  have a black camisole, $128, then you are halfway there to a perfect holiday outfit!

This year, there has been a revival of the cotton poplin white shirt, which has had a complete makeover. If you have a basic white shirt, you may want to pair it with a feather skirt and tie it at the waist to create a dramatic New Year’s look! Add a vibrant, elaborate hoop earring to complete the look.

Whether you are a cat lover or not, a feline topper will definitely turn heads this holiday season! This is a great addition to any wardrobe, can be used for the entire season and for years to come. This leopard faux fur coat (not pictured) is one of our favorite feline pieces that we are completely drooling over.

We can’t get enough of the luxe look of velvet! It is soft, comes in so many colors and makes us feel very feminine. Try a simple velvet shoe to add a new texture to your outfit.

Let’s be honest, we all need a bodysuit! You may not think so, but instead of wearing a tank top under everything, you may want to switch it up with a bodysuit. The bodysuit sits beautifully under a dress, with a skirt or, if you can pull it off, with a sleek pair of jeans. This basic black bodysuit goes with everything.

 Add a little textured clutch to any of these pieces and off you go!

From our closet to yours, happy holidays!

What are your holiday wardrobe staples?
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To me, frilly equals feminine. When I think of frill, I think of the decadence of Marie Antoinette, the girlishness of Little Bo-Peep, and the frilly white socks my mom used to pair with my Mary Janes. But, wearing ruffles and frills now is a different story.

Wearing Ruffles and Frills: A How-to Guide

In fashion, frill has moved past the frilled white sock ($10). This season, ruffles and frills seem to be everywhere I look. I am truly elated to announce that the frill is back and I could not be more excited to relive my youth through stepping out in frilly dresses and accessories. This trend isn’t just for moms. Everyone knows that a little girl dressed in frills is absolutely adorable.

I am enamored with the ability to be comfortable and feminine at the same time and this look is not just for special occasions. Frills will be found in the business world, footwear, casual wear, dresses, outerwear and even accessories. From glamorous looks to the sporty vibe, the ruffle will be seen throughout the season and you will be a stand out in a noticeable statement frill.

The frill statement pieces

The Oversized Chiffon Ruffled Blouse ($78) can be worn to work with a fitted trouser or during an afternoon with your favorite jeans. I have been known to wear this look out in the evening with a leather-effect slim pant, too. You can always add a frill to the bottom of a pant and keep the top simple like this Roll-Tab Sleeve Tunic ($28) with a Frilled Stretch Trouser ($70) or a Leather-Effect Trouser ($70).

The cozy and comfortable frilly accessory

Accessorizing can help fit your mood or personality. I love the idea of a pair of Ruffled Fingerless Gloves ($60) that add just that bit of a feminine vibe! A simple Jersey Ruffle Sweatshirt ($58) can really update your wardrobe, giving you a relaxed silhouette. A comfortable shoe can’t be beat while making your way through your list of things to do, get the look with a white Ruffled Sneaker, $412.

Are you wearing ruffles and frills this season?
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Sparkly, glittery, shiny, oh my! This season I have discovered the look of metallic styles and they are slowly starting to replace the sparkles in my closet. In the past, I’ve been a big fan of sparkles, but have noticed that after a few wears, I tend to get a little bored. I want glitter and glamour, but I also want longevity. With metallics for fall, not only am I getting my glitter fix, I am adding a modern element to my wardrobe that is unexpected and matches with almost any other color I’m wearing.

Metallic Styles for Fall 2016

The muted mirror metallics are playful and unexpected, yet add the elegance to any look with a refined twist to your wardrobe. Unlike sparkles, metallics remain clean and light wear after wear, acting as a base for a unique glam look without looking too overdone.

The metallic shades speak for themselves, whether you are wearing a silver-toned sweatshirt, $70,  high waist metallic leggings, $30, metallic zip booties, $140, an a-line leather mini-skirt, $160 or adding an iridescent halo to your manicure, the variety of hues to choose from are endless.

This trend is a serious ode to the early 2000s, but also a flash forward to the future of fashion. Metallics are not only showing up on the runway, we are also seeing interest and shine in the home in accent pieces such as a super chic silver metallic pouf, $90. Metallic pieces that act as a neutral will surprisingly go with almost anything and be a stand-out in any room.

This season, combat tired burgundys and beiges, which are repeated every single fall season without fail. Shine on in gloomy weather, and rock an everyday metallic hue.

How will you be wearing metallics this season?
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Dear neck,

I never took notice of you before, assuming I would be young forever. You and I had a great relationship. You do whatever I do, you come with me everywhere, and you look great with a bit of bling. Now, three kids later, and you seem more noticeable than ever, and I can admit that I took you for granted in the past. We exercise together, and although my body remains toned, you seem to have lost the spring in your step. Thanksgiving is inching closer and closer, and I want anything but to have a turkey neck. I started looking at you a bit closer in the mirror after a conversation I had with my friends during dinner.

One of my girlfriends told me that she has lines on her neck from sleeping on her stomach. Another friend responded that it was part of the aging process and demonstrated how sleeping on your stomach doesn’t create lines. She forgot to mention she sleeps on her back! When I got home I started to take a close look at my neck — do I have sleep lines on my neck and chest? I started to do a daily check, too.

Does sleeping on your stomach give you lines on your neck?

After I received my SiO SkinPad package and began using the pad, I saw a difference on my neck after two nights of wear. The SiO SkinPad is a new product that uses medical-grade silicone to reduce wrinkles on the décolleté while you sleep. Additionally, if I want to boost my neck’s appearance before going out in the evening, I put the SiO SkinPad on while I am getting ready to give me a radiant and smooth look. This pad is reusable and fits firmly in place as it encourages my skin to repair and create new collagen production. Not only did I notice that by using the SiO, my skin remained soft, it helped to maintain my natural moisture.

The SiO is remarkably able to keep fine lines at bay, and provide a protective barrier from allergens and irritants while sleeping on my stomach!

Now I ask you, have you taken notice of your neck? Be prepared for the holidays… without looking like the main dish.

This post is not sponsored. Product was received to review. As always, all opinions are our own.

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Our Ask a Teen expert is experienced in all sorts of scenarios and is often heard giving advice to her friends. Ask a Teen will lend an understanding ear to teens and give helpful advice from her own perspective.

Ask a Teen: Back-to-School Edition

Mia is finishing her last year of high school with ease after experiencing all the ups and downs as many teens do. As an active member on student council, Mia has mastered dealing with every issue that school can throw at you. She has mentored and tutored younger students, and knows the exact advice to give them to help make their lives easier. What better advice can you receive about your children than from an expert teen? She’s willing to answer any questions and offer excellent advice, so send in any questions that you or your children have and she will help!

Q: I’m extremely nervous to go back to school this year. I had a rough end to the last year, and I’m dreading the beginning of the school year. How do I overcome this?

A: Whenever I go back to school, I like to think of it as a fresh start. You have new pencils, new markers, new clothes and new classes with different people. Remind yourself that since it’s a new year, you’re able to start it however you want to. You can form a new friend group or you can set new goals for yourself, but it all depends on your attitude. If you enter the school year miserable and gloomy about the past, then you will only give yourself a negative start to the new school year. However, if you are optimistic and see the new opportunities you have for the school year, the beginning of the year will flow much more easily! It’s all about what you make of it.

That being said, even if the beginning of the year is rough at first, don’t panic — I promise it will improve! I remember the first-week-of-school where I would come home and cry, because nothing seemed to be working out. However, those moments do not sum up your entire year. There will be other moments in your year that you will remember and they will outshine all of the bad memories. Whenever I look back on my previous years, I see all of the positive memories; such as laughing with my friends or being super proud of a grade I received. It’s inevitable to avoid some bad moments from happening, but be sure to not let them define your year!

Lastly, be happy! The happier you are, the happier people will be around you. Laugh a lot and make jokes about scary situations. Sit with friends in class, do work with other people and smile whenever you have a chance. You can create the best years of your life by simply approaching the year with joy!

Everyone gets a bit nervous for school, but don’t approach it with negativity, never let bad memories define your year and be happy!

Q: I really want to be more known in my school this year… how can I make a name for myself?

Once you have a core group of friends, popularity will matter less to you. However, there are ways to make a name for yourself and be known by the school without dealing with drama or dropping friends. All you need to do is find something you love and get involved.

What matters to you the most in school? Is it planning events, academics, sports or clubs? It becomes much easier to adapt to your school life once you find an aspect that makes you happy. Personally, I love planning events and academics are very important to me. I found a route to pursuing these things outside the classroom through student council and tutoring. I got so happy planning events on student council and being responsible for fun days for the student body. This genuinely made me enjoy going to school more, since I found something I loved to do within the walls of the school.

Next, get involved and be the person who makes a difference! It doesn’t have to be a big council or role in the school, it can be a small committee that you can take charge of. My school allows you to make your own clubs and committees, so you can be the founder of a very popular club. Once you earn a role on a committee, you can make a difference in other students’ lives too and encourage them to join and get involved. This allows you to make a name for yourself in the school environment solely based on doing something you love. Whether it’s joining a pre-existing club that you’re passionate about, or taking a leadership position and creating your own, this can be your breakthrough moment in school!

Since I got involved, I have established a positive name for myself at school and it has also enhanced my high school experience since I get to participate in activities that I love!

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The time has come for your child to head off to college. You have been preparing for this move for years and your child has been telling you that she is ready and well-equipped to handle this huge milestone. So why is letting go so difficult?

Tips from a Mom Sending Her Daughter to College

I could use one million words to describe the feeling of sending my daughter off to college, but none are adequate. It truly is a bittersweet experience, which taught me about letting my children take the wheel for this journey, and remaining a passenger, instead of a backseat driver. Since my daughter was majoring in English, when we sent her off, I gave her a book called, Magic Little Words, by A. Delaunois to share how impactful little words can be. This book describes how little words have huge meaning and represent bigger concepts. This gift was tailored to my daughter, as she loves to write, and I wanted to let her know how the words she speaks and write have impact, no matter how “little.” Here are some tips we have learned after her first year away at school.

Network with older students

Mom: Set your child up with a mentor or a friend of a friend who has been to or going to the same school to help your child acclimatize and navigate through the new intricacies of their environment.

Daughter: Join a club to meet older, more knowledgeable students. It’s good to have a friend who will sell you their textbooks, without ripping you off.

Start doing the laundry at home together… before she goes to school

Mom: Create a laundry schedule at home, separating colors, talk about items that have to be hung verses thrown in the dryer (hopefully most clothing can be put in the dryer, there is not a ton of hanging space in dorms).

Daughter: Tide Laundry Pods are your friend. Easy, and basically effortless. I was always nervous about leaving my clothes and sheets alone in the public laundry room, so I would station myself on top of the laundry machine I was using, and get some homework done while I waited for the end of my washing cycle.

Organization is key

IMG_9534

Mom: Ensure that you are organized for what’s to come. Make lists, talk to other parents of children who have moved to the same college. Start “nesting” and gathering items needed for the dorm room, buy second hand books, furniture, and bed risers.

Daughter: My dorm room ended up looking like a hurricane hit, but my drawers and accordion hanging shelves helped. My advice is to be sure to make time to shove all your dirty clothes into your closet before mom visits.

Think ahead for data use

Mom: Look into a family plan that optimizes long distance and data. FaceTime can be your best friend while she’s away.

Daughter: All schools have WiFi all over campus — I rarely found a reason to go over my allotted data in my family’s plan. Plan to pack a portable charger in an overnight bag, or you may find yourself walking back to the dorms late at night with no way to contact friends.

Pick room decor that matters

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 12.54.09 PM

Mom: Allow your child to select items that are practical and that can travel with them the following year. Will they need bed risers once they move into an apartment or in shared housing?

Daughter: Print TONS of pictures, and buy tons of sticky tack.

Try not to worry!

Mom: Of course there will be crying involved! Your child is growing up and it is time to let go and explore the world. It is a very exciting time!

Daughter: Worrying is inevitable. Just enjoy the ride!

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Teen Fall Fashion Essentials for Back-to-School

Shopping with teens for back-to-school can be so much fun… and it can also be challenging. Thankfully, our resident teen mom, Lisa, has the best tips and tricks to making it work for everyone. Even if you don’t have teens at home yet, you can start implementing some of these strategies into back-to-school shopping with your kids now!

Get organized

Prior to taking my children shopping for back-to-school, I like to do an inventory of what they already have in their closets. First, we do a clean up to make sure that we know what we are looking for, and then we make a list of things they need. There are always trendy pieces that my daughters will want once the shopping excursion has begun.

Budget

I always give my children a budget! That way, they have to rationalize what they actually need versus what they want. They can create piles of items that they want and add up the value themselves in order to narrow down their choices while still in the fitting room. A simple cotton, budget-friendly Biker Jacket, $50, that can be used all year round was added to this years must haves.

Key pieces

My children know that classic pieces last in their wardrobes a lot longer than trendy pieces do. Although, during our shopping trips, they always are lusting after the latest and greatest. Sometimes, if they really want something, they will need to eliminate something else in their collection to maintain their given budget.

Trends

With stars being the latest trend, we had to invest in a couple of star pieces. For this season trend, we purchased a star slip dress, pictured above from LFStores (price upon request at store), and added the Wilfred Piaf T-shirt, $40, underneath to solidify an appropriate after school/evening look. We paired this with a simple, yet layerable, Contrasting Velvet Choker, $15.

Comfortable and fashionable

Super trendy doesn’t always mean practical. My children spend most of their time at school and or studying. They need to dress for comfort, yet feel confident in their clothes. If it’s not comfortable, but pretty, it may hang in the closet after that first-time wear. For back-to-school, we chose a stylish yet comfortable pair of Superga Platform Shoes, $80.  We added a simple, yet classic Reclaimed Vintage Bandana Neckerchief Scarf, $17, that can be worn on the neck, around the wrist, or tied to your backpack.

Choices

Remember that the teenage years are a time of expressing yourself. Let your child make their own choices but guide them when necessary. Even siblings may have polar opposite tastes in fashion, give them the freedom to make wise choices while setting them up for success.

Have fun and bond

Back-to-school shopping can be a time of bonding with your children. Being prepared ahead of time will give you the opportunity to enjoy this time with your kids.

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