Blog Archives

What Do Your Kids Want to Be When They Grow Up?

March 27, 2013

STEM careers, kids strengths, when I grow up, I want to be, career choicesIn this week’s Mom Before Mom post, I wrote about what I wanted to be when I grew up it made me think about what my kids say now that they want to be. For some kids, they set their minds on something and never waiver. For other kids, the ideas change weekly, their interests broad and open.

Michael just today came home and announced, “Mom, do you want to hear what I want to do when I grow up?” I was stunned and thought, “Be a psychic?” He had no idea what I was writing about! This most recent idea, though, was more of an event plan than a career path, he wants to climb Mount Everest and glide off the top. (Ugh, see my Boys and Bruises post!)

What do your kids want to be when they grow up? How do we nurture the things that make them happy? How, as parents, can we encourage them to explore and guide them to discover their strengths?

It begins young with exposure to many different experiences. Going for a walk and taking the time to stop and touch some moss or poke a mushroom with a stick is a beginning. So are things like kicking the ball in the backyard, marching through the house with musical instruments or early forays into watercolor still-lifes and Play-Doh sculptures. These are valuable activities at all ages.

Offering varied opportunities isn’t generally the hard part, there are a million and one possibilities, activities, teams, clubs, events and chances to try things out. It’s harder to know how to limit what our kids join, as in all things parenting, it’s about finding that balance.

In the adolescent years, kids tend to begin to specialize in certain activities, they’ve narrowed down their sports and extracurricular time to more focused interests. Those activities may not be what they would pursue as a life path. Or could they be?

7 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

March 15, 2013

4 leaf clover, make luck, lucky 7, lucky clover, I'm unlucky, happy st. paddy's day, st. patty's day luck, be generous, attitude, what's luck got to do with it, law of attractionI wish people, “Good Luck!” as a vote of confidence, a hope for success, but I only have a limited belief in luck. Instead, I believe we make our own luck. Two people could be handed the same situation, the same resources (or lack thereof) and can create completely different outcomes. Some might dismiss it as “lucky” or use it as and excuse, “I’m just unlucky,” or “She’s luckier than me.” I don’t believe that’s luck, it’s attitude, how you choose to look at the world and interact within it.

These are lessons Nick and I work to instill in our kids at every opportunity. We believe in these principles in our own lives, as parents and contributors to society. Let’s call it “The Luck O’ the Italians,” it’s a recipe to make your own luck! Here are LUCKY NUMBER 7 Ways to Make your Own Luck!

6 Sleep Tips for Tweens and Teens

March 7, 2013

tips for teen sleep, teen girl sleeping late, teens can't wake up, teen tired all day, teen not getting enough sleep,In the whiplash of parenthood, we have early rising toddlers who evolve into teens who won’t get up.

Teens and tweens are often not getting the recommended 9.25 hours of sleep they need. Inadequate sleep effects cognitive functioning, academic achievement, family sanity, physical and emotional health and can result in more accidents in teens who drive.

Making sleep a priority for teens is essential to their current health and well-being as well as their ongoing physical and emotional health. Studies show links to poor sleep or difficulty sleeping in younger years to increased anxiety and depression years later.

Learning, practicing and experiencing healthy sleep is a life skill and educating our tweens and teens is a gift.

Introducing Happify :-)

February 6, 2013

happify trademark, happify logo, what is happify?, so do I get happy?, happiness projectIt’s finally time to introduce you to Happify! Two months ago, I was invited to try out Happify and provide honest feedback as I used the site and now Happify is open for new users! Check it out here.

Happify is a cross between a new social media, an interactive game and a shared (or private) gratitude journal. The site is based on scientific studies of happiness that show that what we DO makes a difference in how happy we are in life. Through quizzes, games, prompts and activities, participants on Happify learn ways, and take actions, to be happier and to better appreciate things in their lives.

There is an initial assessment of how happy you already are. I’m pretty happy by nature, so I wasn’t out looking to get happier, but it’s also important to actively do things to nurture my own happiness. I have really enjoyed doing these small activities as a reminder to slow down and appreciate just how much I have in my life.unlock your happiness, happiness skills, happiness test, studies on happiness, how to be happier, blue brain, join happify,

Starting out, users select a track to follow. You can choose from things like: Enjoy Parenting More, The Art in Happiness, Talkers and Listeners and Nurture my Body and Soul. You’ll then have different activities opened to you each day. If you’re gung-ho and ready to do more, there is also a skills section where you can do more activities. I completely cracked up one day when I just kept doing more and more activities and a message came up that congratulated me and addressed me as “You’re an over-achiever!” Hilariously on target!

There are five main skills and all the activities fall under one of these: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize. As you work through different tracks (here’s the video game-like part) you earn gold or silver for completing tracks within certain time frames, and you move up different skill levels as you finish and “Happify” activities.

You’ll do guided activities with prompts like, “Take a walk with a camera,” “Mix things up,” “Give a small gift,” and suggestions for doing and reflecting on what you did. Some things are silly like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand to try to shake things up in your normal routine, while other things might be more sentimental, pensive, or celebratory of you or someone else. Some activities are quick, some you make a plan and pledge to do it then report back after you’ve done it. At any point, you can click and read the science behind the activity, the “Why it Works.”Happify, the science of happiness, studies on happiness, brain with gears, colorful gears, what is happify?, happiness assessment,

You can post pictures with certain activities either from your Facebook photos, Happify stock images or by uploading something from your computer, here the posts look a little like Pinterest with social interaction features for liking and commenting.

I’ve been enjoying my time on Happify. It’s nudged me to really mull things over, to cherish the everyday ho-hum stuff and to share my happiness in different ways. It’s challenged me to recognize and acknowledge my positive impact on others and to consciously live according to my values. Give it a try!

 

** The opinions stated here are my own and I was not required or asked to write a review, only to use the site. As a pioneer tester of Happify, I received a t-shirt and a copy of the DVD “Happy.” **

 

 

Hands that Rock – The Gift of Music for Children

December 28, 2012

Please consider Hands that Rock as you make your year end donations.

hands that rock, HTR, I love you in sign language, music charity, music education, saving music education, chair massage at concerts, Hands that Rock is an organization with a mission to bring the magic of music to under served communities throughout the United States. Founded by Darcy Lynch, a Rhode Island resident, and founder of Stage Hands Massage Therapy, the organization will provide chair massages for audiences at major concerts and events with net proceeds supporting music programs in cooperation with local music outreach organizations.

Since its inception in June 2012, the six month young charity has had 390 massage therapists who have worked at 31 music festivals and events nationwide for 118 consecutive days, and raised $12,000.

Hands that Rock’s primary focus is on developing and partnering with programs concerned with music education, performance, related resources and outreach for individuals and groups in need. It will also support community initiatives associated with environmental, social and health-related concerns to help create suitable environments for the creation and performance of music.

Baby Moon Education Getaway

December 22, 2012

Mystic, Connecticut
Friday evening, March 22 – Sunday evening, March 24, 2013

dad massages mom, pregnant couple, older couple expecting baby, pregnancy breathing, childbirth clases, mystic ct tourism, baby moon ideas, Join us in Mystic, Connecticut for a Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend of exploring, connecting, learning and enjoying. It’s a getaway with purpose – only 45 minutes from Providence, one hour from Hartford – but far enough to feel “away” while you connect with your loved one and continue your work to own your birth.

The term Baby Moon was coined first by Sheila Kitzinger to describe the time a family spends nestled together after the birth of their baby, paralleling a honeymoon taking place after the wedding. In years since, a Baby Moon has become the trendy pre-baby vacation.

If you’re envisioning a no or low-intervention birth, if you know that birth is a state of wellness and you desire to birth your baby(ies) normally, if you trust the birth process and want to honor your experience and protect your memory of your birth, this retreat is for you!

We will incorporate education on normal birth and it’s emotional and physical aspects. Between meals and outings, our time together will include discussions, group activities, demonstrations, videos, creative expressions, movement, time to experiment and continue to build your trust in birth and help you to make informed, evidence-based choices.

Between meals and childbirth education workshop time, you will enjoy free time to visit the Mystic Seaport

[caption id="attachment_1158" align="alignright" width="300"]mystic river, mystic seaport, drawbridge, sailboats, baby moon childbirth, full moon childbirth, Mystic River[/caption]

(you’ll receive two free tickets with your registration), Mystic Aquarium, Olde Mistick Village, hike local trails at the Nature Center, get a massage, take a swim (YMCA membership for the weekend is included in your registration) or check out Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods (about 1/2 hour from Mystic) and have time for a romantic dinner with your honey.

The Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend is now open for registration, escape the daily grind, enjoy time together before your baby arrives and get some sleep before the night feedings interrupt your zzz’s.

For more information or to register click HERE.

 

 

5 Parent Teacher Conference Tips

November 5, 2012

communicating with teacher, woman holding books, math on black board, school success, tips for school success, improving reading speed, third graders, In the season of parent teacher conferences, how can you get the most of those 15 minutes with your child’s teacher?

Be prepared

Think ahead about what you’d like to discuss with your child’s teacher and what questions you’d like to ask. Ask your child ahead of time if there is anything he’s concerned about or would like you to talk about in your conference. What they share may surprise you. You may also seek input from a spouse or a childcare provider, anyone who spends a lot of time with your child.

Write it down

Inevitably, you have some specific thing you’d like to ask the teacher and you’ve forgotten what it is when you walk into the classroom. So often, the teachers are on a tight schedule with parents stacking up outside their door, so you want to maximize your turn. Especially if you have more than one child, writing down some notes and questions is even more important.

Listen

Hear what your child’s teacher wants to share with you about your child. Does she see things that you’re not aware of? Can she provide information about your child’s social interactions, respectfulness of others and general manners and behavior when they’re outside of your purvey? Perhaps he has some worries about your child academically or organizationally.

Voting: Teaching Kids Responsibility

October 8, 2012

I have voted in every election since the day I was legal to vote. My birthday is the first week in November and the year I turned 18 it happened to fall on election day. I’m a committed voter, I even vote in all the less exciting in-between elections. I’m a big believer in upholding […]

Mother Daughter Book Clubs

September 24, 2012

mother daughter book clubs, how to start a mother daugher book club, starting a book club, kids book clubsMother Daughter Books Clubs are a simple, fun way to share reading with your school-aged and teen girls and they offer so much more than just a social event around a book.
They inspire a love of reading and help girls gain confidence in sharing their opinions, evaluating how they feel about a topic, weighing characters’ decisions and pondering how they’d handle that situation.

My oldest daughter and I joined an established Mother Daughter book club, The Book Girls, several years ago and we have enjoyed connecting by reading the same book and having this time together. We Moms have seen such growth in the girls discussions, books selections and interpretations of the stories we read. It’s developed from basic plot discussion to in-depth explorations about ethics, the meaning of gratitude, differences in people and cultures, dystopian worlds and human nature, among other thought-provoking topics.

Last summer, when my youngest daughter was seven, we were reading a book and the main character went to a book club. She asked me, “What do you do at book club?” and that’s when I knew it was time to initiate a Mother Daughter book club with her friends.

We started out with second grade girls and the classic James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl which had beenstarting a book club, how to start a mom daughter book club, book clubs, kids book clubs, celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. The girls dove into the story and while at younger ages it’s predominantly about learning to love reading and encouraging girls to feel confident in sharing their own ideas about a book; the girls also talked about how it would feel to be James, what their reactions would be to huge talking insects and even to think about comparing and contrasting James with themselves and their lives. That first night together, the five friends named themselves the “Book Bugs.”

From the start and as we continue, it’s important to let them know it’s not school and that there’s no right or wrong answer; we needed to give them “permission” to say what they really feel about a book. They’re learning to trust their interpretations and evaluations at their age level.

Paper Chain to Motivate and Reward Kids

September 18, 2012

motivate and reward kidsA simple idea in college motivated a group of 17-21 year old women to earn top grades on campus, so I’m thinking this could really work for younger kids as a reward system or as extra inspiration in school work.

When I was the Scholarship Chair for my sorority in college, I cut up bunches of colorful strips of construction paper then I shared my plan. Anyone who got an A on a quiz, test or major paper could add their name to the A-Chain. Our goal was to have this paper chain grow along the stairway from the main floor to the third floor of our house by the end of the term. I couldn’t have anticipated the positive response. Everyone jumped on board excitedly, they proudly wrote their names and shared their successes with one another. We not only hit the top floor midway through the term, but we went all along the third floor hallway and headed down the back stairs! That year, our chapter was number one in grade point average; it was a rewarding achievement for us all.

It dawned on me that this could really work to motivate and reward kids, from toddler to teens. Here are a few ideas to use a paper chain in your family [this shows how to make paper chains with glue, I use staples or tape]:

Supporting Our Children’s Learning

September 4, 2012

homework tips As a parent, do you sometimes feel pressure for your kids to succeed? Do you wonder what it will take for them to achieve at school and in life? As a mom of three (one who is only five short years away from college) I hope that we’re doing all we can to support their learning but there are always things I know we should be doing that never seem to fit into life’s schedule.

I’m a big believer in trusting yourself and forging your own style as a parent. As we raise our kiddos, we also need to be attuned enough to know when to reach out for help and to seek additional tools and support. We need to adapt to each child as an individual and be able to lift them up when they struggle and to enhance and enrich their experiences in areas where they excel. It’s an ongoing, continual process, one that’s important for school learning and life learning.

There are so many demands on our time, so many places to be to allow our kids the opportunities to experience various extracurricular activities, that even though we know we should be spending extra time reading or helping our kids with a certain skill, in reality, it sometimes (or often) doesn’t happen.

I try to practice guilt-free parenting. I believe we are honestly trying to do our best, we are working to bolster our kids, to provide for them and we are juggling a lot in our daily lives. Let’s forgive ourselves the things we don’t get to today. It’s helpful to prioritize the things you want to do better at, then start fresh tomorrow with one action toward that goal.

Organizing Kid’s Art

August 23, 2012

mermaid painting, mermaid art, drawing mermaids, kids art tips, art books, photo books for artwork, ariel painting, how to organize kids artAs the new school year approaches, how will you manage your kid’s art projects and the heaps of paintings, drawings and craft creations? Whether you have a preschooler’s colorful stick figures or a teen’s 3-D science presentation, here’s a solution that I love!

Many years ago, before I was in the digital mode for photography, and pre-smart phones, I read about an idea that stuck with me: take pictures of your children’s art work and then assemble a book of the pictures. I’ve only done this for the last three school years, but with everything electronic now, it’s a task that’s quite easy, with a little organization. (So why haven’t I started last school year’s book yet?)

When I do start it (writing this is motivating me to get to it) I use and really like Shutterfly. (You can click the link on the sidebar to go directly to Shutterfly). I am comfortable with their tools and products, they offer frequent discounts on photo books and their customer service has been exceptionally responsive when I’ve had any questions. There are other options out there (iPhoto, Tiny Prints, Snapfish, Mixbook, Lulu) for you to peruse. checked globe

When a kiddo comes home with a Groundhog Day hat, I put it on their head and take a picture, then throw away the hat. When the paints come out and the creativity flows into stacks of masterpieces, I snap a shot of each one, and toss them.

When Okay isn’t Okay

August 6, 2012
[caption id="attachment_430" align="alignleft" width="234"]mom talking with boy, parent and son on couch, serious discussion with kids, when okay isn't okay, saying okay to kids, “Clean your room, okay?”[/caption]

About 12 years ago I read a little blurb in a parenting magazine about the one word parents shouldn’t use with their children: the word Okay. I didn’t retain the details of the article but it made sense and I consciously decided not to end my sentences with “Okay?” when speaking to our then one-year-old.

When we tell our children to do, or not do, something, then say, “Okay?” it implies that we are seeking their input or opening an invitation to discussion. If we say, “Johnny, come here,” it is much more effective than, “Johnny, come here, okay?” the simple “okay” gives Johnny a choice we never intended to give him.

In communicating with children, from very young ages, we cannot be ambiguous, we need to be succinct and specific. We’re much more likely to get the results we’re after (good listening is on every parent’s wish list) if we deliver a clear directive: “Do not touch the plant.” Even a pre-walker can understand what his parent wants. He may test you, but repeating the same, concise message with a gentle removal of his hand will teach him that you mean what you say without question.

Birth Literacy

July 26, 2012

Guest Post By Amy Dolgin   I am a mother, a nurse, a public health practitioner, and a blogger. I started my blog, Birth Literacy, to provide women and their families with evidence based information about pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Birth Literacy, is my own spin-off of health literacy, a public health concept that […]

Where do Babies Come From, Mommy?

July 3, 2012

Where do Babies Come From, Mommy

I love this question! How do you answer the question, “Where do babies come from?” when your child asks? I must confess that I am a “birth junkie,” as a childbirth educator and doula, my career has evolved into all-things-baby.

As a parent, it’s important to answer the tough question of where babies come from in a factual and age appropriate way. The discussion of conception and birth shouldn’t be a one time only talk, but instead a conversation that begins basic and young which grows and builds as your children grow, too.

I believe in honest and accurate answers when our kids come to us with questions, any questions. The more consistently you do that for your children, starting when they are very little, the more you are building a foundation of trust and openness. Most parents encourage their children to come to them with problems, questions and fears as they grow up and most parents strive and hope for this relationship and culture of openness to continue into the teen years and beyond. Being truthful, answering questions you may be uncomfortable with and finding out answers to things you’re unsure of will all go a long way in nurturing parent-teen communication.

Where do babies come from? To answer this tough question from inquisitive kids, I would first consider the age of the child asking.

Math Kisses

May 29, 2012

bedtime math

A babysitter when I was about eight years old first introduced me to the song.
It’s a silly little ditty:

“Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
It’s time to go to bed,
Boop Boop!”

and she accented the “boops” with her hips as she left my doorway.

 

When Ali was little, I sang it to her and soon it was a regular part of our bedtime routine. Over the years (Ali is now 13) and through three children, the song has grown, changed and evolved. Each child has added his or her own individual enhancements. A second verse bloomed, “I love [insert kids’ name here], I love [kid sings Mommy/Daddy as parent sings kid’s name], I love [you get the idea], it’s time to go to bed, boop boop.” Michael now says “wee-ooo” instead of “boop boop,” we sing the names of everyone in the family (and our bird, Piper) and new phrases have crept in (“I love Ali, so much, I love Michael, so much…”)

As the song has lengthened, perhaps initially to delay the actual bedtime, it has remained a special part of ending the day. I don’t know how or when, but years ago, Anna (our youngest who just turned eight) began giving two kisses in between each phrase and instead of the boop boops. One night I realized she was counting the kisses on her fingers, we would end up with 16 kisses and run out of fingers, and then we always had to kiss four more times to get to an even 20.

I suggested she count by twos using one finger for each pair of kisses, so Anna started learning and practicing counting by twos. We added a challenge and I’d give her one kiss before singing and she’d need to count by twos on the odd numbers.

Children’s Tough Questions

May 23, 2012

tough questions from kids, questions kids ask, how to answer kids questionsEver been stumped by your child’s tough question? Yeah, me too!
Children are naturally inquisitive and down and dirty scientists. My son has explored critters under stones, built himself a zip line between two trees (it really works after multiple variations and attempts) and even sleuthed out what kind of animal skull he found in the woods. A question lurks and a kid asks it, there’s no editing or second guessing like an adult might do.

I remember as a kid, I was impressed that whenever I was at my friend Bene’s, house, if a question or disagreement arose, the family went to the set of encyclopedias and immediately sought the answers. I loved that it didn’t float out there unanswered, I loved that we could hope to satisfy that curiosity. Kids want to know.

Today, the internet provides us an even greater tool to help give our children the accurate answers they crave immediately. As parents, we get to read and learn something new ourselves and then help to break it down and explain it to our children at an age-appropriate level. An inquiry by a kindergartener can be answered with pictures and simpler phrasing while a teen’s question can become an in-depth discussion or the spark for their next school project.

Choose Trust Not Fear

June 29, 2010

kids art, rainbow art, trusting birth, college women and labor, childbirth and labor, color wheelI just spent four days at a convention with women of all ages and I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with groups of college women. What struck me about my conversations with these young women was their unanimous and overarching fear of pregnancy and childbirth. I wanted to implore them to trust not fear birth.

It saddens me that the sole message these women have received is one of anxiousness, fright and actual terror. In many ways it is no surprise given the culture of childbirth in the U.S. today, the media portrayals and the widely held belief that giving birth is dangerous and miserable.

These future mothers did not have a sense of joy or a confidence in themselves or their bodies to grow and nurture a baby let alone to deliver it! One young woman confessed that she does not think her body can hold a baby while another announced she wanted nothing but a Cesarean. Where is the other side of this story?

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