Blog Archives

My Christmas Binder

December 20, 2013

Thank you to my friend, Danielle, an inspiring Mom and a believer in the importance of family traditions and rituals. I aspire to be as organized as she is, read here about her brilliant Christmas binder idea.
Danielle is the voice behind Festival Fete’s blog, Festival Fete and her own blog, Rock-Paper-Snips.

Guest Post by Danielle Salisbury, Find Danielle on Facebook

christmas crafts, Christmas baking ideas, Christmas activities for kids, organizing for Christmas, Christmas organization,  Christmas traditionsI admit it. I am one of those super-organized people who I think drive other people crazy. When confronted with a mess, after the initial rush of panic, I actually get joy from creating order out of chaos. I also love a celebration, and with the holidays, I tend to go a little over board and end up feeling overwhelmed. So, finally a few years ago I discovered my own little holiday tradition that keeps me in check (so I don’t go too overboard) and helps me keep a bit of order in the chaos of holiday planning. It’s my Christmas Binder.

In the binder, I have photos, recipes, menus, Christmas “To Do” list, Christmas card list, gift ideas, crafts, table settings, decorating ideas and a gift and tip list. I love being able to reference back to see what we gave the babysitter last year and how much we gave in tips!

organized Christmas, red binder, Martha Stewart Christmas, going overboard for Christmas, limoncello, homemade Christmas gifts, cooking for Christmas, menus for holiday dinner, Probably the the most useful part of the book is my personal notes on menus and what we cooked. For example, the year that I made seafood risotto on Christmas Eve (thinking I would satisfy the Italian tradition of seven fishes in one big dish) we didn’t sit down to eat until 10:00 pm and unfortunately we hardly remember the dish because of all the wine that we were sharing with the risotto during the three hours of cooking! Now I can refer to my notes to see that I shouldn’t start shucking lobster and shellfish an hour before you expect to eat it.

One of my favorite things about this binder is that it is a place where I can put a great idea and say to myself, “someday…I WILL do/make/cook that.” And eventually, some of those inspirations become a reality.

I usually try to come up with one handmade gift item each year, (usually something for eating or drinking) such as a jam, Limoncello liquor, truffles, etc. This year, paging through my binder I found a recipe for cranberry vinegar and decided that would be my foodie gift. The recipe was from Coastal Living Magazine in 2000. So even though it took me 12 years to finally make this – it did happen eventually!

Ten Warning Signs of Teen Marijuana Addiction: What Parents Need to Know

December 19, 2013

signs of teen pot use, signs of marijuana addiction, marijuana addiction, signs of weed use, teen grass use, teen weed useMy thanks to Scott Brand for this guest post on recognizing teen marijuana addiction. Taken one by one, some of these signs may appear to be typical teenage behaviors, but use these signs with an open mind and to be aware of patterns.

For a lot of these signs, the key can be if you’ve noticed a CHANGE in these behaviors. It can be hard for parents to face and accept tough issues in our kids but they need us to advocate for them if they get on a troubled path.

Guest Post by Scott Brand

Do you know the signs of teen marijuana addiction? Do you know what to do if you suspect your teen is addicted?

Marijuana is also referred to as cannabis, or weed, grass, pot, dope, ganja, Mary Jane and countless other slang terms. Whatever the term, marijuana has been hypothesized by some researchers to be a gateway drug that leads to more serious teen drug abuse. Marijuana is the most often used illegal drug in the United States.

Ten Early Warning Signs of Teen Marijuana Addiction

The Grace Box

November 13, 2013

saying grace, teaching kids to pray, faith and family, faith and kids, prayers, dinnertime prayers, ideas for grace, box of prayersThe Grace Box sits on our kitchen table and represents more than the slips of paper it holds. I believe that the key to happiness in life is gratitude and daily grace before meals builds in both being thankful and teaching thankfulness to our kids.

The Grace Box used to be a small envelope that Ali decorated in Sunday school, over the years, we’ve collected short prayers and dinnertime graces and upgraded to a larger container. The prayers came from Sunday school classes, magazine clippings and the weekly prayers our old church in New Jersey used to distribute in the Sunday bulletin. We have a small children’s book of prayers that fits in neatly and an embroidered prayer on the wall that Anna favors reading when we sit at the table that’s closest to the framed words.

Should You Let Your Kids Watch Scary Movies?

October 30, 2013

Many thanks to Kate Oliver of www.help4yourfamily.com for this guest post on scary movies and gauging your child’s developmental readiness for viewing them.

By Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

scary tv shows, kids and scary movies, kid with bowl of popcorn, what age is it ok for kids to watch scary movies, when can kids see scary moviesIn my house, Halloween is second only to Christmas. My children are still at an age where they want to dress up and trick or treat. They are eight and ten and they love to get a little bit scared sometimes as well. It is all part of the Halloween fun. Many holidays have special movies attached to them as well. Unlike Christmas, with, tales of Santa Claus and reindeer, and Easter, where we learn about a sweet bunny that brings treats, Halloween has movies of a different sort.

Sure there is Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin, but then there are the other movies…the scary movies.
In my work as a child therapist one issue I help kids overcome is sleep problems including nightmares. It is interesting to me that many times when children have nightmares, they are linked to watching scary movies, or even just the news. During this season of scary movies, let’s be especially mindful of the impact of what we decide to let our children watch.

teens and movies, teen nightmares, TV and teens, teens eating popcorn, boy in striped shirtI am certain my husband and I are not the only ones who have thought back to a movie we watched as kids, looked it up on Netflix and excitedly introduced it to our children only to be surprised at just how many four letter words were in say, ET and The Karate Kid. I certainly do not remember, as a kid, taking note of the language that was flying through those movies. I think many times when parents watch a scary movie with their children; they do so because they remember that excited and scared feeling they had watching the same movie.

5 Ways to Enjoy Parenting More

October 25, 2013

Are you enjoying parenting? Or are you just plodding through the days, bogged down in the tedium of caring for and redirecting little ones (or bigger ones) day in and day out?

5 Ways to Enjoy Parenting More

enjoy parenting more, are you enjoying parenting, sunflower parenting, how to be a better parent, love parenting, how to enjoy being a mom, 1. Slow Down

Yeah, I know, SO much easier said than done! I too often feel like we’re always in a hurry, rushing to pick one kid up only to race to the other side of town to get another kid to a doctor or activity. With three kids all wanting to participate in sports, music, robotics and other enrichment activities, even the best laid schedules end up with some overlap. As parents, we want to provide these opportunities to our kids and allow them to explore something they’re interested in, but it’s worthwhile to strive for balance.

On the days that we have less going on, or a rainy day that cancels a sports practice (thankfully!), I savor the calm pace, the chance to leisurely cut vegetables for dinner, to chat with a child over a cup of afternoon tea. I build in at least one week day in which we have no after school activities and no set place to be. The kids can run around and play with the neighbors after their homework is done and can take a long, prune-making bath instead of a speedy shower.

I find I enjoy parenting more when we slow down. Our weekends, since no one plays soccer, are usually an oasis of slow motion, extended time in PJs, big breakfasts together and working together in the yard. We value the time to play a family game, watch a family movie or do a project together.

2. Focused Time

Every day, I check in, touch base and give focused attention to each child. Even taking a 15 minute chunk to hear about their day, to ask about friends, to ask their opinion on something, makes a big difference in connecting to your child. Connecting, in turn, helps us to enjoy parenting more. Isn’t that the whole reason we had kids in the first place – for the prospect of a special relationship.

Happify Is …

October 22, 2013

Have you heard the buzz around Happify? Have you wondered, What is Happify? Here’s my answer:

Happify Is …

happify, what is happify, happiness is, introducing happify, is happify a gameAs a beta tester – a Happify Pioneer – I shared my experience with Mother’s Circle readers in February in my Introducing Happify post. (Read that post for more details on what Happify is all about!) Since then, Happify has added many new features and today is the official public launch. Now, without needing an invitation, anyone can jump in and start their Happify experience and answer the question “What is Happify?” for themselves.

From their blog: “At Happify, we’re passionate about helping people find happiness, contentment and fulfillment through fun activities, games and exercises based on proven scientific research from the top minds in the country.”

Happify is … Fun

Sign up and try out the games and exercises, the Happify app, and the many new tracks, several created and “hosted” by celebrities or professionals. Within our busy, stressed days, one way people find relaxation is in social media, Happify is an escape from the daily hub-bub with a purpose! It’s a mix of video game, self exploration, Pinterest boards, social interaction (on posts and through threads) and online gratitude journal. It’s fun with a benefit – the activities are all based in the science of happiness (the science of happiness is also explained on the Happify website.)

Happify is … Spending time together

There is a new game called “Uplift” since I last posted in which you spot and click on positive words. Whenever I

[caption id="attachment_3490" align="alignright" width="300"]Happify tracks, Happify activities, what is happify, should I get on happify, how do I get happier Some Happify Tracks[/caption]

get to the games in a track, I save them to do with my kids. They love the search and find scenes that encourage us to slow down and savor the visuals and I love that we slow down and savor the time together.

This summer, I did a track called “Raise Happy and Resilient Teens” and there were activities that Ali and I did together and some that I turned over to her to do on her own (she’s been dying to join Happify.) It was a small thing but it spurred some nice conversations between us.

Autumn Organizing Ideas

September 30, 2013

autumn organizing, autumn organizing tips, ideas for fall cleaning, orange leaves, fall leaves backgroundSpring Cleaning is a time of clearing out and freshening up after winter and Autumn Organizing is a time to declutter and put things in order before snuggling in for winter.

There are so many things to switch over in the fall, summer clothes are exchanged for sweaters and mittens, toys are purged and the entertainment center is rearranged to make room for what Santa brings. I even like to move books down through the kids. Things Ali is too old for move on to Michael and Michael’s shelves are cleared out for Anna. When Anna outgrows books, we safely store the favorites in waterproof bins and others are donated or shared with cousins and younger friends.

This weekend, I tackled our shoe problem, for Autumn Organizing, the flip flops are traded for fuzzy boots. I cannot believe how many pairs of shoes we have for a family of five – and since the start of school, every shoe, sandal and sneaker seemed to be spilling around every entrance. Then, at the first snap of cold, my girls (as girls can do) excitedly pulled out all of their favorite winter boots and added them to the mix. Every shoe bin and basket overflowed, bursting heel to sole.

The Great Shoe Switch-Over Project had to be done! Every kid tried on all of their shoes. Ali’s hand-me-downs got put away for Anna’s petite feet, Anna’s out-growns are in a bag for donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters and anything with rips, holes or excessive wear (i.e. most of Michael’s shoes) got tossed.

Confident Parenting

September 16, 2013

confident parenting, 4 seasons, discipline techniques for kids, reward systems for kids, learning to parent, how to parent, parenting tips, help for parents, learning to parentThere are times we parents find ourselves rattled, off our game or plain old stumped, but it’s at those times, we need to seek resources and find our mojo to return to confident parenting. Parenthood begins in pregnancy and evolves as our kids grow.

The main goal in parenting boils down to raising future adults with solid character (however each family defines that). We are raising children with the hope of them becoming happy, resilient, confident, healthy grown-ups ready to face the world.

We find our parenting style in many ways, through trial and error, doing and learning, reading books, websites, blogs, expert opinions, observing other parents, reflecting on how our parents did the job. In the end, even with support of family, friends, teachers and community members, the job is ours and we need to trust ourselves. Trust that we know our children best, trust our ability and trust ourselves to seek out help when we need it.

Parenting is a learned behavior – you can improve, you can develop skills and you can grow and change.

Confident parenting encourages us to both examine ourselves and our habits, and to reject advise we don’t agree with, even if it’s from an “expert” or printed in a book. It’s okay to get comfortable trying stuff out, I loveblowing bubbles, child blowing bubbles, games to play with toddlers, crafts for toddlers, pudgy toddler hand, the idea of building up a parenting “tool bag” with tools gleaned from different sources. Tools can be stories to illustrate an idea, motivational tools, demonstration of a skill, reward charts, discipline techniques, family rituals, morning or bedtime systems, distraction tricks, setting clear limits … anything we use in teaching and guiding our children.

6 Tennis Tips for Kids

September 9, 2013

6 tennis tips for kids, tips for tennis, teaching kids tennis, tips to teach kids tennis, tips for family sports, team sports for kidsTennis is a terrific sport for all ages and it’s a sport that grows with you. Here are 6 tennis tips for kids.

I played a little tennis as a kid, wait, I take that back, I took LESSONS as a kid but never really played. I remember one instructor telling me my moves looked more like I was dancing than playing tennis. Oh well. I moved onto other physical endeavors. I did a lot of individual sports like gymnastics, skiing and yoga, but I do feel like I missed out on something by not having participated on a team sport growing up.

Seven years ago, I decided I really wanted to play tennis. I began playing in the summer, quite intensely, I loved it and would play any hour of the day, sweltering under the burning sun, with anyone who would play with me. I was so obsessed that I felt disappointment, no matter how many hours we’d been playing, whenever my tennis buddies would wind down and end our session. For years, I only played in the summers and by the time July rolled serena williams, serena image, serena serving, serena williams in pink and yellow, serena williams 2012, serena us open, around, I was practically back to square one. Finally, I joined our local indoor club and began playing year round about four years ago, that made the difference. I could at last begin to improve and up my game.

As a watched amazing tennis at the US Open yesterday (what a match between Serena and Azarenka) and during the past weeks, I thought about how much I love tennis and how happy I am that all three of our kids are enjoying the sport as young children. I’m so happy that Ali is playing on the high school team and getting that experience I never had – being a part of team, supporting one another, training, practicing, traveling together and cheering one another on. Tennis is giving her that.

[Tune in tonight for what’s sure to be more stellar tennis with the Djokovic/Nadal match-up (5:00 pm on CBS).]

6 Tennis Tips for Kids

1. Make it Fun

Tennis should be fun first! When playing isn’t fun or kids feel pressured, they’re likely to lose interest. It’s important to keep it low key as kids learn. Allow them to just enjoy hitting, trying new things and socializing without any focus on results or winning. Skill building and improving will come.

One of the major reasons that 70 percent of kids quit playing sports by the time they’re 13 is because they’re not having fun. A Michigan State University study asked girls and boys aged 10 to 12 why they played sports. The top five reasons given:

1. To have fun.
2. To do something I’m good at.
3. To improve my skills.
4. To stay in shape.
5. To get exercise.

The answer “winning” didn’t make it into the top ten reasons. And repeated studies found the same number one response of “fun” as kid’s reason to play sports.

What is littleBits?

July 25, 2013

what is littleBits, littleBits starter kit, building with electronics modules, electronics for kids, better than legos, if you like legos you'll love littlebits, littlebits color codeWhat is littleBits? Now that I know the answer, littleBits are guaranteed to be wrapped up for birthday gifts and under our tree for many Christmases to come. With the discount code for Mother’s Circle readers below, you can give the gift of imagination, too!

Move over, Legos, here comes littleBits!

littleBits makes building with electronics and prototyping for budding engineers completely accessible and fun (ages 8 and up.)

We always call our son Michael “the engineer” because he is incredibly resourceful, creative in mechanical and inventive ways, and endlessly curious about how things work. He’s always figuring things out, fixing things and solving functional problems around the house. His eyes lit up when he opened the littleBits box!

Michael has always loved all things building from Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys to erector sets, magnetics and bristle blocks, but I think as much as we’ve loved and been buried by Legos in our house, this could replace them! Or perhaps we’ll see Legos make their way into a littleBits creation.

As a blogger, I am bombarded by people asking for me to review items or to pitch their thing on my blog. I only agree to something that I really love and feel genuinely good about recommending to my readers and I am so excited to share this with you. My whole family (and the neighbors) are happy that we’ve “discovered” it! Watch this video and you’ll be hooked, too.

Sell Old DVDs Online with Music Magpie

July 8, 2013

sell old DVDs online, music magpie, making extra money online, helping kids make money selling, organizing cds, cleaning old DVDs, tag sales, yard sales DVD, Music Magpie is a site I recently learned about that let’s you sell old DVDs online. Somehow, we have way too many CDs in our house. They’re stacked up and hidden away, taking up space in our TV armoire barely ever looked at, let alone listened to.

So I’m taking the plunge, paring down and selling whole towers of old CDs. I remember my first CD player and the feel of opening a new CD and now I chuckle as they collect dust and I listen to my iPod while cleaning out our old music collection!

Camping Activities for Kids

June 25, 2013

sun through trees, woods, woodlands, camping activities for kids, things to do with kids, outdoor activities, camping ideas, fun with kids, camping recipesCamping activities for kids can spring up naturally from your surroundings and basic camping preparations. We’ve been camping with our kids since Michael was a baby (that was a sleepless weekend with a pack and play in a tent and rising with the birds … but that’s a story for another post!)

Both Nick and I grew up camping with our families, his family more than mine. We both have warm and happy memories of evenings around a campfire, searching for the perfect marshmallow roasting stick and spending time with our parents. Before our kids were born, Nick and I did some camping together and with groups of friends. We camped in Saratoga, NY, and spent our days at the races and along the water in Virgina. It was the perfect activity for our fresh out of school salaries.

Years later, when our children were still little, we ventured out on a few single-night camping outings. We pitching tents, putting up a tent, how to put up a tent, tent camping, tents and kids, kids putting up a tent, kids helping with camping, would load everything up and leave early on a Saturday morning to a campground nearby. Sometimes we were only 20 minutes from home but once you’re inside a wooded campground with streams, ponds, pools and fire pits, no one could tell where we were!

The kids, older now, love camping and we are building memories of unplugged family time. Our number one camping rule: Electronics are not allowed.

Remember when camping, hiking, climbing and exploring in the woods to check for ticks. Click here for 7 tips to protect your kids, and yourself, from Lyme disease.

Kids find their own fun with what’s around and here is a list of more camping activities for kids.

Summer Solstice Activities

June 21, 2013

summer solstice activities, strawberry, strawberry picking, strawberry in hand, when to strawberry pick, strawberry lemonade recipe, homemade strawberry lemonadeHow will you spend the longest day of the year? Here are some summer solstice activities to do for yourself or with your kids.

In astronomical terms, the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere marks the start of summer and the time that the sun is at it’s northernmost point in the sky. But the day is also full of spiritual meanings, symbolic meanings, and personal meanings.

The day marks a sort of tipping point in the year when we reach the longest day and shortest night and it marks a reversal as days shorten following the solstice. There are myriad ways to acknowledge this celebrated day. Add your own ideas to this list in the comments.

Do you have any family rituals or traditions around the summer solstice? Take a moment to enjoy some summer solstice activities alone or with your family.

Fame Obsession Among Kids

June 19, 2013

fame obsessed, obsessed with being famous, zac brown band image, I want to be a rock star, I want to be famous, my kid wants to be famous, kids want fame, I’ve pondered fame and what it means to be famous over the years and I’ve worried about the disproportionate value our young people place on fame. I believe that fame obsession among kids, from teens down to younger children, can have unexpectedly negative effects.

In a culture decades into reality TV (remember when the “experts” were predicting it would be short lived?) it’s difficult for kids to see anything but the positives and coolness of being famous. That’s the value system we’ve fed them their whole lives: Being famous is a goal, it’s a free ticket to whatever you want, strive to be famous.

Even in a household that limits television or even restricts it all together, that message is pervasive. In school bus discussions, on morning news loops and papers, splashed across magazines at the grocery store check out line. Fame is held high, coveted, envied.

A 2009 UK study found that the career goals of today’s kids versus 25 years ago vary greatly with the top three slots today being pop star, sports star and actor. Of the three, only sports star even showed up on the list 25 years ago, in 7th place.

In the extreme, fame obsession among kids and teens can lead to real-life consequences. From imitation in styles and risky behaviors, to misplaced goals and priorities, to outright craziness as portrayed in the film The Bling Ring, in theaters nationwide Friday. The Bling Ring is based on the true story of teens breaking in to celebrities home and stealing millions of dollars of stuff in an effort to live like the stars. Click here to read a Mother’s Circle post on The Bling Ring and Internet Safety.

Clearly, that’s on the far end of the spectrum. In my life and as a Mom, I strive for a balance. I love going to the movies and I’ve had my times of pining after Rob Lowe and Shawn Cassidy (I’m giving away my age!) but it had perspective. It’s normal to be star struck to a degree, even the stars say they get star struck. It’s our job to teach our kids the difference between a healthy admiration and fanaticism.

The Bling Ring And Internet Safety

June 17, 2013

Guest Post by blogger Brian Jones who shares how The Bling Ring and Internet safety relate and how parents can use this film as a teachable moment.

the Bling Ring and Internet safety, The Bling Ring movie, Bling Ring trailer, keeping kids safe online, celebrity obsession, fame obsessed, The film The Bling Ring offers a teachable moment about internet safety. It premiered in selected New York and LA theaters on June 14th opens nationwide this Friday, June 21st. The film is based on the true story of a club-hopping group of teen burglars who helped themselves to the trappings of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. In fact, the group, nicknamed the Bling Ring, stole more than $3 million in jewelry and clothing from the homes of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom, including more than $2 million from Paris Hilton alone.

Interestingly, social media sites not only contributed to the Bling Ring crimes by fostering celebrity envy; the fashionable gang of teens actually orchestrated their intrusions in large part by using publicly accessible posts they found on social media sites.

Children and teens have grown up in the age of social media and feel very comfortable using these sites on a regular basis. However, the potential danger of social networking sites is no new story. Crimes committed with the help of social media range from profile hacking to robbery. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips you can share with your kids and use to teach them how to live safely with social media.

Gardening With Kids and a Groundhog – Part 2

May 31, 2013

This is the second part of Gardening With Kids and a Groundhog.
Click here to read Part 1.

[caption id="attachment_2693" align="alignleft" width="230"]Gardening with kids and a groundhog, groundhog home, gopher home, how to get rid of a groundhog, groundhog eating garden, Caddy shack gopher scene, bill murray caddy shack, Our groundhog’s home.[/caption]

New growth came from the healthy young plants trying their best, and then they were snipped to the ground again. I blamed bunnies, tried to match footprints and searched online for answers. We finally saw him: a lumbering, well-fed, brownish-reddish groundhog. We didn’t know where his home was so we needed another solution (since them, we’ve discovered his abode seen in the image to the left).

I got a Havahart trap and filled it with all the greens and lettuce a groundhog loves. Soon after, we spotted the trap door closed. “We got him!” I thought, but no, we got a possum. We let him free and filled the trap again. A day later, we caught a possum, we let him free again. In the pecking order of smarts, it appears groundhogs are smarter than possum. On and on it went, we had no success through the fall and then it was hibernation time.

The groundhog had won round one.

I mourned the loss of my garden, I truly felt sad each time I wandered to my fruitless garden beds. [On a side note, groundhogs (or maybe it’s just our groundhog) don’t like peppers and despite the disappointing season, I was grateful to at least have gotten something out of our garden.] new plants for garden, plants from seeds, turgor pressure, cucumber seedlings, squash seedlings, image of cucumber plant, gardening with kids

Growing new shoots from tiny seeds and watching them sprout then flourish into real plants makes me happy. Gardening with kids makes it even better. We chat while we work, about school or friends, and things spill out as we work the dirt. They also ask questions about each plant and begin to learn to identify them by their leaves, picking between a weed and a “real” plant. They learn basic biology, and about Turgor pressure and plant divisions, about bulbs, tubers and roots.

One of our favorite family lore stories is “The Cucumber Story.”

Gardening With Kids and a Groundhog Part 1

May 30, 2013

gardening with kids, gardening with kids and a groundhog, groundhog in garden, chicken wire fence, building a chicken wire fence, will chicken wire keep out groundhog, Gardening with kids is an opportunity ripe with lessons. I love gardening and through the years have had lush flower gardens and plentiful vegetables and I’ve struggled against beetles, deer and other critters. When we lived in New Jersey we had literally a dozen deer in our yard at a time (and lots of incidences of Lyme disease). We had sweet spotted fawn following their mamas and we witnessed full out buck fights, horn-to-horn only yards from our back door.

This overpopulation of deer chewed on everything except for the 5 foot tall weeds in our woods. They ate every “deer-resistant” shrub we planted. The garden center guy would say, “Well, they’re not supposed to eat holly [or this or that],” and I’d say, “Well, our deer do.” There wasn’t a purchased plant that was safe (unwanted weeds were untouched, of course).

I’d read at the time that dirty diapers outside keep the deer away from flowers and bushes; I had two young kiddos still in diapers so I rolled them up and put them around the garden beds. Yes, I know, in writing this it sounds as ridiculous as it was.

7 Tips to Protect Your Kids From Lyme Disease – And Yourself, Too

May 24, 2013

tips to protect kids from lyme, walking in the woods, deer ticks in woods, take a hike, prevention of lyme disease, help for lyme disease, resources for lyme diseaseThe most important way to protect your kids from Lyme disease is knowledge. I shared my story of Lyme Disease and also the controversy and misunderstanding surrounding Lyme. Within this swirl of confusion, there are studies, facts and recommendations that rise to the surface and are the first line of defense against this insidious and potentially debilitating disease.

Even with the best protective measures, it’s possible – even likely – you or someone in your family will get a deer tick bite and Lyme. Click here for one grandmother’s story of how despite her efforts, she has Lyme.

What I hope you gain from the post is a deeper awareness and understanding about Lyme so that you’re more likely to recognize signs (and trust yourself) earlier.

The earlier the treatment, the better the outcomes. Part of how to protect your kids from Lyme disease is guarding against chronic Lyme should your family be affected and undiagnosed, untreated Lyme can lead to a chronic condition.

1. Learn about Lyme

Here are some key things to know about Lyme disease:

  • Lyme is a risk in all 50 states, it is no longer a disease of the northeastern US region.
  • If you receive a positive blood test for Lyme, it’s absolute, you’ve got it. However, if you receive a negative test, you may still have it. You can’t trust a negative. Of people with acute culture-proven Lyme, 20-30% will continue to test negative on the Western Blot. There is no test for the actual spirochetes, only a test for the antibodies produced against it. There are also other tick borne illnesses not tested in commercial tests.
  • Because of unreliable testing issues, the diagnosis of Lyme is a clinical one.
  • It’s not know how long it takes to transfer the bacteria, it can be only seconds in children. Clearly we are not likely to see the exact moment a tick hops on our kids and we might not even see the tick itself. If you suspect Lyme, get treatment promptly. Lyme can spread widely through the body within hours to days.
  • Some hallmarks of Lyme are that it moves around, it’s a migratory, transient pain. A child may complain of leg pain then a headache, then hip pain over the course of time. It’s also cyclical with symptoms presenting in one way in about four weeks cycles, and they may change. Are you starting to see how this is a tough diagnosis? Does your child complain of a headache monthly? Or sore knees?
  • Another clue that it’s Lyme disease is the worsening effect at the time of the first treatment (this is called the Herxheimer reaction or Herxing). As the bacteria die off they release toxins into the body faster than the body can handle them creating a sudden and dramatic inflammatory response. If you or your child experience this Herxing effect, it’s another likely clue that it’s in fact Lyme.
  • There is documented transmission from mother to fetus and the baby may be born with congenital Lyme. We do not know, but the Lyme spirochetes may survive in breastmilk, it’s recommended that nursing mothers are treated aggressively.
  • Peak season is considered April – September.

Themed Cakes and Cupcakes

May 21, 2013

themed cakes and cupcakes, pink flower cupcakes, decorating cakes with marshmallows, marshmallow flowers, pink cupcake ideas, pretty cupcakes, I love to decorate themed cakes and cupcakes for a party. Years ago when I was making all sorts of pretty cupcakes, before the big cupcake trendy boom. I love entertaining with a theme and baking to match. Kids birthday parties are central to our decorating endeavors.

There have been rocket ship cakes for space parties, Jell-O that glowed from beneath for a glow in the dark party and cute froggy cupcakes for a Princess party (for the Frog Prince story.) We also have made lipstick shaped cakes for a girly spa party, blue patch worked cake for my son’s “Blue Party,” and Dinosaurs have marched across cakes and crystalized snow flakes have glittered upon them.

For my grandmother’s 90th birthday, my Mom handed me a ripped out magazine picture of an outrageous cake complete with a water body and beach. I took on the challenge and painstakingly, for my grandma, iced bikinis on Teddy Grahams. For the upteen hours of labor, I enjoyed a sweet moment of praise as everyone oohed and aahed at the cake before cutting in.

beach cake, themed cakes and cupcakes, teddy graham cake, jell-o in cake, blue pool in a cake, pool cake, seaside cake theme,

One of my favorites was the bumblebee and lady bug party:

lady bug cupcakes, lady bug party, bumble bee cupcakes, bumble bee party theme, bug party, bug birthday party, themed cakes and cupcakes

 

On the Flip Side

May 17, 2013

on the flip side, father and daughter, father and teen daughter, father hugging daughter, kids leaving home, empty nestersWe’re on the flip side. We have fewer years left with kids in our home than we’ve already had years with them.

I recently realized that we have only nine more years until we are empty nesters. It doesn’t seem possible. Looking at my sweet young kids, none driving yet, how can it be that Nick and I will be on our own with everyone graduated or away at college in fewer than 10 years?

Like a surprise party, somehow we’re on the flip side. It’s the trick of time. Amazingly, as I only recently “figured this out,” we’ve actually been on the flip side for a couple of years already. It went unrecognized as we romp through our daily life.

My feelings all swirl together like the colors in a carnival spin art craft. Joy, sadness, hopefulness, disbelief, worry, unpreparedness. I’m not ready. Not even close to ready now. Nine years is not enough time with my kids living right here, under my wings. Yet, like the mother of a two year old who laments having a teen, I know that as the minutes build into years, I’ll become more ready.

How is it that we only have four years to teach our daughter about boys, relationships, and life? Only four short years to impress upon her the warnings about drinking, the weightiness of foolishness, the exponential exposures of social media, the jumble of joys and dangers of choices …

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Teen

May 10, 2013

sarah cynthia sylvia teen, sarah cynthia sylvia  stout, shel silverstein, shel silverstein drawing, shel silverstein death date, bio of shel silverstein, poems by shel silverstein Today marks the 14th anniversary of Shel Silverstein’s death (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999).

I grew up treasuring my “Where the Sidewalk” ends book and I wrote poems inspired by his style and quirky subjects. I wrote about shaving cream, making friends with seaweed and other questionable poems as I emulated the master poet and artist. Read a biography of Shel Silverstein here.

I’ve read these poems to my children for over a decade, they’ve been the center of school poetry projects and my old “Where the Sidewalk Ends” book has been well loved; the book jacket tinged yellow at its edges.

One of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems has always been “Sarah Cythia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out.” (I also love the the King and his Peanut-Butter Sandwich, the Magical Eraser and my kids crack up at the Invisible Boy and Warning – the one about the snail in the nose.)

Since this poem rattles around in my head from time to time, in my frustration at my daughter’s messy bedroom, I began composing this poem. It’s based on my beloved Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout and here I present it in celebration of Shel Silverstein’s life.

5 Instagram Safety Tips for Teens

April 29, 2013

Our daughter, Ali, wrote a guest post about Internet Safety for Teens; to follow up, here she discusses 5 Instagram Safety Tips for Teens. As a non-Instagram user I kind of don’t “get” it but as the Mom of an Instagram user, I’ve needed to at least know how to navigate through it. I’m about to learn all the ins and outs. Hot off the presses, with Ali by my side, I just signed up for my very own Instagram account.

Guest Post by Ali DeCesare

instagram safety tips for teens, internet safety, online safety, online tips, tips for parents on instagram, helping your child on instagram, keeping your child safe online, A lot of the world’s youth has moved away from Facebook to migrate toward Instagram, but don’t be fooled, Instagram can be just as risky to a child as Facebook. Instagram can get…messy. From profanity and inappropriate pictures and comments to cyber bullying and hate mail. I know from first-hand experience how dangerous it can be (see my story at the end), and so I wanted to share some ideas on how to stay safe on Instagram.
Instagram is a free online social networking site that allows you to share daily life and important events through pictures. Pictures can be digitally altered with filters that the Instagram team provides.

Instagram is also an Apple app. Each post/picture is seen by the amount of followers you have. Whether it’s one or one million followers (yes: certain people do have over one million followers. Crazy, isn’t it!) all followers will see what you post.

Talking to Kids About Bad Things

April 18, 2013

American Flag, flag with snow, talking to kids about bad things, praying for Boston, talking to kids about Boston Marathon, answering kids tough questions, answering kids quesitons, flag half staffTalking to kids about bad things is difficult for parents, especially as we grapple ourselves to find meaning in the meaningless, the horrific.

Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are.” Angels among us, it’s so true.

Can we find a silver lining amidst these horrors?

I am always an optimist and am continually warmed by humanity and the generous, boundless, selfless outpourings of love and kindnesses in the face of terror and disaster. We saw it in Boston, in Newtown, in New York, in Haiti, in Sandy, in Katrina, in Texas ….

How do we find our own center to be able to talk to our kids about bad things? How is it possible to make sense of something that makes no sense? And that’s where I start with my kids.

Keeping their ages in mind is always important and knowing their personalities to be able to gauge what they are able to hear and what they need to hear.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I parent from a place of truthfulness and openness with my kids: about where babies come from, about sex and about bad things. They see me cry, I explain; I share my emotions and disbelief, my grief and my anger. I believe in answering kids tough questions head-on and honestly. But also age-appropriately.

11 Tips to Raise a Safe Driver

April 1, 2013

I am pleased to introduce you to Ken Myers, president of Morningside Nannies, with some tips on raising a safe driver. As a parent of a soon-to-be-driving teen, I appreciate the ideas he presents here. As in many parenting situations, parental involvement and eyes wide open is crucial as are clear and solid limits. Since teens’ brains are not yet fully developed and they have less ability to reason, use good judgement and control impulses than adults, they need definitive limits that don’t leave room for judgement calls. For example, a rule against any phone usage at all in the car doesn’t leave them to figure out when it might be okay (emergencies excluded). Enforcing strict limits takes parental creativity and involvement, but it truly is a life and death matter. The temptation to respond to a call or text is simply too great and kids (as adults) are inclined to respond instantly. Distracted driving, according to 2012 statistics, kills nine people and injures over 1000 people daily. Teens, as inexperienced drivers, are even more likely to be involved in distracted driving accidents. Consumer Reports gives many good tips on how to guide your teen to be a safe driver.

How can a parent teach a teen to be a safe driver?

As a Dad, my child first getting behind the wheel can be a nerve-wracking experience. Every negative thought enters my head, and a Dad can’t help but be a worried mess every time his child’s car pulls out of the driveway.

teen driver, teen girl driving,teen boy driving, gold car, teen driving safety, teaching kids to drive, texting and driving, curfews for teens, how to set limits for teens, distracted driving, Here are 11 tips to help ease your mind and ensure your child is a safe driver while on the road.

Practice

When your child has their learners permit, try to have them drive whenever possible and during multiple weather conditions. This will allow you to see their driving skills in numerous amounts of situations, therefore, giving you plenty of opportunities to give driving advice.

Driving School

Make sure the driving school is trusted and credible. Look at the curriculum provided during the course, and make sure they touch upon every important aspect of driving.

Comfort Driving

Before they go for their license and drive on their own make sure your child is comfortable driving. Since they are still novices to the road there will be some unease, but if they seem extremely uncomfortable driving, then have them practice longer with their permit before going for their license.

Seat belt

Make sure the first thing they do when getting in the vehicle is buckle up. It is crucial to emphasize that their seat belt will protect them if there is ever and accident. Your child should also be made aware that not buckling up is against the law.

No Distractions

Until your child is a safe driver with some experience, their friends should not be permitted in the car while they are driving. Friends talking and fussing with the radio are an easy distraction to a new driver.

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?

Music for Newtown Auction

March 22, 2013
[caption id="attachment_1994" align="alignleft" width="300"]3 doors down, 3 doors down and music for newtown, 3 doors down donations, image of 3 doors down Beth with 3 Doors Down who donated an autographed guitar to the Music for Newtown Auction.[/caption]

 

The list of heavy hitting stars donating to the Music for Newtown Auction keeps growing even as the auction date is three days away.

Jack Johnson, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Tim McGraw, 3 Doors Down, The Eagles, Eddie Vedder, John Mayer, One Direction, and Rush to give you a teaser.

I have an “in,” so keep reading for a new item announced here first!

Happy Spring Equinox

March 20, 2013

spring, spring flowers, spring equinox, vernal equinox, happy spring, signs of spring, spring is in the air, daffodils, narcissis, trumpet flowerSpring is my favorite season and even though we welcome this year’s spring equinox with snow-covered ground, there is sunshine and green buds are poking through. Robins are hopping around and I feel excited by the season of new beginnings. Bring some spring indoors and force forsythia with the kids.

Seasons change because of how the Earth orbits the sun and the tilt of its axis, it’s determined by shifting sunlight. Today, the vernal equinox, both night and day are both about the same length of time. In Latin, equinox means “equal night.” Also on the spring equinox, the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west.

A few weeks ago, I cut some forsythia branches from our bramble of winter forsythia bushes. I brought them in to force and today I’m enjoying the yellow spring flowers in full bloom. This is a fun activity to do with children of all ages.

Up close, you can see that the branches that look bare and sleepy are actually full of buds. Since forsythia grow and multiple heartily, it’s okay to allow children old enough to manage clippers to cut some with your guidance. Simply cut branches then clip off any short pieces that would be below the water line of a vase. Then give them a fresh cut at an angle and because they are a woody stem, I also use the shears to cut UP the stem separating it vertically to give more area to absorb water. Another option is to give a fresh cut and then crush the end of the branch with a hammer. (Any kid would love to help with that part!) Then wait a few days and you’ll have spring indoors!

forcing forsythia, vase of branches, red dining room, red walls, forced forsythia, yellow flowers, forsythia in bloom, how to make forsythia bloom, when do forsythia bloom, yellow flowers of spring, spring flowering bushes

 

To the left are the plain branches waiting to open. To the right, the blooming branches to enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t like to throw any away so these in the blue vase are the tiny off shouts that I cut from the large branches. These make great smaller arrangements to put in bathrooms, kids rooms or on your office desk to cheer you!

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!

Parent Child One on One Time

March 12, 2013

yellow plane, rhinebeck, ww1 planes, father son camping, boys weekend, One on one time with each of your children is worth scheduling. It’s can be such a valued tradition for each parent to carve out a special time alone with each child throughout your week. What you do doesn’t matter, what matters is that your child has 100% of your attention with no distractions.

It doesn’t need to cost money, take all day and it doesn’t even require leaving the house, but adding in special occasion one on one time can build cherished memories.

I still feel cherished and special when I think about some one on one time I had with my parents growing up. There was the time my Dad took me, just me, to go horseback riding. It wasn’t a habit and didn’t become a thing, we only went once, but it was a new experience and I did it with my Dad. I was the center of his attention the entire time we were together. Another time, we went hiking in the woods. On the day I was alone with my Dad, my Mom would take my sister somewhere just for her. On one of our days, my Mom let me choose what to do, I picked going to a Hallmark store! Truthfully, I still love gift shops and sending cards.

Finding time alone with each of your children isn’t always easy, but get creative and I’m sure you can see opportunities in your day to give even 15-20 minutes of concentrated attention to each child. Can you do a puzzle or craft with your 4 year old while your toddler naps? Can you go for a treasure-hunt walk through the yard or neighborhood when grandma comes over to stay with the other child(ren)? How about making the usual bedtime or bath time routine dedicated time to a child?

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.

Music for Newtown

February 25, 2013

music for newtown logo, Music for Newtown, sandy hook elementary, tim mcgraw, republic records, beth bogdan, heart musical noteMoved by the horrors in Newtown, Connecticut, our hometown, my sister launched Music for Newtown. She works for Republic Records who is sponsoring the online auction which will take place March 25 – 27, 2013.

After December 14, Beth, like so many who called Newtown home, felt drawn, and returned to Newtown. She talked to the First Selectman’s specially organized committee, the administrators of the United Way of Western Connecticut, as well as the superintendent’s office and Newtown Social Services to determine where needs exist.

There was an incredible, immediate outpouring from people wanting to help, but the needs continue. Many of the affected families are out of work and struggling financially. Resources are needed for ongoing counseling services and eventually for building or rebuilding, depending upon what is decided for the future of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The United Way of Western Connecticut has waived their administration fee so that all of the proceeds from the auction will benefit Newtown needs through the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Beth has been pulling together resources and the music industry is rallying for the cause.posters for Newtown, signatures for Newtown, 3 Doors Down, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, guitar donations, signed guitars,

KOTO – Know One Teach One

February 18, 2013

koto hanoi, hanoi restaurant, paper lanterns, white paper lanterns, globe lightsA year ago this month, my Mom and I took a trip of a lifetime together to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Before the trip, my daughter selected the book Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke for our mother-daughter book club, it takes place in Hanoi. I read it before leaving to be sure I could bring back relevant details and photos for the girls. KOTO is highlighted in the book and it was on my list of places I had to go to.

In one of those law-of-attraction moments, on our first night in Hanoi, only hours after landing, our guide gave us a run down of the next day. Quang told us the itinerary has “lunch on our own” scheduled but he hoped we didn’t mind that he had made a reservation for us all to eat together at a place called KOTO. My jaw dropped, I gasped and I flung my head to look at my Mom who understood my excitement.

Perfect! I would be taken directly to the one place not on the official tour that I wanted to see.mother daughter traveling together, traveling with your mom, vietnam tours, odyssey tours, southeast asia travel, visiting vietnam,

Color Code Your Kids

February 13, 2013

pink and blue bowls, orange bowl, cereal bowls, cheerios left over, kids favorite colors, parenting tips I color code my kids.

After having enough of counter tops full of glasses, I got everyone a unique, special glass that identified them. Each day, each kid would (ideally) use only one glass. All we really drink is water and it has helped limit that full-top, un-full bottom dishwasher issue.

Then, I kept coming to the kitchen finding half eaten bowls of cereal, I was throwing away so much every day, but it wasn’t always the same kid leaving it behind, so I bought cereal bowls that matched the kids glasses colors. Ali, blue, Michael, orange, Anna, pink. (Michael loves green but his glass had orange glass goldfish into it and thought it was cool, so he’s become orange.)

Now at least I have an idea who to speak to about leaving Cheerios soaking and soggy.

I need to color code my kids towels next. You’ve heard me rant about continually finding towels on the floor. There are hooks RIGHT THERE! I call kids back again and again, interrupting them from whatever activity they’re involved in, hoping that eventually they won’t want to be disturbed and will just hang up their towels. Nope! Hasn’t worked yet.

I often hear, “I hung mine up!” as I stare at a floor-full of white towels and empty hooks. So that’s fairly easy to tell that NO ONE did it, but there are times that there’s no way to know the culprit if a few towels end up on the towel rack.

This works with mittens and hats, and I’ve heard of people color coding socks, each kid gets all one color sock. Ifish glass, goldfish glass, glass wtih fish, orange fish, gold fish with spots, i-Stuff suppose that makes laundry easy and would work with young kids. As kids get more fashion-aware, though, most won’t want to always wear pink socks, and clearly blue socks don’t go with black pants. Could I even find orange socks if I wanted to?

We recently added a new way to color code my kids. With all the i-Stuff in the house and all the corresponding cords and plugs, we’ve covered each kid’s chargers with a colored duct tape (found this idea on Pinterest, I’ve pinned in under Things to Do) and it’s already minimized the, “That’s my charger,” disagreements over the exact same cord!

Do you have any ideas to color code your kids?

Celebrating Childhood Birthdays

February 8, 2013

This is my fourth post in the Mom Before Mom series started by Carla at All of Me Now.

This Week’s Prompt: How did you celebrate your birthday?

Happy Birthday Leah, Birthday cake, decorating a birthday cake, kids birthday cakes, pretty flowered cake, peach flowers,Like in last week’s Mom Before Mom post about favorite home cooked meals, my Mom was central in making birthdays special growing up. She baked, decorated, planned, wrapped, hostessed and cleaned up after.

Most of my memories of my earliest birthdays are from faded square pictures. My friends and I all dressed in frilly pink party dresses, a cardboard throne decorated for the birthday girl, streamers, balloons and presents.

My birthday is in early November, so as I got older, I often had Halloween-themed birthday parties. Decked out in costumes, my friends would arrive and between autumnleah's birthday, 1970's birthdays, old birthday photos, pink party dress, birthday girl games, my Mom would lead us through a mini haunted house in our finished basement. We loved the nervous feeling and giggled nervously as she told us a legend, blind-folded, and we had to step over imaginary creatures, touch unknown brains and we somehow ended with our face in a plate of flour, I wonder if she remembers how the story went.

Even for my sleepover parties, my Mom planned games like dressing up relays. One year, I remember my Dad getting angry because some of my friends dressed my little brother up as a ballerina and then tied together the pink tights at his feet. I got in trouble, but it still makes me laugh!

As a Mom, I really don’t love slumber parties, but for my birthdays, just like my kids now, I always wanted to have a pajama party. My friends and I would line up in our family room and do the hustle to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. (Can you guess how old I am?)

Writing Life

January 28, 2013

writing journals, diaries for kids, national novel writing month, record keeping families, traveling, Bermuda, France, cruises with families, Writing has always been something I’ve loved. I got my first diary when I was eight years old, a yellow book with white flowers on the cover, gilded pages and a golden lock.

Those early entries in my daisy-covered diary, written in second-grader printing, were simple recordings of my days, “I got up, I went to school. After school, Karen came over to play. We played outside. It was great!” My report-style writing evolved to reflecting on events, venting deep emotions, exploring relationships and pondering life. Recording daily details continued at a new level, and often my diaries became references for where we spent a certain Thanksgiving (settling some bets), what year we threw the 80’s party or when I dated “that guy.”

In re-reading old journals, it’s shocking to me how many things – big things – I’d forgotten, not just minutia but things like auditioning for the school play, I did that?

For my year 2000 project, I set out to transcribe all hundred-something hand-written books. While I didn’t make a big dent in that idea, as I worked, I marveled at how I could read and find myself feeling 12 or 17 again, I could instantly be back in a moment in my past. At other times, it was as if I was outside looking back in a motherly way at my younger self, I saw and experienced that memory in a whole new way, with a new perspective colored by experience.

Internet Safety: A Teen’s Point of View

January 23, 2013

I asked my daughter to write a guest post on internet safety for teens. (Well, okay, it was more of a required lesson after a doozy of a slip up while online. We wanted her to do her own research and learn more about online safety and I wanted her perspective to offer other parents.)
In preparation, she spent time online watching many PSAs and learning internet safety tips, but I was amazed to see that in her writing, she focused more on our actions as parents helping her (even though she doesn’t like them and complains!) and she also reflected on her own behaviors.
In addition, I’ve provided some quality links to help you learn some concrete tips, suggestions, educational tools, online rules and some texting acronyms.
I have a favorite line in here – I’ll share with you at the end – priceless insight into the teen mind!

Guest Post by my favorite teen – Ali DeCesare

online teen safety, teen's talking, communicating with your teen, girls texting, stay safe online, instagram safety, instagram bullying, social media and teens, Internet safety for teens, As a teen, I use a lot of technology in school, for homework, and just in my free time. I’m not as technologically advanced as some kids in my generation, but I do know how to use the Internet, set up a new e-mail address for random things, and signing up for YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, or any other social media.

I don’t think teens understand the danger they may be in when they release even the smallest bit of information on the Internet. That one time you put your first and last name in a post, or one picture of your house, with even just the town or state in the description, it could be the one time it would cost you. There are many Public Service Announcements on YouTube and television that support this idea and others to keep teens safe.

I know as a teen myself that I don’t really want my Mom snooping through my iPod or cell phone, and it gets me irritated when she does. However, after an incident on Instagram with me, I realize that without my mom’s snooping, things could’ve gotten out of hand really fast.

I’m sure everyone goes through the stage of always wanting to be right and completely in control of yourself, (or is that just me?) and when my parents go through personal conversations I have with my friends, it makes me want to be in the right and say that they can’t control me. Deep down I do get that it’s their job (that’s what they tell me) but sometimes I really just want to feel independent and not live in a video game while my parents have the controller. So, sometimes I defy them and always get caught.

Disciplining Our Kids: The Basics

January 16, 2013

sisters, siblings hugging, girl in yellow dress, sisters as friends, big sister little sister, smiling sisters, Disciplining our kids is not easy. It’s exhausting and frustrating. Disciplining our kids can create feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, impatience and helplessness in the best of parents. But that’s no reason not to take charge and do it.

Discipline has two sides – negative consequences for negative behaviors and positive consequences for good behaviors. I love being able to reward my kids’ good choices in life. Praising and acknowledging the behaviors you want to encourage is the best way to influence and guide your child. However, kids do misbehave. I find in working with and being a parent, it’s dealing with the not-listening, rule-breaking behaviors that’s more challenging so that’s the focus of this post.

As parents, it’s our job to keep our kids safe, to set limits for them, to communicate those limits and to give them reasonable and swift consequences when they break a rule.

The point is learning. Discipline is all about teaching our children how to behave and interact with the world, beginning in our homes.

It can be uncomfortable and flat out not fun to execute time outs or to take away an iPod. It requires endless energy to mold kids behaviors, to determine adequate consequences, then to stick it out and deliver them in a timely way. If our goal is teaching them, it’s wise to follow through on a logical consequence right away so they connect the discomfort with the undesirable behavior.

Knowing exactly what motivates a child gives us a perfect immediate consequence; but that can punish the parent. A long car ride without a gadget may be tough, but if it’s educating our child on the importance of proper conduct, well, then as the parent, we need to see it through however hard it is on us.

It’s difficult to see our kids crying and upset, but we’re the adults and need to bear that discomfort and manage our personal feelings. We need to be the grown-ups and carry that weight for the long term good of our children.

If we back down to relieve our uncomfortable emotions, we are ineffective in parenting. We have only taught our children that they can cry, fuss or tantrum their way out of a sanction. They have not learned to choose the appropriate behavior and the next time, it will be exponentially harder for that parent.

Knitting Lessons

January 9, 2013

sisters knitting, kids learning to knit, red yarn, ann hood's knitting circle, Knit wits, knitting groups, learning to knitMy grandmother taught me to knit when I was little. I started knitting lessons with the ugliest (I liked it then) bright purple yarn with silver flecked in it. I was knitting a scarf for my DAD! I just kept knitting it longer and longer, I didn’t ever finish it but I loved doing it. I especially loved doing it with my grandma.

In the years since, I did a lot of needle work, embroidery and cross stitching but haven’t done anything at all in close to a decade (can it be?) Life just took over. I used to stitch while watching TV, but now if I ever get to watch TV, I fold laundry, and more laundry, and, yup, you know, more laundry.

I’ve recently been thinking of asking my Mom to reteach me to knit, but I figured I’ll ask when I have more time to devote to relearning it. Then, I found really pretty yarn on sale – only 29 cents each! I scooped up two skeins and took them to my parent’s house.

Goal Setting for Kids

January 3, 2013

set goals, alphabet blocks, goal setting tips, activities for goal setting, I want to be a better reader, get straight A's, mini-goals, quotes on goalsGoal setting: it’s way better than “making resolutions!” Goal setting is a life skill and a gift to teach our kids young.

I love the Napoleon Hill quote, “A goal is a dream with a deadline,” we can dream, but we need to quantify it to help us achieve it.

Teaching and modeling goal setting to kids is setting them up to strive in life, it’s putting action behind the words: “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Teaching kids how to set goals and map out mini-goals along the path is giving them the tools to really be anything they want to be.

Effective goal setting includes writing it down. Good, old-fashioned pen and paper! You can have your kids illustrate the goal or cut out magazine pictures and make a collage around their written goal. Hang it somewhere prominent, above their bed, beside the bathroom mirror, somewhere they can see it during daily tasks (like teeth brushing, hopefully!)

Thank You Note to Moms

December 14, 2012

A Thank You Note to Moms

I was sitting and imagining what it would be like to receive a thank you from my kids.

We don’t become Moms for recognition or acknowledgement, we do it for the relationships we build with our children. We do it from a place of selfless, boundless love.

But we deserve to be thanked for our tireless, passionate, endless work as Moms. We don’t get sick days, personal days and we really don’t even get Mother’s Day off, do we?

So here is the thank you note every Mom should get. This is for you!

Never say you’re “just a mom” and know that your work is the most important there is!

mom and daughters, two girls, sisters, thanks Mom, appreciating Moms, Mother's Day, ideas for thanking Moms, raising children, disciplining kids, Dear Mom –

Thank you for all you do for me and our family.

Thank you for picking up my socks, my Legos, my bouncy balls, my crayons, shoes, towels and cars, my books, my crafts, my underwear, my DS games, teddy bears, magic markers, my pajamas, more Legos, my Play Doh, my Squinkies, my hair clips, my slippers and all the things we leave in a path behind us everywhere around the house.

I know you spend a lot of your day just picking up the things we left around between coming home from school and going to bed. I just wanted you to know I appreciate it!

Thanks for cooking for us, it must really take a lot of work to plan meals, to go to the grocery store, to read labels and pick the best foods to keep our bodies healthy. It must take a lot of time and energy to put the food into the cart, out of the cart to pay, into the cart, out of the cart to the car, out of the car, into the house, out of the bags and then into the pantry; all before you cook us dinner. Great job! (I’ll try not to say, “Eww” or “Yuck” anymore.)

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