As many of you know, many schools are not even bothering to teach our children the skill of cursive writing. I don’t know about you, but this bothers me a lot because for me, penmanship is a sign of sophistication and intelligence. It’s a right of passage. It is adulthood.
When I went to school, first we learned how to write the alphabet, in caps and lower case, then to hand-write words, sentences, paragraphs, and then we learned cursive. Today, everyone uses a computer so keyboarding is what many schools are teaching.
Standards no longer require elementary students to learn cursive and most think it has gone the way of the dinosaur. I think it is to the detriment of civilization if our children don’t learn cursive penmanship.
Our society is one that is highly digitized and technologically advanced. Who needs to write pretty in cursive if no one is writing, just texting or typing on a keyboard, right? Wrong!
What happens if there is a blackout in a 100 years and no one is alive who remembers how to write? Then what? As a society we become collectively mute? We may as well be cavemen. It is effectively going backwards in evolution because we are lazy.
Luckily, scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitiveÂ development, particularly in training the brain to learn in a capacity for optimal efficiency. When learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking.
To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed. Students have to pay attention and think about what and how they are doing it and practice to get better. Parts of the brain work that do not need to engage during keyboarding.
For me, keyboarding is like learning sight words versus learning how to read phonetically. One is teaching you a skill that will help you develop your ability; the other is mimicking an action without truly soaking in how it works. It’s cheating and it cheats the student.
To write by hand, a child’s brain must locate each stroke relative to other strokes and learn and remember the detail characteristics of each letter.
Cursive writing, compared to printing, is even more beneficial because the movements are harder and more detailed. It’s faster and more efficient to write and allows students to develop a sense of personal style and ownership of their penmanship.
Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual information, tactile information and develop fine motor dexterity. School systems are becoming more and more concerned with testing scores rather than teaching skills that will later develop a better capacity for acquiring new knowledge.
Our children need to learn cursive writing. It will be to their detriment and the detriment of civilization as a whole if we cease to teach and learn cursive writing. My daughters are learning cursive at school and at home because I refuse to live in a society where my children grow into adults who have the penmanship of a 5-year-old and cannot write love letters to their own children one of these days.
Do you think cursive is still relevant, or has it become extinct?
Photo Source: Muffinn
We recently threw a baby shower for my brother-in-law and his wife, who had their first baby this Halloween. I’d almost forgotten how much fun it is to throw a baby shower. I must admit, aside from buying baby presents, my favorite part is choosing which games to play.
There is just something so great about everybody who loves you coming together to shower you and your baby to be with gifts and lots and lots of love. My absolute favorite moment was watching my daughters help their great, grandmother understand what was going on in each game. There is just something very special about a 6 and 9-year-old who can split their time between explaining a game of Just Ask Mama to an 85-year-old and making sure their pregnant aunt had a cold beverage and was comfortable at all times.
I was a proud mama and thanks to the games I chose, I was a laughing one too.
Here are my three favorite baby shower games.
Just Ask Mama
You’ll Need : Note cards and pens.
Distribute note cards and pens to the guests. Tell each guest to write down a question a new mom would have, such as “How do you breastfeed a baby?” or “How do I take my baby’s temperature?” Then, have everyone turn the card over and pass it to the guest to her right.
Have each person write down the answer to her original question on the back of her new card, without ever turning over the card and seeing the new question. When everyone is done, have them take turns reading the question-and-answer combos out loud i.e. question: how do I take my baby’s temperature? Answer: Stick nipple in baby’s mouth and leave until they are full.
The guest whose Q&A combination gets the most laughter, wins the game.
Place several types of melted chocolate candies in newborn-sized diapers (I like to mix with baby food to make it look even grosser and more real. A Payday and peas look way too real to be believed.) Make sure you have many types and consistencies represented: milky, creamy, nutty, caramel-filled, and the like. Number the diapers.
Give each player a note card with corresponding numbers. Pass the diapers around and have each person sniff and even lick ( if they prefer) the gooey ‘poo’ centers in order to guess which brand of candy bar is in each diaper. The person who guesses the most correct poopie diapers wins the game.
This game is hysterical. Make sure to take lots of photos of the guests; the faces are priceless.
Divide your guests into teams and hand each team a roll of toilet paper. Give the teams three minutes to wrap a team member up in a mock diaper. The team with the most creatively/best diapered ‘baby’ wins. As I said we had some elderly women in attendance, so I had to step in and play this game to avoid anyone breaking a hip.
I have to say, it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever done. My sister was the “baby” and all of my years of being a mommy paid off. Apparently I am some sort of diapering savant because I wrapped her up in a matter of seconds. Where the other players diapers were ripping, I kept wrapping and we won.
The photos are hysterical. This is a must play for all baby-showers that I throw from now on.
What is your favorite baby shower game to play?
Photo Source: The TRUTH about Motherhood
What are the bare necessities when you are a new mom? Who knows, right? I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, I was convinced that I needed absolutely everything that I saw. Trendy new 17 function baby swing that had a simulated heartbeat and womb heat function? I.had.to.have.it.
To say I was excited to become a new mother is an understatement. The only thing was, I had no idea what I needed to do so. I mean I had a baby in my belly so I was off to a great start, but there are so many products on the market; what did I actually need versus what was a luxury or even just a complete waste of money?
Well, let me start by saying anything that has 17 functions and simulates a mother’s womb is probably overkill and unnecessary. Little secret, in those first weeks your little one will spend most of his or her time in your arms so no need for high tech gadgets to simulate mommy’s touch because mommy’s touch will be on hand and available.
Here are a few things that I think every mom needs to have on hand before leaving for the hospital to give birth:
Love—Every baby needs a whole lot of unconditional love. This is your job for the rest of your baby’s life so Mommy and Daddy get some sleep. You need your sleep to keep your patience and wits about you and to not overreact when things like jaundice, colic, the first up the back blow out or the breast milk comes in slowly.
Things will not always go as planned but that’s ok; plans are made to be broken. Move on. No point in fretting over things you cannot change. Deep breath. Carry on.
Safe Ride for Baby – Get yourself a brand new car seat. Why new? Because they are frequently recalled and you need one that is safe and up to date on the technology. You can’t leave the hospital with your newborn without it so it should be first on the list.
Hygiene Necessities for Mommy—You will need Dermaplast in triplicate to soothe your inflamed and possibly stitched nether regions, a couple big boxes of mega maxi pads, granny panties, nursing bras, comfy nightgowns and yoga pants.
All Things Diapers—Newborn babies soil a diaper 8-10 times a day, so have yourself a lot of newborn baby diapers on hand. I don’t care if you use disposable or reusable diapers, just make sure that you have plenty of them, wipes, a wipe warmer (I swore by mine for not completely waking soiled sleepers) and a bag to keep it all in.
Bassinet—If you are anything like me, your baby will live in this movable bed until they no longer fit. Get a good sturdy one and make sure it is not around any cords. You would be amazed what little tiny fingers can grab and pull into the bassinet with them. Make sure there is not any loose bedding, bumpers or stuffed animals shoved in the crib; they all increase the risk for SIDS.
Baby Emergency Kit—A bulb syringe, baby nail clippers, diaper rash cream, nursery water for mixing formula, a digital thermometer for taking temperature and plenty of water for breastfeeding mothers.
What do you think is the must have item before bringing baby home?
Photo Source: The TRUTH about Motherhood
Summer is over and preschoolers are back in school for the new school year.It’s a wonderful time of change and firsts. First days of school ever ( for some), making new friends, moms letting go of little ones and a whole new exposure to a lot of different germs.
It’s like a taking a white coat and wearing it to a demolition derby; germs are just attracted to that fresh new, hardly ever been sick preschooler smell.
I know before my girls were in Pre-k, they spent very little time in the company of the general population.Â Within the first week of preschool, they both had contracted the first virus to come into contact with them. I have learned in the years since that while catching colds is a part of childhood, it is sometimes inevitable with a few precautions taken.
Here are a couple ways to keep your preschooler from catching a virus and bringing it home to share with the entire family.
Get enough sleep.
Elementary school aged children need about 10-11 hours a night of sleep and preschoolers need even more. I like my children to get between 10-12 hours of sleep a night. I know sometimes it is near impossible to get little ones to go to sleep, especially in late summer when it’s light out until 9 or 10 p.m. It is a wise investment to invest in some room darkening curtains or blinds, if you have not already done so.Overtired bodies are ones that are vulnerable to sickness.
Cleanliness and proper hygiene will keep little ones free from germs.
Make sure that your little one remembers after taking potty breaks to always practice good hygiene after using the lavatory, playing outside or sneezing, and before they eat. This means always washing their hands in warm sudsy water and antibacterial soap.
A good rule of thumb is to sing Happy Birthday twice all the way through in order to get tiny hands completely clean and free of germs.
Always keep in mind that new surroundings, new people, and new activities equal the introduction of new germs into your precious little oneâ€™s life. Sending children to school with personal hand sanitizers in fun flavors is always a good idea and great incentive to keep tiny hands germ-free.
The kids love hand picking them and are very enthusiastic to use them. My girls have strict instructions to use hand sanitizer before eating a snack and any time they use a community classroom item: mouse, pencil, chalkboard, etc.
Itâ€™s also a great idea to send your little one with a small personal package of Kleenex to keep in their desk. Let them know to use the Kleenex to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing and then to immediately dispose of the used Kleenex into the wastebasket so that no one accidentally touches it and spreads the germs.
Remember to tell your preschoolers to keep those tiny hands out of their eyes and mouth; it’s the quickest way to pick germs up and get them into their bodies.
How do you plan to keep your preschooler healthy this school year?
Photo Source: SidMinor81
Would you deny your child vaccinations? There is a growing trend in the wealthier areas of the United States where parents are willfully denying their children access to vaccinations in an attempt to keep them “pure”.
I understand not vaccinating because of religious beliefs, medical research that is unclear with the cause and effect between vaccinations and autism that scares some parents, or even as a lifestyle choice, but I still wouldn’t choose to forgo vaccinating my children because I feel the risk is greater than the reward.
There is a growing trend among wealthy parents, especially in California, to not inoculate their children. Some of the elitist private schools in our country have a vaccination compliance rate as low as 20 percent. That is 80% unvaccinated.
This scares me because then not only are the children who are not inoculated in danger of contracting what should be long gone childhood diseases, that our bodies don’t have natural antibodies to, but they are also putting children who have been vaccinated at higher risk of coming into contact with those diseases.
While it is truly every parents right to choose to vaccinate or not, it seems a bit irresponsible to me if you don’t vaccinate simply because you can choose not to.
Even more scary is that these children who are not vaccinated can pass these childhood diseases to adults they come in contact to. While chicken pox for a child may be a mild inconvenience, chicken pox can kill an adult.
But this latest trend of class privilege and wealth equaling no vaccinations because the wealthy want to separate themselves from the middle class is stupid and dangerous. All it takes is one kid to single-handedly bring back polio or wipe out entire wealthy regions of the country with meningitis.
Have you seen meningitis in action? I have. It can kill a kid in a weekend and it doesn’t care if you have a million dollars or are homeless.
What the elitist parents fail to recognize is that it is not the vaccination that is the great equalizer between the classes, but the diseases that the vaccination prevents. Diseases don’t discriminate and it has no care or concern for wealth, race or religion; it only sees an opening and takes it.
Make no mistake, not vaccinating is leaving an open door for disease to walk right in and destroy the place. There is no money in the world that can protect your child from disease if you can’t even be bothered to take preventative action to protect them. The phrase ‘an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure’ is not just a saying.
I know the wealthy want to separate themselves from the middle and lower classes. It is a story as old as time, but choosing against vaccinating your child is not where you want to differentiate yourselves. Keep buying the bigger houses and driving the nicer car than the general population because you have earned it, but please vaccinate your children.
Do you think vaccinations should be optional or government mandated?
Photo Source: MilitaryHealth
Are you expecting a baby or going back to work and in the market for a nanny? Many mothers find themselves in this position. It’s a difficult thing to find someone that you trust implicitly with the care of your baby, even if your baby is 7.
As parents, ideally we want the love child of Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee with a teenie bit of Jo Frost thrown in to make the medicine go down. But since they only exist in the movies, to find the perfect nanny for our family, we need to first know what we want, need and expect from her and secondly, we need to ask ourselves some questions.
Can we afford it and what are we willing to make exceptions for? You need to know your expectations and limits in your child’s care and be very upfront about it.
Is a nanny in your budget?Â Nanny salaries vary dramatically by region and by the experience of the candidate. A nanny who has more than 2 years of experience will make more than one who does not, as will a nanny who lives out versus one who is live in.
The national average hourly rate for babysitting or short-term assignments is $16 per hour.Â The national average gross weekly salary for full-time live-out nannies is $705.Â The national average gross weekly salary for full-time live-in nannies is $652. So before you even start looking for a nanny, figure out if this is in your budget.
What are the qualities and qualifications that you MUST have in a nanny?Â If you are like me, you don’t trust just anyone to care for your children. In fact, you may not truly trust any one. So, be honest with yourself and make a list of qualifications that your nanny absolutely must have and qualities that would be nice-to-have.
A non-smoker, CPR and first aid certified, and likes children are must haves for me. Does your child have a medical disability or special needs? Then you need a nanny who is experienced and qualified in this area. Some nannies specialize in newborns and some in older children, some nannies have no college degree but many years of hands on experience, while others have no experience but a degree in early childhood development or education. It is up to you to decide what you prefer.
Write a job description that gives candidates a clear idea of what you are looking for.Â This will help you to not waste time weeding through candidates who are not even close to what you want. It will also save candidates who are not a fit from wasting their time.
You can use it as a checklist. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be for everyone.
Need someone who is skilled at bathing newborns and skilled at making homemade baby food? Put it in the job description. Someone skilled in changing cloth diapers and making bentos? Put it in there. Need someone to drive the kids to soccer and ballet? It must be included in the job description. Want your child to learn a second language? Require a nanny who is bilingual.
Basically, you want a nanny who shares your views on parenting so that she will carry over your desires while you are not in the home.
Start your search. Give yourself about six months to find the perfect nanny. You don’t want to start your search in a crunch and just accept the first candidate who applies; after all, you are finding someone to care for the most precious thing in your life.
There are several reputable online sites like Care.com and Sittercity.com that prescreen candidates. Then you choose from a group that fits your criteria which eliminates some of the legwork for you. Or you can opt for a nanny agency that handles the whole thing including a criminal background check.
Interview the best candidates. First phone screen those that best fit your criteria. Also, this is the time to inform possible candidates that they will need to submit to a drug and background check. If you like the candidate, take it to the next level and have an in person interview. Then have your questions ready, see how she responds. Go with your gut.
What is the most important thing you look for in a caregiver for your child?
Photo Source:Â Ed Yourdon
As the holidays approach, I am acutely aware of the fact that my daughters perhaps do not have enough gratitude in their life. I think it all stems from not wanting for anything.
I grew up in meager circumstances. We didn’t have much, so when we got anything, we expressed gratitude. When I had my own children, I wanted to make sure they never wanted for anything because I had wanted for so much, and I did just that.
I thought I was doing something good for my children. Instilling security and a feeling of safety in their hearts. I felt that by never wanting, they would know that I would always provide for their needs and they’d never have to feel pangs of envy when their friends had all the latest gadgets and the best birthday parties because I would make sure they had it, too.
Unfortunately, they were too young to understand the implications and only understood the surface; they got a lot of things. They came to expect it.
Things that come too easily and are not earned or worked for are just things. They couldn’t appreciate it because they always had it. In order for you to appreciate having things, you have to have not had it, at least once.
Here are a few ways to teach your kids gratitude:
How do you teach your children to have an attitude of gratitude?
Photo Source: Sadie Hernandez
Have you ever thought somethingÂ in your head and in your head, it’s really funny or witty or smart? Lacking theÂ discipline to keep it there, you say the words out loud and as soon as you do you realize that you probably should have just kept quiet.
What is the saying? Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt? I have a tendency to remove all doubt.
Let’s just say that your children were being extremely rambunctious (crack ninjas even) and you think to yourself, I’d really like to return these maniacs to the baby store. Weâ€™d never dare say such things out loud because we know better. We are not horrible people, weâ€™re just a little exhausted from 8 years of no sleep and weâ€™ve not spoken to another adult in a couple months.
Weâ€™re not bad people but as soon as you say something like your kids are crack ninjas or you want to return them, people tend to get on their high horse and not find you funny.at.all.
More often than not, we stand there in silence, biting our tongues while our hair falls out in clumps from stress and we develop ulcers. We smile, eat our feelings and DCFS is kept out of the picture.
In reality, what choice do we have? In a calm and quiet voice, bend to their eye level and try to reason with children beneath the age of reason? Have you seen anyone ever actually do this? I have and while it is perfectly PC and I wish I could be more like that mom, it seldom works and is usually met with a forceful “NO!” which translates in baby language as “Go Eff yourself, lady!”
Perhaps, you could send them on their way to a nice long (age appropriate= 1 minute per year of life) “time out”. Excuse me but if the time out is under 2 minutes, foggedaboutit. It’s simply not going to work.
If your child is too young to walk, time out won’t work. Aside from the fact they will just crawl away, the child will flee out ofÂ sheerÂ incomprehension. I tried this and ended up chasing a giggling toddler around the room like Benny Hill. She thought it was a game called catch the baby. I lost 3 pounds and never caught the baby.
If the child is too old for time out, they sit there ignoring you and waiting out theÂ time out. They are content with this time to gather their thoughts and plan their bedtime revolt.
You can’t spank your child no more than you can kick your dog. You just can’t, so just let that idea slip right out of your head. Seriously, donâ€™t even think about it.
But if you could say anything to your children when they were acting out, without landing in jail, I bet it would go something like this.
“Come here you little punk, I bet a good dose ofÂ water-boardingÂ will make you pick up those damn Polly pockets!”
“Oh yeah, NO to me? NO to you! NO dinner! No toys! No clothes! No play dates! I’m taking it all away!!!”
“You hate me? Well, you are short!”
“Why? Why? Because, I said so that’s why!”
“Please, for the love of GOD, GO TO SLEEP!!!!!!!”
Thankfully, more often than not, we practice not using our inside voice outside of our head, but sometimes we have a slip and that is when you have to laugh it off or ignore it all together and just let people wonder if you were serious. Remember, better to remain silent.
Photo Source: David Salafia
This summer I had the pleasure of attending an event at the American Girl store in Chicago. I’d been there before with my daughters and it’s always a magical experience to watch my girls take it all in.
But on this particular night, I was there with other moms and American Girl announced an expanded and enhanced Bitty Baby line to Create One-of-a-Kind Companions for the Littlest American Girls. I ordered my girls one that looked just like them when they were babies; dark brown hair and big blue eyes with fair skin.
Bitty Babies are designed for girls ages 3 and up. The Bitty Baby is a sweet 15-inch soft-bodied doll available in 11 different combinations of skin tone, eye-, and hair-color, allowing the littlest girls to choose their very own baby doll that’s just right for them.
Each Bitty Baby doll comes dressed in her signature sleeper, along with a special “wishing star” keepsake toy and a beautifully illustrated Bitty Baby and Me hardcover picture book. Several new outfits in various designs are also available to allow your little girl to further personalize her Bitty Baby.
My girls adore their Bitty Baby. I’ve caught my 6-year-old on more than one occasion singing to her baby.
The new Bitty Baby picture-book collection follows a little girl and her Bitty Baby doll as they discover the world. The sweet tales help little girls shine bright by encouraging curiosity, generosity, confidence, and kindness – the things we all want our children to be.
Each book also comes with a special “For Parents” section that focuses on the social and emotional experience of preschoolers, and offers parents tips to help their little girls become more confident, patient, and independent.
The Bitty Baby and Bitty Baby and Me book are perfect for your favorite preschooler. Honestly, the American Girl and Bitty Baby books are my favorite features of the entire American Girl store. They encourage my girls to enthusiastically read the books, and they seem to feel more invested in the books when they are reading to their dolls, especially if the book is about that particular doll.
Inspired by the Bitty Baby books, story-themed play sets based on bedtime, travel, mealtime, and other activities encourage imaginative play. Just like with the other American Girl dolls, matching outfits for girls and their Bitty Baby dolls are available, as well as a new line of premium plush animals and quality furniture, including a wooden crib and changing table.
To further engage little girls and their parents in Bitty Baby’s expanding world, there is now a Bitty Baby Online. Visitors to americangirl.com/bittyparents will find more of Bitty Baby’s world to explore including a downloadable app and enhanced e-books, plus a “For Parents” section with tips to help their daughters to be and do their best.
Little girls can find even more fun activities with Bitty Baby by going to americangirl.com/playbitty, where they’ll discover online games, activities, and puzzles inspired by the Bitty Baby picture books. My daughters love the online features of American Girl and Bitty Baby Dolls.
Every time I look at the face of my daughter’s Bitty Baby, it takes me back to when they were born, and I love seeing that maternal nurturing side caring for their Bitty Baby brings out in them. I can’t wait for my niece to be born in a couple weeks so I can see what she looks like and gift her first Bitty Baby for Christmas.
If you have little girls and you thought they were too young for the Historical American Girl Dolls her big sister has, the Bitty Baby is perfect for the littlest American Girl fan this holiday season.
Disclaimer: I was gifted a Bitty Baby Doll at an American Girl event but all opinions are my own.
Photo Source: American Girl