Category: Parenting

Link Round-up: Healthy Snacks, Natural Sweeteners, and More

Posted on Aug 21, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has delicious, healthy snacks (and one not-so-healthy one), an easy way to open that annoying plastic packaging, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie taught us how to make protein granola bars.

Mind Body Green shared how to stay open-hearted in a world with so much suffering.

Muslin and Merlot shared an easy way to open plastic packaging.

link ru chocolate chia shake
A Beautiful Mess shared a recipe for a chocolate banana chia seed shake.

Suzy Sitcom taught us how to make quick and easy banana pudding cupcakes.

Pet Scribbles taught us how to make a weathered wood tissue box cover.

Natural Chow shared the ultimate guide to natural sweeteners.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and A Beautiful Mess

Revisit the Local Library

Posted on Aug 21, 2014 by No Comments

Technology has made many things that used to take time much faster. For example, you can go to the grocery store, buy a new dress, and make bank deposits all from your bedroom. You can fill your life with all of your favorite books, buying them and even borrowing them from the Internet.

It’s wonderful but there are things that we miss now because of it. It’s time to think about revisiting your local library.

The library has something that you won’t be able to download. It gives your kids relationships with books.

I have so many really good memories of time spent at the library when I was a child. I’d browse the aisles looking for just the right book. To this day the scent of old books is just relaxing to me.

My kids have many happy memories of time spent at the library either looking for books, for storytime, crafts, or whatever. They did reading club activities several summers in a row which earned them everything from their pictures in the paper to free pizza.

My youngest daughter has several books on my iPad. She takes it to bed with her and reads which makes me happy. Since she has been around I have had less time for trips to the library and I am afraid that she is going to miss out on those memories that I think are so important. Taking an hour or two and visiting the library can help your child learn about books in a way that downloading an eBook can’t.

Do you spend time at the library?

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Creative Yet Inexpensive Vacation Souvenirs

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

If your kids are old enough to talk, you’ve probably noticed that buying souvenirs tends to be one of their favorite parts of the vacation experience. Unfortunately, these small purchases can easily take a big chunk out of your travel budget if you’re not careful.

For younger children, it’s best to gently guide them away from the overpriced toys and trinkets towards items that are within your price range.

Ideas for inexpensive souvenirs include:

  • Pressed pennies
  • Postcards
  • Key chains
  • Refrigerator magnets
  • Notebooks
  • Folders
  • Coloring books
  • Stickers
  • Pencils or pens
  • Drinking glasses
  • Hats

If your children are over the age of eight, give them a set dollar amount they can spend and let them choose what to buy accordingly. I’ve found that kids tend to be much more selective with their purchases when they know they will be limited to $20 or $30 for the entire trip. Of course, this only works if you’re strong enough to not give in to requests for more money later in the trip!

I love souvenirs myself, so I never make my son skip the souvenir shop entirely. But, if you have multiple kids, it might be best to forgo purchased souvenirs and let each child create a small vacation scrapbook.

Give your children small photo albums with paper, markers, glue, stickers, and scissors, then have a contest to see who can design the most unique layout describing your family vacation. Encourage the kids to incorporate maps, brochures, ticket stubs, restaurant napkins, pressed flowers, and other forms of free memorabilia into their creations.

When you return home, you can finish the books by adding copies of your favorite vacation photos. If you live near a Walgreens, I’ve found that they often run promotions for free 8×10 prints or photo collages that make fabulous scrapbook additions.

Do you have any ideas for cheap travel souvenirs to share?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

State Fairs Provide Family Time and Learning

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 by No Comments

The Texas State fair is something that we, as a family, look forward to every year. The tickets and the parking are outrageous but there is so much to see and do (and eat) that it is worth it.

My husband likes the vendors areas where there are all kinds of things for sale that you might not ever see if it wasn’t for the fair. I like the wine and beer tastings that are hosted by the local wineries and breweries. I also love the quilts, horses, and food.

OK, I love all of it.

The kids like the Midway, the food, and getting the day off school — so it really is a win-win deal.

State fairs are a tradition that, for me anyway, reconnects me with the basics of life. There’s just something wholesome about looking at rows of canned vegetables, you know? It’s something that our country has grown past, a sort of simplicity that most of us long for but rarely find.

Getting outside and walking around, seeing all of the sights, tasting way too much greasy food, and spending time together with the people you love best is something that you just never regret doing.

Last year we went for the food. The Texas State Fair is known for some of the weirdest fried foods on the planet. Things like fried butter, chicken fried bacon, fried Nutella, and fried Koolaid are just a few of the things that will have you popping Alka-Seltzer for the rest of the night.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you should never give up a chance to spend time with your family. Maybe it won’t be the state fair but make sure that you take time to build both memories and traditions, OK?

It’s what makes life rich.

image: Marye Audet

Where Have All the Adults Gone?

Posted on Aug 18, 2014 by No Comments

Have you noticed that the gulf between children and adults seems to be getting smaller and smaller? It’s more and more difficult to look at someone and say, “Yep, there goes and adult!”

Parents used to have certain activities that they did that were totally different than what kids did. Parents paid bills, grocery shopped, went to work, and watched the evening news when they got home from work. Sometimes on the weekends they played board games with the family or had some mysterious event called a date night.

Dads came home from work and changed from suits and ties into chino pants and button shirts. Now-a-days you’d call it dress casual. Back then it was called clothing.

Parents had their own world and kids had their own world. Once in a while the two worlds collided and it was called either the weekend or vacation. The idea of being a grownup was exciting, mysterious, and intriguing – kids couldn’t wait.

I don’t know how it was in your era but that’s how it was in mine.

It’s more difficult to see the differences now. I see parents sitting at restaurants texting and playing games on their phones. I do it myself – no judgment from me. More than one adult in my family got Pokémon themed items for Christmas last year because they just gotta catch them all.

Adults have more free time than ever before and they do things that used to be associated with childhood like just hanging out with friends, playing the xBox, or walking around the mall.

It’s just so weird to me. Again, I do these things so I am not judging. I am just wondering when we made that decision to move to Never-Never Land and just never grow up.

I wear similar clothing to my daughters. I can’t imagine my mom wearing the same kind of clothes as me when I was a teen but here I am, sitting in the foyer at church while my kids are at youth. I’m wearing gray Uggs, gray skinnies, and a black tweed sweater. There is nothing that screams “I’m a MOM” about this outfit.

I have a large reach on social media and I spend time on Facebook. I have been known to type things like, OMG and WTF. I do draw the line at calling an outfit totes presh.

And I am glad about that.

Adults are important. They lead the world, they keep the rest of humankind safe, and they make rational decisions. Maybe playing Pokemon doesn’t keep you from making those decisions but I wonder if it keeps us from being taken seriously by our kids.

Adults didn’t used to worry whether or not they were cool. They worried about the bills being paid, whether or not they could afford a nicer car, and … you know… adult stuff.

I find that I have more in common with my kids than my parents did with me. We talk about things that I never would have talked about with my mom. I think that’s good in many ways. The other side of that coin is that I wonder if they are as secure as I was. After all, if your parents aren’t any more mature than you are, who’s going to catch you?

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

Mom Gets Kicked Out of Restaurant for Table Diaper Change

Posted on Aug 15, 2014 by No Comments

When my kids were in diapers, changing tables weren’t a prevalent convenience. That’s right they are a convenience, they are not required even today.

One mom recently was eating out and with her three kids when her four-month-old baby needed a diaper change. She went into the bathroom only to find there was no changing table. Now we’re talking about a stinky, dirty diaper. What would you do?

She returned to the table at Brothers Pizza Express in Spring, Texas, and instead of dragging her eight year old, four year old, and 4 month-old baby back to her mini van, she opted for changing the diaper at the table. In her view, going back out to the van was just too inconvenient.

However, messy diapers are rarely “convenient.” She placed her changing pad on the table and changed the baby right there with other diners watching and smelling the diaper change. Needless to say other patrons complained.

The restaurant brought the woman’s food to the table in to-go containers and asked her to leave. The request didn’t sit well with her, and now she has filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

Changing a messy diaper on a table where her children would be eating was a poor choice. It’s not like breastfeeding in a restaurant. It is a sanitation issue as well as environmentally offensive.

The smelly whiff  of dirty diaper wafting in the air for other paying customers to bear while they tried to enjoy their meal bred unhappy diners. I mean, would you want to eat at the table where you just changed a dirty diaper or have that smell filling the restaurant while you’re eating? Yuck!

I do understand the hassle of taking all three kids back out to the van to change a diaper, but that’s how things go sometimes with motherhood. In this particular mom’s case, I would recommend that she check with restaurants ahead to see if they have a changing table, or she should be ready to take the changing pad out to the van in the future. I know it’s not convenient but it is the courteous thing to do.

Photo credits: Amazon

Helping Children Get Organized and Stay Focused

Posted on Aug 15, 2014 by 1 Comment

As a kid, I was always the one that other kids came to when they needed to borrow a pencil or copy down notes from history class.

Sadly, however, my son does not share my interest in keeping things neat and tidy. He’s forever losing homework assignments and school supplies because his mind is on other things. The same organizational skills that came naturally to me are ones he really must work at to master.

If your child also struggles with organization and focus, Maryann Campbell, Executive Director of The Glenholme School, suggests focusing on teaching your child what is known as executive functioning skills. These are the skills that teach focus, organization, and prioritizing tasks in a way that kids can use for the rest of their lives.

The first concept is “stash and trash.” Teach your kids how to decide what is important and what they should toss in the recycling bin. I know my son likes to save everything, but I keep telling him it’s impossible to find your spelling words for the week if your folder is full of graded assignments from three months ago.

Helping your child develop a labeling and/or color coding system ensures that everything has a proper place. Your child should also have some sort of calendar or day planner where he or she can record homework and after school activities. It can be digital or a traditional paper version, depending upon what your child prefers.

At night, get in the habit of going over the next day’s activities with your child to make sure he or she has all the needed supplies and materials. Most kids either bring too much stuff or not enough. Too much stuff is better than not enough, but it’s easy to lose things in an overfilled backpack.

Finally, stress to your children that being organized make it easier to find time for the things they love. “It is important to teach children that there is a time for work and a time for play, and that they are both important for a well-balanced life!” Campbell said. “Make time for studying, after school activities, and dinner with the family.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Read

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 by No Comments

I have readers. Some of my kids have spent more time reading than others but all of them know their way around a book. Most of them can explain how the book was different from the movie. One of them read through my complete collection of Shakespeare before he was 12.

After having homeschooled for well over 20 years, I have people ask me how in the world I get my kids to read. After all, kids are supposed to hate reading, right?

I’ve found that it is pretty much a rule of thumb that if you read then your kids will read, too. If you spend time reading to them, not just when they are small but their whole lives under your roof, then they will believe that books are a normal part of life.

When I was homeschooling I found that when I was reading a book to the younger kids, the older kids hung around, too. They might pretend not to listen but you could tell that they were paying attention as they worked algebra problems or solved chemical mysteries.

Here are five ways I have found help raise a reader, no matter how reluctant he is to begin with.

Read Aloud

This was already briefly mentioned but since it is the most important thing it deserves to be given a bit more than a mention. Read the books you enjoyed as a child. My kids got hours of the Little House books, My Side of the Mountain, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Chronicles of Narnia, and more. I always started with books that I had loved as a child because I figured that my kids weren’t that different than I was.

Branch out from there by sharing new books, authors you are not familiar with, and books that others recommend. Don’t let it become stale.

Read Just One Book in a Series

This is pretty sneaky but it works. I usually just read the first book in a series so that my  kids would get introduced to the characters and get a taste of what the books were about. I have been known to be really mean and read the first chapter of the second book in a series. If you’ve picked your books based on your children’s interests, this will work every time.

Get Them a Kindle or a Nook

A relatively new way to interest kids in books is to get them a Kindle or a Nook and let them load it up. These electronics allow you to take your entire library with you where ever you go and read as much from it as you have time for. Plus, they are cool.

Leave a Book in the Bathroom

I don’t know about your kids but mine hid in the bathroom when it was time to clean the kitchen. There was something about it that sent their digestive systems into overdrive.

When people are sitting there with nothing to do they will read anything up to, and including, the ingredients lists on the back of shampoo bottles. Leave a book that you think they’ll like (open to a good page) on the back of the toilet. When boredom kicks in you’ll have them trapped.

Pay Them

While this might sound counter-productive it really isn’t.

If you have a  child that is truly resistant to reading then pay them with cash or with extra video or TV time for each book that they complete and review. It encourages them to read and as they are getting in more practice, they are also learning to enjoy reading. Win-win.

Do you have any tricks you use to get your kids to read?

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

Can You Be too Supportive of Your Kids?

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 by 1 Comment

Being supportive of your kids, encouraging them, and building them up is sort of a given as a parent, but can you actually be too supportive of them?

Apparently you can. According to therapist Lori Gotlieb, the depressed, anxiety ridden patients she is seeing regularly had childhoods that were practically perfect in every way. Parents who cared more about their kids’ happiness and well being than their own, parents who were supportive of every thing the patient did as a child, and parenting that encouraged, protected, and cheered them on.

So what happened?

Well apparently humans need to be exposed to discomfort, failure, and the occasional parental failure. According to Gottlieb it acts as a vaccine, strengthening the child for the rowdiness of life.

Protecting kids from emotional pain, telling them how amazing they are when they do the smallest thing, and creating the perfect home environment doesn’t equip them to handle the harsh reality of grumpy bosses, rude salespeople, and a society that does not believe that little dumplin’ is the center of the universe.

The world is a big place and it can be pretty painful when you expect to get a pat on the back for making a sale or an M & M for using the correct employee bathroom but get an indifferent shrug instead.

I read this article several times because I really struggle with some of it. I am an encourager.

I grew up in a home with a mom that was, bless her heart, not particularly encouraging or affirming. I know she did her best but I was  always left feeling like I was not quite enough. I was determined to overcome that and be my family’s biggest fan. I worked at it and since I am a perfectionist, I worked at it hard.

My kids aren’t lying on couches as far as I know. I think they are all pretty much well adjusted and responsible. I think that I have probably balanced all of that encouragement without my own special type of crazy so they aren’t as bad off as some.

Sure, we all want our kids to have as pleasant and easy lives as possible. It’s always been my opinion that there is enough meanness out in the world that we don’t need to add to it at home, you know?

At the same time I try not to fix things for my kids. Yeah, they are always going to come home to a mom that tells them that they can do it, overcome any obstacle, and climb the highest mountain should they choose to do so but I am not one to interfere in issues that they have outside the house.

I like to think of the house as a sanctuary that helps them to cope with everything that goes on outside of it.

When kids get the idea that mom and dad are going to fix their problems, that’s when I think the damage begins. They learn no confidence in themselves because they are used to having their parents fix things for them. They never grow out of childhood and the need to be taken care of.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Source: The Atlantic

photo credit: SanFranAnnie via photopin cc

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