Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

The Royal Flush of Potty Training

We have mastered potty training, finally. Three-feet-of-fun is three and a half years old and is now a champion underoo wearer. He didn’t have much of a choice, he’d outgrown public changing tables and I was tired of changing diapers. It had nothing to do with the baleful stares I used to get from the parents of potty trained angels. You know, the perfect little darlings that have been potty trained since birth with no trouble whatsoever. Okay, so I’m being sarcastic, they were more like 3 months old. Nonetheless, it was really tiring to have, “He’s how old?” asked of me again and again when I would need to change his diaper like I was some horrible mother that was too lazy to teach him the ins and outs of the joys of using the toilet.

When Three-feet was 18 months old, my husband and I couldn’t go to the bathroom without him following us in and wanting to flush the toilet. So being the avid baby advice reader, and having read when a child shows interest in bathroom pastimes, go out and get a potty chair to start acclimating them to the idea, I ran out and got him a potty chair. I’d done my homework and had made sure it had a splash guard (you mom’s of boys out there know what I’m talking about) and that it had a comfy seat.

Three-feet was overjoyed at the prospect of having his own big boy potty. He would sit on it for hours, fully dressed of course, and read books, sing songs, and keep us company while we were using the facilities. I thought well he’s going to be a dream. I’d read that boys were harder to train and I thought well obviously not my little overachiever. Then, when I was going to start trying to get him to use it, he suddenly hated it. Looking at the seat, made him cry, let alone trying to sit him on it. I didn’t even bother. He wasn’t even two yet and I figured it was a phase.

That phase lasted a year and a half. When he passed two I tried every trick in the book to convince him to do it. I’d try to bribe him with: stickers, M&M’s, inexpensive dollar store toys — nothing worked. I didn’t want potty training to be a battle and everything I read said it was better to wait for the child to be ready. If some expert said it, then following it doesn’t make me a bad parent, just saying.

When he turned three, was too long for the changing tables, and still refused to go in anything but a diaper, I was at my wits end. I tried switching to pull-ups because then he could actually feel that he was wet, more so than in diapers anyway. He still didn’t care. Then one day, we were at the library for story time, I was complaining to a friend whose daughter is five months younger than Three-feet who had been potty trained forever about how Three-feet refuses to even participate. She told me how she did it. The answer was so wickedly simple that I can’t even believe it’s not written in any expert book I’ve ever read.

So now, in the spirit of a Pay It Forward, I’m going to share this knowledge with you for no charge whatsoever. Isn’t that nice of me?

It’s mind blowing. Are you ready for it?

Just put your child in regular underwear and let them go potty in it.
Yes, that’s it. It’s as simple as that and it totally works.

Obviously, you have to be prepared for messes and all the laundry that’ll entail. You’ll also need to buy several pairs of “big boy or girl” underwear because in the beginning you’re going to go through them. I recommend letting the child pick out which kind they want so they’ll have more reason to want to wear them.

Here’s why I think it works. Diapers and Pull-ups are designed to pull the moisture away from the child’s skin to help avoid diaper rash and other uncomfortable ailments. Even the so-called training pants that turn cold or the ones that the pictures disappear when they’ve gone still doesn’t let the kid “enjoy” the full pleasure of being soaked through when they’ve gone to the bathroom. Three-feet absolutely hated being wet. Hated it.

The first day I put him in underwear, I didn’t bug him about going at all. He picked out which pair of “big boy” underwear he wanted to wear. I explained to him that he was a big boy now and that he wasn’t going to wear diapers anymore. I told him he needed to tell Mommy when he had to go potty and we’d go. Three-feet is a strong-willed child and I knew the more I harassed him about going the more he was going to dig in his feet about not going. I didn’t want the war. I figured he’d learn soon enough. When he did potty in his underwear I would calmly explain to him that he should tell me he has to go, this method can’t use yelling — you’re basically setting them up to learn by error and it isn’t fair to punish for that.

In less than a week, he’d figured out he didn’t like to go potty in his underwear. Being the precocious kid he is, he begged and cried for his diapers back. So that’s when I instituted the potty awards system. We went out and bought a bunch of stickers. I let him pick out all sorts of different kinds and then every time we had a successful potty trip he’d get to pick out a sticker and put it on his shirt. He’d be so proud of everyone he’d received that he’d count them and tell anyone who would listen why he had them. (Just remember to peel them off the clothes before you wash and dry. I learned that the hard way.)

I’m not saying we don’t have an occasional accident, he’s three and a half so, naturally, he gets so involved in playing he tries to hold it as long as possible and sometimes he doesn’t make it to the toilet but all in all the whole process worked like a dream.

Posted in Uncategorized, Potty Training, Child Education | No Comments »

Taking Tots to the Theater

My husband and I took our three-year-old, three-feet-of-fun to the movies to see Kung Fu Panda on Friday. He loved it and sat enthralled the entire time from the previews to the end credits. After the movie he talked animatedly about his favorite parts, reenacted some awesome Kung Fu, and played in the arcade for about half an hour and then we went home.

We had a perfect movie going experience. It wasn’t always that way.

Three-feet was two and a half years old when the third Shrek hit the theaters. He loved Shrek 2 (but really who didn’t? Especially Puss ‘N Boots) and could even sit and watch the entire movie. We thought it’d be a fun to take him to Shrek the Third. So we did.

What a nightmare. We took him at the worst possible time, way to early, and tried to make him stay for the show — basically we did everything wrong. He’d missed his nap (oh how I miss naptime) so he was tired and cranky, we went fifteen minutes early, before the previews even started, as we’d done before we had Three-feet, and shockingly, when he got bored, wanted to leave, and started fussing, we tried to make him sit, be quiet, and stay still. We finally gave up and left with a screaming child twenty minutes into the actual movie.

We thought well maybe he just didn’t like the movie which was why he wouldn’t sit and watch it. Nope, we rented it when it came to DVD and he sat through the entire movie spellbound and it quickly replaced Shrek 2 as his favorite.

When Horton Hears a Who came to the movie theaters we endeavored to try again. This time Three-feet was older, now three, and we had a new plan of attack. We would take him to the earliest showing and avoid the crankiness. We would still go early (old habits die hard), but I would hold our seats, and my husband would take Three-feet to the arcade until the movie started. We were also prepared to up and leave at any moment’s notice.

Our plan worked like a dream. We talked up the movie before we went, showing Three-feet posters and pictures — getting him excited. He’d given up his naps by then, but we still went to the earliest showing because we still had surly afternoons sometimes. We got a big tub of popcorn (Three-feet’s favorite food) and then I went and held our seats and the boys found me when the movie started.

At first I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I think Three-feet might’ve remembered the horribleness of our last theater trip as he wanted to leave when the lights went down. But I’d thought of that, thus the big tub of popcorn. So I sat him on my lap and bribed him into trying out the theater experience with yummy buttery goodness — “You catch more flies with honey…” had echoed in my mind in my mother’s voice. By the time the popcorn was gone, Three-feet had succumbed to the allure of Dr. Seuss’ animated world and sat on my lap the whole movie.

We’d inadvertently created a monster that day — now the kid asks me every day if we can go to the movies. He was beyond delighted when we told him we were taking him to Kung Fu Panda. We still went to the earliest showing, we still hit up the arcade prior to the start of the movie (I’m neurotic about getting to the theater early), but now the glory that is movie popcorn is a treat not a bribe. Although I don’t know if he’d still want to go as bad without it.

Tips for a successful trip to the theater:

Attention span. Before you even think of taking your little one to the movies make sure they have the attention span to enjoy it. If your little one can’t sit through a feature length animation DVD at home then there is no way he’s going to sit through a theater experience. Why waste the money.

Build up. Talk the theater and the movie up with your child. Get them excited about the whole experience. That was something we’d neglected to do the first time around so Three-feet didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. I think it makes a difference. If your child is jazzed by the idea of going you’re more likely to get better results.

Early shows. Go to the early shows, the earlier the better. Kids are always at their best when they’re well rested. They listen better, have better attention spans, and are capable of sitting somewhat still in a theater seat.

Arrival time. I hate navigating a dark theater and being forced to sit in the only seats not taken. So, if you’re like me then you like to go early. There is nothing wrong with going early as long as you don’t expect your little one to sit in his chair from the time you get there until the movie starts as well as the entire movie. So have someone hold your seats for you and go play until the movie starts. It’s one thing to find your way through a dark theater when you don’t know where you’re going for crap seats, it’s another when you know where you’re going and have the pick of seats you want.

Snacks. Concession stands are a nightmare. They’re expensive and lets face it all the food is junk — well everything except movie popcorn. That stuff is gold. So make sure you enjoy a healthy snack or a light meal before you go. Hungry children are cranky children and popcorn just isn’t that healthy or filling to substitute a meal.

Bathroom breaks. Kids hate missing things to go to the bathroom. Three-feet-of-fun makes me pause his movies so he won’t miss a thing when he runs to the bathroom for movies he’s seen a hundred times but in a theater you can’t do that. Take the pressure off of pee time. Make a special trip to the bathroom before the movie starts and then only have a small beverage so that their little bladders can make it until the end of the movie.

I hope these tips help for you first-time-movie-goers with munchkins. I wish I had someone fill me in on the secret before I had tried to take Three-feet to his first movie. May your first times be more pleasant and fruitful than mine was.

Posted in Uncategorized, Parenting, Child Development, TV and Pop Culture | 2 Comments »

Unexpectedly an Expert

Woman: What’s your secret?

Me: Secret?

Woman: Your son. Is he always that well behaved?

Me: Well he has his moments, but yeah, usually.

Woman: How do you do it?

Every evening after dinner my husband and I take three-feet-of-fun, our three-year-old son, to the park and last night I unexpectedly became a child behavior expert. Apparently it had shocked the woman when I told three-feet-of-fun not to throw sand, he said sorry and immediately dropped his other handful without protest. He then sat down and started “making me a cake.”

Her son, only two months younger than mine, she told me, wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t mind, talked back to her, and was aggressive. She was feeling discouraged and wanted to know if I had any secrets for success or was my child just naturally easygoing. I laughed — it had been a long and painful road to get my strong willed child under control. Since she asked, I told her.

My top tactics for molding a good listening, well behaved, child:

Pick your battles. So what if your kid wants to eat ketchup with a spoon. Sure it’s gross but really you have bigger battles to win. You’ll have an easier time enforcing the important rules if you don’t sweat when your child wants to wear the same clothes he wore yesterday, dip his cheeseburger in applesauce, or lick the nontoxic chalk dust off his hands.

1, 2, 3. I’m a firm believer in counting. However, counting only works if, when you hit three, you deal out the consequences. I tell three-feet-of-fun to stop whatever it is he is doing and if he doesn’t respond right away, I start counting. 1….. 2…… He always stops by two. The trick is in the tone — I use a stern, no nonsense tone that he can’t ignore. It didn’t always work, though, and every time he didn’t listen, he’d get a timeout, even when he’d wait until I said three and then stop. I’d tell him he was too late, he had to stop before I said three, and then I’d stick him in timeout — he spent a lot of time in timeouts at the beginning.

Timeouts. They say for every year the child is old that’s how many minutes to give them in timeout. When I first started to do timeouts, three-feet-of-fun wouldn’t stay in the chair so I would calmly put him back in the chair and add more time. I explained to him that for every time he got up I’d add on more time until he stayed seated and the timer went off. I had to do it several times but he finally got it. Now, if I threaten a timeout to stop misbehavior, it’s a rare occurrence that he pushes me to enforce it.

Spankings. I know that spankings are a controversial punishment and are mostly frowned upon in today’s society. But I confess that I have used them on a rare occasion. If what three-feet-of-fun is doing is especially dangerous, I don’t feel like I have time to calmly reason with him and count to three. If he doesn’t listen and it’s going to hurt him I will spank his bottom, once, with an open hand. I don’t spank that hard, I know it doesn’t hurt him because it doesn’t hurt my hand, but it gets his attention immediately.

I don’t agree with spanking a child for crying. I’ve read books that say if a child cries for longer than five minutes, he needs to be given something to cry about. If three-feet-of-fun is particularly whiny or crying for no reason, I simply tell him I’m sorry he feels that way but there’s nothing I can do for him. Then I direct him to his room where he can carry on until he feels better and can come back out and use his words.

Consistency. I can’t stress this enough. If you say continue x behavior and y will happen. Y must happen. Once you establish the rules, you have to consistently enforce them. If you don’t, children will know they can sometimes win, and it will always be a battle. Kids are smart and they’re going to consistently test your resolve. Don’t get discouraged, it always gets worse before it gets better — but it does get better.

Redirection. When three-feet-of-fun was younger he had a nasty biting habit. He’d either be mad and bite, or he’d be playing and get so wound up he’d bite. I couldn’t break him of it so I tried a different approach. When he’d go in for a bite I’d tell him don’t slime Mommy, and made it a game. Granted, I get licked now, but I’d rather be slobbered on than bit. Children need to find outlets to express themselves, find them non painful ones.

Rewards. I have a hard time doling out stiff punishments for silly things like brushing teeth and taking baths. I’ve found for daily chores that need to be done that a reward system works best. We’ve instituted a responsibility chart that has things on it like brushing teeth, picking up toys, no whining, helping out, taking a bath, getting ready for bed — you know stuff of that nature, he is only three after all. At the end of the day if he’s done them all he gets to mark them off with magnets and when he fills up the weekly chart, he gets to pick out an inexpensive toy while we’re out shopping. So when he fusses about having to do something I remind him if he doesn’t, he won’t get a magnet. That usually ends the argument and gets the job done.

I think the most important thing is that for every punishment I have to dole out, I deal out at least three times as many praises. Anytime he listens without my having to count or anytime he does something without having to be asked I make sure he knows I noticed it and I lavish attention on him.

These tactics worked for me. Since no two kids are the same, they might need some modification to work for you. I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination so I was taken by surprised when this woman hung on my every word and said she was going to incorporate them into her approach. I was just a mom hoping that something I’d done would prove helpful to her.

Posted in Uncategorized, Behavior Issues | 2 Comments »

Educational Market Trips

Every trip the the market can be fun and educational for the little ones. Even tiny babies (assuming they are awake) can benefit from the learning possibilities while you get your grocery shopping done. Here are some tips for making your next trip to the market (or any store for that matter) fun and educational.

Babies

  • Show them their world
  • Introduce them to different shapes and colors: Red apples, round oranges, square boxes for example.
  • Keep wipes/hand sanitizer on you or within easy reach, and if your baby is old enough, let him touch different things and feel the different textures: smooth cucumbers, bumpy squash. (Make sure baby keeps things out of her mouth.)
  • Toddlers

  • Have them him and count.
  • Let her count the pears as you put them in the bag for example.
  • Continue talking with him about colors, shapes and sizes. Ask: which is bigger: a grape or a grapefruit?
  • Have her find letters on signs, boxes and wrappings.
  • Play the “I Spy” game, with older toddlers.
  • If your toddler is a walker, opposed to one who sits in the cart, let them pick some things out themselves (or go with an older sibling to do so.)
  • Now is a good time too (for older toddlers), to introduce the concept of money and that you have to pay for the things in the store before you leave with them.
  • School-aged

  • Combine what she’s learning in school with the trip to the market. If she’s studying geography for example, talk about where some things come from…bananas from Chile, oranges from Florida for example.
  • Talk about cooking with him and what the ingredients are for a ________.
  • Have her try to figure out how much the groceries will cost.
  • Have him pay, accept and count the change. (This means of course, that you’re using cash instead of a credit/debit card.)
  • Use coupons/store bonus card and have her figure out what the savings will be.
  • If he’s taking a foreign language (or you speak one at home) practice vocabulary in the foreign language about things in the store.
  • Have her guess how many bags it will take to pack all of the groceries (for a large shopping trip).
  • Discuss with him why you’re making the choices that you do as a shopper. (For example: Less expensive? Brand loyalty? Eco-friendly? You have a coupon for it?
  • Talk about why some things are taxed and others are not?
  • These are just some ways that you can turn a trip to the market into an engaging, fun and educational experience, foster communication and teach your child about their world. Come up with your own to add that work for your family.

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, School and Learning, Smart Buying, Child Education, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Computer Maintainence: Start-up Options

    Clearing Your Start-up

    When cleaning your family computer, the first thing you should clear is the first thing that loads when you computer starts. This is the start-up and tells your computer what programs to allow to run when the whole system starts.

    The problem with many computers is that there are a ton of programs running in the ‘background’ and will slow down a system considerably. Follow these instructions to help speed the loading of your system and performance in general.

    Instructions.

    First, go to your start button. If you are using Windows Vista, this button will appear as a round button on the bottom left corner of your screen. In the very bottom of the choices is a box that says ‘Start Search’. In this type area put ‘msconfig’.

    This will bring up a new box on your screen, System Configuration. Choose (click) the Startup tab. Uncheck ALL of the boxes on the tabbed screen if there are any checked. Your computer will tell you that the changes will take effect after your next restart.

    Restart your computer now. When the system loads, you should notice a difference in speed.

    Quick List For Reference.

    Start Button >Search: Msconfig

    System Configuration > Startup> Uncheck All > Restart

    Posted in Uncategorized, Computers and Technology | No Comments »

    Thwarting Babysitter Drama–Forewarned is Forearmed

    Every now and then, my husband and I try to get out without our darling boy. In fact, last summer, we started having a standing date every Friday night. Once the colder months hit, our “standing Friday night date” went by the wayside because we didn’t feel like braving the cold, we were having a hard time coming up with things to do, and it turned out that we preferred to just relax and snuggle and maybe catch an “on demand” movie or two after the little guy was in bed. Yeah, we’re lame. We do still go out at least once a month–it probably doesn’t sound like much, but getting out was also hard because of watching the hysterical and teary-eyed boy standing at the door as we left after wrestling ourselves from his clutches. It was heartbreaking and the temptation to call and see how he was doing after we’d left was too great.

    He always seems to know too, that my husband and I are getting ready to go out without him. When else does Mama put on make-up and carry a bag that’s smaller than the diaper bag? He is a very observant boy and seems to know and understand our routines and rituals. It’s uncanny.

    Two Mama-and-Papa outings ago, I had a “eureka” moment, inspired not so much by the impending arrival of the babysitter, but by the activity that we were in the middle of. My son and I were playing in his room, and having a grand time when I realized that it would soon be time for me to start getting ready. While we were playing I initiated this conversation with my 25-month-old, whom we affectionately call Bean:

    Mama (excitedly): “Guess what, Beany?”
    Bean: “Wha?”
    Mama (still excitedly): “Guess who’s coming over to see you?
    Bean: “Me?”
    Mama: (still excitedly): “Yes, you! Kristen’s coming over to have dinner with you and for a play date just with you! Isn’t that great?”
    Bean: “Yah, yah, yah, yah, yahhhhhh!” (jumping up and down).
    Mama: “And Mama and Papa are going to go out–so it’ll be just you and Kristen for your play date!”
    Bean: “Kay” (for okay.)

    We continued playing some more and I announced that when Papa went into the shower, I’d make Bean’s dinner.

    He was completely nonplussed. I made his dinner and when my husband came back downstairs, I went to get myself ready. On cue and on time (as always) Kristen arrived. Five minutes later, my husband and I were out the door, leaving the two of them coloring while Bean finished his dinner.

    There were no tears, no tantrum, no drama. He blew us kisses and waved bye-bye as we left.

    It turns out that this wasn’t an strange occurrence. I tried the same kind of forewarning the next time that my husband and I had a child-free outing, and it yielded the same results.

    Am I deceiving him, by calling it a “play date” instead of telling him outright that Mama and Papa are going out without him? I don’t think so. To him the babysitter’s arrival means the impending doom of Mama’s and Papa’s disappearance. To the little ego-centric mind of the toddler it means that he’s missing out on something, that we just may be having fun without him. But by letting him know that the babysitter’s arrival is not about Mama and Papa, but is all about him and sharing an activity that he loves–playing–it removes the frustration. And, since he does know our routines and habits, preparing him ahead of time shows that we respect him enough as a person to inform him of changes to his world, and gives him ample time to process the sitter’s arrival and look forward to his special play date. The sitter isn’t spurng upon him, deflating any expectations that he’d be having Mama and Papa to himself all night.

    So if you’re being confronted by babysitter drama when you try to leave, try the gentle forewarning approach. It just may work for you, too.

    Posted in Parenting, Babies, Behavior Issues, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Family Computer Maintenance

    The Family Computer

    Today many families rely on computers in one for or another. Some of you may work from home, share photos with family, speak with friends, or use the computer as an outlet if you are disabled and unable to leave home. Children use computers to complete homework. You use computers to come by this blog and visit with me, too!

    I’d like to offer some advice on keeping your computer running smoothly. This has nothing at all to do with my old computer dying a few days ago. No . . . not at all. Heh.

    First of all, keep your computer clean. When I say clean, I mean to remove all the gunk that you get when you visit different sites around the web. Your computer caches every single thing you do or see, so it is a good idea to run a cleaning program once a week. More if you do a lot of surfing. You may associate ‘washers’ with those ads that pop up and tell you to ‘cover your tracks’, but in reality, cleaning your computer is an important part of keeping it running in peak condition.

    Free Software for Family Computers

    Eusing Software offers free washers and a registry cleaner I use often. They are free to download and use, though you can offer a donation. Donations help keep free software free! I suggest saving all of your passwords to a text file before using the internet washer. It will erase all saved passwords. Use the registry cleaner anytime you uninstall a program, it will help clean up old, unused registry values that may slow down your computer.

    Spybot Search and Destroy is my favorite spy ware removal program. Adaware is ok, but they’ve since moved their free program from the home page in an effort to get people to buy the premium version. Spybot is free, but as with Eusing, you can donate to help with development.

    Next post, we will talk about more maintenance of the system. In this new series we will also cover actual cleaning of the computer to increase its’ longevity.

    Posted in Computers and Technology | No Comments »

    Spring is time for…

    …Puddles!

    The snow is melting. The spring rains and “seasonable mixes? are falling…and that means one thing and one thing only to the little ones—puddle jumping. To parents this instills thoughts of wet shoes, socks and cuffs, mud and the germ fest that might be lurking within those growing pools around the yard and neighborhood. But to the wee ones puddles mean endless fun.

    Don’t fight it. Embrace the puddle adventures by being prepared and thinking of it all as a learning experience.

    Here are some tips for going with the flow:

    Spare Change. Keep a spare set of clean, dry socks, pants, shoes and a small towel in a gallon-sized zipper-styled freezer bag in the car for when you encounter a puddle on your usual journeys. Depending upon how much of a splasher you have, you might also want to include an extra jacket, top or mittens if it’s still chilly enough in your area to need mittens. When you venture out, factor in some extra time for a few minutes of splashing (and a quick change) if you can. You can put the wet clothes in the freezer bag after you make the change into the dry gear. Don’t forget extra wipes and hand sanitizer (used sparingly) and don’t forget to change the “spare set? when it gets worn. Put it back in the car as soon as possible so that you can be ready at any time for those impromptu puddle adventures.

    B-O-O-T-S. BOOTS! Any Laurie Berkner fan knows the song. Consider keeping Wellie-styled rubber boots ready for when the little one wants to venture out. You can get them almost everywhere relatively inexpensively at bricks-and-mortar stores such as Target and Walmart and at higher-end stores like Nordstroms. You can also order them on-line at LLBean, Lands End, Zappos, Piperlime, Wellie Boots.com, CoCo Bons.com and many others. With or without matching rain coats they are a “must have? not just for puddle jumping, but for those wet and wild rainy days. (If you’re concerned about products for your child that may contain vinyl or Bisphenol-A (BPA) because of their potential to disrupt our hormonal systems, be sure to read labels carefully and choose ones with rubber only or the lowest amounts of vinyl or BPA.To learn more about potential issues and hazards of vinyl and BPA visit the Environmental Working Group.)

    Be Prepared. If you don’t have rubber rain gear you can still enjoy the puddle-fest by rolling up pant-legs and having a spot to change out of wet clothes right when you return to the house. Near the door, keep a towel down to keep the floor dry. (It also means a quick clean-up of wet things for easy transport to the laundry. Just scoop everything up in the towel and take to the washer.) You can also keep a change of clothes ready for when you get back into the house or a dry robe. Don’t forget to wash hands (and any other body parts that may have come into contact with puddle water) after you have changed out of the wet clothes. It may even be a great time for a bath to continue the water play and get the little one thoroughly clean.

    Jump In! Why let the kids have all the fun? Get in on the action and get in touch with your own inner child and make a splash or two yourself. See who can make the biggest splash. Play with cause and effect: what happens if you just tap the puddle with your toe? …your whole foot? Stomp in it? Walk through it? For older splashers who will know not to try and taste the water, see what happens if you float a leaf in it, toss a rock into it. The possibilities are endless and you can also turn a fun time into a learning activity. Extend the learning for the older splashers by drawing pictures or writing a story about your puddle excursion(s) once everyone is inside and dried off.

    Be Vigilant. While your child doesn’t know a safe puddle from an unsafe one, as a parent you do. Trust your instincts, if you think a puddle looks unsafe steer your child to a safe puddle. What makes a puddle unsafe? Debris, it’s extra muddy, it has oil or other slick appearance on top of it, birds or other animals avoid it entirely, it is near dog poop or other animal droppings, it smells strange, it is in or near the street or near a sewer, drain, ditch or other municipal drainage system. If you do see puddles that are suspect (especially ones with oil or what may seem to be hazardous materials, let your Dept. of Public Works know…it is better to alert them to a potential issue than to let it go unaddressed.)

    End It Well. Time is elusive to little ones. Everything either takes forever (when they are waiting) or didn’t last long enough (when they want to do something). Avoid the end-of-activity battle by letting them know ahead of time how long you’ll be out, or that in x-number of splashes left it will be time to go in. That way the fun doesn’t just end abruptly. Also pay attention to your child’s cues that they are ready to go in or do something else. You can always do more tomorrow, and if that’s the case, tell them so. Wrap up the activity with some warm milk or hot cocoa when you get in as an extra warming-up treat after everyone is in dry clothes.

    With a little planning and creativity, puddle adventures can become an enjoyable and hassle-free experience for you as much as it is for the kids. Now go get splashing!

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, Clothing, Guest Blogger | 1 Comment »

    Teens and Open Discussion

    My oldest daughter and I had a conversation about sex yesterday. I tried to play it cool, but inside I was in a turmoil. She is 14 and very interested in boys. I can remember that age well, very well. My daughter thinks and says to me all the time that I am ‘cool’. We like the same music, enjoy the same style of dress, and I do not judge her for her choices.

    It may not look like it, but each and every time we have a conversation about something that is deep and this important, I hold myself back from giving what she would say is ‘uncool’ advice. Condemning her or her friends for that sip of alcohol, throwing a literal fit over the fact that she has a friend who smokes pot, and restraining myself from interrogating her on her activities when she is with her boyfriend.

    It isn’t the fact that I care if she thinks I am cool or uncool. No, I feel that to have my child trust me, I have to trust her to make her own decisions. While we talk together about personal things quite often, it is nice to know I am the only person she confides her deepest thoughts to. She feels safe enough to tell me her concerns about her friends who drink, the ones who smoke pot, and to express that she just isn’t ready to have sex yet.

    It isn’t always easy to be the open and accepting parent. You can feel as if you are being punched in the stomach at some of the things your child tells you. But when they tell you, with real sincerity in their voices, along with relief, that you are the only person they feel as if they can turn to and be so open. It is so worth it.

    Is your child open with you? If not, are you willing to step back and let your child make a few choices without judging? This may be the step you need to take to become closer with your child. Please share your thoughts.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Adolescence | No Comments »

    Xbox Live Gamers Support Autism Awareness

    There is a new website that is dedicated to recruiting people who enjoy playing video games and want to contribute to a good cause.

    Gamers For a Cure is located at http://www.gamersforacure.com and is open to all gamers who are 18 and older. For a donation of just $10 USD, you can help further awareness of Autism. You can join in tournaments, win cash and support the Don Earl Early Childhood Development Center.

    I am currently working to get in contact with the owner/admins of the site to bring more news to you. For now, you may sign up to join the community, but the site is very new and is only open for joining. As news develops, I will be posting more information.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Special Needs | 4 Comments »

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