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Kristy Shreve Powers

Home of the Busy Mama's Guides.

Last Build Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 02:10:22 +0000


Busy Mama's Guide to Lived-In Clean

Wed, 17 Mar 2010 12:52:00 +0000

These are the projects we've left laying around today:


Busy Mama's Guide to Birthday Party Planning Keepsakes

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:26:00 +0000

I think I may have figured out a frugal keepsake for kids' birthday parties. Ideas have been swirling around in my head for the 4th birthday coming up in April and the 1st birthday coming up in June. Big birthdays! So I made myself little planning notepads for them.

printer or copy paper, about 9 sheets
glue stick
markers of the invites, decorations, people, and party activities
optionally, stickers or any other decorative embellishment

Cost of Project:
$0, if you have these materials around, plus color ink to print out photos

I simply used the glue stick across the top border of a piece of white paper and laid the next piece on top of it, pressing down to stick it to the glue. I used the glue stick across the top border of that page and laid another piece on top of it. And so on, until I had 6 sheets together in a little notepad. (I had to use the backs of some pages when I came up with additional headlines, so I wish I had used 9 pages.)

The first page was decorated with markers giving the age and name of the child and the theme of the party, like so (sorry for the backwards writing; our only camera right now is in our laptop):

Now all I did for the covers was to write the number of years each child would be turning around the borders of the page, draw very minor in-theme embellishments (a caterpillar and a pickle exclamation point in this case), and give the theme of the party in colors appropriate to the theme. I know many people would be able to make gorgeous covers with the same materials - unfortunately, decoration is not my strong suit!

Across the top of each inner page I wrote a headline. These were the ones I used: Notes, Invitations and Invitees, Icebreaker and Activities, Decorations, Food and Drink, Timeline, Rain Plan, and Thank You Notes. On the back of the notepad, the outside of the last page, I wrote with markers "Photos." I'll end up with many more pictures than I can fit there, but I will choose a few to show the more remarkable moments of the party.

That's about it. I'm making all my notes and invitation templates and such in these notepads and after the parties I'll add a few photos. If we save them, we'll have a record of all the boys' parties and maybe someday they will stimulate some memories they didn't even know they still had!

Busy Mama's Guide to Posting Again

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:23:00 +0000

When I signed off this blog two years ago, I had an almost-two-year-old son. Since that time, we have moved twice and had another son. Now I have an almost-four-year-old and an almost-nine-month-old.

The first year of a baby's life is so intensive and parents have to keep on their toes taking care of necessities and improvising activities for fussy days. Somehow, along with the intensive work of that first year, I seem to have more online time with a baby under a year old. I guess baby lifestyles are conducive to computer time, at least for me!

I've been planning a couple of big birthdays (golden birthday number 4 and that big number 1 party!) and getting idea upon exciting idea, so I'm going to post here again and add a category: birthday parties. No promises about how often I'll post. When the impulse strikes me.

Now that no one is done reading this post, I'll just say, "See you here next post!"

Busy Mama's Guide to Cyberbullying

Fri, 18 Jan 2008 12:53:00 +0000

Bullying has been a problem in schools for years. These days, children face the growing threat of cyberbullying.What is Cyberbullying?The basic definition is kids “being mean to each other online,” says Nancy Willard, Internet safety expert and author of Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens: Helping Young People Learn to Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly and Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Aggression, Threats, and Distress.It can take many forms: sending threatening or ridiculing messages to or about someone through instant messages, text messages, social networking sites, or emails; setting up polls on social networking sites that invite abusive remarks; impersonating someone online; stealing online passwords; forwarding or posting derogatory material; and other behaviors.Someone uses a camera phone to take a picture of a classmate. Later, she posts it online so visitors can rate it, adding hurtful comments as they do. Or friends post comments on each other’s MySpace pages about something embarrassing their victim allegedly said or did. Now any Internet user anywhere can share in the gossip.Most cyberbullying takes place on social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, hi5, and orkut. If your children have social networking site accounts, they’re probably running into it.What Can Parents Do?“Open the communication lines,” says Willard. Ask, “‘How’s it going with your online friends? I saw an article about cyberbullying in _____. Has anything like that happened to you?’“[Make] sure they’re not posting things that can be used against them. Observe how real life relationships are going— they can be an indicator of what’s also happening online.”Kids who are ten years old and younger don’t have the ability to make good choices online, so parents should make sure they’re only going to safe places online. Many Internet service providers, software programs, and operating systems now include parental controls.With kids over ten years old, Willard recommends talking about each additional online activity they’re allowed to participate in. Make rules: “’You can only add people you know. You can’t write online anything you wouldn’t want me to hear out loud. What you’re typing needs to go with our family values.’“They should be older when they start social networking. At that point you have to be willing to talk with them about all of the risks, including sexual predators.”An article on translates safety rules we teach our children into rules for the technology age. For example, “Don’t take candy from strangers” turns into “Don’t open attachments from strangers.”What If My Child’s Being Cyberbullied?If your child is being cyberbullied, Willard recommends these steps:1. Instruct your child to “calmly, strongly tell the person to stop.”2. “Download what the child is sending and send it to the bully’s parent. [This] can be most effective if the child saying stop doesn’t stop it.”3. Block the cyberbully (delete them as a friend or buddy or use the website’s blocking tool) and file a complaint with the Internet service provider, website, or cell phone company.4. If necessary, cancel the account has additional suggestions:“Let the school know so the guidance counselor can keep an eye out for in-school bullying and for how your child is handling things...It is crucial that you are there to provide the necessary support and love.”There are degrees of aggression and harm in cyberbullying incidents. The parental response should match the degree of harm to their child. Pay special attention to the answers to these questions: “Is your child at risk of physical harm or assault? And how are they handling the attacks emotionally?”Contact local law enforcement immediately if any of your child’s personal contact information has been posted online or your child has receive[...]

Busy Mama's Guide to Baby Swimming

Sat, 05 Jan 2008 15:58:00 +0000

Your first question may be: "Why are you writing about swimming in the middle of winter?" Quick answer: My family goes swimming most often in the winter at the YMCA's indoor pool. (Our summer beach experiences are more about running along the shoreline and taking other kids' toys than swimming.)If you can get to an indoor pool in the winter, I recommend it as a way to expend energy, teach your child a skill, and keep cabin fever at bay.Once you're at the pool, you may wonder what to do in the water with a young child. This is where the second question comes in.Can Babies Really Learn to Swim?They can, according to Rob and Kathy McKay, authors of Learn to Swim and founders of the 25-year-old Lifestyle Swim School in Boca Raton, Florida. They define baby swimming as the "harmonious movement through water" that most children from the age of six months to four years can learn.Babies and toddlers can acquire skills like holding their breath underwater, moving through the water for a few seconds on their own, and coming up for breath during a swim.Rob McKay says babies "can swim five to six seconds by about six months if they’ve been in water regularly in a child-centered program."Two-year-olds in such programs may be able to swim from the middle of the pool back to the side. But the main goal is for the baby to love the water.Joy and Swim LessonsKids love the kind of child-centered swim lessons the McKays give.“They get a great boost of confidence and self-esteem,” Kathy says. For babies who can't walk yet, the “sense of freedom of movement” gives them great pleasure.Parents love them, too. Rob calls it "the most incredible experience you can have spending time" with your young children.Laura Minna-Choe and her daughter Keala have attended the Lifestyle Swim School since Keala was seven months old. Laura tells me her favorite Keala swimming story:"I took my goggles and went underwater to see her swimming. She had a smile and a determined look on her face. Only ten months old, swimming to her mother, eyes open. I had no idea she could do that until I experienced it."Lifestyle Swim School teachers do five things to keep swim lessons joyful and productive:1. Progress at the children's pace.2. Focus on the positive aspects of enjoying the water rather than the negative idea of fearing the water.3. Allow children to have "off" days and don't push them on those days.4. Use gentle guiding and encouragement.5. Make swim lessons fun using humor, patience, and communication.Water Safety for BabiesOne of the biggest hazards to young children is their parents' sense of security. They may think their children can never drown if they've had swim lessons or if they're wearing flotation devices."Swimsuits with flotation devices incorporated into them are not Coast Guard approved. A problem was parents would think their kids were okay in these suits, but you can never leave kids alone swimming, not even for a minute," says Laura Minna-Choe.The bottom line according to Kathy is: "You can't consider any child drown-proof."Parents that have been in the water with their children, helping to teach them, know exactly what they can and can’t do.“You’re very well aware that you’re not going to leave that child in the pool, you’re going to be in hand’s reach.”Note: The McKays address safety in their video series, book, and website. For a look at their basic guidelines, go to LessonsTo make sure your children are in positive, child-centered swim programs, Kathy says, "Watch the teacher in action. Are the children smiling, are they happy, are any fears being addressed appropriately? Does it look like a good preschool program? It should be the same in the water as in the land."Rob adds, "And hopefully they are learning to swim a little bit. [You want] the middle road with fun and swimming. The Y[MCA] and Red Cross are good. My biggest complaint is when people use fear to get pa[...]

Busy Mama is Paring Down

Wed, 02 Jan 2008 16:53:00 +0000

The Busy Mama's Guides have been great fun for me and I hope useful for someone other than me. One of my favorite things to write, talk, and think about is living simply. I am blessed to be able to stay home raising my son and to be able to write, too. Both raising a child and writing fiction have been dreams of mine since I can remember. I want to enjoy this life by embracing simplicity and avoiding complication. To that end, I am bringing boxes of unnecessary things and clothing to Goodwill, resolving not to buy anything (else) frivolous for myself this year, and getting rid of activities.

In order to stop the cycle of creating more and more projects--and stress--for myself, I am paring down my activities to the ones that I consider essential. Taking care of and observing my son is one essential activity; writing fiction is another one. My freelance copywriting business and nonfiction writing will be ended for now. This includes Busy Mama's Guides.

I will be writing two or three more guides this week, and at the end of the week, Busy Mama's Guides will be inactive. I plan to write about the baby swimming philosophy and techniques of Rob and Kathy McKay, authors of Learn to Swim and founders of the Lifestyle Swim School, and practical ways to prevent your kids from being cyberbullied or from becoming cyberbullies from Nancy Willard, Internet safety expert and author of Cyber-safe Kids, Cyber-savvy Teens.

Until then, I'm signing off.

Sustainable Christmas

Sun, 25 Nov 2007 16:43:00 +0000

This is an email I wrote to my family today about Christmas, which will be hosted at our house this year. If a sustainable holiday sounds like a great idea to you, feel free to use any of these ideas you like. And check out No Impact Man for a yearlong project designed to leave no impact on the environment.

Hello Dearly Loved Ones,

Bear with me if I have already emailed some of these ideas, but here is my finalized version of our Christmas visit options. It will be a... Sustainable Christmas! (please hold applause until the end)

Our family wants to keep Christmas fun and stress-free while living our values of environmental and personal caring. We know many of you feel the same way. Here are some proposals for a sustainable Christmas:

1. If you want to give gifts, make them or buy them secondhand.

2. If you prefer to skip gifts, make a present of your time and self. Heck, you could even give dishwashing or cooking as a gift! ;)

3. Use alternatives to wrapping paper:
hemp paper newspaper old calendars wallpaper old craft paper strips of
construction paper
instead of bows, natural decorations like pinecones

4. Think about donating stuff you don't use anymore to Goodwill or another charity before the holidays.

5. Play games and enjoy each other's company instead of watching movies. (But I love movies, so I'm sure we will be doing a little of that!)

6. Take brief showers. Hey, at the Powers house, we all have to share one bathroom anyway.

7. Have a four-hour period free of electrical devices.

Turn off:
Christmas lights and other nonessential lights
TV and DVD player
Coffeemaker and microwave

Replace with:
Candles (and essential lights)
Already-cooked food and cookies

We can each do as many or as few of these things as we want to do. If you'd like to give environmentally-friendly gifts but it becomes too complicated and stressful, do what works best for you. Stress trumps everything. Do what makes you happy.

Busy Mama's Guide to Kicking the TV Addiction

Mon, 05 Nov 2007 18:09:00 +0000

Let me start by admitting that TV dependence is a problem I'm trying to address in my own life. The following post lists ideas that I'm hoping will work for me -- it's not an expert's guide at all. My focus is mainly on reducing my son's TV time but I could use a lot of help myself. Let's face it, parents who watch a lot of TV have kids who watch a lot of TV.I'll start by drawing a comparison between TV dependence and compulsive eating (which is something I've addressed myself with a degree of success). Both TV and food sit in our homes, taunting us with their convenience and availability. Both can soothe hurt feelings or anxiety by taking our minds away from problems and into a netherworld of nothingness. Both can be consumed even when we're fatigued or sick or too cold or too hot. Neither one will ever turn us away or reject us.These characteristics all add to the enormous power TV and food have over many people. The good news is: they're inanimate objects! If we put our minds to it, we can outsmart them. I think.From personal experience, I know it's hard to quit or cut back on any habit without putting something in its place. And if we're going to replace the TV habit, we might as well do it with something healthy. It's got to be pleasurable, though, or we'll never use it as a replacement.Activities to Take the Place of TV Watching:1. Listening to music that makes you laugh or sing or dance or feel inspired.2. Going outside (this one works every time with my son; unfortunately, it's not very tempting to older kids and adults).3. Reading a great book or magazine.4. Looking at old photos.5. Journaling.6. Drawing or scrapbooking or a different hobby that doesn't invite you to plop down in front of the TV while you're doing it.7. Taking a hot, scented, bubbly bath.8. Sex.9. Anything at all that's not harmful that you love to do.Taking Small Steps:It's difficult for most people to make huge changes all at once and then stick to them. Some people do better going cold turkey; if you're one of them, disregard everything in the following list and just get rid of your TV altogether.1. Cut back on the minutes of TV per day that you or your child watch. If your child's used to watching two hours a day, reduce that time by 15 minutes every day until you've reached an acceptable amount.2. Move the TV from the living room to the bedroom to keep it out of sight during the day. Or move it from the bedroom to the living room so you don't hole up in your bedroom to watch it.3. Decide what hours of the day are acceptable for watching TV and only watch at those times.4. Decide which programs are acceptable to watch and only watch those shows.Make Time for Yourself.I think most parents have, at one time or another, put their kids in front of the TV so they could get something done for themselves. Taking a shower, cleaning house, writing, doing a self-manicure, paying bills, or ranges from hard to impossible to do these things with little children in the house. Try these ideas instead of TV:1. Find a friend, relative, or babysitter to take care of your children while you have Me Time.2. Involve your child in some part of the chores or tasks you're doing. Examples: give the little one a duster while you're dusting, lay out crayons and paper when you're writing cards, let the baby sort the clothespins while you're hanging out laundry.3. Have your children sit down in their rooms with some of their books surrounding them in a circle. Lay each of the books open to a particular page. See how long they'll explore the books.[...]

Busy Mama Revisits Kids and TV

Fri, 27 Jul 2007 14:59:00 +0000

Thinking about my previous post on children watching TV (here), I came across some helpful articles on the Dr. Spock website:

Guidelines for Television Viewing

No TV for Children Under Age 2?

and the all-important

Video Games: Promises and Perils

I love Dr. Spock!

Busy Mama Dance Workout

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 15:44:00 +0000

Just finished a 15-minute workout in which my buddy boy and I danced to Modest Mouse and Nikka Costa. To tell the truth, I felt a little like Pulp Fiction's Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega when they danced at Jack Rabbit Slim's. I did some moves, he followed along, he performed his own trademark steps (twirling around, marching and shaking his arms vigorously), I followed along...and we had a marvelous time. Picture this: I'm in my kitchen apron, barefoot, he's in shorts and socks, and we're moving to

"Illuminate the silly things
Shed some light on all that's wrong
Everybody needs it sometimes
Sometimes the only thing you got
Is what makes you feel like
You're something else altogether...
Everybody got their something
Everybody got their something
Make you smile like an itty bitty child."

I highly recommend it.

Busy Mama's 21st-Century Office

Mon, 25 Jun 2007 22:46:00 +0000

Millions of hours are wasted each year in offices. During the time that employees check their MySpace, make personal phone calls, chat about how much work they have to do and play pranks on each other, the employer loses money on diminished productivity. The employees lose time that could be better spent with actual friends or family or catching up on sleep. Really, the only person who wins in the current setup is the one who thrives on office drama and enjoys complaining about their work more than actually doing it (and what sets them apart from the rest of us is how many hours in a row they can complain).My solution for the 21st-century office is this: Employees who are on salary should be able to come into and leave work whenever they like, any day of the week, as long as their projects are completed satisfactorily and on time. This requires a hands-on manager who keeps track of their progress from week to week or month to month. Unsatisfactory progress results in progressive verbal and written warnings and eventually termination. Satisfactory progress means the boss has no need and maybe no business watching the clock when the employee arrives and leaves for the day--or night.Hourly employees may want to spend more hours on the job in order to get paid more. They should also be given specific projects and parameters and their progress should be monitored from week to week. The incentive for them will be to get home to do their errands or take care of their children or relax doing whatever they like in the comfort of their own home. If they see salaried employees coming and going as they please, that may encourage them to get their work done and clear out, too. One caveat: their managers will have to be very specific and upfront with them about the number of hours their project should likely take to complete. With an office staff that can make its own schedule, the company benefits from increased productivity, a possible reduction in overhead costs like electric bills, high morale, a confident work force and a higher rate of satisfactorily completed projects due to focused management. Employees benefit from being able to set their schedule according to their own preferences and complete projects the way that works best for them. They will feel more in control of their job which will lead to higher job satisfaction. In this system, though, managers have to be well-trained, accountable and expert in giving feedback and consequences without being micromanagers.This won't work for every occupation; for example, a health facility could not run without people to staff it for regular shifts. But for the offices that can offer this flexibility to most of their workers, it should result in a better environment for everyone.How would you like to get up at 10 and arrive at the office around noon? In my office, you can do that. You like two-and-a-half hour lunches? Fine! Just get your work done. Tomorrow, you can stay home all day and work in the evening. Maybe the next day you'll come in early and accomplish the bulk of your work before you leave to go for a run. No problem. I'll hire you.[...]

Busy Mama and Son's Summer Solstice

Thu, 21 Jun 2007 13:49:00 +0000

Today being the summer solstice, my son and I will celebrate it in the following way: We will stay outdoors as much as possible. Yes, I'm inside typing right now. Son is taking his nap. We'll come back in for naps and meals, but other than that we're going to try to stay outside today--with sunscreen slathered generously on our pale skin! This should be an ideal day for my little buddy. He acts like an angel as long as he's out in public, especially in wide-open spaces or near streets where trucks rumble by often. Trucks and cars have somewhat overshadowed dogs in his world of late. Not very romantic.

I'm off to pack our outside bag. What are you going to do today?

Busy Mama and Son At Home

Wed, 30 May 2007 14:01:00 +0000


Copyright 2007 Kristy Shreve Powers

Busy Mama's Stay-At-Home Job

Wed, 30 May 2007 13:09:00 +0000

It's 8:00 am, and we've been up for a couple of hours. We walk down empty, cool streets to get out of the house and return library books. This is part of my stay-at-home mom job.

Stay-at-home moms, if they make any attempt to keep the house clean and cook meals while taking care of young children, work between 70 and 90 hours a week. This figure compares with the workweeks of many high-powered executives. I should mention that most stay-at-home moms have a hobby or part-time at-home job or volunteer work that keeps their work hours closer to 90 than 70. I, for instance, am up at 6:00 with my son. During his naptimes, I clean, cook, rest or write. By the time he goes to bed at 6:30, I'm exhausted, but I sometimes gear up to clean the kitchen, prepare coffee and my son's highchair for the next morning and make lunch for my husband. (Quick commentary: These are tasks I choose to do to save us money and a headache in the morning, and I can also choose to ask my husband to do them, and then he does.) Nighttime is also the time I can take a shower in peace--but that doesn't happen as often as it maybe should.

I'm not complaining, not at all. I've had the 9-to-5 job outside the home, the one on what people call a career path. It was much easier than my current job, but it slowly sucked my spirit through the days and weeks and months. All I could do when I got home was bitch and lay on the couch watching TV. This stay-at-home job I am passionate about. I never question whether my work is worthwhile, and in that sense it's completely energizing.

I've known high-powered (and medium-powered, and low-powered) executive types who were also passionate about their jobs. That's probably what kept them going through the long hours. That, and lots of money.

I don't have the prestige of an executive. Then again, I probably won't have the heart attacks, either. If I fall down on the job, the possible consequences include arguments and depression, which are no laughing matters. But I feel too inspired in this job to fall down. I'm not saying I'm perfect at it. I'm average. I'm not good at some things and I'm excellent at others. But I always know I'm working my dream job.

This morning I'm happy to be on a walk with my son, who knows he's loved and who gets plenty of fresh air with me every day.

Copyright 2007 Kristy Shreve Powers

Busy Mama's Boy at One Year - Slideshow

Tue, 22 May 2007 21:46:00 +0000

Copyright 2007 Kristy Shreve Powers

Books I Read As a Teenager

Thu, 17 May 2007 00:55:00 +0000

What books impacted you during your teenage or preteen years?

In middle school, I remember reading Izzy Willy Nilly and being so impressed and almost overwhelmed by Izzy's strength. I was re-reading An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the third time or so and getting into science fiction by Bradbury and others. A Tale of Two Cities and Les Miserables also made a big impact on me.

During those years, I was shy and awkward with my peers and used reading and writing as an escape from the self I saw reflected back at me in my classmates' eyes. I didn't like that reflection, but I did like the lofty aspirations my reading gave me. Are there any teenagers or preteens out there who'll share their current reading selections?

Busy Mama's Resource for Women and Teens Struggling with Eating Disorders

Sat, 05 May 2007 18:40:00 +0000

If you are or know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, go to for information, resource lists, questions and answers and residential and outpatient treatment. They have resources specifically tailored to families and friends that can be so helpful when someone is dealing with an issue as challenging as disordered eating.

The Renfrew Center uses a "comprehensive approach to mental health issues" that is caringly and carefully tailored to each individual. It is nationally known as the first residential treatment center for eating disorders, with facilities in Philadelphia and Coconut Creek, Florida. Outpatient services, but not residential treatment, are also available in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Ridgewood, New Jersey; New York, New York; Wilton, Connecticut; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Parenting Book Recommendations for Techniques and Inspiration

Fri, 27 Apr 2007 14:31:00 +0000

Here are a couple of my recommendations for general parenting books:Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach by William Glasser and Jennifer Easley - a behaviorist approach to parenting with an upbeat spin. The main message is that parents can give children a fun, positive response to the behavior they want to encourage and a less accentuated, boring response to the behavior they want to discourage. Kids want attention, and if they get more intense responses from negative behavior, they are likely to do those things in order to get the big response. Instead of forcing a disciplinary action on the child, parents can give a consequence for negative behavior and calmly explain the privileges the child can enjoy once they've complied with the discipline. This puts the choice on the child and minimizes the time parents have to spend on arguing and other intense responses to negative behavior. Read reviews of this book.The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin - inspirational thoughts based on the centuries-old Tao Te Ching for parents who want spiritual support and not practical suggestions; helps connect parents to the greater truths of having and raising children without providing a "system" for parenting. Read reviews of this book.Playful Approaches to Serious Problems: Narrative Therapy with Children and Their Families by Jennifer Freeman, David Epston, and Dean Lobovits - One of my favorite books, it is written by therapists for therapists, but the anecdotes and meaningful examples make it good reading for a layperson who's used to reading professional literature. Rather than enable children's serious problems to take over the whole family by treating them as hopeless and dangerous situations, the family can choose to be playful with the problem and to explore ways to combat the problem by making it into a character they can work with. For example, a young boy named Nick began to refuse eating anything but white bread and jam sandwiches. He became gradually weaker and weaker. After months and months of struggling with the problem, his parents took him to see the authors of this book. The therapists introduced Nick to the story of a tiger who came to a family's house (similar to the house Nick lived in) when they were gone and ate up absolutely everything in the house. It wasn't actually a tiger, though--the therapist reading the story changed it to be a boy with blue eyes and blond hair dressed in a tiger suit (the same color eyes and hair as Nick's). The boy in the tiger suit came to the house every other day, explained the therapist. Getting the parents involved, they decided to help Nick play out the tiger story at home. Every other day, Nick would eat for himself. On tiger days, however, he wore a tiger suit his mother made him and came to the door and rang the doorbell. When he was let in, he growled and ate up all the food placed in front of him (the food that the tiger ate in the story). Nick was encouraged in his role as the tiger, and he grew to enjoy acting out the tiger part. He became healthier and more energetic. Eventually, with ongoing therapy by the authors and support from his parents and sister, Nick decided that he was grown up enough not to need the tiger suit. He could eat on his own. This book is not necessarily meant as advice for parents to use on their own, although problems that are caught in the early stages might be diminished by the family using some of these playful techniques. Read reviews of this book.Copyright 2007 Kristy Shreve Powers[...]

Busy Mama's Guide to Dads & Daughters

Fri, 20 Apr 2007 14:10:00 +0000

Dads & Daughters is a nonprofit organization with a mission to make the world fair and safe for our daughters. It supports fathers' involvement with their girls and advocates for girls' wellbeing with information, resources and events.

Try their DADs quiz.

In their own words:

"WE BELIEVE that all families benefit when active, engaged father-daughter relationships help girls grow--and when dads, daughters and others help overcome obstacles for girls and women. We are the world's only organization maximizing the power and potential of father-daughter relationships. We support fathers and stepfathers (no matter where they are) with tools to make a better life for every girl.

WE SPEAK UP for daughters and sons through See Jane, our program to increase gender balance and reduce gender stereotyping in entertainment for children 11 and under.

WE HELP MOMS AND DADS with the world's only periodical dedicated to raising girls: Daughters®: For Parents of Girls. Its award-winning content helps parents and professionals nurture (and enjoy) healthy, confident girls."

Busy Mama's Interview with Joyce A. Anthony

Mon, 09 Apr 2007 23:40:00 +0000

Joyce A. Anthony, author of Storm, visits us today! She shares with us some of her thoughts about writing a novel.

B. M.: You're a mom who's been published in multiple venues and received wonderful reviews on your new novel Storm. What is the one most important piece of advice you'd give to aspiring author moms?

J. A.: You are not going to be able to work without interruption!!! I don't care how old the kids get, Mom is always needed and that will be made clear. What you need to do is learn to work with these interruptions, alter your schedule. You can find time for both writing and your kids; it is just a matter of trial and error until you find what works best.

B. M.: How did you find a publisher that was a good fit for you?

J. A.: It started with knowing what I wanted for my book and what works with my personality. I knew a big NY publisher wasn't even something I wanted to try because I wanted as much control of the process and fate of my book as possible. On the other hand, I didn't want Storm published just because it could be--I needed to know it was good--I wanted a publisher that had high enough standards to let me know if Storm was inferior. Fate smiled on me and connected me with Star Publish LLC. Kristie Maguire, the owner, has very high standards. She isn't afraid to say that something doesn't work and I have confidence in her--she wouldn't allow me to put out anything less than the best I had. I got the best--more control yet a check on quality. I couldn't be happier.

B. M.: I'm assuming that you spent a great deal of time working on Storm and nurturing it through all the phases from creation to revision to publication. Is there a part of the book or the noveling process that has a special place in your heart?

J. A.: While holding the final product of all my work in my hands was one of the most incredible feelings I have ever experienced, I believe the moment I finally decided Storm was the best I could do--it was finished and nothing I did could make it better--THAT is a special feeling. It is almost like finally giving birth to the baby you carried and seeing all the tiny fingers and toes and knowing your child is healthy. It makes every second of the process worth it.

B. M.: Tell us about your favorite character.

J. A.: I really can't pick a favorite of the human characters--they are like children, each with their own special yet equal place in my heart. I guess Maggie, the amethyst-eyed dog, would be my favorite. Her intelligence and loyalty is amazing. She is indeed incredible.

B. M.: What's your next big project now that Storm is out?

J. A.: My next book is a non-fiction, inspirational piece about the battle a bipolar child goes through and how he ends up thwarting the demons that threaten a child born with this disorder.

Many thanks to Joyce Anthony for stopping by! Go to Star Publish to find out more about Storm and Joyce Anthony.

Busy Mama's Announcements

Fri, 06 Apr 2007 14:44:00 +0000

A couple of announcements after the blogbreak I've taken:

1. I will be bloghosting author Joyce A. Anthony on Tuesday, April 10th. Her novel Storm was released by Star Publish on March 12th. Read a review by The Book Pedler, and come on back on the 10th to hear what Joyce Anthony has to say about her new book and the writing life.

2. I will be gathering resources for parents of teenagers over the next few months and posting the good ones as I go. I'll be looking especially for resources for teenagers in unusual circumstances, like teen parents, teens who live away from home, teens taking college courses in high school, etc., but I'll also post things that would be helpful for any parent of teenagers.

And a marvelous April 6th to you!

Busy Mama's Guide to Simplifying

Thu, 22 Mar 2007 14:53:00 +0000

Do you spend your days running around distracted, unable to enjoy what you're doing because you're planning the next thing? Do you feel like there are so many things you have to do that life is becoming impossible?

It's tempting to think we can do it all. We try to cram every one of our responsibilities into the day, leaving ourselves no time to just be. Our mental and physical health suffers. Our relationships do, too.

Because there are never enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do plus take time to relax and wind down, I believe in making priorities and sticking to them. It's the only way to remain a reasonably pleasant person.

Step 1: Write down all your interests, every single thing you would like to do on a regular basis. Include your family and spiritual life. Every single thing that's important to you.

Step 2: Cross off all but three. Try very hard to keep it to three, but in some cases four will work.

Step 3: Choose the one thing that you would do even if you had three days to live, that you just don't want to live without. That is the thing you focus on. It's always in the back of your mind, if not the front. Decide that if you do nothing else at all, it won't be the end of the world as long as you do this thing.

Step Two is the hardest. While working on this step, keep reminding yourself that to live the way you want to, you have to choose. You won't be able to do your number one priority the way you want to until you whittle your life down to the most important things.

Organization can make life simpler, too. If you have a really great system in place, you may be able to do one more thing that gives you a feeling of fulfillment every time you do it. Tasra Dawson, creator of Real Women Scrap TV, shares "A Simple Strategy to Help You Organize Your Life" on Episode 2 of Real Women Scrap. Take a look here.

Copyright 2007 Kristy Shreve Powers

Busy Mama's Guide to Rediscovering Our Unique Family Values

Fri, 16 Mar 2007 00:39:00 +0000

For the purposes of this post, I am defining “family values” as the traditions, beliefs and values that each of us grew up with. We may believe in the same ideals we did when we were growing up, or we may have changed our minds and hearts after soul-searching. We may continue our family traditions, and we may add traditions of our own.

NOTE: According to this definition each of us have our own set of family values. This is not a post about values that someone thinks families should have.

Personal Example:
Recently I tried to make a list of values I learned from my parents, grandparents and other important people in my life. It’s a compelling topic for me—I had a baby almost a year ago and I want to raise him the best way I can. They're not all deep thoughts. Most of them are very un-deep. But they're important because they make up the little parts of the whole me.

This is part of what I came up with:

I value organization and schedules and punctuality. On the other hand, I’m flexible when it comes to the people I love. I need to be creative in my work, but I like repetitive activities like folding laundry. I laugh a lot. I never would have married my husband if he didn't have such a great sense of humor. Hospitality is important to me when I'm able to provide it. I assume people have good intentions until I'm proved wrong.

So where do these traits and preferences come from? I could guess, and say the love of organization comes from my German grandpa. Maybe the sense of humor comes from my Irish heritage. I know the creativity comes from relatives on both sides of the family, whether German, Swedish, Irish or English. But these are just fun heritage-guessing games and they can't be entirely accurate. I'm one person who has been influenced by particular people who were influenced by the particular people around them.

Short of tracing genealogy, we can reflect on the values and beliefs that influenced who we are today. Here are a few suggestions for getting started.

Three Ways to Reconnect with Your Family Values:
1. Get out a notebook and pen. Write at the top of the page: "I value ________." Fill in the blank. Repeat until you have no more thoughts, or just write whatever comes into your head. After half an hour, read what you’ve written. How do your current values relate to your family?

2. Get a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute? and do all the exercises. Share what you’ve learned with a member of your family.

3. Tell someone about your favorite family traditions. Ask your kids about their favorite traditions and help them create a new one to carry out in the future.

Copyright 2007 Kristy Shreve Powers

Busy Mama's Featured Link - Hillbilly Housewife

Sat, 10 Mar 2007 02:50:00 +0000

I found the greatest website today when I was trying to figure out once and for all how to feed a family with almost no grocery budget. It's, by a Miss Maggie. She's done all the analyzing and planning for me, and now all I have to do is decide whether I need her Emergency $45 Menu (feeds up to 5 for a week) or her Everyday $70 Menu. These ready-made breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks menus include all recipes and a shopping list that assumes you have absolutely nothing in your pantry.

I found her site by typing in search terms like "old-fashioned meals" and "cost less." I figured the old cook from scratch method had to be the cheapest. But not everything costs less doing it from scratch, even when you set aside the fact that you'll spend hours more in the kitchen every week. Miss Maggie gives me "Store Bought Convenience Foods that are Usually Good Buys." Again, she's done the research so I don't have to.

Miss Maggie, like me, is concerned with making healthy food choices for her family, but she knows her bottom line and she makes it work.

Finally, someone who can help me when I have $45.16 to spend on groceries and not a penny more.

Busy Mama's Survey Question: Do Your Kids Watch TV?

Thu, 01 Mar 2007 19:18:00 +0000

Before I had a baby, I had high ideals about what I would feed my child and how I would teach him and all kinds of other things. We weren't going to even own a TV by the time we had children--we figured that would clear up any ambiguity about how much TV they were allowed to watch.

I still have great ideas for my baby boy. Sometimes I put them into practice. Other times I feed him french fries and whipping cream when we've run out of whole milk. Hey, he's not complaining.*

When he was a young baby, I watched my Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs over and over again while breastfeeding him and when I was bored. I figured I only had a limited amount of time to watch them before he became more aware of the TV. At eight months, I was going to (figuratively) pull the plug. No TV. Well, hardly any TV. Definitely not PG-13 rated stuff like Buffy. I had seen a study that showed ten-month-olds being impacted by the material in TV shows.

Fast-forward (figuratively): It's winter, he's eleven months old, and we're both going crazy cooped up indoors. Buffy's back in the DVD player. And my son is once again dancing to the theme song, pleased as punch. (Side note: I'm happy to report that I have not given my son punch yet.) I know I'm not alone. Kerri from Play Library owns up to using the Wiggles to help her get stuff done around the house every once in a while. I don't know what she would think of Buffy as compared to the Wiggles, though.

So my question is: Do your kids watch TV? Your very young kids? If so, what do they watch? What do you wish they watched instead? Comment me, please.

*Don't worry! I fed him a jar of turkey rice baby dinner and toasted pumpernickel bread to round out the meal.