Last Build Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 02:10:22 +0000
Wed, 17 Mar 2010 12:52:00 +0000These are the projects we've left laying around today:
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:26:00 +0000I 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.
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:23:00 +0000When 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.
Fri, 18 Jan 2008 12:53:00 +0000Bullying 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 Wiredsafety.org 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 altogether.Stopcyberbullying.org 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[...]
Sat, 05 Jan 2008 15:58:00 +0000Your 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 www.babyswimming.com/Safety.htm.Baby-Friendly 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[...]
Wed, 02 Jan 2008 16:53:00 +0000The 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.
Sun, 25 Nov 2007 16:43:00 +0000This 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.
Mon, 05 Nov 2007 18:09:00 +0000Let 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 resting...it 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.[...]
Fri, 27 Jul 2007 14:59:00 +0000Thinking about my previous post on children watching TV (here), I came across some helpful articles on the Dr. Spock website:
Tue, 24 Jul 2007 15:44:00 +0000Just 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
Mon, 25 Jun 2007 22:46:00 +0000Millions 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.[...]
Thu, 21 Jun 2007 13:49:00 +0000Today 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.
Wed, 30 May 2007 14:01:00 +0000(image)
Wed, 30 May 2007 13:09:00 +0000It'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.
Tue, 22 May 2007 21:46:00 +0000
Thu, 17 May 2007 00:55:00 +0000What books impacted you during your teenage or preteen years?
Sat, 05 May 2007 18:40:00 +0000If you are or know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, go to www.renfrewcenter.com 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.
Fri, 27 Apr 2007 14:31:00 +0000Here 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[...]
Fri, 20 Apr 2007 14:10:00 +0000Dads & 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.
Mon, 09 Apr 2007 23:40:00 +0000Joyce A. Anthony, author of Storm, visits us today! She shares with us some of her thoughts about writing a novel.
Fri, 06 Apr 2007 14:44:00 +0000A couple of announcements after the blogbreak I've taken:
Thu, 22 Mar 2007 14:53:00 +0000Do 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?
Fri, 16 Mar 2007 00:39:00 +0000Definition:
Sat, 10 Mar 2007 02:50:00 +0000I 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 hillbillyhousewife.com, 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.
Thu, 01 Mar 2007 19:18:00 +0000Before 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.