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« April 2008 | Main

May 2008

May 14, 2021

The Top 10 Urban Legends About Kids: Are They True?

Istock_000000815564xsmall_2 Are evil-doers really lacing kids' fake tattoos with LSD? Did a certain "Pokemon" episode actually give Japanese kids seizures? Find the answers to these and eight more urban legends (or are they true?...) on a terrific post by Amy S.F. Lutz over at Strollerderby.

With websites like Snopes and Urban Legends & Superstitions and T.V. shows like MythBusters, it's getting easier to figure out whether the stories we read about, in too-frequent crazy e-mails from certain friends and relatives, are true. (And you know you have someone in your life who just loves to send you these.)

So are Webkinz really being murdered online? I love how this blogger brought together 10 of the most-heard urban legends about kids and got to the bottom of things. Check it out.

 

May 13, 2021

High School Confidential

Istock_000005085148xsmall I thought I was the only mom on the planet who ever feels that motherhood is a lot like high school. Turns out I'm not alone.

My buddy Cynthia over at Sugar Mama says the only difference is that now you can't run to your room after school on particularly bad days. "You have to live in your own mistakes, fears, bad haircuts, every second of every day and learn to love it," she adds.

Humor definitely helps — and Sugar Mama has that in spades. And some days, you receive support from someone out of the blue that means so much. Click on the link above to hear the rest of the story.

May 12, 2021

A Few More Thoughts on "Young@Heart"

Alg_young In response to some reader e-mail, I've been thinking about why I was so drawn to the people featured in this wonderful documentary, which I reviewed here.

In short, they inspire me, and I can think of nothing better than to be that gutsy, feisty and just plain brave when I'm 80-something. Clearly, being a part of this group adds life to their years.

A couple of years ago, I took a comedy improv class through our local adult-ed school, and I saw a similar thing going on there. We beginning improvers ranged in age from late teens to 70s. When we were performing, having a ball and living in the moment, it didn't matter how old anyone was. In fact, some of the older members of the group were some of the least-inhibited and most-entertaining improvers.

1172935553 It didn't mean they didn't have aches and pains, or that they were able to do everything that they physically wanted to do in an improv sketch. But it didn't matter to them and it didn't matter to the audience. It was just so energizing to be in that room with them.

Yes, it's incredibly sad that the group in Young@Heart has some very tough days dealing with the loss of some close friends and fellow members. But they also have the comfort of knowing that each of those people was doing what he or she absolutely loved to do, right up until the end.

Could any of us ask for more from life?

Blog Tour Stop: The Baby Bonding Book for Dads

When I first picked up a copy of The Baby Bonding Book for Dads, by James di Properzio and Jennifer Margulis, I have to admit that I expected it to be one of those Hallmark Father's Day gift books filled with gorgeous photos and not much substance.

Happily, I was wrong. And that makes me especially happy to be hosting a stop on di Properzio and Margulis' blog tour today.

You have to love a book for new dads that tell it like it is: "Unless your wife had a C-section, your new baby probably looks weird. He may be all scrunched up with a cone head like Bart Simpson, odd-looking skin that's been out of the sun and in amniotic fluid for nine months, and eyes that cross or look unfocused..." Hey, so much for the Hallmark-card text, huh?

And I love the diaper-changing advice: "It's a good idea to talk to the baby and distract her so she doesn't fuss," the authors advise. "Talk about your day, the Red Sox, or tell her how much better she'll feel once she's clean. Or, if things get particularly funky, sing 'She's a very stinky girl,' to the tune of 'She's a very kinky girl."

You have to love a baby book for dads that quotes a Rick James song. And check out these amazing photos...


May 11, 2021

Go See "Young@Heart"!

Young_at_heartWhat a wonderful Mother's Day gift I received! Randy and Matt took me to see "Young@Heart," and it felt like a full-body workout. I laughed, I cried and I was glad I wasn't watching it at home in the den. This felt more like a community event.

The theater was packed with people ages 10 to 80, and we were all so involved in the movie, everyone was silent. (When's the last time that happened at the movies?) OK, we were silent when we weren't laughing or stomping our feet. But there were a lot of silent tears, too. Check out the trailer. Then grab your kids (over about age 10), grab your parents and GO!

May 09, 2021

Cast Away the Clutter!

I love my husband dearly, but I have to admit that we have certain subjects where we don’t see eye to eye. The storage room off the garage, for example. I’ve (almost) stopped nagging him about the fact that it should be condemned and I’ve (almost) resigned myself to just not opening the door.

I want to take an entire Saturday and tackle this monster. Randy takes one look and wants to immediately grab the T.V. remote. But there’s middle ground here — and hope — according to the organizing experts I consulted. Like the old advice about eating an elephant, you just have to do these things one bite at a time.

Start with small, well-defined tasks and don’t get sidetracked, suggests Kim Taylor, owner of The 25th Hour in Manhattan Beach, California. If it's a closet, just organize the closet, not the entire room. If it's catching up on phone calls, make them all at once — and don’t start filing recipes or rearranging furniture half-way through the task. (OK, so Randy and I can start by clearing the old paint cans out of the metal cabinet in the storage room and taking them to the hazardous-waste drop-off station. Baby steps…)

Here are some terrific resources to help us tackle that stack of mail on the dining-room table, that pile of outgrown clothes in our kids’ closets — and even a storage room filled with who-the-heck-knows-what:

°    At flylady.net, professional organizer Marla Cilley knows what it’s like to suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). She’ll take you —  with her own brand of homespun humor — through the process of organizing and cleaning your home. She also has some fun organizing tools, including her book, Sink Reflections (Bantam; $14.95 plus shipping), available on her site.

°    Visit getorganizednow.com for great tips and to subscribe to professional organizer Maria Gracia’s free e-mail newsletter. (I save her newsletters in an e-mail folder for quick reference. Her holiday tips alone will make your life easier.) Gracia’s monthly checklists will help you stay on top of seasonal tasks around the house, such as putting up storm windows, cleaning gutters and getting the family car ready for hot- or cold-weather driving. Her book, Finally Organized, Finally Free For The Home, is available in print ($24.95 + shipping) or in a digital PDF version ($19.95) at the website.

°    The National Association of Professional Organizers can help you locate an organizer in your area. Just enter your ZIP code here.

Check out these other great tips from Gracia, Cilley, Taylor and Jeannie VandeWeg, a professional organizer and owner of All Squared Away Organizing in Sebastopol, California:

°    Stop keeping things “just in case.” Do you really need all those hair clips and those old issues of Newsweek? With the exception of certain seasonal or formal clothing, seasonal sports equipment, etc., if you haven't used it in a year, you probably don't need it.   

°    Double up. Double-hanging closet rods quickly expand the available space for young children’s smaller clothes — and make them more reachable. Add hanging baskets and boxes for socks, hair accessories, etc. Clear, plastic hanging shoe holders are great for holding accessories.

°    Grab your label maker. Large plastic containers with multiple pull-out drawers are inexpensive and great for storing loads of small toys and doo-dads. For younger kids, attach photos of dolls, Legos, etc. to the drawers to show where items belong.

°    Create a “wall-of-fame” bulletin board for kids’ artwork and stories. Every week, add new artwork and store favorite older pieces in a notebook with sheet protectors. Send the rest to family and friends. Kids can help address the envelopes. A fun added touch: Current offers kid-friendly address labels at great prices: www.currentlabels.com.

°    Designate a “morning-launch-pad” spot. Here’s where everyone places backpacks, keys, cell phones, DVDs to be returned, gym bag, outgoing mail, etc. It can be a large basket by the front door, a bench with a cubbyhole for each family member, etc.

°    Create an emergency station. The utility closet is a great place to store flashlights, candles, matches, batteries and a fire extinguisher. Keep the smaller supplies in a covered box and mount the fire extinguisher on the wall.

°    Too many toys? At the start of each new season, rotate younger children’s toys to keep them fresh and interesting. Donate gently used clothes and toys to a donation center or children’s shelter. Let your child help choose the items and help deliver them.

°    Create “kid-paper central.” Purchase a magnetic, vertical file holder with a section for each child. Attach it to the fridge and remind kids to put all school papers in their file each day. If space permits, different-colored 9-x-12-inch “in” baskets on the kitchen counter work well, too. In the summer, use the files for notices from camp, swim team or other kids’ programs.

°    Make bathroom sharing easier. Assign a favorite color for each child, and use colored baskets to separate combs, brushes, etc. This system works with everything from toothbrushes to towels.

°    Reduce morning bathroom traffic. Stagger wake-up and/or shower times and set up a separate area (with a small vanity table, mirror, etc.) in the bedroom for styling hair and applying make-up.

°    Color-code the family calendar. Choose a calendar with big squares and place it in a busy family area, like the kitchen. Attach different-colored pens (one color for each family member) with string or dental floss. Each person can see their activities at a glance — and the family carpool organizer can see what each day’s schedule holds.

°    Save the date. Stash birthday-party invitations, tickets for the school play and other date-related items in a tickler file by date or in a wall calendar containing a pocket for each month.

°    Switch to online bill paying. Many banks now offer this service at no extra charge. You’ll save time, postage and headaches. And at tax time, you can print out a record of all deductible expenses. (We’ve been doing this for two years now, and I’ll never go back!)

°    Purge old files. Sorting through just 10 files per day makes this task manageable. Shred and recycle unneeded items. And don’t forget computer files. Just 15 minutes spent purging old computer files frees up valuable hard-drive space.

°    Invite the “house fairy” into your home. This most-welcome guest leaves little thank-you notes for kids for a job well done and leaves behind everything from stickers or small treats (for younger kids) to notes telling older kids they’ve earned a movie rental or a music download. (Spouses like to be visited by the house fairy, too...)

°    Create family rewards. After spending the afternoon cleaning the garage, organizing closets or collecting toys for donation, your team deserves a reward. Take everyone for ice cream or rent a movie and snuggle on the couch. Don’t forget the popcorn!

May 07, 2021

Hey Kids, Let's Have a Poetry Jam!

What’s the secret for firing up grade-school kids and making them eager to read and write poetry? Just ask Jill Corcoran, an award-winning poet and mother of three who runs art-music-poetry workshops at elementary schools in Southern California.

“The workshops have been amazing,” says Corcoran. “The kids go from looking at me like I am a space alien, to slowly participating in the workshop, to boldly sharing ideas, to creating poetry with confidence and pride. It’s a fantastic, dizzying writing session that culminates in a coffeehouse-like poetry jam.”

Here are Corcoran’s tips for creating a one-hour workshop that teachers (or parent volunteers) can do in their own classrooms:

Jill Corcoran’s Art-Music-Poetry-Jam Workshop

Suggested grades: 2 – 5
Time required: 1 hour
Supplies needed: Boom box with selected music, 11” x 17” white paper, crayons, pencils, Post-it notes, scotch tape

1. Briefly discuss the power of art, music and poetry to evoke emotion.

2. Give each student an 11” x 17” piece of white paper and crayons.

3. Have students listen to music for several minutes and then draw whatever the music makes them feel.

4. Give each student a pad of Post-it notes and a pencil and have the students form a line to walk around the room and look at each picture.

5.  At each picture, the students write the first word that comes to their minds on the sticky paper. They leave that word with the picture. Instruct the students not to write words like “cool” or “fun,” but to write nouns, verbs or strong adjectives.

6.  The students then return to their pictures to find 20+ words written by their fellow students.

7.  With their words and pictures in front of them, and the music playing once again, students create a poem from the words they have been given. (Once their poems are finished, have each student tape their Post-it-notes poem to the back of their picture. Otherwise the notes tend fall off.)

8.  Ask the students to read their poems aloud. At the end of the hour, each student has created a poem that reflects the music they encountered, the art this music evoked from them and the words their art evoked in others.

May 06, 2021

How Many Balls Are You Juggling?

Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap!, tells a wonderful story, over on his website, Crazy Busy Life, that every parent can appreciate:

"I once interviewed a professional juggler. He told me the greatest number of balls he could juggle was six. The greatest anyone had ever juggled, as far as he knew, was eleven... I asked him if he was working to get to seven balls. He told me he was not because in order to get to seven he would have to give up several hours a day for at least six months, and he didn't have time to spare to do that. 'I'm very good,' he told me. 'I put on a great show with six. No one has ever come up to me and told me they wish I had done seven. I can work many variations with six and make people's jaws drop. Six is enough. I don't need more.'

Hallowell then asks us to consider: "Are you juggling more balls than you NEED to juggle? What do you give up if you are?"

That's a tough one. I love my family. I love my job. I love volunteering at my church and my son's school. What tends to get lost in the shuffle are things like exercise, getting my hair trimmed, shaving my legs — you know, basic physical maintenance. Not good!

So this week I plan to visit the dentist, shave those hairy legs, and get on the treadmill (an actual treadmill, not the treadmill that is sometimes my life!) for some cardio work. (Maybe I'll work out during American Idol tonight. And if Jason Castro wins this thing in a few weeks, it will only be because every 11-year-old girl in America voted for him because of his eyes! My pick? David Cook.)

May 04, 2021

Sneaking Off For a Date...

It's Sunday, and Randy and I needed to run to Home Depot and other exciting spots to do some shopping that would bore Matt (age 12) to tears.

So Matt volunteered to stay home and work on homework and household chores(!) while Randy and I went to buy towel bars and toilet plungers. (Yeah, marriage doesn't get any sexier than that...)

In the middle of running errands, with my stomach growling, I spotted our favorite burger joint, In 'N Out. I didn't have to work too hard to convince Randy to stop for lunch. We had so much fun! (Especially since our usual at-home meals consist of healthy chicken, pasta, fish, chicken, pasta, fish, chicken, pasta, fish...)

Can't remember the last time the two of us had just gone out for a burger, alone, on the spur of the moment. "Don't tell Matt!" we laughed, knowing he'd be mighty jealous.

As marital secrets go, this isn't a barn-burner, I know. But Randy and I must have looked pretty funny, sneaking out of the car when we got back home and tossing our In 'N Out soda cups in the recycling bin out by the street before we entered the house.

Shhh! Don't tell Matt.

May 01, 2021

So What's YOUR Most Embarrassing Moment?

We parents have all had our foot-in-mouth-disease moments, right? But who's willing to share them with the world?

Cynthia Jenkins (AKA Sugar Mama), that's who. Over at sugarmamablog.com, Jenkins has a hoot of a post today about a particular phone call that didn't go quite as planned. Check it out. And if you're feeling brave, share your own embarrassing moments with us in Comments. (Hey, you can be anonymous! Go for it.)

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