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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yooka Me & Other Toddler Speech

Top to Bottom: Taylor, Kaden, Zac
Understanding toddler speak is quite a challenge, but if you pay attention to the cues, you can figure it out.

I've been in Virginia visiting my son and his family, and I overheard my grandson, Zac, talking to some friends who were visiting.

"I not Yacky," he said. "I Yackery." What he was saying (obviously) was, "I'm not Zachy –I'm Zachary."

It reminded me of the first time I babysat for a little 3-year-old Korean girl. She was a beautiful little girl with bright eyes that just glowed with intelligence and happiness. Having never met her, I thought she might take a while to warm up to me, but her immediate reaction was to light up and exclaim, "Mahti mihaab?"

I remembered thinking that it would have been nice if the parents had told me their daughter couldn't speak English, but I thought that if I asked her to show me, I might be able to figure it out.

"Mahti mihaab?" She asked again.

I said, "Show me," as I reached for her hand. She led me to the couch and patted it. I sat down and watched her open her purse, her eyes still beaming with delight. "Ti mi haab!" she exclaimed as she pulled one item after another out of her purse.

Oh. I get it. What she was trying to say was, "Want to see what I have?" and "See what I have?"

Just the other day in the car, Zac called out from the back seat, "Daddy, yooka me. Yooka me, Daddy." All you smart mommies and daddies out there already know what that means, right? "Look at me."

But I'll bet that if I mention sows and yeppers, you might not have a clue. However, if you click the link to an article entitled, Creating Helpful Dictionaries, you'll find out.

In the meantime, use the "show me" method if your toddler can't get his or her point across. That method usually works. Not always, mind you, because I remember a time when my daughter, Lindsey, asked for beeches and it took me several months to figure out she meant grapes.

The only reasonable explanation for calling grapes beeches is that she probably asked what grapes were but the grapes were sitting next to the peaches and whoever it was who didn't pay attention to where she was looking, told her they were called peaches. As a result she would have believed that grapes were called peaches. Happens all the time.

But to make sure that DOESN'T happen, pay attention to what your child is asking so you won't misinform him or her. Otherwise, you'll find yourself at the fruit counter surrounded by strangers as your child points to grapes and calls them beeches. Discovering your toddler's method of communication is an enjoyable process.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Single Parents Alone On The Holidays

Perhaps it was because my mother decided long ago to celebrate holidays before or after the actual holiday (she wanted all of her girls together on the same day). Or perhaps it was because the actual holiday never felt like a holiday unless the whole family was present. Whatever the reason, it prepared me for the first time, after my divorce, when I would not have my children with me for Christmas.

I was a single parent who had to learn how to spend holidays alone – while my children spent holidays with their father. I felt a deep sadness at the loss of what had previously been a family tradition.

Other newly divorced parents or parents who've lost partners through death, find holidays difficult too, but getting used to being alone on a holiday doesn't have to feel lonely, and it doesn't have to be depressing.

What my family discovered was that if we decided to celebrate Christmas the week before Christmas, we could pretend it was actually Christmas. The aroma of food cooking in the kitchen, the festivities, and the laughter of children made whatever holiday we celebrated feel like the actual holiday.

And so it went that on each Christmas morning, when I awoke alone, while my neighbors and practically everybody around me were celebrating Christmas with their families, my children were with their father.

I may have shed a few tears the first couple of times, but on Christmas morning, when I awoke alone, I wished Jesus a Happy Birthday, and told Him we would celebrate the day together, just the two of us. Then I went to the store and bought one last tiny gift for each of the kids, wrapped it, and placed it on their pillows. It might have been simply a Caramello for Christmas or a Cadbury Egg for Easter. It might even have been just a little trinket, but it was just one more surprise that I could look forward to celebrating upon my kids' arrival.

Holidays aren't just dates on a calendar, and they don't have to be celebrated ON the holiday – what gives holidays significance is the love shared by family in celebration of that holiday.

To all the single parents out there, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a Happy Celebration for whatever you celebrate. May your year be blessed with joyous surprises.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When Kids Blame Siblings

Zac and I are home alone today, as we are every day while his Dad is at work, his Mom is in Illinois working at their frozen yogurt and smoothie shop (FroYo Creations), and his brother and sister are at school.

This morning Zac was picking his nose and was fascinated by how he could get spots of blood on the toilet paper. Yes, I know – disgusting, but nose-picking is somehow fascinating to three-year-olds. Though you might suspect that the reason for the blood was because he was picking his nose, you would be wrong to think that Zac thinks the reason for the blood was because he was picking his nose.

Want to know why Zac thinks the blood appeared on the toilet paper?

Kaden, his five-year-old brother, did it. Zac said that Kaden had just punched him in the stomach and now he had blood coming out of his nose.

"Kaden isn't here," I reminded Zac.

"Yes he is."

"Kaden is at school."

"No, I just saw him do it. He punched me like this." Zac then punched himself in the stomach to prove to me that the reason he was getting blood out of his nose was because Kaden did it.

Was Zac afraid he would get in trouble for engaging in such disgusting behavior, or is he just so used to blaming Kaden for everything that blaming Kaden comes naturally?

Kaden is the middle child. Perhaps he is destined to be the one blamed for everything. I know in my own birth family, my sister Cindy was blamed for everything. It was her own fault – she set herself up for becoming "The Blamed One." After all, when older siblings discover younger siblings sneak into sugar bowls and then deny sneaking in sugar bowls, despite the fact that their mouths glisten with the crystal sweet substance, older siblings somehow file that information in their brains under the category, "Events to Remember When I Need Somebody to Blame."

Zac's situation and the memory of my little sister Cindy emptying the sugar bowl reminds me of another time when my mother told me I wrote my name on the wall. When my mother asked me who did it, I blamed Cindy, who wasn't in school yet and who didn't know how to write.

Blaming is something we should all outgrow. Unfortunately, for many of us, blame continues into adulthood.

Why do kids (and adults) blame? I highly recommend this excellent article on the subject, written by renowned child behavioral therapist, James Lehman, MSW, Child Outbursts: Why Kids Blame, Make Excuses and Fight When You Challenge Their Behavior.

Photo above is of Zac and Kaden.

By the way, as I post this in the living room, Zac is playing an iPhone game in the family room next to this room. He just yelled out, "You just made me lose." Apparently Kaden isn't his only target of blame.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Clone Blog

What do you do when, for TWO WHOLE MONTHS, you have to deal with a ton of personal issues, including a car in need of more than a thousand dollars worth of repair, a broken vacuum cleaner with a warranty (but the nearest fix-it place is 50 miles away), a broken refrigerator (cost me several hundred dollars), a broken computer (would cost the price of a new computer to fix), no Internet connection (so even with a working computer, what difference would it make), seven blogs that cry for your attention, a memory that fails every now and then to remind you to take your cancer drugs and your asthma medicine, AND you take care of children all day long?

Well, I can't answer for you, but for me, I've decided to clone my blogs – at least this once.

Yessiree. If you go to any of my blogs (all of which are listed at the end of this blog), you will find that on this day, December 6, 2010, every single one of my blogs will say exactly the same thing as does this blog – assuming I don't get interrupted while I'm posting everywhere, that is.

So, without further ado (I don't think I've ever used that word before), here are a couple of (shortened versions of) blogs I would have written if I could have found the time and a working Internet connection:

MY HAIR

When my hair began to grow after chemo destroyed it, I noticed about a thousand cowlicks EVERYWHERE. In other words, I continue to look as if I am permanently affixed to an invisible electrical socket.

My youngest daughter and I were sitting in the cafeteria at Barnes and Noble (one of my favorite places to visit) when I spotted two women, who at first appeared to be reflections of me in the windows and whose hair looked as ugly as mine did. Of course mine was hiding beneath Avon's Breast Cancer cap, so nobody could tell how truly ugly it was.

In complaining to my daughter about how horrible I felt, because every time I looked in the mirror I saw a frightening apparition, I decided to illustrate my sense of horror by pointing out the two women to her.

"See those two women sitting by the window with their short, ugly, no-style hair?" I asked my daughter. She discreetly turned around.

"That's how I feel," I continued.

"You feel gay?" she asked.

OK, before you get all uppity, know this: several people I know are gay, and one of my best friends is gay – I think HE would get a laugh out of my daughter's comment.

MY FASHION SENSE

Everybody knows I have none – fashion sense, that is. I even wrote about my lack of fashion sense in my Weekend of Fashion blog, which I invite you to read by clicking the link.

Never had my lack of fashion sense been more apparent, though, than the year Jim Riordan shot his movie, Maddance, and one of his actors needed an outfit for a character she considered to be "trailer trashy."

Oh, what to wear, what to wear? Her eyes settled on me. I was wearing a broom skirt with a button down sleeveless top and a pair of sandals.

"That outfit, the one you're wearing. That would be perfect."

The #@%$&! What irks me even more is that I actually GAVE her my outfit!

WHEN TEMPERS FLARE

Yes, I'll admit it. I have a temper. Some people might be surprised to learn that I do because I usually hide it, though not always very well. You can tell when I'm upset, though, because I sulk or become an absolute witch.

Seething with sarcasm, my eyes squint into slivers of hatred. I become a cartoon character of myself, and I really don't like ME when I act that way (though, believe me, I have plenty of reasons to be "witchy" sometimes). In spite of those reasons, I really TRY to be mature (at my age, you would think that would come naturally by now).

Sadly I can't always help myself, so I'd kind of like other people to step forward and slap my mind with things like, "Do you realize you're acting like a temper-tantrum-throwing child?" or  (sarcastically) "Yeah, it's all about you!" or (even more sarcastically) "Nobody else ever in the history of life itself has ever had as many problems as you do. You deserve the status of martyr. Give me the phone. I must call the Pope!"

When I act like the Wicked Witch of the West I don't understand why people don't just throw a house on me. Maybe my toes curling beneath the pressure of a house smashing me into the ground would be the catalyst for change and I would respond differently. I could smile and say chirpy little comments, like, "My car needs over a thousand dollars worth of repair – the Universe must be trying to tell me something." ("You're getting too old to drive, Nimwit!"), and, "My computer is so broken, it will cost me the price of a new computer to fix it, so the Universe must be trying to tell me something." ("You're the one who wanted to be a writer – maybe you should rethink you're 'ideal job'.")

Or, and this is just a thought, maybe people should start being more responsible for OTHER people, especially those – like me – who need…what? What do I need – a heavy dose of reality? No, thank you. I think I've had  plenty of that…a reminder that lots of people have it worse than I do? No, that won't work. Oh, how about ________ (fill in the blank – I'm trying out a new type of blog – interactive – how's that working for me)?

Oh, you know what? Just throw a house on me!

Hmm, you don't like my remedy for witchiness? Be gone! Before somebody throws a house on you!

COMCAST

Comcast is on my hits (rearrange the letters) list. For the past three years since I moved into my home I have had intermittent problems with my Internet connection, and EVERY SINGLE TIME I call them and they send a tech, without fail, the technician who arrives at my home to FIX (choke choke) the problem tells me that the guy who came before him didn't know what he was doing.

I repeat – EVERY SINGLE TIME.

So, does that mean that for the past 3 years, every technician Comcast has sent to my home has been incompetent, or does Comcast hire egocentric techs with superiority complexes who believe that nobody but them knows how to properly connect a computer to the Internet?

Whatever. My Internet connection is in Illinois while I am in Virginia enjoying, in addition to attending to the needs of my grandchildren, a reliable Internet connection. Could the fact that I'm in Quantico, hub of the FBI and other government agencies, have anything to do with that, I wonder?

Despite the vacuum cleaner/computer/Internet/car/refrigerator problems I have been deftly dealing with over the past several months, I have managed to get a couple of articles and blogs written, the most recent of which is Paranormal Gifts for Your Paranormal Loved One.

In my Help For Single Parents blog, my most recent postings are:
PREVENT BULLYING
Applauding Accomplishments
Single Parent Resources

The three recent posts that appear in my Paranormal Minds blog are:
Why Does the Tarot Scare People?
Interviewing the Dead
I Have a Confession to Make

My Heart Blogs To You includes the following recent posts:
What Happened This Halloween
T-Ball With Kaden
Why I Have No Time To Write
Jeremy – Another Writer In My Family

Your Weird Dreams could appear in this blog along with these dreams:
The Bobby and The Dead Guy In The Trunk
Violent Murder In A Dream
Dream of Former Workplace

Writer of Blogs includes only one recent post:
How Embarrassment Became a Kindle

Your Blog Connection is currently disconnected due to the fact that I have not interviewed anybody recently for that blog.
But just because I had no time to devote to this blog, doesn't mean you can't check it out ;) Also, if you want YOUR blog covered, let me know.

My Wordpress Blog
Nothing new here, either, but feel free to visit for links to my other blogs and articles that automatically post here.

My most recent Associated Content Articles include the following:
A Halloween Paranormal Nightmare While Awake
I Wish Somebody Would Do Something About That!
The Perfect Gift for People Who Have Everything

My most recent Xomba Articles include:
A Halloween Paranormal Nightmare While Awake: Halloween Voices Won't Let You Sleep
Interview With Dead Rock Star Jim Morrison of the Doors
Learning the Mysteries of The Tarot
Paranormal Gifts for Your Paranormal Loved One

Hopefully by 2011, everything will be less stressful and I'll be writing more. The only way I can see that happening, though, is to find my own planet. But then I'd have to consider the costs to get there and...

In the meantime, thank you for reading this blog and clicking on the links.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PREVENT BULLYING!

We are all responsible for our own actions, but are we responsible for the actions of others? What happens when we witness one child bullying another? Is the prevention of a bully attack OUR responsibility?

In a word, YES. If we witness a bully attack and do nothing to prevent it, we are just as responsible for the bully attack as is the bully.

If we can't stand up to bullies who are attacking our children, our children will see the weakness in us and mimic it. Do we really want to raise children who cannot stand up for themselves?

How do we stop children from bullying each other? – By empowering ourselves and our children with adequate information and tools for dealing with bullying. Help is available. From assistance at the school level with school counselors and psychologists to government agencies, HELP IS AVAILABLE.

More attention is being brought to bullying today because so many schools have been ignoring the problem. It's time to step up. It's time to be part of the solution and not a contributor to the problem.  Visit STOP BULLYING NOW for information on how you can help rid this world of this growing problem.

In addition to the government web site listed above, numerous books and articles have been written on the subject, and I would like to list some of them here:

The Anti-Bullying and Teasing Book: For Preschool Classrooms by Barbara Sprung, Merle Froschl, Blythe Hinitz

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence by Barbara Coloroso
 
Please Stop Laughing at Us...: One Survivor's Extraordinary Quest to Prevent School Bullying by Jodee Blanco

Bully-Proof Your Classroom Teaching Kit: 6 Picture Books with Lessons for Teaching Children Strategies to Handle Bullying in Effective and Appropriate by Deborah Schecter (Editor)

Schools Where Everyone Belongs: Practical Strategies for Reducing Bullying / Edition 2 by Stan Davis, Julia Davis (With)

Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies by Jay McGraw, Steve Bjorkman (Illustrator), Phil McGraw (Introduction)

How to Stop Bullying and Social Aggression: Elementary Grade Lessons and Activities That Teach Empathy, Friendship, and Respect by Steve Breakstone, Michael Dreiblatt, Karen Dreiblatt

And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence by James Garbarino, Ellen Delara, Ellen DeLara

We Want You to Know: Kids Talk about Bullying by Deborah Ellis

Stand up for Yourself and Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way by Patti Kelley Criswell, Angela Martini (Illustrator)

Why Is Everybody Always Picking on Me?: A Guide to Understanding Bullies for Young People
by Terrence Webster-Doyle, Rod Cameron (Illustrator)


Click any of the links in this blog and you will be taken to the book. I've also posted links all around this blog.

 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Applauding Accomplishments

Nolan, 3
Whenever any of my children or grandchildren accomplish a goal, and they put forth the effort to accomplish that goal, no matter how small it is, I applaud them.

"You pooped in the potty? YAY!"

"You folded your socks all by yourself? YAY!"

"You cleaned up your mess all by yourself? GREAT JOB!"

And the list goes on.

I'll admit I went a little overboard with my oldest daughter. I think, because I was never applauded for any of my accomplishments growing up (perhaps I had none), I wanted my children and grandchildren to feel good about whatever they did, so I applauded (and still applaud) their every accomplishment.

You may not be surprised to learn that I recently applauded my three-year-old grandson, Nolan, when he said, "I can spell DVD now." YAY!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Single Parent Resources

Raising children alone is a difficult task. Many of us have family who help. Some of us have neighbors who help, but often many of us are left to deal with single parenting alone. If you are one of those parents struggling to raise your children by yourself, with no help from family, friends, or neighbors, know that help is available for you – help AND support.

The Single Parent Center provides facts, statistics, advice and even information about obtaining financial aid for student loans and grants.

Check out the Single Parent Center if you're interested in learning about how you can return to school, what resources are available to you for caring for your child, dating issues, and any of a number of problems related to single parenting.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Children Can Be So Exasperating

Try though we do, we can't always prevent our children from annoying us. Sometimes, before they figure out that lying is unacceptable, they will attempt at least once to deceive their parents.

And what about those children who hound us to do things for them when we are so utterly tired that the thought of doing just one more thing seems insurmountable?

This is a blog about two of my grandsons (brothers) who tried both of the situations mentioned above. Here are their stories:

Kaden doesn't usually lie, but he discovered the consequences of lying when he came home from kindergarten day after day telling his parents how he had won the math contest at school each day. What was so believable about him winning these contests was that he truly is exceptional in math. At 5 years old, he already knows, not only how to recognize his numbers, but also how to add and subtract – on paper and in his head.

So hearing he won a math contest was believable. But then one day he came home to tell his parents that he had lost the math contest because of one question. When my son asked him what the question was, Kaden said it was, "What is 100 plus 100?"

Greg said, "I don't think a kindergarten teacher would ask students such a difficult question. What was your answer?"

Kaden said, "200."

Hmmm.  So Greg and Michelle went to the open house at school and asked the teacher about the contest. She told them that she had never held a math contest.

Why did Kaden lie? (The answer made me want to reach across the continent to hug him.) "I just wanted you to be proud of me." Awww.

Greg and Michelle told him that they were already proud of him. And then, of course, they told him never to lie again, but the story was such a sweet one I had to share it.

This next story is about Kaden's brother, Zac. Zac LOVES being outdoors, so no matter how many times throughout the day you take him outside, he wants to return again and again and again and again.

On one particular day, after he had been outside for practically the whole day, he asked his daddy to take him outside again.

"No, Zac, that's enough for today."

Zac insisted over and over and over…

Finally, in exasperation, Greg said, "Zac, if I have to take you outside one more time, I'm going to have to spank your butt."

So Zac walked over to Greg, turned around, bent over, and said, "OK, go ahead. Do it. Spank my butt."

Apparently it was worth a spanking to go outside one more time.

That story reminded me of the time Zac's father, my son, Greg, when he was about Zac's age, had asked me to read him a scary book. I was a little concerned about how he might react to the book or if he would have nightmares, so I asked, "If I read this book to you, will you have nightmares?"

He thought about it for a moment and said, "OK" – like the prerequisite for me reading the book to him was that he had to promise to have a nightmare first.

Love these stories. And the point is that we love our children and grandchildren DESPITE what they do and BECAUSE OF what they do. We lead and teach by example, call them on their lies, and let them know that sometimes enough is enough.

Photo above is of Zac (on left) and Kaden (on right).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Transitions For Children Who Travel Between Two Homes

Divorce is difficult enough for parents, but when you factor in children, you find that the problems can sometimes be insurmountable. When parents live far apart from each other, children give up friends and leisure time to spend time with the "other" parent. Unless children have friends at both homes, they are pretty much restricted to spending their entire time with the other parent.

Some kids may feel resentful about having to shuffle back and forth and some parents, concerned about the upheaval, will leave the children at one home while the parents transition back and forth.

Most parents can't afford to keep three residences though, and most parents aren't willing to share one apartment, so children are the ones who have to move back and forth between residences.

Depending upon what happens at the "other" parent's home, the transition period between homes can be smooth or rough.

David A. Reinstein, LCSW offers help for parents who share custody of their children. His article, Helping Your Child Transition Back from Time with the "Other" Parent, is worth reading if you want to help your child with this emotional transition. Click the link to read it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sibling Rivalry: The Lion and The Elephant

It happens. You think that if your kids are years and years apart in age, you won't have to deal with sibling rivalry, but guess again.

When my second daughter was born, my oldest daughter was two and a half months away from being 12 years old.

You can't argue with somebody who doesn't know how to speak, so fortunately for Keeley, Lindsey could hold her own because she had been practicing speech since birth.

As her mother, I knew my daughter was forming words from a very early age, and I insisted that Lindsey was speaking from the time she was three months old, though nobody believed me.

But honestly, when I would ask her to say, "Mommy," Lindsey would mouth, "muh muh." When I would ask her do say, "Daddy," Lindsey would say, "Deh Deh." With everything I asked her, as a matter of fact, she made the appropriate sound, but because the word didn't come out sounding exactly the way it was supposed to sound, people told me I was imagining things.

With arms folded across my chest, and chin lifted high, I can say with certainty that clearly Lindsey was speaking at three months. And when she started talking at eight months, and people were astounded by how well she could speak, I made sure to say, "told ya."

Keeley would antagonize Lindsey, even demanding Lindsey to ask for her formula by enunciating, "I want my Prosobee please." Lindsey had been breast fed the first eight months of her life and was put on formula for four months until she could drink milk at twelve months.

When you "do the math," you realize that Lindsey was speaking in full sentences before she turned one year old.

Because Lindsey could speak so well so early, she could also argue quite well with her older sister, though in the following situation, I wonder how she analyzed the conversation in her mind.

One day they were sitting at the dining room table. Lindsey was tattling (something that occurred frequently) on Keeley.

"You're lyin'," Keeley told Lindsey loud enough for me to hear.

And one year old Lindsey responded, probably after trying to figure out what Keeley's comment had to do with what they were talking about, "Well (which she pronounced, waaaayo), you're an elephant."

(A special thank you to my sister, Cindy, for reminding me about this incident.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Story of the Goldfish

Let's face it. Sometimes divorce is cruel, so it helps to find a little humor in the midst of emotional turmoil. Here's where I found relief (in humorous moments with my kids):

Lindsey was around 4 years old when we bought our one and only goldfish. From the day we got that little goldfish, we discovered that he was never truly meant to live in a bowl.



Yes, like me, our little fish was a free spirit. He thought he was a bird. Or perhaps he was on a suicide mission, because we frequently found him (could have been a her) jumping out of the bowl.

Sadly, not long after we got our little goldfish, it, like so many of its relatives, died.

In explaining the death of her goldfish to a friend, Lindsey said, "He took one look at my dad, jumped out of the bowl, and died."

I often thought about that comment whenever he insulted me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Helping Children Deal With the Loss of a Parent

Most parents are single not by choice. When any form of separation, such as deployment, death, or divorce occurs, parents become enmeshed in their own emotional upheaval. And in the midst of their grief, parents sometimes forget that their children are also grieving. Parents might not realize the depths of sadness children feel at the loss of the other parent.

When my granddaughter realized that my great-granddaughter would be missing her daddy, Sarah, the wife of a U.S. Marine, bought Ayla a "Daddy Doll."

Because I was so impressed with the Daddy Doll, I wrote an article about it, Hug A Hero Dolls for Kids Who Miss Mommy or Daddy. Shortly after posting it, the Executive Director of Hug A Hero, Lisa Berg, contacted me. And while she was contacting me, a fellow Associated Content contributor, Judy Kaelin (click her name to read her articles) asked me if Hug A Hero was accepting donations.

I contacted Lisa, who wrote: "Yes, we are definitely accepting donations! Matter of fact, we have a waiting list of almost 500 children in need of dolls. To support one child, it is only $25. That places a doll into the arms of a child in need. Our waiting list consists of families whose loved one is deployed or about to deploy. Thankfully we do still have the means to support our fallen heroes families. To donate, they can either go to our website at www.operationhugahero.org or send a check to the address listed at the footer of our site."

My granddaughter told me that "as corny as it sounds, Ayla's Hug a Hero doll really helps Ayla feel close to her daddy."  And I, author of this blog, thought, if these dolls help children of our military men and women, imagine how they might help children of divorce or children whose parents have died.

Because even though they began as Daddy Dolls, these dolls also help children who are missing mommies, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, or anyone else the child loves. How comforting to have some daily reminder that Mommy or Daddy (or whoever they lost) still loves them!

In cases of divorce, most loving custodial parents understand that children still love the noncustodial parent. One of these dolls, made in the image of the other parent, could help your child feel close to the noncustodial parent in that parent's absence.

Here's another thought – why not give your children a doll with your likeness, too? Watching them play with Mommy and Daddy dolls together could teach you a lot about how your children view your relationship and how they are handling the loss.

If you would like to purchase a doll for yourself, or if you would like to donate to Hug A Hero, please visit Operation Hug a Hero.  (Daddy Dolls now offers Campus Cuddles too.)

I would like to make a suggestion to Operation Hug a Hero: Why not create "Me Dolls" too – dolls in the likeness of the child, to raise more funds for children of "fallen heroes"?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Are You A Successful Parent?

We all want to know we're doing a great job in raising our children, and JOB is exactly what raising children is. However, it is the only job I know that provides more joy than heartache, and sometimes joy with heartache.

As single parents, we need even more help than do our married friends. The best way to find that help is by joining other parents who have experienced the ups and downs of parenting. Other parents understand what parents experience because they ARE parents.

Having said that, I would like to introduce you to a group of parents who have gathered together to help parents raise their children successfully. In my blog, Your Blog Connection, I share an interview with the women who started a website called, Parent Successfully.

As I write in Your Blog Connection, "Begun in November 2009 by the mother-daughter team of Lyn Lomasi and Jaipi Sixbear, Parent Successfully offers parents links to important articles written by Lomasi and Sixbear and numerous other writers who share tips and information on raising children successfully."

Please read my interview with the founders of Parent Successfully at Your Blog Connection.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nurturing Creativity in Children

Audrey and Nolan frequently show Brittney and their grandma (me) their own "talents" as they dance and sing in front of the television while watching America's Got Talent, and previously, American Idol (shown in the background).

This afternoon at lunch, while Audrey, Nolan, and I were discussing jugglers, Audrey wanted to know if jugglers could juggle pizzas and then catch them in their mouths one at a time while juggling the other pizzas.

After some discussion, we decided it might be better if they juggled pieces of pizza rather than the whole pie, because the juggler might have difficulty eating an entire pizza while juggling. (But then, what do I know about juggling?)

As we continued eating, Audrey's eyes got their familiar gleam as she looked at her glass. "I got an idea! Why don't jugglers try to juggle glasses of water!"

Now, THAT would be phenomenal if jugglers could juggle glasses of water, I told her.

I love her ability to conceive of ideas and I strive to nurture her creativity by applauding her ideas and discussing them with her (though I have to admit that sometimes I have to laugh).

Creativity doesn't always magically manifest into tangible products. How many patents sit in the patent office, even the 1,093 belonging to Thomas Edison, that haven't materialized?

Creativity is the ability to take two concepts, related or not related, and put them together in a completely new way. Children have minds that are so open to possibilities that creativity is just waiting to be nurtured. Natural explorers who are adept at asking why, children often come up with some pretty creative ideas (some very funny) and will present some very convincing arguments for their ideas if parents would only ask.

The next time your child comes up to you with a new idea, listen for that seed of creativity and nurture it. You might be surprised – and you might find some genius ideas sprouting!

The photo of Audrey and Nolan was posted in another blog Who Wants a Poppochino?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How To Entertain Your Family With Only A Can Of Bug Spray

 Last night, two of my daughters and two of my grandchildren and I found a simple form of entertainment that was so engaging, even the lightening and thunder outside could not rouse us from our positions on the floor.

Prior to this photo being taken, the room with the arrow was pitch black save for the glistening silk shining with each lightening flash.

Nolan noticed it from the hallway when he and his sister Audrey got out of their beds for the third time.

The arrow points to a spider that had built a web so large it was designed to capture humans. Hanging from the ceiling fan above, it had woven its world wide web so large, any one of us might have fallen into it the following morning.

Perhaps it thought it was starring in the new film, Attack of the Killer Spider. I was to be its intended victim.

Though you can't tell from the photo, the spider was quite large and threatening before Brittney drowned it in wasp spray (no time to look for the spider spray that was directly behind it) and the web was built so quickly, you would have thought the spider felt it was on a time limit!

Hours earlier I had been sitting in that room and walking around directly in line with where the spider was later found deceptively hanging in the dark. Perhaps it was then that the spider wove its trap, hoping to capture a giant meal (me).

I'm so glad my family returned before they found me wrapped in a spider sac hanging from the ceiling fan.

We hate bugs in my family, but we are fascinated by them. When Brittney was younger, she used to lift slabs of limestone just to watch all the bugs crawl around. Now we have an arsenal of products to kill them if they ever enter our home (they obviously have no sense of danger).

I know there will be those of you who will be horrified that I killed a spider, and I have to tell you honestly, that I usually grab a tissue and carry the little buggers outside. But when they are big enough to eat me, and I can't coerce them to leave the premises, I have to resort to death tactics. So I apologize to those of you who mourn the death of the magnificent spider who spun a web of gigantic proportions.

But the purpose of this blog is to explain to you how to captivate your children with only the cost of bug spray. If you're ever at a loss for entertainment, consider bug watching. The kids will love it.

(Photo left to right: Audrey, Nolan, Brittney, Lindsey)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Getting Your Kids To Eat Healthy Foods

If you're old enough to remember the following commercial, you're probably a grandmother or grandfather by now. And you have learned, with all the competition from McDonald's and other fast food restaurants, that getting kids to eat healthy foods can be (but doesn't have to be) a challenge.

Remember Mikey and the Life Cereal Commercial:

Brother One: What's this stuff?

Brother Two: Some cereal. S'posed to be good for you.

Brother One: You gonna try it?

Brother Two: I'm not gonna try it – you try it.

Brother One: Hey, let's get Mikey!

Brother Two: Yeah. He won't eat it – he hates everything.


But something mysterious happens.

Hey Mikey! He likes it!

Not all kids are fussy eaters, but in my experience, with four kids, ten grandkids, and two great-grandkids, I can attest to the fact that most children have finicky moments and some of them are very particular about their food ingestion habits.

One of my grandsons, for example, ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for months at a time. Another one of my grandsons currently ransacks the refrigerator for hot dogs, which he thinks are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time.

Even today, one commercial on TV shows a mom shushing a woman in a grocery store for mentioning the nutritional value of the food she's offering as a sample.

When did something "good for you" become so distasteful? And when did we resort to sneaking healthy foods into our kids' diets just to get them to eat more nutritionally?

Whatever the reason, I think it's genius. As far as I know Jessica Seinfeld was the first person who mastered the art of food deception. And I know it works, because my daughter-in-law sneaks healthy foods into her children's diets much the same way Jerry Seinfeld's wife does, and they love it.

If you haven't read Jessica Seinfeld's book, Deceptively Delicious, I highly recommend purchasing it, reading it, and using it. She has some great recipes in there.

While you are waiting for your book to arrive, how about reading an article I came across today entitled, Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Love To Eat by Cheri Majors. Cheri offers some great ideas and if you click on the link, you can read about how to sneak vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, and eggplant into your family foods.

Cheri also provides a recipe for a very healthy frozen ice cream (yogurt) bar the kids can make themselves.

Just last week one of my grandsons searched my pantry and refrigerator after my other grandchildren had eaten all the bananas, apples, oranges, and other nutritious snacks and complained, "Don't you have ANYTHING healthy to eat?"

Kaden is only 5 and already health conscious. Raising healthy children who desire a healthy lifestyle can be done!

Monday, July 5, 2010

How NOT to Get Out Stains & How TO Get Out Stains

Years ago, when my kids were young, I tried every conceivable method of removing stains that I could fathom. What usually worked for me was to take the item, place it in a sink with cold water, rub a bar of soap directly into the stain, and rub the soaped up item between my knuckles, repeating the process until the stain disappeared.

It didn't matter what type of bar soap I used; the method worked for almost every type of stain. Except one: baby formula. I breastfed my three youngest babies for the first eight months of their lives (doctor's orders and my desire – would have liked for it to have gone for a year, but that's another story), then fed them formula for the next four months.

Yes, my stain removal method worked for grass stains, for blood, for feces, and even for spaghetti sauce (sorry, didn't mean to put feces and spaghetti sauce in the same sentence – oops I did it twice). So when I discovered that baby formula didn't respond, I formulated another idea, which I KNEW would remove the stain – BLEACH!

I rubbed soap and bleach into the stain, washed it out and – nothing happened. I am not one to give up, though, and the baby formula stain was annoying me. It developed its own personality and taunted me relentlessly.

"I'LL SHOW YOU, YOU MISERABLE STAIN!" I shouted at it. "I'LL DROWN YOU IN BLEACH!"

And so I did. I once again rubbed soap into the stain, scrubbed so hard I thought my knuckles would grow another set of knuckles, and placed the offending stain into a bowl filled with bleach.

Do you know what happens to cotton fabric when it's been left in a bowl of bleach overnight? It disintegrates.

I WON! I got rid of the stain! Of course the tiny t-shirt was only strands of fabric, but I WON! I removed the stain FOREVER!

I could end this blog there, but how irresponsible of me would it be if I didn't direct you toward an article about how to actually remove stains? Please read Janet Hunt's, Laundry Stain Removal Tips by clicking the link. At the end of her article, Janet refers you to list of various types of stains and their removal process (it even includes treatment for baby formula).

 –

Friday, July 2, 2010

When a Baby is Born With Jaundice

I will never forget the day I drove for over an hour to get to the hospital where my daughter, Brittney, had just given birth to her first baby, Audrey. I was going to help out for a few days while her husband worked, and I was looking forward to spending time with my newest granddaughter.

I walked into the hospital room fully expecting to see my new granddaughter wrapped and ready to go. She had been born with jaundice and had already spent many hours beneath the bili-lights inside a plastic bubble. Because she spent so much time receiving treatment for jaundice, Brittney and Scott hadn't been able to spend much time with her.

On the day I drove down to help my daughter, I saw Brittney packing her bag, bent over the bed. When she saw me, she fell apart sobbing. The hospital wouldn't allow Audrey to leave without more exposure to the bili-lights.

A mother not allowed to walk out of the hospital with her baby is sad to watch. Brittney had no idea how jaundice would affect her new baby, how long Audrey would have to stay in the hospital, or how long she would be separated from the infant she carried inside her for nine months.

Recently, Associated Content sent notices to several writers asking them to write about How To Treat Jaundice In Newborns. I gladly accepted the assignment, and wish I had known more about jaundice when Audrey was born, because even going as far back as 1969 when my first daughter was born with jaundice, I never knew as much as I learned when I researched the article.

Doctors don't always explain treatment plans to parents. It helps to know ahead of time what to expect. If you are interested in knowing about How To Treat Jaundice In Newborns, click one of the links.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Books Your Tweenager Will Love – Another Lyn Lomasi Inspired Blog

As we all know, finding books that engage the interest of children who are not yet teenagers can be a daunting task. They're too young for some books and too old for others.

We want the books to be interesting, challenging, and educational. Now that school is out, we have to run searches ourselves, rely on our ability to locate a book list given to us by our child's former teacher, or enlist the help of others who have researched this topic for us.

Once again, I am going to mention one of my favorite article authors, one I have previously mentioned, Lyn Lomasi. She has investigated the book choices listed in her article AND she has the added advantage of raising children who actually read the books.

As a home school educator, Lyn Lomasi has chosen her favorite books for children who fall within that in-between a child and a teenager range, the tweenager. I invite you to read her article, Best Educational and Engaging Books for Tweens. Click the link to read her article.

When you hear the words, "I'm bored," drive your children to the library and choose the books she suggests in her article or click on the links provided in this blog.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hiding Leftovers and Candy From Your Kids



When money becomes tight and you have to stretch your meals, learn the art of the leftover.

I know – even the word, "leftovers," sounds like second-hand food. Who wants to eat that?

On the other hand, why would you want to throw away perfectly good food?

When money is tight, you need to make the most of what you have. Leftovers are one of the best ways to save money.

HOWEVER, some kids who have been accustomed to eating new meals each day will balk at having to eat leftovers. And that's when some ingenuity comes in handy.

Throw something in the microwave and you might as well put a sign on it – "old reheated dinner." Kids won't eat it without complaining. Some kids would rather starve than eat something they consider to be "used."



Trying to reason with them by saying, "Starving children in (pick country) would love to eat these leftovers" doesn't work, because most kids will ask you to send their meals to those starving children.

How do you get your children to eat leftovers? Learn to love aluminum foil again. Aluminum foil scares children, because it screams LEFTOVER. They won't touch it. But that's a good thing, because they also won't know what's in an aluminum foil-covered container.

If you don't use aluminum foil, make sure the container is not transparent. It is imperative that kids never be allowed to see what hides inside containers.

Learn to love your oven and stove all over again, too. Cooking on your stove may require you to become a little bit sneaky, though, because if your kids find you rummaging through the refrigerator and grabbing a bowl that held dinner from three days ago, they will know you are reheating a leftover meal.

And NEVER throw the bowl you grabbed from the refrigerator into the microwave in their presence. Wait until everybody leaves the room, and if you decide to use your microwave, don't forget to remove the foil.

Instead of using the microwave, grab the bowl that was wrapped in aluminum foil and quickly throw it into the oven or into a pot on the stove. Immediately place the bowl in the sink or dishwasher and RINSE IT OUT! Leave no tell-tale signs that what was once in the bowl was a previously eaten meal.



The meal must appear to be fresh. For some reason, anything cooked on the stove or placed in a pan in the oven appears to be a new meal.

Get creative. Add different spices to the original meal. If you had chicken breasts, shred the chicken and make a casserole out of it.  Look online for "what to do with leftover (fill in the blank)." You'll find thousands of results.

And now for the part about the candy. As I mentioned earlier, anything wrapped in aluminum foil is frightening to children. Most kids who visit the freezer usually grab a popsicle or some other frozen snack. If you want to hide a little treat for yourself (sometimes mom and dad need SOMETHING for just them, right?) wrap it in aluminum foil. Kids are smart though, so be careful to shape the foil in anything BUT the shape of a candy bar. Be creative – make it look like leftover mashed carrots (I told you to be creative).

WARNING #1 – if your child should discover your secret, NOTHING you hide in aluminum foil from that point on will be safe.

WARNING #2 – Disregard everything I've written until this paragraph. Raising responsible children means letting your children know boundaries. Parents are allowed to have their own snacks. And heating leftovers is a responsible way to manage money. Waste is unacceptable. Children should respect the family finances and live within the means established by Mom and Dad.

This did make for a fun blog though, didn't it?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

17 Inexpensive or Free Outdoor Activities with Links to EVEN MORE!

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Tote Set
It's that time of the year again. School is out and the school age kids are home, off to play with their friends, leaving their little brothers and sisters to fend for themselves.

How can you keep your preschoolers occupied? Read How to Prevent Summer Boredom for Preschoolers for a list of activities that will keep your little preschooler occupied for the summer.

You can also purchase the book Outdoor Activities for Kids: Over 100 Fun, Practical Things To Do Outside. And if you'd like your child to carry his or her books or toys outside, consider using the Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Tote Set. Just click the links and have a great summer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

FUN, NEW, Learning Games – a Lyn Lomasi Inspired Blog

 When you think about the ways children learn, you understand that because they are naturally curious, they absorb a lot of what is going on in the world before they ever enter a school-type setting. From the way they pick up language to the way they learn to walk, children learn by observing and imitating.

By the time they learn to walk and talk, "why" and "how" become their two most important words. They want to understand the workings of their world and they want to know their place in it. One of the best ways to teach children without seating them in front of a chalk board is game playing.

Playing games is fun and interactive. It engages children by appealing to several senses: sight, sound, touch, and sometimes even smell and taste. Science has proven that when teaching incorporates more than one sensation, children learn better. Games are excellent educational resources, and the more creative they are, the more fun parents and children will have.

Lyn Lomasi, a writer for Associated Content, writes extensively on childhood and education. Today I would like to introduce you to two of her learning game articles.

For school age children:

Free Reading Activities for Kids: Spelling Memory Game

Free Reading Activities for Kids: Make This Sentence Game

And if you would like to read more articles by Lyn Lomasi, please click her name.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Disciplining Your Children In Public

I just came across an article posted by Lisa Mason on Associated Content entitled, How to Give a Successful Time Out in Public. Many of us have experienced whiny children who ask for items while we're shopping or who scream when we tell them it's time to leave the playground.

What's a parent to do? If you are a parent who believes in time-outs, what do you do while you're in the grocery store or at the park? Lisa offers some tips for just these types of situations.

Click the link above to read Lisa Mason's article.

For more information about discipline techniques, check out these books from Amazon.com:

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan

and

Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child : Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries by Robert J. MacKenzie Ed.D.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Home Schooling & Social Interactions – The Debate

I came across an article I wanted to share, A Critical Look at the Influence of Social Interactions in Educational Setting, by Julie Darleen, which concerns the differences and the similarities of home schooling vs. traditional schooling.

One debate I've heard over and over about home schooling has to do with why home schooling is bad for children because it doesn't allow for social interaction. Just before I read this article, my son and daughter-in-law had taken their boys to the local Borders book store for "Story Time" (their daughter was at a school function).

During that event I met a couple with a baby who told me that they planned on home schooling their son and that socialization was very important for his development. So any time they had a chance to bring him to a local event, they did.

I couldn't help but think of all the debates I'd heard over the years about how children who were home schooled missed this one very important aspect of growth and development. I wondered why the parents didn't attend social events or create events with other home-schooled children. After listening to the couple at Borders I wondered why it was even a problem.

The way schools are today, with discipline and other problems, it's a wonder more parents aren't turning to home schooling. And with the "no child left behind" program, I have to wonder if maybe we are "dumbing down" our curriculum to attend to the least intelligent in the group, thereby making the more intelligent students suffer from boredom.

Two of my grandchildren just turned 5 years old. Both of them have parents who teach them at home. They will attend traditional kindergartens in the fall of 2010, but both of them might be over-prepared for a typical school setting. Both of them recognize and can write the letters of the alphabet. They know the sounds the letters make and they are already adding and subtracting numbers. Some of the children entering kindergarten don't even know how to recite their ABCs.

One great source that has helped my grandchildren in their educational progress is tlsbooks (a website I highly recommend for children through 5th grade) and another great source is their parents who sit down with them to teach them skills that are important for their development.

Just today I came across the article linked above, and I realized that socialization doesn't have to be an issue for people who want to home school their children. Having met many people who were home schooled and who are intelligent social beings, I believe educational development depends not only on the intelligence of the child, but also on who is teaching him or her.

My opinion, based on years of observation, is that children who learn from teachers who make learning interesting and fun are apt to be more successful than children who learn from boring instructors. But even the most intelligent child will suffer if he or she is not challenged educationally. And it doesn't matter if those teachers come from a traditional educational facility or from a home school environment.

I wonder what is going to happen in the traditional school environment when more children who started out superior intellectually fall through the cracks because they weren't challenged enough to succeed.

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