8.01.2014

Put the Device Down!

I *love* technology.
I also *love* that we live in a unique area where there is no cell service.
I know, mind blowing, isn't it?
What that means is that when people are hanging out with their children or friends here... they're JUST hanging out together!
No one checks their phone.
No one checks anything.

Eye contact and togetherness happen.
It is a beautiful thing.

When we go anywhere else, it hits me like a brick wall how technology obsessed people are and how much people are ignoring their kids.
We just recently came back from a wonderful family vacation.
This is what we saw a lot of... parents... with their noses and fingers glued to their phones.
Many, many, many of them.
Here's an idea...

3.16.2014

3 Ways to Give Kids Your Time and Attention While Still Getting Things Done

Some mom bloggers will tell you that you should spend every moment of your energy and time on your kids because they are growing up so quickly that you're going to miss the good stuff if you spend your time cleaning.  I think that sounds lovely and I love spending time with my kids but when our house gets messy, it makes me feel totally out of sorts and that's not good for my kids either.  Order around me creates order and peace in my mind and that makes me a better parent.  I should also add on a side note that I think kids should know how to and be encouraged to play on their own some of the time.  Kids imaginations can soar when they are left alone.

So, what is the happy medium between ignoring them all of the time in order to keep everything perfect and spending all of your time with them and letting everything else fall to shambles?

If you are looking for this kind of balance, here are 3 very clear rules to set for yourself.

2.22.2014

Wow Dough

Here's a great recipe for a dough like concoction that we made today!  It is super fast and easy to make with no cooking involved and only 2 ingredients!  This is one that we'll be making many times over, for sure!

I've actually renamed this awesome stuff.  A few mom friends of mine had made it after finding it on Pinterest and it was called "Cloud Dough" on there.  However, unlike other doughs that people have given specific names to, "Cloud Dough" seems to have multiple identities.  I thought this was a bit confusing so I decided to rename this one, "Wow Dough."  It certainly lives up to its new name!

12.03.2013

Put the Power of Giving in Kids' Hands: Have a Giving Bee

For quite a while now I've been trying to think of a way to teach our kids about giving, particularly at this time of year when kids are naturally fixated on wanting.

I remember when I was young, whenever a natural disaster happened in the world, my parents would put a mug on the shelf and say, "Whatever you kids want to put in that mug to donate, we will match that amount."  That gave us such a sense of power.  Whatever we put in was going to be doubled!  Knowing that our actions had an impact on those in need felt like having a real super power.  We were small but could still make a difference in the world.


Now that we have kids I want to give them that same feeling, that feeling of knowing you have the power to help others.  I want them to have the desire to help others, not just because it is the right thing to do but because they feel the need and want to do it deep down.

11.18.2013

Fall Fun: Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

This past weekend I was asked to make some "Pumpkin Spice Play Dough" for my child's classroom.
We made a double batch (below is the "single" but doubling it is recommended because this doesn't make very much) and I loved it SO much that I though I'd share it here!
I've said it before, some recipes for things like play dough can sound so great but turn out horribly... this one on the other hand was the perfect consistency and smelled wonderful!!
There is nothing better on a cold fall day than sinking your fingers into warm soft, spicy play dough.
Here it is... have fun!!

10.19.2013

10.01.2013

Just Add Water: Fast Easy Fun!

I've created a list of fast, easy and fun ideas and all you need to do is add water to them and start playing!  I'm going to *highly suggest* you collect the items right now and put them in a bin for later.  Then, when you are in need of something that you can just grab to entertain your kids in those difficult moments... you'll have this bin full of fun, all ready.  And yes, all you'll need to add is water.  You really can't get any easier than that.

7.07.2013

Five Faves: A Week of Fun Discovery Bottles

Discovery Bottles (aka Sensory Bottles) might be my very favorite thing  to make for kids (and adults) to play with.  I first learned about them when I was a teacher.  The preschool room nextdoor had made a few and I was completely enthralled.  The ones they had made were just oil and water in bottles.  I say "just" but that is one of the coolest discovery bottles out there.  I could hold an "oil and water bottle" for minutes on end just moving it back and forth and watching the reaction inside.  There are millions of things that you can put in discovery bottles and they are not only fun but can be used to teach LOTS of concepts and (as long as you make them tamper proof) they are great for any age!
Here are five of my favorites!!  It was really hard to pick just five.  There will probably be a sequel to this post.

4.03.2013

Eggcelent Ideas for Plastic Eggs!

Through the years as a teacher and as a mom I've seen so many different fun things you can do with a couple of cheap plastic eggs.  I think it is safe to say that there is no other more versatile holiday decor out there.
So here we are.  Easter is done and you have a bunch of plastic eggs lying around your house.  You've probably stepped on at least one... ouch!  Time to put them to some good use.

3.06.2013

Acceptance: Giving Children a Belief System

Until recently, I thought that we were bringing up our kids without religion.  We don't go to a place of worship and we don't teach the concept of God by that or any other name.  We also don't teach our children with religion.
For a while I wondered how to introduce these ideas to them since I felt they should understand that there are others who do believe in a higher power.  I'd concluded that I want to buy a book on world religions and read it to them to explain what others believe.

So like I said, I was quite sure we were bringing our children up without religion.
A story I heard a few weeks ago changed that theory.

I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio), the show was This American Life with Ira Glass.  Today's show topic was "Kid Logic." It was essentially "Kids Say the Darndest Things."  Some of the stories were cute, but one was downright sobering.

2.24.2013

Five Faves: A Week of Dough and Goo

There are a ton of recipes out there for kids these days.  Play dough recipes and ones for different kinds of fun slime and goo.  The problem is that many of them don't make a very good product.
I've put together a list of 5 excellent recipes.
I've created these "Five Faves" posts so that you can do one project each week day!  These posts are particularly good for school vacation weeks.  Use them however you wish
and
Have Fun!

2.08.2013

A Cure For Mean Words: Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies

If you call a kid out for insulting another they will often say either that they were just kidding or that they didn't say anything.  The insults tend to be used at just the right moment when they are closer to the victim then you are... and they say it just loud enough for the victim to hear it but not you.  This makes addressing the issue difficult at times.
On top of that, kids often don't truly understand what it feels like to be at the wrong end of an insult.  They do, however, know that when they insult another child that they get attention (and power) from it.

Do you remember as a child laughing at that moment that one kid called another a name, even though you knew how wrong it was.  It is similar to when a child sees an adult get hurt and laughs.  It is almost uncontrollable, like a nerve reaction.  No matter how uncontrollable the audience's reaction is... what it does is feeds the ego of the name caller and results in more of the same.

*  *  *  *  *

I remember hearing a story at overnight camp about "Warm Fuzzies" but that wasn't the first thing I thought of when I had a class of five year olds saying not very nice things to each other.
Generally speaking my group had been quite nice to each other but they had recently hit a rough patch and I wanted some new ideas.
I consulted with my coworker who had been working with kids for far longer than I had, and was always full of good ideas.

Here's what she said to do?  Make a "cold prickly" and a "warm fuzzy."  I asked her about it and she explained what that meant.

12.31.2012

Change for the Better

Close your eyes and think... do you know someone who makes your life challenging because of their personality? Often people that we feel that way about are people that we have to be around all the time: bosses, family members, classmates, coworkers, etc. Here is a technique that could change that forever.  This is a post (see link below) that I wrote almost a year ago. It's a technique from the behavior class that I took, but unlike most of the techniques that we learned, this one can be used with any age. To quote the post "It can be done with any person you know from about age 2 (maybe 1 1/2) up to 102." This method is easy to do and has an almost magical result.


12.08.2012

Baby's First Gifts: Inspiring Ideas for 0-1 Year-Olds

image from Amazon.com
Many people have a really hard time deciding what to get babies for holidays.  Baby's first Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa is such a special time and family members want to get Baby just the right gift.
While some people suggest wrapping up boxes of diapers or baby food (which is a great idea), others want to actually give real gifts.  I think it is especially important to get "real gifts" for Baby if the baby you are buying for has an older sibling.  The older sibling is going to wonder why their baby didn't get anything to play with like he or she did.
So... here is the list!

11.29.2012

25 Days of Christmas Fun!

Our household gets very excited when this time of year roles around.  Since we celebrate Christmas I am always looking for fun little activities to do with my kids in the days leading up to it.  I've put together a list of 25 easy and fun ideas here.  You can use them at random or you can use them like an advent calendar.  If you wish to do one a day and you already own an advent calendar with doors or pockets you can print these and put one in each.  If you do not own a calendar like that you can easily make a small clothesline with yarn or string.  Then take clothes pins and number them 1-25.  Clip one activity to each clip.  Another easy idea is to simply print the ideas, fold them up and tape one to each day on a regular December calendar page.

A very important note: Some of these activities are better for certain days depending on your family and your schedule.  I did not write them in a particular order.  Take a look at all of them and put them in the order that works best for you!

11.25.2012

An Awesome No-Toy Holiday Gift List For Kids

Gift giving is on our minds right now.  Here we are smack dab in the middle of the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday long weekend.
Grandparents and aunts and uncles are asking for gift ideas.  Some parents find it easy to come up with gift ideas for their kids.  Others are wondering where they are going to put more toys.  A friend recently told me that she has been racking her brain for gift ideas that are not toys.  Naturally, that inspired me to write a blog post with some ideas.  At first, I had a really hard time thinking of anything beyond a membership to a children's museum.  But then, this weekend I thought of a bunch more... so here you go!  As always, PLEASE do add your ideas below!  The more the better!!! Thanks!!!

11.19.2012

Easy as 1-2-3: DIY Felt & Magnet Board


These felt and magnetic boards are lots of fun and easy to make! They are a great combo of a felt board to play with on one side and a magnetic surface to play with on the other side. The other day I made 4 boards in under an hour. Two for my kids and 2 for our friends that were about to take a 13 hour (each way) car ride to visit grandparents for Thanksgiving.  They are great to play with on a long car ride, in a waiting room or at home.  This is also a great, cheap gift to make for kids as gifts.  I actually did all four for under 4 dollars because all I purchased were the cookie sheets.  I already had everything else.  Here is how you do it!


Safety Notes: The making of this project should be done by an adult since there are sharp scissors and hot glue involved.
-also-
Once made, this toy is best for kids and tots that are beyond the age where everything goes in their mouth as there are small pieces of felt and magnets.

11.04.2012

D.E.A.R. ~ Best Books for November



For "Best Books for November" I tried to cover all of the general topics that we think of for this time of year.  Please feel free to add your favorite November books to the comments section below!







10.21.2012

Safe and Fun ~ All In One: DIY Halloween Safety Necklace

Halloween Safety Necklaces
by RCMom at Got Kiddos?
When I was a teacher, I focussed a lot on Halloween safety at this time of the year.  Here is a "Halloween Safety Necklace" that I came up with a while back.  It reflects *and* glows so that no matter if the child is walking (with an adult) where there is light, or in a dark area (with an adult) the necklace can do its job!
The reflecting part of the necklace can be reused each year if you replace the glow stick.
This project is SO simple to make!  Here's how you do it!

[SAFETY NOTE: DO NOT RELY ON THIS NECKLACE TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE!  WALK WITH THEM AND HOLD THEIR HAND WHEN TRICK-OR-TREATING.
ALSO: NECKLACES CAN BE STRANGULATION HAZARDS.  PLEASE WATCH YOUR CHILD WHEN THEY HAVE THIS NECKLACE ON.]
I thought up this idea so please credit "RCMom at GotKiddos" if you decide to link to this project. Thanks Very Much for Sharing!  
Below you will find the necessary materials and directions...

10.12.2012

D.E.A.R. ~ Best Books for October




As a lifelong lover of children's books, I've decided I should include a monthly "Best Books" post.
Each month I will suggest some books that I love.  Some months (like this one) I will stick to a theme, other months I won't.
With these October books I am focussing on the beauty of fall and the wonder of pumpkins while staying far far away from scary.  *I don't "do" scary.*  I've include one witch story... but it isn't the least bit scary.  Please include your favorite October books in the comment section below!


10.09.2012

Easy as 1-2-3: Simple Halloween Costumes

I was brought up with the concept that Halloween costumes should never be store bought, nor should they be fancy sewn creations.  *We just got creative with what we had.*  Typically the night before Halloween we'd start rummaging through our play dress-up clothes, our closets and our recycling pile to find something that would work for a costume.  I was a clown one year, which only required a polkadot shirt, some striped pants, some makeup and a silly hat.
Another year I used my old prom dress to be a princess.  A princess costume is often an easy one if you have a fancy dress that you are done with.  How often do people buy a dress for their child to be a flower girl or go to a fancy party and then never use the dress again?  Two of the bridesmaids from our wedding used their dresses for Halloween costumes the October after we got married.  One was Fiona from Shrek and the other was a fairy godmother... great ideas!
I'm always happy to see the cheaply made, creative costumes come trick-or-treating to our house on Halloween so I decided to share some great ideas that I've come across!

9.23.2012

IALAC: Take a Walk In Their Shoes

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."  from "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

Here's another technique we learned in my behavior class.  Not exactly a direct behavior method but a technique that can open your eyes to what your child (or another individual) is feeling like, living their day-to-day life.  Maybe their behaviors stem from the prevalence of negativity in their world.

IALAC stands for "I am lovable and capable."  This is a method of keeping track of the negative and positive moments in a person's day.  Like the Change the Label post I did, this is also a technique that you can do on ANYone... not just kids.  You can even do it on yourself!  Actually now that I think about it you could even do this on your dog!  Cool... I hadn't thought of that before.  Ok, "dog people" you can try this at home too!

Here is how it works:

8.05.2012

Read It and Weep: Children's Books That Make This Mama Cry

I recently had the idea to write about the children's books that make me cry.  *I LOVE them.*  I don't know what it is about certain books but I have the hardest time reading them without getting all choked up.  Perhaps I am just a big sap, but I know there are others of you out there who get the same way.  The books in my "crying list" definitely tend to be books about growing-up, the cycle of birth, life and death, moving on, letting go and new beginnings.  A very universal and relatable theme.

Here's my list and then it is your turn to share.  What books do you tearfully read to your kids?

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
Pub. by Houghton Mifflin Co. 1993


Grandfather's Journey:  Beautifully written and illustrated by Allen Say.  A boy (Allen Say's own grandfather according to some sources) who grows up in Japan and moves to California as a young man.  Throughout his life he finds he loves where he is but very much misses the places he has left behind.  On a side note: this book, is a great book to give a graduate who loves children's books and obviously a great one for someone who is moving away.






6.19.2012

Preparing for Take-off... With Tots in Tow - A Guest Blog Post by MommaOf2

When my friend asked me to submit a blog post to her, re: "traveling with babes and tots" I was a bit intimidated... by no means am I a professional traveler and quite frankly I often seek other moms' advice when it comes to the kids but I have done some traveling both domestic and international with my two tots and there is no denying it, traveling with children not only causes some parents exhausting anxiety but it also sends lots of parents into unchartered territory... so here goes, my small but hopefully helpful take on traveling with our little monsters!

5.25.2012

You and Me and These Same Four Walls: Dealing with Bedrest, Sickness or Bad Weather with a Toddler


Recently I saw a blog post on my facebook news feed.  The topic caught my eye.  It was a post about how to deal with a toddler while on bedrest.  I read it, excited to hit "share" as soon as I was done since I have a friend who very well may be in this situation in the near future.  The post was short.  It included 3 or so products to purchase to entertain or help the toddler play indoors.
The post was followed by a list of negative comments from readers.  I didn't hit share.
Instead I took on the challenge of writing a post of the same kind.  This post is chock-full of ideas for any parent or caregiver *with a toddler* who is on bedrest, sick or trapped inside due to weather.

5.07.2012

Hey Baby, What's Your Sign?

What is cuter than a puppy or a kitten?
A room full of 1 year olds signing to let you know what they need.
I'll never forget helping in the toddler room where I used to work.  During lunch, all of the little tots would be signing "more more more," and then when they were full they'd all start signing "all done."
"more"
Although you can teach a baby lots of signs, I found that just two signs is all it takes to have a very content baby.  When babies and toddlers have a way to communicate their needs, they don't have as many reasons to cry or throw fits.

4.18.2012

Sticks & Stones May Break Bones But Words Can Last Forever

Names.  Not the ones we are given, but the ones others give us.
Names and labels...  Horrible things.

A topic near and dear to me.  Very.


Kids are parrots, I think we can agree on that.  What is more, I noticed when I was a teacher that young kids think their parents' (and other trusted adults') opinions are the law of the land.  Because of this, I feel it is important that we model "Person First Language" and show our kids that all individuals are worthy of being treated with dignity and equality.


Two moments I will never forget:


When I was a teacher, a sweet little 5 year old in my class said she thought that people "with black skin" were bad people.  I remember the torturous feeling inside of me as I looked for words to say to her.  I didn't want to stand by silently and I didn't want to contradict her parents, who had taught her this.


My other memory was when I had my little cousin along with me as we were shopping for a new fridge, she was 5 at the time.  Down the aisle from us was a man using an oxygen tank on wheels.  He walked slowly down the aisle pulling the tank along.  I stood there for a moment praying that my little cousin wouldn't say anything rude.  She looked up at me and said, "Do you think we should move to the next aisle so that that gentleman can come down this aisle?"  I smiled (totally impressed) and said, "I think that is a very nice idea, sure."


You hold the remote control to your child's belief system; what are you going to do with it?



4.10.2012

Yes~Oui~Da~Si~Ja... Saying "YES!" to Kids

Another important lesson we learned, in the behavior course that I took, is how to say "YES!"
We know that kids hear "NO!" on a regular basis.

Well, this post is for the toddlers, the "No Davids" and every kid in between.

I used to think that a way to avoid saying "no" so often was to say "no" in a nicer way.
You know, like...
"Please use walking feet."
"Please use an inside voice."
"Please sit quietly."
Putting a positive and polite twist on "no," is still "no."

Now, if you are a kid, and you hear "no" all of the time (no matter how it is worded) you'll get pretty frustrated.  Adults also say "no" by saying "go to time-out."  Many kids who hear "no" often are the same kids who get put into time-out on a regular basis... quite the double whammy.
"No" builds up anger, it knocks down self worth and it doesn't fix behaviors.

Here is how to say YES.

3.26.2012

The Essential Baby Stuff - Part 2 - Harvey Karp

image from Amazon.com
I want to continue with last week's topic of "things that every hospital should teach new parents..." meet Harvey Karp.
Every generation has a baby guru: Spock, Leach, Sears, Brazelton etc...
I'm just glad that Harvey Karp was the one to listen to when we had our first baby, and he still is today.
His ideas are easy, they make sense and they work.

3.19.2012

The Essential Baby Stuff - Part 1 - Skin-to-Skin

When I hear that someone is about to have a baby there are two things that I really want to share with them.  Then the passive side of me holds me back because I am not one to get in someone's face and tell them how to do things.  I tend to share these techniques only when asked.  These techniques are seemingly not widely taught and yet I can't imagine having not been taught them.


3.14.2012

Change the Label... Change the Behavior

Tonight I was going to post about something that is not behavior related because I don't want to define my blog as a blog that is only about behavior methods.  However, I have been having trouble writing the post that I was working on so I am going to go ahead and share another behavior method... the coolest and easiest one.
We learned this method on the second night of my behavior course.  It can be done with any person you know from about age 2 (maybe 1 1/2) up to 102.  Try it; you'll love it!

Here's what you do.
Make a list of your family members, your class, coworkers or any group of people that you are around on a regular basis.
Now, write down the first word you can think of next to each name.
These terms are not suppose to be carefully chosen.  They are not suppose to be kind or nice, just true.  Don't worry you can burn the list later.  In order to do this you need to be completely honest with yourself.

3.06.2012

The WHY of Behaviors

What is behavior?  Some might say that behavior = being bad.  But look at it this way: all behavior (particularly for babies and little kids but often for big kids and adults too) is communication.  I know it doesn't sound like it at times but all they are trying to do is tell you what they want/need.  Again, I am pulling directly from the course I took on behavior.  This was so eye opening to me when we learned this.
All behavior shown by babies and little kids (and often others) is to either get something or avoid something.  It is that simple.  Once you figure out what they are trying to get or avoid you have something tangible to work with.

2.28.2012

Amazing Alternative to Time-Out: Doing Conflict Resolution with Kids

image from internet
"What??" you say...  "What's wrong with time-out?!  Why do I need an alternative to it?!  Everybody uses time-outs."
Well those are all the things I thought too.

During the fall of 2009 I took a course designed for ECE (Early Childhood Education) teachers.  It was a course entirely on behavior.  The course was the single best class I have ever taken (that is coming from someone who loved almost every education class she's had).  Every human being who comes in contact with a child should take this class but since that is not possible I want to share some of the amazing techniques we learned here on my blog.

So I will get back to the point.  Why do we need alternatives to time-out?  What is wrong with time-out in the first place?