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    January 27, 2015
    Dealing With Critical People

    Maybe you’ve decided to homeschool your kids. Maybe you’ve decided that you want six kids, or maybe you only want one (or none!). Maybe you want to adopt children, or become a foster parent. Maybe you need to move for your job, or maybe you want to become a full time stay-at-home parent. Maybe you have a lenient discipline style, or a very strict one. Whatever your parenting choices, they are yours. Sometimes it’s nice to get helpful advice from people who have been through the same situations, but ultimately, you know what is best for yourself and your family, and no one else. Your parents, friends, or in-laws might have their own opinions, but it can often come off as critical. When you find people criticizing how you raise your children, it can be an extremely emotional event– even if they mean well. But it’s important to keep in mind that it is your life, and that all decisions are yours to make. For more on dealing with people that criticize your family choices, read this post by Rachel at The Realistic Mom:

    -Develop some kind but firm responses

    -Take the positive and constructive element out of any criticism before you brush the whole thing off. 

    -Differentiate between concern and arrogance

    -Remain teachable

    -Draw boundaries with people when necessary

    Photo Credit: a2Gemma 

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    January 19, 2015
    Celebrating MLK Day With Kids: Books and Activities About Diversity

    Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everyone! I know that many of you may be enjoying a day off from work or school, which is great, but today also allows time for reflection. Today, I went with my mother and my nephew to our city’s MLK Memorial Ceremony, and it really made me think. We heard about Martin Luther King’s life, lesser known civil rights heroes and heroines, as well as heard some excellent speeches from African American people in our community. As someone who is white, I never usually have to think about the challenges that people of color faced- and still face- in our country today. However, my nephew is biracial, and since he was born, I have gotten a small taste of it.

    If I learned nothing else today, it is this: be kind to one another, regardless of skin color. Reach out to people from outside of your usual circle (this is challenge to me, since I’m pretty shy!). And really, just be aware of what is happening around you. Stand up for injustice. Don’t be silent. Instilling values of empathy, equality, and diversity in our kids is absolutely crucial to stamping out prejudice and racism. And there are plenty of ways to do that! Read books! Interact with people from all walks of life- all races, religions, nationalities. And let your kids know that there is more than one way to be human. For some great books about Civil Rights, check out this post by Erica at What We Do All Day:

    Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation.

    This Is the Dream

    Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down.

    I Have a Dream.

    The Story Of Ruby Bridges

    Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Photo Credit + Egg Activity from: Kids Activities Blog 

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    December 29, 2014
    Teaching Your Kids Healthy Body Image

    With the new year comes hope and new opportunities. People are ready to turn over a new leaf, and to change themselves for the better- you want to be healthier, get rid of bad habits, and improve yourself. However, the new year also can come with lots of negative self talk. Specifically, I’m talking about resolving to lose weight. Kids will hear you if you trash talk your body, bring down people who are overweight, and make fun of others- and they will copy you. It stems from wanting yourself and your kids to be healthy, but can actually have the opposite effect. Poor self esteem and negative body image can lead to eating disorders, depression, and worse. Therefore, I’ve made it MY new year’s resolution to love and accept my body, no matter what my weight. Check out this post by SCAN of Nova for ways to be a better role model for your kid:

    How can you tell if your child has a negative body image? One of the strongest indicators is when a child only views and values herself or himself in terms of physical attractiveness.

    It’s a tough world out there. As kids face the pressures in media and on the playground, parents have an important role to play in boosting body image. We can start by explaining that:

    • there isn’t one “good” body size
    • bodies will naturally change and grow throughout life
    • personality is more important than physical appearance

    Check out the post for a great, body positive checklist to practice with your child every day!

    Photo Credit: Butz 2013 

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    December 22, 2014
    Toys For ALL Kids

    Pink is for girls. All other colors are for boys. Girls get dolls and princesses and makeup, boys get science, nature, cars, superheroes, building tools, sports, technology, action figures- basically anything on the planet that has NOT been deemed as feminine. Then, we wonder why more girls aren’t interested in science, and why boys who grow up to be fathers are so absent in their children’s lives. To me, this is absolutely ridiculous. The very fact that “boy” toys and “girl” toys exist and are separate things proves that we still live in a very sexist, gender divided society. Some boys will grow up to be fathers and chefs and designers- they should play with baby dolls and cooking sets as well. Some girls will grow up to be scientists and athletes and engineers- and they need to play with microscopes and tools and sports equipment. So, if you’re looking for awesome, empowering gifts for ALL CHILDREN this holiday season, check out this post by Dayna at Lemon Lime Adventures:

    -Trucks and cars- always help with problem solving abilities

    -Work bench and tools-Work benches are great for fine motor development, problem solving, creative thinking, language development, and even pre-writing skills.

    -Science kits


    -Baby dolls

    -Cooking sets / play kitchens

    -Dress up clothes- dramatic play develops social intelligence in kids of all genders. Princess or pirate, doctor or ninja, cowboy/girl, — let your kids pick out their own clothes and go crazy!

    -Art supplies, coloring books, and anything that encourages creativity

    Photo Credit: Weird Nut Daily 

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    December 1, 2014
    Common Parenting Phrases… That You Should Stop Saying

    Everyone knows that you shouldn’t curse around your kids, because they pick it up! You also shouldn’t say anything that will damage their self esteem, or scar them for life. Most people are aware of this. However, there are other phrases that EVERY parent says (me included) that are actually harmful as well– some are very surprising! No, your kid won’t be emotionally ruined if you use them, but alternative ways of wording things are sometimes much better. Check out this article by Michelle Crouch at for the phrases:

    -”You’re okay.”- Try giving him a hug and acknowledging what he’s feeling by saying something like, “That was a scary fall.” Then ask whether he’d like a bandage or a kiss (or both).

    -”I’m on a diet.”- Watching your weight? Keep it to yourself. If your child sees you stepping on the scale every day and hears you talk about being “fat,” she may develop an unhealthy body image. Instead, encourage healthy eating habits and how fun exercise is!

    -”Be careful.”- Saying this while your child is balancing on the monkey bars at the playground actually makes it more likely that he’ll fall. “Your words distract him from what he’s doing, so he loses focus,”

    -”Don’t talk to strangers.” Since the vast majority of child-abduction cases involve someone a kid already knows, you might also adopt McBride’s favorite safety mantra: “If anyone makes you feel sad, scared, or confused, you need to tell me right away.”

    Photo Credit: Ian D. Keating 

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    November 20, 2014
    “So, How Was Your Day?”

    We all ask it- to our kids, our spouse, everyone close to us. We ask because we care. We want to know what they’ve been doing, and how they’re feeling. But the question usually gets the same response: “It was good,” or “Eh,”. I know that I definitely want more details than that! But when you ask the same question every day, you’re going to get the same answer. Check out this post by Clare at The Little Design Corner for alternative questions that will really get your family talking:

    -Who are you sitting next to at school at the moment? Who would you want to sit next to?

    -Did you break any rules? What were they, and why did you break them?

    -What was your favorite part of school today?

    -What learning part is the most fun? What is the most boring?

    -Who seems really funny/interesting that you haven’t gotten to know yet?

    Photo Credit: Frank Juarez 

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    November 18, 2014
    Activities With No Screens

    These days, it’s extremely easy to just plop your kids down with a TV, iPad, computer, or phone, and just let the screen babysit them. I know, I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Sometimes, you just need a break- and that’s totally fine. But, when your kids are just staring at a screen for hours and hours a day, every single day- that’s not so fine. Kids of all ages (adults too!) need activities that actually help stimulate the brain. For a great list of activities that don’t involve screens, but also keep your kids busy, read this post at Artsy Craftsy Mom:

    -Get crafty- paint, color, glue, relax!

    -Read to kids

    -Let them help cook

    -Play outside

    -Play indoors with a board game, puzzle, card game, or blocks

    Photo Credit: Balu 

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    November 17, 2014
    Getting Your Baby To Sleep

    I’m a huge fan of a certain skit comedy show that pokes fun at the city of Portland and its ultra hip residents. In one of the skits, new parents struggle with a crying baby and are trying different methods of getting it to stop. One of them is seen reading a book called: “Crying it Out, and Other Ways to Ignore Your Child”- which I thought was hilarious. When I babysit my nephew, and he’s being grumpy and fights his sleep- my dad’s advice is to always “put him in his crib and let him cry it out”. I always hate doing that. His crying absolutely breaks my heart, and I usually don’t last more than five minutes without going to get him. That’s why I was super glad when I found this post by Katie at Clarks Condensed, for gentler ways to get your child to sleep- that don’t involve crying it out (ignoring your child):

    -Develop a sleep routine- nightly rituals will always help a child sleep, if you stick to it and help them develop a habit

    -Comfort- I think it’s important to make sure your child is comfortable and knows you haven’t abandoned them. Make sure they are in a clean diaper, are warm and comfy, and give them a stuffed animal.

    -Wear their blanket so it has your scent on it

    -Have “wind down” time- read a book, snuggle together, play some music. Anything that will help them relax before bed.

    Photo Credit: Laobc 

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    November 11, 2014
    Deployment Help For Kids

    The men and women in our military are extremely brave, and the people they leave back home need to be brave as well. As a kid, it’s tough if one of your parents is gone for long periods of time, especially if they’re out doing dangerous things. Yes, you feel proud of them, but deployment can also be a sad and scary time. If your spouse is in the military, and you’re at home with the kids, there are ways to help them (and yourself) through it. Check out this post by Carlie at About One:

    Make a Video: Have the deploying parent make a video speaking to each child.

    Get a free quilt or pillow from Operation Kid Comfort.All you have to do is supply some photos of the deployed parent. 

    Make a Deployment Countdown Chain: For us, we always make a paper chain once we are 90-days out from the end of a deployment. 

    Read books about deployment.

    Take a family photo together and give each child one to put near their beds.

    Photo Credit: The US Army 

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    November 10, 2014
    Baby And Daddy Bonding

    As a mother, you carry your child for nine months. For a while, they are a part of you. They know your voice, and respond to your touch. If you breastfeed, you are also their primary (if not only) feeder. With all the connection that babies and their moms have, it can be hard for dads to compete. However, there is a way for dads to get a better bond with their newborns: talk more. Check out this post by JJ at the Belly Itch Blog:

    The report also discovered that mothers responded 88% to 94% of the time to the babies vocalizations, while dads responded only 27% to 33% of the time.

    But you dads can change all that, the study suggest, by simply talking to your babies more and perhaps doing so in a higher pitched sing song-y way that moms do and pairing your talking with eye contacts as moms tend to do.

    Photo Credit: Richard Leeming 

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