November 20, 2013
by admin

Parent as Curator




Son recently started fourth grade travel basketball. Bye, bye weekends until March. He practices Tuesday and Friday nights and plays games Saturday afternoons and evenings. In his spare time he checks scores for his fantasy basketball league, watches the Knicks and…shoots hoops. Did he sign up for Odyssey of the Mind at school? Nope. An instrument? Nope. Is he rounding out his character with an art or boy scouts? Nope. Is he happy? Yes.

Kids 2.0

Welcome to my kids 2.0. This year we trimmed down, scaled back, and basically, didn’t sign up. It took me the full length of September to quiet the voice in my head that said I was jipping them of opportunity, letting them languish in mediocrity, that they couldn’t compete with their peers in…well, what exactly? And that’s where my voices banged against the brick wall of nonsense that many of us let cloud our thoughts day after day. Nonsense about seizing every opportunity to tiger mother our children into greatness. Nonsense about what we think matters now that won’t matter at all then. And nonsense about falsely believing that what matters to us actually matters to them.

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May 8, 2013
by admin

Parenting in the Right Gear


On a recent spring day, I pulled out my bicycle for the first ride of the season.  I rode frequently before my kids were born and I’ve been easing back into it now that they’re getting older. But while the old adage that riding a bicycle comes back to you as soon as you start up again, the ability to ride smoothly, at your best possible cadence, takes some experience. We live in a hilly town and adeptly maneuvering the gears can make the difference between an exhilarating or frustrating ride. Perhaps the same holds true for parenting.

Let me explain. A hybrid bicycle has three large front gears and nine smaller rear gears. Until recently, I focused my attention on the small gears, believing that if I switched between them often, I’d find the right one for a given hill. But I struggled up smaller slopes thinking, I have twenty-seven gears at my disposal – this should be easier!

The truth was, I needed to get in the right large gear first and then manipulate the smaller gears. Getting in the right larger gear mattered more on challenging hills. In other words, if I wasn’t in the right large gear, it didn’t matter how many small gears I tried, the hill would be harder to climb.

The same could be said for parenting my children. If one of my large gears is off, it doesn’t matter how many little things I try, everything is harder.

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March 28, 2013
by admin

Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disney World with Kids Ages 5-10

"Celebrate a Dream Come True" Parade gets Magic Kingdom guests into the celebratory spirit with party-filled procession

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida? If you’re traveling with children, read these ten essential tips for making your trip a success.

Traveling to Walt Disney World means fun for kids and lots of planning for their parents to make the most of this enormous, iconic and crowded resort. But a first time visit can be daunting. I recently took nine-year-old Son and six-year-old Daughter in late-February. While it wasn’t the official school vacation week, it was plenty crowded and warranted expert planning ahead of time.

Since I booked our first trip to Disney only three weeks beforehand, I had to scramble to determine the best approach for a three-day adventure. Suffice it to say, more advance planning is the best way to go. However, I’ve assembled ten tips and some down and dirty advice to help families traveling to Disney for their first time.

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March 7, 2013
by admin

Chuck the Chore Charts


Most parents have tried chore charts as a means to wrangle cooperation from their kids. I bet, at some point, you may have assembled all those little wooden magnets with cute icons representing chores that you hope your kids will be inspired to do partly because of the cute icons. And then the little round buggers end up on the ground where the dog eats them or the kids eat them or they get all messed up and the kids fight over who put what where and after three days of madness about the mechanics of the chore chart, you give up and return to begging, pleading, bribing and threats. That was my experience, more or less, along with forays into white boards that Velcro onto the refrigerator, hanging wall charts, and good old copy paper with categories hand drawn with magic marker.

The result? We, okay I, always lost interest in maintaining the chore chart after about three days. And while it typically takes three days to break or start a new habit with kids, the adage doesn’t seem to apply to chore charts. The reason is because chore charts are more about the chart and less about the chores.

So, here are the three practices that have worked for our family instead of chore charts. We’ve discovered them by trial and error but each has reaped more rewards than a daily tally of tasks completed. They also straddle personal responsibility chores such as brushing teeth and making beds and broader household chores that elementary school and older children start to take on.

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January 28, 2013
by heather

Drive Parenting


Getting our kids to do their chores or other necessary tasks and behavior is a constant battle in our house. We’ve tried incentives (really good ones), threats, and the “do this before that” approach. It all takes energy and planning on our part and lots of cooperation from them. And guess what? I don’t always have energy and there are times when I don’t actually plan (yes, Husband, not many but a few).

But what if the rewards we’re offering won’t work for some chores and behavior just because? Why do some incentives work some of the time and not others? What if we’re approaching this whole thing the wrong way because the rewards we think motivate kids actually don’t motivate them all?

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January 7, 2013
by admin
1 Comment

Mom’s Fear: A Missing Child

It happened at a super Target attached to the mall. Son (8), Daughter (6) and I had finished browsing the baseball cards and toys on the lower level, taken a quick tour of the shoe department on the upper level, and were about to check out. Son was buying basketball cards with his savings and as we approached an open cashier, Daughter looked at the eye-catching candy and magazines in another empty checkout aisle. It was early afternoon on a Sunday and the store was pretty empty. While Son retrieved a $20 bill from his wallet and struggled to fit the change back in, I asked the young cashier for directions to the Foot Locker in the mall.

“Turn right when you get into the mall,” he explained. “Then you’ll see a place that looks like a – no, it has a – oh, wait, it’s a hair place, turn left and it’s on the left before the food court.”

“Okay, thanks.”

I turned around to get Daughter from the empty cashier lane where I’d just seen her. She was gone. I scanned the other checkout lanes, nothing. I walked down towards the big doors to the parking lot, nothing. We were next to Ladies clothing, handbags, and eyeglasses. I checked them quickly; no Daughter. There weren’t any toys or “girlie things” on the floor to beckon her. Where had she gone?

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December 17, 2012
by admin

Blessed Are The Children

There but for the grace of God go I.

I’ve breathed that saying over and over since the Newtown tragedy on Friday – in a town only a few miles from us. When I was a child my mother said it in an attempt to explain the unexplainable: how it seems at times that only the slimmest parcels of grace spare us from the tragedy visited upon others. I never understood this phrase more than now.

Like you, I sent my children, one a first grader, to school this morning with a tender hug and a heavy heart. I don’t have much wisdom to offer but will share three sources of comfort I found yesterday.

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December 5, 2012
by admin
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7 Ways to Control Media Madness with Kids

It takes a bit of trial and error to find what works for negotiating time limits on TV, devices and computers for kids. Because I see so many teens attached and addicted to their devices; I draw a line from my six and eight-year-olds’ incessant pleas to play more Temple Run to a total destruction of their quality time, creativity, potential intelligence, and just about everything good life has to offer. I know, I’m a little worked up about it.

For our generation of parenting, McDonald’s is a dirty word, Kindergarteners sing “I’m sexy and I know it…” and our kids’ animal avatars can crib a nap in a stranger’s den. No wonder we walk around commiserating about how to gain control of a culture delivering on our child’s every whim and increasingly out of our fearful grasps.

So, while I wean myself from media hysteria, I’m trying a few different approaches to give the kids enough screen time while I realize that it’s better to embrace reality and coax the best out of it for my kids rather than to run screaming for the hills at the mere mention of “Can I use your iPad to play….”

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July 11, 2012
by heather

The Mix-Up


Eight-year-old Son is attending an All American Sports Camp for the month of July. This is about as close to heaven as he can get. From 9 am to 3 pm each day, the kids play baseball, basketball, swimming, and hockey. His only complaint was that they weren’t playing football and soccer, too.

On the first day of camp, each child was given a gold camp t-shirt, a navy camp t-shirt, and a small navy duffel bag along with the instructions: “Campers must wear camp-assigned shirts and bring the equipment bag to camp each day.”

Seems pretty specific, right? “Does that mean we don’t bring your backpack?” I asked Son.

“I don’t know.”

“Which shirt do you wear?”

“We alternate each day.”


So much for my finely tuned three-days-a-week-only laundry schedule. Continue Reading →

April 23, 2012
by heather
1 Comment

One Fish, Two Fish


Daughter wanted a goldfish for her sixth birthday. Well, in truth, she first wanted a hamster. But after changing diapers for four years, scooping kitty litter for close to nine, and cleaning up the back yard after Retriever, I said “no” to more poop in the house.

“Please?” she begged.

“Maybe when you’re ten. How about a fish?”

She brought home a book about hamsters from the school library. At bedtime, we flipped through the pages.

“See? They’re nocturnal animals,” I commented around page ten. “They’ll never be awake to play with you.” I worked this angle hard.

“Okay, I’ll get a fish.”

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