June 2012

Moms know their kids

So don’t second guess our instincts, mmkay?

Based on my little girl’s behavior—or, often, simply looking at her—I can tell you exactly what kind of day we’re going to have, what kind of play date she’s having with a friend, and what I need to do as a parent to meet her needs and ensure we have as peaceful, fun, and productive day as we can. When you’re with your child as much as most primary caregivers are, you can’t help but pick up on these things.

There are plenty of people, however, who just don’t get it. These are often people who only see their kids or children in general for part-time. Maybe they work in a daycare, or maybe they’re once-a-month parents; maybe they’re a well-meaning relative or friend. Whoever they are, they often give you advice from a place that’s pretty far away from your child. Maybe they read it somewhere or heard it on the news or used it while babysitting, but you know it certainly doesn’t fit you and your lifestyle.

Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps

If you don’t like something, change it!

Do you ever wake up and realize that you’re stuck in a rut? That you meant to do something years ago, or that your situation was supposed to be temporary, but days turned to weeks, weeks into months and suddenly you realize that five years have gone by and you’re still doing the same thing? I think it happens to all of us, at least once in our lives.

My living arrangement is like that right now. We meant to be caretakers of my grandmother’s house for a year or two while we saved money for our own house, but two layoffs, many pay or hour cuts later, and a few medical emergencies have obliterated any savings we had. In fact, we’ve had to make so many cuts that we are now living paycheck to paycheck like so many other Americans, and I find myself simply longing for the days back when we could just pay a bill as soon as it arrived, rather than calling each collector every month to juggle due dates and make bargains.

But if you don’t like something, it’s up to you to change it, right? Today I tried to change an outrageous “bundle” bill only to be told about fees I’d incur, the slim savings that would only be temporary (and yield even higher bills after twelve months), and generally not-good news. I started shopping around for better deals and found one; I now have them scheduled to come to our house next week, and we’ll be paying one-third of what we were for even more services.

Four tips to save money at fairs and festivals

"Give these tips and your family can have a great time for the least amount of cash."

Summer has sprung and it's festival season. Whether you live in a rural or urban area, there are always tons of fun carnivals and fairs happening around most areas. These outdoor festivals offer a variety of entertainment options for everyone in the family, from rides and games for the kids to flea markets and concerts for mom and dad. And of course, we can't forget fair food...yum.

 

Making the most of the festival season gives your family a chance to get some sunshine and fun that's usually not available during the rest of the year. The downside is it can cost an arm and a leg to take a whole family out for the day, so before you announce your plans to the kiddos, make a budget.

 

It's important to decide how much you're going to spend before you even walk out the door. Don't forget to factor in any food, drinks, rides, games and parking and entrance fees that might be charged. To pare these costs down, give these tips and your family can have a great time for the least amount of cash.

 

Cleanup your Pinterest boards to keep them useful

If your boards are messy, nobody will be able to use them.

I've mentioned before that I'm a total Pinterest addict, and I've yet to have of enough of that good stuff. In fact, since I started actively using my boards about four months ago, I've racked up 35 boards with almost 1,000 pins and growing.

 

It's come to a point where I need to reevaluate my boards and start tweaking them to make them easier for me to use and for others to navigate. If not, they'll just be huge collections that nobody can make any use of, which totally defeats the purpose.

 

If your Pinterest boards are becoming overstuffed like mine, it's time to tame them down and get them back under control. Here's how:

 

Summer camp at home

Why spend hundreds when you can do it yourself?

There is absolutely no need to spend several hundred—or even thousands—of dollars on a pricey kids’ camp where your child will likely be lost in the shuffle anyway. You can provide your child with individual attention yourself by hosting a home summer camp. Want him or her to play with other kids, too? Easy—invite them over to play along. You could even babysit and make money at the same time.

If you want a very set schedule that is super easy to follow, providing you with all of the guidelines you need, check this out. Not only is the whole day mapped out for you; Pragmatic Mom (one of my favorite blogs) also has plenty of actual specific activities for you to do with your children that are fun, engaging, and educational. (But what isn’t educational? There’s value in pretty much anything you do with your child!)

Well-behaved children rarely make history

So why do we insist on it?

My continued insistence that ADD does not truly exist continues to be met with hostility, outrage and denial, but I would ask these people—often times parents duped by drug dealers—I mean doctors!—who want to fill their children with pills—to consider the works of not just Sir Ken Robinson or Laurie Couture, but doctors Peter Gray and Peter Breggin, who have provided much evidence to show that the disease is no disease, but a cultural desire to simply control children and force their spirits to deaden much earlier than adulthood (which is where it usually occurs). As Breggin says, the epidemic is not ADHD, but the drugging of children.

Have you ever heard of a person who really made history—who did something amazing and change the world for us all—who was easily controllable during childhood? Because I haven’t. Most of the people I know who changed the world, from inventors to presidents to other leaders and peacemakers, all got in trouble at some point or another during their youth. They were not drugged; on the contrary, most were allowed to experiment and make mistakes, allowing them to learn from such mistakes and invent incredible things that have made life easier on us all today.

Hold the little tyke once in a while!

Like George Carlin said, he’ll thank you for it later.

We took our daughter to her first gymnastics class—we signed up for the summer deal to see if she’ll like it, and so far, she does—and while it may have been a fun experience for her, her father and I were pretty much sitting in a new level of hell. This was taekwondo class all over again, though it was even worse.

You see, we love taekwondo (though we can’t really afford it anymore). But when we went, we were surrounded by parents—parents yacking, parents being loud, and mostly parents complaining about something or another. I already cannot stand being crowded, so you can imagine what this was like for me. We sat outside when we could, and I always brought something to work on, whether it was my laptop or my planner or journal.

Children are a product of their parents

So maybe you should, you know, keep that in mind…

…when your child is whining. When your child curses. When your child drives you so insane that you wish you weren’t a parent, as I’ve heard some people say. Because your child is getting all of this from you.

I wish we could all tape record how we all sound for a week and then listen to it. I bet we wouldn’t be happy with at least some of what we said, especially to our children! My husband yells at my daughter for whining, yet he whines at her, “Come on! We don’t have all day!” in a tone just as nasally as she does! When I’ve tried pointing it out, he didn’t believe me at first. Now he’s making an effort to be better, but she certainly got it from him.

Host a worm race

Add this fun activity to your summer bucket list!

We just attended a worm race at our local library this week, and it was so much fun that we decided to host one ourselves for our homeschool group this summer. I couldn’t believe how much fun it was—or how excited the kids were to “train” their worms and race them! The prizes themselves (temporary tattoos) didn’t even seem to matter; every child seemed to have a wonderful time, whether they won or not.

First, you gather your supplies. You’ll need some cheap tablecloths (brightly-colored vinyl works great; the library let us have the red ones they were going to dispose of) or other materials for the racetrack. Draw a giant circle as the racetrack itself, filling the entire space (with a permanent marker that won’t blur). Then draw a much smaller circle in the center of the larger one to serve as the starting point for your worms.

Captain America is a so-so adventure

Where is Black Widow’s story, anyway?

In order to make sure we experience every character’s story by the time we see The Avengers, my husband and I watched the only installment we’ve skipped so far, Captain America: The First Avenger. And now I can see why we waited so long to see it.

It’s not a particularly weak film; it’s just not nearly as awesome as the others. It didn’t wow our socks off like Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk; it didn’t become a favorite of mine like the endearing and vibrant, well-directed Thor.  It was interesting enough to watch—and Hugo Weaving was the perfect villain, as ever; that man needs to be in more movies!—but none of the characters, not even the fresh-faced Captain America himself, really stuck with me.

I really liked him, sure, but he just wasn’t that memorable, and neither was his love interest. I would have rather seen more of Stanley Tucci—which is probably why he was killed off, eh? A Shakespearean trick!—or of Tommy Lee Jones than either of them. Obviously, I do not follow the storyline of Captain America much and do not know if it was true to the comics or not (it drives me crazy when it’s not—most of the time), but the story itself was enjoyable enough.

Castle in the Sky

Miyazaki’s 1986 film isn’t his strongest, but it’s still enjoyable.

As my husband and I continue to make our way through all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, we remain impressed; we can definitely see how much his movies have continually improved throughout the years. We just watched his Castle in the Sky (also known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, with Laputa pronounced “lap—you—tah,” not the same way as the Spanish curse word!), and although it was still fun, with the same gorgeous visuals and symbols you’d expect from Miyazaki, it wasn’t nearly as strong as some of his later films. In fact, Castle was the first of his films to be produced by Studio Ghibli.

"I heard" vs. "I read"

Why is one superior to the other?

I belong to several homeschooling groups, including a couple of discussion groups on Facebook. Recently I commented that I had heard that you cannot homeschool foster children (you can’t) in Missouri, which is one of the things that makes us wary of becoming foster parents (among other things, including our budget and our limited space). Another group member—one who has definitely ruffled my feathers a couple of times already, and as an owner, I think she should re-think doing such things—demanded to know why I didn’t “research” such findings instead of just going by what I’d “heard.”

Free family entertainment: Visit your local library

"Libraries are the unsung heroes of the family entertainment industry."

With everyone's budget being tight, there's no doubt that when it comes to entertainment, free is fabulous. If you're sniffing around for inexpensive ways to keep your kiddies entertained, consider taking a trip to your local library.

Libraries are the unsung heroes of the family entertainment industry. Even though they've been around forever, how many people think of the library as a go-to destination when boredom sets in? It's a shame to let such a rich resource go to waste, especially when there's literally something for every member of your family all in one place, for free.

Comments on YouTube: I'm a total prude

Careless comments make me too uncomfortable to share good videos with my kids.

I've spent some time touring YouTube over the last couple of weeks. It's not that I've been completely unaware of its existence, I've just never given it a whole lot of thought. But, for some reason, a crazy urge took a hold of me, and I just couldn't stop clicking away at the videos.

Now that I've hopped around quite a bit, I've come to respect the power of YouTube. Anyone can create and add interesting videos that vary from the entertaining to highly informational. It's pretty cool that the medium is so versatile, giving any user who wishes to join in a real voice.