Archive for August, 2011

The outtakes: What went wrong at our blog photo shoot

My kids like to liven up photos with headlocks and knocked off glasses. It's not easy getting a good shot of the family. Check out our outtakes from our recent blog photoshoot on the ajcmomania Facebook page. (Kent Johnson/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

My kids like to liven up photos with headlocks and knocked off glasses. It's not easy getting a good shot of the family. Check out our outtakes from our recent blog photo shoot on the ajcmomania Facebook page. (Kent Johnson/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

If you think getting a good family shot for your Christmas card is tough, try taking one for the front of a national blog.

Even with a professional photographer, it’s never easy pulling off a fantastic shot of multiple kids. They are rarely looking the same direction. Some are smiling, some are not. Often they are trying to walk out of the shot.

My family is never particularly cooperative for group shots.  No one likes to sit still.  Hands invariably are placed over brother’s or sister’s faces. Well meaning hugs to create a tighter shot turn into headlocks, and silliness often reigns.

The second shot we used on the Momania blog taken about four years ago at our house. Lilina was probably on 7 or 8 months old in the shot. I am so sad that the first shot of just me and Rose and Walsh has been eliminated from the computer system. We can't find it.

How the kids have changed: The second shot we used on the Momania blog taken about four years ago at our house. Lilina was probably 7 or …

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Who stays home when a child is sick?

Lilina came down with a cold and couldn’t go to preschool last Wednesday. It wasn’t a big deal because I was at home, just like it’s been for the last 10 years. Anything I needed to do could be arranged around caring for my sick 4-year old.

By Thursday afternoon I was getting worried. She didn’t seem significantly better, and I didn’t think her preschool would even let her through the door on Friday. However, Friday I had to be at school teaching for five hours.

I wasn’t sure how Michael would react. I’m not making very much teaching but I really can’t miss a day since it’s just one day a week.

I was surprised when Michael said it wouldn’t be a problem for him to take Lilina with him until I could get her after class. (My class starts earlier than he has to be at work.)

I have a friend with several employees, and one of the dads is always the one to take off.  It drives my friend crazy – why can’t the mom take off sometimes?

My sister-in-law and brother …

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Hysterical 5-year-old blogs about ‘why mommy blogs are BS’

I am literally banging on my desk laughing this morning while reading a blog I recently discovered entitled “Bedtimes are for Suckers – The Only Blog Written by a Pissed-off 5-year old.”

Five-year-old Lily is tired of her mom writing about her in her blog. Lily doesn’t like that mom is criticizing her pretend restaurant, accusing her of trashing the car and complaining about how hard it is to take care of her. So she’s striking back with a blog of her own. And it is spit-out-your coffee funny!

Lily tells us:

“From what I can tell, the whole “mommy blogging” world is one never-ending b####-fest about how us kids get on your nerves. Did you ever think maybe hanging out with you guys is no picnic either?”

She goes on to give us the top five reason her mom is a pain in the a##. They include:

She’s always messing with my s### (This 5-year-old curses more than I do!): She describes in perfect detail how she has dolls lying on every blanket in the house and her mom …

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Swedish preschool does away with gender

A taxpayer-funded Swedish preschool will not allow teachers or students to refer to someone as “he” or “she,” only “friend” will do.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

“Alexander Söderqvist, a teacher at the school, says he believes in helping the youngest members of society avoid gender-based stereotypes. ‘It’s fun to be part of something different,’ he says, adding that there is a waiting list for entry to the school.”

“Others note that Sweden has long been a leader in promoting gender equality (jämstalldhet). A study published last year by the World Economic Forum – ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2010’ – ranked Sweden fourth worldwide (behind Iceland, Norway, and Finland)….”

“Jeanne Sager wrote recently on the parenting website CafeMom that ‘inside the walls of Egalia, gender doesn’t exist. But outside of Egalia, gender does exist. … I want my daughter to be equal to boys, but that doesn’t mean that she should ignore her …

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10 reasons for kids to spend time outside

The National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There Campaign wants you to know why it’s so important to make sure you kids get plenty of outdoor time.

Here are five reasons that might surprise you from their list (Click here to see the whole list):

“Stronger bones and lower cancer risk: Today’s “indoor kids” don’t get enough sun and are becoming Vitamin D deficient, causing health risks.

Improved eyesight: Recent studies find that kids who get outdoor time have less nearsightedness and need for eye glasses.

Longer attention spans: Children who stare at TV and video games all day have less patience and shorter attention spans.

Better at making friends: Children playing together outdoors relate directly with one another, create games together, choose sides and improve their “people” skills.

Measurably better grades in school: The healthy bodies and minds that come with outdoor play are better able to do well in school.”

What are your challenges to getting your kids outside …

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‘The Help:’ How to raise kids with healthy self-esteem?

I finally got to see “The Help” this weekend and wept my way through it. I have many thoughts and feelings on the movie, but I wanted to hit one particular aspect in this blog: raising a child with healthy self-esteem.

We saw poor toddler Mae Mobley whose mother didn’t want to hold her or change her. Because Mae Mobley’s mother thought she wasn’t going to end up beautiful, she wasn’t giving her the time of day. In steps maid Abileen to give her love and help boost the poor child’s ego.

Abileen would make the child repeat daily: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Then there’s the adult Skeeter who completely relates to poor Mae Mobley’s plight. Skeeter is smart and articulate but unfortunately has curly hair that frizzes in the Mississippi humidity! And her mother does not find that acceptable or attractive. How will Skeeter ever find a husband as unfortunate looking as she is?  Despite her mother’s criticism the grown Skeeter is confident …

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Mom scare: GPS on phone cameras identifying kids’ locations

I was sent a link via Facebook and an email from two separate mothers this week warning me to turn off the GPS function on my phone’s camera.

The concern is that there is software that can examine the meta data in posted pictures of your kids and find out exactly where the photos were taken and where your family hangs out.

I think this is a very legitimate warning to parents, although the news cast makes it seem more scary than it needs to be. There’s a simple 10-second solution for most phones, which the news cast explains at the very end after scaring you for the first 3.5 minutes.

So watch the video, check your phone and decide if you want the GPS meta data imbedded in your images. (I think it’s actually an advantage if you are using Mac’s iPhoto. I think it will match photos up by location through that meta data. Let me know if I am wrong on this function.)

My phone actually advises to keep the GPS off because it uses so much battery power.

And while I think the …

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Does a chaotic home create behavior problems?

I often read parenting books to check out new or interesting theories on child rearing and recently I’ve been working on “The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child.”

Alan Kazdin, Ph.D, is the director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic and has some interesting methods for shaping children’s behavior. One tiny aspect of the book that I wanted to discuss today was how much household chaos could contribute to behavior problems.

Here is what he writes in the book:

“Household chaos, believe it or not, has been studied by scientists, who define it as a set of conditions: a household high in noise in activity and low in regular activities, routines and rituals. It’s a matter of degree of course. All households with children in them can feel chaotic at times. So when we talk about household chaos as a condition, we mean a little more movement and activity around the house; a little less knowledge of where everyone is or transportation, and other …

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What’s worth making from scratch: bread, sauce, fruit rolls?

I recently saw an article in a Martha Stewart publication about how to make your own dehydrated fruit rolls. I would bet they are healthier than what you can find at the store but is it really worth your time to make it from scratch? (Can’t I just give them a piece of fruit for a healthy snack that requires no preparation?)

What products, if any, are worth creating for your family completely from scratch?

Bread – have never made other than banana bread

Pasta – have never made

Pasta Sauce – used to make frequently, not so much now

Jams – never (Although I would love to learn to make tomato jam.)

Fruit rolls – never

Cakes, brownies, icing – I will pretty much always make baked goods from scratch or at the least from a mix. Homemade icing especially is 1,000 times better than the icing from a can.

Pizza dough – I would love to do this but I am afraid of using yeast. My friend tells me it’s very easy, and Michael still raves about the homemade pizza dough his mother …

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Do extracurricular activities make your kids more efficient?

Last year, we resisted picking up extracurricular activities, other than church school, because Rose had a ridiculous amount of homework every day, including the weekends.

We knew the homework level would be about the same this year but they need something else in their lives other than just school and homework. Also I wondered if we picked up the level of activity if their work would become more efficient.

I know that I am the type of person who works much faster and more efficiently the more I have on my plate. I wondered it the same would be true for kids.

So this year Rose has picked up swim team. They only practice one-hour twice a week and have four meets on Saturdays during the fall. It’s fairly low-key and  I can take the other two swimming while Rose swims.

We’ve only had one-week of practice, but thus far the theory seems to be proving out. Both practice days she got her work done very quickly knowing we needed to leave. When she got home from swim team she was …

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