Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Taking a cue from the Totsy Blog today, I thought I would write up 10 things I want my daughter to know. The difference, though, is that Audry geared hers to be about her son’s year in Kindergarten. Mine is more generalized, since my daughter is only 2 1/2 and isn’t in any sort of day care or school yet.

1. Your dad and I love you, no matter what.

2. You will screw up and make mistakes in life. It’s okay, because that’s how you learn.

3. You are an amazing girl, with a body that lets you move, bend, stretch, jump, run, see, hear and speak. Don’t take any of that for granted.

4. We will let you try just about anything (within reason) if you really want to. If you want to try taking dance class, gymnastics, horseback riding, music lessons, I’m all for it. Just try not to break the bank, please.

5. With #4 said, we will not force you into an activity we know you don’t want to do, but we would like you to give everything a chance. You’ll never know if you’ll find your new favorite hobby!

6. We have always done and will always do our best to provide for you and take care of you. We hope you know that.

7. Save money, give to charity, spend wisely. I may not be the best example of this, but I’m sure trying!

8. Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

9. As Fernanda Mirmontes-Lenderos said, “Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow.”

10. I can’t say it enough – your dad and I love you, no matter what.


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With back to school shopping getting under way around the country, parents are now looking for great ways to save money. Here are some ideas to help you save a bit of cash.

1. Shop in your house first. Look through your closets, cabinets, junk drawers and anywhere else you can think of to see what you already have. You may not need a new pack of pencils if you’ve got 10 that are still usable. You may find a calculator, making it so that you don’t have to buy one. While these items may not seem expensive, they can definitely add up quickly, especially when shopping for more than one child. Let kids decorate old binders with stickers or photos to jazz them up. Instead of buying book covers, use paper shopping bags that kids can write on and decorate themselves.

2. Coupons, coupons, coupons. Kind of self explanatory, you’re going to save extra when using coupons. You’ll save even more if you can pair them up with sale prices at stores.

3. Shop for clothes after school starts. You’ll get a good vibe at what’s going to be the fashion trend, and prices will be coming down as new things start coming out for the next season.

4. Stick to the class list. Many teachers say that they are amazed at the number of students that come in with things they probably won’t use. If your kid is going to need it, it will be on the class list.

5. Decide how much you can spend, and stick with it. Don’t be afraid to let your kids know that there is a limit on anything they might want for school, and anything above and beyond either needs to wait, isn’t needed, or will have to come out of their piggy bank.

6. Pounce on the “loss leader” items at stores. You know the ones, the 10 cent spiral notebooks or the 25 cent box of Crayola crayons? But don’t go overboard. If you find out that the pens are on sale this week, buy the pens. If filler paper is on sale next week, wait until then to get it!

7. Separate wants from needs. That pencil sharpener that lights up may look really cool, but it’s going to be a distraction in class. The $1 three pack of sharpeners will do the same job without getting the child in trouble.

8. Buy basics in bulk. If there is a great sale on notebooks at the store, stock up. Your kid will probably need a few over the course of the school year.

9. Buy quality when necessary. If you buy that cheap backpack, it may break during the school year. If you replace it with another cheap one, it may break again. If this keeps up, you’re going to wind up spending more money on cheap backpacks than you will on one quality one that will last for four, or even eight, years. Leaky pens may cost more than that if you have to replace your son or daughters school uniform or clothes because you can’t get it out.

10. Invest in fun, reusable lunch-ware. Reusable water bottles and lunch boxes are better for the environment, and will save you money in the long run. It’s cheaper to buy juice in a bottle than to buy single serve juice boxes or pouches. It’s easy to find BPA-free plastics now, so spend the money ahead of time, and you’ll get a return on your investment at the end.

I hope these help you save a little bit of money while planning your back to school shopping trips. Share your favorite tips in the comments section!

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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Lately, I’ve been working on putting together two things: A control journal for my family (Thank you very much, FLY Lady!), and an emergency binder. I thought I would share the emergency binder with you, because I think it’s great to have all the information you need stored in one, easy to access location. Once mine is complete, I plan on getting a safe deposit box at one of our local banks to store it in. I thought I’d walk you through what I’m putting in mine, in order to help you put together yours!

I picked out a three ring binder in a color that doesn’t look like any of the other ones sitting in my bookshelf in my kitchen. In my case, it happens to be purple. I put a label on the front that says Cardin Family Emergency Binder, as well as one on the side, so I can easily read it when scanning the shelf.’

Family Emergency BinderFamily Emergency Binder

I use tabbed dividers and put the pages in plastic sheet protectors, too.

Tabbed pages

The first section is for Emergency Contact Information. There is a great page all made up already that you can just print off and use. It’s also perfect for babysitters, nanny’s, and day cares.

Emergency Contact SheetI also have a copy of this in my control journal. I’ll talk about a control journal another time, but for now, let’s just focus on the emergency binder.

Section Two: Hannah. This is a section with all relevant information about my 2 year old daughter. I downloaded the forms from Emergency Binder, and keep them saved on my computer for easy updating. The information includes all medical insurance information, copies of her immunization records, a copy of her social security card (with the words COPY written on it, because it’s a color copy), and anything else the forms asked me for. She wears glasses, so I also keep her current eyeglass prescription there.

Sections Three and Four: Melissa and John. It’s pretty much all the same information as for Hannah, only it also includes information about the location of our spare car keys, access information for bank accounts, email addresses and other websites, as well as information about power of attorney and final arrangements.

Section Five: Home Owners Insurance. I actually keep an entire copy of our policy in there.

Section Six: Auto Insurance. Same thing – a whole copy of the policy.

Section Seven: Bank info – pretty self explainitory.

Section Eight: Photos. These are photos of all the big expensive things we own: Cars, piano, computers, TVs, and things like that. I just keep them on a CD, rather than keeping the hard copies of the photos themselves. I also keep copies uploaded somewhere online so I can access them from any computer.

Section Nine: Emergency Plans. Where should we meet if the house is on fire? What if we need to evacuate? What if we need to get away from the house, but not out of our neighborhood? That’s where all this information is. Everyone should know it BEFORE putting it in your binder. If only one of you knows it, and you take the binder, everyone else is out of luck. This also includes things to remember to pack if there is an emergency, such as a hurricane, a few days away and you’ll have time to grab a few things before leaving.

Section Ten: Vital Records – Birth Certificates, marriage certificates, adoption records, car titles, name changes, social security cards, all of that stuff. This is precisely why this information should all be kept in a safety deposit box, and NOT in your home. If your house catches on fire, you may not have time to grab it.

So that’s it, my basics on how to make an emergency binder. Please take the time to do it for you and your family. I pray you’ll never have to use it, but if you do, at least it will all be in one spot.

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… from Safe Kids

1. Safe Kids can always talk to their parents or another trusted adult about anything.

2. Safe Kids always “Check First.”

3. Safe Kids know how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.

4. Safe Kids never talk to anyone they don’t know well.

5. Safe Kids always use the “Buddy System.”

6. Safe Kids say “No!” to anyone who tries to touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Then they tell their parents or another trusted grown-up right away.

7. Safe Kids never open the door for anyone but a trusted friend or relative.

8. Safe Kids always tell their parents or another trusted adult if anyone asks them to keep a secret.

9. Safe Kids always follow their Family Safety Plan of Action.

10. Safe Kids know their parents would never send someone they don’t know well to pick them up.

Additional Safety TIPS –
– When out and about with Toddlers and pre-schoolers write your cell number in your child’s shoe or their hand and teach them that is where it is in case they get lost.

– Teach your children your cell number, knowing their home number does not help if you are NOT home.

– Kid ID tattoos- www.spotmeid.com and www.Mypreciouskid.com.

– Place ID Bracelets or dog tags on your children that you have engraved with their information on it. ( Walmart has make your own ID Tag machines)

– Give your children Cell phones that you can buy minutes for to use while you are out and about if lost.

– Have kids keep a Walkie Talkies on them while playing around the neighborhood.

– Update your car kit kit with eye drops (for swimming), tweezers, band aids, aloe vera, sun screen, benedryl and tylenol, etc.

– More Safe kid information at www.safetykidsclub.com

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Moms on strike

Today I checked out an amazing blog post by Holly Robinson, a freelance writer who works from home. A mom of three, ages 6 -16, she went on strike to show her family what it is, exactly, that she does around the house.

It’s a long, detailed description of how the seven days she spent on strike went, and it got me thinking. I would love to go on strike, so my husband could see how much housework and what not I do around the house.

Sure, he’s pretty good at keeping up with dishes, he cooks (more than me, usually), he mows the lawn and keeps up our car maintenance. Outside of those things, though, he doesn’t really DO anything around the house. He plays with Hannah (age 2) and our pets, but mostly he plays video games or whatever. I just had to explain to him why you can’t let Hannah stay up in her room for 30 minutes after she wakes up from a nap because she trashes her bedroom. She’s two, and she’s bored, for Pete’s sake! What else is she going to do?

I am usually the one to clean the kitchen, sweep, vacuum (though he’s been better about that since being home on summer vacation), and I’m the only one that does laundry. In his defense, he did fix the washer when it was broken, and he’s kind of a “d0-it-yourself-er,” because he’s tiled two floors in our house, and has the ambition to remodel our bathroom soon. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great. But sometimes it makes me want to go on strike too.

He claims he “doesn’t see”  the clutter that’s in our house. I would be the first one to believe that. I can’t tell you the number of times he’s walked by piles of clothes and not done anything about it. But I’d love to not do anything for a week and see what happens.

Oh sure, I’d still go to my job, but I mean not do anything around the house. No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, no feeding the pets, no shopping. I’ll play with my daughter, but the discipline and everything? That would be all him. I would get to be the one to go out two or three nights a week, instead of him going to a rehearsal, I would just go out with a friend or something and let him do everything at home.

I don’t think I’d have the conviction to stick to it though. I guess this just means that we should talk about some of that stuff. Who knows, maybe I’ll get home today, and the new storm windows will be installed on my upstairs windows and the broken screen in the front of the house will be fixed. All without prompting. Maybe.

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I realized after I wrote my post last night about Free Range Kids that I needed to make some clarifications on my exact thoughts.

I agree in the idea of free range parenting, but obviously it has to be within reason. The age of reason is around 7 years old. It would be stupid to expect that my 2 year old, right now, would understand the “rules of the road” to ride a tricycle down our street. She doesn’t have that capability yet. By the same token, if she’s playing in the sandbox here at home, I’m not going to stand right next to her, I might hang out laundry or read nearby. That way, I can make sure she’s not eating sand, or something that will make her sick, but she doesn’t have to play a certain way either.

I agree that the way she advocates for free range does seem a little extreme. I don’t think I’d let a 9 year old ride the NYC subway alone, but maybe an 11 or 12 year old. I think that staying within earshot is reasonable. I also think that it’s definitely a highway/road safety thing, at least for me, than being afraid that my kid gets a scrape on their knee. It’s a good way for them to learn how to cope.

I hope that explains my position a little better!

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So, the other day in the car, I’m listening to NPR. (I know, I’m boring. My daughter actually asks me to turn on the news in the radio now, and she’s only 2.) They have a woman by the name of Lenore Skenazy on there talking during the show I’m listening to. Now, at this point, I’ve never heard of this woman, nor the concept of which she is speaking. But I decide to listen.

Skenazy is discussing this idea of Free Range Kids. And the more I listen, the more I realize that thats the type of parenting I want to do for my daughter. It’s the idea that parents need to allow kids the freedom to “explore” the world we live in – ride the subway alone, walk to the neighbors house, play outside, get dirty, all without the parent hovering (think: opposite of helicopter parenting).

She isn’t saying that parents should be passive and not pay attention. By all means, supervise your kid. Don’t let them bike down the road if they don’t know the proper rules to do so safely. Don’t let your 2 year old wander into someone else’s yard to play with an unfamiliar dog.

In Skenazy’s own words, copied from the Free Range Kids blog: “We are not daredevils. We believe in life jackets and bike helmets and air bags. But we also believe in independence. Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring for all concerned.”

It’s common to find parents that feel that our world has become less safe, but statistically, Skenazy finds, that just isn’t true.  “Over at the think tank STATS.org, where they examine the way the media use statistics, researchers have found that the number of kids getting abducted by strangers actually holds very steady over the years. In 2006, that number was 115, and 40% of them were killed.”

I grew up in an extremely small town, with a population of about 1,500 people. My parents never locked the door when we left the house, never locked the car when running to the store, and didn’t worry about leaving me home alone when I entered 5th grade. Now I live in a city with a population of 30,000 people, and we don’t go anywhere without locking our house and our cars (as of recently, we can’t even leave the cars parked in our driveway for the night without someone ransacking them, apparently, but that’s for another post.) However, we also know that we are confidant enough in where we live that we can let our 2 year old play outside while we sit on the deck with a book. We aren’t afraid to let her toddle off a little ways ahead of us while visiting the beach so that she can check out some rocks before we tell her that she’s climbing too high.

I, personally, believe that Free Range Parenting is a good thing, and I am not afraid to admit it. I think our society has become so over-informed because of our constant access to information, that we just aren’t willing to think that maybe, just maybe, our kids are safe.

“Not that facts make any difference. Somehow, a whole lot of parents are just convinced that nothing outside the home is safe. At the same time, they’re also convinced that their children are helpless to fend for themselves. While most of these parents walked to school as kids, or hiked the woods — or even took public transportation — they can’t imagine their own offspring doing the same thing.” Skenazy makes some exceptionally valid points in her blog.

I would strongly encourage ALL parents to look at her blog, read it, absorb it, and then decide what works for you and what doesn’t. Take a good, hard look at the statistics about crime in our country. Children are far more likely to be abused or otherwise mistreated in their own homes than by a stranger. Keep that in mind, the next time you decide to let your child ride their bike to the neighbors house, one block away.

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