We moms and moms-to-be are resourceful creatures.
Hubby and I are expecting baby No. 3 this summer. Having rid our home of essentials such as baby bottles, infant clothes and more, I am finding we are less than prepared for the arrival of this Bundle of Joy.
God bless friends and family who have offered hand-me-downs. Granted, it’s a golden opportunity to unload their garage full of no-longer-needed items, but I’m OK with that.
Not only did my closet quickly fill up with maternity clothes, but upon the “it’s a girl” announcement, Baby’s closet began to acquire lots of pink, frilly items of which many are like-new.
In fact, Baby Girl now officially has more shoes than I do.
I am no stranger to the game, nor are my boys. My girlfriends who have sons younger than Nicholas — soon to turn 4 — will likely never have to buy clothes for their kids again.
“These are for Carter,” Nick will tell me when his pants are too tight.
In anticipation of a batch of hand-me-downs from Aunt Patti, I plow through dressers and closets frequently unloading too-small clothes on appreciative mothers.
Noah thinks it’s fantastic when Aunt Patti sends home a bag full of clothes that no longer fit the rapidly growing Cousin Erik. Since Erik once wore it, it must be a “cool” shirt.
When the clothes migrate into Nick’s dresser, he loves it because it was Noah’s. (Hmm I wonder how long this will last?) For now, this works well for Daddy and I, who aren’t being coerced into buying preschooler-Polo.
Considering how fast children grow, most of the items are in great condition — other than boys shoes, which suffer some serious abuse.
Of course, when others’ closets are filled to capacity, there are places such as the Pregnancy Resource Center, the Mercy Parent Infant Center and Hannah’s Treasure Chest that distribute children’s items to families in need.
There is always a need and always a use for children’s items — clothes, toys, books, gear, food, formula, diapers, bottles and more.
Garage sales aren’t a bad place to load up on kid-gear, either. Not to mention, garage sales are a great place to teach little ones the value of their piggy-bank change.
Of course, “new” stuff is fun, too, even for parents (more fun if it’s on clearance).
But, if children express as much joy and contentment with gently used items, why rain on their parade?
Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0356 or email@example.com.
This is a public service announcement to anyone who might run into me when I’m out with my daughter.
If you are unsure whether I am carrying a boy or girl on my hip, look for some clues. Yes, she might be wearing blue but take a second to look closer. Is she wearing a blue dress? Does she have pink and orange flowers on her shirt and a skirt? Then chances are she is not a he.
If you are still confused by the dress or flowers, how about just commenting on the fact that I have a cute kid and not say “Oh your little boy is so pretty.”
I understand that most children under the age of one could easily be confused for one gender or the other. This is why I don’t dress her in “Bob the Builder” outfits or with a shirt that has a dinosaur on it and instead opt for more traditionally feminine clothing that is pink or purple or a dress.
Still some people find it confusing. I’ve had three people think that my daughter is a boy. One time she was in head-to-toe purple, another she had on a light blue dress and another when she had a flowered skirt on with a large flower on her shirt.
My husband tells my I should say “Yes, pink is his favorite color” but I usually gently correct them because, after all, they are kind enough to come talk to her. It still annoys me though.
Have you had this problem? What do you say?
It was a perfect moment.
I gazed adoringly at my daughter walking down the aisle during her aunt’s wedding on Saturday. She looked absolutely beautiful in that satin, poofy dress. Her long, dark hair was piled on top of her head in little ringlet curls and framed by an ivory wreath of flowers. She was carrying a bouquet of bright flowers. She was an absolute princess.
That beautiful moment was quickly ruined when she started digging for gold the very second she took her seat.
“Stop picking your nose! Here’s a tissue,” I whispered (quite loudly).
My request was promptly ignored.
Sometimes my 4-year-old is really Daddy’s girl (well, these are clearly not behaviors she learned from me). She seems to always be picking something, whether it’s her nose or her seat (and I’m not talking about the kind of seat you sit in).
It can be so embarrassing at times … particularly during a wedding in front of hundreds of people!
How can you stop your children’s bad habits like this one?
Here are four recommendations on curbing nose-picking straight from the experts at Babycenter.com.
1. Bite your tongue. No matter how embarrassed you are by this habit (and of course you are embarrassed), don’t say anything. Nagging or punishing her won’t help, because she probably doesn’t realize she’s doing it, and you could turn into a power struggle.
2. Keep her fingers occupied. If you can identify picking patterns — such as while watching television, for example — try giving her something to do with her fingers such as a crayon and a piece of paper or a toy to hold. Teaching her to blow her nose may also help.
3. Check things out. If your child is exploring her nose so intensely that she’s hurting herself — she’s drawing blood — or if the habit seems to be one of many nervous behaviors (sucking her thumb, biting her nails, for example), you’ll probably want to consult your pediatrician.
4. Wait and hope. As your tot gets older and busier, chances are her fingers will stay away from her nose of their own accord. If not, and she keeps up the nose picking until she goes off to school, at some point some other child will say, “Ewww, she’s picking her nose,” and she’ll suddenly be very motivated to stop.
Now it’s your turn. Do your children have bad habits? What are they and how do you work with your children to break them?
A friend of mine at work and his wife just had a baby — their first — and the days leading up to the big event sparked many lunchtime conversations filled with stories from those of us who have been down that road before.
We talked about which of our babies came into the world like runaway freight trains, and which were kind to their mothers.
We talked about the doctors who erroneously dismissed early labor pains with, “First babies take a long time,” and those docs who convinced nervous new daddies to cut the umbilical cord.
It reminded me how much more enjoyable it is to look back on these events, compared to wondering how (or if) they will play out.
And it makes me wish that there was an optional cheat sheet available that would list the days these life milestones would occur.
The day you meet the love of your life: Sure, that day would be anxious, and everyone who crosses your path would get undue scrutiny. But it would make the other days of your single life more enjoyable.
The day you figure out what your career should be: Many of us second-guess what we can and should do with our lives. It would be freeing to know, “Hey, this is it.”
Your wedding day: This one might work better with a ballpark figure — say within the year — but it would be nice to know just the same. Wanting to know this might be more of a girl thing, since some of us anticipate the day for years.
Then again, if we knew it would happen and when, it would diminish the need for romantic comedies. I bet many men could get on board with that aspect.
The day your child is born: Knowing if and when you will have children would go far in mental preparation — before and after you conceive.
One of the worst parts of my pregnancy was not knowing when my kids would be born. I will admit, I am a very impatient person. But in that last month of pregnancy, when you are just getting bigger and more uncomfortable by the hour, it would be nice to think: “I just have to make it until next Tuesday!”
Your divorce day: Again, whether this day is even in the picture would be helpful. If you know it won’t be, that can provide some peace of mind; if you know it will, that would help you prepare for the next step (and help you remember that prenup).
The day you win the lottery: This is another milestone that could get by with a yes or no answer. A yes would mean some pleasantly altered financial planning, and a no would mean that there is even more reason to quit wasting money every week.
The day your parent dies: Nothing in your life can prepare you for losing a close loved one, and the extra sting of losing a parent is that they, for better or worse, have always been a part of your life.
After my mom died, that was one of my biggest hurdles: Learning how to live without her. But, I do think it would have helped if I knew when she would go. That way I could have been with her, instead of driving to work, when she passed away.
The day you die: This can make you relax or get more done, depending on your information. But, regardless, you would probably do and say what you needed given the time you had left.
However, as we all know, no one is offering up a cheat sheet such as this. And honestly, even with the rough days, I would have to concede that it’s probably for the best.
Because even though it would make life a whole lot easier to know when these milestones would occur, that knowledge would take away much of the excitement and significance.
And, without that, how much fun would life really be?
I have written about my kids’ passion for sports many times, but this picture seems to say it all.
This was taken a few years ago when my older son turned 7. He and his little brother went through a phase where they would invent their own teams and leagues, and then compete against each other.
For the older one’s birthday in 2006, we surprised him by getting this “jersey” made for his team — the Dangle City Fireballs.
He liked it.
These days, most of the kids’ matches involve real teams, but they still dabble in their old throwback leagues occasionally. Sometimes, they even pull their parents in.
In fact, the Ohio Bears are set to take on the Kettering Sharks in a family soccer game next week.
And even though we won’t have cool jerseys like this, I bet I will still see a little boy or two with this same expression.
It’s just that love of the game.
Sometime before my oldest son began attending preschool, a friend visiting our home was appalled to find empty cardboard food boxes in our trash cans. I questioned her sanity when she began yanking them out of the garbage bags.
“Niki … what are you doing?” She couldn’t be that hungry for a dried out fruit roll-up.
“You can’t throw these away, they have Box Tops on them!” she replied.
“Of course they do, they are boxes and most of the time they have tops,” I was thinking as she began ripping the lids off of them.
Little did I know I was throwing away tiny treasures on each box that are quite precious to many schools — Box Tops for Education.
Valued at a whopping 10-cents each, my son’s school has earned more than $14,000 since 2002. Wow. That loose change really does add up.
Box Tops — and Campbell’s Labels For Education — are found on many products I didn’t realize we were purchasing. Not long ago, we had no reason to pay attention to the little dotted squares on our Cheerios and Goldfish.
Now, we do. We have early school-age children and for Noah, finding a “Tox Bop” is like finding cold hard cash. He has a much keener eye for these things than I even do — catching the bonus products immediately.
“Mom! This one has two Tox Bops!”
In the grocery store fruit snack isle, Noah even opts to select (one of the few things he gets to choose) the Scooby-Doo fruit snacks over the John Deere ones because they have a Box Top. And I’m OK with paying the few extra cents if need be — after all, it’s for the good of his school.
In 2005, Box Tops expanded to products outside the General Mills product line, and in 2008 reached the $250 million mark nationwide. Obviously, I’m not the only parent who keeps a pair of scissors handy in the kitchen.
The grandparents are now in on the action, too, scanning their food purchases for those valuable little tokens.
Each school is responsible for redeeming their accumulated Box Tops and they receive payment twice each school year. Earnings are spent on supplies and necessities for the school. Not a bad little program to be a part of when many of our schools are struggling.
With one child entering kindergarten, one in preschool and one on the way, I will have to keep those scissors sharp — we will be cutting out Box Tops and Labels for Education for several more years.
Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I had no idea how large the world of mom bloggers really was until I became a mom. It seems like anyone who has a kid is blogging about it.
It is wonderful in many ways. We get to share our joys and accomplishments with others who have similar experiences. We get to say “I’m having a bad day and don’t feel like a good mother” and 20 moms will write to say that they too have bad days and that we are not alone in all of this.
But there are other ways that this can backfire and degrade into a middle school cat fight complete with hair pulling and name calling. The latest argument erupted last week when a WOHM (work outside the home mom) mother wrote an entry that said it is harder for her than any WAHM (work at home mom). She claims that WOHM really have it tough because they have to deal with daycare and being away from the kiddos and travel, etc. while WAHM can take their MacBooks to Starbucks to get their work done.
I am not going to get into who has the tougher life. We all have our burdens whether we work outside the home, work inside the home or stay at home with our kids, which is still work.
But I do want to encourage mothers to support each other. We do no good by tearing each other down. Women have enough working against them, we don’t need help from each other.
Does it make your situation any better when you tell someone that they have it so easy? I’m going to say no.
We all need to vent but there is no reason to attack.
I was reading a story on CNN this week about a dad who said he feels cheated on Father’s Day.
He writes that the holiday is treated as an afterthought compared to the outpouring of love and goodies that comes with its companion holiday, Mother’s Day.
And I would have to agree with him. Not that it should be that way, mind you — but that it is.
Every family is different but, in many of them, the moms are the ones who get the majority of the hugs and kisses, the higher stack of warm and fuzzy gifts and the more visible declarations of adoration — not only on Mother’s Day, but every day.
Why? There are many pillars that hold up this long-standing tradition; here are a few:
Moms get more kisses and presents because they are more open to them.
This may be different in a house with multiple daughters; but, in my house full of boys, I am involved in about 92 percent of the kisses given and received.
When my sons ask for something that is a little bit of a stretch (like to stay up late) and I agree, I will sometimes ask for a payment of two kisses, while tilting and tapping my cheek expectantly.
I have yet to see my husband (or any husband) do the same.
On the present front, we moms also are often more effusive about what we like (and don’t like), which opens the door to multiple present ideas.
I may get more pillows (for my love of sleep) and candy (for my love of sweet) than I know what to do with. But I get them, and I love them, just the same.
My husband, on the other hand, has fewer, more specific interests. So instead of picking out just the right Frisbee golf disc, sometimes my sons and I will go with a gift card, just to play it safe.
That can make it seem like we are skating through, but it really is more about what he wants — something he picked out.
Society fuels this dichotomy.
Miss Father’s Day? Oops. Better give him a call. Miss Mother’s Day? Yikes! Better send her some flowers and be prepared to apologize.
Like it or not, we are expected to be more loyal and loving to our moms. It probably goes all the way back to sugar and spice and everything nice vs. snakes and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.
And it may be part of the reason you hear fewer athletes shout out, “Hi, Dad!”
Dads take care of moms, but moms take care of everybody.
My sister tells the story about the time she and her husband were asked the question: “If you and your family were on a ship that went down in the ocean, who would you try to save?”
My sister said she would go for her youngest child first, and work up toward the oldest. Her husband said he would save his wife.
I think it works that way in everyday life as well. Because my sons are still relatively young, they are my first priority and I am very involved in their day-to-day care.
My husband is equally involved, although his role has become more macro than micro as the kids get older, and applies more to the family as a whole.
So, I have more visible tasks and get more parental credit. And sometimes, this translates into shiny new presents.
Holidays are generally more important to moms.
Think about Christmas or Hannukah, Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve — who is the primary motivator behind these holidays? I’m guessing it isn’t Dad.
Moms take this role because it is important to her that holidays are “done right” — and are aptly rife with tradition and mirth.
Father’s Day is one of the many holidays for moms to organize, and, therefore, takes a seat somewhere between Easter and the Fourth of July.
Mother’s Day is the one nationally recognized holiday that does not come under her umbrella, and, therefore, it is up to the dad and the rest of the family to pitch in and help. More hands make for more fanfare.
It’s not too late.
But, even though these are some reasons why Father’s Day sometimes gets the short shrift, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Take some time this Sunday to kiss your dad on the cheek, get him that shiny new present or drum up some well-earned fanfare.
Because, even though he might still have some snakes and snails in him, he deserves a day just as happy as Mom’s.
Happy Father’s Day!
The annual Father’s Day Dilemma:
A new grill? Another tie? A day of peace and quiet? (That last one was a joke.)
What do you plan to get for the man in your kid’s life? Conversely, what do you dads really want?
I reach into my mommy blog e-mail bag and pull out a sampling of suggestions from marketing mavens. In their own words:
— Father’s Day is quickly approaching, and you know just as well as I do that while dad may smile and say thanks for every tie or new polo shirt he gets, those gifts are outdated. … Perfect for every dad, the RealRyder ABF8 is the first non-stationary spin/training bike that mimics an outdoor ride by tilting, turning and twisting while you ride, adding a whole new dynamic to indoor fitness and winter training. Only $1,995. (This one won’t work for us. Hubby would rather take a real bike for a real ride with his real kids. For free.)
— SKIL, Lowe’s and Worlds of Discovery Theme Parks have partnered to create a Father’s Day parent-child project contest for the chance to win an all-expenses paid family vacation and other exciting prizes. Outdoor projects are available for parents to do with their children, starting at age 4. Simply build the project together and submit in-action photos or videos along with your entry form on the contest Web site! (My Hubby would definitely NOT enjoy a pressure-filled afternoon featuring power tools and ramped-up kids — especially with me taking video. That’s just not his idea of fun.)
— “Being Dad” DVD — $29.99: “Being Dad” features dozens of new dads from all over the country who share the thoughts, fears, concerns and joys they experienced from the first time they heard, “Honey, I’m pregnant!” through the first time they held their newborn child. It’s an invaluable tool to better understand one’s mate and what she’s going through during pregnancy so they can be supportive and prepared as they face everything from morning sickness, cravings and mood swings to finances, sex … and what NOT to say to your spouse. (Something tells me this DVD wouldn’t be high on Hubby’s list either. Maybe if the testimonials were interspersed with historical Super Bowl highlights?)
— Every dad has a man cave at home — the place you most likely will find him when he wants to relax. This Father’s Day, Walmart is offering savings for every dad’s man cave whether it’s the game room, living room, home office, garage and backyard. Walmart’s Father’s Day savings (available in-stores through June 20) include a $128 Magnavox Blu-ray Disc player, select Blu-ray movies two-for-$20, new video game bundles, and handy tools. (We’re getting warmer. This is the closest thing to real gifts for a real dad that I’ve seen, and the “man cave” hook really reeled me in.)
So … for my own man, this is what I did:
(SPOILER ALERT!! Attention, Hubby: Stop reading here!)
I mean it, TB: STOP READING!
First I sought the expert advice of my Facebook friends, and I did get one workable suggestion: a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey (thanks, Jordan). Hubby is crazy about the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions — read it and weep, Red Wings fans! But instead of a jersey, which he wouldn’t wear too often except for the occasional trip to the sports bar, I found a polo shirt online at SportStation.com with an embroidered Penguins logo, $42.50. Perfect for the casual summer dress code at his new job. (And yes, I ignored the “polos are an outdated gift” snear from the makers of the RealRyder ABF8. Snobs ;).
To carry the “Yay! You’re Employed Again!” theme further, I found him a leather business card holder at the aforementioned Walmart for the bargain-basement price of $3.97.
I also added a shoeshine kit from my favorite store, the Dollar Tree. And guess how much it cost? That’s right, $1.
One last prize, found at CafePress.com: a $4 sticker bearing the snarky phrase “Runs With Scissors” — very apropos because in his new role with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, he’s the one who gets to schlep the “Big Scissors” to ribbon-cuttings. I love theme shopping! :)
What are you getting for the dad in your life? Any dads out there want to share their wish lists?
Do boys ever really grow up?
Almost six years into raising two boys who act like their father — and mine — I am going to have to say, “No. Not really.”
They all possess some kind of similar childish trait no matter how old they are.
Women aren’t entirely innocent. I admit to still enjoying coloring and mac-and-cheese.
However, my sons, just like my “adult” husband, father, brother and uncles, think bodily functions are hysterical, like being dirty and find creepy crawlers fascinating.
OK, I’m lying about the creepy crawlers. My sons actually prefer squashing them.
But, my grandfather — and his lightning-fast reflexes — surprised us all recently by regressing back to not only childhood age, but agility, too.
While standing near the creekbed in back of our home one evening, a little snake popped out of a brush pile.
Great-grandpa, aka “GG” — who is, let’s just say, an “older child” — swooped down like a bat and snatched the snake off the ground before anyone could blink.
My sons began hollering into the house “GG got a snake! GG got a snake!”
I peered out the window to see the male genre of our family all standing around GG with goofy grins on their faces.
Overcome with the willies, I immediately began worrying about snake cooties.
“Wash your hands! Stay back!”
Toads I can handle. We acquire a family of them in our yard every year.
Snakes freak me out. I don’t want to know they are hiding out so close to my house.
The little snake was obviously terrified and eager to slither away from the growing crowd of “boys.”
Tough as they were acting, when GG released the belly-slider back to the wild, the boys all retreated up the creek bank as quickly as GG had snatched up the snake.
They washed their hands and some secretly shook off the willies, but GG still reins as the “coolest kid” in the family.
Mommy bloggers recently began declaring themselves bad mothers, proclaiming that bad is the new good.
They aren’t being arrested for crimes and their children aren’t neglected. They are just going against what society and many parenting books deem “good mothers.”
One blogger admits to a few crimes against motherhood including using disposable diapers, letting her children watch television too much and allowing them to eat cookies for breakfast.
Another mother says she turns on autopilot most days and raises her children the best she knows how.
I still consider myself a rookie to motherhood. My daughter will turn a year old in a about a month and every day it seems like we run into something new - like why does she keep throwing herself backward whenever she doesn’t get her way and then cry harder when she hits her head on the nearest object?
All of that aside I’m trying to be the best mother I can be, but I am in no way perfect.
I’m sure there will be days when I let me her watch too much television so I can get something done around the house. She might have to settle for fast food once in awhile. She will most likely go to public schools.
Parenthood doesn’t fit any guidelines. The books and experts can give us an idea of what to expect but I’ve never read a book that told me what to do when poo ends up on the ceiling.
I do know that my daughter is loved, more than I thought even possible.
I don’t love her less if I give her a Cheeto. I don’t love her less if I let her nap in my arms instead of her crib. I don’t love her less if I look the other way when her father buys her a Happy Meal.
In all that can happen in a day with children, I think the best any of us can hope for is to still love our children, be thankful that they are healthy and laugh about any mishaps along the way.
So do you consider yourself a good or a bad mother?
Cure those summertime blues with these kid-friendly weekend events:
Rubber Duck Regatta
Where: RiverScape MetroPark, 111 E. Monument Ave., Dayton
When: Friday, June 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
What to expect: See 15,000 bright yellow rubber ducks in the Great Miami River during United Rehabilitation Services sixth annual event, plus food and other activities.
Admission: Free, but you can sponsor a duck for $5 per duck, plus other duck packages available. Proceeds from the duck sales will benefit United Rehabilitation Services.
More info: Call (937) 235-DUCK or visit www.ursdayton.org
Where: Carriage Hill Metropark, 7800 E. Shull Road, Huber Heights
When: Saturday, June 13 from 10-11:30 a.m.
What to expect: Learn all about these long-jumping amphibians, make a craft and go on a frog hunt. Ideal for elementary-school aged children.
Admission: Free. No reservations required.
More info: Call (937) 278-2623 or visit www.metroparks.org/
St. Christopher Festival
Where: St. Christopher Catholic Church, 435 E. National Road, Vandalia.
When: 6 p.m.-midnight June 12, 1 p.m.-midnight June 13, noon-7 p.m. June 14
What to expect: The festival offers carnival rides, games, music, bingo, raffles, a garage sale, food, fun and more.
Admission: Admission free, but bring money for food, rides and games.
More info: (937) 898-3542 or www.stchristopheronline.com/festival
Haunted House this weekend only
Where: 1213 Harshman Road, Riverside, near The National Museum of the United States Air Force
When: Dusk until midnight Friday and Saturday, June 12-13
What to expect: Now this one is definitely not for the little ones. But if you have a teen who loves a good haunting, take advantage of this Halloween in June event. The Riverside Jaycees, who host a haunted house every fall, will present a Mid-Summer Nights Scream Haunted Castle of Carnage.
More info: Call (937) 254-2576 or visit www.riversidejaycees.org
Preteen self-esteem workshop
Where: Bellbrook SugarCreek Community Center, 2751 Washington Mill Road
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 14
What to expect: Local Girl Scouts have put together a workshop promoting girls to “Be Youtiful” in efforts to gain a Gold Award, the highest achievement a 15- to 17-year-old Girl Scout can earn. The workshop is designed to build self-esteem in preteen girls from sixth to eighth grade.
Admission: Registration is $5
More information: Send an email to email@example.com
Got more ideas? Share ‘em here. If you know of any upcoming events we should highlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org
One week, films about puberty; the next week, beer. Life does move fast.
My husband said to me the other day, “I think I am going to lay off the beer for a while,” and then he nodded toward our 10-year-old son in the other room. “Somebody’s showing a little too much interest in it.”
At first, I felt the need to remind my husband that he should do what he wants, since there are separate rules for kids and adults for good reason.
Besides, I thought, he is just a curious young kid, and my husband’s drinking is moderate at most.
But then I started mulling over some of the recent comments from the shorter male; the one who still smells of fourth grade. I thought about how he has mentioned a few times when we were out at restaurants that the beer “looked good” and asked questions about the various brands.
And I remembered his love and subsequent recounting to anyone who would listen of the many humorous beer commercials that heavily punctuate the innumerable sports shows he watches.
Then there was that team pizza party earlier this month, when my son and a couple of his friends thought it was really funny to keep pretending to steal the pitcher of beer on the parents’ table.
After cataloging these incidents, I agreed that maybe the situation probably could use a little addressing.
But I wasn’t sure how to go about that. And I didn’t know if my mom’s handling of similar circumstances would be as acceptable today.
When I was a kid, my mom introduced me and my siblings to wine when we were much younger than my sons are now.
She wanted us to have a more worldly view and appreciation of alcohol, and noted that kids drank wine in Europe and had less incidence of alcohol abuse.
We kids thought it was cool that we got to have wine, but also thought it tasted horrible. We much preferred grape juice or soda — anything with more sugar in it. (Come to think of it, my siblings and I still prefer drinks with more sugar in them.)
My mom also introduced us to cigarettes, but with a wholly different intention. She and my father were longtime smokers, and my mom did not want us to follow down that path. She figured she would let us try the ever-present items and stem our curiosity.
I had my first cigarette at age 6, and it was nearly my last (I’ll admit there were a couple more in college). I believe it was the only cigarette my younger brother ever had. One and done at age 5.
As for beer, I asked for a sip when I was around 12, and my stepfather gave me one. I thought it tasted even worse than the wine (although it was Natural Light, and now I wonder if that brand choice was intentional), and it effectively ended my childhood interested in beer.
But, even though I emerged from my childhood a little wiser and relatively unscathed, I don’t feel comfortable following that same course of action with my kids.
These days, a good 30 years later, it is largely frowned upon, and possibly illegal, to give my sons a cigarette or even a sip of beer.
But I do think action is in order. And, I don’t think the root of it is my husband or I changing our moderate drinking habits — in fact, that might even make the practice even more taboo and alluring.
I think the action will have to come in the form of discussion, and will include the things I learned in my childhood as well as information on the subject from this century.
Even though that might be a drier way to go than I experienced, at least it will be honest and direct.
And this way, I can be sure that none of us will get arrested.
A year ago today I was packing frantically to take my two older kids, then ages 12 and almost 10, on a two-week trip to France with a lively group of friends from Oakwood.
Passports? Check. Outlet adapters? Check. Comfortable shoes, hand sanitizer and earplugs? Check, check and check.
It was a wonderful, rich cultural experience that we all treasure. But boy, does it seem like forever ago. A few notable events from the past 12 months:
— Since we spent every last euro we had in family bank account on $9 tuna sandwiches and $6 tubs of yogurt, we learned to live very frugally indeed and slowly — very slowly — started to fill our piggy banks up again.
— My newly minted teenager surpassed me in height. This is still a shock every time he passes by.
— Dance camp, swim team, soccer, football, basketball, pillow hockey, wrestling, track and field, gymnastics and field hockey … whew!
— Hubby’s job loss and subsequent job gain. (Those full piggy banks and frugal ways helped carry us through 2 months of severely reduced income.)
And since then, we’ve helped to spearhead an effort to revive a defunct Sister City group — in hopes of getting back to our beloved France someday soon.
Looking for a chance to send your own kids to France or to host an exchange student for a few weeks? Join the Oakwood Sister City Association. Check out our Facebook page for details.
Planning a trip? For some of the lessons I learned about traveling abroad with kids, click here.
A few weeks ago, Daddy and I decided to visit my old college haunts at OSU.
Our two boys, who are already die-hard Buckeye fans, were surprisingly eager to take a walk down memory lane with Mommy. Other than going to the infamous “Horseshoe” for football games, I hadn’t been back to visit for quite some time.
We started out by going to the bookstore, which turned out to no longer be the bookstore. An employee from a businesses above the former location came out to our minivan and said, “You looking for Long’s?” Sheepishly, we said, “How did you guess?” He laughed and informed us that we weren’t the first family-toting alumni to do so.
We drove around and took in the new scenery. New to me, anyway. What happened to the rundown places that harbored all of my memories? Now replaced with fancy new buildings and posh businesses, I have to say, OSU is looking quite appealing. A fact I continue to relay to my young sons (no pressure, of course).
We finally ended up in a souvenir store. No big surprise there; after all, they carry maternity OSU gear. After traipsing through the aisles of Buckeye everything, we finally made our way to the check-out.
While waiting in line, Nick, who is 3, decided to begin pulling name-keychains off of a spinning display rack. “Mommy, is this my name?” has asked of every one he yanked down and then put back or so we thought.
A police officer patrolling the store, had been watching and talking to the boys. Typical boys — they thought this was totally cool. And, it certainly kept their sometimes rowdy behavior in check, which was fine with me. The officer was aware of Nick’s keychain activity. But, apparently not aware enough.
As we walked out onto the sidewalk, Daddy reached down to hold Nick’s hand and said, “Uhm, Darc did you pay for this?” He held up a little key chain. It didn’t say “Nicholas” on it. Uh-oh.
“But I want it!” screeched Nick as Daddy pulled him back into the store to return the key chain and apologize.
The policeman had a good laugh at himself and admitted, he had watched Nick with the key chains, but honestly thought he had put it back. Not the case.
Fortunately, Nick returned his little stolen treasure without much hassle or argument and no handcuffs.
Thank you, understanding store employees.
We don’t want to owe OSU anything more than tuition one day and maybe Nick will decide to major in criminal justice.
Have you ever arrived home with something accidentally unpaid for? Found buried in a stroller or Junior’s pocket? Tell us about it …
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When I gave birth to my daughter, I had three or four books that I consulted on a regular basis (in addition to the three I read during my pregnancy). I tracked her development, making sure she rolled over when she supposed to, that sat up when she was supposed to and that we gave her cereal and the right kinds of foods when appropriate.
My husband read one book during my pregnancy.
He cringed when I said “the book says …” and often reminded me that he would not parent by the book.
We have different parenting styles to say the least. He’s go-with-the-flow. And while I have relaxed some with the books - mainly because I’m chasing a very mobile 11-month-old - I will admit to being more regimented.
Our daughter was about 7 months old when she developed a rash all over her body. I attributed it to the yogurt we had given her. Everything I read said she could have yogurt before she was a year old but if she had a reaction, she shouldn’t have anymore or any other dairy.
So when my husband put a pile of shredded cheese on her tray while I had my back turned, I vocalized my concern. By yelling about a possible dairy allergy and how we must be more careful while quickly gathering the cheese like it was some kind of poison.
A couple weeks later her allergy tests came back negative and she was happily eating cheese. My husband likes to bring up this incident as proof of what he considers my over-reactive tendencies.
He, on the other hand, gives our daughter baby marshmallows for a snack (nevermind that she has no teeth and the sticky, gooiness could lodge in her throat). He gave her a Happy Meal. He doesn’t blink an eye when she heads straight for the open dishwasher and begins flinging utensils about the kitchen.
All this makes me cringe about as much as “The book says …” makes him.
And yet, it works for us. Without him, our family might not be as much fun. Without me, we might not be as safe (even if we are too safe). Together, we’ve managed to raise a happy, healthy little girl.
What about you? How do you and your partner mesh parenting styles?
A work friend sashayed over to my cubicle last night to show off her latest bargain-hunter’s booty:
$5 Skechers at Family Dollar! No kidding!
She was sporting a cute pair of gold Mary Janes she scored after seeing the special advertised in a newspaper circular. She actually brought home something like four more pairs of Skechers’ mock-Crocs in various colors: She has a 11-year-old daughter to shop for too, you know.
A quick Internet check confirmed the news: A QponCutie mom says these great go-to summer shoes are currently selling at Skechers.com for $15 to $20. Click here to read her product review.
I haven’t tromped over to Family Dollar yet, but I plan to beat feet before the deal expires on Sunday, July 7.
Who can resist those prices?
Last week, my son attended a school program that he told me was “gross” and “disgusting.”
What was the topic?
It seems, from talking to other moms, that my son was among many fourth-graders in the Miami Valley this spring to be introduced (or at least reminded) of the many wonderful things that their bodies have in store for them.
Looking back, I thought I had my initial, school-sanctioned embarrassment in fifth or sixth grade, but I e-mailed my best friend from elementary school and she said it was, in fact, in fourth grade.
She also reminded me that we got in trouble for making the boys look up the word “menstruation.”
Maybe I blocked out that year.
But I do recall at least one thing from the discussion — they taught us about feminine products that had belts. And, no, I am not that old.
I hope that my son’s talk was at least up-to-date, but then again, what would have changed for boys?
At any rate, I was a little surprised by my son’s distasteful reaction to his health talk, since the information shouldn’t have been completely foreign to him.
Not only do his dad and I talk to him about related issues, but late last year I bought him and his little brother a copy of “What’s Happening to Me?” — that cute little cartoon-filled book that talks about human development in appropriate, yet kid-friendly, terms.
However, now that I think of it, I do recall the 8-year-old asking far more questions about the topic than his 10-year-old brother.
So I figure either the older one didn’t look at that book at all, or was just shocked at having to endure the intensely personal information, as we all did, while sitting next to his friends.
That is, his friends who are boys. I can’t imagine the embarrassment that would have ensued if there were girls in the room.
Of course, the girls had their own distinct film to watch. And, according to a friend of mine who has a fourth-grade daughter at the school, it seems to have produced similar results.
The girl also told her mom that she didn’t think the boys even had to watch a movie, making it easier to see how the confusion between the sexes starts early.
Like the boys, the girls got a “goodie bag” to take home from their movie. Each of them included booklets that must have synopsized their respective films (possibly for those who had their eyes and ears covered for the duration).
The boys also got a little sample-sized Old Spice deodorant, and the girls got some deodorant and feminine products (thankfully, without belts).
Of note, however, is that the girls’ set of products was called “Your happy package.” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more clear-cut case of false advertisement.
Since the film, my son has used his deodorant several times but has not gone near his booklet.
I, however, have read it cover to cover.
Because, even though I am still getting used to my 10-year-old smelling like Old Spice, I guess I have to get ready for the many changes that lie ahead — just like he does.
“Next year,” he said morosely, “we have to see a movie with the girls.”
I can’t wait to hear his thoughts after that one.
Our family made a recent trip to Fort Liberty Playland in Liberty Twp.
We live north of Dayton, so this was a perfect play date spot with my sister and her family, who live in Cincinnati.
As you could probably guess with the name, the park is set up like a fort and has a very maze-like feel. Plenty of opportunities for climbing; there’s an open green space perfect for kite flying. My children’s favorites were the sandpit, slides, monkey bars, tire swing and the swings.
And, as you can see, the swings are perfect for little ones … and even the young at heart.
Yup, there’s a swing big enough to comfortably hold an adult. I used it to hold my toddler on my lap; Daddy used it for, well, Daddy.
What’s your favorite local park? Tell us about it.
Summer time has arrived — albeit unofficially, as the actual first day is June 21.
Nonetheless, the kiddies are embarking upon a near three months of fun, freedom and yes, sometimes even boredom (gasp!).
So how do we fill those rainy or excruciatingly hot, humid days that limit outside play time? How about popping open a good book.
Moms and dads … that goes for us, too. There is nothing quite like a good book and a cool glass of lemonade on the shady front porch (or poolside, of course).
While school may be far from the minds of our little ones, keeping them actively involved in using their imagination and enjoying some quiet time is just as important.
A bookworm myself, I was thrilled when my sons found the public library to be a treasure trove, as well. In fact, last summer they were asking me weekly to take them there.
The Clark County Public Library, along with many public libraries, is again offering a summer reading program. The best part? It’s free. The program includes reading, art and music activities, films and an art contest that will be judged by the public.
This year’s national summer reading program theme for libraries — designed by the News-Sun’s former artist Dave Catrow — is “Be Creative at Your Library.”
“The kids get rewarded. They get credit and incentives, anything we can do to get them excited about reading,” said Allison Peck, public relations manager of the CCPL.
Peck said the summer reading program is also open to teens and adults. The goal is for each person to read at least 25 books in June and July.
Last year, 1,860 people participated in the summer reading program at the CCPL. Children read the most books with a systemwide total of 28,640. Adults and teens combined read 12,345 books — an increase of 20 percent over 2007.
Successful participants are eligible for prizes provided by Friends of the Library. The New Carlisle summer reading program also runs in June and July with incentives for participants. “(Participants) can read or be read to,” said librarian Maggie Boller of the New Carlisle public library summer reading program which also runs in June and July.
She refers to a 1978 Heyns study which showed the number of books read during the summer is consistently related to academic gains.
I got a call at work the other day from the husband. He works nights two days a week so he can be home with our daughter during the day.
He called to tell me proudly that he just gave our daughter a Happy Meal. Our 10-month-old daughter who doesn’t have teeth and has never had red meat in her life.
We have different opinions on what is appropriate to give our daughter to eat. When she first starting eating solids, I insisted on making all of my own baby food, steaming and pureeing anything I could get my hands on. Peas, green beans, blueberries, pears, apples, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini. You name it, I did it. Organic and homemade.
Then one weekend while we were out of town visiting family I realized we left her food behind and had to run to the store to get jars of food. I still insisted that we do organic. It turned out that she liked the jarred stuff better so we continued giving that to her and I abandoned making baby food.
Since then, we’ve moved on to table food in little bits. She loves cheese, black beans and bread, will eat small pieces of turkey and chicken and tolerates yogurt. Occasionally we can sneak in a fruit or veggie jar of baby food.
So when the husband said he gave her a Happy Meal, I was less than happy.
He said he got a side of apples and not fries. OK, that’s slightly better. And he took off most of the meat and just gave her the bun and cheese. But still, a Happy Meal isn’t really the height of nutrition.
So what do you think? Am I being too sensitive or is my daughter a little too young for a Happy Meal?