Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teaching Your Children To Write

Cookie's is four, almost five, and she has been able to write her name fairly legibly for at least a year. We started very young making sure she could recognize her colors and objects. By age 2 she was singing the A-B-Cs all by herself. She surprised me one day while laying on the kitchen floor she broke into song and didn't miss a letter. She loved to color and draw so I decided it was time to put those skills to use in writing.

We started very simply with her name. I started out by helping her hold the pencil or crayon and writing the letters with her. Then I would write it for her and she would try copying it herself. There were times she would write it completely mirror image which was amazing and strange. It took some time, but finally she was able to write her name in all caps. Then DH and I started having her copy the alphabet. She was able to recognize the written letters in all caps, but she had a hard time with recognizing the lowercase counterpart. She's gotten better, but I know she'll need more familiarity with this before she goes to school.

I searched online for a "handwriting practice sheet for toddlers" and I came upon a wonderful site. It is Handwriting for Kids. I wish I would have found this sooner, at least now I have it for Bonbon too. They have tools and worksheets for teaching children and adults basic writing skills. Their worksheets are divided into instruction for righthanded and lefthanded. They also have blank worksheet practice pages much like the super wide ruled notepads we had in kindergarten and first grade. There are so many different options. For the righthanded manuscript alphabet pages alone there are over 1000 basic worksheets from which to choose. You can choose worksheets with images or without and some with a words to practice. It is very nice to be able to choose worksheets based on your child's ability and rate of recognition. All of this is provided free and on a voluntary donation basis only. How cool is that!?!

Cookie is very independant; rather stubborn. She has trouble following directions sometimes. I notice that even visual cues are sometimes not enough for her to understand what it is she needs to do on a worksheet. I have to sit down with her and figure out what she understands about the instructions and what she doesn't get. Then she seems to be able to complete the task a little better after it's explained more clearly. She'll be reading soon so I don't think this will be an issue much longer. I'll be on the lookout for a pre-school reading primer. We have been doing OK with reading to her and having her recognize words and figuring out how to pronounce words based on spelling, but I think we need some better direction to speed her progress. My mom was really good about making up games that helped me learn to read by age 3, but I find I'm not as creative as she is. (Another post for another day. . . )

So if your little one can hold a pencil and likes to draw and write why not print out some of these work pages and help them accomplish a few. This will give them confidence and burgeon their interest in reading and writing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Are We Teaching Our Kids to Never Give Up?

"Against all odds."

"The night looks darkest before the dawn."

"Never give up, never back down."

These are all common phrases that we may have either heard or used at some point in our lives.  We may even use them with our children.  Whether it be learning to tie their shoes, ride their bike, read a new word, do their homework, learn a new sport or even clean their room we need to be their cheerleader - encouraging them to continue no matter how difficult.  Are our actions supporting those words?

Several weeks ago while watching CNN Headline News with Robin Meade a story about a high school football team came on.  The team had done well with two wins when they realized that the next opposing team was composed of kids who were considered much better players.  Their parents instead of encouraging them to do their best whatever the outcome forced the coach to forfeit the game for fear their children would be humiliated.  Not every situation in life is "our size"; not everything is easy.  We are going to fall on our faces, make mistakes and get hurt and our mommies and daddies aren't going to be there to pick us up, dust us off or bail us out.  What have these children learned?  The lesson these parent's are conveying is that it's OK to cop out and give up if the task seems insurmountable.

  • WHDH-TV - RI football team forfeits game, opponent 'too good'

    Oct 5, 2010 ... RI football team forfeits game, opponent 'too good' ... will not get to play this Friday night because their opponents say they're too good. ...

    It is true that there is a possibility of injury, but if that is a problem then why are you allowing your kids to play such a dangerous sport.  Another post for another day, and I digress. . . 

    I come from a school where my graduating class was only 47.  The guys in my class were not huge and frankly, none of the guys from the previous four years were that big either. They always did well in basketball though.  We did not have a football program so basketball was the sport of choice.  At least once if not twice that I can remember while I was in school the Varsity basketball team made it to the State finals and played hard against, much taller, faster, higher jumping guys.  Were they humiliated when they lost - NO!  They came back speaking positively about the experience.  They came back with an immense amount of self respect for not walking away when the task seemed too big.

    As parents we need to remember that stepping in every time to "handle" our childrens' difficult situations teaches them nothing and leaves them handicapped to deal with the world outside of our loving arms.  Actually, I really can't call doing that loving because love entails also teaching them how to survive in a world that will eventually not include us.  There are no bosses, coworkers or even spouses who will be "kind" and let our kids give up without there being serious consequences.  Giving up on a sports game now may seem ok, but the message it sends is detrimental.
  • Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    How Much Sugar Do You Let Your Kids Eat?

    As I sit here eating a cookie I'm reflecting on the events of this weekend.  We there was a Candyland themed little girl slumber party at a friend's house.  I'm not really keen on sleepovers and my girls are pretty little so I was thrilled when CookieCookie asked me to come along.  BonBon would never have stayed the night if I hadn't also been there.  It worked out well because I could keep an eye on BonBon and CookieCookie and help out our gracious host.

    As soon as we arrived, at about 6 PM on Friday, they broke out the cupcakes.  Loaded with frosting and sprinkles the girls eagerly dug in.  I was a little ashamed that I hadn't yet fed my babies real food, but I didn't want to ruin their fun.  We did get pizza later, but there was not a vegetable or piece of fruit in sight.  The rest of the evening was cookies, chips, popcorn and more cupcakes until 1 a.m.   I thought I might be sick.  Actually, the next two days were kind of rough because my gut is not used to that much refined flour and pure unadulterated sugar on no sleep.

    I was really concerned about BonBon and CookieCookie.  Cookie seemed to do alright, but Saturday morning BonBon was a bear.  No one could hold her but me.  I couldn't go to the bathroom or load anything in the car without her having a total melt down.  Breakfast was freezer pancakes with syrup which we took charge of doling out.  If I had known I would have brought bacon and eggs to give the girls a little bit of protein. Then we had more chips, popcorn, cookies and cupcakes because we were hungry and that is what we were offered.  The whole time I did not complain or deny my girls anything.  Really, how often do they indulge - NEVER.  Well, almost never :).

    As soon as we got home Saturday afternoon we got out some salad and grilled chicken with bleu cheese for lunch.  Cookie and I split it very happily.  It was kind of funny, on the way home she said, "As soon as we get home we need to load up on fruits and veggies cuz we didn't get any last night or this morning."  Bonbon didn't say a word because we were barely a mile down the road and she was already asleep.  She slept for the next 5 hours.

    The experience left me even less thrilled about the concept of a girl party or slumber party at someone else's house.  The last girl party there was they had fruits and veggies as snacks which was great.  The host even baked some little pigs in a blanket in addition to the cake, cookies and punch.  That was nice, because it wasn't sugar overkill.  It did make me reflect on how much sugar I feed my kids on average.

    I do worry about giving them too much because there is an inherited disposition for diabetes on one side of the family and an adrenal condition that makes eating sugar impossible from the other side of the family.  I tread a very fine line.  Neither of them have shown any signs or symptoms in either direction, but I don't want to push them to the brink.  I try really hard to keep their diet balanced with lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  It makes me proud and happy to hear them requesting things like carrots, avocados, apples and strawberries, saying yum to lemongrass, mint, parsley, oregano and stevia and craving beef or shrimp or turning down cake, cookies, ice cream and candy.

    I want them to grow up with a more balanced view of eating sweets than I did.  As much as my mother tried to keep me eating healthy, my father turned me into his junk food buddy.  My sweet tooth turned into a monster that tormented me through my teen years and still makes it difficult to lose weight and practice self control.  Now I have to keep sweets out of the house for fear that I will eat them all.  Having children really is a practice in self control because you have to exhibit the behavior you want them to learn.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    2010 Graco Stroller Recalls

    Back in 2008 I wanted to get a Graco Quattro Tour Duo Stroller for my baby and my toddler girls. I looked all over Craigslist and local listings to find one that was clean, in good condition and the right price. Unfortunately with medical expenses we never had enough to purchase the then $250 system new and no one had a reduced enough price to justify purchasing the stroller system. So, BonBon would have to use the old Graco stroller that was damaged in the car crash. It wasn't broken in a way that would injure her so we figured it would be OK. CookieCookie would just have to walk.

    It seems now that it was a good thing that we were unable to acquire a used stroller. Graco recently announced that any of the Graco Quattro Tour made between November 2006 and July 2007 are subject to a recall because of safety issues.

    The problem as noted on Graco's corporate website is as follows:
    Potential Problem:
    Entrapment and strangulation can occur, especially to infants younger than 12 months of age, when a child is not harnessed. An infant can pass through the opening between the stroller tray and seat bottom, but his/her head and neck can become entrapped by the tray.  Infants who become entrapped at the neck are at risk of strangulation.
    Lesson to anyone who does not strap their children in a stroller - STRAP THEM IN.  They recommend that the strollers stop being used immediately and Graco be contacted for a repair kit.

    For more information on the recall and what specific models are involved please visit :

    Keep your little ones safe.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Update: More Breast Cancer Awareness & Donation Sites

    DH, the kiddies and I all like eating yogurt.  Our favorites are the Yoplait cups and the Dannon tubs (I use the plain for cooking and the vanilla for smoothies).  I discovered that there are websites printed on the lids for other breast cancer awareness sites. Also, while looking throught the Sunday paper I found the Proctor and Gamble site.  I actually visited their corporate website last week and could find no mention of it.  Oh, well.  We have it now.

    Yoplait -
    Dannon -
    Proctor & Gamble -

    The Dannon Cups of Hope site also offers a place to fill in the code from the underside of the Dannon container lid.  For every code they donate $.10 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.  I don't understand why Yoplait doesn't do something similar.  They want us to collect and send back every lid.  Needless to say this drives DH CRAZY.  He hates saving little things like that.  Sending in the lids is OK if you don't ahve access to enter the codes, but a code would be nice so you could dispose of the lid ASAP instead of keeping it around til you have enough to send.  How many people would likely forget to mail them by the due date?

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Similac Product Recall Notice Rec'd in Mail This Weekend

    Saturday when I opened the mailbox I found a small bubble envelope with the words "Time Sensitive Material" stamped on the outside. The return address did not indicate from whom it came. It was addressed to me, but I didn't remember buying anything or requesting any samples.

    Eagerly, I ripped open the envelope and found inside a single piece of 8.5"x11" paper printed on both sides.  I thought, "What a waste! All that packaging and postage for one little letter!"  Then I read the contents of the letter.  It was then that I realized why they wanted to get my attention in such a way.

    The contents were written by Abbot Labs Senior Vice President, U.S. Nutrition, J. Schott White, the manufacturers of Similac formulas. As you may have seen on the news they have initiated a "proactive, voluntary recall of certain Similac(R)-brand powder, infant formulas." They are recalling the formula because beetle parts were found in the mix. They claim no immediate health danger is anticipated, but that the beetle parts could irritate the baby's GI tract.

    Cookie Cookie and Bonboncito are both weaned and actually never (well, rarely ever) consumed formula. As this does not apply to me I almost threw the notice in the trash. BUT I know there are a lot of women out there who do feed their babies formula so I thought it best to share this important information before discarding the letter.

    For more information about the recall or to verify if you have any of the powder from the lots included in the recall please visit or call 1-888-376-2054 or 1-800-986-8850. They warned and apologized that because of the recall there may be high traffic and high call volume delaying your ability to get the needed information.

    Products NOT involved in the recall:
    • ALL Abbott Nutrition liquid ready-to-feed and concentrated infant formulas
    • ALL Powder specialty formulas-
      • Similac Expert Care Alimentum
      • EleCare
      • Similac Expert Care NeoSure
      • Similac Human Milk Fortifier
      • Metabolic formulas for inherited disorders
    The eight character lot numbers are located on the bottom of the powdered formula packages.

    As always, if you have any health concerns about your baby please contact your baby's physician.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Blog Hop

    Join our blog hop and then hop over to Born 2 Impress and join theirs too (their link is on our blog hop page)! Our started on Wednesday and ends tonight so get your linky love today!

    Is It In the Genes?

    Is it in the Genes?

    Yesterday evening while DH and I were watching Rehab Addict on DIY network I asked him a question.  "What in their upbringing led these two siblings and their cousin to have such an affinity for remodeling and building?"  The rehab addict had recruited her brother and cousin to go to Minneapolis from Detroit to help finish a remodel/rehabilitation of an older home that was taking longer than expected.  When they arrived they, the brother and cousin, noticed that there was a lot of work that had to be redone because the initial contractors had botched the job.  As you watched and listened you could tell they were very particular about their work and that it would get done right the first time.  That was what made me curious.  Why are they both, or all three, given to such types of work?

    DH answered, "Maybe it's something inherited."  He comes from a long line of carpenters, contractors and entrepreneurs of which he has done all of the above.  When it comes to building and remodeling he is very good at it.  The funny thing is it was on his mother's side that the construction experience lie.  His father was a telephone technician for Sprint and never did too much construction.  His father dabbled in plumbing and electrical work around the house.  DH's exposure to construction and contracting did not come in to play until he was a teenager.  This is when he discovered he had an affinity for it.

    Also, yesterday I received an email message from DH about an 8 year old art prodigy that has sold $250,000 worth of art.  I was expecting mostly abstract art with little true form.  When I read the article and looked at the paintings in the slideshow I was simply amazed.  Some pieces were abstract, but most were very thoughtful and imaginative.  Beautiful.  Near the end of the article it mentioned that there have been at least three of her ancestors in the past 100 years that have been influential artists.  Her mother claims it is a matter of simply exposure.  I believe exposure to the media (art, music, numbers, etc.) is necessary, but if there is no natural affinity would the same results occur?

    These are just my "pensamientos matutinos".  I haven't had a chance to research on the subject, but when I do I'll be sure to share my findings with you.  What do you think about this?  Have your children exhibited natural ability that you can attribute to something they may have inherited?

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Black & White & Pink All Over - New Blog Design

    Thanks to the wonderful designers at The Cutest Blog on the Block this blog is sporting a new blog design in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness for the rest of October.  DH and I have been noticing pink everywhere.  In magazines, on our Cascade dishwashing detergent, on our Yoplait Yogurt and our MultiGrain Cheerios there were Pink Ribbons.  DH doesn't pay much attention to that kind of stuff, but when he noticed that the detergent in the little Cascade ampules was pink it made him perk up.  He said, "Why is that pink?  Is the stuff different?"  To which I replied, "Only for Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Look at the package."  So, just in case you haven't noticed all the pink around you in the stores, in the mail and online here is one more reminder to remember your friends, family and even strangers who have suffered with this disease and to those lucky ones who have survived to tell their tale. 

    Maybe I haven't been paying attention to other places, but the "pink together" logo and ribbons on packages I've recently purchased really made me take notice.  I didn't realize that they had a website or that it was more than a logo!  Well, their marketing is working.  Visit Pink Together for more information on sponsors and how we can help.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Ecstatic Joy Turns to Overwhelming Sorrow

    Almost a year ago now, I curiously searched the pages of Facebook to see if any of my old classmates from high school had accounts. To my delight I was able to find my old friend Kelly and sent a friend request. Happily I received a response and we started to correspond. In reading her account and blog I sadly discovered that she had become a mother for the first time around the time I had my second, BonBon, but that her little one passed only 7 days after being born. He sustained a brain injury that soon took his life. My heart went and still goes out to her.

    This morning again while perusing the list of blogs on I found the story of a woman who lost her first born child while breastfeeding. The leader seemed horrifying to me and I wanted to know more. Her baby had a congenital heart disease which took her life after only five days. I read her story. Kristine, the mom, warned that the story of little Cora's last night alive would be difficult to read, especially for mommies and daddies. Oh how true that was. My face soaked in tears as I read of the events of Cora's last night. I can only imagine the pain and guilt Kristine felt and must still feel less than a year after losing her bundle of joy.

    So to Kristine and Kelly - As a fellow mother my love, sympathy and prayers go out to you. Imagining what you have gone through is enough to bring a parent to their knees. The wounds are still fresh and it will take time to heal.  The pieces of your child's memory will continue to work to the surface to make you smile and cry at the same time. 

    To my friend Kelly. . .  I look at BonBon as she walks and runs, singing and jabbering away and I think of you.  I wish you could meet her; maybe she can help bring life to the memory of the little one who should be playing with her.  At the same time I feel very guilty that I get to enjoy my children.  It has been a while since you've responded to any of my messages and I wonder if I have offended you in some way.  If I did I am very sorry.  If I said something insensitive I did without realizing it.  I am sorry.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Press Release: News BRITAX Announces New Lightweight B-NIMBLE Umbrella-fold Stroller

    Charlotte, N.C., May 24, 2010 — Britax — trusted child safety seat and stroller manufacturer — introduces a new compact-fold umbrella stroller, the B-NIMBLE. The stroller weighs less than 13 pounds and includes a canopy, rain cover and cup holder. B-NIMBLE accommodates newborns and children up to 55 pounds and is easy to both maneuver and fold.

    The B-NIMBLE is compatible with the Britax Chaperone Infant Car Seat using the Britax Click & Go Infant Car Seat Adapters and can also be used with other infant car seat brands. To accommodate infants and children, the stroller is equipped with an easy-to-use five-point harness that offers three heights for a snug fit.
    The B-NIMBLE is designed to address parents’ mobility needs. The unique rear wheel auto-lock fold release mechanism allows a caregiver to fold the stroller and immediately rest it against a car or wall, without it rolling back down. The one-foot anti-scuff linked rear break locks the rear wheels with a single step. Parents can throw the B-NIMBLE over a shoulder while keeping both hands free using its portable carry strap, perfect for the airport.

    Wheels with improved rolling resistance make the B-NIMBLE easy to maneuver. It’s equipped with a large canopy to protect child from harmful UV rays and a rain cover to protect child from wind and rain. Because a parent brings more than their child on the average outing, the B-NIMBLE offers ample storage, with a Velcro pouch for keys, a wallet or a phone, as well as a cup holder.

    “Parents require light weight, durability, convenience and style in a stroller,” said Jon McGuire, Britax product manager. “The B-NIMBLE incorporates all of those qualities while providing safe mobility for newborns and toddlers.”
    The B-NIMBLE comes in four fashions that match the fashions of the 2010 Chaperone Infant Car Seats (sold separately) and includes a removable, reversible insert pad for easy cleaning and more fashion options. It also comes with the Britax Click & Go Infant Car Seat Adapters and Receivers that attach to the frame, a liner, a rain cover and a cup holder (the included accessories add over $100 in value). Additional accessories include a mosquito net, second adult cup holder and foot muff/boot cover.

    The B-NIMBLE will be available at retailers this fall. The suggested retail price is $199.99.

    For a chance to win another wonderful Britax product please visit my fellow blogger Thrifty & Chic Mom and enter her giveaway for a Britax Marathon 70.  It ends on October 31, 2010 at midnight so hurry and enter. 

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Huggies Campaign to Help Mothers Diaper Their Babies

    Today I received in the mail a flyer from Sam's Club announcing a program sponsored by the Huggies Brand to help provide diapers for struggling families.  In the flyer it mentioned that one in three moms struggles to provide diapers for their baby.  The reality is that many of these moms can only afford to use one diaper a day.  How awful would that be for a poor defenseless infant to have to sit in its own wet, soiled diaper all day.  Cloth diapers may be a solution, but if both mom and dad work and baby has to go to day care, what's a parent to do?  Should a parent have to choose between food and diapers?  Or diapers and going to work to provide for the family?  There is a way for us to help prevent this from occurring.

    From October 1 to December 31, 2010, the Huggies Brand will donate one diaper to a diaper bank for every specially marked package of Huggies Diapers or Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes that are bought at Sam's Club.  These diaper banks provide diapers to needy families, maybe even in your own community.

    Another way that you can personally help is to donate any unopened packs of diapers during the month of October 2010.  There will be diaper donation bins at Sam's Club locations October 1-31, 2010.  These don't have to be Huggies Brand - they can be any brand, any size.  Huggies Brand will then distribute them to families in need.

    Make sure to join Huggies on Facebook also.  They will be donating one diaper for every new Facebook friend up to 500,000 through December 31, 2010.  I've joined the cause; now it's your turn.

    I wonder if they will accept unopened sleeves of diapers?  The club pack boxes come with four sleeves of 44 diapers for the size 4.  Bon Bon will be transitioning to Pull Ups soon and may have an extra sleeve of diapers before the month is out.  Do you know of any diaper banks in your area?  If so, please, list their location and telephone number in a comment on this post.

    For more information on the Every Little Bottom campaign, click here.


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