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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Am I Beautiful, Mom?

My four year old has discovered the bathroom mirror.

This morning, as I was brushing my own hair, Kira decided that she needed to see in the mirror and brush her own hair. After a moment, she looked at me across the mirror and asked, "Am I beautiful, Mommy?"


I looked at her and told her that of course she was beautiful - which she is. Then I told her that she was also very smart and very kind and gentle. I made it a point to focus on her other positive traits at this moment when she decided that beauty must surely matter.

I think it is incredibly important that children learn early that outward physical beauty is not the most important attribute that a person can have. Beauty has so many different incarnations, and children should understand that other positive attributes are greatly valued.

In this new phase of discovering beauty, Kira has also discovered fashion. There are now clothes that she refuses to wear because they are ugly. She has developed her very own personal taste in clothing. Lucky for me, she seems to have good taste - for now.

**It should be noted that Kira is only 4 yrs old and is nowhere near her teenage years. In a few years I will be reminding myself of my own good wisdom by reviewing these pages frequently and thoroughly.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Joy of Teenagers

Today at church I was told that teenagers were the most difficult part of parenting. I think her exact words were that teenagers were meant to be evil to help parents in the process of pushing them out of the nest.

This amazes me on so many levels. I tend to feel that the teenage years can be the absolute best years of parenting. When your children reach the teen years, they are growing more mature and more capable of understanding very complex information. This time in their lives is so crucial to determining what path they may follow in their adult lives. As parents, it's important to treasure the teen years and use these years wisely in order to provide your kids with the best possible foundation for adulthood.

The key to successful parenting of teens is remembering. Remember your own years as a teenager and how awkward life was. Remember how big each obstacle was to your own mind then. Remember how you felt when you interacted with your parents, what it was your parents did that annoyed you and what pleased you. Try to reconnect with your own inner teenager in order to connect with your teenage child. Recalling how your life was will help you realize what your child is going through, and that this stage is very normal. You'll also be able to anticipate what your child needs and more readily provide the appropriate responses.

Cherish the teenager instead of dreading these years. Attitude is very important, and a negative attitude towards this part of parenting will certainly insure a negative experience.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Need computer help?

I have a friend over at JPB Consulting.

JPB Consulting is a technology consulting firm with a focus on small to medium sized businesses. They do pretty much anything computer related. So if you need help with your website, and you want personal service, check them out.

P.S. --- If you do happen to visit, let them know I sent you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

OH MY!!!

I have 26 followers.

When did this happen?

HOW did this happen?

I'm just so shocked and amazed that so many people find my words to be worthy of their time.

You guys just don't know how much this means to me to see that list and watch it grow and grow and grow.

Thank you all so much!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Toddlers Don't Do What They're Told

Somebody did a study to find out why toddlers don't do what we tell them to do.

Here's a link to the article.

I found this to be quite interesting.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


We went to the Touch-a-Truck event in Kennesaw yesterday. I just wanted to share some pictures.

The Purple Box

I'm going to sidetrack from discipline for a moment to discuss something else that is just as important.

**Note to the Grandma** --- You might not want to read this one!!! Consider yourself fairly warned.

Most of you know that I have a 14 year old son. We talk often about the realities of growing up and the responsibilities that come with age. This weekend was my chosen time to approach a sensitive topic that I knew we needed to discuss.

Now, when I talk to my son about issues that I know we will both find to be embarrassing or difficult to cover, I generally talk while I'm driving. I don't have to look at him. He doesn't have to look at me. And yet we can talk and talk and talk - or he can listen and listen and listen.

When I picked him up on Friday I told him that I had something to say and he didn't have to respond, just listen. His response, of course, was "one of those" things, huh Mom?

YEP! One of THOSE things.

So I told him that I was taking into consideration his age and the knowledge that I have of the kinds of things that teenagers often do. I then told him that while I don't want him to be having sex, I know there will come a time when he will be interested in such activities. I also realize that buying condoms can be incredibly embarrassing for young adults. Heck - I'm 35 and still feel a bit uncomfortable with the thought of waltzing into a store to buy condoms.

Now I know there are those of you who will say, "If you can't talk about it or buy the supplies, then you ought not be doing it." It isn't that I disagree with that statement, but I'm also very realistic in my thinking.

So here is my solution to this problem. I don't recall where I read this, but it was in a book or magazine somewhere. I will be buying a box in the near future and filling it with condoms. There will be enough condoms that I could not easily tell if he has taken any out of the box. I told him that he was free to take them for himself or any friends that may need them, and that I would not be keeping tabs on how many were there or how many were gone.

My son - being accustomed to conversations such as this - played along. He insisted that the box must be purple and not see through. It should be placed with all the other household supplies, but not in an obvious location so that he would have to look at said box or move it whenever he wanted to get a bar of soap or toothpaste.

The household supplies, by the way, reside in the closet in my son's bedroom because the closet there is very large and he folds his clothes so he does not need that space.

After we settled on the style of the container, he decided it was time to change the subject to anything other than condoms. But I felt like the discussion had been a success and walked away with the knowledge that he was still comfortable talking to me about such matters as this.

Now I have to go shopping... but not today. Maybe next week. He assures me there is no rush.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Discipline, Part 3

I've already discussed time outs and redirection as useful methods of discipline. However, when time out and redirection fail, parents often wonder what to do next. Personally, I think the next step in effective discipline has to be the removal of privileges. The privileges that are lost should be determined by the age of the child, as well as the seriousness of the offense. These consequences should also be made known to the child well before the privilege is revoked. Again, communication is key. Let your child know what will happen if certain behaviors occur or continue.

In our house, the biggest issue we have is toys. My children have way too many toys and far too little patience for returning said toys to even the remote closeness of where those toys belong. The progress in training them to put their things away has been incredibly and frustratingly slow. The solution has two separate phases. First, I'm slowly reducing the amount of toys they have by weeding out those things that have been outgrown or broken. Second, I watch to see what they play with most and if something isn't played with it magically disappears. The girls know they are suppose to clean their toys out of the living space at the end of each day. If they don't, their toys may disappear. Their father comes in at night and gets a trash bag ready to deposit any of those wayward toys so they are no longer in our way. It's amazing how quickly this motivates my girls to get their toys picked up. Of course, we would never actually discard their favorite toys without a great deal of warning and discussion. It has been known to happen in my house, though, when I was ultimately fed up.

An example of my ultimate limit: When Gibson was 6 he had a box of Legos. These were not the big, chunky Legos. They were little and hurt when I stepped on them. After months - yes MONTHS - of telling him to pick up those irritating little pieces, I was fed up. Mind you, I had utilized brief periods of removing them from play by placing the box out of reach and discussing the reason why he wasn't allowed to play with them. So there came a day when I threw the entire box of Legos out.

My husband (then boyfriend) said to me, "What is this? We just throw away the toys we don't like even if the kids still play with the."

Suffice it to say that he now understands exactly WHY that box of Legos found its way into the trash can.

As children get older, their privileges change and the use of this method evolves. Millions of kids dread the words "You're grounded!"

The key to using this technique in an effective manner is to choose your battles and make sure the punishment fits the crime.

Communicate your expectations and your child's consequences in advance so that there are no surprises.

Be realistic in your expectations.

Be kind, even when exacting punishment.

Be consistent.

And finally, discuss the offense and the reason for the punishment completely and thoroughly with your child. See if you can both come up with a way to avoid future infractions and help your child make better choices. Remember that your child is still learning how to behave properly and still needs a great deal of direction from you. Misbehavior is always a new opportunity to help your child grow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Google Adsense Requirements

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Just so you know...

I'm having a difficult time writing just now. I haven't forgotten my discipline series, it just isn't coming easy to me for various reasons. I'll work it out in a day or two and you'll soon be enjoying more of everything I have to say.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What a Glorious Day

The most amazing thing just happened. I was walking through the house and suddenly I was passed by a speeding bullet. Well, not really a bullet.

Kira was running through the house - running away from Marisa.

Kira was RUNNING! How cool is that?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Discipline, Part 2

As I stated before, I will be writing a full series of discipline posts. I want to continue that topic with one of the best forms of discipline that a parent can use: Redirection

Parents have a very powerful tool at their disposal when it comes to discipline. Learning how to redirect a child's behavior before it becomes inappropriate or unruly is absolutely the best thing that a parent can do, especially with very young children. Part of this method, of course, is to anticipate those things that your child might be considering.

For example, I know that Marisa loves to draw. She will draw on anything at anytime with whatever tool she has in her hands. She's been caught drawing on the walls, the carpets, and even herself. (It was a very bad tattoo job with a Sharpie marker. NOT PRETTY!) I know if she has crayons or a pen that I really need to be aware of where she is at all times or my walls will be in danger. I keep the crayons and pens and pencils and markers and anything else that might conceivably be used for the purpose of drawing well out of reach of Risa hands unless there is paper to be used and my full attention to provide the appropriate level of protection for the walls and other household areas. When she gets up to wander away with a crayon in her hand, I redirect her to the paper or insist that she give me her weapon before she goes to play.

This same technique can be used for most any issue that a parent may encounter with their child. When you see that your child is about to do something that you don't want them to do, gently guide them to a different, more acceptable activity.

Redirecting the child's attention is often much more affective and much more appealing than punishing a child for misbehaving. If you can prevent the inappropriate behavior by directing your child towards something different, then that is certainly the best option for everybody. It also teaches your child to recognize those activities that you find acceptable. It allows you to say "yes" instead of "no," which is always preferable to both you and your child.

In essence, redirecting is more of a preventive measurement, but is still very useful and very important when dealing with children.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Discipline, Part 1

I have to admit that I've been a little reluctant to tackle the topic of discipline. This is, by far, one of the most delicate topics in the parenting world. People tend to be very defensive about their choices regarding discipline for their children. And yet I keep coming back to this in my mind over and over again. How can I address parenting issues and ignore what I view to be THE biggest issue of all?

Part 1 of this series will focus on the very popular method of discipline: Time Out

What does that mean, really, to take a Time Out? In sports, time outs are used to regroup and discuss what strategy needs to be used going forward. Coaches use a time out to stop the current action and regain focus and clarity as to what the team members need to be doing, especially if what they were doing was incorrect.

So in the world of children, how does Time Out relate? I've read a lot that says time outs should be used as a way of redirecting your child's behavior. When they are misbehaving, you're supposed put them in time out to give them a chance to consider their behavior and why it was wrong. I've also read others who say that time out is supposed to be used to remove a child from the activity when their behavior isn't appropriate, not so much to allow them to consider the behavior but to prevent them from being allowed to participate in the fun that others may be having.

Well, in my own mind, neither of these seems quite right. It seems to me that there needs to be a great deal of parental involvement in the process of invoking a time out. Sitting a child in the corner and leaving her there for a number of minutes to consider her wrong doings is incredibly insufficient.

A young child does not yet have the ability to rationalize her behaviors and why she acts the way she does. It's easy to explain to a 4 or 5 year old child that hitting is bad, but how can that child be expected to comprehend all the reasons behind why she chose to hit her sister in the first place? Sitting her down by herself for 5 minutes of time out to allow her the chance to consider the reasons why she did something and why she should not have done something just seems kind of pointless if the child does not have the maturity to fully understand her own emotions.

At the age of 2 or 3, time outs are fairly useless because a child that age may not even recall why they are in trouble, and they certainly can not be expected to contemplate the value of doing something right in favor of doing something wrong. Children of that age are just too wrapped up in their own needs and desires to think beyond to the consequences of their behavior.

Now, some of those reading this may be wondering if Mom has lost her marbles considering that Time Out is currently the most advocated form of discipline. Rest assured that my marbles are not lost. In fact, I don't think I have ever even owned any marbles, so how could I possibly lose them? But for those who are wondering, I want to assure you that the concept of Time Out does have its place in the realm of discipline. I just feel that it needs to be considered more carefully and used a bit more sparingly in order to reach the full potential of its usefulness.

"Well then, Mom, how should Time Out work if it is to be useful?" you say.

Guess what. I'm going to tell you.

First, a time out for anybody under the age of 3 should be enforced in the loving arms of an adult, and not on a chair or stool where the child will be expected to sit for a length of time. During this forced embrace, I think the parent should speak softly and calmly to the child to help the child remain calm and focused on the act of being held. The parent should discuss the behavior and reinforce what is expected, but be aware that the child will likely repeat the offense several times before understanding that the behavior is inappropriate. Children of this age often act out due becoming overwhelmed or frustrated. Considering this, the mere act of holding the child gently in one's arms is often enough to redirect their behavior to something a bit more appropriate.

Second, for a child ages 4 to 6, I feel that time out should include a period of discussion between the child and the parent. I've often seen parents yell "TIME OUT" to their child and separate the child without ever explaining the reason or discussing the behavior. Without some amount of discussion from the parent, the behavior will never improve. A child does not intrinsically know what behavior is accepted and what behavior is not. It is the parent's job to teach this. It doesn't matter how many times you've already told your child that hitting is wrong, you still need to include verbal discussions regarding the infraction and the expected behavior when instigating a time out. Furthermore, it is important to engage your child in conversation without being accusatory. Asking the child "Why did you hit your sister?" and then discussing her reasons and the harm that she inflicted is far more powerful than telling her to sit for 5 minutes and think about why she hit her sister and why it was wrong. (Can you tell we've been having a few hitting issues in our house?) When you ask your child to explain to you why she has done something, she is then forced to consider the reasons behind her actions and express them verbally. Verbal expression gives her a chance to be heard and voice her own side of the story instead of being punished for her behavior without a chance to be heard. Communication is always the best defense against future problems, so after your child tells you why she hit her sister you can then discuss possible alternatives for any future issues that she may have. It is very important to be actively involved in the child's time out at this stage so that you can direct the child in a more proper set of behaviors. "Sit and think" just isn't quite enough to help the child learn the best way to deal with certain situations. Discussions of this nature should be as private as possible. Frankly, it isn't the entire playgroup's (and everybody hanging out at the park) business to know the details of such discussions and keeping your own voice low and steady will help calm your child and allow her to hear you more clearly.

For children older than 6, time outs become a bit obsolete except in the most extreme cases. When you are dealing with older children, you begin to enter the realm of power struggles. Children are often very strong willed. A parent should never enter a power struggle with their child unless the situation is extremely necessary and the parent knows without a doubt that they can outlast their own child's stubbornness. One lost power struggle can demolish every bit of authority that a parent has achieved over the years. Avoiding them is almost always best. (Save it for the teen me - you'll need it then.)

Basically, it's my opinion that time outs can be very useful for younger children. It's a good mechanism to allow the child a way out of an overwhelming situation and a way for parents to sit down and discuss certain behaviors with their child away from prying eyes and ears of those around. Above all, it is important to respect your child even when enforcing any type of discipline. It is not necessary or advisable to humiliate or embarrass your child just to get their attention.

Remember, time out is much more useful when used sparingly and when you are actively involved in the entire process.

And You Thought You Didn't Win...

Well, it's been more than seven days since I announced my Family Fun winner. I even left a message for her telling her that she was a winner. Still, I've had no word from her accepting her prize. I waited an extra day or two just to be sure, because - well - I know how life can get in the way. But now I feel that I must honor the original rules of the contest and move on to a new winner.

I considered all my options for choosing my new winner. Really, there aren't very many at the moment. Grandma Janet is off running her errands, and Kira has gone with her. Randall is off to work. It's just me and Marisa.

So I wrote down the numbers 1 through 4 on pieces of paper - corresponding with the order of your comments (excluding Mama Snow). I folded the pieces of paper into tiny little squares - just the right size for a 2 year old to pick up.

I kindly explained to Marisa that I need her to choose my winner for me. She really wanted to choose them all, but I told her that we couldn't do that. I told her that it was necessary, at least at first, to only choose one piece of paper from the bowl. So reluctantly she chose just one lucky winner.

Admittedly, after the first winner was chosen I offered her the entire bowl with all the papers in it. She refused and ran off to be occupied by something else. So --- those little pieces of paper were not worthy of her time and attention unless she could choose them all to win. Why is that?

Oh - you want me to tell you who won? I guess you do. The number 4 was written on the paper that Risa pulled from the bowl and dropped to the floor.

So Michaela, you are now the winner of the giveaway. You have 7 days to contact me ( with all the necessary information. I bet you won't disappoint me. I know how much you were hoping you would win this.


Sunday, March 8, 2009


Over the next few days, I'm going to tackle the topic of discipline for children. This is often a very touchy topic, so I'll be approaching this with a great deal of humor and personal stories.

Everybody has issues with their children at times. Children just aren't born to be perfect little angels, no matter how deceiving their sleeping selves can be. They often find themselves in the midst of danger or chaos without even trying. As parents, we are frequently frustrated with their behavior and / or attitudes.

Discipline is an important part of parenting. It's a major portion of our jobs as parents to teach our children how to take responsibility for their actions and how to make choices that will lead to positive results. Start early and be consistent so that your children will grow up understanding that every action has a consequence - sometimes positive and sometimes not.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Meet Leafy Li

Some of you may remember last year when we were graced with the presence of a certain little turtle. I finally managed to get a few pictures of the turtle.

You can find out more about Leafy Li at the "Mom, Can I Keep Him?" post.

Now you can meet Miss Leafy Li.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Child Proofing

I just need to take a moment to say how very important it is to consider all the areas where child proofing may be required. Doors are one of the most overlooked areas when child proofing for small children. Parents often assume that small children are not able to open a door that is closed. (I, of course, would NEVER think this.)

It is very important to make sure any doors that lead outside your house are equipped with safety doorknobs to prevent little people from embarking on unauthorized and unsupervised trips to the unknown world.

If you fail to use these all important pieces of equipment, you might just wake up one morning to find that your "not quite 3 yr old" has taken herself for a little visit to Grandma's house.

Trust me when I say that waking up to finding your toddler missing and nowhere to be found is not a fun experience. (Not that this has ever happened to Moi!)

It's even less amusing when you race up the stairs to Grandma's house only to find your little one happily chowing down on whatever goodies Grandma gave her upon her arrival and Grandma sitting in her chair laughing her tail off at your obvious lack of reserve.

Suffice it to say that it's just better for everybody if you invest in the door know things and put up with the irritation, because you might find your toddler taking unauthorized trips to Grandma's house.

Lucky for me, Grandma is upstairs and not down the street. (Not that Risa would ever take off to Grandma's house without me...)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

February's Top Entrecard Droppers

It is time once again to honor those who take time out of their busy day to stop by and drop a card on my pretty little Entrecard box. This tradition is something that many Entrecard members do as a way of giving a little bit of love - linky love, that is - back to those who visit our own spots frequently.

First on my list is Ari over at Parental Instincts. My favorite post at Parental Instincts is the Curfew for High School Kids post. Negotiating the curfew time for your older children is so important, and Ari has some good tips for how to navigate that particular challenge.

Next we have Patromax. My current favorite over there is How to Make $100 from Adsense in 60 Seconds. It's a hilarious take on how people can easily show you whatever it is they want you to see.

The next dropper is Art Joolree. Ms. Aires Clemente is a jewelry design and crafts hobbyist.I love her article - T-Shirt Trickery - because it has so many wonderful ideas.

Let's see, who's next? Hmmm... Dallas Marketing Services. Kimberli has her own marketing firm out in Dallas. Her site shares plenty of marketing tips to help you get your business (or website) noticed. I love her Friday Free For All posts because they offer information about how to get free stuff. This is a recurring post, too, so you get new free stuff info every week. How great is that?

Moshi and Kibo are also top droppers for the month. These two dogs have lots to say. Yes - the writers of the blog are dogs. They are quite adorable little critters, too. I've yet to figure out how they divvy up the duties, though. They never tell us which one is writing a particular post...

Over at More than Sew So, Judy shares lots of information. Fromt the title, you might expect that her site is all about sewing, but it isn't. My current favorite post on her site is What Have We Learned? The truth of the post is glaring, and quite amusing, all at the same time.

My next top dropper is Paul over at Paul's Health Blog. As the name implies, he focuses on various health issues. My favorite post from him - If they don't get a flu shot, why should you? - You'll just have to go read that one for yourself, but it fits with my own philosophy.

Workpac is my next top dropper. She's been uncertain of her blog's future for a while now. She has this post - Still don't know - that has been sitting there for nearly two months just waiting to be decided. She still visits me almost every day, though, so I think all she needs is a little encouragement. I would love for all my readers to go leave her a comment on that post encouraging her to start writing again.

The professional domestic engineer (I just love that title...) over at My Crazy Life with a Toddler, visits me pretty often, too. I feel that I have a wonderful connection with her because we both have the same job, and we both have toddlers. I bet we would get along wonderfully.

The Cool Dads at Cool Dad Central come by to visit pretty frequently, too. Ryan and Chris work together to keep this awesome site running. My current favorite over there is THIS POST, You'll notice that I failed to give you the title of the post. Well, that was intentional. You really should go visit, though, especially if you were watching lots of TV back in the '80s.

That's the end of my list...

Have a wonderful day and be sure to visit all my wonderful droppers and send them a bit of blogging love.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm Just Me!

Well, some of you may remember a while back when I posted a series to let you Meet the Gang. You may have noticed that none of those posts included any pictures of me. The reason was this: I couldn't find the disc that has the "good" pictures of me on it. I wasn't going to post the "not good" pictures, so I just didn't post any pictures.

Today I located that disc. It wasn't really hard to find. I knew where it was. I just never got the energy or motivation to go dig it out until today. Now that the pictures are on my computer, I thought I would share with you.

This is me! This picture was taken on September 10, 2004 when Kira was 2 days old. We were still in the hospital, as you can tell by all the bands on my arm. Randall's mother has a friend who does photography. She wanted to add infants to her portfolio, so she came to the hospital and did an hour and a half photo shoot of Little Miss Kira. (She came to the hospital when Marisa was born, too, but that disc is hiding somewhere else and I'm not sure where at the moment.) This happens to be one of my most favorite pictures of me - ever!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Being Random!!!

I spent a great deal of time trying to decide what the best method of choosing a winner of my Family Fun magazine subscription.

I considered, but decided that I just didn't like that method.

I considered letting Kira choose the winner, but she was busy watching a movie.

I thought about letting Marisa choose the winner, but she would choose them all - and I just can't afford to send presents to everybody.

I considered letting Randall choose the winner, but he's not supposed to know about the give-away, so that was out. (Of course, since he reads my site he does know...)

In the end, I wrote everybody's name on a piece of paper - all the same size paper - and folded it up into same size little squares. (Michaela got an extra entry for writing the post on her blog.)

I walked upstairs to my stepmother-in-law's house.

I sat down beside her and handed her the bowl that all the little pieces of paper were hidden in.

Her Toby-monster knocked the bowl out of my hand and made a grab for somebody's name, so I had to save the names that had scattered all over the floor, and I made sure that none of them had disappeared down the Toby's gullet.

After verifying that all five pieces of paper were still there, and shaking them all up again - I handed the bowl to Grandma Janet.

She put the bowl over her head and then drew out a piece of paper, which she handed to me.

I slowly - very slowly, to increase the anticipation of those awaiting word of the winner - opened the paper to see who she had chosen.

I bet you're wondering whose name was on the page that Janet lifted out of my pretty blue bowl. Do you want to know? Really want to know?

Well, okay... I'll tell you.

You didn't win. It wasn't you.

Unless, of course, your name is Snow. Mama Snow, to be exact.

Now that I think of it - it's quite fitting that Mama Snow would be winning this today since today we are getting tons of snow here in Georgia. We rarely ever get snow here, but today it has been snowing off and on all day long.

So - Mama Snow - by order of Janet's most random method of choosing, Mama Snow receives a one year subscription to Family Fun Magazine.

Dearest Ms. Snow, please send me an email with all the appropriate information so that I can order your subscription. My email is

Thank you all for entering my little contest. I hope you've enjoyed this winner announcement.