Category Archives: Uncategorized

Balloon Ping Pong

It’s crazy weather–one day is beautiful play outside weather, the next is bundle up and stay inside weather.  This game is a hit with every age, but preschoolers seem to love it.  It has become so popular with some parents, it’s the only game at their kid’s birthday parties.  All you need are balloons, paper plates and some popsicle sticks and duct tape.  Fix the sticks to the plates, blow up the balloons, and let them have fun!  They will burn energy, and the risk of damaging decor or each other is minimal.

Okay, why didnt we think of this?

Why is reading to your child so important?

reading read with your child every day

Here’s why you should read to your child early and often.

  1. Quality, age-appropriate books are important, irreplaceable tools that support child development, build strong parent-child bonds and teach children words that help them define the word around them. Studies confirm that children who grew up with books in their homes reached a higher level of education than those who did not (Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success).
  2. Reading has benefits long before children begin forming words. During the first five years children are at peak learning efficiency, in this period 90 percent of brain development occurs (Rauch Foundation). This makes it a critical time for early reading and literacy support. Reading to your child from birth strengthens the parent-child bond, exposes children to words and support cognitive development by allowing children to explore colors, textures, sounds and more.
  3. Students who can’t read proficiently by the end of third grade are much less likely to graduate, much more likely to repeat grades, and have more behavioral and social problems. Furthermore, fourth grade marks an important transition from learning to read to reading to learn, so most students who have not learned adequate reading skills by fourth grade will continue to fall behind (Annie E. Casey Foundation).
  4. Fortunately, parents and caregivers can make a significant, lasting impact. A U.S. Department of Education study found students in households where parent involvement was high scored 44 percent higher (on average) than students from households where parent involvement was low (U.S. Department of Education).


Valentine’s Day Cupid’s Arrow Game

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Looking for a fun way to burn off some sugar from all those sweet Valentines? Here’s a fun little game for kids and adults!


Place a bowl in a central location, have the kids stand around the bowl and take turns trying to blow their q-tip into the bowl with the straw.  As each person takes a round, have them step further and further away.  The last person who still gets their q-tip in the bowl furthest away is the winner of the round.

30 Valentine’s Day Games Everyone Will Love

Safe Screen Time?

From Science Daily comes an article on what a “safe” amount of screen time is for kids–and what it’s not.

Happiness is not a warm phone, according to a new study exploring the link between adolescent life satisfaction and screen time. Teens whose eyes are habitually glued to their smartphones are markedly unhappier, said study lead author and San Diego State University and professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge.

To investigate this link, Twenge, along with colleagues Gabrielle Martin at SDSU and W. Keith Campbell at the University of Georgia, crunched data from the Monitoring the Future (MtF) longitudinal study, a nationally representative survey of more than a million U.S. 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders. The survey asked students questions about how often they spent time on their phones, tablets and computers, as well as questions about their in-the-flesh social interactions and their overall happiness.

On average, they found that teens who spent more time in front of screen devices — playing computer games, using social media, texting and video chatting — were less happy than those who invested more time in non-screen activities like sports, reading newspapers and magazines, and face-to-face social interaction.

Twenge believes this screen time is driving unhappiness rather than the other way around.

“Although this study can’t show causation, several other studies have shown that more social media use leads to unhappiness, but unhappiness does not lead to more social media use,” said Twenge, author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — And Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

Total screen abstinence doesn’t lead to happiness either, Twenge found. The happiest teens used digital media a little less than an hour per day. But after a daily hour of screen time, unhappiness rises steadily along with increasing screen time, the researchers report today in the journal Emotion.

“The key to digital media use and happiness is limited use,” Twenge said. “Aim to spend no more than two hours a day on digital media, and try to increase the amount of time you spend seeing friends face-to-face and exercising — two activities reliably linked to greater happiness.”

Looking at historical trends from the same age groups since the 1990s, the researchers found that the proliferation of screen devices over time coincided with a general drop-off in reported happiness in U.S. teens. Specifically, young people’s life satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness plummeted after 2012. That’s the year that the percentage of Americans who owned a smartphone rose above 50 percent, Twenge noted.

“By far the largest change in teens’ lives between 2012 and 2016 was the increase in the amount of time they spent on digital media, and the subsequent decline in in-person social activities and sleep,” she said. “The advent of the smartphone is the most plausible explanation for the sudden decrease in teens’ psychological well-being.”

Dear Mothers: We’re Not Meant to “Bounce Back”

Dear Mothers: We’re Not Meant to “Bounce Back”

August 19, 2016

Dear Mothers We're Not Meant to Bounce BackI exercise almost every day. Doing so helps me feel strong (and not just physically), it keeps my mind from dominating the ever-so-precarious mind/body/soul balance, and it allows me to better embrace, make sense of, and appreciate my often-crazy life.

But no matter how fit I become, I will always have the body of someone who has carried, birthed, and nursed four babies. My belly is soft, squishy, and covered in stretch marks (you can see them here), my thighs and butt stubbornly store fat (just in case I decide to keep going with this baby-making trend, probably), and my breasts look more like those you’ve seen in Nat Geo than any other magazine on the rack.

I have the body of a mother, and given that it’s been nine years since my youngest was born, there will clearly be no “bouncing back,” no matter how many calories I burn, crunches I do, or hours I spend at the gym.

Thankfully, I’ve not only made peace with this fact, but I’ve come to see it as a truly beautiful thing.

I work with mothers for a living. More specifically, I support women as they grow, transition, recreate their lives, reclaim their worth, and heal their relationships with themselves. The more women I witness, and the deeper I journey into motherhood myself, the more obvious it becomes to me:

We’re not meant to “bounce back” after babies. Not physically, not emotionally, and definitely not spiritually. We’re meant to step forward into more awakened, more attuned, and more powerful versions of ourselves. Motherhood is a sacred, beautiful, honorable evolution, not the shameful shift into a lesser-than state of being that our society makes it seem.

The very notion that we are meant to change as little as possible, and even revert back to the women we were before we became mothers is not only unrealistic, but it’s an insult to women of all ages, demographics, shapes, and sizes. It makes a mockery of the powerful passage into one of the most essential roles a human can live into, and it keeps women disempowered through an endless journey of striving for unattainable goals that wouldn’t necessarily serve us even if we could reach them.

The world needs the transformation motherhood brings about it us. The softening, the tenderness, the vulnerability, the shift in prioritization, the depth of love — these are some of the qualities our hurting world needs most.

But here’s the thing: awakened, empowered mothers who know their true worth (especially those of us with relative freedom, opportunities, and privaledge) are a threat to so many of our current social structures and cultural norms.

  • The “beauty” and fashion industries (among others) count on our dissatisfaction with our bodies and lives after babies. The more in touch we become with our inherent worthiness, beauty, strength, and purpose, the less products of any kind we need to help us feel good and love our lives.
  • Our needs are not in line with “the bottom line.” Businesses and workplaces will be forced to rethink their profits-before-people prioritization once we decide, collectively, that our needs matter. Ample maternity leave, affordable healthcare, part-time positions with benefits, and increased flexibility are more likely to become the norm once we see ourselves as worthy of having our needs met. This shift is strongly resisted by those who benefit from the way society is currently structured.
  • We still live in a masculine-dominant culture in which feminine power terrifies people. Just look at how often people recoil and squirm around the subjects of birth, menstruation, and menopause, for example. Culturally, we’re not comfortable with femininity in its realness and fullness yet. We must first be tidied up, plucked, shaved, sterilized and photoshopped before we’re seen as presentable, acceptable, and not disgusting. Though motherhood presents many reasons and opportunities to dissolve this distorted paradigm, the shame we still feel around our bodies, our vulnerabilities, and our needs often keeps us trapped by and limiting ourselves.

It’s up to each and every one of us to decide whether we will embrace the sacred evolution into motherhood in all its messy, mysterious beauty, or fight it right alongside the industries that count on our dissatisfaction and disempowerment.

We Aren't Meant to Bounce Back After BabiesOf course, it makes sense that we would want to “bounce back” after babies. The seeming ability to do so is a sign of strength and desirability in society’s eyes, and who doesn’t want to feel strong and desirable? Consider the many advantages of changing as little as possible once we become mothers, or downplaying the effect motherhood has on our needs, perspectives, bodies, and hearts:

  • We gain the favor of bosses and co-workers.
  • We’re rewarded for appearing strong (even superhuman) and taking on as much as possible without breaking.
  • We feel less vulnerable and appear less “needy.”
  • We create less waves within marriages, families, workplaces, and social circles.
  • We aren’t forced to justify shifts in prioritization that don’t make sense to other people.
  • We run less risk of “losing” our sense of self.
  • The less physically marked we are (by stretch marks, weight gain, loose skin, etc.), the less body shame we have to endure and the greater chance we have of being seen as beautiful, or at least acceptable, in society’s eyes.

With so many advantages to “bouncing back” as quickly as possible, why on earth would we want to embrace and celebrate the stretch marks, the cellulite, the spit up, the sleepless nights, the vulnerability, the increased dependency on others, the often-terrifying uncertainty, and the shift into a whole new way of feeling, being, and prioritizing?

Because the world needs us to. Because we’re living under masculine models of power, strength, and success, and until a balance is restored by their feminine counterparts, true healing and peace in this world are not possible. Because healthy societies cannot exist without deep reverence and support for sacred transitions and natural evolutions. Because you and I are among the first women in the history of the world with a real shot at reviving the sacred feminine to the degree her presence is needed.

Years ago, when I was raising babies and feeling a little desperate for a sense of self beyond the exhausted, overwhelmed milk maid I felt I had become, I did everything I could to “stay strong” and keep motherhood from “breaking” me. I was determined that if I simply did more of the “right” things, I could finally feel as if my contributions were enough — as if I was enough — and dig myself out of the disempowerment I felt. I now see that by holding so tightly to a more masculine understanding of strength, I was actually repressing and resisting a new strength trying to be born in me: the more feminine strength of vulnerability.

It is vulnerable to ask for help. It is vulnerable to admit that you don’t know what to do. It is vulnerable to depend on others physically, financially, and emotionally. It is vulnerable to gaze into the eyes of your newborn baby and realize that she is completely dependent on you for her wellbeing. It is vulnerable to imagine evolving into something unknown (and culturally dishonored). It is vulnerable to lose yourself to love. It is vulnerable to trust your instincts. It is vulnerable to claim strength and beauty in ways that aren’t culturally condoned.

It is vulnerable to let motherhood change us.

And yet, by doing so — by claiming our right to this sacred, messy and sometimes terrifying evolution — we position ourselves as capable, heart-led leaders in the healing of the world.

  • We start by validating the uniqueness and worthiness of our own needs.
  • We start by looking in the mirror with awe and reverence for the miraculous changes in our physical bodies.
  • We start by seeing ourselves as powerful, not despite having changed, but because we’re more vulnerable to love and in need of connection.
  • We start by banding together as mothers and women instead of allowing fear and judgment and shame to divide us.

Many in positions of power and influence want us to see our emerging strengths as weaknesses. They want us to think that the only way for us to be beautiful is to deny, minimize, and hide the marks of motherhood. Our vulnerabilities are studied by ad agencies and marketing gurus in order to be capitalized upon and used to control our perceptions and prioritization.

According to our society, motherhood makes us less sexy, less feminine, and less powerful.

But deep down, you know better, don’t you? You felt your true power the moment you smelled your beautiful baby’s sweet head, having ushered him into the world. You come into your true power every time you sit down to nurse your toddler, tend a bloodied knee, or listen with rapt compassion. You exercise your power every time you own and ask for what you need and deeply desire. You strengthen your power every time you disconnect from cultural distortion and reconnect with your worthiness as a divine being entrusted with the task of nurturing, guiding and supporting the growth of other divine beings.

You, dear mama, are powerful beyond measure. But feminine power looks (and feels) very different than masculine power, and is often misunderstood, undermined, and overlooked.

Fortunately, more and more people are waking up and seeing through the smoke screens of false empowerment and misleading marketing. Paradigms are shifting (however slowly and painfully), and there are plenty of things each of us can do to hasten change:

  • Redefine femininity for yourself. Unhooking ourselves from cultural definitions of what it means to be feminine is no easy task given how inundated we are with high heels, perky boobs, and puckered lips, but doing so can make all the difference in our perceptions of beauty, self-worth, and desirability.
  • Honor your needs. This requires identifying them, naming them, learning creative ways to meet them, speaking them aloud, and understanding that they will change day to day and over time.
  • Connect with other women vulnerably and courageously. Though petty, surface-level, and judgment-tinged connections are culturally acceptable and promoted, they aren’t feeding us, nor empowering us on any real level. Be as authentic, courageous, and heart-led as you can in your interactions. The world needs us deeply connected.
  • Root yourself in something permanent and life-giving. The more rooted we are in realities and roles that shift and change (including motherhood, partnerships, careers, and appearances), the more likely we are to feel destabilized when such shifts inevitably occur. Conversely, the more rooted we are in The Divine and her many manifestations, the steadier we will be whenever our world is being rocked.
  • Forget trying to be beautiful. You already are. Do what makes you feel strong.
  • See the “beauty” industry for what it is: a profit-driven machine that grows in direct proportion to our shrinking self-esteem. They do not have our best interests in mind, no matter how convincing their ads and promises.
  • Recognize the challenges inherent to our generation of mothers. While we have it better than our foremothers in many ways, we are disadvantaged in ways they weren’t. Information overwhelm, rampant anxiety, decision fatigue, device dependance, and a heightened sense of responsibility for our children’s every perceived need, are new forms of oppression that have just as much potential to keep us from thriving as those our grandmothers fought to free us from.
  • Learn about and practice self-compassion. Self-awareness alone sets us up for even greater self-judgment and self-loathing. Learning to be gentle and compassionate with yourself and your process is key to deep, healing growth.
  • Keep your heart open. Hardening ourselves off from the world, though tempting at times, will only slow the much-needed shift into higher realms of consciousness. Better to let your heart break than to keep it hidden and lonely.
  • Treat your body as a sacred temple. You did not create your body. It was gifted to you for a short while. How might you better honor this miraculous gift? How ought a person speak about one of the greatest gifts she could possibly be given? The more reverence we have for our bodies, the less susceptible we are to misleading messages.
  • Disconnect vulnerability from disempowerment in your mind. We tend to avoid vulnerability largely because of its common association with oppressive circumstances and feelings of disempowerment. While these can be linked (and often are), they don’t have to be. Conscious, intentional, self-honoring vulnerability is a very different thing than the vulnerability that accompanies truly oppressive circumstances and mindsets.

I, for one, have no interest in “bouncing back” to a less-evolved, less-awake version of myself, even if it means gaining weight as I age, embracing wrinkles, and going gray. I am becoming more ME with every day, every challenge, and every opportunity I’m given to grow, expand, and heal. I am learning to love the whole of who I am, and celebrate the parts of myself that mark me as a mother.

There’s too much I hope to accomplish in my lifetime not to fully embrace the powerful ways in which motherhood has grown and changed me.

We’ll know we’ve arrived at a place of greater masculine/feminine equilibrium when our culture celebrates and reveres the aging process, women’s bodies are seen as equally beautiful postpartum as pre-pregnancy, and a women’s many natural states of being (hairy, milky, full-figured, flat-chested, saggy-breasted, at ease, enraged, wise, pregnant, gentle, fierce, birthing, wrinkled, stretched, aging, menstruating, and menopausal, to name a few), are seen as sufficient, miraculous, and worthy of honor.

Until then, we must envision the future we want, affirm the inherent worthiness and beauty in one another, and make sure our children hear truth from those of us divinely ordained to guide them.

In awe of us all,


For more great articles, click the original link below!

Dear Mothers: We’re Not Meant to “Bounce Back”


Teaching Kids About Germs

It’s flu season, and the public school is reporting several kids out with confirmed cases of influenza.  Many businesses are seeing employees calling in with the same.  This is on top of the “normal” head colds and respiratory infections that always circulate this time of year.  This is a great time to teach kids about germs and how they spread.

How are Germs Spread Activity

One fun way to teach kids about how germs spread is with glitter.  Have them wet their hands, either with water or hand sanitizer.  While their hands are still wet, give them glitter and have them rub it like lotion on their hands.  Encourage them to act normally for a while–playing with friends, grabbing supplies, etc. After about ten minutes, call them back and  have them study how much glitter has spread through the room and to each other.  Explain this is how germs spread, especially when we don’t wash our hands well.

To wash hands, a good rule for kids is to sing “Happy Birthday” or the “ABC’s”(twice) while they wash under warm water with soap.

Reading To Our Kids

The Read Aloud Handbook offers some interesting insight into reading with your children. Reading not only helps our children learn about their world, but it also helps parents bond with their children.  Reading even five to ten minutes a night helps children increase their own reading skills, and likelihood of success in the future.

Are you suggesting this reading stuff is the job of the parent?
I thought it was the school’s job.

This brings us to the “sponge factor,” exemplified by a young lady named Bianca Cotton, whom I met in 2002 on the morning my grandson Tyler began kindergarten. Families were invited in for the first hour to help break the ice, and I was snapping some pictures of Tyler and a new friend when I became aware of an extended conversation going on behind me in the little housekeeping section of the kindergarten.

Turning around, I found Bianca cooking up a make-believe meal on a make-believe stove while carrying on a make-believe conversation on a make-believe cordless phone. And, as you can see in the photo I snapped, she had all the body language down for talking on the phone and cooking at the same time.

                                               ekindergartner pretend cooking and pretend talking on phoneekindergartner pretend cooking and pretend talking on phoneekindergartner pretend cooking and pretend talking on phone

Every child, kindergartner or otherwise, is a little “sponge,” soaking up the behavior of the people around them. If Bianca had never seen an adult talking on the phone while cooking, she’d never think to grab a phone while “cooking” her first kindergarten meal.

Since the cost of lengthening the school day is prohibitive, the best option is tapping the 7,800 hours at home.
If Bianca isn’t proof enough for you, consider this: Since 1956, one select group above all others—newspapers networks, or news agencies—has the best record for predicting the outcomes in presidential elections. (If there were a blogger out there with those credentials, the networks would beating a path to his or her door.) Every four years for a half century, a quarter million children vote in the Weekly Reader presidential poll and in thirteen of the fourteen campaigns they’ve been absolutely correct. Like little sponges, they sat in their parents’ living rooms, kitchens, and cars, soaking up parental values, and then squeezed them onto a Weekly Reader ballot.

It comes down to simple arithmetic: the child spends 900 hours a year in school and 7,800 hours outside school. Which teacher has the bigger influence? Where is more time available for change? The sponge factor and those two numbers — 900 and 7,800 — will appear over and over in this book.

Jay Mathews, the Washington Post’s long-time education writer, looked back on all the student achievement stories he’d done in twenty-two years and observed: “I cannot think of a single instance in which the improvement in achievement was not tied, at least in part, to an increase in the amount of time students had to learn.” I’ve been saying the same thing for as many years. You either extend the school day (as have the successful KIPP Academy charters) or you tap into the 7,800 hours at home. Since the cost of lengthening the school day would be prohibitive in the neediest places, the most realistic option is tapping the 7,800 hours at home.

More Excerpts here:

Snow Day Obstacle Course

With the weather outside keeping us inside, today is a perfect day to have some (big) fun and make a (big) mess.

Gather random items for your child to carry through the obstacle course, such as a bouncy ball on a spoon, a little water in a ladle, a book on their head, a blindfold.  It doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s silly!


Set up a course they have to walk, it can be down a hallway, around tables, up and over couch cushions, under a large chair.  Make it fun, and make it crazy.  You can even have them race each other or their best time.

What to do when your kids are ungrateful after fun

This article expresses how to help our children learn to be more grateful, and how we can take advantage of a connecting point with our children.

“Rather than pushing your kids to the brink of what they are capable of, think about your specific child, and adjust your expectations accordingly.”

A father and his son ride on a yellow plain at the fair in Stotfold.

It’s been a long day at the amusement park. Hot weather. Long lines. Way too much sugar.

The whining starts on the way to the car, “It’s too far. I’m tired…” And it doesn’t end there.

The kids start to bicker in the backseat. They demand that you stop at a fast food place for dinner. The youngest child starts to cry. You’ve held it together to this point, but you can feel the tension rising.

“Do you have any clue how much money I spent on you today?! Ugh. I’m never taking you anywhere fun again! You are so ungrateful!”

All you wanted was to spend a nice day as a family. But, you should know from past experiences. Nothing ever turns out like you plan.

“Why can’t my kids just be thankful for what they get!?”


Before we talk about how you can change this behavior, first we need to be curious. Take a look at things that are (potentially) impacting your child’s behavior in the heat of the moment.

  • Exhaustion: Chances are, everyone is tired. If your child is young, they may have missed a nap or stayed up way too late. Lack of sleep can impact behavior and mood.
  • Poor Diet: Eating cotton candy and french fries all day can lead to sluggishness and irritability. Plus, if you were in a hot or busy environment, your kids may be dehydrated.
  • Overstimulation: People, music, sounds, smells, crowded spaces (even if it’s the “happiest place on earth”), can lead to sensory overload for some children.
  • Lack of Connection: In the midst of chaos or schedules of the day, your child may be longing for your undivided, personalized connection. Spending time with you in these environments is fun, but it may not fill your child’s need for one-on-one attention.
  • Break from Routine: Some children rely heavily on the schedule of a typical day. Breaking this routine, even for something fun, can lead to challenges.
  • Difficulty with Transitions: It’s not easy to leave an exciting activity. Your child may not be able to communicate their mixed feelings, and disappointment about the day coming to a close.
  • Reserves are Depleted: Your child has worked hard to hold it together, manage waves of big feelings, and (hopefully) make it out of the public eye before melting down. These kids are DONE, they do not have the ability to regulate their emotions anymore today.

Your kids may fit into one or more of these categories.

Be willing to read between the lines, to hear what’s not being said, and assume that these things are going to have a negative impact on their behavior.

(And, be honest, some of these things impact YOUR behavior too!)


OK, so now you know a variety of things that impact your child’s behavior. Next, ask yourself, “Is my child capable of managing a situation like this well? Or, do they need (maturity, routine, sleep, etc).”

Rather than pushing your kids to the brink of what they are capable of, think about your specific child, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

This might mean limiting sweet treats, making time for rest, finding a quiet spot, leaving early, or skipping certain activities.

Even if other kids their age can handle a certain situation without a meltdown, this may not be true for your child. And that’s OK.


If every event – even small outings – end with complaints, it may be time for a family meeting.

If your kids are old enough, engage them in a conversation about leaving events. You can start by saying, “I notice a lot of complaining when we leave activities lately, what’s up?”

Be willing to hear their perspective. If they answer with, “I don’t know,” you may want to mention a few of the things above, “I know I’m exhausted at the end of the day at the beach, can you relate? I wonder what would make it easier to leave when we’re so tired?”

See if you can create a solution that works for everyone. Reevaluate and create new solutions as needed.


If you’re constantly filling your schedule with fun activities for your kids, and they are often ungrateful, it may be time to explore this further.

  • Do you feel obligated or pressured to take your children to these places?
  • Do you feel bad or guilty when your kids don’t have these experiences?
  • Did you feel “deprived” of these things when you were a kid?

If you answered “yes” (even a tentative “yes”) take time for reflection. How would it feel to skip these events? What would it mean about you as a parent? What will be difficult about your child’s response?

Perhaps a “yes” means it’s time to pull back. To take a break from expensive or over-stimulating activities for a while.

Maybe it’s time to focus on finding simple, meaningful ways to connect with your kids. Especially things that can be done at home or in your own backyard!

There’s nothing wrong with staying home from the circus, avoiding the amusement park, or limiting playdates for a while.


Look for opportunities to help your child be thankful and serve others.

Open up your child’s worldview by volunteering at an organization, making a donation, or serving the community. Look for ways to add random acts of kindness into your family’s routine.

Or, simply keep a list of things your child is thankful for, adding to the list every night. Say “thank you” to one another. Write thank you notes as a family.

Shifting the focus from “get-get-get” to gratefulness as a habit may decrease some of the complaining in other areas of your family’s life.

Outings can be fun.


But it might take some time to interrupt this cycle with your kids.

Be patient.

Tune into your child’s needs. Work on problem-solving and coping strategies. Evaluate your own expectations. And maybe even save the big fun events for another day!


Thank you to for this article.