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Leave your mark: Let your “mini me” lend a helping hand

My two-year-old daughter insists on helping Mom and Dad. That means she is often very close by and at risk of being tripped over.

Add two dachshunds into the mix and you have a moving obstacle course, particularly at dinnertime when the smell of food hits the air.

Keira likes to help take dishes out of the dishwasher while the dogs hover, waiting for a morsel or two to fall. It’s family time in the kitchen and I love every minute of the controlled chaos.

I especially enjoy having Keira help out as best as she can. I don’t fight her

Evidence of Understanding in the Time-out Corner

The name of the actual indiscretion isn’t important. She’s done it on purpose, and now she suffers the consequences. She is promptly whisked to the time-out corner against her will, the minutes matching her age punched into the microwave timer.

I take a deep breath.

I unclench.

Consistency is the key, and we’re both

“Whipping it Out” Turns Breastfeeding Moms into Deviants

Not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding in public. I understand people have varying degrees of exposure to the act and art of breastfeeding. I fully respect other viewpoints when they are made respectfully and thoughtfully.

However, I find myself bristling when I hear the following from people who are on the anti side of nursing in public:

~ Comparisons of breast milk to other bodily fluids or nursing to other bodily functions

~ Musings that breastfeeding is a private bonding moment too special/precious/sacred for the general public to witness

~ Directing mothers to “just pump” before they go out

~ Suggestions that the baby or toddler could eat in a bathroom or car

Recently at Twitter, I was happy

Is Sitting Still Becoming a Lost Art?

I don’t know if this is a product of age or motherhood…but I have become a stranger to the fine art of sitting still and doing nothing.

It’s been years since I’ve been able to sit through a movie without stopping for some reason.  The dog needs to go out, the dog needs to come in, a child is up for one-last-goodnight-kiss, a child is up for a second one-last-goodnight-kiss, changing out the laundry so that it will be done before I finally settle down to sleep, putting in another load because if I don’t I’ll have to wear my bathing suit the next day since I’m down to my last pair of clean underwear….

I burn more calories during a movie than most people do in a Zumba class.

The “to-do” list seems

Goodbye Dora, Hello iCarly – Out with the Preschooler in with the Tween

My daughters are 6 and 9. They aren’t babies anymore. They aren’t even preschoolers anymore. They are both school age children.

Can you call the extra pounds baby weight when you haven’t been pregnant in this decade…?

Those baby/toddler years sometimes felt like they’d never end. My girls always needed something – a snack, a nap, chill time, a diaper change, help with the potty, a toy, a song, a hug, a snuggle, a drink. It was constant. No rest for the weary.

But now they are older: more capable. The needed snack can be handled on their own. A drink of water, the same. Hugs and snuggles are still needed but not as frequently.

“I’m fine, Mom, let me handle this.”

Teen mom to single parent to college graduate: A journey worth making

Returning to college with children is never an easy decision. As a parent, our main job is to nurture someone else’s well-being. Finding time to even take a bath alone without little ones knocking on the door is impossible. Finding the time and confidence to return to school as an adult seemed intangible.

I had, over the years, often thought of what life would be like if after high school I had gone away to college. Would I be in a different industry? Would I live in another city? What would my life be like? Of course I wondered if I would have made more money, but because I was a teen parent my life had gone in a different direction and crying about it was useless. So thoughts of college would just fade away and life continued.

By the time I was in my early thirties, I had a family and my responsibilities had multiplied. I would often jokingly tell my coworkers at the end of the day that I was going to what I referred to as “my real full time job”, that of a parent. This is when the hardest yet most rewarding part of my day began. Time was never on my side, and at this point in addition to all of these responsibilities, I was a single parent.

Whether it was

How to Run Your First 5K

Great achievements in life happen one small step at a time. In the case of running your first 5K, the steps happen quite literally – one foot in front of the other…but, mental preparation is essential in achieving any goal, so putting your mind in the right place is the most important first step to finishing. (After checking with your doctor, of course.)

8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Children

In the midst of an intense discussion or at the end of a difficult day, we don’t always say the right things to our children.

But what we say can make a big impact, good or bad. Here’s a list of things you should never say to your kids.

“I know exactly how you feel.”

This is a real turn-off for kids. You can’t be

Where Do Babies Come From?

Lots of parents want to know an exact age for when to have “the talk” with their child. The fact is, you can’t always know when your child will be ready to have this discussion. Kids are curious, and questions can arise at any time. The best thing to do is be proactive about the situation and prepare for the inevitable.

“Parents have tremendous anxiety about discussing sex with their children,” explained Jeffrey Dolgan, PhD, Senior Psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Instead of constantly worrying, parents should listen to their child. An attentive parent can recognize when a child is curious about sex before a single question is asked.”

Even for the most attentive parents, however, there are several dos and don’ts about discussing sex. Cover your bases by remembering these key points:

  • Do: Maintain a running dialogue with your child. “The talk” is a bit misleading when it comes to sex because it’s impossible to answer all of your child’s questions in one sitting. After an initial conversation, be sure to tell your child if he or she has any more questions or wants to learn about anything else to ask you. Make sure he or she views you as the primary source of information.
  • Do: Provide age-appropriate answers. Your child may ask about sex at any age. It’s common for a preschooler to ask where babies come from — and the stork analogy simply doesn’t cut it. Keep in mind your child’s ability to process information. Because a preschooler understands things in much simpler terms than an adult, you’ll need to package information appropriately.
  • Don’t: Avoid the subject. Running away from the topic will not help your child learn or help develop your relationship with your son or daughter. Remember, your child may broach the topic of sex before you feel comfortable discussing it. If that happens, take a deep breath and answer your child’s question simply.
  • Don’t: Let your child learn about sex from unreliable sources. Talking about sex is a responsibility parents have shouldered for hundreds of years, and you are no different. Your child is going to ask questions, and you should be the one to answer them, not a classmate or friend.

Get more tips from Children’s Colorado on how to speak with your child about sex and puberty.

Simple Decorating Tips From a Not-So-Professional Home Decorator

No, I’m not trying to scare off readers with the title of this article – I just want to be real clear in case my advice doesn’t work out so well and moms everywhere come looking for me, yikes. So, now that you’ve been warned, feel free to read on!

Summertime…these long, lovely days pose ample opportunity for several quick but beautiful alterations to your home’s appearance. Take advantage of the warm weather, leisure time and all the extra help you have now that your kiddos are out of school. Reality: you’ll have to squeeze it in between playdates and laundry AND convince your kiddos it’s fun, but they will likely enjoy seeing the results and knowing that they were part of the process – they might even learn something along the way…like that mommy gets really frustrated with paint handprints even when done artfully on the wall ~ but it does make for a sweet memory, right?

A quick way to liven up a room is by adding some color. Many decorators suggest combining colors opposite each other on the color wheel. I use a variety of greens in our home and have accents in red, rusty reds and oranges. I throw in a teal here and there to bring it all together. Sounds funky, right? Done the right way, I think almost any scheme can be successful. Just remember – it has to be what YOU like, so do it your way and don’t be afraid to break the rules because there are no rules, just guidelines to help you along the way.

Choose your colors
I suggest starting with one color you love. For me, this would be a shade of green. Find your color the wheel. Take a look at the colors next to your choice – these “next to” colors will always accompany nicely because they coordinate and match. Sounds easy, but here’s the tricky thing…if all your colors coordinate perfectly, you may be loosing some of the possible effect. Most rooms will have a better overall look if there is an opposite color splash – to keep it interesting.

Blend appropriately
With green, I choose to blend olive and a bit of blue-green or teal. Then I look directly across the color wheel for some splash inspirations. With the shades of green I’ve chosen, I prefer a rusty red or the red-orange. This color pairs well with reds and oranges, so I shop with that in mind.

Don’t skip the neutrals
Neutral colors can be thought of as a clean slate – something to work with, not around. I like to have most of my wall space in a neutral shade and vary the shades for depth – then, I can add color as I please. An example of using neutrals includes the ability to add a dramatic paint accent – applied to a small portion of the room – over a fireplace, on a dividing wall or any space providing simple paint boundaries in a small area (too big and it won’t be an accent.) Talk with a paint store consultant for suggestions on the best shade of paint for you needs.

I prefer neutral furniture as well as walls…some dark, some light. That way, I can switch up my color craze as the times and trends change and won’t have to spend a fortune on staying in “the now” with our large purchases. Throw pillows are more affordable than loveseats and couches.

However, we have inherited a good amount of furniture, and I’ve discovered that if you wait long enough, the style might come back around, wink.

Grab a Magazine
Nope, not time for a break yet. We’re going to use some examples to formulate a plan. Sometimes I think I know what I want to do but then I see it in a magazine – or see something better – and realize I was all wrong. So, find some looks you like and use that as a framework for what you’ll do with your colors.

Use what you already own
Now that you have your colors and a guideline for the type of look you’re going for, shop at home…where everything is FREE! Some of my ideas…

~ fabric or an old quilt to be reworked into a pillow or table runner

~ old photos in storage to make a collage…scan and print in sepia or black and white

~ a large, odd item that might work with the new look

~ glass vase to be filled with wine corks, rocks, flower petals, colorful candy

~ things to be painted: planters, storage containers, rugs, frames, wall hangings

After shopping at home, shop at your neighbor’s homes #yardsales. Don’t forget to check out off-retail shops, and then, if you see something you love in the mall, you’ll have the extra cash to get it. I love a designer look but not the price tag.

Add foliage
Everything looks better with a touch of green…and I’m not just saying this because it’s my primary decorating color of choice. I’m certainly not an expert on Fung Shui, or any decorating theories for that matter, but I do like the way the Fung Shui system of aesthetics pulls a mix of nature indoors.

For extreme simplification: add plants to your decor. To prove I’m not certified: use fake ones too – honestly, we’re moms, and keeping our children, spouse, and a pet(s) alive is a lot of work – we can’t expect to have a house full of living plants, beautiful yard, garden and potted flowers too, whew. So, absolutely, add a lovely, fake plant of your choice…and if you mix it in with living ones, people might not even notice. It’s a great way to brighten a dark corner or add flair to an otherwise plain overhead space.

Transition the look
I love to see a home with an assortment of color usage. Each room can have it’s own, individual look…but it helps to transition. The way I do this: I choose “across from” colors as my main choices – when the rooms are visible from one to the other. I then select “next to” colors from the wheel to transition. The transition colors are the colors I choose to be in sight when standing in one room, looking into the next.

The “reds” room in our home has red-orange visible from the “greens” room. So, when a visitor comes to the front door, they can peer in and see the “greens” transition into the “reds” room with the help of the red-orange accents (curtains and throw pillows.) The deep red color splash atop the fireplace mantle is not visible until entering the “reds” room. A teal potted plant is also used as a transition item – it sits atop a half-wall between our “greens” room and our “reds” room. The teal planter is visible from both rooms and moves one from the “reds” into the “greens” nicely.

With all that being said, hard to believe there are no rules, right? Just remember that you and your family have to like it and that’s what matters most. Enjoy the time decorating together…and laughing when it doesn’t work out quite right.

photo: better living publishing