Tag Archives: kid

Party Prep: Why this is going to be the best birthday ever!

13 Sep

My son turns 6 next week and I’ve planned three days of festivities to celebrate the milestone.  Per his request, we’re having a “home party” on Saturday for his best pals.  Sunday, we’ll have dinner and cake (plus presents, of course) at my parents’ house—a.k.a. Grandma and Granddaddy’s.  Monday, Chip’s dad, babysitter and I will bring cupcakes to his classroom.  And we’ll take him to dinner at the restaurant of his choosing.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the years pondering what makes a great party.  I’ve thrown fab fetes as well as gatherings that have fallen flat—and I usually post-mortem both to figure out why.  Here are a few of my personal thoughts and conclusions.  If you have a minute, please share yours!

  • Unexpected foods: I incorporate two or more unexpected menu items simply because one of my favorite things to do as a partygoer is to sample unusual foods.  I tried tapenade for the first time at a party several years ago and thought it was superb!  This year, I’ve taken that notion a step further by building Chip’s birthday party around the idea that his friends probably never eat sugary cereals.  So what are we serving?  Captain Crunch, Apple Jacks, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, etc. (along with healthier fare like fresh fruit and mini-quiches).  I know the kids will love the cereal sampling stations—but I also expect more than a few of their parents to indulge, too.
  • Unscheduled time: I once went to a kid’s party where every second was orchestrated.  The mom literally had a flow chart designating the attendees’ every move and seemed downright stressed when the kids fell behind!  I don’t think that works for children younger than age 10 (if, frankly, it works at all).  To that end, this Saturday we’ll have one activity for the kids plus the food.  After that, it’s just a big playdate where the kids can run around and do what they want.
  • Environmental studies: We spent the last few months cooped up because of the punishing heat so we’re partying on the patio come Saturday.  I think children and their folks enjoy outside time, particularly when the weather cooperates.  As my husband and I spruced up our backyard this spring and our hot-pink crepe myrtle is in full bloom, I’m looking forward to having a chance to enjoy the outdoors, too!
  • Gifts: I go back and forth on whether kids like seeing the birthday boy/girl open presents or not.  I often think it’s a waste of good party time for all concerned.  Every year I play this one by ear but invariably Chip tears into his booty while surrounded by his besties.  I’ve decided that’s fine as long as the kids know they don’t have to sit at his feet, oohing and aahing over his gifts.  If they want to watch, great.  If not, great, too.  The only thing I really care about is that I know who gave him what so I can properly thank each person.  I always appreciate the mom who volunteers to log the loot—a true gift to me!
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That Bites! Pet Safety

20 Jul

A good friend’s son recently got a nasty bite on the hand from his Nana’s pooch, a typically well-behaved creature that weighs all of 9 lbs.  The bite required four stitches—and the nurse practitioner who stitched the kid up said he was lucky.

It makes you think.  My 5-year-old likes dogs.  We have a 16-lb. Shiba Inu (a puny relative of the Husky and Akita) who’s had her tail pulled, her ears tugged and been teased.  She’s nipped Chip a couple of times—and I can hardly say I blame her for it!  None of the bites has occurred in a vacuum; each can be traced to something my son’s done.

Then I read this story from UT Southwestern Medical Center, which includes Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  And now I’m worried:

Dog bites occur more often than pet owners might realize.  An estimated 4.7 million people are bitten each year.  Children are the most common victims, and summer is the most common season for these incidents.

“It’s surprising how many times it occurs, and the majority of dog bites aren’t from strays,” says Dr. Ron Hoxworth, a plastic surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

He said dogs by nature remain territorial, especially when eating, and young children are both unpredictable in their actions and less able to protect themselves.

Children are often bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection and permanent scarring.  In 2010, most of the nearly 33,000 reconstructive procedures from dog bites were performed on children.

Dr. Hoxworth recommends the following precautions:

• Watch your children carefully around dogs, even family pets.

• Make sure kids avoid getting close to a pet when it is eating.

• Keep children’s immunizations and pet vaccinations up to date.

• Don’t delay treatment if a bite occurs.  If severe bleeding results, take your child to a hospital emergency room immediately.

I am open to suggestions on how to approach pet safety—at home and out in the community!  It’s a discussion our household needs to have asap!

Kid’s Improv Comedy Concert in North Richland Hills

23 Jun

An improv comedy concert is coming to Green Valley Park in North Richland Hills on Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This event is geared to youth ages 6-12.  Parents are welcome too.  KidProv will be performing improvisational comedy live on stage and it might require a lot of audience participation, so be prepared if you are sitting up front!  Improvisation, according to KidProv, is simply to use what you know and make up what you don’t!  Picnics are welcome and there will be $2 snow cones to help you beat the heat.  Lawn seating will be available, so please bring blankets and lawn chairs.  For more information, please call 817-427-6620 or click here.

Traveling with Kids

22 Jun

All summer long, parents will be traveling with their kids.  Automotive or air travel can bring a family closer together and be a really positive, fun experience with kids, or it can be a complete and total drag (we’ve all been trapped somewhere with a screaming kid at some point- NOT fun!)

Every year, our family takes a road trip to the coast, which entails being in a car upwards of twelve hours (with plenty of breaks along the way!)  On the trip this year, I turned around and flew with my youngest to Austin for a 24-hour period to watch my Godson complete his First Communion.  Overall, it was a very pleasant experience and I’ll tell you what worked for me.

Any travel takes planning.  The more I plan, the more I feel prepared.  This time around I made a ton of lists (I know, I know, I’ve already broken one of my resolutions for the new year, but I just didn’t see any way around it).  I made lists for what I needed to do to prepare for the trip as well as a running list of what I needed to pack as well and what would need to be purchased.

I organized the way the car was loaded.  I made sure the kids had snacks and drinks that were accessible to them at all times.  For the older two kids, I filled baskets with things to keep them busy on the long trip.  For my 5 year old, I packed activity books with markers, sticker books (Usborne makes some awesome ones), regular books for reading, her school work, an MP3 player with headphones, and a book of mazes.  For my three- year old, I packed tons of little trinkets she could play with (a mini lunch box filled with dinosaur figurines, mermaids, etc,), a mini etch a sketch, dry erase activity books, lift the flap books, and a TAG pen with books (and ear buds to attach).  For the baby, I loaded the seat back pocket nearest him with baby toys, a scarf, touch and feel books, etc.

When the going got tough and I needed some quiet time, I would pop in a DVD movie.  (In fact, a friend of mine very generously loaned me a complete system that attaches to the backs of the headrests).  It was a life saver on the way home!

I also purchased a few decks from Usborne books, one of which is called 50 Travel Games and Activities.  The kids enjoyed taking turns drawing from that deck and playing new games together as a family.

As far as traveling with my youngest (11 months), I had to get creative at times.  He had a blast for almost an hour playing with an empty water bottle!  When we were at the airport, I made sure he walked/crawled around as much as possible before we would get on the plane.  I packed a carry on with a small inflatable ball, which I blew up while waiting in the terminal, and we would literally play “fetch” with it.  I packed lots of clean healthy snacks (like dried fruit) in the no spill snack cups that he could reach in and help feed himself with.  I made sure he had a sippy cup with water in it (just in case), but he ended up nursing both times on take off and landing, so we did not end up having any trouble with his ears popping.

On the actual plane, I used the mystery box toy Jen had made.  It completely entertained him for an hour.  He would pull one toy out; discover it for a few minutes, then move on to something else.  There was a scarf inside, which was a big hit too, because we could play peek a boo and hide the other toys with it as well.  Because I had worn him out so well in the terminal, he slept the entire leg of one flight.

In the carry on I also had lift the flap & touch and feel books, as well as a travel pouch of tissues (I figured if I got really desperate, I would let him pull them out one by one and/or tear them to shreds), a glowing spinny toy we got at the circus, a Cheerios board book (it’s really cute- there are cut outs in the book where you put actual Cheerios and the baby can eat them while you read) and a few baby toys he hadn’t seen in a long time.  (I tried to think ahead and put away things he really liked for about a month before we traveled, so he’d be really excited to see them).

In the past, I have exchanged books and toys with friends of mine (meaning I would lend them things to take on their trip that would be “new” to their kids and they have done the same for me).  That’s nice because then you don’t have to go out and buy anything and typically other moms have a ton of things that your kids love to play with.  Jen also has a really cool Hang Man puzzle by Melissa and Doug whereby the letters and hangman pieces are tethered to the board with bands.  It would be great for road trips.  I’ll be looking for one in the near future!

Feel free to share what works for you!

I Made This!

22 Jun

My friend and fellow More than Mothers writer, Lori, recently took a plane ride with her son, who was less than a year old.  It was a short flight, but she was worried about keeping him occupied.  I thought about how much kids (of any age) love other people’s toys, and decided to provide her with something to entertain him.

For this same trip, Lori also asked me if she could borrow my kids’ snack dispenser – the kind that has the flaps over the opening.  Little fingers can easily reach in for a snack, and the flaps prevent major spills.  Simple and efficient.

While I was looking for the snack holder, BAM!  I had a brainstorm.  What if I could make a similar container for toys??  And just like that, off I went…

First, I cleaned out a canister of french fried onions.  Then I hit the dollar store, where I bought a package of several rolls of brightly colored electrical tape.  I made cute little stripes of different colors all the way up the can.  With a steak knife, I cut flaps in the lid.  I scoured my house for toys that were big enough not to be choking hazards for an infant, but small enough to fit through the flaps.  I ended up with a car, a shaker, a scarf, a plastic cookie, a ball, and a few other small toys.  I finished up by putting several cute stickers on the bottom.  And voila – my own prototype for a new toy!

While it was definitely the cutest baby toy ever, the real test would be whether the baby himself liked it.  The verdict?  He loved it, as did his 18-month-old buddy.  We’ve got a winner here!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 21 (Reading to My Kids)

26 May

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE – DAY 4 (Thursday):

What a great Feat.  Few joys equal laying in bed with my kids and hearing them say, “Let’s read another one!”

I hope this has inspired some of you to stop your busy lives and read to your kids.  And Lisa made a great comment – reading is a modeled behavior, too.  Take some time for yourself and crack open a book!  You’ll be glad you did.

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 21:

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.  I was an avid reader as a child, and my love of books has continued into adulthood.  In addition to reading for fun (Harry Potter and Twilight, anyone?), I belong to a book club, which has given me the immense pleasure of discovering new books while discussing interesting ideas with some really smart women.

When I became a parent, reading to my kids was very important to me.  It makes children smarter, it stimulates their imaginations, and it provides some great bonding time.  I started reading to both my children when they were too young to even see the books clearly.  Even as infants, I brought them to story time at the library on a regular basis.

I’ve heard that parents should read to their kids at least 20 minutes every day.  I used to scoff at that – we could easily do 20 minutes in one sitting!  In a whole day we always topped that.  At any given time, we usually have about 30 books checked out from the library!

But lately, we’ve become so busy with other responsibilities (or rather, I’ve become so busy) that on most days, we don’t make even that 20-minute mark.  I remember a couple days last week when we got into bed after endless activities, without having cracked a single book all day.  While I don’t want to beat myself up over that, I know I can do better.

This week, I’m going to make reading to my children a top priority.  My son can read, so I’m going to make sure that he’s getting daily reading practice as well.  Neither one of my kids is in school, so that gives us plenty of time each day for reading.  And, as usual, we’re well-stocked with a huge stack of library books.

Happy reading week, everyone – sit down with your kids (or just yourself) and read!!

Loving Guidance

30 Mar

This week, love has been coming up over and over again as a theme for me.  Some mothers and I were discussing Loving Guidance as a form of discipline at a meeting.  I had completely forgotten that I keep this simple guide posted on my fridge.  (Since we moved, we have a fridge that doesn’t allow magnets to stick, so I’ve had to stick everything to the side of it.  Now, I don’t see everything daily.  It’s obviously time to move this to a new location!)

I got this from a friend of mine, several years back, and I want to share it because it’s been so helpful to me, especially while raising toddlers and preschoolers.

What is Loving Guidance?

Look at the child.

Offer choices- small ones for small people

Very quick distractions are helpful

Include your child

Need freedom within limits

Get your home safety-proofed

Get to the cause of temper tantrums or misbehavior

Unconditional love and focused attention

Interesting opportunities for activity to limit TV viewing

Don’t ask- state what you mean

Attempt to child size their life to make it easier to “do myself”

Nursing- your child needs you to receive him with joy and enthusiasm most of the time

Constant safety supervision

Expectations & Environment- Are they realistic?

I really like it, because it’s so simple.  It only takes a few seconds to review it daily, weekly, or even monthly!

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