Moms & Dads: Stories, tips, and advice on raising your kids from South Florida parents | Sun Sentinel blogs

Moms & Dads

South Florida parents share their stories and advice

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July 31, 2007

D'oh! Kids have more to do than read

My colleague Chauncey Mabe has posted his rules for turning kids into lifelong readers at our Off the Page blog. Something about some study bemoaning the lack of reading among teens, even in the age of Potter mania.

By Chauncey's measure, we've done pretty much everything right at our house. We have books and magazines and newspapers all over. We starting reading aloud to our kids from day 1. The computer and TV and video game influence has been.....somewhat controlled.

And yet, until Alec was in 4th grade, I was distraught. Avid, lifelong reader that I am, I was horrified that my kid was not into reading. I tried interesting him in everything from biographies of basketball players to the classics. Not even Harry Potter could work his magic on my otherwise bright boy. But something clicked in 4th grade. And I thank his teacher, Mrs. Breuning. Or maybe the timing was just right. Whatever, he's become something of a reader. (Although he's only made it through three Potter books.)

But reading will never be his No. 1 activity, at least not anytime soon. And that's OK by me. I know kids who read too much, to the exclusion of friends and other activities. (On road trips, my nieces were banned from reading in the car so they would be forced to look out the window and take in the world.)

Kids have a lot of choices these days. And they aren't all evil. For the record, my son watches less TV than I did as a kid, isn't on MySpace (the computer is in the kitchen, so we have a better chance of knowing), the TV in his room is only for games -- he plays sports games, nothing violent -- and it's hard to talk him into going to a movie. If anything, he's too busy getting exercise outside in the fresh air to read. (Now that's a dilemma I'd like to see the fretful Concerned Adults of America sort out.)

I firmly believe we've planted the reading seeds. And if Alec isn't driving up sales of young adult fiction (I'm quite sure there is much more being published today for kids than when I had nothing better to do than read books) I'm quite confident he will be a lifelong reader.

P.S. On another note, last week 9-year-old Erika had 7 sleepovers in 8 days. Do you think that's a little much? (She did finish one book and started another one!)


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"The Simpsons Movie" has full frontal nudity!

My five-year-old saw Bart Simpson's private parts.
We didn't think twice about bringing Lily along to see The Simpsons Movie. I didn't bother to look at the rating, which advises she needs 8 more years of maturing before she's ready to watch it. It warns about "mature humor,' but it fails to mention the FULL FRONTAL NUDITY!!!!bartimage.jpg

Lily has watched the television version for years. We watched old home videos this weekend, and you could hear Bart and Homer in the background in a few of them. It's a staple of our household.
But here's a warning for parents of the younger set. The movie includes all the cliche elements of a real action thriller, including a flash of Bart from the front when he's skateboarding naked.
It wasn't very anatomically accurate. It's a cartoon, after all.
Lily didn't even mention it afterwards. But when I got to her daycare after work yesterday, the first mom I saw said that Lily had just told her and her daughter that she saw Bart Simpson naked. When I walked into the classroom, both teachers immediately let me know that Lily had been telling them about the movie all day.
On the way home, I asked her about it. Was that your favorite part, I inquired?
She laughed sheepishly.
"Yes. ... But don't tell Dad!!!''
I guess I could have used it as an entree into a deep discussion about the differences between males and females.
Unrelated strange Lily comment of the day, yesterday:
"I know if you eat a whole airplane, you can die from that.''

POSTED IN: Entertainment (114)

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July 30, 2007

Too young for Disney, too old for Disney?

Well, I made it through another day at the Magic Kingdom, my first visit back since December 2004. I made it through without a meltdown, which was against the prevailing odds.

It was a special day for our family, because we now have two girls in college -- presumably too cool to hang out with their parents, and our 10-year-old, Aaron.
A few observations:

The bonding part of the trip isn't really doing the rides together; it's waiting in line. Forty minutes with nothing to do but talk. Even when you're walking through countless rails, how often do you get to do something like that?

We totaled 14 activities: Two Space Mountains, two Splash Mountains, 3 Thunder Mountains, the Pirates of the Caribbean, 2 Monsters, Inc., shows, 2 Buzz Lightyears, the jungle cruise and that tram around Tomorrow Land. Aaron thought we could have done better. I think we smoked it. What do you think?

Our 21-year-old insists when she has kids, they're not coming to Disney until they can walk the whole thing themselves, or at least recognize what they're doing. She doesn't understand why people bring children under 2, for example, who aren't really cognizant of what they're seeing or doing. Any parents of youngsters out there to explain?

POSTED IN: Activities (143)

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July 27, 2007

Bad news for pimped-out baby pacifiers

The feds have arranged for a voluntary recall of pricey "baby bling" pacifiers.

In case you haven't heard, we're talking baby pacifiers that cost hundreds of dollars because they're adorned with Swarovski crystals and fake gems. Unfortunately, the shiny crystals can fall off and pose a choking hazard. And nothing is more uncultured than a baby coughing up crystals.

Seriously, what were the manufacturers, not to mention the brick-and-mortar and online stores, thinking when they put these on the market? Didn't anyone think about the children?

Apparently celebs like Tori Spelling and Angela Jolie have gotten diamond and crystal-studded pacifiers as gifts, fueling a growing trend in pimped-out baby products. While this week's recall appears to be limited to about 1,000 baby bling pacifiers, parents who want to show off their oodles of money can still buy baby spoons, pacifier leashes, tiny shoes and clothing studded with crystals or rhinestones.

Great. Now, when are those reality-show tryouts for America's Most Spoiled Child being held?

For more information on what companies agreed to the recall other details, check out today's Sun-Sentinel story by Help Team reporter Diane Lade.


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July 26, 2007

A chocolate chip cookie for breakfast

cookie.jpg Ana Isabel woke up cranky. Who knows what ailed her.

She wanted nothing to do with her morning juice. Milk? That got the wave off. Maybe a banana that she normally devours. Ana would have nothing to do with it. A bit of mommy's oatmeal? No. No. No.

She poked her right index finger into the palm of her left hand, as she often does when she's hungry, and said "cookie." We normally don't buy snacks like cookies, chips or ice cream. Mainly because Ana's parents have little will power. But here we are, early one morning and our 2-year-old says she's hungry and wants nothing but a cookie. And this time, we have a box of cookies in the cabinet.

So what would you do?

Click continue below to see how my wife and I handled our little morning mini-dilemma.

Of course, we gave Ana the cookie. It was the first time we have done that. We talked and said we didn't want it to become a habit. And since that day, Ana hasn't feasted on any other unusual breakfast food. So in my book, there's nothing wrong with it.

What's your take?

POSTED IN: Food (56), Toddler (127)

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July 25, 2007

Someone, get me a Blackberry

I used to pride myself on how I remembered everything I needed to do without an electronic gadget or other artificial assistance. But my system no longer works.motherpullinghairout.jpg

I've fallen behind on the kids' monthly orthodonist bill. Three of their library books are overdue and I have canvassed the house with no luck. My daughter Ellie's gymnastics center is calling to say I should have paid them on the 15th.

I depended mostly on memory to keep up with these responsibilities. I have a file for paperwork, but that is the extent of my bill-paying system. I put the library books on a table near the front door and instructed the kids to put them back there each night.

But with three kids who are into many activities and who also have to go to the doctor and the dentist and religious school and camp and on and on, it seems like there is no longer enough room in my brain to keep up with the constantly growing list of things to get done. Instead of the routine getting easier as they get older, it seems like keeping up is getting more complicated.

Do you have a good system for organizing your life? How do you keep up with your kids' (and your own) appointments and when each piper has to be paid? Do you use a Blackberry or other computerized appointment tool? Or do you depend on your brain, which used to be reliable but like mine, started to decline at age 40?

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231)

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July 24, 2007

Football? Let's play

Soon as I read Brittany's post below, my 12-year-old walked in from his own tackle football practice -- banged up elbow, swollen finger, on top of the bruised arms and scratched cheek from last week.

And Alec was beaming. He's wears his wounds like a badge of honor.

He has participated in some kind of team sport year round since he was 4. But this is his first time at tackle -- except for pickup games in the front yard. We resisted letting him play tackle for years -- not so much out of fear of injury, but because it's at least a 5-day a week commitment.

Now, after a grueling two-hour practice, he comes home sweat-drenched and pumped. I've rarely seen him as excited about a sport as he's been about football. And they haven't even played a game yet.

One of the coaches is a friend, and he said it's a good thing I haven't been to any's a little rough out there, apparently.

I don't entirely get it. But I'm not going to question it, either. If it works for Alec, it works for me.

See ya on the battlefield, Brittany.


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Playing football with a cracked back

Creed has always loved sports. And now he has a broken back. Should we still let him play tackle football?
I know it sounds ridiculous, but the answer we've arrived at is yes. We're going to send our 12-year-old son out onto the football field with a fractured L5 vertebra.footballphoto.jpg
The docs say it's OK, as long as he's not in pain. Come on, football is a great game!
Get into the spirit!
You can never assume that just because you have healthy children and seemingly good genes, that the next day isn't going to remind you of that cliche about what you do when you "assume'' something.
Creed had had back pain when he was 9, and when he complained of lower back pain again this year, they ran a bunch of tests. (Now I know why health insurance is so expensive.)
After x-rays, a bone scan and an MRI, doctors determined last week that Creed has spondylosis, some kind of defect that makes you susceptible to stress fractures in your back.
And furthermore, his "L5'' is fractured all the way through, on both sides.
Apparently this is usually caused by playing sports. Not necessarily tackle football, either. It was maybe the wrestling, or baseball, or any sport that requires hyperextension of the back.
The words "body cast'' have not been mentioned. bodycast.jpg
They say if he's in pain, he'll have to drop out of sports for three months.
That would be devastating.
I'm a sports cultist, really. I see the power of team sports on a boy.
I'm really not willing to give that up for Creed, by being overly conservative about this injury.
Maybe other parents would take tackle football off the list. But if sports playing is a great influence on a kid, football is the king daddy. It's almost like boot camp that a kid agrees to.
I love it.
And I'm not having my kid to turn into an obese TV-junkie who smokes pot.

POSTED IN: Health (111)

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July 23, 2007

Cursing at the age of 3

Apparently my husband thinks its acceptable for our son to express his displeasure by uttering a certain curse word. We're not talking about the F-bomb here. And in the great scheme of things, it isn't considered one of the curse words that's so horrifying, but still. He's not even four years old yet.

Here's an example for you. We were in the restroom at the mall the other day and Evan was trying to wash his hands with soap but the dispenser was all out of soap.

"Damn it," Evan said.

"Honey, don't say that word, it's not a good word for us to use," I told him.

He got annoyed. My amused husband said that this simply illustrates how children easily pick things up and mimic their parents. Duh. And that it's not such a bad word and we shouldn't scold him for doing something that we do. Hmm. The dictionary defines it as "to condemn, especially to hell." I don't think a preschooler needs to be condeming the lack of soap in a bathroom with such finality.

So yes, we have to watch what we say. But I still don't think that gives our boys a free pass to drop the D word or worse.

I'm not going make the ol "wash your mouth out with soap" threat. Any suggestions on enforcing a no-cursing rule in the house and explaining why certain words shouldn't be used? I'm afraid I sometimes come up short after the constant "why" question when I issue an edict. "Because I said so" doesn't seem to cut it.

POSTED IN: Say what!?! (25)

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Harry Potter internet sites

By now, if you're into Harry Potter, you've finished the book. But you have all that mental energy to burn off --my girls tell me the book is quite intense.

So, now is one of those times you and your child can go on the Internet together and continue reading. You can send them to:

Discussion groups (, a general site ( or, if they're not done reading,, a site that has chapter-by-chapter discussion.

POSTED IN: Activities (143)

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July 20, 2007

Is Hairspray (the movie) ok for a 7-year-old?

As I write this, my 7-year-old daughter is with a friend (and a parent) watching the movie Hairspray. (She loves tween stars Zac Ephron and Amanda Bynes, both of which are in the show.) She has been dying to see it and when the offer came this morning, I talked with the parent (my friend Renee) to see if she knew if it as appropriate for 7-year-olds. It is, after all, rated PG. (Renee said she had read about it and thought it was.) I hadn't had a chance to check it out.

So now, after the fact I realize, I looked it up on Common Sense Media, which reviews films, dvds and music for families.

While Common Sense gave it 4 stars (out of 5), it says its geared to the 11 and up crowd. I am thrilled to find that the major themes are accepting people's differences (whether its weight or skin color). Not sure if my daughter will pick up on these themes, but I am anxious to hear her questions and comments about the movie.

This reminds me of one of the first conversations I had about the awareness of race with my daughter, when she was about 4. She came home from school with a self portrait and had colored her skin a peach color. (I am of Indian origin so I have brown skin; She is half Indian, half Irish American, but she also has brown skin.)

I said, "Priya, why did you make yourself that color?"
She said, "Because it's skin color. Mackenzie says that's what color it is."
I said, "But you and Mackenzie don't have the same skin color. Yours is brown, just like mine. Mackenzie's is peach. And other people have different colors."
She thought about it for a while and said, "You're right."
Accepted it, just like that. Ever since, she's colored herself brown.


POSTED IN: Elementary School (54)

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July 19, 2007

It's a Harry weekend!

There's only one thing of importance happening around my house this weekend: Reading.

And perhaps a little fighting over The Book. It seems excessive to buy two copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but it may come to that. There are three of us who want to read it. Finally, we get to see how it all turns out for Harry and his gang.
We'll be up past midnight on Friday, attending the bookstore party. There are Potter events throughout this month to celebrate these books that have been the threshhold to reading for millions of children.

The party on Friday, along with last weekend's viewing of the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, were just warm-ups to what my kids have been waiting for most of their lives.
When she was in second-grade, Abby, now 15, wrote that her first life goal was to finish reading all the Harry Potter books by the time she was 11. J.K. Rowling didn't quite cooperate with the timing, but Abby's first life goal will be met sometime on Saturday.

The boy wizard's adventures helped turn her into the reader that she is today. While waiting for the next Potter installment, she has discovered wonderful books including Diana Wynne Jones' Young Wizard series, Terry Pratchett's strange Discworld, Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series, C.S. Lewis' even more classic Narnia, Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy and many more.

Beth also caught the Potter bug years ago. To be ready for this weekend, she has spent this week re-reading all six Potter books.

Our home is abuzz with Potter discussion. Is Snape bad or good? Will Harry die? (I sincerely hope not. That would be a spectacularly awful way to end a children's book series.)

And the more esoteric: Is Harry's scar a horcrux? Where is the Deathly Hallows? And, of course, will Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione end up as one big happy Weasley family?

Is your family in a Potter craze, too?


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Is there a Harry Potter out there for my 2-year-old?

potter.jpg I watch in amazement as Harry Potter mania engulfs parents and kids all around me.

Ana Isabel, 2, is a few years to young to get us personally involved in that, which is fine. But I heard on National Public Radio this morning that there are other children's series out there for younger readers.

Something tells me Ana will be a reader, considering her two parents are writers. Her mother reads to her every day, and Ana often picks out the books. As she gets older, I think it would be great to get her hooked on reading series and NPR says there are other series out there for younger children.

I'm sure some day my wife will turn Ana onto Nancy Drew. But until then, do you have any suggestions for toddlers and book series?

POSTED IN: Toddler (127)

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July 18, 2007

"My counselor is sooo mean!!!!"

My 10-year-old daughter Rachel has been at two camps this summer, and at both she has managed to be led by the worst counselors.meancounselor.jpg

They don't let her get water when she's thirsty. They make sarcastic comments. They make threats, like saying if the group doesn't quiet down, they will not be allowed free swim, "and your parents won't be able to do anything about it!"

These comments are not the worst thing in the world. But I am paying lots of money for these camps, and I expect a high-quality teenage counselor. I expect them to be outgoing, gentle, funny and a positive role model (yes, I expect a lot!).

At both camps, I have contacted higher-ups to complain. Now I feel guilty. Should I let Rachel learn about the real world without my intervention? Or is it right to tattle to the bosses?

POSTED IN: Elementary School (54)

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July 17, 2007

Guilt and the working mom

Here's some earth-shattering news: Survey says working mothers would prefer to have part-time jobs.

Duh. Mothers, fathers, the child-free...who wouldn't want to work just a little bit less?

The survey by the reputable Pew Research Center revealed that working moms are feeling the guilt, too, rating themselves as less competent than part-time or stay-at-home moms. Count me among the guilty.

All us working moms juggle and bend and sacrifice. Maybe our houses aren't as clean, our meals aren't as solid, our kids don't get to participate in every enriching afterschool activity. Certainly our own health and well-being are compromised.

But I think my kids benefit from knowing I have a life outside their orbit. They are adaptable, independent kids who will be ready to face the world when their time comes. And frankly, I like to work. It's just not in my makeup to stay home. Does that make me selfish? Maybe.

I realize the more I work, the more they are cheated. Their needs are different than when they were babies and toddlers, but no less important. Maybe more important because the issues are so complex. I should be the calm in the center of their tween and teen storms. They shouldn't have to be the victims of my work-related stress.

At the end of the day, being a good parent is the most important job we do. It's our legacy, our responsibility, to raise kids who will grow up to contribute to society in a positive way.


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So now we can't leave our kids in the car alone?!

Lily, welcome to the liquor store.
On July 1, it became a serious crime to leave your child alone in a car. State legislators felt they had to pass this law because of the 5 percent or so of parents out there in our state who have no common sense and should not be allowed to breed. Such as people who would leave a baby in a hot car while going to bet on horses in Pompano.
That's serious, stuff, I agree. Similar to placing a child in a microwave oven and hitting the "popcorn'' button.
Not sure if you read the story we had about this, when it became law.
The only time I leave my kids in the car alone is when I go the liquor store to buy beer. (How's that for a campaign slogan?)
I run in there for 5 minutes. I think it's fine. Especially since this liquor store was once held up by an armed robber.
I keep reading about how fast a car becomes a sauna when the windows are up, sunoncar.jpg
so I leave a window slightly cracked. (Will this delay the sauna effect? The stories really haven't said. But I assume so.)
Now I have to worry about an officer quizzing my 5 year old to determine whether I've committed a traffic infraction (for leaving child 1 to 14 minutes), a misdemeanor of the second degree (15 minutes or more) or a felony of the third degree (child suffers permanent damage, other than loneliness).driveinliqour.jpg

You could ask my daughter ANYTHING and she would say yes.
"Are you hot, little girl? Are your toes feeling numb? Have you been in here for four and a half hours?''
So I'll either have to take my chances at jail time, or introduce Lily to the tequila and whiskey.
Meanwhile, since the law only applies to kids younger than 6, I can leave my 12-year-old son, Creed, sweltering in the car while I go bet on horses in Pompano.
Thanks, Tallahassee.

POSTED IN: General (185)

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July 16, 2007

I don't need a play-by-play, but a little feedback would be nice ...

I'd love to hear from parents about their preschool experiences and the level of feedback that they get.

Because while my son is not technically in preschool yet, he has spent the last several weeks in a part-time summer camp program that has a great reputation and is quite popular in the Boynton area.

He's quite tall and he'll be four in September, so he's probably bigger and a little more mature than most of the kids in his class. Yet, he has been a stay-at-home kid for most of his life and being dropped off at school has been a huge adjustment for him.

To that end, I've been a little inquisitive of his teacher. How'd he do, I ask. Fine, she says. Ohhh. Fine, huh? You know, I understand that she has 16 kids in her classroom, but she's got two other teachers there as well. Going to school is huge for Evan, and short of surreptitiously installing a nanny-cam in a cubby to spy on my son, I'm depending on her to let me know how my son is doing. Is he interacting with the kids? Is he hanging out by himself? Does he sing along with the other kids? Is he going potty while he's there? Things like that.

I try to ask specific questions but I get this vague answer about how he's doing just great. So I'm wondering if the lack of feedback is because this is considered summer camp? For his part, Evan says his time there is sometimes fun, sometimes just okay, and sometimes he only likes it "a little bit."

POSTED IN: Nancy Othon (21), Toddler (127)

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July 13, 2007

Hatin' Summer

At the beginning of summer, I wrote about how wonderful summer time is, how I love lazy, hazy days and vacation time with my kids. I believe I called it 'Lovin Summer'.

What a lie. Every year, around this time that is the middle of July, I realize the truth: I hate summer time. Most of all, I hate being a working parent when my kids are out of school.

I hate that I have to schedule every single day with camp or a babysitter or a day off.

I hate that I have to pay tons of money for said days of camp or babysitter.

I hate that when my kids want to sleep in, I have to wake them up (to go to camp, or the babysitter.)

I hate that somedays when my friends take care of my kids (which i am EXTREMELY thankful for) they tell me at the end of the day what a glorius day they had at the beach/pool/park, and how much fun they had with my kids.

I hate that when we go on vacation, I don't feel like coming back home, back to reality.

I hate that I am counting the days until school begins. (37 days.)

I hate...hating summer.



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July 12, 2007

My daughter, nearly 2, discovers her nipples

My wife was undressing Ana Isabel the other day readying her for a bath when the baby looked down at her chest.
Pointing to her nipples, she asked in her little girl voice: "What's this?"

Carrie Ann responded: "Those are your nipples."

"Nipples?" Ana said. "Nipples, good."

My little girl then proceeded to walk around the house repeating the name of her newly-discovered body part and pulling on them.

Carrie didn't stop the baby. "I didn't slap her hands down and say nice girls don't do that," Carrie said. She doesn't want our daughter to get the impression that her body is something to be ashamed of, or for Ana to grow up with self-esteem or body-image problems. So we figure it's best to be honest with our daughter.

Throw-in my mother-in-law's knowing comment. "What until she discovers her vagina." And it all makes me uncomfortable.

I know it's natural and normal. And I support my wife's approach. But my tendency would have been to tell my daughter to stop it and say good girls don't do that.

So I wonder how other's handle a chid's natural curiosity about their bodies and an inclination to pass down our own insecurities.

POSTED IN: Toddler (127)

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July 11, 2007

Transformers movie a blast from the past

-- By Reporting Assistant Cindy Kent

Movies are a great way to connect with others.

So, chatting in the office about the release of the Transformers movie led me and another mother to discuss why we would be interested in the tale. Our sons, when they were younger, played with the Transformers toys.

When I heard a Transformer movie was being released, my first thought was: "It's about time." And apparently others think the same, according to Fandango, the movie ticket-seller Web site.

Opening weekend, Fandango reported that Transformer showings were sold out. And their survey of why folks were buying tickets indicated that 75% had watched the cartoons when they were kids; 65% had played with the actual toys; and 24% had read the comic books.

There wasn't a category on how many were parents of those whose kids played with Transformers almost two decades ago. But not to worry, I bought my tickets -- some things never transform, or is that change....

POSTED IN: Entertainment (114)

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Of bee I sing

I pride myself in knowing the lyrics of all the pop songs from the 1970s, the era of my teenage years and to me, the golden age of American music.

Nothing written after 1990 can compete with that era, which I make sure to tell my 13-year-old daughter all the time. So I enjoyed watching NBC's The Singing Bee with her last night and showing off my knowledge of pop lyrics.


The show asks contestants to finish the lyrics of pop songs from the past 40 or so years. These contestants also sing and dance without inhibition. They couldn't care less that their voices cracked or their coordination lacked, which made them even more endearing.

ZZ Top, Bananarama, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Three Dog Night: The contestants had to know songs from all these classic groups last night.

To my great surprise, my teenager knew almost as many 30-year-old songs as I did, which reinforced for me the everlasting quality of '70s and '80s music. Lately, she's been singing Living On A Prayer (Bon Jovi) and Hooked On A Feeling (Ouga Chaka Ouga!), songs she learned in camp, reinforcing my greatest-era-of-music philosophy.

Have your kids been discovering music from your childhood, or are they hooked on the feeling that only music post-2000 rocks?

POSTED IN: Entertainment (114)

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July 10, 2007

Freckle face

Lily told me yesterday that she "hates'' freckles.
She said I need to buy a product she saw on tv, to get rid of my freckles.
"It has a blue lid and you put it on your face and it gets rid of all your freckles,'' she said.freckle.jpg
I told her that I liked my freckles, thank you very much, and that I was not buying this product with a blue lid.
"Then you won't be beautiful,'' she said.
She wants me to buy it for her. She's starting to get a couple of light freckles.
"When I was a baby, I had a clean face,'' she said. "So you need to get me that stuff so I can clean up my face.''
I told her she has a beautiful face, already.
"I don't want to look like you,'' she said. "You have lots and lots of freckles.''
So she's 5 and ready for makeup. I took her with me that morning to a city office to look at a development file. She grabbed a business card, then got another, telling the receptionist, "This one's for my husband.''
Then on the way home, she asked me "where do you get married?''
"In a church,'' I responded.
"Do they put down a red carpet?''
"Well, you can get one if you want,'' I said to budding Bridezilla, "but not usually.''
"Do they have pink carpets?'' she asked.
"I suppose you could find one,'' I answered, (on ebay).

POSTED IN: Pre-K (25)

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July 9, 2007

All kids bicker, study says

Kids are bound to disagree with each other. And they disagree most often with those with whom they share the closest quarters and emotional intimacy: their brothers and sisters.

So says a KidsHealth KidsPoll released today. In the poll of 1,245 kids ages 9-13, 28 percent said they argue with other kids every day and 25 percent do it every week. In all, 64 percent of kids said there's a disagreement at home at least weekly. And more than half of the kids said that the person with whom they fight the most is their brother or sister.
Whew. That's a lot of arguing. The good news of the survey is that a third of kids reported that when they disagree, they ultimately talk it out or work it out.

The bad news is that 26 percent reported that they hit or get physical in a fight. And 18 percent said they use mean words or yell.

No kids are born knowing how to resolve conflicts, but conflict is normal and inevitable. As parents, our job is to teach kids how to disagree without using their fists. offers these tips for parents to help teach them to work out their disagreements:

1.  Set limits on behavior. Let kids know that it’s not OK to hit, push, or shove when they argue. Be clear that these behaviors are
not acceptable.
2.  Get back to basics. Helping kids learn how to get along with others boils down to a few basic principles that parents should remember when helping their kids: take turns, play fair, use your words, say it nicely, apologize, and share.
3.  Encourage healthy communication. Help kids learn to use words to express their feelings, thoughts, and needs.
4.  Provide guidance. But do not referee or get worked up yourself. Instead of deciding who is right, help kids work out a compromise. In some situations, parents can also ask their children what they think the fair solution should be - and help them work to find a compromise.
5.  Role model. Parents should make a point not to use putdowns or get physical when they’re angry, and to apologize if their temper flares and causes them to say something they might regret.
6.  Praise. When kids do these things well, reward them with positive feedback.

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Get your child running

Two thoughts today converge with the same conclusion: Maybe it's time to get kids running more.

Runners' World has all kinds of tips on how to make running fun for your child, including an article on how to get them writing about their running experiences.

Meanwhile, the annual Sprint Kids race at Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale is Saturday. Registration costs only $10.
My son and his friend have done the run-bike-run event for the past two years, even though neither one is really an athlete. It takes about 30 minutes, you can run alongside your child and help them transition from bike to run. Then go hang out on the beach for the afternoon.

POSTED IN: Activities (143)

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July 6, 2007

Best of the BEST South Florida Fun

Want to know what's great for families around South Florida? Trust other parents to tell you. That's what we do at South Florida Parenting every year when we compile the Kids Crown Awards. Our readers pick the winners and we write about them.

South Florida Parenting's annual Kids Crown Awards issue, featuring the best places, activities and experiences in South Florida for kids and families, is available now.
This year's issue also features 109 inductees into the Kids Crown Hall of Fame, places that are honored as the Best of the BEST. How did we come up with 109 Hall of Famers, you might ask? Well, that was how many places have won Kids Crown Awards at least five times in the past 10 years. Many of the Hall of Fame honorees have won every year.

There are also 137 other winners — all nominated and chosen by South Florida Parenting readers — in five categories: Family Outings, Family Eating, Family Shopping, Children's Activities and Important Matters.

Check out the winners online, or pick up your South Florida Parenting magazine at Toys "R" Us or wherever you usually find it.

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July 5, 2007

From crib to bed

Ana Isabel is nearly two. She's a big girl that loves her crib.
But we know the day is coming when she'll either climb out of it or just get to be to big to sleep in it.

The question is when is it time to make the transition. Other parents we know made the change when their children starting climbing out of the crib. That's not Ana. She's not a climber.

And wouldn't you know it, Ana seem to hate going in the crib when she was younger. Now we have a hard time imagining her out of it.

Any suggestion to smooth the transition from her crib to a real bed?

POSTED IN: Toddler (127)

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July 4, 2007

Sleepaway camp in the 21st century

Like Nick Sortal in the post below, my kids are also in sleepaway camp. But unlike Nick, I have not been wrestling with how much distance we should maintain. I remain obsessed with them!sleepaway.jpg

We didn't let my 13-year-old daughter take her cell phone to camp. But I send all three kids e-mails through Bunk1, a fabulous site our camp in Georgia connected with a few years ago. You can e-mail your kid and they get the letter the next day, although they can't e-mail you back. They have to write back the old-fashioned way.

Our camp also takes hundreds of pictures of the kids every day and posts them on the site. This has become my summer obsession: I check every few hours to see if there are new pictures. You can also read camp newsletters and send the kids care packages through Bunk1.

Sleepaway camp is definitely a time the kids start to learn to live away from their parents. But that doesn't mean they, or we, have to give up every modern convenience. Long live Bunk1!

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July 3, 2007

Cellular degeneration, part II

Well, I didn't get much input from you all about whether to get my son a cell phone for his 12th birthday. So I actually had to make the decision myself.
Since you didn't help, don't tell me what a huge mistake I'm making, now that I have decided that I should get Creed a cell phone, and also supply a modest amount of minutes per month as my parental obligation, but make him earn/pay for any additional minutes he wants.

I've been checking out his friends' cell phones. They are fancy. Not quite iphone caliber, but expensive looking.
I'm not a parent who thinks my children need to be spoiled to the level their peers are spoiled. In fact, my strategy is to give my kids less. Fewer material possessions, but more discipline, and yes, less freedom.
My gosh, this sounds un-American! And right before Independence Day!
But it's not radical, really.
I want my kids to be satisfied with not very much. Consumer greed destroys people. I'm teaching my kids not to use credit cards, not to buy things they don't have money for, and not to desire the best-of-the-best-of-the-best cell phone.
So I got Creed a pay-as-you-go phone, with no contract.
It was cheap. If he loses it, no one will fall to the ground gnashing their teeth.
We can buy $15 worth of minutes, and he can learn to conserve them.
You're probably glad I'm not your mom. But that's what I did.
Or maybe this is all ridiculous to some of you, and you're thinking "YOU GOT YOUR SPOILED BRAT 12 YEAR OLD A CELL PHONE?!?!?''

POSTED IN: Pre-Teen (57)

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July 2, 2007

Finally, the Diego show ...

Or ... How Baby Jaguar Got His Growl Back.

Sunday finally arrived. It was time to go see Diego (otherwise known as Dora the Explorer's cousin), the lovable animal rescuer of Nick Jr. fame.

We packed up the kids and headed to Fort Lauderdale, where we immediately encountered a traffic jam at the parking lot not seen by me since I saw the Dave Matthews Band in West Palm. Jeez, that many parents fell for this? Of course, my husband said. Kids entertainment is scarce around here.

My sons and I were suffering from a cold, but I wasn't about to let a few sniffles and coughs stop us from this. Besides, I'm supposed to just let $130 go to waste?

I must say, the show delivered -- at least for Evan. I don't know that Elias is too young, since there were other kids younger than him clearly enjoying themselves. But it could be a combination of the fact that he wasn't feeling great and he hates loud noises. So hundreds of kids screaming for Diego and growling at the top of their lungs was not a good thing.

My husband and I took turns holding Eli, with Jeff ending up taking Eli on countless elevator rides during the second half. Meanwhile, Evan was completely enraptured with the songs,the dancing and even the plot. Personally, I was too distracted by watching Evan and consoling Elias half the time to pay attention to the plot, but it was something about Baby Jaguar losing his growl to some evil monkeys and finally getting it back.

Along the way, there was a cameo appearance by Dora, the Rescue Pack (some guy who with really good dance moves lugging a gigantic backpack twice his size on his shoulder) and Diego's sister Alicia. And there were great, catchy songs about being special and some sort of animal carnival. And lots of merengue dancing, which I appreciated.

One of our Diego show companions, Sasha, who turns two in a couple months, also LOVED the dancing. So much she looked like she had just consumed a liter of Mountain Dew, she was dancing so energetically.

All in all a good show, with the exception of the fact that it took us literally 40 minutes to walk out of the theater and actually exit the parking lot in our car. Note to Nick Jr: let's have more of these tours and shows, and maybe lower the price a little!

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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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