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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June 29, 2011

Journey to "Cake Boss": Was it worth it?

My kids want to get near anyone famous, so when we were planning a visit to New York, I asked them if they wanted to visit Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, N.J., home of "Cake Boss," the reality series on TLC.carlosbakery.jpg
The series documents life at the bakery, where owner Buddy Valastro directs a team of bakers and family members who decorate and sell elaborate pastries. Buddy is funny and has a lot of charisma, which has made the show a success and the little bakery a big tourist destination.

We waited in line for an hour to get into the bakery, and once inside, it was packed and claustrophobic. It was hard to see the pastries because of the crowds and I couldn't wait to get out of there.

But my kids were in heaven. Although they didn't get to see Buddy, they got a picture with his sister. Despite the crowds, the employees couldn't have been nicer and got everyone through efficiently.

We left with a box of cookies and cupcakes and a few T-shirts. It was an experience we'll remember, but I'm not sure I would go back.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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June 28, 2011

Put your kid on the Broward bus -- do society and yourself a favor!

Police are usually on hand in the main bus terminal in downtown
Fort Lauderdale, if you're worried about your kids being attacked
by panhandlers, or vice versa.

A long, long time ago I did something I considered edgy: I put my son on a Broward transit bus instead of driving him somewhere. At the time, I told him he had to always ride with a friend and carry a cell phone. I wasn't sure what would happen, but every time I mentioned this to parents complaining about running their kids all over the place, I got looks. You know, looks.

I made this decision after finding out that my son and his friends were riding bicycles far from home, across busy roads. He was 12.

Since then, he's become a regular on the bus, and my giant pickle jar is no longer full of laundry change.

Creed has yet to experience anything on the bus that had to be written up in a police incident report. He hasn't fallen out of his seat and broken a bone, like some riders have complained of. No bus ran over him, as accidentally happened to one unfortunate would-be rider.

I told him those years back that he should consider this a gift, like I've just bought him a key to a car! (This is best said with lots of excitement.)

He can criss-cross the county. He can even go to Miami if he wants to compare the real thing with everything that he's heard.

He and his friends ride the bus to Fort Lauderdale beach. (Transfers are involved. C average or better required.) They've gone many times out to Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, where teenagers are probably hated but there's no law against them being there (ditto for teens everywhere they hang out).

Try it. Close your eyes and put your child on the bus. This has nothing to do with the environment. It's for your child's independence, and your freedom as well.


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June 21, 2011

Is white-water rafting too risky for our kids?

I got the chills when I read about the death of Andrew Silvershein, the 16-year-old from Davie who died on a white-water rafting trip in Tennessee.silvershein.jpg

We want our kids to have adventures they will remember forever, and we trust the people in charge to keep them safe, even though we have to sign their lives away on release forms.

I went white-water rafting a few weeks ago and enjoyed the thrill of the twists and turns, colliding with rocks and getting soaked with cold water. We went over safety procedures in detail, but I'm not sure they would have mattered if I was in the same situation Andrew Silvershein was in.

My kids are scheduled to go white-water rafting with their camp this summer. I'm waiting to see if the camp is rethinking the trip. I'm sure the staff is being deluged with calls from worried parents.

Photo courtesy Silvershein family

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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June 19, 2011

Father's Day photos: The progression

Every year, we head to the beach around Father's Day, and my wife takes basically the same picture. We missed a couple of years, but here's the update:


My son obviously is getting bigger, but am I getting weaker?

Does anyone out there remember some parable about an Indian boy and a calf? Something like: If a young boy begins by lifting a calf, and continues lifting it as it grows, he'll be the strongest man on Earth?


The last year I'm even taller than him?

POSTED IN: General (185)

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June 16, 2011

This Father's Day, give something to your kids

It's been almost three years since I bought my last pack of cigarettes.

Three years of deeper breaths. Three years of $5 or more a day in my bank account. Three years of nicer smelling clothes. Three years of cleaner teeth and fresher breath.

Three years of my firstborn son never knowing what it's like to see his dad setting a carcinogen on fire and sticking it in his mouth, blowing the acrid result into the air for him to inhale.

Did I say child? Should have said children. Our first, Leo, was born in Feb. 2009. Our second, Angelo, was born in late April this year. Neither will ever see me smoke a cigarette.

Raf%20and%20boys.jpgWe'll probably name a dog Donatello

I'm not going to get holier-than-thou about the damage caused by cigarette smoking. Let's save a few steps and assume you've heard it. I gave up smoking shortly after I learned that Leo was on his way. At a physical check up, my doctor (who must have learned bedside manner from the technical advisers on the TV Series House, M.D.) told me I was... what was the word he used? Oh yeah.


Maybe that approach wouldn't have worked for you. My doctor ripped into me for deliberately doing things to my body that would reduce the time I have on this earth to watch my baby (now babies) grow up. That made me stupid, he said.

He didn't mean it. And he did. I'm no fool, and my doctor knew that (I hope). Lots of otherwise smart people have smoked and continue to do so. President Obama has famously struggled with the addiction to nicotine. Agree with his policies or disagree, President Obama is no fool. Well, except when (if) he intentionally lights a carcinogen, sticks it in his mouth and inhales the vile tasting result for... pleasure?


I can't look at my kids and think about taking up smoking again. Not ever.

Join me.

I won't go into how I was able to quit, except to say that I didn't do it alone. You don't have to either. Visit Tobacco Free Florida online, talk to your doctor, do what you need to do. Father's Day is a joyous occasion. Stick around for a few, would you?

Keep up with Sun Sentinel writer Rafael Olmeda on Facebook and Twitter.

TobaccoFreeFlorida_FathersDayInfographic_EmailVersion.jpg POSTED IN: Rafael Olmeda 2011 (10)

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June 15, 2011

Palm Beach County teachers face a grim future

Palm Beach County teachers face grim choices, as detailed in this story by Marc Freeman. They have not received a raise since the 2008-09 school year and now are asking for only a $500 raise for next year as long as none has to take an unpaid furlough.

This modest proposal shows me they understand the school district has little money for raises with a $35 million deficit. The school district had offered a choice of no raises and no furloughs, or a one-day furlough and raises for teachers in their first 10 years of employment (so the district can better compete with neighboring counties).

None of these options bodes well for the future of the profession. The economy is unlikely to improve for a while, meaning teachers likely will continue not to get raises. Who would want to enter a field where you know you will not get a raise and will be criticized for the benefits you get?

It amazes me that my kids have gotten consistently good teachers in spite of these obstacles. It shows you become a teacher because you love to teach, not because you expect a lucrative future.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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June 10, 2011

Words I shouldn't have banned

I am paying dearly, every day, for words that I've banned.

Like stupid. It is a word discouraged at school and when told by my 4-year-old that stupid is a word we shouldn't use, I whole-heartedly agreed as much as I could while trying to keep my eyes and ears peeled to the action of Law & Order.

ban-mikkoluntiala.jpgUm is on the list, too. And hate (which I clearly say more than I realized because every other second I'm reminded that "hate is strong word and we aren't supposed to say it."

And when she jokingly called me a knucklehead, I banned that word but said bobohead was completely acceptable because that's one of my favorite words and I didn't want that on the no-no list.

What words do you regret banning?

(Photo: Mikko Luntiala, Flickr)

POSTED IN: Joy Oglesby (134)

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June 7, 2011

Video: Florida teacher punches student

This video of a Florida teacher punching a student isn't the whole story but it's alarming. I mean, geez, what the heck did this student do to make the teacher cold-clock him, and what is going on in classrooms that a teacher would resort to violence?

The state attorney isn't going to charge the woman with child abuse but the school district is investigating the incident so she's not out of the woods, yet.


Should teachers be trained to walk, or run away, from threatening situations like this or are all parents now on notice that their misbehaving child will get a beat down in class?

POSTED IN: Joy Oglesby (134)

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Do you reward your kids for good grades?

My kids did well in school this year, and all I did was say "congratulations." I get the feeling they want something more tangible, meaning, gifts.

My 17-year-old hinted that her FRIENDS were getting presents for their straight As. I knew what she was getting at, but I did not take the bait.

My kids went to Montessori pre-schools, which encourage love of learning for its own sake, not for a reward. I embraced this philosophy and have tried to reinforce it in my house.

I see parents carrying presents or flowers at awards ceremonies and wonder if I should do the same. I know my kids would appreciate it, but I feel like it would go against the ideas I am trying to instill. Still, I wonder if I am denying them a pleasure they deserve for their hard work.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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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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