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

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South Florida parents share their stories and advice


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September 30, 2011

Princess Envy

By Jennifer Jhon, Teenlink editor

Our little PrincessReading Joy’s post about her daughter’s Princess Phase, I have to admit I am jealous.

When I found out I was having a girl, I immediately started planning all the mom-daughter things we could do: crafts, baking, spa day, shopping….

But I’m not sure my girly-girl dreams are going to come true.

Despite having piles of adorable pink clothing and a closet full of frilly dresses, my daughter has shown no interest in clothes, except to get out of them. She hates her dresses, which hamper her crawling ability. And she protests every pair of shoes, no matter how cute they are.

Her preferred toys are cars. She actually sat up the other day, held up a car, and made a “zoom” sound while racing it through the air in front of her.

I blame my son.

She adores her older brother, and despite his occasional attempts at cross-dressing and mommy-shoe-wearing, he’s as far from “girl” as a boy can get. And I’m grateful for that.

But I’m hoping her love of all-things-brother will fade enough to let a Princess obsession – or at least an appreciation for tutus and tiaras – creep in.

POSTED IN: Guest Post (79), Toddler (127)

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September 28, 2011

Parents show child how to chug at tailgate

One of the best parts of parenthood is seeing my child mimic the things me and the hubbie do -- like grabbing her plastic purple rake to help with the gardening. Or clomping around the house in my heels. Or clicking her plastic cup of apple juice when we make a toast.

But having a kid mimic the college sport of chugging while downing Capri-Sun blended with water is outrageous.

Watch and squirm. Just remember to push your slack jaw closed:

POSTED IN: Joy Oglesby (134)

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Teens change Facebook names to hide from colleges

Have you noticed your teen has a new name on Facebook? As they start applying to colleges, they realize that photos of them partying in compromising positions are not going to impress admissions officers. So they are changing their names to make it harder for colleges to find them.
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A kid whose last name is "Grossman" will change his Facebook last name to something like "Yuckman," or if her last name is "Ellis," she'll change it to "Ellis Island," so she is still recognizable to friends but not to an investigating admissions officer.

I was curious whether colleges really spend time checking applicants' Facebooks, so I asked Naomi Steinberg, owner of Apply Yourself Educational Consulting in Boca Raton. Here's what she said:

"High schoolers will always try to stay a step ahead of their parents. Now they are showing their prowess by staying a step ahead of college admissions folks. Ask any senior in high school what his or her Facebook name is and you will find that they have morphed their FB identity into something slightly peculiar and mysterious that only their “friends” can figure out."

"Why bother with this? The latest survey from Kaplan Test Prep found that 24% of college admissions officers had visited an applicant's Facebook page to learn more about them while 20% 'Googled' an applicant. It is clear that a student’s online reputation is subject to review in college admissions (and in their next phase of life, they will revisit this when applying for jobs). Students and parents should expect that trend to increase."

"As parents and advisors, of course we should be encouraging kids to make good choices and maintain favorable online reputations. In reality, we know we cannot monitor and control every move they make, every photo they or their friends take, and what they have in their hands when the photo is taken."

Steinberg said the seniors' real names magically reappear once they get their acceptances.

Photo: Flickr/Sean MacEntee


POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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September 27, 2011

Overwhelmed with housework? Hand that mop to your child

Now that so many women work and also raise children, there's a huge number of us feeling overwhelmed with housework. We're also overwhelmed with child-rearing. And the solution is just so obvious: The kids should be doing the housework.

I was inspired when a co-worker told me that she has her four-year-old mopping.

I decided it was time to stop protecting my children from suffering the overload of housework that I felt I suffered as a child. I decided I had to stop cleaning messes immediately, and learn to walk away, assigning the work to one of the kids.

It takes an adjustment.

Some readers might be appalled that there is any mom out there not forcing her children to help clean the house. But back me up, working moms. Do you always have time to get your child to clean her room, if you arrive home from work and childrens' extra-curricular endeavors at 8 p.m., feed your starving kid, make sure homework gets done, toss the kid in the tub if needed, and put her to bed well past a reasonable bedtime for a child?

Are you even home on weekends? And if you are, is your child at someone else's house playing, or having someone else play at your house? Are you at a sports game your child is participating in? A birthday party for a friend? Does your child, like mine, get homesick because she's never there?

Do you really always find time in a given week to check boxes on some kind of Martha Stewart chore chart?

If you are juggling all that and a more-than-40-hours work week, and ever getting five minutes to speak to your spouse, you are a better working mom than I am.

So here we are. And it takes effort to add housework to your child's day. But the child behavior experts seem to think it's a good idea.

My nine-year-old daughter resisted the first time I made her walk away from something fun, to do some housework. She moped around with her hair hanging over her face, her body slouched. She wouldn't speak to me as she trudged around cleaning. But she picked up steam as she saw the results of her work. Housework is so rewarding in that way. My daughter took pride in how clean her room was by the end of it. And she happily accepted the mop, too. I quickly progressed to giving her baskets of towels to fold.

Then she felt like she'd actually earned her allowance. Same with my son, a 16-year-old, who I decided would be cleaning the main bathroom from here on out.

Finally, a parenting decision that makes my house cleaner.

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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September 20, 2011

School start date: Ignoring the will of voters, again

Will Florida public officials keep subverting the will of the people? Now Palm Beach County school officials want to start the 2012-13 school in early August, again, despite a 2006 statewide vote that required school to start no more than two weeks before Labor Day.

They got permission to do this in 2010, but couldn't get it in the current year, when school started Aug. 22. As my colleague Marc Freeman's story details, school planners want an equal number of days in the two semesters of the year and want first semester exams to take place before winter break.

These are laudable goals. But in the current school year, school started on a more reasonable date, exams are taking place before winter break, and even though there are 82 days in the semester instead of the desired 87, I don't think you are going to see a big difference in teacher morale or student test scores.

This reminds me of the class-size exemptions the Legislature approved, which also ignore voters' will to reduce class sizes. There are now 500 exemptions to the class-size law, including core classes my kids take, such as science, where they are cramming in 37 kids. Have our votes on education in our state become totally useless?

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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September 15, 2011

Target’s baby policy not on target

By Lisa J. Huriash

I am outraged over Target’s baby coupon policy.baby-mailer.jpg


Remember Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi? This is the equivalent of No Coupons For You!

Apparently Target has a baby mailer with oodles of coupons for diapers, formula, pacifiers, bottles, and baby food - among many other items.

The mailer comes to your house for years on end. My colleague’s daughter is 8 and she’s been getting the mailings (for diapers!) since the girl was a baby.

But the rub is you have to cross your fingers and get chosen for The List.

I first heard about the mailings from my national mom’s group where the ladies raved about it. Get a registry, they urged, to get on The List.

So I started my registry while pregnant for the sole purpose of getting the mailer. But that clearly didn’t work because last month, when my daughter was four months old, I began to get frustrated: Where are my coupons?

I called Target’s registry department to point out I was overlooked and a kind man explained that “some people get coupons and others don’t.”

The assignments are random, he said, and there’s no way to sign up for mailings that others get.

That must be a mistake, right? So I turned to the Internet to find information on The List and found the website www.totallytarget.com that has general Target coupons. According to the site addressing this issue: “I get asked often about how to get a mailer, but unfortunately there is no tried & true proven method to receive a mailer, there is no ‘list’ to ask to be put on. Some things may increase your chances like filling prescriptions, starting a registry, getting & spending on a REDcard- but really, you could end up doing all these things and still not get a mailer.”

People wrote in complaining they don’t get the mailers, and one guessed Target picks the ones they want to attract by ZIP code. Although one poster had luck after she filed a complaint with customer service, so I tried that, too.

(Hey, they really DID run out of Similac soy!)

But still no coupons.

This has to be wrong, right? So I contacted Jessica Deede in Target’s corporate public relations office in Minnesota by email and we also chatted on the phone. I told her I needed clarification about The List and why some customers get extra special TLC.

My request was last week. Today I finally get a written response: “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, unfortunately, I just don’t have any information to share at this time.”

What is YOUR comment? Do YOU think this is a bizarre business practice?

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231)

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September 14, 2011

High school starts too early: 7:28 A.M.

There was something so sad about the line of cars in the carpool line this morning.

It was about 7 a.m. and the sun was just rising. As I watched the teenagers get out of their cars, they seemed to be moving in slow motion.

They probably weren't excited to be at school. But the hour of the day certainly did not help: Studies show teenagers have trouble falling asleep before midnight because of bodily changes associated with puberty.

Teenagers need eight to 10 hours of sleep but get an average 7 hours and 20 minutes, a Brown University study found. This is no surprise to any parent of a teenager who finds their kid in an impossible-to-awaken sleep when the alarm goes off around 6 a.m.

I have tried without success to get our high school to change its start time but have encountered resistance from the administration. It's no big deal for me because I get up early, but I feel bad for our kids who have to concentrate in class when their brains aren't fully awake.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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September 13, 2011

Disappearing teens can drive parents crazy without saying a peep

If 7-year-olds could storm out of the house and disappear for a few hours while you sit home envisioning them in the back of a child molester's van, they probably would once in a while. But at that age, they're still afraid to leave the neighborhood alone.
Teen-agers have the guts to pull stunts like that. ("Stunts'' is what my parents called it, using angry tones of voice.)

runaway.jpg
This cute and innocent looking Davie teen was
so mad about his chores he even left his cell
phone behind.

I have to draw your attention to this story we had in the paper today, about a Davie 14-year-old who scared the crap out of his parents by walking off his mowing chore and disappearing overnight. Click here to read it.

I absolutely love the end of the story. This is a story you can laugh about; we know the teen came home safe and sound. Plus, it wasn't my son.

But I know, believe me, that teen-agers have just the right mixture of independence and mobility to take their protests farther than you ever could imagine, as a parent. That is, it's hard to imagine that Little Johnny, whose every stinking whim you catered to for 13 or 14 years, would leave you home replaying the Adam Walsh story in your mind over and over.

The first time your teen isn't where he's supposed to be, and is unreachable for an hour or two, you'll know what I'm talking about.

With my darling 16-year-old, I insist on having the cell phone numbers of all of his closest friends, as well as home numbers. If he doesn't pick up when I call, and still doesn't pick up when I call again a couple times, I call the friend. No answer? I call the next friend. Yes, I might be known by them as Creed's Psycho Mom, and I know I owe these boys lots of good snacks at my house. But I just can't stomach the not-knowing.

I'll post the full story on the jump, of the wayward Davie teen whose disappearance sparked a huge police department kidnapping search.

Teen, tired of chores, takes off
By Robert Nolin, Staff writer


The Broward Sheriff's Office called out its bloodhounds and sent its helicopter aloft with infrared sensors. Recorded "reverse 911" calls were beamed to every address within two miles. Davie police, assisted by other jurisdictions, went door-to-door with fliers depicting a grinning teen, missing and presumed kidnapped.

Nick Barnes, 14, had disappeared Sunday afternoon while mowing the lawn of his Davie home.

"We treated it as an abduction, worst case scenario," Davie Police Sgt. Christopher Chastain said.

It was more like a case of late-summer lethargy.

"He just got fed up with the chores and walked," Chastain said.

He was found a day later, having spent the night at a friend's house.

When his family left him Sunday, Barnes was cutting the grass. When they returned, he was suspiciously gone, leaving behind his cellphone, wallet, house keys and an open garage door.

Barnes' trek took him about 5 1/2 miles, to a friend's house in the Plantation neighborhood where he once lived. He spent the night there. Police, acting on a tip from someone who saw his photo in a news report, found Barnes around 11:30 Monday morning, walking down a nearby road.

But that was after investigators, searchers and, presumably, Barnes' parents, passed a nervous night. The boy had no history of running away, and the abruptness of his disappearance lent weight to an abduction theory that had police scrambling.

"We had every available resource," Chastain said. "This was ongoing all night."

The sergeant said it would be difficult to put a price on Barnes' search. "I couldn't even begin to determine it, costwise," he said. "You find him and he's fine, it's worth every penny."

Barnes' parents couldn't be reached for comment Monday. Neither could Barnes. Chastain said it's unlikely charges will be filed. But he did offer one suggestion for the wandering teen:

"I'd say more chores."

rnolin@tribune.com or 954-356-4525

Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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The princess phase

We are deep into the princess phase. For my 4-year-old it's always all about the princesses.

We must buy every published book (Golden or chapter) about Cinderella or Belle or Snow White. I must have ready answers to the behaviors of the princesses such as whether princesses pee, why Jasmine always wears pants, what Tiana likes to cook, why did Sleeping Beauty touch the spindle, why isn't Pocohantas in the coloring book?

princesses-blog600.jpg
For months, I resisted living and breathing princesses but have completely surrendered and now use their traits to keep the house in tip-top shape and my daughter active.

"Snow White loves scrubbing floors, don't you?," I ask my daughter.

"Let's read five books tonight just like Belle!"

"Tiana loves cooking dinner for her family, what are you making tonight?"

So I was more delighted than a princess at a ball when my coworker gave me the scoop last week about arranging for a Disney princess to call my daughter. The call from Belle congratulating her on being such a good helper "to her family and friend" threw my daughter through a loop. She wanted to know how Belle got my number and how did the princess know she was a good helper. Me: "I emailed her."

If your girl (or boy) is obsessed with princesses you should definitely request a call. Oh, and the princesses don't make calls until their morning chores are done, so the first scheduled call isn't until 10 a.m.


(Pictured: Salma Hayek and her 2-year-old daughter Valentina with Tiana, Cinderella and Snow White. Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney via Getty Images)

POSTED IN: Joy Oglesby (134)

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September 7, 2011

Why I banned the Kardashians from my house

I don't monitor my kids' TV watching as much as I should. They watch a lot of reality shows, ranging from the "Housewives" series to "The Glee Project."kardashian.jpg

And the most irritating of them all: "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." I know Kim Kardashian is famous for her sex tape. But on her family's reality series, she and her sisters seem to do a lot of laying lazily on their beds and going shopping.

Until I was making dinner one night and these words seemed to repeat themselves from the TV: "Sex." "Sex." "Sex." "Sex toys." It was almost like the producers had asked them to see how many times the words could be used in one segment. My 12-year-old and her friend were watching, and I told them to turn it off immediately.

I asked my 14-year-old why she watches the show. She started talking about all the intriguing family relationships. I told her to stop recording it because it was inappropriate.

But I realize that even if I ban the Kardashians, the kids can still watch them easily, on YouTube or so many other ways when I'm not looking. And I was right: After my "ban," I caught one of my kids watching the show on her iPod before she went to bed. I wonder what the Kardashian allure is that kids can't resist them.

Photo:Frank_John_Hi/Flickr

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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September 2, 2011

New baby? Finding ways to save money

By Lisa J. Huriash

1062529940_5490c9170e_m.jpg
As a new mom on a tight budget, I am always on the hunt to find the best deals. I have compared prices of diapers, wipes and formula and finally figured out that I can combine store coupons with manufacturer coupons with sales listed in the Sunday newspaper to try to get the lowest cost.

This is my list of some of the best places to score coupons or savings. If you know of any others, feel free to share!

www.publix.com/clubs/baby (Coupons mailed regularly for diapers and wipes and even coupons for free samples of items such as rice cereal and rubbing alcohol)

winndixie.com (Enroll in “Baby Club Program” to receive store coupons. You need a Reward Card to participate which can you apply for online)

www.enfamil.com (Join “Enfamil Family Beginnings” to get manufacturer formula coupons)

www.similac.com (Join “StrongMoms” to get mailed manufacturer formula coupons)

www.gerber.com (sign up for coupons for formula and baby food)

www.pampers.com (Join Pampers Village) to find out about when Pampers coupons will be in the Sunday newspaper. When you buy Pampers you can accumulate “Gifts To Grow” points to apply toward baby gifts

www.huggies.com/en-US (diaper coupons. Huggies also has a rewards program)

www.beechnut.com (Beech-Nut baby food coupons)

www.earthsbest.com (Earth Best diaper and food coupons although be warned not all the coupons on the company home page print because “this offer has expired.”)

www.johnsonsbaby.com (Johnson & Johnson products. Sign up for “Johnson’s by your side” for offers)

www.target.com (scroll the baby site to find deals. One posted now, for example, offers 15 percent savings when you buy two or more diapers, wipes, food, formula or toiletries through Sept. 10)

You can also sign up on Amazon Mom (free membership for savings of 15 percent off many items).

And, although it’s not a place for coupons, you can call for a free kite for your little one from the Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center at 561-841-KIDS.

Photo courtesy of paparutzi. Some rights reserved.

POSTED IN: Newborn (39), Shopping (28)

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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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