Being a Better Parent, Domestic Engineering, Kids and Cleaning

Outsmarted and Outfoxed: When Kids Call Your Bluff

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Dana Macario at the mom blog “18 Years to Life” recently wrote an account
of how, to teach her kids to pick up their toys, she and her husband gathered up all the toys strewn about, stuffed them into large trash bags, put them in a closet and told their kids that
for each night they picked up the rest of their toys, they could earn back one of the “hostage” toys. Logic would dictate that the kids would want their toys back badly, and it would take so long
to earn them back, that once earned back, the kids would think twice in the future about leaving them lying everywhere. Logic would say this was a great way to teach kids a lesson in being neat
without having to nag, “Pick up your toys!!”  Only Dana’s kids chose …

Being a Better Parent, Domestic Engineering, Grandparents

The Feng Shui of Family Photos

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“The realtor has told me to put away any personal photographs,” said Mom the other day.
“Is that right?” I just knew she was going to ask me that. She’s been asking me a lot of things lately since she just put her house on the market this week– something she’s never had to
do before. At least, not by herself. But Dad’s been gone for almost nine of the 50+ years she’s been in that house, and the kids all live far away, so it’s been a nerve-wracking and scary process
for her. She phones often. While I’m no expert, I (and Andy) did sell a house less than six years ago (and shopped for a new one) and last fall, we helped his parents navigate a little bit of
their move to “senior living”…

I’m sure my realtor friends would disagree, …

Being a Better Parent, Raising Teenagers

“Spending Quality Time With A Teen” is Not an Oxymoron– When You’re Volunteering Together

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When my kids were much younger, I was asked by a friend if I’d like to
join The Junior League in our suburban town. I was flattered she would consider me, but after looking at the membership requirements (i.e. time commitment)  I almost laughed in her face.
Going crazy trying to squeeze in freelance writing work and keep my house managed with two kids under the age of six, I couldn’t imagine also having the pressure of performing  a certain
amount of required service hours and getting kicked out if I didn’t. How did my friend do it with two young children herself? (Um, on second thought, I think having a nanny and housekeeper
probably helped her a lot…)

Fast forward about eight years, and another friend is asking if Allison and I might want to join her
chapter of the National Charities League Inc., a nationwide …

Being a Better Parent, Kids and Money

A Scary Lesson in Door-to-Door Sales

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NO SOLICITORS. Those are two words my Girl Scout troop doesn’t like to see when they go door-to-door selling cookies, but I’m finally going to
print them out on my label maker and post them by my own doorbell today, and hope that in the future, the football players, Scouts, Campfire Girls and other well-meaning kids will simply
email me, as some already do, when they want to sell me something. Because there’s just been too many not-so-well meaning door-to-door salespeople in our area lately, and I’ve had

You’d think I’d have had enough long ago, since I’ve hung up on probably thousands of telemarketers (or fought with them– remember the Gay Marriage telemarketer?) and I’ve had every nut in the candy dish knock
on my door since I’ve been a work-at-home mom for almost 15 years. One memorable snaggle-toothed saleswoman slurped her bottle of miracle cleaning product …

Being a Better Parent, Dealing With Back Talk, Kids and Media

Potty (Mouth) Training Revisited

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I watched with interest all the hoopla last week about the little girl on the ABC-TV show “Modern Family”, who was depicted as cursing on last week’s episode (or is it “cussing”?). See, “using swear words” had already been a “hot topic” around our house this month. In the wake of the episode, which was entitled “Little Bo Bleep”, I found lots of online psycho-babble by professors and other experts chiming in about how swearing is, among other things, a natural part of early language development, cathartic, and helps people tolerate pain. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think most people already know that. And we also know something else the experts were saying, that, just like in the Modern Family episode, little kids use swear words without really knowing what they mean, and get a kick out of adults’ reactions when they use them, and so they’ll say them again. “Modern Family” was just art imitating real life. (Does that mean the Parents Television Council, the group who first caused a stink about the show, is not made up of real parents? Sometimes I wonder…) But what I really wanted to know amidst last week’s jaw flapping was how real parents deal with swearing by children and teens.

Being a Better Parent, Humor

Helping Kids Study for Tests: Just Do What You’re Told and No One Gets Hurt

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I did something last night I’ve never done before– I helped two teenagers study for semester
final exams, at the same time. See, this is the first time for Emmie to have an exam week like this, and we discovered yesterday that today, she and her sister both have
finals in similar subjects– for Emmie, Texas History, and for Allison, U.S. History. So last night, I asked them if they needed anyone to quiz them on definitions or dates or anything. “We can
sit in a circle and I can fire off questions to each of you, and when it’s not your turn, you can figure out if you know the answer, too, or just listen.” Surprisingly, they were
enthusiastic about this, and so we sat in the living room, dogs and all. To my left, I’d fire off questions about early Texas Indian culture to Emmie …

Being a Better Parent

Too Many Wimps, Not Enough Warriors

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Sometimes it takes awhile to get inspired to write a post and sometimes a topic just keeps bugging me until I
do something about it. One that has been knocking on my door a lot lately is the topic of doing the right thing when you view an injustice or crime or something just plain wrong,
especially when it involves a child. Do you stop it from happening? Do you call police? If it involves bad parenting, do you say something to the parent? If you catch the child doing
wrong out of sight of the parent, do you let the parent know later? What do we teach our children about “doing the right thing” and how do we act ourselves?

Of course, the highly publicized Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case brings up some of those questions. After assistant football coach Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky allegedly committing child
sexual …

Being a Better Parent, Great Parenting Tools

The Unbearable Lateness of Being: Breaking the Tardy Habit

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I’ll never forget it. I was in first grade, and it was the last day of school. My teacher, Mrs. Cook, was wrapping things up for the day and passing out things for us to take home, like art projects, old papers, etc. “I’m going to pass out the attendance cards for you to take home to your parents,” she announced. “Some of you have no tardies, and some of you have a few. SOMEbody in here has been late in arriving to class TWENTY-ONE times! Can you believe it?” We all dropped our jaws. We couldn’t imagine who that was. After the white, 3 x 5 cards were distributed, I looked at mine. In the blank next to the word “Tardies” was a penciled “21”.

Being a Better Parent

Nurturing Addiction: Parents Who Allow Teens to Drink

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In my “Uncool Mom Manifesto” on the right hand sidebar of this blog, I talk about how some parents worry so much about being “cool” that they hurt their kids in the long run. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with parents who proudly say, “I’m letting my teen drink, but they’re going to drink at home, where it’s safe, and we can monitor them.” As if they’re quoting some parenting guru or some other wise sage that has told them this somehow teaches kids “smart drinking skills”. And what a bonus that they’re seen as “cool” by the kids, and they feel good (and probably “young”) that they can toss back a brew side by side with their teen and their teen’s friends. Ah, gotta fit in that quality bonding time however you can get it, huh?