Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back-to-school tips and links

Whether your kids have been in school for a week or are about to go back, here are some helpful tips for heading back to school.

Photo Ops
No matter how busy it gets, have your camera handy the first week of school for capturing a few memorable moments. Here are some tips:
  1. Charge the camera or phone the night before.
  2. Take a snapshot the first morning before they leave. With a sign or backpack, or without. Try to get a photo in the same place year after year to measure their growth.
  3. First afternoon at pick-up or when your child arrives home, if you didn’t manage to get an early morning pic.
  4. In the classroom during an open house. Remember to ask the school first, be as unobtrusive as possible, and don’t take photos of the other kids without their parent’s permission.
  5. Take a photo during the first week while your kid is working on homework or reading a book.
  6. Outside, anytime. Late summer and early fall provides a colorful backdrop for outdoor photos, and your little ones get to unleash some energy while you try to get a great action shot. 

Here’s a link to a fun DIY photo frame kit.

Check out this Back-to-school Survival Guide for tips on how to get in good with the teacher and how to start the morning off right.

Design a Kid Friendly Workspace for Homework Assignments.

Find back to school food ideas on Pinterest.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's inspiration

Keep swimming, dreaming and believing. Enjoy the end of summer moments you'll miss when the kids return to classrooms and the sun's warmth gives way to autumn breezes. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Metro Parent Pink + Blue Guide

The Metro Parent Pink + Blue Guide is on stands and available online at It covers pregnancy, babies and more! 

Big Book of Schools 2013

The Metro Parent Big Book of Schools is out and online. Click the link for listings of area private, public and charter schools. There is also information on top teachers, guides for college and tips for choosing a school and getting kids the right amount of sleep. Just in time for school. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Grilled Glazed Chicken Breasts for Cook's Illustrated

I tested these on the grill in winter, and it was worth the effort. The smell of the grill and the homemade hoisin-style sauce warmed the house and our snowy deck even in freezing temps! The flavor was excellent, our family really enjoyed them. 

Finding white miso paste proved a bit challenging, at first. I searched the web and discovered it is also labeled as sweet or mellow. Speciality and health food stores carried several types.

You can find the recipe in the latest Cook's Illustrated issue on stands now, along with recipes for Spicy Hoisin, Honey Mustard and Coconut Curry Glaze. I attached a link to the video, the full Cook's Illustrated recipe library may require access.

The Reasons Toddlers Act So Crazy - Metro Parent

Check out my latest article on toddler behavior The full September issue is on stands now. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back-to-school thoughts

The scent of curry is dissipating, cool water to quench our thirst, and the click-clacking sound as we type.

The day started with burnt toast and excitement. The toast set off the alarm and upset everyone within earshot. Followed immediately by unplugging the battery to stop the high-pitched screech. Then in short order packing up a hyper kid and a tired toddler – alarm incident tears still wet – into the car and shuttling them to orientation.

Nice people, smiling faces, giddy kids. At least I wasn’t the only one juggling multiple kids wanting to run the halls. All I wanted was to observe, question, and understand more about what it’ll all be like for the kid, for me, for all of us.

Line up here, drive there, stay to the left, don't run into anyone. A blur of instructions. Good ones I need to remember. A blur of rooms with small chairs, numbers and the light scent of cleaner and fabric softener. At least it’s clean.

I’m chasing the eager one down the hall with the small one beside me trying to catch up, and I get a feeling in my gut this feeling will stick with me for the next fifteen to fifty years of my life, catch-up, don’t lag, the kids are getting farther and farther away, keep up!

Parents have done this for centuries before us, but I find no comfort in the thought. It’s wonderful and something to help them achieve – this independence – but right now it hurts to think our children will grow up and leave. And I hope part of them stays youthful, like a kid, for fun to lighten their load some days. They should also find their independence, but always know they can depend on us, and visit frequently.

I’m as excited as the kid and as tired as the toddler, just soaking it all into my brain and splitting it into manageable parts – some to deal with now, some for later over lattes with my mom, sister-in-law, or maybe a friend. I think it will help. 

So, cheers to the billions of parents and kids who have done this successfully before, to those who are in the same predicament as us, and to the many to come after. I plan to be hopeful, be helpful, be kind, be vigilant, be protective, be polite, be forgiving, be happy our children are growing – and make this a great year. 

Flower power by K. Gibson

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Reads—Mystery Monday

Here's a quick list for Mystery Monday. 

Hungry for a cozy mystery? Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke. This is #16 of the Hannah Swensen series.

Untraceable by Laura Griffin. There is action of all kinds in the first of the Tracers romance mystery series.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Understanding infantile amnesia

Here's a recent article I wrote for Metro Parent. It makes a lot of sense now and I see the benefit of forgetting those early childhood memories. So, here's the link, area parents should also be able to get it on stands through the end of the month. The byline is correct in print, I think they're fixing it online, too. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer Reads—Family Friday

Today’s list includes picks for adults and children. Try something new or share a classic.

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt. As a proponent of family time, family meals and cooking with kids, I recommend this: get and keep an easy to use cookbook or a file of family recipes, then cook up a meal with your kids. Tell them a story, or just teach them the math behind measuring—it can be a great experience. Mangia!

It’s Mine by Leo Lionni. If your kids have got the end-of-summer crazies going on, grabbing for each other’s stuff, try this classic. It might help teach them a little about helping and sharing.

Better Read Than Dead by Victoria Laurie. The second book in the Psychic Eye series. This one traces the work of a psychic intuitive with mysteries and murders to solve. It's a little something fun for the adults.

SYOAS! See you online again soon!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Reads—Mystery Monday

Here are a couple books to start your week off right. Especially if you like mystery and intrigue.

Everywhere that Mary Went by Lisa Scottoline. This book is an Edgar Award nominee (a big deal in the mystery genre), and the first of a successful legal thriller series.  

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. 10 strangers lured by a mysterious host, none able to leave.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I still love this book about a Harvard symbologist pulled into an international thriller. It’s well written, and the researched theories and pace make it hard to put down.

SYOAS-See you online again soon!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bullying, Jen Aniston and Why We Need to Do More

This Babble post by Jessica Cohen is one of the best I've seen on bullying. She explains it happens between adults, but she also points out something more important. 

"How can we be trying to raise a generation of children who don’t bully others and who speak out against bullying, when we (generally speaking) are being so hypocritical?"

Thank you for saying this Jessica! 

I may have hesitated to read this because of some recent buzz about Jennifer Aniston saying something or other about us ladies not being happy for some reason or other and how she feels it's our own fault or something. But, I was so glad I read it. 

Too often we try to tell our kids "Do as I say, not as I do." Well, how are they supposed to learn anything different, if we keep sending them wrong messages like this one? There are some instances where we do need to have some leeway as parents, but bullying should not be one of them. So, be nice for goodness sake! Or, at least take mama's advice and don't say anything at all if you can't keep from saying something berating or belittling. 

Why we need to do more. I saw a news clip of a recent incident on a Florida school bus. Three kids pummeling a 13-year-old boy and I wanted to reach through the screen and stop it, but I couldn't. It already happened. Why did these kids act out? Why didn't the bus driver stop it? How can we stop this kind of stuff? Soap box, I know. But, I don't ever want to put my kid on a school bus now. Ever! 

How can we help? I don't know other than to say, be kind. Smile more. Pay attention to your children (she says as the baby is rising from a nap, so I have to walk the walk here and sign-off soon). Be interested in them and what they're doing, who their friends are and what is going on in their lives. I hope I can look back on this in the future and say it helped me to realize these are the times when good parents and parenting are needed most. Maybe we can be the change we wish to see in the world, as I think Gandhi said. Goodness has to start somewhere. Live it. Teach it. Be it. Hug your children and show them you care. 

Has Grown-Up Bullying Become a Sport? by Jessica Cohen on Babble

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Reads—Wild Wednesday

Here are some wild titles I came across while researching summer reads.

Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown. From tea parties to teaching Leia how to fly a TIE fighter, regulating the time she spends talking with friends via R2-D2's hologram, and making sure Leia doesn't leave the house wearing only the a skirted metal bikini, Vader's parenting skills are put hilariously to the test.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. A collection of essays traces his offbeat travel experiences, which involve surreal encounters with everything from French dentistry and Australian kookaburras to Beijing squat toilets and a wilderness Costco in North Carolina.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Reads—Monday, Monday

It’s Monday. Start of a new week and time for some new books.

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney. Maybe this will have a good message for kids.

Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben. Looks intriguing. Overview excerpt from Barnes & Noble: On an icy night in October 1984, a commuter plane carrying nine passengers crashed in the remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing six people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer Reads—Friday, Finally

The weekend is finally here! Woo-hoo! Too bad I have work to finish before Monday, but I still say, “Cheers to the weekend!”
Here are a few books to start the weekend right.

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. I want to get this book. Maybe it’s equal parts clever title, history and cocktail charm.

Watching Suits this week reminded me of Macbeth, which reminded me of William Shakespeare, which lead to an online search. What popped up in the sidebar? Antigone. The play reminded me of a group of drama students from a small liberal arts school – the same one in the news this week getting one of the largest single gifts in higher education history. Go Colonels!

Primetime Princess by Lindy DeKoven. As former Executive VP of NBC Entertainment, DeKoven has an insider’s perspective. I just wonder how this book reads. I guess I’ll put it on my Goodreads shelf until I find some time for this primetime novel.


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