Here's what's floating around in my mommy brain on this rainy Monday!
Motherhood Explored: I loooove Slate'sLongform, no matter what the topic. But I was really excited to discover this Longform on motherhood for obvious reasons. The articles included run the gamut, from pregnancy to caring for aging parents. They save the fun for last, with a great daughter-mother interview with a former secretary at Playboy in the 1960s. Trust me--read them all: you'll laugh, you'll cry....
Misleading Much, Yahoo? Swaddlegate: Seriously, Yahoo Shine? I personally take offense to this article that leads with the headline "Two California caregivers were arraigned last week on child abuse charges for swaddling seven babies so tightly that the child had trouble breathing." The article then goes on to explain that the children swaddled were between 7 months and 1 year old, the blankets were tied with heavy duty knots, and they occasionally threw blankets over the babies' faces. The article then goes on to debate the safety of swaddling, but I'm not sure why, because what was described IS NOT SWADDLING. I mean, knots? Blankets over faces? Please, Yahoo--stop attaching parenting buzzwords to straight-up child abuse, and causing new parents to question their methods.
It's Mommy Brain Monday, y'all! And April Fools Day, for that matter, but I promise--no pranks here. I took care of that on facebook earlier today;)
April is National Poetry Month. Can I tell you how glad I am that National Poetry Month exists? These days, we blog, we self-publish, we serve as online journalists...there are many ways to "be a writer" and to get massive exposure thanks to the internet. But poets aren't getting massive exposure, even with the help of the internet. And that's too bad, because good poetry is more than "writing," it is art. The ability of a good poet to say so much in few words is beyond impressive, to tell a story and convey emotions in a few verses is amazing, and to give a reader pause by twisting and arranging words and sentences just so, is brilliant. Here are 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month. And here is my favorite poem by my favorite poet. He's a rock star--I know, because I've seen him live. If you'd like to experience some rock star poetry readings to celebrate National Poetry Month, check out the schedule of events for this month's Miami Poetry Festival. Write on!
If You Don't Have Cats, Don't Bother Reading This. Really. We have two kittens. They are unbelievably entertaining, thanks to Games Kittens Play.
No More Allergy Shots? I'm a needlephobe. Big time. Anytime I find out about a new and effective way to get a substance into the human body that was previously only injectable, my heart fills with joy. So consider this a public service announcement to my fellow needlephobes of all ages: Allergy drops seem to work as well as allergy shots. This is big news--allergy shots are currently thought to be the most effective method of allergy treatment, so the ability to give your kids (or yourself) drops under the tongue instead of subjecting them to torture regular allergy shots is awesome.
Before You Try To Make Lasagna In a Coffee Mug In the Microwave... You've all heard of Pinterest, RIGHT? I mean, even Elle has her own Pinterest board at this point. Pinterest is great and all, but don't some of the pins sometimes strike you as a bit suspect? These pins usually involve making an elaborate and beautiful item from a pair of sock/an old t-shirt/a pillowcase, or making an elaborate and delicious food item in a mug (it's always a mug) in your microwave, or curing/cleaning something with vinegar/dryer sheets/dish soap. So. Before you jump on board with some these more suspicious pins, make sure you check out pintester.com -- she's got your back.
Happy Birthday To Me... I better get one of these for my birthday. It's called an Ostrich Pillow. It's for taking power naps. Or sleeping on planes. (Or looking cool. Or wearing when you're supervising lots of rowdy children. Or grocery shopping. Or amusing yourself at any time.)
Let's get started with a little of this and that for all you Miami Mommy Brains:
Watch Out! Studies Show That [Latest Technology] Will Rot Your Kid's Brain! If you are headed to a dinner party/kiddie birthday celebration/Mommy and Me class, or really anywhere that calls for idle chit chat with other parents, you should read this little gem : The Touch-Screen Generation. The writer set out to learn and write about young children and digital technology, but she must have been hitting the cortaditos hard when she got to work on the article, because it bounces from technology and toddlers, to educational television, to how excellent kiddie apps are conceived/created, to Spongebob, to her own experiments conducted on her VERY OWN CHILDREN. I *love* this lady! Great read.
The Pencil Revolution. Once the kids hit grade school, you stop searching the internet for reviews of the best diaper and start searching for reviews of the best pencil. No, I am not kidding. It occurred to me one day that Elle seemed to be sharpening, and endlessly re-sharpening, her freaking pencils at homework time. Sharpen the pencil, and the lead falls out. Sharpen again, the lead breaks. Seriously? Has pencil technology really not been perfected at this point? So thanks to a little internet research and the fact that there are people out there who *really* care about pencils, our house is now stocked with Mirador Black Warriors. If you don't think that is the most badass name for a pencil EVER, your badass meter is way out of whack. (And if you think I'm crazy for researching pencils, I suggest you check out the link to the review of the Mirador Black Warrior, and take note of the 97 comments that have been made in response to the review. If I'm crazy, at least I've got company.)
I'm a big fan of Slate's Longform Guides, and this weekend, the online mag published The Longform Guide to Motherhood. Six selections were chosen and presented, and I guarantee that if you are a mother, or a daughter, you will relate, empathize, or be entertained. Highly recommend.
Basic Survival Skills for Kids. Interesting list from our friends at babble.com--scrolling through I realized that it is time for a refresher with both girls on many of these common sense survival skills. The slideshow includes links to helpful, kid-specific guides for how to handle a range of situations, from getting lost, to natural disaster preparedness.
What great weather we had this weekend, right? It's about that time...that time when friends elsewhere start complaining about chilly, rainy weather and I keep my mouth zipped as I wonder if it's too chilly to picnic at the beach this weekend. In the meantime, let's check out what I'm obsessing about this Mommy Brain Monday: Just What Is Available On Netflix Instant?? I went through a phase over the past couple of weeks where all I wanted to do was get the kids to bed, collapse into my own bed, and watch movies with Erik until midnight. So I kind of got into Netflix Instant, which seems like a brilliant idea, right? The movies stream, INSTANTLY, to your screen. Thousands of flicks at your fingertips. But weirdly, it seemed like everything we started watching was "meh" at best, and "ugh" at worst. When I mentioned this to a friend, he laughed and informed me that finding a great movie on Netflix Instant is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack--there's good stuff there, but it's hard as hell to find it with all the stuff you have to sort through. Your best bet is kind of a word-of-mouth referral system, which frankly, is a pain. So I was excited to happen upon this Paste List of the Day: The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Instant. This list is from May 2012, so pretty recent, and there are some fantastic movies on the list that you might have missed. Check it out. Bigger Is Not Always Better. This article on class size in the early grades didn't surprise me, but a few of the points made me even more unhappy with the large class sizes we're seeing in most classrooms in Miami-Dade county these days. Sure, we're all being fed the line that the larger classes have two certified teachers, which evens everything out and makes it all better, but I encourage you to read the article and reconsider that line of thinking. Still doubtful? Spend a day in your kid's class of 30 with 2 certified teachers, and note how much time is spent on classroom management vs. instruction or play. I'm not faulting the teachers (don't hate the player, hate the game) I'm just saying....ugh:-( Crazy Hair Day Ideas, Anyone? All month, Elle has the opportunity to dress up each day in exchange for a donation to the United Way. She's really excited about the Crazy Hair Day that's coming up, so of course I googled it and found these amazing Crazy Hair Day hairstyles. The styles for girls are cute, but the styles for boys are truly genius, and not too tough to pull off. I think the guys kinda get shafted on Crazy Hair Day because they typically just don't have as much hair to work with. My faves are the Surfboard/Wipe Out Hair for Boys, and the Cupcakes for Girls. Genius! What Big EYES You Have... I could not believe that my Friday night tennis group knew nothing about the (in my mind) top local news story of the day. The ginormous eyeball, duh!? From Now On, When Someone "Asks Me For The Recipe", This Is The Format I'm Going To Use. Unless that someone is my mother, of course. She'd totally wash my mouth out with soap over this one. Probably twice.
When I was pregnant with Elle with a July due date, one of my big "pleaseohpleaseohplease" issues was: a hurricane. Specifically, no hurricane while I was having the baby, no hurricane right after the baby was born, and no advance hurricane destroying my home! And thankfully, there were no hurricanes--whew! We've been really lucky here in South Florida over the past few years, but now that we're in the midst of another hurricane season, with Hurricane Isaac (maybe) headed this way, I've been giving some thought to preparing kids for hurricanes. In Miami, we adults know how to prepare for the big storms. But how do we get the kids ready, physically, mentally, and emotionally? Here are a few tips:
Minimize the media. A key to the craziness is always The News. Overkill is an understatement when it comes to the media and hurricane insanity. As adults, we might want to have every television set and radio on and tuned to weather reports to stay updated, but try to be discreet--kids shouldn't be seeing the dramatic footage of rain, gusts, and waves. Monitor the weather periodically and discreetly--not 24/7 in every room of the house.
To each his own...flashlight. It might seem simple, but making sure your kids have their own flashlights, know where they are located, and how to operate them will come in handy if you lose power.
Create a Kid Kit. In addition to your family's basic hurricane kit, create a second kit with the kids in mind. Include: games that can be played by candlelight or flashlight. Books that haven't been read. Battery-powered DVD player with favorite/unseen movies. ANYTHING that glows (glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark balls, one or more of the Crayola Glow products, glow-in-the-dark Benderoos, etc.) Kid-sized pillows and blankets. Kid-friendly single-serve snacks. Books of brainteasers/mazes. Chances are, you already have many of these items around the house, but the point is to gather them so you're not looking for them when you have other important prep tasks.
Prepare with Playdates. One great thing about hurricanes--they don't exactly sneak up on you. There's a lot of waiting involved...and waiting...and waiting... When you realize that school is cancelled, jump on the phone and organize playdates with a group of parents. Don't let boredom set in before the weather even hits! Trade kids off between houses while it is safe to drive.
Be on the lookout for anxiety. If you've been in Miami before with a hurricane on the way, I think you'll agree that you can almost feel the tension, anxiety, and worry in the air as residents rush around making last minute preparations. Imagine how that might translate to a child! Be on the lookout for signs of worry in your kids, and use all your supermom powers to calm and soothe them. Every child is different, and every age is different--for some, knowledge is power. For others a calm, soothing environment goes a long way. You know your child--just don't miss the signs of anxiety, and work to keep your own anxiety to yourself so it doesn't transfer to the kids.
What are your favorite tips for hurricanes with kids in Miami?
My mommy brain is filled with back-to-school thoughts, and I'm sure yours is too. Happy back-to-school Monday, Miami Moms!
7 Ways to Cut a Sandwich. Today, I'll bet you sent a regular, piece-of-bread-shaped sandwich to school with your kid. In all the first day excitement, you probably got away with it, too. But as the days and weeks pass, you'll need to get creative, or you'll be getting that sandwich back , intact, at the end of the day. Hence, 7 Ways to Cut a Sandwich. My personal fave is the Crustache, Elle loves the heart-shaped Fun Bites. Viva la Sandwich!
Why is Florida so weird? so humid? so trashy? so hot? Someone used Google autocomplete to come up with the most common queries for "Why is [insert state] so...?" and created an interactive map to view the results. Yeah--lots of time on her hands, I suspect. Kinda fun to play around with, and hey--it'll make you glad you don't live in Pennsylvania...I'll take humid and weird over humid and haunted any day.
Super Magic Germ Spray Has Arrived! A new product called Halo is my latest obsession. (No, I do not work for them, I'm just obsessed with cold prevention.) You spray it in your mouth when you are in a germy environment, and it gives you six hours of protection from airborne germs. Now you see why I call it super magic germ spray, right? There is a Halo spray for adults, and a spray for kids. Off the top, I can see this coming in handy in about a zillion school-related situations, in addition to airplanes and doctor's offices.
Tricky People vs. Strangers. A facebook friend posted a link to this article that encourages parents to stop using the classic "don't talk to strangers" line, and explains why. I agree--one of my pet peeves is the idea that the jerk that is going to snatch or abuse your kid is actually going to look like the stereotypical "creep." This article explains that real creeps are much more clever, and use several tricky tactics to groom and lure kids. It's worth a read and some thought.
Crazy hot summers in Miami. I spend a lot of time in the summer fantasizing about *how awesome* it's going to be taunting friends in other parts of the country in January. When I'm not immersed in these fantasies ( "Oh Jean, you're snowed in and miserable? I'm sorry, but I've gotta run. The kids need help applying sunscreen for our day at the beach in the middle of January...") I am on an endless search for kid-friendly activities that defy our summer heat and humidity. I have to admit, Monster Jam would have been off my radar (the girls have zero interest) BUT, when I saw this discount for Monster Jam at the BankAtlantic Center this weekend it occurred to me that the BankAtlantic Center is air conditioned, and this would be some serious fun for a lot of kids. One tip I read repeatedly on parenting message boards--if you don't want to shell out the big bucks ($20 - $30) for a pair of the "cool" truck-themed, hearing protection headphones, make sure to bring your own pair of kid-sized earplugs or protective headphones --the kids will need them. photo credit: sxc.hu/mzacha