Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Win! 1 of 4 Copies of “Because I Said So” by Dawn Meehan March 29, 2009

meehanbookNeed a laugh?
I’m giving away 4 FREE copies of Dawn Meehan’s new book, “Because I Said So…And Other Tales From a Less-Than-Perfect Parent”!

Meehan began her writing career with a hilarious eBay auction for a package of Pokemon cards inadvertently placed in her shopping cart by one of her six (yes, SIX!) children during a particularly harrowing grocery shopping trip. The story she told was so engagingly funny (haven’t all us moms had our own “special” moments in the grocery store with our own wild monkeys, er, innocent cherubs?) that her popular auction listing earned her appearances on NPR, ABC World News with Charles Gibson, CBS and CNN. (And she sold the cards for $142.51!)

Dawn Meehan’s wonderful, warm and funny book is filled with tales from the motherhood trenches, as she pokes fun at her mothering mishaps–but always with a tender heart toward her family.

A natural story-teller, Meehan shares her tales of triumph and woes much like we might dish about our own parenting dilemmas at a playgroup–and always with a positive, funny spin. I found her book comforting. There have been plenty of nights I’ve laid awake next to a toddler who just… won’t… go… to… SLEEEEEP! breaking apart and examining my struggles over what ought to be easy (a simple visit to the post office, convincing a child to put on his shoes and get in the car, deciding whether the boys can have an extra cookie or let them bawl about it for the next hour.) Dawn Meehan understands these struggles—and bears witness to them daily with her six kids—with a big heart and patience to spare, sharing it all with a good laugh.

Moms Like It!

  • “If you’re having a crazy day, read Because I Said So… and not just because, er, I said so, but because it’s fun and probably a lot like your life six times over.” — Jen Singer, creator,, and author, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself The Toddler Years
  • “No parent is perfect. But if you’ve ever found yourself in the unpleasant company of other parents who didn’t happen to get that memo, then this is the book for you. Because I Said So will have you laughing until your cheeks hurt, and you might even start feeling a whole lot better about your own parental adventures. You’re going to love this book!” — Martha Bolton, bestselling author
  • “Stories more gripping than duct tape and humor funnier than a stand-up comic! I laughed until cappuccino came out my nose. Many have claimed to be the next Erma Bombeck, but only Dawn Meehan can rightfully wear that bathrobe. Hers is the permanent new voice of parenting humor for us all.” — Debi Stack, author of Smotherly LoveTM: I Know Where Your Buttons Are and I’m Not Afraid to Push Them

WIN! One of FOUR free copies of Dawn Meehan’s new book, Because I Said So!  All you need to do is leave a comment on this blogpost!
Four winners will be randomly selected on April 30, 2009. 
Keep it for yourself–or give this heart-warming book as a gift for Mother’s Day or a baby shower! (My Aunt Janet had six kids (all boys—gasp!) Hmm, I think I might send her a copy. It’s cheaper than therapy.)

Learn more at Guidepost Books, or visit Dawn at


Mom’s Night Out This Friday in San Juan Capistrano! March 25, 2009

Attention all local Southern California moms: Children’s Orchard (Orange County’s best children’s resale store!) is having a sepcial Mom’s Night Out event this Friday March 27, from 6-8pm! Drinks and Appetizers from Thai Juan On. YUM!

Store Location:
31878 Del Obispo Street, Suite 108
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 • (949) 276-6555

Yes! That is right—EVERYTHING!

Uniquely Yours Jewlery
Designed and built by Doris Hoffman.
She will have a huge variety of pieces available. Don’t see something you like? Describe it and she can custom make a piece for you!
Great mother & daughter gifts for Easter.

Back Massage
Michelle Bryant LMT will be there to give complimentary back massages and to discuss the health benefits of massage. She will also extend a special discount to the M.O.M.S club members!

Fields 4 Dreams Boutique
Owner Nicole Fields will be sending over some hip and stylish clothing for mom and kids!

Real Estate Advice
Stefania Raiola with South Coast GMAC will be there to answer any of your questions regarding the OC real estate market, short sales, foreclosures and loan modifications. Stefania has over 15 yrs. experience in the OC market and is an expert in Aliso Viejo and San Clemente.

Sitter Socials of OC
Hazel Wager will be there to talk about Children’s Orchard’s upcoming Sitter Social event in April. Sitter Socials are a great way to find your next babysitter. Interview and hire on the spot!

Restaurant Rescue Kits
Suzi Berg will be there to show off her latest version of the Restaurant Rescue Kit, everyone needs one of these to keep in the car!

I can’t wait to see you all Friday Night!
Bring a friend and you both receive $5 Store Credit
Friend must sign up for the M.O.M.S. club at the time of visit and will receive the $5 store credit via e-mail. M.O.M.S. club member will receive her credit on the spot.

Click here to visit Children’s Orchard on the web!

Store Hours: Click here for more info
Buying Hours: Click here for more info

Observing How Your Baby Learns: Getting Back to Basics March 20, 2009

It’s easy to get caught up in the “shoulds” of parenthood: what should the baby eat, how long should the baby sleep, at what age should my baby roll over, sit, watch an educational DVD, crawl, walk, talk, or poop in the toilet. Our overwhelming love and urge to protect and teach drives us to push all sorts of well-meaning toys and activities on our children in an effort to encourage early learning, to give their already gifted genius the challenge it needs to excel.

No matter how many books you read or people you speak with, nothing prepares you for the wonder of parenthood. Most moms and dads will agree that the sleepless nights, the soiled diapers, fluids from all orifices, and unpredictable outbursts,  do absolutely nothing to dull the pure joy and pride of watching your little cherub smile, recognize you, recognize his or her own hand, and begin discovering the world around them.

When our Noah would repeat “heh-wo” to the word “hello” in his first month of life, I was (and remain!) convinced (like all parents) that my child has a phenomenal little mind. He will be two years old next month, and is now clearly attempting to read words. He identifies numbers, and is practicing counting to 100 (thanks to a song I made up for bedtime, originally intended to be so boring and repetitive as to leave no reason to remain awake). He can identify shapes and colors, and knows the difference between a whale, a dolphin and a shark. He blows my mind. 

kids-and-iphone2When our first was born, my husband made some very attractive flash cards, with the hope that we might nurture his intellect from infancy.  Our boys both like them enough, but watching them grow has taught me a very basic lesson in parenting: Our parents and their parents had it right (more or less.) I say “more or less” because my sons would not be able to categorize animals, for instance, if we did not provide a plethora of tiny plastic replicas, or read about them in picture books regularly (i.e.: parental involvement and learning materials required). However, the flash cards are kind of silly (no offence to my better half, we’re learning all this together.)

noah-in-basket4While we are diligent about providing our children with educational toys and books, and offer them trips to local parks, the zoo, museums, and libraries, their particular “aha!” moments come from the most elementary sources—digging in dirt or sand with a shovel, flying a kite, banging on one thing using another to make a loud sound, building a tower from blocks, kicking a ball or pulling something on wheels (pretty much all the same things our grandparents did when they were little and weren’t yet acquainted with Playhouse Disney or Baby Einstein.)

We’ve been visiting potential schools our children might one day attend (We live in a community where school options are plentiful and we want to be confident in our decision when the time comes. Yeah, right.) During this process we’ve been presented with a variety of teaching methods, yet one thing remains absolutely clear—a child will “get” something if he or she is ready, and if the interest is there. Some kids are far better served by waiting until first grade to learn the alphabet, instead experiencing the world through imaginative play, and other children are fiercely determined to write their own name in nursery or pre-school.

One thing is certain: I need to pare down and keep it simple. This week, a day after a trip to Santa Ana Zoo (where the kids had a lovely time), I decided to go check out a park I’d driven by a hundred times. The Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park completely surprised me with its 3,879 awe-inspiring acres of green serenity. I’ve lived in Orange County for over two years now, and our venture made me crashingly aware of the peace we’ve been missing. Nowhere were noises of traffic or endless bustling bodies or cement boundaries. More importantly, as I chided myself for not having sought out this place long before, my child was receiving his surroundings in an entirely powerful way. He has visited the woods in Canada on trips to see Gramma and Grandpa, and he has enjoyed numerous days at the beach and neighborhood parks, but I’m embarrassed to admit how overcome he was by the dirt path and the rocks. How citified we’ve been! Our own backyard has recycled tire chips beneath his playhouse and slide—environmentally friendly, but not, well, environment. As we walked along, we listened to birds chirping and insects calling and water running. Again, no traffic in the background. (Even the waves at the beach echo traffic noise.) We came across the occasional jogger or mountain biker, and Noah shared his excitement with them. There were some bushes humming loudly with insects, sending him running to grab my leg, but the best of all were the caterpillars. “Pill!” he squealed (his word for caterpillar)—he recognized them right away, he knew exactly what they were from books, but this was astounding, for both of us. Within seconds we were on our knees, observing, gently touching, smiling excitedly at one another. He even chased one, being careful not to block its path. In a few weeks, they will be butterflies. He “knows” that from Eric Carle, but he won’t really know it until we come back and witness it.

I know I must sound horrible, aren’t these experiences so rudimentary? But, if I had “forgotten” to get away from the noise and business of life and into nature, maybe other moms and dads have been pounding the pavement too? Having a kid means being tight on time, and those jogs or hikes we used to take when we were solo can slip away with the demands of parenthood. But, while we are too busy running our household, our children are also missing out. Let’s make time for nature (and its learning materials), remembering our own childhoods, and leave the concrete world behind for a while.


Home Remedies for Insect Bites and Stings March 19, 2009

What are the most common insect bites and how can you avoid them? What are good treatment options? When should you call the doctor? Here are some excellent tips from blogger and mother of Willow, Beverly (aka: Mommy Vomitpants):

The most common types of bites or stings that a child could come across when playing outside include bees, wasps, spiders, mosquitoes, fleas, and ants. There may be some additional insects that are common to your part of the country, but rest assured that the treatment would be essentially the same for any bite or sting.

Insect bites

According to the Mayo Clinic, most reactions to insect bites are mild, causing little more than an annoying itching or stinging sensation and mild swelling that disappear within a day or so. A delayed reaction may cause fever, hives, painful joints and swollen glands. You might experience both the immediate and the delayed reactions from the same insect bite or sting. Only a small percentage of people develop severe reactions (anaphylaxis) to insect venom. Signs and symptoms of a severe reaction include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shock

Bites from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants are typically the most troublesome. Bites from mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and some spiders also can cause reactions, but these are generally milder.

According to Pediatrics, treatment should be symptomatic (based on the symptoms). Most insect bites and stings only cause local reactions, including redness, swelling, pain and itching.

After you thoroughly wash the area with soap and water, other symptomatic treatments that may help your child feel better include applying:

  • an ice pack or cool compress
  • a meat tenderizer solution, which can be made by mixing one part meat tenderizer and 4 parts of water. This is especially helpful for painful stings from bee, wasp or ant. For best effect, soak a cotton ball in the meat tenderizer solution and use it to rub the area of the bite for 15-20 minutes.
  • a baking soda paste
  • a topical steroid or other topical anti-itch cream, such as Calamine lotion, to the area

Other medications, including an oral antihistamine for itching, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and/or pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may also help. More extensive local reactions may sometimes require a short course of an oral steroid.

Antibiotics may be needed if the bite becomes infected.

So, what do you do if you or your child has a severe reaction to an insect sting or bite? According to the Mayo Clinic, severe reactions may progress rapidly. Dial 911 or call for emergency medical assistance if the following signs or symptoms occur:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips or throat
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Nausea, cramps and vomiting

Take these actions immediately while waiting with an affected person for medical help:

  1. Check for special medications that the person might be carrying to treat an allergic attack, such as an auto-injector of epinephrine (for example, EpiPen). Administer the drug as directed — usually by pressing the auto-injector against the person’s thigh and holding it in place for several seconds. Massage the injection site for 10 seconds to enhance absorption.
  2. Have the person take an antihistamine pill if he or she is able to do so without choking, after administering epinephrine.
  3. Have the person lie still on his or her back with feet higher than the head.
  4. Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket. Don’t give anything to drink.
  5. Turn the person on his or her side to prevent choking, if there’s vomiting or bleeding from the mouth.
  6. Begin CPR, if there are no signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement).

If your doctor has prescribed an auto-injector of epinephrine, read the instructions before a problem develops and also have your household members read them.

According to Dr. Sears, you should take precaution before a bite becomes infected. Flea bites and mosquito bites usually don’t require any special measures to prevent infection of the surrounding skin. Insect bites will normally have some amount of redness and swelling, as well as a bit of clear drainage. Spider bites, however, tend to create a much larger area of redness and swelling. While this is normal, it does increase the risk of infection developing in the bite.

Before a bite becomes infected
 Follow these steps two or three times a day:

  • Wash the bite with warm soapy water
  • Apply some diluted hydrogen peroxide (mix ½ water with ½ peroxide)
  • Wash off the peroxide after two minutes
  • Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment
  • Ice applied to a large spider bite can decrease the pain and burning

Infected bites

If the red area around the bite continues to enlarge, becomes more swollen and painful, and starts to drain pus, then it has become infected. Here are some steps you should follow three times a day if this occurs:

  • Wash with warm soapy water
  • Apply a hot washcloth to the area for 10 minutes
  • Apply diluted hydrogen peroxide, then wash off after two minutes
  • Apply diluted Betadine solution (mix ¼ of this over-the-counter brownish red antiseptic with ¾ water) and let it dry for two minutes
  • Thoroughly wash off all Betadine
  • Apply over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. If your doctor will call in a prescription strength ointment called Bactroban, then this may work better.

It may take one or two days for this treatment to start to improve the infection, but it should not keep getting worse during this treatment.

More serious infection

If the redness and drainage continue to worsen, or your child develops fevers or red streaks extending out from the bite, then you should see your doctor right away. If it is after hours, you should page your doctor. Your child will probably need antibiotics to treat the infection.

Prevent bug bites and stings

According the the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), insect repellents come in many forms including aerosols, sprays, liquids, creams, and sticks. Some are made from chemicals and some have natural ingredients. And you should keep in mind that these types of repellents are for BITING insects NOT stinging insects.

The AAP sites the following as NOT EFFECTIVE for repelling insects:

  • Wristbands soaked in chemical repellents
  • Garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth
  • Ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves designed to keep insects away
  • Bird or bat houses
  • Backyard bug zappers (Insects may actually be attracted to your yard.)

Tips for using repellents safely:


  • Read the label and follow all directions and precautions.
  • Only apply insect repellents on the outside of your child’s clothing and on exposed skin.
  • Spray repellents in open areas to avoid breathing them in.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover your child’s clothing and exposed skin. Using more doesn’t make the repellent more effective. Avoid reapplying unless necessary.
  • Assist young children when applying insect repellents on their own. Older children also should be supervised when using these products.
  • Wash your children’s skin with soap and water to remove any repellent when they return indoors, and wash their clothing before they wear it again.


  • Never apply insect repellent to children younger than 2 months.
  • Repellents should not be sprayed directly onto your child’s face. Instead, spray a little on your hands first and then rub it on your child’s face. Avoid the eyes and mouth.
  • Insect repellents should not be applied on cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Don’t buy products that combine DEET with sunscreen. The DEET may make the sun protection factor (SPF) less effective. These products can overexpose your child to DEET because the sunscreen needs to be reapplied often.

Get Your Greens! Perfect Kale Salad March 17, 2009

I really wish I’d taken a picture–This colorful salad is certainly a dazzler. It just looked so wonderful, my fork seemed to dive in on its own, and just kept diving until the dish was devoured!

I say this low-glycemic and gluten-free salad is “perfect” because it is, unarguably, without fault. Steamed kale is a superfood among superfoods (one cup of kale contains just 36.4 calories, but provides 192.4% of the daily value for vitamin A, and 88.8% of the daily value for vitamin C). Kale is also currently in season.

Dried cranberries and cherry tomatoes offer sensual texture, Omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids, and other essential antioxidants, while the almonds offer protein, monounsaturated “good” fat, and can lower your chance for heart attack. In fact, just like the kale, the almonds in this ideal little salad guard against cancer, offer an impressive serving of antioxidants, calcium, folic acid and more magnesium than oatmeal or even spinach. The dressing is so simple and easy–everyone has the ingredients on hand. And, it is delicious, gorgeous, colorful and kid-friendly. You have no excuse–make this salad today!

1 bunch steamed kale, finely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup almonds, slivered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Separate kale stalks and steam briefly until wilted yet tender-crisp. Chop finely and place in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, dried cranberries and almonds. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over salad, toss gently, and serve. Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as an entree.

Food Fact! Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts. Kale offers more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food, and is in season from the middle of Winter through early Spring, although it can be found in the produce department year-round. The glucosinolates in kale have been found to decrease the risk of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers, and activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver that help neutralize potentially carcinogenic substances, making it a wonderful choice for detoxification. One cup of kale also supplies 93.6 mg of calcium and is an impressive source of folic acid, making it an ideal staple for pregnant and lactating women.

For another satisfying and nutritious salad, check this out…

Or visit my other blog,!


Cheap and Super Fun Games for Babies, Preschoolers and School-age Kids! March 15, 2009

It doesn’t take much to thrill a kid. In fact, it’s often the “small stuff” that makes for the most meaningful childhood memories. I came across this fabulous list of kid-friendly activities on These simple games boost development, are free or low-cost, and offer a fun way to spend quality time with your child!

Here’s a collection of simple, cheap, memory-making activities that are sure to be a bright spot in your child’s day – and yours!

5 cheap and fun baby activities

Let ‘er rip

Maybe it’s that pleasing shredding sound or maybe it’s the satisfaction of making a permanent change in something, but babies love to tear up paper. So plunder your recycling box for magazines or junk mail – when you see that gappy smile on your baby’s face as she gets to work, you won’t even mind the mess.

Dog days

You could take your baby to the zoo, but don’t be surprised if he falls fast asleep – or favors the water fountain over the orangutans. Instead, try a park where he can see dogs playing. It’s a lot less overwhelming and every bit as exciting, plus it doesn’t cost a penny. Just be sure to practice good doggy-and-child safety habits. You might want to carry your baby in your arms or a baby carrier to make sure he’s safe when watching and petting the pups (with permission, of course).

Flashlight games

Turn off the lights, close the blinds, grab a flashlight, and lie back on the floor for a rockin’ light show with your little one. Dance the light beam along the ceiling and walls as your baby stares in delight. An older baby might like to try holding the flashlight herself (though you shouldn’t be surprised if all she does is gum it). Just don’t let her shine it directly in her eyes – or, for that matter, in yours.

Dining out

For a change of pace, set up your baby’s highchair in the backyard or out on the front stoop and, between bites, let him fling the food wherever he likes. He’ll feel like he’s won the lottery! A bit short in the yard department? No worries – bring a booster chair to the park and set it right on the grass. Throw in some bubbles and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a fun-filled morning.

Go clubbing

In your living room, that is. Turn on your favorite music and dance with your baby in your arms. She’ll be in seventh heaven – after all, she’ll be enjoying three of her favorite things in the world simultaneously: music, bouncing, and closeness to you.

5 cheap and fun toddler activities

Hop a freight

Toddlers love transportation, especially if it’s a departure from the same-old-same-old car seat. Check out your local airport or hospital – many have a free shuttle or tram that you can ride as often as your little one’s heart desires. If you don’t usually travel by bus, check your local bus system and take a spin around town, enjoying things from a thrilling new vantage point.

Play dough

Borrow a tip from kid-friendly restaurants and let your toddler play with a gratifying hunk of pizza dough. Not too sticky and not too runny, it’s the perfect consistency for little fingers. Get some from your local grocery store or pizza parlor or mix up your own. A rolling pin is the icing on the cake for this activity (or, shall we say, the cheese on the pie). If you’re feeling motivated, you can bake a pizza with the rest of the dough while your child plays with his portion. Otherwise, simply freeze or refrigerate the rest for future playtime.

Fancy wrappings

If you’ve ever watched a toddler open a present, you know that she’s likely to ignore what’s inside and focus all her attention on the box, wrapping paper, and ribbon. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Wrap up something small, such as a pretty postcard or a toy you already own. Make sure to use lots of ribbon and paper (Sunday comics work great). Present it to her with a flourish.

Baker’s man

While your toddler isn’t yet old enough to wield an electric mixer or flour sifter, he may be ready to be put in charge of the cookie-sprinkle department. So bake up a batch of cookies (you can even buy pre-made dough) and let him go nuts with a container of sprinkles. You’ll probably end up with several bare cookies and a few heavily sprinkled ones. Don’t forget to take a picture!

5 cheap and fun preschooler activities

Bathing in the pink

Or the green, or the blue… A few drops of food coloring can go a long way toward making bath time something special. It’s especially fun to mix a couple of primary colors together, such as blue and red to make purple. And no, your child won’t emerge from his bath looking like a grape – a few drops of food coloring diluted in a tub of water won’t dye your child’s skin.

Time travel

You know those old photographs of your own third birthday party or your ninth-grade dance? Dig them out and snuggle with your preschooler for a trip down memory lane. Wedding videos work well too! Of course, she’ll also enjoy seeing pictures and videos of herself when she was “little.” So break out the snacks and make an evening of it.

Ravishing radishes

When it comes to instant gardening gratification, radishes are the way to go – they pop up in a matter of weeks! After winter’s last frost, take your preschooler to the gardening store and let him pick out the package of seeds with the picture he likes best. (It’ll cost just a few dollars.) At home, find a sunny patch of yard and have your child plant the seeds directly in the ground or in a small planter. You can even grow radishes inside in a container set in a sunny south-facing window. Your little gardener will love digging a hole, sprinkling in the seeds, and covering them up. The fun continues as he gets to water the radishes and watch them grow.

Monochrome meal

We grown-ups like a little variety in our meals – but kids, who often love uniformity, get a kick out of having a special dinner in which everything is the same color. So serve up a meal that’s entirely orange (macaroni and cheese, sweet potato, orange juice, carrots), green (pesto pasta, limeade, broccoli), or yellow (lemonade, scrambled eggs, corn, pineapple).

Hunting down nature

Give your child a bag or bucket and go on an old-fashioned nature hunt. Take your time and let him collect whatever he likes – pinecones, leaves, rocks, sticks, burrs. When you get home, break out the glue and cardboard and get him started making a collage or sculpture. He may also enjoy painting a rock or two (it could become his new favorite pet).

5 cheap and fun school-kid activities

Bon appétit!

Let your child be in charge of dinner – with you as her helpful assistant. She gets to decide what to make. Some suggestions: English muffin pizzas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, pudding or gelatin for dessert. She can act as the “head cook” and even draw up some fancy menus. She may especially enjoy doing this activity with a friend.

Rest for the weary

You know those nights when you’re beyond exhausted, and you just wish someone would put you to bed for a change? Here’s your chance! Tell your child that you need a special helper to put you to bed early – and ask if he’d like to do the honors. He can pick out your pajamas, make sure you brush your teeth and wash your face, read you a book, tuck you in, give you a kiss, and turn out the light. It’s a safe bet that you’ll hear some delighted giggles from beyond your closed door! (Of course, this assumes your partner or another responsible adult has agreed to take on the nighttime duties for your child – and you’ll likely find yourself returning the favor sometime soon.)

Camp in

Wait for a dark and dreary day. If your child has a case of the “nothing-to-do” doldrums, all the better! Now suggest that you go camping – in your family room. Make a “tent” with sheets and blankets draped over chairs. If you have sleeping bags, dig them out – or just create some bedrolls with blankets and pillows. Tell stories and sing songs around an imaginary fire. And when the lights go out, make a beautiful galaxy appear on the ceiling of your tent by shining a flashlight through a colander.

Kid’s choice day

Let your child “run” the day. She can make the important decisions such as what to eat, what show to watch, and what activities to do. Give this day a special name so that she can plan it, as in, “On my next ‘Ali Day,’ I want to ride bikes, wash the dog, and eat spaghetti. (Helpful hint: To avoid power struggles with your child’s teacher, don’t do this on a school day!)

Treasure hunt

Send your child on a treasure hunt, right in your own house. It takes a little preparation, but the excitement is worth it! Give him a note that says something like, “Look in the flour canister.” Or make it a bit trickier by writing a clue he has to solve, such as “Look for the white powder that we use for baking.” (If your child’s reading skills are still primitive, simplify your notes, help him read them, or draw pictures instead.) In the flour canister, he’ll find another note telling him where to look next, such as in the refrigerator or under the welcome mat. Let the hunt include a few more hiding places, and put a prize in the very last one (try under his pillow). The prize can be very small – for example, a piece of candy or a pad of paper. As in all true treasure hunts, the real joy is in the search.

Have some fabulous ideas of your own? Comment below!


Tips for Kids’ Success: 8 Strategies for Building Abundance Attitude March 10, 2009

My husband and I have often lamented that our parents—both sets successful in their careers, and financially prepared for retirement—never let us in on their bag of magic tricks when we were growing up. Now that we are adults and struggling to balance monthly bills while saving for our children’s education and our own retirement, we’ve vowed to ensure that whatever lessons we learn along the way, we will also teach our boys.

The most important lessons we want to share  include:
A.) Honesty. It’s our job, as parents, to provide the shelter and sustenance, but we can also let them in on what we do for a living, and how the financial world around us operates, and what we are doing to save for the future.
B.) Learning from others. We don’t know it all, but we seek out experienced individuals who can lead us in the right direction, who can teach us good habits for success—in our relationships with each other and in our choices with money and how we spend our time. (No matter what career path we choose, there are great leaders before us who have lessons from which we can learn.) 
C.) Giving. It’s good to get, it’s good to save—it’s essential to help others in need.
D.) Gratitude. Enjoying what have and being thankful for what we get is the cornerstone of personal contentment and happiness. Always wanting more is terribly unsatisfying and plainly wasteful. We want to demonstrate to our children what a great life we already have. (I think it’s working!)

Darren Hardy, Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS magazine summed it up beautifully in the magazine’s February 2009 issue:

8 Strategies for Building Abundance Attitude in Your Kids

Reward Responsibly – Don’t give rewards for promised future behavior. Reward when the goal is accomplished. Acknowledge the accomplishment and celebrate it.

Clarity – Be open about your financial state. Work as a family toward saving for a big item like a dream vacation. Adopt a family mission statement.

Everything is a Teaching Tool – Use economic and financial news, as well as the success stories of business owners as conversation starters or as talking points around particular issues. Inspire your kids by highlighting positive entrepreneurial stories.

Foster Support You’re not necessarily the dominant adviser to your children. Kids need support, mentorship and encouragement from coaches, teachers and other influential people. Find out who your child’s favorites are and encourage their support of your child’s endeavors.

Encourage Networking and Innovation – Connect your children to people who have passion for what they do that’s of interest to your child. Encourage them to set high goals for themselves even if they don’t reach them.

Learn Business –The greatest teacher and confidence builder is to learn by doing. Encourage your child to take a part-time job, volunteer or start their own business. Programs like Youthpreneur give kids business skills whether for their own for-profit business or fundraising.

Giving Back – Show your children the power of sharing. Volunteering time and resources goes a long way toward teaching an abundant outlook by giving to the less fortunate.

Gratitude Attitude – Appreciate the things you have. Teach your children to take stock of and appreciate the intangibles like relationships, nature, shared experiences and things that don’t cost money.