Save Money & Teach Safety: Tween’s First Smartphone

We’ve reached that stage in life where my oldest child is ready for a smartphone.  We waited as long as possible, putting it off at the thought of paying more each month for THREE smartphone users.  Phone plans are expensive… now we want to add another?  Yikes. My daughter started middle school as a 6th grader this school year.  I was surprised to hear her teachers are literally having students use their smartphones for some interactive assignments in the classroom. Then you add in the benefit of her being able to communicate with us during the day.  So yeah.  Let’s do this. One of her prime interests is being able to take photos with her phone.  But we knew this would also mean my sweet, innocent girl would now have access to social apps and the internet.  So we started with a chat about safety. Equip Your Tween with Smartphone Smarts My daughter is a such good, rule-following kinda girl.  She doesn’t pretend to be, or want to be, a 16 year old yet.  Thankfully, she’s … [Read more...]

Papa Murphy’s Law Brings Calm to my Hectic Week

I work a full time job, have two young kids, and adore pursing my blogging hobby.  My schedule does allow me to have Fridays off of work. It’s my blissful catch-up day!  As a mini-celebration of the weekend’s arrival, we eat pizza every Friday night.  Our absolute favorite choice is Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza. Papa Murphy’s Law:  The exact opposite of Murphy’s Law!  When life serves you chaos, Papa Murphy’s Law of Delicious is your solution.  An easy food option made from fresh, quality ingredients allows peace to reign at dinnertime. Sure, I could cook dinner on Friday night.  But by the end of our hectic week, and my finally having a chance to tidy up the house… I love just custom ordering a fresh pizza for my family. No mess.  No fuss.  Super fresh ingredients.  Everyone gets exactly what they want.  A calm, relaxing Friday night together at home!  Papa Murphy’s Law works like a dream for us. Gourmet Pizza for the Parents, Mini Murph® for the Kids Once we learned … [Read more...]

To Ski, Or Not to Ski… That is My Dilemma

I grew up in the relatively flat state of South Dakota.  Land of long winters and below-freezing wind chills which whipped across the prairie.  My parents were both raised on ranches.  In short, they were not skiers, nor was teaching kids to ski anywhere on their radar. South Dakota is not totally devoid of a ski area, though.  So it was at age 16 that I made my first pilgrimage with fellow teens, to go learn to ski at Terry Peak in the Black Hills.  What did I think of skiing? Skiing First Impressions Cold. Icy. Terrifying. Cute boys. Short runs. Long chairlift rides. That’s about it, in a nutshell.  I tolerated it for the social aspect. But it was nothing I had a burning desire to pursue. I’ve since had the chance to ski bigger mountains than South Dakota offers, and enjoyed some good times on the slopes.  There have admittedly been brief, optimal moments when I felt a rush of excitement and glee over a great run.  Overall, I have comfortably settled in at:  … [Read more...]

Teaching Kids Empathy and Love, Not Hate

  I want my kids to grow up to be exemplary human beings.  People who think of others, not just themselves.  People who take a stand for what it right, and make an effort to make society a better place.  Instilling empathy in them is a great foundation, a human emotion that will drive beneficial actions throughout their lives. So how do we as parents teach something like empathy?  As is true of so many areas of parenting, it’s an ongoing process. As in, if I remind my kindergarten son to put his dirty socks in the clothes hamper, day….after day…. after day… someday it will finally click.  (At least that’s my dream.) I look for teaching opportunities and resources that will model good characteristics, and inspire them.  With a young boy age 6, and a tween girl age 11, it’s not always the same thing that will strike a chord.  Last weekend we all watched the new American Girl movie “Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” on Amazon, and it fit the bill nicely. The messaging … [Read more...]

Teaching Children About Disabilities

Children say the darndest things, don’t they? Have you ever had your child not-so-quietly ask why the man behind you in the grocery line looks the way he does? Did you just wish there was a trap door beneath your feet so you could have easily escape the situation? You’re not alone. Many parents have faced this situation. Because it’s so common, we reached out to family and child therapists and asked them how they recommend we react in this situation. We also asked them to share their thoughts on how we as parents can teach our children about disabilities beforehand. This is some of their advice. Don’t Overreact to the Question Megan Rigdon of Sunny Day Counseling said, “The first, and probably most important, would be to let children ask questions. When your child sees another child who has a physical or mental disability, they will be curious. They may ask, “Why is that boy being so loud?” or “Why can’t that girl move her arms?” Your instinct as a parent will be to hush … [Read more...]

5 Clever Strategies for Packing School Lunch

It's official:  my Little has started kindergarten!  Among other things, this means I am now packing two school lunches every day. Oh joy. So when I received these clever tips on packing school lunches, I actually read them.  Written by Certified Nutritional Health Counselor, Sara Siskind, she makes some great suggestions here. #1 ~ Breakfast is the most important meal of the day Focus on fresh fruit, purified water, protein, and fiber while kids are in the comfort of their home. Fuel them up with a simple smoothie that is quick to make and satisfies their nutrient needs. I like blending yogurt, banana, strawberries, milk, baby spinach and touch of honey. If smoothies aren’t their thing, try a snack plate with cut up cheese, berries, wholegrain crackers or bread. This wakes their bodies and brains up in a healthy way and will sustain them for the long day ahead. #2 ~ Who Say’s Leftovers Are a No No? Whole grain pancakes for lunch? If it’s good enough for breakfast, why … [Read more...]

8 Tips for Getting Your Child On a Back-To-School Sleep Schedule

With a new middle schooler in our household, who will have a tardy bell ringing at 7:20 a.m. .... I have a strong concern in the school year sleep schedule department.  With school starting within days here in Western Colorado, I went in search of some tips. 8 Tips For Getting your Child On a School Sleep Schedule Although I can't say that we'll implement all of them (that "NOT sleeping in on the weekend" is killer!) I found some pretty helpful tips from the National Sleep Foundation. About two weeks before school starts, work with your child to return to a school appropriate sleep schedule . Every night, set an incrementally earlier bedtime, and every morning, an incrementally earlier wake-up time. Make sure that when school starts, they'll wake up with the amount of sleep they need for their age-group. Maintain sleep schedule – Once your child's sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don't use the weekend to "catch up on sleep." Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. … [Read more...]

It’s Good To Know How to Talk To Youth About Marijuana

This post is sponsored by Single Edition Media on behalf of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Ahhh… summertime. Sunny days spent at the pool, barbecue cookouts, and a break from school.  Kids are typically left with more freedom and time to hang out with their friends during the summer months.  This makes it an important time to talk to youth about marijuana use. Did you know that according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, first-time use of most substances, such as drugs and alcohol, among youth peaks during the summer months of June and July? One of the best ways to deter underage retail marijuana use is for informed adults to be prepared to have some honest conversations with youth about the topic.  To assist in this endeavor, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has launched the Good To Know campaign to offer parents free information, tips, and tools. Good To Know ~ Talking To Youth Tips In … [Read more...]

Who Knew You Could Buy This for 20 Cents?

For years, I've tried to grow tomatoes in my backyard.  It's been an ongoing exercise in frustration, to say the least.  Each fruitless season, I gripe to friends and family... begging for advice. I love the concept of gardening, I just don't seem to have a knack for it. So I came up with one last approach to try this season, before throwing in the trowel.  My husband built me a raised garden bed a few years ago, so I've got a dedicated spot.  Our journey into backyard chicken ownership added an extra challenge, but I think we've even got that figured out with the help of some extra chicken wire. One variant I've tried is the location where I purchase my plants.  Does this make a difference?  Walmart vs the local greenhouse?  Perhaps.  But irregardless, my garden was still a bust.  Last year I literally got *zero* tomatoes.  Go figure. My New (Cheaper!) Approach to Gardening So I'm done playing that game.  All bets are off!  This year I have a two part strategy: Try … [Read more...]

Backpack Snacks: 5 Budget Friendly Foods that Will Survive a Backpack

It's that time of year again!  Having groceries on hand, and either packing snacks and lunches for your school aged kids, or them attempting to tackle it themselves becomes a daily challenge.  My 5th grader this year is getting better about packing her own food for the school day.  And I love that their teacher allows them to snack in the classroom throughout the day, as long as they aren't disruptive. But I'm frequently at a loss as to what to grab and purchase at the store for backpack snacks and lunches, so thought I'd share these helpful ideas from FoodInsight.  They serve as a nutrition and food safety resource for consumers, health professionals, journalists, educators, government officials, and students. Backpack Snacks 5 Budget friendly foods that will survive a backpack and provide on-the-go nutrition, ensuring kids get the fuel they need without the muss or fuss Trail Mix Trail mix is bite-sized and packed with protein & healthful fats Add a handful of … [Read more...]