Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Helping Your Child Follow Rules (Without You Busting A Vocal Chord)

HELP your child follow rules

I've written several times about how my family discusses and comes up with rules and contracts that we ask everyone to follow and sign (read here about family rules and here for the rules regarding a sport)  - family). Having family rules helps us function in several ways including:
  • Serving as tangible reminders of how we choose to live since the rules get printed out and posted on the refrigerator.
  • There are set repercussions to breaking them which all can see.
  • They pertain to everyone, even adults, so the kids know that they're fair.
  • The kids are asked to sign off on them so there's no doubt that everyone agreed.
  • It makes parenting easier, since behavioral parameters and repercussions have been set by the family unit as a whole (meaning, I don't have to come up with them on the fly).
But how do you get kids to listen and follow those rules, even though they've signed off on them? Here are some guidelines that actually work:

  1. Build in plenty of transition time. Remember when your kids were younger and you needed to give them time to move from one activity to another? I'd forgotten, since Lily is 9, that it's still important to allow them time to switch gears. That means no giving a 2-minute warning when you're frantically trying to leave the house.

  2. Get in their face and make eye contact. Yelling from upstairs or another room is just background noise and they can't follow what they can't hear. Yelling just gets me worked up and she can't hear me or isn't focusing on me anyway. If I get in there, make eye contact (pausing the television if I have to) and maybe gently put my hand on her shoulder while giving her a 5-minute warning, it's far more effective. Oh, and stick to the 5 minutes, perhaps setting a timer, so the child takes the warning seriously.

  3. Use as few words as possible. When you say, “Sweetie, we have to go pick up your brother in 15 minutes from preschool because it's over and he'll be crying...” all they hear is “blah, blah, blah, brother, blah, blah, blah.” There are too many words for them to focus on. Keep it brief: “Leaving – 5 minutes.”

  4. Acknowledge, as they're leaving whatever they were engrossed in, that the transition is hard so they feel heard. “Sure, that's a great show and I know you'd like to continue watching it. But right now we need to...” No one wants to obey a drill Sargent.  Empathy builds connections and makes them want to listen and follow your directions. If they push back, keep your voice calm (I recently discovered that this drives them CRAZY but it's effective because they have to lower their voice in order to listen to you).  Keeping my voice low also keeps me calm.

  5. Create consequences for not following instructions (these can spelled out in the Family Rules). “If we don't go to the dentist now, I can't allow you to have any computer time later – it's your choice” let's the kid know exactly what will happen if they don't comply.  You're not threatening, but simply stating the repercussion of their action.  And remember to follow-through.

  6. Praise them for listening! “I really love the way you got up and did everything we needed to do to get to school. I'm so proud of you!” Positive reinforcement of the behavior you want motivates your child to follow instructions in the future.

  7. Model obedience.  Show kids that you follow rules – in traffic, at work, and in society. They notice when you don't.

Our kids need guidance and guidelines now and to survive in society. Treating children the way we would like to be treated, by giving them transition time, consequences and behaving courteously toward, will encourage them to behave.

Kids need to learn to follow rules - without you yelling


Sources for this post include:
 http://www.ahaparenting.com; http://everydaylife.globalpost.com,

Thank you for reading! 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why Leaf Jumping May NOT Be Such A Good Idea

Growing up, I remember the utter joy I experienced jumping in piles of leaves. I loved the “crunch, crunch” sound, the softness of the leaves themselves, and just the idea of jumping INTO something. Now, I know leaf jumping is a ritual of Fall and I hate to put a damper on it, but there are some major downsides into letting your kids jump into piles of leaves:

  • Ticks

    Think it's too cold for ticks? Think again! Through October into mid-November, ticks are still alive and well. In fact, a few years ago, after a particularly cold October, Junior came home from a camping trip with a large tick attached under his arm. That large pile you just raked up could be harboring these blood-suckers, especially the disease-carrying deer ticks.

    Ticks LOVE leaf piles!

  • Animal Poop

    I live in an area with a lot of critters, including deer. While I love the beauty of these animals, I am not fond of their poop, which they do everywhere including amongst the leaves.  And I won't even get started on the prospect of finding dog poop in a pile!  Disgusting!

  • Sticks And Stones

    Kids tend to jump into leaf piles with abandon. A friend's kid recently jumped into a bunch of leaves and narrowly missed an eye injury.

Unless you're going to inspect EVERY INCH of a leaf pile, you're risking your children encountering the above. Still, if you're hell-bent on allowing your child to jump into one, take these precautions:

  • Make sure your child is protected by covering up as much skin as possible. That means tucking pants into socks and making sure they're wearing long-sleeves.
  • Use a bug-repellant spray, even over their clothes, to prevent ticks.
  • Check them as soon as they get out of the leaf pile to make sure they're clean.
  • Before bedtime, check them for ticks. Remember that these insects love warm, dark places like the back of knees and underarms.

Fall has many rituals: pumpkin and apple picking, decorating for Halloween, drinking apple cider. For safety's sake, you may want to consider giving up leaf jumping. 


For more on ticks, click here ( http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/protect_your_yard). And for instructions on how to remove a tick, click here (http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/how-to-remove-a-tick-overview).


Friday, September 26, 2014

The 3-year, 20 Minute Journey To Bring My Baby Home


 Note:  I know I've told this story before, namely back in November of last year, but it's one of my FAVORITE memories, so I thought I'd write about it again.  Get the tissues ready...


The trip to the airport was one I'd made a 100 times before. As I got my 6-year old ready to get in the car, I glanced around the house. In two hours, our world would never be the same. Today was the culmination of three years of prayer, paperwork, and lot of money. It was something I never, in a million years had pictured myself doing. It was something I never thought I'd ever want. It involved a place I rarely gave thought to and an intense love for someone I'd never met.

Three years ago, after a tragic miscarriage, my husband and I made a choice: to forgo fertility treatments and, instead, adopt a child. We already had a wonderful little boy, but the family was incomplete. Junior needed a sibling and hubby and I needed a baby. After performing extensive research and meeting the charming adopted daughter of a friend, we decided that we wanted a little girl from China. But were we worthy and could we do it? The challenge was daunting. The mountain of paperwork was immense. We had to pass background checks from employers and every police department from every town we'd ever lived in. We asked friends and neighbors to write letters of recommendation. Every document submitted needed to be translated in Chinese by our local Chinese Consulate. And every signature had to be notarized and then the notary checked for validation. We had physicals, we were fingerprinted, and a social worker came for a home study during which she interviewed our son; at that interview, he broke our hearts when he told her, very simply, “I don't want to be an only child. I want my sister.” Every night, I prayed for our daughter, not knowing whether she was in another woman's tummy or whether she'd been born. And every Summer, as we made our yearly pilgrimage to the Shore, I'd look out at the ocean, knowing that far away, she was waiting to meet her Mommy. 

 "...I don't want to be an only child.  I want my sister."

We made the decision that my husband would travel to the Orient by himself. The trip was expensive and I'd never been away from my son – ever. The concept that Mommy was going away to bring back the sibling he wanted, but one who would take attention away from him and rock his world, was huge. Dave was a seasoned traveler, a man who had intense focus and could put his emotions on the back-burner in order to get something done. Plus, he was an experienced Dad – he knew how to how to change diapers, administer medication, and he was nurturing. And there was something to be said for parity – I'd brought Junior into the world after 27 hours of labor. This was his chance to bring a child into the family after two weeks abroad. Dave really was the best parent for the job.

On a fateful day in August, while we were at a waterpark in Maryland, I got the call. “Mrs. Klonsky, you have a daughter. She's 10 months old and is in foster care. We'll be emailing you her information later today.  Congratulations.” Dave and Junior were somewhere in the park, among thousands of gallons of water. I frantically searched for them, crying with joy. Finally, I found the and uttered the words I'd imagined speaking a thousand times, “You have a daughter and you have a sister.” We dashed back to the hotel where an email waited for us giving us her physical data which we were to take to our pediatrician who could tell us if she was healthy. Then, with bated breath, we opened the attachment containing her picture. She was so tiny! Her hair was clipped short and she looked very serious. She was beautiful. “I love you,” I whispered. “I've loved you my whole life.” 

"I love you," I whispered. "I've loved you my whole life."

We'd chosen the name Lily to replace her Chinese name, but kept one of her middle names, Yi, which means Spirit. As we received reports from her foster caregiver, we read between the lines: Lily was indeed, spirited, vocal, and we were relieved to find out, thriving. As I assembled the materials recommended by our adoption agency, I lovingly chose clothes based on the measurements the orphanage gave us (as it turns out, they estimated her size too small and my husband would up swapping clothes with other adoptive parents). We were allowed to send Lily Care Packages, so I made her a doll out of my favorite nightgown; it was soft and smelled like me. I hoped that, on some level, she would know it was from her Mommy.

Dave left on the day my son started 1st grade. Junior was used to Daddy traveling and Mommy being home so this was no big deal for him. His world went on while my husband would begin the trip he'd eventually call Survivor Nanchang, after the Survivor television series. In the meantime, I put together Lily's crib and got her room ready. She was never out of my thoughts. Every night, I waited for the call from Dave who, after four days in China, met his daughter for the first time. I'll never forget the phone message he left, “She's small, she's cute, and she has a little cold. And she's beautiful.” He spent the next 10 days in various hotel rooms, submitting paperwork to Chinese officials, signing documents, getting Lily's birth certificate and visa. Finally, he began a brief state at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, the city that houses the U.S. Consulate where all adoptive families stay before coming home. He nursed Lily through a nasty cold and took care of her through his own terrible bout with food poisoning.

She was even more beautiful, more radiant than I'd ever imagined.

Finally, on that amazing day in September, Junior and I stood in Newark Airport craving a glimpse of father and daughter. Junior held tightly onto the stroller we'd brought. Our excitement was palpable. At last, I caught a glimpse of my husband. He cradled a baby wearing an open, stained onesie and one sock. She clutched a bottle with Chinese writing on it. Dave handed her to me and, tears flowing, I whispered, “I'm your Mommy. I love you!” “Mei-mei, wo ai ni,” Junior said, which means, “Little Sister, I love you” in Mandarin. While father and son got reacquainted, I selfishly held my daughter, smelling her, stroking her, cherishing her little two-toothed smile. She was even more beautiful, more radiant than I had ever imagined. I tried to conceive what she was going through. EVERYTHING for her was was different – sights, sounds, smells. “Welcome home, Lily.” As it was for her, my world would never be the same.

Thank you for reading! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Because Of His Snarkastic Remarks, Here's What We're Having For Rosh Hashanah Dinner

I fully admit that I am not a good cook. I know it, I laugh about it, and the point has been driven home by my husband who, over the years, has made the following snarky comments about my lack of culinary skills:

  • “This kitchen should be called the 'House Of Ptomaine'.”
  • “Giving the kids this chicken would be tantamount to child abuse.”
  • “You know, this lacks just one thing – flavor.”
  • “Buy wraps for Junior. Don't even ATTEMPT to make them.”
  • “Oh. You cooked.”
  • “What did you burn this time?”
  • “Where's the Pepto Bismol? I wanna have it beside me when I eat.”
  • “What IS this crap, errr, food?”

With those kinds of comments, when it comes to cooking for hubby, I don't make much of an effort. Honestly, if Purina made Husband Chow, I'd serve it to him seven nights a week. So I was less than enthusiastic when he announced that he wanted a “special” dinner for Rosh Hashanah tonight.

I checked the websites I'd recently written about (read that post here) and thought, “why bother?” So here's what we're having for tonight's “special” dinner:

Matzoh Ball Soup – I bought the mix and this soup is popular with the whole family.  It's a no-brainer that everyone, even my daughter, will eat.

Meat Loaf In The Crock-Pot – I threw together some ground turkey, tomato paste, a jar of sweet potato baby food (for the benefit of my son who doesn't eat enough veggies), and some seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs.  It's cooking as I type.  

Spinach Salad – Pre-bought from the store.

Sauteed Mushrooms With Bread Crumbs – I bought the pre-sliced mushrooms and will saute them in my frying pan with seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs.  Junior likes these.

Pumpkin Bread – Pillsbury's Pumpkin Quick Bread is a staple in my house, especially in the Fall. Junior LOVES it and I sneak in some vegetable baby foods and flax seeds for extra nutrition.

With Lily having gymnastics tonight, the “special dinner” will be brief. I think it will be good. I hope it will be tasty. If not, I'm looking forward to more “snarkasm” from my husband.

Oh, and PS:  No one has died, yet, as a result of tonight's dinner.  Take THAT, dear!


Please note: Hubby approved the use of all of his comments for this post.

Shana Tova! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

4 Of The Best Rosh Hashanah Websites For Kids

With my clan having basically no extended family, holidays can be a challenge. Sure, we go over the religious aspecst of whatever we're celebrating (we're interfaith), but finding activities for the children can be difficult. With Rosh Hashanah starting tomorrow at sunset, I thought I'd share my four favorite websites chock-a-block full of fun stuff to help your kids and mine celebrate the Jewish New Year:

  • Chabad.org – Here you'll find free printables, crafts, stories, and my daughter's favorite, multi-media games for kids.

  • Torahtots.com  – You can tell by the name that it's a site for littler kids, but  for for even more printables plus some unique games.

  • Aish.com – One dilemma I face is how to get the teen engaged with the holiday. This website has some great stories you can discuss and practical activities you can do as a family. I especially like the High Holidays Quiz For Kids. We'll see how Mr. “I'm a teen so I know everything” does with that!

  • Artistshelpingchildren.org – Tired of the same old crafts? Here's you'll find some truly unique ones you can spend the day making with your child. I especially love the Circle Of Kindness!

Shanah Tovah!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Why You NEED To Know About Yik Yak

Recently, our high school principal sent out a warning about a smart phone app called Yik Yak. I'm happy he did because if you're the parent of a child in high school, you NEED to know about it.

Yik Yak is a social media site that allows users to post anonymously; they do not have to sign-up nor do they need to declare a user name. Users post comments, questions, or claims about others without assuming any responsibility for their words. They can share posts with those within a 1.5 mile radius, meaning they can target people they both know and don't know. As such, Yik Yak threads have become a platform for libel, drug discussions, sexual suggestions, and cyber bullying. Schools and sometimes even the police cannot identify individuals' postings on Yik Yak.

The app is set up with game-like features that give users the power to “control what is hot” by “up voting” and “down voting” other people's posts. The continuous tally of your “up votes” is called a Yakarma score with users encouraged to “create quality content” to achieve a higher score. In other words, the juicer your posts, the higher your Yakarma score will be. If a post receives five “down votes,” the user's Yakarma score goes down and the post is deleted. Sure, this sounds positive, but it's not because users can “up vote” harmful postings, thus providing negative reinforcement.

The most disturbing thing about Yik Yak are the repercussions posts can have. Someone can post a salacious rumor about your child which can spread like wildfire on their high school campus and neither you nor they have any way of knowing who posted it. Any defense made will certainly not get the amount of views that the initial rumor received. In other words, Yik Yak renders your kid defenseless against their peers.

I downloaded the app last night and was immediately disgusted by the amount of sexual comments, racist remarks, references to drugs, sexism, homophobia, and just plain meanness of so many posts. There are some really depraved people on Yik Yak. No wonder at least one psychiatrist has dubbed it “the most dangerous app out there” (read his article here).

So what can we as parents do? Grab your high schooler's phone and/or table and see if they have Yik Yak downloaded. If they do, ask why they have it and discuss with them what would happen if they or one of their friends was targeted in a post. Help them to see how destructive the app actually is – a discussion with you can be extremely valuable.

My son and I talked about Yik Yak and I was relieved to see, for myself, that he does not have it on any of his devices. He said he's heard about it from friends and, in his words, “it's evil.” That's now. He could give in to peer pressure in the future. As I always do, I'll be monitoring his electronics to see what he's downloading. Cyber-beasts like Yik Yak are out there. It's up to us, as parents, to protect our kids as much as possible.


Please Note:  

1)  This post originally appeared on The Geek Parent.
2)  The makers of Yik Yak are now cooperating with various high schools to render the app useless.  I think that's admirable, but it doesn't prevent the evil, verbal diarrhea from appearing off school grounds.  Your best bet:  keep your high schooler OFF the Yik Yak entirely. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

10 Things Most Responsible Moms Would Never Say (But I Sometimes Do)


  1. “Sure, you can have ice cream for breakfast.” Okay, I say this, but only on their birthdays.
  2. “Yes, you can skip school. I used to do that all the time, too.”
  3. “Feel free to text all you want during family dinner. Conversation and togetherness are so overrated.”
  4. “No, you don't have to change your underwear. It should be good for another two weeks.”
  5. “You need money? Take everything you need from my purse. In fact, here's my credit card. Go to town!”

  6. “Let's go on a shopping spree. Price is no object.” I say this, but only at the Dollar Store. 
  7. “Carrot cake counts as all the vegetables you need.”
  8. “Sure, your girlfriend can come over. Just close your bedroom door so I don't bother you.”
  9. “Yes, you can keep the rat you found near the garbage as a pet.”
  10. “Do whatever you want, whenever you want. I trust you.”

    Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

9 Home Remedies For Seasonal Allergies

Source: Pixabay

The faucet turned on at 5am. My nose started running and has not stopped all day. This is the time when “if it's growing, I'm a'blowin'” with seasonal allergies. I'm far from alone. 26 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies (source). And the symptoms aren't just a an inconvenience. Studies have shown that during ragweed season, those of us who suffer experience physical and mental fatigue, making concentration hard and increasing irritability. We're prone to sadness and are up to 14 times more likely to experience migraines than those who don't have allergies. 

... “if it's growing, I'm a'blowin'” with seasonal allergies...

Mine flare up anytime the wind blows or we have wet weather. My 9-year old's have been acting up the last few weeks, but just in the morning. Sure, we could take over-the-counter medicines, but I noticed last year that Children's Claritin made my daughter CRANKY, and, honestly, I'd rather go with natural measures to control our allergy symptoms. Here's what I'm doing and what you might try if you're fighting seasonal allergies, too. (Please note that I am NOT a medical professional. This is just stuff that works for me and my family.)

  1. Keep the windows shut. Yes, it's gorgeous out. Yes, it's cool. But open windows mean pollen sweeping through my house and my car. I'd rather run the air conditioner a little longer and keep allergens out.

  2. Wash your hair or at least wipe it down with a baby wipe. Pollen gets all over your hair and transfers to your pillow at night. Wiping some of the residue out of your hair before bed can help control your nighttime sneezies.

  3. Use a Neti pot or saline nasal solutions. Both will get the irritants out of your nose. Just be careful to use pure saline solutions – those with antihistamines can make you drowsy and cause other unwanted side effects. Besides, pure saline is far cheaper than the medicated stuff.

  4. Take a few teaspoons or tablespoons of raw, local honey. Note: do not give babies under 12 months old since honey can contain the spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which causes infant botulism. Since Lily is 9, we just put the honey in our tea.

  5.  #
    Add some spice to your food. Cinnamon supposedly eases breathing and hot spices will get the mucus flowing and get those allergens out of your body. Something as simple as adding red pepper to your pizza can be helpful.

  6. Drink more water, tea and seltzer. Staying hydrated helps thin secretions so they're easier for your body to get rid of and helps with that dry, scratchy feeling. 

  7. Eucalyptus and lavender oils. I put either one or the other on our pillows at night. The lavender calms us down and helps us breathe better while the eucalyptus stops our coughing. 

  8. A cold compress on itchy eyes feels good and washing your eyes out with cool, clean water also washes the pollen out of them. 

  9. Hyland's Complete Allergy 4 Kids is a homeopathic allergy formula for children and it's been working for Lily. It doesn't make her drowsy, works within 20 minutes of her taking it, and stops her nose from watering. 

Until the first frost comes or an asteroid wipes every bit of ragweed off the planet, I'll be dripping. Using the methods above will get me through the next few weeks. Here's to a ultra-brief allergy season!


If you're interested, here are the links to the rest of the sources I used for this article.


Thanks for reading!  

Monday, September 15, 2014

3 INCREDIBLE Rosh Hashanah Recipe Sites

Challah - Yummmmm....

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am Christian while my husband is Jewish. Growing up, I didn't know anything about Jewish culture or holidays until I got to know my future husband. In fact, the first time I cooked for his mother for one of the holidays, I made a meat lasagna. Dairy and meat – a MAJOR no-no! No wonder my mother-in-law isn't fond of me.

Raising the kids interfaith, we celebrate both Christian and Jewish holidays, so I've relied on the Web for much of my holiday information. And with the the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah (click here to learn all about it: ) starting next Thursday, September 25th, I thought it fitting to share three of my favorite online holiday recipe resources.

  1. Aish.com (http://www.aish.com/h/hh/r/Easy-to-Make-Rosh-Hashanah-Recipes.html) – This site has simple, freezable recipes to make holiday cooking more manageable.

  2. About.com (http://kosherfood.about.com/od/roshhashana) – You'll find wonderful recipes plus info about 10 symbolic foods for Rosh Hashanah and a nice section on Kosher basics.

  3. Allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipes/holidays-and-events/rosh-hashanah) – You're mouth will start watering the second you visit this site. There are so many recipes here, you'll have trouble choosing which dishes to make!

    Honey Cake

Sure, I could buy a lot of the holiday food pre-made. But part of celebrating my husband's traditions is taking the time to make the holiday personal and special, plus it's important for my children to know all about Judaism and savor the wonderful foods that are a part of that culture. Now pardon me – I have a shopping list to prepare!


Thanks for reading! Please check back in for some of my favorite Rosh Hashanah resources for kids.