Celebrate Spring with Iridescent Soap Bubbles

Spring means more time outside and blowing bubbles is fun.  So, try making your own bubbles with 4 easily obtained ingredients:

Bubbles1 C water

2 Tbs liquid detergent

1 Tbs glycerine

1/2 tsp sugar

Mix together until sugar melts and blow.  You’ll have rainbow spheres. ***

*** Caution: although it’s safe to use some bubbles inside, these will make circular stains if they land on carpet.  Of course you could call the stains alien footprints, but it may be easier to just keep the bubbles out of doors.


Preparing for the unexpected: disaster plans and kits

safety sackIn Colorado, you must be ready for the unexpected.   This could include flash floods, tornados, and even blizzards.   When designing your family emergency plan and disaster kit, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

Usually these kits are also called ’72-hour kits’ because you need to plan to be without power and water for 72 hours. If it is less, great, but you do not want to run out of provisions too soon.  Typically, the authorities will either have your power back on within 72 hours, or have you someplace safe within this time frame.

Be Prepared

It is very important to be prepared for anything life throws at you, and a disaster is no exception.  Maintaining a home emergency supply kit is the best way to prepare for any type of disaster.

It is true that there are already a number of items in your home that you rely on every day, and that you could grab in case of emergency, but a ready-made emergency kit will contain these items, and more.

Your family’s disaster kit should contain the basics.  Stock it with essentials for each person in your household, providing them with what they will need to survive. This should include fresh food and water as well as medical supplies.  If anyone in your family takes prescription drugs it is important to have at least 3 days’ worth of the medication on hand in the kit.

It is also important for you to periodically inventory and restock your disaster kit.  Typically this should be done every six months.

Food and Water

It is important to stock non-perishables in your kit.  These are foods that require no refrigeration. You will also want to look to foods that require no preparation or cooking, either, because you will most likely be without power.

As you purchase and stock your disaster kit, you will want to keep in mind each member of your family’s likes and dislikes.  No one wants to be faced with days’ worth of food that they just do not like; and of course, keep any allergies in mind.  Look for foods that you will all enjoy, but that are also nutritious, too, as this food will need to sustain you and keep you going.

Make sure to plan for special needs, too, such as nursing mothers, babies and the elderly.

Many of your food options will probably be canned, so make sure that you have a manual can opener in your kit as well as plenty of disposable utensils.

When you get ready to prepare your kit, remember that each person needs at least 2,000 calories per day.  In addition, you will want to put away at least a gallon of water per person per day. This will be used both for drinking and sanitation.

In Colorado, all counties have provisions for pets, too.  Make sure to keep this in mind when designing your family emergency plan and disaster kit.  Don’t forget to pack their food, too, along with plenty of water.

Additional Supplies

Additionally, make sure that your disaster kit contains flashlights and extra batteries, reading material and perhaps card games or toys for the children, an NOAA weather radio that has tone alerts and extra batteries for it, as well.

A first aid kit is a must. You can build your own or purchase an already stocked kit.  Also, include a whistle to signal for help, a dust mask for each member of your family, garbage bags, a wrench or pliers to turn off your utilities and a cell phone with a charger.

Teaching Diversity in A Homogenous setting

diversityOne of the easiest ways to teach diversity to children is to have them experience it. Interacting with people who have different cultural backgrounds, different physical and social abilities, and a variety of appearances helps to teach tolerance, respect, and acceptance. How can parent and educators do this, however, when the child’s classroom and programs are so similar to their home? Here’s some tips to teach diversity in a homogenous setting.

1. Understanding Diversity

The first step to teaching diversity is to understand it. Diversity is more than just a unit on world cultures or celebrating cultural holidays like Cinco de Mayo. Singling out diversity education as an individual topic only reinforces the separateness of different cultures. Instead, to understand the differences among people children must learn about themselves and how they fit into their own communities and then learn about those who are different from them and how those individuals fit into different communities. Only then can they visualize how we all fit together in the global community.

2. Real Experience

Reading books and discussing other cultures is only the first step towards understanding people who are different. To truly appreciate a different culture, especially for children, direct experience is necessary. It is essential that the classroom contain a variety of materials that show more than just one culture and that the art, toys, and pictures used throughout the school represent many backgrounds.

Children also need direct interaction with people who are different from them. Inside the classroom this can be done by taking field trips, inviting guests to speak to the children, or by pairing up pen pals outside the community. Outside the classroom, kids can visit their parents’ workplaces, cultural museums, or simply explore the neighborhood around them seeking out differences.

3. Challenge Stereotypes

Even in fairly homogenous situations, there is room to challenge the stereotypes within the small group. For example, if a child expresses the idea that all men wear pants or that girls can’t be scientists, it is the perfect time to have a conversation about possibilities. Talk about the ideas that girls can hold important jobs and that boys can raise children. Challenge stereotypes about sports and race, income levels and intelligence, and other common falsehoods.

4. Differences as Assets

The persistent thread through all of these ideas should be to show the differences among people as assets rather than deficits. For example, a young child that speaks English at school and another language in the home will have a tremendous advantage throughout life and shouldn’t be seen as someone who is “less than.” Children should understand that world is made up of countless cultures and the more of these cultures that we can understand, the more tools we will have to find success throughout life.

Consistency is Key

Adding a multicultural unit to the school curriculum isn’t enough to truly help children become comfortable and curious about diversity. In order to successfully do this, these ideas must be present in everyday activities at school and in everyday conversations in the home. Understanding differences among people should be a continuous process, one where the children become excited and inspired by contrasting cultures and seek out new cultural concepts to find out what they can learn.

Healthy Eyesight: Preschool Vision

eyeglassesThe preschool years are important in helping to develop visual skills. This is the time period in which they are fine tuning their vision developed during their infant and toddler years. Many of the activities that your child enjoys doing also help in this matter: building with blocks, rolling a ball, coloring, writing their name, or riding a tricycle.

However, 1 in 20 preschoolers has a vision problem. It is important that you do your best in helping your child to strengthen her visual skills, but that you also notice the signs that she may be having some troubles seeing.

Symptoms of possible preschool vision problems include:

  • Holding a book too close to his face
  • Sitting too close to the TV
  • Squinting
  • Tilting her head
  • Frequently rubbing eyes, even when he isn’t sleepy
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes
  • Closing one eye to read or watch TV
  • Short attention span
  • Complaining about headaches/pain
  • Eye turning in or out
  • Avoiding activities that have to do with hand-eye coordination: playing ball or tag, riding a bike, or even coloring or reading

If your child suffers from any of these signs, you should call your child’s pediatrician to schedule a screening. Your child’s school or pediatrician may first perform a screening to determine if your child might be suffering from vision problems. If so, then an optometrist will perform an eye examination. (It is important to remember that a screening cannot always accurately determine if vision issues are present. If your child passes the screening, but is still exhibiting warning signs, then you should call an optometrist.)

For child health in general, and to help with visual efficiency, it is important for your child to maintain a balanced diet and good sleep habits as well as stay hydrated throughout the day. There are many opportunities that you can offer your child to help strengthen visual skills:

  • Coloring, drawing, or reading
  • Throwing a ball or bean bag back and forth
  • Finger painting
  • Putting together puzzles
  • Building with blocks
  • Playing with other children
  • Riding a bike
  • Cutting and pasting paper crafts

When your child is starting school, it is important that he is seeing clearly. He needs to be able to see what the teacher is showing as well as be able to focus and pay attention in school. Visual problems that are not quickly corrected can often turn into larger issues, such as a lazy eye or cross-eye. Although these issues can be corrected, it is no longer as simple as nearsightedness or farsightedness. It is important to fix vision problems quickly so that the brain is not able to accommodate the problem.


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How to Pull it Together When You’re Parenting on Empty

stressed parent

Gretchen Rubin, Author of a book called “The Happiness Project” said that the days are long, but the years are short. I try to focus on the fact that the years are short.  As my six-year-old grandson is having surgery, I sit in the waiting room thinking how can he be six years old? He was just born yesterday.  In fact my twenty-five year old son was born just the day before. J These years are passing so quickly, and I want to enjoy every moment with my family\

But it’s also true that the days can be long. Long and loud and messy. We all have those days — or string of days — when we feel like we’re at the end of a very frayed and quickly unraveling rope.  You spent half of the night awake, cleaning up vomit or holding a baby who decided it was time to party.  Or maybe both.  In your bleary-eyed state, you enjoy a breakfast of Mountain Dew as you simultaneously listen to one child tell a compelling (and very detailed) story about how to defeat super-villains with ordinary household objects, soothe another whose path through the kitchen coincided perfectly with the refrigerator door you just opened, and watch your toddler set off a rapid chain reaction of destruction across the entire counter top that ends with dumping out the pitcher of milk.  The entire pitcher.   Sometimes you feel as empty as that darn pitcher.


It’s hard to be your kids’ everything when you feel like you’re running on nothing.  (Well, Mountain Dew and nothing.) Sometimes you might feel like you are the only one having those days.  But I guarantee you aren’t. Knowing there are plenty of other parents exhausted and dealing with the same strenuous days and weeks we all find ourselves in now and then I thought I’d share some thoughts with you.  Keep in mind you don’t have to wait for a crisis to take care of yourself!


Reassess Your Habits. Many of us, self-included, live by our calendars. But we forget to schedule fun.  Realizing that alone has salvaged several days for me.  A quick game of Uno with the boys before bed time, or a morning spent at the park can change the entire tone of the day.


Let it Go (You started singing to yourself there, didn’t you?)

The yellow ring around the bathroom sink will live to see another day. Remind yourself during those stressful days to pick just ONE task to try to accomplish each day (in addition to keeping everyone alive, of course).  A trip to the grocery store? Congratulations! Laundry done?  Major accomplishment!  Laundry only started?  Good enough! Sometimes the key to lowering stress is to reduce the demands or commitments from the outside, but often the biggest thing is simply lowering the expectations we issue from within ourselves.


Loosen Up, But Keep a Rhythm, as you let go a bit, don’t go too far.  Keep a “loose rhythm”.  In high-stress parenting seasons we are tempted to “throw routine out the window, but that always backfires.”  So instead I encourage you to keep an adjusted routine and go easy, particularly when it comes to managing expectations.


Feed Your Soul.   You know the analogy.  Airlines remind us to put on our own oxygen masks before attending to others.  We aren’t much help to others if we haven’t helped ourselves.  Though it seems counter-intuitive when stress is high, we benefit greatly from doing something for ourselves first so we can better serve our little ones. Try to create a moment now and then for something that feeds your soul.  Even if it has to take on an abbreviated form.


And finally, Let People Help. This advice came from my big brother, who shares the same genetic flaw I have that causes chronic and obstinate independence.  Like my own grandson, I have the tendency to stubbornly declare I will do it all myself.  And, just as I do with my grandson, the people around me stand by, waiting for me to finally realize I need their help.


Accept offers to help.  Dare to ask for help.  Hire help if you have to and can afford it. Asking for help isn’t a weakness.  It’s a strong cord that weaves us together with those around us in a sense of belonging and community.  Open yourself up to your village!


Taming Temper Tantrums

I'm not listening


Temper tantrums are the worst, and they tend to happen at the most inopportune moments.  If you are the parent, or the grandparent, of a young child, knowing how to diffuse (or even prevent) a tantrum is an essential skill to have.

Teach Language

One way to prevent temper tantrums is to help improve your child’s ability to express how what he or she is feeling, or thinking. It is often that inability to express themselves that leads to anger.  If your child knows how to express himself, you might be able to get past the tantrum stage quickly.

The best way to do this is to teach and discuss the language of feelings.  When we are first teaching children to read, or to understand, we tend to teach them nouns, and we spend a lot of time doing it.

Nouns are really only a small part of the vocabulary, though, and when your children are trying to get a point across to you, nouns do them very little good.  So, try to start labeling feelings when you teach your child words.  When you are tired, tell your son or daughter, “Mommy is tired!” Tell them what would make you feel better, for example taking a nap, or just sitting down to rest.

Or, when you are happy, tell them that, too.  “Mommy is so happy!  I love ice cream!”  Use this especially with words that will help them get over their frustrations, such as hungry, tired, thirsty, angry, sad, etc.

If you know how your child feels, you can help to alleviate those feelings and nip that temper tantrum in the bud. As an added bonus, you get some quality teaching time with her.

Teaching moments can be as fun as asking your child how a cartoon character on television is feeling, or how a character in a book is feeling, or how her stuffed animal is feeling. Once they can express these emotions successfully they will no longer feel frustrated.

Pay Attention

Keep a tantrum diary detailing what ignites your child.  This will help you to pick up on the about-to-flare-up signals and quickly distract her/him into a more calming activity.

If your toddler usually has an afternoon melt down, do  shopping and errands in the morning.  Is he or she getting enough sleep?  You may need to adjust bed or nap time.

You need to let children  know early on that tantrums don’t work. Once your toddler realizes that manipulative tantrums will not get them any where, this behavior will self-destruct This may mean waiting out a tantrum by ignoring it.  Make sure the child is in a safe place and let him/her scream.   You may have to leave the store or restaurant.  You may have to pull over.  But if you react with benign indifference a few times the behavior will fade.  If tantrums have become a habit, they may get worse before they get better.  Hang in there and hang tough.

Post tantrum

Tantrums will happen, no matter what you do, but you can use that ‘post tantrum cooling off period’ to talk about what went wrong, and figure out how to avoid this problem in the future.  You can ask your child how he or she was feeling, what made him feel this way, etc.  Smaller children will not have the words to really express these things, but if they can voice those emotions that we mentioned before, you are well on your way to understanding what happened, and how to avoid this problem in the future.  After everyone is calm, it’s fun and effective for kids as young as 2.5 or 3 to role play how to act in situations.  They get a kick out of watching you mimicking a tantrum then acting out, with them, a more acceptable way to get what they want.

If you are out shopping, it may simply be that your child is tired, and needs a break. However, if he does not tell you, and goes right into meltdown mode, no one wins.  If you can get your child to say, “I am tired” or “I need a rest” before you head out the door you might be able to save yourself a headache.

Usually a tantrum is the last straw, for your child! It simply means that he has had it!  He is tired, he is cranky, he is hungry, he is frustrated–something, and whatever happens next will set him off. So be cognizant of your child’s emotions, and have him express those emotions in the best way that he can (aside from a tantrum).

Parents and grandparents are really the best teachers for children because your children identity with you more than they do with anyone else. What you say means more.

So, simply work on language every chance you get and see if those temper tantrums subside.  In a nut shell, providing  your child the tools  to express him/herself, is a key to enjoying the terrific twos.

What Not To Wear: stuff you don’t want to wear or bring to daycare

dressed up kids

“Play is really the work of childhood.” Mister Rogers

When you dress for work, you choose clothing appropriate to your profession. Just as you wouldn’t wear heels at a construction site or scrubs to the office, choosing the right clothing for your little ones to wear to daycare is equally important. Daycare is where children develop fine and gross motor skills, social skills, and develop the very beginnings of literacy and numeracy. You might want to dress your little boy in the most precious wee suits or your daughter in charming frocks, but these are best saved for occasions when the primary task is posing for photos, not learning vital skills. Parenting tips don’t always include fashion advice, but these will help you and your little ones stay comfortable and preserve the clothing you treasure. So what should you save for special occasions?

Clothes that require dry cleaning should be saved for family photos. Anything in silk, fine wool (such as some suit jackets), would fall into this category. Daycare is a messy place. Children spill food and beverages on themselves and others, and gleefully partake in messy arts and crafts activities. Parenting tips often involve sharing favorite stain removers, and for good reason. If your child is in clothes that can’t get wet, even to remove stains, they’ll not have nearly as much fun.

Clothes that can’t tolerate rough handling should stay on the sidelines. Delicate lace and beading often get ruined in rough play. Even if your youngster isn’t the rowdy type, he or she might get jostled by more energetic classmates. Beaded items could also pose a choking hazard if the beads are torn loose. When choosing clothes, ask your child to move around when trying them on. Some shirt and pant seams can’t tolerate a wide range of movement. If the seams strain as your child is reaching up, then it’s not a good choice for someone who might spend time on the monkey bars. Some clothing brands can offer just the right amount of ease, so ask friends and family for parenting tips on good brands for active kids.

Clothing that can’t be easily replaced should be sparingly used. Do not send your child to daycare in anything your family considers an heirloom, no matter how careful your child is. Clothing does gets lost at daycare and at school. Any handmade clothing made by someone who is sensitive about their work should be saved for photos. If your aunt doesn’t care that her handknit sweater is stained and ripped under the arm, then feel free to send your child to daycare wearing it. But if a lost or ruined item will cause family tensions, keep it at home.

The best fashion choices for daycare include comfortable clothing that is machine washable and has soft tags for easy labeling. While your little one might look like a child model, daycare is a different “work” environment than a fashion shoot. Save the darling outfits for when your child is truly ready for their close-up, and he or she will have picture perfect days at daycare.

Bye Bye Baby- how to leave the childcare without tears



Childcare can be a great adventure. However, when you’re leaving your child there, the experience is often difficult for both you and the child. Use these parenting tips to ensure your child’s transition is as smooth as possible. In turn, your mindset will be much better.

waving goodby

  • Let your children know what to expect. Your kids are used to the rhythm of your family life, and childcare disrupts that. They’ll be confronted with new rules and routines. Explain that while you are at work, they will be having fun. Say that they will make new friends and play with lots of cool toys. If possible, visit the childcare with your children prior to the start date and have them meet the teacher and get a feel for the place. That may not be enough, and a photo book with pictures taken during that visit will help remind the child of what to expect. However, don’t treat this as some huge ordeal or change. Another idea is to read a couple of books about childcare adventures to your children.
  • Practice consistency. This is probably the most critical of these parenting tips. If the first day of drop-off goes terribly, shrug it off and start fresh the next day. And the next. Before you know it, a new routine has been established, and your child is looking forward to childcare. Avoid pulling your child out if the first hand-off (or subsequent ones) go badly. This serves to tell the child he can sidestep negative feelings and also puts him in control.
  • Keep goodbyes and hellos snappy. This area is particularly important for consistency. When you say goodbye, say something like: “Goodbye for now. I will be back after nap time to get you. I hope you have a fun day!” or “Bye for now. See you later, alligator!” Turn and leave. Don’t look back or linger. Definitely don’t sneak off without informing your child you are leaving.  When you do return after work, point out that you are back, exactly as you said you would be. Your child will get the message that these goodbyes are by no means permanent.
  • Enlist the teacher’s help. Write or type a bulleted list for the teacher that gives her the lowdown on your child’s life at home. For example, include information on when your child eats, sleeps and uses the bathroom. Also include personal touches such as your child’s favorite color, story, games and songs. Of vital importance is to highlight any allergies your child may have and methods you use to calm your child. The teacher can take advantage of your parenting tips to keep your child happy.
  • Let your child choose a “buddy” to bring from home. The “buddy,” which could be a photo, blanket, doll, cup or pretty much anything, will make the child feel more at home and will function as an emotional support of sorts. After some time passes, the child probably will no longer need the “buddy.”
  • Stay away. This means no surprise drop-ins and resisting the temptation to call every more than twice a day. You must trust the childcare to contact you if an emergency occurs. Remember that children are intuitive and read moods well. You being anxious will give your child anxiety that wasn’t there or fuel further anxiety. Give your child’s distress at childcare about two weeks to a month to subside.
  • Remember your child adores you whether saying goodbye is easy or tough for them; whether they rush to you when you come to pick them up or tell you to wait a minute, they aren’t ready to go.  Sometimes younger children have NO problem with goodbye the first week or so- pre-school is a grand adventure. But they may begin to cry after two weeks or so when they realize this is an everyday thing.  Wanting to stay means they are Very secure: you’ve found the right place and they know you will always be there. If  either event  happens, know that it’s normal, and follow the tips above.

Following these parenting tips should result in relatively smooth hand-offs. However, if the tears and tantrums are especially severe and persist more than a month, have someone else take your child to childcare for a few days.

Practical Literacy: using Signs and Labels to help your child read

stop signReading is the most fundamental of all school skills , and the first thing children begin to learn in school.  An easy way to supplement your child’s first attempts at sight reading words is to point out road signs, store signs,and labels

Pay attention to signs with commands “Stop,” “One Way,” or “Do Not Enter,” “Yield”.   Watch out for signs that say “Hill”, or “Slow” or “Curve”. There’s tons of opportunity to point out “Road work ahead” over and over and over 🙂 One of the children in my class learned how to write “Thank You” thanks to road construction projects.  You can make a game out of reading the signs, asking questions like, “What should I do now?” or “Can I go this way?”  The follow-up questions are important, since it provides practice reading, and comprehending.  Street name signs can help when you are teaching your child your address. If your child is older, you can take this one step further by asking things like, “I’m looking for Sycamore Avenue.  Can you tell me when I’ve come to it?”  Then the child will have to read all the street signs and mentally match the words with the name.

This technique doesn’t have to stay inside the car.  You can take your child for a walk around a shopping center and ask him or her to read the names of the stores.  Again, you can make this a game by asking follow-up questions.  For example, if you see a place called “Park Avenue Florist,” ask “What do they sell here?”  Even when you’re inside a store, you can still continue the reading exercises.  You can treat this outing almost like a scavenger hunt, saying things like “I need to buy something for an office,” then pointing to the aisle markers hanging from the ceiling and saying, “Which aisle has things for an office?” It takes time, but you can use labels off cans and food packages to teach reading in the grocery store. Now days it’s so simple to take a photo of what you are planning to buy. Then show your child the photo and ask her to find the item.

There’s never been a better teacher than you combined with hands on experience, so it may be time to consider your entire neighborhood a rich teaching tool.

Age Appropriate Chores for Getting Toddlers and Preschoolers to Help Around the House

boys doing dishesKids play at our jobs.  They pretend to have adult jobs, to be moms and dads, to do every job and activity they see around them daily.  Although we, as adults, feel like most of the chores around the house are things that only we can do, our children want to help. Just as adults need to feel like they’re making a contribution around the house, kids do as well. It is important to include your child in a few daily chores. Although many household chores aren’t appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers, there are still several things that they can help with. Chores for Kids Ages 2-3 It is great to start letting kids help at this age because they actually want to. Toddlers are eager to do jobs that they see mom and dad doing. And there are a surprising amount of chores that you can assign to these little ones, as long as you’re helping. If you want a toddler to participate, you need to make it fun!

  • Dusting. While you are dusting higher areas, allow your child to dust baseboards and smaller furniture. Sing a song while you’re dusting and always praise your toddler for his great work.
  • Assist in making beds. At this age, your toddler may have just transitioned from a crib to a toddler or even a big kid bed. By starting this task early and repeating it daily, it helps your child to get into the habit, which will be nice for when he’s older!
  • Put toys away. At the end of the day, you should not be left to do all of the picking up. If your toddler gets bored with a toy and wants to move on to something else, have him put the toy away first. It’s good to reinforce the importance of picking up after ourselves.
  • Help with laundry. Have your toddler put dirty clothes into the hamper or even help with moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, etc. Toddlers might even manage some easy folding, such as washcloths.

Chores for Kids Ages 4-5 Asking kids at this age to “help” is very important. They’re a lot more capable than most of us give them credit for, but we also want to be actively participating in the job with them.

  • Set the table. As long as you’re supervising, allow your child to put plates, napkins, and silverware on the table before dinnertime. This also will give you a chance to teach your child the correct order for silverware.
  • Feed the pet(s). Especially if the pet was a gift to the child, this is a great way to teach them to be responsible for their possessions.
  • Use handheld vacuum. If you’re vacuuming, help your child to feel like he’s in on the action by giving him a handheld vacuum to pick up crumbs.
  • Empty small trash cans.
  • Water plants or pull weeds. Children love to play outside and get dirty anyways. Why not recruit some help in the garden?
  • Sweep floors.
  • Unload utensils from the dishwasher. Your child can even help to load and unload plasticware or small plates from the dishwasher as well!
  • Make bed. At this age, your child should be able to make his bed all on his own!

We don’t give our children enough credit sometimes, but there are a number of things that they can help us with! Assigning chores is great for teaching practical skills to preschoolers and toddlers alike.