This is SUCH a great idea, and I happen to adore the founder, Debbie Cohen, behind it…Sure, we all “Amazon” and love one-click shopping, but how great would it be if a specially curated bookstore came directly TO YOU! The Story House is a new concept, a bookstore on wheels, much like a food truck with a different kind of nourishment, that will be visiting book fairs, schools, etc., in the coming year. Their online store has lots of great resources, too, along with book ideas for kids to grads, local summer reading lists, ways to bring The Story House to your school or event, and more.
Cohen is an author, educator, mom, and now innovator. You can be part of putting this store on the road. Check out their Kickstarter Campaign to get involved. And happy reading!
Disclosure: No compensation was made for this post, except for the satisfaction that I’m supporting a GREAT cause! The opinions are all my own.
Screenagers, a recently released documentary, is sharing its voice about teens and tech on, ironically, screens nationwide. This is such an important discussion for both parents and teens/tweens, and for any parents who don’t struggle with limit-setting and the effect of tech on family life, consider yourself lucky. I consider this topic so important, both personally, and journalistically, that I’m covering the story in 2 parts. This reminded me of Race to Nowhere, a documentary on the extreme pressure our kids face in schools, in terms of style/approach on a current topic of relevance to tweens/teens.
First, here’s a short trailer on Screenagers:
Here were some of my takeaways from reviewing the film…
The film tells us that kids spend an average of 6.5 hours a day on screens, not including schoolwork. Boys, on average, spend 11.3 hours on video games EACH WEEK. The violent/military style games, the film notes, are designed to desensitize the user. Prosocial games, on the other hand, involve helping others, saving cities. Overstimulation from playing any games tires the brain. The average age that kids are getting a smartphone is now 10 years, 3 months….
The filmmaker, Dr. Delaney Ruston, was motivated to develop this film as a vehicle for social change after realizing how big the decision was to buy her own daughter a Smartphone. She feels strongly about balance in our tech-obsessed world, and she hopes the film will be a catalyst for conversation in schools (digital citizenship education) and in homes (Tech Talk Tuesdays, setting aside time to talk about technology as a family).
I was so intrigued by this film and its mission, that I had to speak with Delaney and learn more…Here are some highlights of our conversation.
What surprised you about reactions to the film?
Kids come to the screenings on the defensive, but leave saying “wow, that spoke to me too.” It gives them insights into how important the discussions are. Parents feel empowered after seeing the film. Delaney also shared with me that developing self-control is not an innate skill, but that we can teach and model self-control techniques, especially as they relate to technology use.
What concerns do you have about the impact of the film?
As a physician who understands long-term change, we’ve got to really stick with something. It takes 6 weeks to 2 months before a new behavior forms. I worry people will feel inundated and lose the enthusiasm and go back to being overwhelmed by the technology.
What are the most important take-aways for parents to have a healthy relationship with kids and electronics?
Make a pledge to have a conversation with your family on a weekly basis about technology that isn’t emotion driven but is curiosity driven. We don’t want anyone on screens during all waking hours, so defining times to NOT be on devices is not only reasonable, but what we need to do. Continually readdress and change guidelines as your child grows up in response to their input.
Delaney shares that teens have a lot to say about technology, and that their input can engage important discussions in our families.
The Screenagers website is awesome – here are some links you may enjoy:
I wanted to give a shout-out to my friends at PEP, the Parent Encouragement Program, who offer some great courses in the DC/MD/VA area around this topic as well, including…
Tackling Technology with Your 5 to 12 Year Old
Tackling Technology with Teens & Tweens
Setting Limits To Promote Cooperation (could relate to screens or general topics)
Click here to see more about PEP’s course offerings locally.
When our kids are young, it’s “easy” to put boundaries on them with social media and screens. Yes, there may be power struggles. Yes, there is a new social channel launching every minute, so it’s sometimes paramount to catching wet spaghetti while you’re learning a foreign language. But parents get it that too many screens aren’t a good thing. So what happens when these kids turn into teens and young adults? As ABC’s Karen Travers learned, the tables turn, and teens start putting limits on their parents about how much and what to post. So fun to have been interviewed with my son Jake for this piece, and love watching one of my Parent Encouragement Program mentors and digital genius Robbye Fox, share some guidelines for this ever-changing landscape. Enjoy, and good luck in your own families! Feel free to comment on this post with any creative ideas that have worked in your own home…
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If you’ve ever found humor in your mom life or misadventures on the parenting path, you’ll LOVE this show. I recently had the pleasure of cracking up with best friends in NYC at the new show fresh on the off-Broadway stage scene, One Funny Mother, while giving each other those knowing looks as we could relate to many of Dena’s stories. Dena Blizzard delivers a one-woman monologue that captures the funny in parenting and families while adding some touching commentary about the challenges we face. She’s funny; she’s brutally honest; and she’s taking a topic anyone can relate to (moms, dads, wives, husbands, kids, friends) and teasing out the hysterical mayhem. She shares some of the things we wish we hadn’t said to our kids at times (ok, she tells her daughter that Zeus the One-Eyed Dog was a “bad listener,” and as we’re laughing, she shrugs her shoulders and says her daughter started listening a lot better after that)…As Laurie Holcomb-Holland wrote in The New York Times, “Motherhood can be messy, unpredictable and full of awkward moments.” Blizzard explores these moments in a rapid-fire monologue that’s going to resonate with moms in a big way.
Here’s a “trailer” of her show:
From her website: Dena is a married mother of three and was Miss New Jersey in 1995 proudly placing in the top 50 at the Miss America Pageant. Dena is the official preliminary host for the Miss America Pageant and was also a correspondent on this year’s Miss America pre-show on ABC. She has hosted the TV Land Red Carpet and was the Host of Real Simple on PBS. She has co-hosted “Anderson Live” with Anderson Cooper and has been an on-air correspondent for The Nate Berkus Show. She is also regular fill-in radio talk show host on NJ 101.5.
Photo above with Dena and some BFF’s from my own childhood and much valued “colleagues” on my own motherhood journey!
Larry Ackerman, Guest Author, is President of The Identity Circle and author of several books on identity. He brings this idea to parenting with some great tips for parents of kids of all ages.
10 Things a Parent Can Do to Honor the Individual Inside Their Child
By Larry Ackerman
As parents, we aren’t naturally conditioned to think about raising children through the lens of identity; that is, deliberately helping them understand themselves and love themselves for who they truly are. Yet, helping a child understand his or her uniqueness and the potential it implies goes a long way towards ensuring that they are well- grounded human beings, that they find the right careers and companions, and are secure in who they are over the course of their lives, despite the challenges they will face.
Here are 10 things a parent can do to honor the individual inside their child.
About the Author: Larry Ackerman is President of The Identity Circle and author of several books. He has given lectures at the Yale School of Management, The Wharton School of Business, Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Pepperdine University, and UCLA’s Anderson School, and has shared his insights in broadcast interviews nationwide.
DC/MD/VA friends – wanted to share a client project with a #MomTastic twist. A Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) Event Food Fight MobilePack Assembly Event is happening this weekend May 13-15 at the Dulles Expo Center (Virginia). Some 30,000 volunteers will pack 5 million meals to feed kids around the world. Plus, volunteers are asked to bring a can of food for the Capital Area Food Bank for local communities. This massive event can feed 14,000 children for a full year.
How can you help?
Here’s the why behind the story…
This video illustrates what the MobilePack event looks like and how you can help kick hunger to the curb:
Disclosure: Story about a Write Ideas, Inc., client, and thrilled to be working on a cause that supports the health of children and families.
Don’t get too put off by the title…This is a really bare-it-all book on the pitfalls (and often realities) of motherhood. As Ybarbo delicately put at a recent book event, “Vacations can be bittersweet, 80% bitter, 20% sweet.” Now do I REALLY think these women think we’re constantly failing as moms? Absolutely NOT. But have they taken a completely brutally honest look at many facets of motherhood with thick skin journalism on board? Absolutely yes!
I met this team of Emmy Award Winning Today Show producers who authored the book at a recent Maryland event, and was laughing along with a room full of women about our misadventures along the path of trying to keep it all together as moms. Through vomit, missed school conferences, getting lost in theme parks, figuring out how to put the fun in vacations, and much more, this book takes us through the seasons with anecdotes, tips, and our mommy road map that makes absolutely no sense at times!
Here are Ybarbo and Zoellner at the event:
After meeting them, I tweeted something to the effect of, “Hey, we’re all in this together!” The audience shared hysterical stories of cramming kids full of sugar cereals to survive a 6am flight without thinking how the sugar high would affect their kids at 8 am to watching their kid make lunch for the first time, realizing the next morning the bread was as moldy as a science experience (hmmmm…who was that?!). Even Ybarbo herself shared a really fun story about taking her own son to work when J Lo was in studio, only to realize in her work frenzy that she was missing her other kid’s parent-teacher conference.
It was like watching stand-up comedy about life as a parent, sharing missteps from our mom life without any judgement whatsoever, and laughing hysterically.
The book: Sh*tty Mom for All Seasons: Half-@ssing It All Year Long by Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner with Erin Clune
Some non-advice advice from the Sh*tty Moms
Here are some reviews that give you a flavor for the delightful dish in store for you when you pick this book up…
Praise for Sh*tty Mom for All Seasons
“Shitty Moms provides just what we all need at the end of our parenting days: a shot of irreverence with a belly laugh chaser. With Shitty Moms 2, we get to make it a double.” – Jessica Lahey, Author of the Gift of Failure
“Finally, a book that explains why kids are so hard to feed AND so easy to lose in a crowded store. Hilarious and helpful, it will keep you up at night, laugh-crying at the challenges of modern motherhood. ” – Alisyn Camerota, CNN
“A hilarious and heart-warming book that perfectly captures that delicate balance every mom feels, somewhere between “Parenting! #NailedIt!” and “What the F have I done?!?!” – Randi Zuckerberg, Digital Lifestyle Expert, Author and Host of “Dot Complicated” on SiriusXM
“If you’ve never felt like a shitty parent then you’re likely delusional. A brilliant and hilarious guide to make you feel better, or at least in great company.” – Jenni Pulos, Star of Bravo’s Flipping Out
“As a mom your spare time is precious. Spend it laughing with sh*tty moms!” – Wendy Bellissimo, CEO Wendy Bellissimo Inc.
About the Authors
Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner are Emmy Award–winning producers at NBC’s TODAY show. They are the coauthors of Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us and Today’s Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby’s First Year.
Erin Clune is a journalist and humorist whose blogs include Life After NY, The Mischievous Mixologist, and her advice column, So What? Who Cares? Her work has been featured on NPR, The Rumpus, Thought Catalog, and Medium.
Thanks to our friends at The Washington Nationals for this MomTastic discount code. Go to Nationals.com/VIP, select game, and enter MOMTINI for special discounts at any games! Go Nats!
There’s only one thing I love more than reading books by parents, about parenting, and that’s MEETING the parent behind the venture. Thanks to my dear friend, Lorraine A., I recently attended a funny & insightful book talk with Brett Graff, a well-published writer known as the “Home Economist. Graff put her research and smarts into a new book, “Not Buying It: Stop Overspending, and Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More Successful Kids.” I asked Brett to share some of her favorite learnings from this research here at The Lounge. Enjoy! – Amy
Here’s me, Brett, Lorraine A., and of course, this provocative and thoughtful new book that will make you think twice before overspending on things like cribs, produce (trust me, read on…), and more!
Five Things I Learned About Spending Money to Raise Great Kids
By Brett Graff
I’m a newspaper columnist, mom and now, author of a book that was born after my friend — who happens to be a pediatrician — and I wondered: Is all this money we’re spending on our kids actually messing them up? As parents, we’re competitive, emotional and we’re deeply committed to our cause. This makes us the perfect consumers. For products, yes, but also coaches, teachers, camps. They toss around words such as confidence, self esteem, emotional intelligence and brain-building. And we salivate while reaching for our wallets. So I in turn I looked at every facet of our spending and found research from National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Harvard University, Stanford University, Cornell University, the Food & Drug Administration and dozens of other esteemed intuitions and learned – um – a lot of the results were buying are the opposite of what we’d hoped. Where are we not putting our money? Into the rock solid financial foundations that actually can launch our kids into greatness. After all this, I learned…..
About the Author:
Brett Graff is The Home Economist, writing and reporting on the unseen forces affecting our decisions about money. The reasons we spend, save, earn or even discuss finances with our kids and friends aren’t always obvious. And prices, products and circumstances are certainly not always as they seem. We are all economists, making decisions on how to allocate our resources each day. We need to be informed.
Brett’s column THE HOME ECONOMIST is nationally syndicated and published in newspapers all over the country. Her new book, “Not Buying It: Stop Overspending, and Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More Successful Kids,” is available on Amazon.
Thanks to guest author Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert who shares these great “trip tips” that will “keep your budget in check” and lead to great family adventures…
Families with school-aged kids are eagerly awaiting the upcoming spring break for a chance to escape the real world and enjoy some extra time together. Since this week-long hiatus typically occurs between mid-March and mid-April, parents have likely confirmed most of the travel arrangements like flights and hotel.
While it’s important to find the best airfare and accommodation deals, keeping costs in mind when you get to your destination is equally crucial. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and spend beyond your means, especially with such temptations as afternoon snacks, unplanned excursions and must-have souvenirs.
To help keep your budget in check this spring break, here are eight travel hacks that will save you money without compromising family fun.
Search daily deals.
Before heading on your trip, start scoping out daily deals offered at the destination you’re visiting. From restaurant savings to discounts on activities and entertainment, you can save a bundle using these vouchers. Sign up at Groupon or LivingSocial to get alerts via email or download the app for instant pop-up notifications so you don’t miss out on limited-time offers. Review the fine print and expiration dates first, though, to ensure the voucher will be valid during your vacation.
Redeem reward points.
If you have reward points saved up on your credit card, consider redeeming them for gift cards to restaurants and activities. For example, you can get cards for SpaFinder Wellness to help cover the cost of a spa day for you and your daughter, or AMC Theater gift cards to cut down on the expense of a family outing to the movies. Alternatively, you can save your reward points for a future family trip and use a site like RewardExpert.com to understand how many points you need for a specific destination, and create a plan to accrue them as quickly as possible!
Take public transportation.
If you’re visiting a city, using your car or renting one can turn into more time spent getting lost or in traffic than actually enjoying the sites. Not only will you reduce fuel and parking costs, but taking public transportation is a great way to get acquainted with a new area while saving you money. Plus, you’re more apt to engage with locals and may end up with great recommendations for restaurants and activities as a result.
Look for restaurant coupons.
Not having to cook is one of the luxuries parents look forward to when traveling. However, eating out for every meal can destroy your budget. Make sandwiches in your hotel room to take along for the day’s adventure and pack snacks to carry with you. For dinner, take advantage of early bird or happy hour discounts (and don’t forget the all important restaurant bag). What’s more, you can access restaurant coupons using the Coupon Sherpa mobile app for deals at both chain favorites and local eateries.
Buy an entertainment book.
You can access two-for-one and 50% off deals on restaurants, activities and more for whatever city you’re visiting through an entertainment book. For instance, buy an entertainment book for Santa Barbara and you’ll get one free child admission with one adult ticket for their popular Zoo, and in Orlando you’ll score one free bowling session when a second one is purchased at AMF Bowling Centers.
Find free activities.
To make the most of your trip, you may want to book an action-packed schedule of activities and tours for the entire family. But, this can get pricey and may also wipe you and your family out! There are likely plenty of free activities that you all will enjoy like swimming, hiking or star gazing. Consult with the hotel concierge or head to the city’s visitor bureau for a guide and list of ideas for free and low-cost things to do and see.
Participate in a volunteer activity.
There’s no better way to experience a community than to volunteer your time on a local project. Plus, any opportunity to show your children the magic of giving should be embraced! Use a site like VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities in your destination city or town, and filter by those activities you think your family will enjoy most. For example, you can participate in a Clean Your Block Party event in Tampa Bay, Fl., with such projects as garden planting, habitat restoration, tree planting and more.
Snap lots of pictures.
Instead of loading up your suitcase with a bunch of souvenirs, capture the best memories with selfies and group shots using your camera’s timer setting. When you get home, create a digital photo book as your spring break keepsake, or order a custom photo book online from sites like Snapfish and Shutterfly. Reduce your costs with coupon codes from sites like FreeShipping.org, which is currently offering free shipping and 25% off your order from Snapfish.
Author Bio: Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer-finance expert who is passionate about helping families discover simple ways to spend less and save more without sacrificing their lifestyles. She is a frequent contributor to national shows such as Today, Good Morning America and FOX & Friends, and has worked with hundreds of other popular media like Dr. OZ, CNN, MSNBC, ABC World News, Inside Edition, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Real Simple, Family Circle, Cosmopolitan and many more. Andrea also writes for various news outlets and her stories have been published on Forbes, AOL Daily Finance, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, LearnVest, New York Daily News “Dollar Stretcher” and ClarkHoward.com. You can read more about Andrea and watch recent TV clips at www.AndreaWoroch.com.
One author is drawing a connection between oral health and overall health. Thanks to guest author Dr. Susan Maples DDS, for some great oral hygiene tips. A top eight innovator in U.S. dentistry and author of Blabber Mouth: 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You To Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life, Maples says, “Children must take care of their teeth and gums not just for the oral health benefits, but to keep the rest of their bodies healthy as well. Good habits are formed at an early age. But when it comes to the oral health of children, some parents don’t take it seriously. ”
Dr. Maples’ tips for parents:
– Lay off the fruit juice: Parents often think fruit juice is a healthy choice for a drink. Juice is loaded with sugar which feeds cavity bags. When consumed regularly, it can predispose children to type 2 diabetes. Water is the best option for beverages. Drink less fruit juice and eat more fruit.
– Only use soft bristle toothbrushes: When it comes to how hard the bristles of the toothbrush should be, the only choice is not hard at all. Make sure you always choose soft bristles to avoid traumatizing your gums. Scrubbing with a medium or hard bristle brush can make the gums recede from the teeth and it’s irreversible except through surgery.
– Parents need to supervise brushing and flossing: Letting children take care of their own teeth without being shown the proper techniques can be disastrous. Just as you would help your children tie their shoes, help them brush and floss. Kids need supervision to safely and effectively remove plaque until they prove they know what they’re doing. Make sure they’re getting those hard to reach spots in the back of the mouth.
– Don’t avoid or neglect preventive dental visits: Cavities between teeth can only be detected with x-rays. Your children need to see the dentist twice a year. Make appointments at times you’ll remember like on their birthday, at the beginning of the new year or at the start of the school year.
– Cavities in children need to be treated: Some parents think that cavities in baby teeth can be ignored because these teeth will fall out eventually. You can’t ignore cavities even in baby teeth. They must be treated or they can create dangerous infections and abscesses.
– Some bleeding is expected: Blood isn’t always the sign of something bad. If your child’s gums bleed when they brush or floss, don’t stop their routine. Bleeding is a natural response when you clean inflamed gums and isn’t from brushing or flossing too hard. Keep at it to reduce the bacteria and avoid periodontal disease. The bleeding will subside as the bacteria load is cleaned up. If bleeding persists, see your dentist.
– Fluoride is a must: Fluoride promotes healthy and strong teeth for a lifetime. Both fluoride in the water supply (or a prescription supplement) and topical fluoride in the dental office and in toothpaste are critically important to help avoid cavities. Make sure and use an age appropriate toothpaste because until a child can spit, he shouldn’t chance swallowing fluoride.
Who doesn’t love comfort food? And imagine a collection of yummy, comfort food recipes that show you how to indulge in 100-calorie increments?
I recently got a chance to preview a new cookbook that does just that. The Perfect Portion Cookbook has 150 recipes, each outlined in 100-calorie portions. Here are some that really caught my eye as looking delicious, interesting, and something that would be helpful to eat in moderation.
First, an Enchilada Bake – this looks like a blanket on a cold day, and we’re having lots of those in D.C.:
And a sweet treat, 100-calorie Brownie Bites…yummm!
Get the kids involved! Here’s a fun way to show kids the process and encourage them to assist. The Better Batter French Toast would be a #MomTastic activity and very family-friendly.
Here’s the “411” on this new cookbook:
It is available for pre-order now on Amazon $29.95 and will be sold on QVC for a limited time with a special pre-order price of $19.95 plus $5 shipping/handling at this link.
Disclosure: A cookbook was provided for review, but the opinions here are all my own!
Wear the Cape™, a brand that gives back and aims to restore the power of kindness and heroic character with cool, inspirational products and its non-profit the kidkind foundation, released some great tips about teaching kids to understand the joy of giving to others.
Wear the Cape’s tips were conceived by the organization’s resident character education expert Philip Brown, PhD, who is a Fellow of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, where he founded and directed the Center for Social and Character Development. With his pointers, Dr. Brown focuses on how we can help our kids understand the joy of giving.
1. Be intentional. Talk to children about giving and charity, how it makes us feel, and what values we are upholding. Whether the heart-to-heart is about giving money or time and energies, research shows that talking with children to help them understand the family and society values associated with giving is important.
2. Think beyond your family. Let children know they are part of a community and global citizenship. Ask who has served your family this past year and could use some recognition. Look at where there are people in need locally, nationally and internationally. Could a neighbor use a helping hand or the local food pantry some extra servers?
3. Involve your kids in decision-making. Include your children in discussions about to whom something should be given, whether it’s a toy, a dollar, a card, the offer of service or a good word. Simple and sweet can open the heart as much as big and fancy. Think of family and then extend outward. Involving kids in the process of selecting charities or persons to whom they want to give goes a long way toward building a generous spirit.
4. Gift outside the box – literally. Consider gifts of experiences rather than just material items. We remember and cherish good times together longer than almost any physical present.
5. Don’t overlook the art of receiving. You can help children build their character by learning how to receive gifts gracefully and with gratitude, which is as important as being a caring giver. Gift occasions are also about receiving. Receiving should be done with an open heart, remembering that the person giving the gift wants to please you and make you feel good.
Wear the Cape had a #betterthanpresents contest over the holidays, and reports that most kids’ talked about family time as something better than presents. For example, helping to take care of a baby brother, going to a baseball game with dad, and having the entire family at a birthday party.
The Concussion movie recently released may raise concerns about head safety in children who play contact sports. We want our children to be active, stay healthy, and enjoy the positive benefits of team sports. While there is a risk in playing any sport, the benefits will likely far outweigh the risks if coached and played with head safety in mind.
Gerry Gioia, PhD, Director of Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery & Education (SCORE) Program at Children’s National Health System, shares 10 questions parents should ask youth sports coaches to ensure their child’s team is practicing proper head safety to prevent concussion.
And here’s the Concussion movie trailer:
Every 52 minutes in America, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. And, for every preventable drunk driving death – 10,076 in 2013 alone – exponentially more lives are forever changed by the loss of a parent, child, friend or loved one of these preventable tragedies. This, according to the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, needs to stop. Take the pledge (I just did, and was the 19,298th person) to not drive drunk, and share with your friends. They also just launched a SaferRide app to assist.
Here are some tips they shared about thinking ahead, and honestly, just thinking…
If you plan on celebrating with alcohol this holiday season, plan on a sober driver.
If you’ve been drinking at all, you should not be behind the wheel. It will cost you—possibly your life.
Keep your holidays happy and safe. When you have any alcohol, let someone sober do the driving. Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.