Posts Tagged ‘sportsmanship’

ABC National News Story on Kids Putting Social Media Boundaries On…Parents

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…

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

One Funny Mother is…One Funny Show








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!

10 Things a Parent Can Do to Honor the Individual Inside Their Child

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.

  1. Recognize that your kids aren’t you and let go of the often, unspoken hope that they’ll follow in your footsteps.
  1. Make a point of observing patterns of success that begin early in childhood, and which are based on the child’s achievements, both small and large. Play them back to the child in various ways.
  1. Play “what’s possible” games based on these patterns.  If a child draws intricate mazes by hand, is good at graphics, often points out beautiful scenery or light, ask them to imagine how they might build a career around this ‘gift’ for design.
  1. Starting in high school and into college, make the connection between success patterns and coursework. Let education reinforce the child’s natural strengths.
  1. Give children things to read that highlight the importance of knowing oneself, as a prerequisite to making good decisions in life (random articles from newspapers and magazines, children’s books on self-esteem, books about identity, such as The Alchemist and my own, The Identity Code.)
  2. Help your kids look for the deeper capacities that underlie their activities and interests.  A love of travel may suggest a passion for history; an interest in research may reflect a capacity for discovery; success at certain video games may signal a natural understanding of strategy.
  3. Talk ‘purpose’ with your kids.  Ask them provocative questions, the answers to which will mature with time: What matters most to you? What do you love most about life? In this vein, ask ‘why’ back. Young children, in particular, often ask why over and over again. When a child makes a statement or offers an opinion, ask them why they say that? Get them to explain their thoughts and feelings out loud.
  4. Use language that reflects an identity-based life.  Talk about having the courage to be yourself, the need to be authentic, the value of insight, the power of integrity.
  5. With teenagers, challenge the pull of popularity, don’t endorse it. Help them remember that following their gut is often better than following the leader, even when it doesn’t feel good. Encourage them to trust themselves first.
  6. Set the exampleGet to know yourself. Articulate your own identity and communicate that to your children, so the dialogue between you can be two-way. Talk to them about who you are versus what you do. Get them to see that the labels we take for granted – father, mother, football player, dancer, etc. – hide rather than reveal what makes each of us the unique human being we are.

About the AuthorLarry 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.




Join the Feed My Starving Children MobilePack Assembly Event May 13-15

Childhood Hunger








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?

  • Sign up to volunteer (2 1/2 hour shifts throughout the weekend available)
  • Support the cause
  • Spread the word!  Here’s sample language you can share on your own social channels – Join 30,000 local volunteers who are trying to kick hunger to the curb!  Join us May 13-15 at #2016foodfight
  • Share this post on your own channels – options at the bottom.
  • Media friends – contact to cover the news or attend a media tour of the assembly in action.

Here’s the why behind the story…

  • 1 in 9 people are chronically undernourished.
  • FMSC estimates that at least 6,200 children die each day from hunger-related diseases.
  • Specially formulated nutritional meal packs are critical for malnourished children. With the input of scientists from major food companies including General Mills and Cargill, FMSC developed MannaPack Rice, a formula consisting of rice, extruded soy nuggets, dehydrated vegetable for flavor and nutrition, vitamins, minerals and a vegetarian flavoring to give growing children the nutrition they need.

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.

Sh*tty Mom For All Seasons Book Brings It With Humor and Brutal Honesty










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

  • An effective way to get rid of those old toys your kids are sentimentally attached to is to “disappear” them behind furniture. By the time you pull out the dresser to vacuum behind it next spring, the kids won’t care about the stuff anymore. Suck it, toys.
  • The main goal of parenthood is staying afloat. After that, the main goal is getting the kids on their own damn boat. Bon voyage!
  • Kids and grandparents are natural allies because they both have to put up with your bitching. Try to foster a close relationship between them so you can spend a few extra days away, bitching to your girlfriends.
  • Making cold lunch at night is a great way to save time in the morning. But the best way to save time at night is to “forget” to make it, shrug your shoulders, and give them two bucks for hot lunch.

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.

MomTastic Find: Washington Nationals Discount Code

Momtini - Washington Nationals Discount 2016-17Thanks to our friends at The Washington Nationals for this MomTastic discount code.  Go to, select game, and enter MOMTINI for special discounts at any games!  Go Nats!

Five Things I Learned About Spending Money to Raise Great Kids

Book Cover Not Buying It








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

Brett Graff Book - Lorraine






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…..

  • When an entire community of mothers collectively decides that buying a particular product or taking a certain class is absolutely necessary, it’s definitely not. In fact, the mother championing this effort – who’s always doing so because she needs others to validate her decisions – will quickly abandon the whole movement when the product is recalled or her own kid gets kicked out of the class, which (she’ll decide with great authority) was never very good to begin with.
  • Buying the most expensive crib, car seat, bath seat or stroller will not keep our kids safer. All of these items must adhere to the same federal standards, meaning we can buy the $800 crib from baby-store-to-the-stars, Bellini, or the $150 crib from the website-to-the-unshowered,, and both will have undergone the same federal inspection process. The only thing guaranteed to improve the life of our children? A college education. And that’s going to cost about $107,000 per year in 2033. Best to start saving.
  • Having self esteem feels good but it doesn’t lead to greater accomplishments. Our kids’ goals are accomplished only when they apply hard work and self-control – nothing else. We can buy the $200 lacrosse stick and we can hire a private coach, but that kid is only going to improve when she has the willpower to focus and practice. Willpower is like a muscle, it’s something you can build up over time. For free. At home. During breakfast.
  • Buying organic produce is nice, but the departure from conventional may not bring us to the pesticide-free places we imagine. In fact, decoding supermarket labels is tricky stuff, from GMOs to Fair Trade to Biodegradeable, you have to brush up before paying up. Oh and “sustainable?” That’s not a thing.
  • There’s nothing wrong with fancy schools, of course. But they tend to admit the people who would succeed anyway, before anyone’s parent writes a single tuition check. Basically, economists have discovered that the skills needed to gain acceptance into a top-performing middle school, high school or university are the same skills that propel a person to thrive in a job or business. The school the person attended? Whatevs. More importantly, when it comes to little kids, good parenting outperforms all else. Later on, our kids will have to carefully choose a field of study. What really drags down a recent graduate? Piles of debt.


Brett Graff Headshot





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.

8 Spring Break Travel Savings Tips for Families

andrea woorwoch familybeach





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 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 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, which is currently offering free shipping and 25% off your order from Snapfish.

Author BioAndrea 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 You can read more about Andrea and watch recent TV clips at



Can Healthy Teeth Lead to Healthy Bodies?

Blabber Mouth Cover









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.








MomTastic Find: The Perfect Portion Cookbook

A revolutionary cookbook using the 100 calorie counting system.





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!

100 Calorie Brownie Bites









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:

Featuring actor/director Anson Williams from “Happy Days” (remember the adorable, loveable Potsie Weber?), The Perfect Portion cookbook launches Feb. 7th on QVC. The Perfect Portion Cookbook is written by New York Times best-selling cookbook author, Bob Warden and food and nutrition expert, Mona Dolgov of Natick, Mass. and was just featured on the TODAY show and on The Doctors as a new way to think about portion control and nutrition. The remarkable recipes are all divisible by 100 so readers can eat what they love and enjoy 100, 200 or 300 or 400 calorie portions.  Delicious recipes like French toast, chili, chicken pot pie, and lasagna swap out better-for-you ingredients that don’t sacrifice flavor and taste better than the originals.

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!

Top 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Magic of Giving

be kind hands

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.



Concussion Prevention: 10 Questions to Ask Youth Sports Coaches

Concussion Post Photo

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.

  1. Does the league have a policy on how they handle concussions?
  2. Who is responsible for the sideline concussion recognition and response to suspected concussions during practice and games? Is there an assigned person?
  3. Does the league have access to healthcare professionals  with knowledge and training in sport-related concussions for consultation?
  4. Are the coaches required to take a concussion education and training course?
  5. Are the coach’s tools (concussion signs and symptoms cards, clipboards, fact sheets, smartphone apps, etc.) readily available during practice and games to guide proper recognition and response of a suspected concussion? Children’s National has a free mobile application called “Concussion Recognition & Response” to assist coaches and parents in asking the right questions and doing the right thing should they suspect a concussion.
  6. Does the league provide and/or encourage concussion education for parents, and what is the policy for informing parents of suspected concussions?
  7. What is the policy regarding allowing a player to return to play? (Correct answer should be ONLY when a medical professional provides written clearance that the athlete is fully recovered.)
  8. Does the league teach coaches and players proper techniques, such as blocking and tackling in football, in ways that are “head safe,” by not putting the head in position to be struck?
  9. If it is a contact sport, are there limitations to the amount of contact? How often will your child practice live contact? Is that any different than past years?
  10. How amenable is the league, team, and/or coach to accepting feedback from parents about their child’s safety as it relates to head safety?

Here’s a link to his tips and more information.

And here’s the Concussion movie trailer:

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving









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.

  • Even if you’ve had just a little bit to drink, you can still get a DUI and be involved in a crash.
  • Only drive when you are sober. Too many people wait until they’ve been drinking to figure out their ride home. By then, it’s too late to make a clear-headed decision. You might think you’re just “buzzed” and that you’re “okay to drive,” but remember this: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
  • With the holidays coming up, there will be an increase in social events that involve alcohol. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that this results in an increase in DUIs and fatal drunk-driving crashes around the holidays.
  • People wrongly think they can calculate their own BAC based on the number of drinks they’ve had or the length of time between drinks. There’s no easy formula that applies to everyone equally. Many variable factors (e.g., body weight, alcohol content, and amount of food eaten before drinking) contribute to a person’s BAC. You’re only “okay to drive” if you haven’t been drinking. Period.

If you’ve been drinking at all, you should not be behind the wheel. It will cost you—possibly your life.

  • Planning ahead is the key to avoiding a DUI or a deadly drunk driving crash. You make plans to attend parties, go to bars or sporting events, or gather with family and friends. So why not plan how to stay alive and out of jail? A sober driver is an essential part of any plan that includes drinking.
  • Law enforcement actively looks for drunk drivers, especially around the holidays. So keep in mind that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. Are you willing to risk a DUI or a fatal crash for the “convenience” of driving yourself home after drinking?
  • If convicted of a DUI, you face jail time, the loss of your driver’s license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work—there’s also the added humiliation and consequences of telling family, friends, and employers of your arrest.
  • The average DUI costs the offender about $10,000. For a lot less money, you could pay for a taxi.
  • Give yourself the gift of a designated driver. Before you start drinking, give your keys to someone else or leave them at home, or program the phone number of a friend or local taxi service to your phone.
  • Help others be responsible, too. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Remind others: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
  • If you see someone driving drunk, call the police when it is safe to do so. It is your business. Getting drunk drivers off the roads saves lives.
  • Walking while impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.

Keep your holidays happy and safe. When you have any alcohol, let someone sober do the driving. Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

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PEP’s Noted Author Series Comes to DC Area – Tips on Parenting Tweens and Teens




One of my favorite events each year, PEP’s Noted Author Series, is a great combination of education, entertainment, and parenting community at its best.  This year’s duo of speakers promises to be an amazing line-up of tips and ideas you can bring home to your own families.  Events are filling fast for November 19-20 in the DC/MD/VA area, so grab your seats, and get ready for some #MomTastic information.  Full disclosure, I’m a volunteer Board Member at PEP, and I’m a huge believer as you know in parenting education and collaboration.

Here are some excerpts from interviews each speaker had with Katherine Reynolds Lewis that I hope you’ll find useful.

Letting Go of Your Tween or Teen

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Michael J. Bradley is a practicing adolescent psychologist and award-winning author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!  Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind.  He shared some insights with Katherine Reynolds Lewis about how parents can cope with the tumultuous experience of raising an adolescent…

Parents talk about something called teen rebellion. Most of us believe there’s no such thing, any more than there is neighbor rebellion. Your next door neighbor may disagree with you about politics and house color and music. I don’t think you say they’re being disrespectful. We’re different, but we can live together. That’s the new configuration.

Adolescent brains are works in progress. The last part that gets wired in is the most difficult part – judgment, mediating emotion, good long-term decisions. They wire all the passion stuff first – the sex, popularity, instant gratification – and the last thing that gets wired in is the brakes. It’s a really scary ride for a period of time.

Parents have to make a decision early on about what their mission is. Most parents decide their mission is to control their child. We advocate that your real mission should be to teach your child to control himself. It involves using respect-based techniques where you try to help your child think through things and learn, so the child can one day sort those things out on her own.

A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Vicki Hoefle is a parent educator and author of The Straight Talk on Parenting: A No-Nonsense Approach on How to Grow a Grown-Up and Duct Tape Parenting: A Less Is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids Here are some of her insights she shared with Katherine Reynolds Lewis about her five-step plan to becoming an effective, engaged parent of kids who solve their own problems.

Parents are under a lot of pressure in life in general, outside of their role as parents. There’s a lot of pressure to perform, to succeed, to get ahead, and that filters into their parenting. Then parenting becomes another vehicle for that stress-induced performance anxiety. That wears us down.

What if you took one step to the right and a half step back so your kids could see the world they’re being asked to navigate? You can be involved but you’re just far enough away that the child can develop their own assessment skills, the difference between good and bad choices, learn how to overcome frustration, how to make amends, to reach out, to take a healthy risk. You would be close enough to watch this and offer a little commentary, when asked, so you find that balance between being involved and taking over.

Parents have a sense that there’s a way to create more balance in the family. Then it’s about introducing them to these five foundational pieces:

  1. Focus on developing relationship strategies. If what you’re going to do is going to fracture the relationship with your child, don’t do it. That includes nagging, reminding, counting, bribing, giving in, because each of those fractures the relationship a little bit. Over the course of 10 years, it’s no wonder that tweens find their parents unpalatable, because there’s a crack in the foundation. When you establish a good relationship with your kids, they’re more cooperative and they’re more responsible. Those are the byproducts of a healthy relationship.
  2. What we generally call discipline strategies are really control strategies. We have a chance to help our children develop self-control, self-regulation, along with many other character traits, if we stop focusing on compliance and start focusing on character development over time. The benefit is if you focused on teaching your kids self-control early, by the time they were 7, there would be little fighting between children, you’d be able to trust they wouldn’t be on the computer when they weren’t allowed, and when they got into middle school, they’d have the mental muscle to say, “I’m not going to cheat on the test.”
  3. The third is to quit your job as the maid. We give our kids 18 years to master all the self skills, social skills and life skills they’re going to need to live a healthy and fulfilling adult life. That is messy, and it takes them time to learn. There’s this propensity to make things neat and tidy. We can do it faster and better but what we give up is the ability to be emotionally available to our kids. When you’re doing, your attention is somewhere else. They need us to be emotionally available when they get into a tough spot. They don’t need us to be doing their laundry, making their lunch. How do you make that shift in an organized way so the family isn’t thrown into chaos?
  4. This idea that our children should be happy all the time. The human experience is one of ups and downs. Our job is to ensure that our children know how to pick themselves up when they are down, not to ensure that they are never down. There’s this added pressure on parents that their children should always be happy, that their children are never upset. I talk about what stops us from allowing our kids to have temper tantrums, what stops us from letting our kids be frustrated, left out, to fail, so over the course of 18 years they don’t worry about making a mistake because they know how to pick themselves back up. We’re seeing the results of the kids who don’t have that resiliency, because that’s where the anxiety comes from, the increase in cutting, promiscuity, that is the result of kids who are incredibly emotionally immature because of parents who save them from even the smallest disappointment in life.
  5. The last piece is this idea that parenting isn’t about what happens between 0 and 18, it’s really about what happens between 18 and 80. When you get into that mindset you’re no longer worried about being the perfect parent or having the perfect child. You’re much better at moving through a difficult moment with grace and ease because you’re not raising a 7 year old. It opens up the possibility that we do not have to be so stressed about a child who’s rude, or clothes are mismatched, or gets a C in algebra for a year until he decides he doesn’t want to get a C any more. It’s to look beyond this moment that is so awful that it threatens to drop us into a pit of despair and instead say, “This is nothing, this is something the child will pass through on his way to maturity.” It inspires parents to go back to being a real mentor, a real leader, a real resource to their children, instead of saying, “I will do your life and then I will drop you on the freeway when you’re 18 and then you will have to enter traffic on your own.”


PEP Bradley and Hoefle Postcard final



Family Table Time Aims to Rescue the Mealtime Treasure

teamwork - family table timeThis week’s #MomtasticFind is a new product that has a simple but really important mission:  to rescue, elevate, and improve the family dinner hour.  After reviewing some of their pieces, I wanted to share a great quote from their piece about teamwork, because I think it’s most relevant to a successful family unit (and getting the dishes done…).  “When we work together, we can accomplish so much more…Teamwork requires good listening skills and cooperation among all members of the group.”

Here’s a synopsis from their press release…

At a time when electronic and digital passion monopolizes our children’s time and lives, Kimball Companies found a new, easy and fun way for families to connect.  Family Table Time was designed by Neal and Jill Kimball to help engage families with very meaningful conversations while creating unforgettable memories.  It promotes positive behaviors in parents and children to cook, eat, talk, connect, engage, read, learn and move together as a family.  The Kimballs saw the time invested in their jobs, kids’ schools, as well as their after school activities kept them from enjoying this valuable time with their kids.  They needed a time that was theirs – a time to teach, share, laugh and celebrate – this special time was going by fast.

Everything changed when the Kimballs realized what was absent from their lives, a simple family dinner – that had been a cornerstone of the family. The “and how was your day?” conversation around the pot roast from their childhood that kept the family together was not happening with their children.  Based on “Ready, Set, Connect“, it works like this: 1) Cook and Eat as a Family

2) Talk, Connect, Celebrate and Capture Memories

3) Move, Play, or Exercise Together

Editor’s Note:  I love it!  We do our very best to make mealtime a “cell free zone,” and I definitely think mealtime is one of the best treasures a family has.  The Kimball’s program has everything you need to make it a success including conversation starters, positive reinforcement, and lots of ingredients for success at your own table, and who knows, some of these valuable skills may find their way beyond the table.  I previewed some of the downloads, and they’re colorful, easy-to-follow, and applicable to kids of all ages.  Their “Talking Torch” is adorable, and gives you a chance to give everyone a voice at the table.  Who can argue with that?  Check it out here.

Here’s a great news clip on the story behind this story.

Editor’s Note:  No compensation was provided to write this post – I’m donating this story as a public service to fellow families and hope I can “pay it forward” so more and more families have better dinner adventures together.


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