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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Middle School Makeover Part 7



Middle School Makeover Part 7: Friends, Fights, and Bullies

First off, let me apologize for being a week late with the posting! I will post this one (from last week) tonight. I will post Part 8 on Saturday to have us back on track for next week!

Let’s start with scenario #3: Good Girls Gone Bad

Michelle explains that a lot of the problems that come from middle school girls excluding those they used to be friends with are a result of them trying to find their own place in relation to their new peers. “This causes some girls to go on the offensive to be sure they’re not the one who will be left out. Psychologists call this ‘relational aggression’, in which one girl seeks to hurt another by damaging her relationship with her peers, often through gossip or public humiliation” (page 98). While it may not completely make you feel better if your daughter is at the hurting side of this, it can be helpful to understand that there is a reason for this behavior other than just cold-heartedness. 

Some helpful tips for guiding your daughter through a tough time with friends:

--Empathize, but don’t go overboard
--Put more effort into making her comfortable, treat her to ice cream, forgive her for being more “snappy” than usual
--Don’t bad mouth the other girls. This is not a good habit to promote and she could take it as you criticizing her judgment.
--Encourage her to make new friends and spread out between social groups. This will prevent her from relying solely on one unstable clique.
--If these methods aren’t helpful don’t be afraid to seek a counselor’s advice or get professional help.


Scenario #4: There’s More than One Way to Be Cool

It can be tough for middle school boys to socialize if they are not interested in, or particularly talented at, group sports since they form such a natural camaraderie for young men. Michelle offers several suggestions for ways for your son to make connections without being an athlete. They are all listed on page 101, but some ideas include: learning to play an instrument, making money, learning to fix things like cars or bikes, or try other physical activities like hiking, archery, or rock climbing. Anything that promotes positive character building skills and builds your son’s confidence while opening up the possibility to make friends with similar passions is a great place to start!

The other side of this is how can you, as a mom, help your son if he is struggling socially?  Don’t worry! Michelle provides a list for that too:

--Encourage a deeper pursuit of your son’s interests (she give the example of a child who likes video games, see if this could translate into a passion for graphic design, CGI, etc)
--If your son is content without many friends, don’t push him.
--Spend a little time, effort, and money to help your son out. This doesn’t mean you have to go overboard but allowing a sleepover with cool snacks (to reference the example Michelle gives) can be a small price to pay to help him fit in to his peer environment.

The main goal is to help your son find a way to thrive in his surroundings, pursuing interests and hobbies he cares about, whether or not that brings him popularity.


Scenario #5: Put Downs and Comebacks

First things first, Michelle puts out a very specific definition of bullying to be clear what type of problem she is a addressing. To be sure there are no confusions, here it is again: “I define bullying as someone repeatedly using his power (social or physical) to degrade, harass, or humiliate someone else” (page 107).

This is not a situation to take lightly, but if your child is being bullied, here are some things you can do:

-- Remember that problem solving process from chapter 5? Use that to help your teen brainstorm ideas and solutions on their own to restore personal power.
­­­­--Let teachers and other involved adults know the situation to monitor progress and make sure things are becoming better, not worse.
--Do not call the parents of the bullies, no matter how badly you’d like to.
--Don’t over-victimize your kid, don’t share this information with your peers, it could add to his/her humiliation.
--Take the situation seriously. Find a qualified adult (counselor or outside therapist) to counsel your child if needed.
--Help your child nurture other positive friendships, activities, and hobbies that can rebuild confidence and forge new connections.

Michelle recommends staying as unflustered as possible by your child’s personal crisis as to not add more self-doubt or pressure. This will model a positive reaction and show your child he/she has your unwavering support.


Scenario #6: Not My Kid—Oh, Wait…

So you found out that your child has been a bully, or maybe has just been mean. The very first thing Michelle suggests doing is talking to your child to get his side of the story. From his reaction you may be able to gauge how badly he feels about his behavior, to give you an idea of how serious a problem you’re dealing with. Other things you can do (page 113) include:

--Set expectations for how others should be treated. Live up to those expectations and set a good example.
--Accept this as a mistake and don’t let it define your child moving forward. Model forgiveness.
--This is no one else’s business, don’t investigate through other families.
--The key to a consequence in this situation is unemotional and stern.
--Do not make her apologize publicly/ in person. This is awkward and unhelpful all around.

Similar to the advice given if your child is the victim of bullying, it is important to respond with love and compassion while still addressing the behavior. Don’t be afraid to seek outside counseling or help to make sure you get to the underlying issue if there is one.


Thoughts for Discussion:

In general, how do you respond when your child has issues with friends? Does he/she confide in you? Do you think Michelle’s suggestions would work for you and your child?
What activities outside of sports have helped your son connect with/make friends?

Has your child been bullied? What measures did you take and were they successful?

Has your child been a bully? How did you remedy the situation and help your child grow from the experience?

I'll see you Saturday with Part 8. As always we love hearing from you, feel free to comment any thoughts, ideas and reactions. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Be Green This Halloween, No Toxic Tricks!


From the website HealthyStuff.org:

If there is one thing no one wants with their Halloween costume, it’s toxic chemicals. But that may very well be the case according to the results of our new HealthyStuff.org study of 106 common Halloween related products purchased from retailers including CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. The products were tested for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, cadmium, arsenic, tin (organotins), and mercury.

The results showed that 33 of the 106 products contained vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, abbreviated PVC). Two items contained high levels of phthalates that were recently banned in children’s products, including a Walmart Toddler Batman Muscle Costume. Vinyl products were also twice as likely to contain tin—indicating the presence of organotin chemicals—as non-vinyl materials. Five of the 106 products were measured to have high levels of lead and an additional seven had lower lead levels.

Ten of the products, mostly decorations and party accessories, contained levels of bromine consistent with the presence of brominated flame retardants. These items included:

  • Kroger retailed Disney Cars Trick-or-Treat bag
  • Party City retailed Silver Princess Tiara
  • Kroger retailed Flicker Halloween Light String
  • Walgreens Living Solutions Orange Pumpkin Lights set
  • CVS retailed Spooky Village Halloween LED C3 Lights Set



Finally, almost one-third of the products contained antimony, which is used as a catalyst in synthetic fabric production and at higher levels, as a flame retardant.

The study also documented an ongoing shift away from phthalate plasticizers in many products. Fifteen of the vinyl items tested were plasticized with less-toxic DOTP, which we hope indicates that companies are becoming more chemically conscious.

So... to avoid unnecessary toxic chemicals, here are some tips for having a GreenHalloween!

Creative Costumes: Skip the store-bought plastic or vinyl costumes, especially masks. Vinyl may contain hormone-disrupting phthalates. Thirty-three of the 106 tested Halloween products contained vinyl, including two items containing phthalates that were recently banned in children’s products.
Instead:

  • Opt for costumes made with cloth.
  • Buy used costumes from a local theater troupe or dance studio.
  • Visit thrift stores or yard sales. Old prom dresses are perfect for princesses, brides, or scarier variations thereof.
  • Try ebay—be sure to filter your search to include only pre-owned items.
  • Raid your own (or your dad’s) closet. A red flannel shirt is like the Swiss-army knife of costumes, enabling you to choose from fisherman, lumberjack, construction worker, and more.
  • Reuse some otherwise less interesting household items for costumes:
    • Turn anything with a handle into a Grim Reaper scythe
    • Big cardboard boxes can become almost anything from a robot to life-size legos to a samurai warrior
    • Some old, unwanted clothes can be torn and redesigned into scary ghouls, superheroes, cartoon characters and more.

Make up and Masks: Vinyl and other plastics are even worse when they cover your or your child’s face. Halloween make-up may contain heavy metals or ingredients linked to cancer and other health concerns. Instead:

Carving Pumpkins: Don’t let all those good pumpkin guts go to waste!

  • Make a Halloween snack: Rinse the seeds, pat dry, and coat with a little oil, or melted butter, and salt. Spice them up with chili powder, curry, or another favorite. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 250 degrees. The seeds are a great source of magnesium, iron, and protein.
  • The pulp can be steamed for half an hour, then served similarly to squash or used as a base for soups, muffins, quick breads, and pies.
  • Feed the garden, too! Add your pumpkin to your garden compost bin instead of disposing of it in the trash. It’s easy to start if you don’t already compost: break up the pumpkin and layer it with raked-up leaves and other yard waste in an outdoor area. Keep moist and turn regularly. Learn more

Trick or Treating: Ten percent of the products we tested contained levels of bromine consistent with brominated flame retardants, including two Disney-themed Trick-or-Treat bags. Leave potentially toxic bags and one-time use plastic buckets on the shelf.

Decorations: Decorating for Halloween shouldn’t bring unnecessary toxics into your home. Vinyl wall stickers can contain regulated phthalates, such as the Disney Wall Art set we tested which contained 16% regulated phthalates.

  • Cut and paint egg cartons to make bats and spiders or use toilet paper rolls to create a whole host of characters, like witches, scarecrows, and mummies.
  • Stuff old clothes with leaves and place them outside. You can make a paper mache face for it as well!
  • Use outdoor solar lanterns and old white sheets to create ghosts that seem to float in midair as they light up your walkway.
  • Reuse old decorations, preferably non-vinyl, from previous Halloweens.
  • Cut out construction paper bats or other shapes and tape them to a branch to make a decoration like a bat tree.

Be safe and have fun!


 

 

 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Social Media Saturday: Lets Talk Boobies

It is October and everything seems to be pink for breast cancer awareness, so why would we not talk about your boobies?  Time to get real mom and save those Ta Ta's! Time to make sure you are doing your monthly breast self exam and doing it right. You have the power to stay ahead of breast cancer!



Early detection will save your life. 

Be a breast-friend and buddy up to remind your BFF this month too!




How About A Healthy Version of The Pumpkin Spice Latte?




Do you love pumpkin spice lattes?! Here is the recipe for a healthy version! much lower in calories if you make it yourself at home, cheaper too!
INGREDIENTS:
  • ·  1/2 CUP UNSWEETENED VANILLA ALMOND MILK
  •    3 TABLESPOONS PUMPKIN PUREE
  • · 1 TEASPOON PUMPKIN PIE SPICE
  • · 1/2 TEASPOON VANILLA
  • · 1 TABLESPOON PURE MAPLE SYRUP
  • · 8 OUNCES BREWED COFFEE
  • · SPRINKLE OF CINNAMON

STEPS TO YUMMINESS
1. IN A MUG, MIX TOGETHER WARM MILK AND PUMPKIN PUREE

2. STIR IN VANILLA, SPICES, AND SWEETENER

3. USE A FROTHER TO FOAM THE MIXTURE

4. POUR INTO MUG FILLED WITH HOT COFFEE

5. SPRINKLE WITH CINNAMON. ENJOY!

CREDIT TO THE MEREDITH VEIRA SHOW 

Oh my I can smell that coffee brewing now! 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Middle School Makeover: Part 6 #socialmedia #sextalks



Middle School Makeover Part 6: Social Media and Sex Talks

Now onto part two of Middle School Makeover where we delve into more specific situations! 

Let’s start out with number one: “Everyone has an Instagram but me.”

So your child wants to jump into the world of social media. This can make any parent understandably wary, but there is a positive side that Michelle points out, “[Instagram is a] creative communication tool that kids use to express their interests and concerns, and powerful parenting tool that lets us stay connected with kids when they begin to pull away during the tween years” (page 87). If shared and open communication is being made about the content on different social media sites it can give you clues about your changing child’s new hobbies and likes, leading to a deeper more involved relationship between the two of you.

Michelle gives a list of her Instagram/general social media on pages 88-91, which I highly recommend reading through. Make sure you don’t skip over the important safety rules to protect your family like not sharing personal information. It is vital that you go over online etiquette and discourage inappropriate and bullying behavior. 

Allowing for open discussions about social media can prevent your child from going behind your back and making an undercover account of which you aren't aware.

Issue number two: “Goodbye, birds and bees—hello, porn.”

This period of life comes with awkward more advanced questions about sex that you may or may not be ready to talk about with your children. However, it is important to face the question head on and give an accurate response so he/she doesn't turn to Google or some misinformed kid and end up with a skewed perception of sexuality. Most of the time, kids just want enough information to save face with their peers and not be the only one who doesn't know. 

Michelle gives an example of a boy asking what sixty-nine is. You can give the brief answer of “a nickname for a sexual position between two adults” and then if he presses for more information give a quick definition of oral sex, but likely, he won’t press that far. It is also important to buy yourself time if you need to look up correct language to use or think about how to say it. Let your child know you’ll get back to them, and make sure you do. 

Most importantly don’t react in a negative way that will discourage them from coming to you with more questions. It says a lot about your child’s trust and comfort with you that they would ask you awkward questions.


For Discussion:

How have you handled social media with your child? Did you set an age limit for joining facebook or instagram? What social media related problems have you faced?

Has your child come to you with more "advanced" questions about sex? How have you handled it?

Lets Talk mom.............. leave your comments, how are you feeling about all this now? 


Shaving Time and Shaving Money In Your Busy Life #timemanagement #moneysavers #frugalmoms


 

How many of you wish you could have more time and money? All of us do don't we? Our lives seem so much busier these days, we run from sun up til sun down and never have enough hours in the day to get all those "things" done. Then we go to bed and worry about how we are going to afford to do the things in life we want. I know just how you feel, being a parent these days is a hard job.

Lets talk about some ways we can take some stress off our life, add more time with our friends, family and time for yourself.

Tips for Shaving Time (off those "things" and getting your time back)

  1. Number one thing- Learn to say NO!! (stop adding extra work onto your already busy list)
  2. Plan your trips- make a strategic list of all the things you need to do, make ONE trip out - don't go to the grocery store but once a week or if you can once a month, add picking up prescriptions or a dental/doctors visit to the same day, don't waste gas.
  3. If you are going to waste time --do it at the end of the day--Facebook, Pinterest etc. blogging and other distractions can be done After you have your important tasks finished, so if time gets away from you (or you are like me and fall asleep on the couch--confession time) you already have your important things finished.
  4. Create a routine if you do something over again- like laundry- make a schedule and post it on the family calendar/grand central area. Tuesday--Dark clothes, Wednesday- Whites, Thursday- towels Friday- sheets/bedding. Involve the entire family with that routine, even small children like a routine and can help.
  5. About that Family Calendar- Grand Central Station-- for communication- so everybody knows what to expect everyday, as a nurse, homeschooler and weekend worker, my poor family needs to know what we are doing, and eating every single day of the week. When is mom working and when is mom sleeping (since I work third shift and dare them to wake me up--I have teens..lol)
  6. Shave everybody's online and internet time, make a day of each week for "Family night" and do not allow phones or tablets to the party. You won't believe how much more time, laughs and projects you can get done when everybody chips in to play a board game or plan to just clean out the garage.
  7. Plan a menu for each week or if you can do it monthly, it does not have to be elaborate, but just a blueprint for your shopping and planning.
  8. Order online and let someone else bring your shopping to you, save time, money and gas. Amazon and many other box stores now have all the same stuff you might buy at the store. Have you tried The Dollar Shave Club ?? you can actually order razors, shaving cream and butt wipes online! And they are great! The prices are fantastic also.

 

Tips for Shaving Money (off those "things" you have to buy or think you have to buy)

  1. Another number ONE -- Learn to Say "NO" to things you just don't need (come on, you know you can do without a Starbucks Venti sized Carmelo MaccioChocolateWonderful with whip every day of the week, or what ever your spurge is each day)
  2. Make your coffee, tea or other daily morning beverage at home, you can find tons of recipes online, put it in a pretty thermal mug and off you go-- you save money and the time it took to run thru the drive thru.
  3. Pack your lunch along with your kids lunches. Practice portion control and you will shave off a few pounds in addition to shaving off $$.
  4. Create a price list book -- it can be as fancy as a notebook with colorful printed out sheets or just a spiral notebook from the Dollar Tree. Do some research at your local stores of the most commonly bought items your family uses and how much each store charges for that item. You can them compare prices each week with the sale papers, your coupons if you use them and your meal plans. It is worth the research, you will have a good idea of prices and if an item is really a good buy or not.
  5. Try couponing, you can save money using couponing if you can dedicate the time to make it work.
  6. Shop again online if you are going to gain the time and money savings, I love using Amazon for many things and have my most commonly used items on a monthly order now. Since I now have a teen male that is shaving along with my hubby, we use The Dollar Shaving Club monthly now for our razors, it saves me money and time, plus my daughters and myself use the razors too (shhh don't tell the boys) , we don't run out of razor blades now and I could not stand to pay nearly $25 for refills for their fancy razors. They love The Dollar Shaving Club blades!
  7. Create your own washing soap, cleaning products out of simple household ingredients. You can find the recipes on Pinterest or Google them . I use vinegar and baking soda to clean everything now, buy it in bulk at your local Sams or Cotsco and you have plenty.
  8. Reuse your water bottles, or buy water bottles for each member of the family in doubles or triple and wash them out. Mark their initials or a color code on them with a permanent marker. Refill and put in the refrigerator. Can you imagine how much money you are spending on buying water from the store??
  9. Use old socks instead of those expensive sweeper duster(Swiffer) thingys, just wash the sock when it gets to dirty. Those fuzzy socks work the best, but my husband's old socks work great too.
  10. Make your own baby wipes-- Baby shampoo and old cloth diapers or paper towels- you can find recipes online also. I use these baby wipe things to clean everything else too, with pets in our house we have a zoo and they are messy too. Cleaning counter tops, sinks, the bathtub, you name it they work for everything you can wipe....lol (my cats are running and hiding now)
  11. Make Pinterest your best friend for finding ways to save time and money, it is mine, gets my creative brain juices going. Set a timer --so you don't spend 3 hours on there :) learn how to search using the hashtag #, you will find what you want faster and not get distracted by all those cool recipes.

I hope some of these ideas help you, they have helped our family as we live on a very limited budget and I have had to learn out of necessity to live without and say NO more often. Your family grows up so fast, so every little nugget of time you can spend with those kids is priceless.

The opinions posted here are my own, I received no monetary awards for this post. Please read our full disclosure policy for more information about affiliates.

 

 

 

Friday, October 10, 2014

#MrsFieldsMoments Slow Down And Enjoy A Cookie With Someone You Love! #USO #interbakefoods #cookies



Share your story Here and download your coupon 

 Mrs. Fields Famous Brands ("Mrs. Fields") and Interbake Foods LLC ("Interbake Foods," the company responsible for the manufacture and sale of Mrs. Fields branded pre-packaged cookies sold at retailers throughout North America) today kicked off "Mrs. Fields Moments," a national campaign inspiring busy cookie lovers to slow down and enjoy a cookie moment with loved ones.
At a time when obligations leave precious little time for the ones that matter most, Mrs. Fields is encouraging a nationwide movement to dedicate Sunday night to cookie moments with family and friends. Mrs. Fields wants every cookie lover to embrace and share their #mrsfieldsmoments – from milk-and-cookies to bedtime treats – and has provided fun and useful tools for doing so at www.mrsfieldsmoments.com.
Mrs. Fields is a Proud Supporter of the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO), and "Mrs. Fields Moments" builds on the Organization's "Every Moment Counts" campaign, which helps all families – military and otherwise – make the most of every moment together.

"When you buy Mrs. Fields cookies, you're not just buying a cookie: You're helping create moments that matter for troops enduring long deployments," said Kevin McDonough, President of Interbake Foods. "By buying a box of Mrs. Fields cookies, you help give a cookie moment for you and for them. It's a touch of home to those who need it most."
Visit MrsFieldsMoments.com for "Snacktivity" ideas, Conversation Starters, more information about the Mrs. Fields–USO partnership, or to find a grocery store with Mrs. Fields Cookies (look for the USO banner on the box!).

About Mrs. Fields Famous BrandsThe Company is a well-established franchiser in the premium snack food industry, featuring Mrs. Fields® and TCBY® as its core brands. Through its franchisees' retail stores; it is one of the largest retailers of freshly baked, on-premises specialty cookies and brownies in the world and the largest retailer of soft-serve frozen yogurt with live active cultures. Its franchise systems operate through a network of more than 950 franchised and licensed locations throughout the United States and in 23 foreign countries. In addition, it operates an internet and catalog gifting business, a branded retail business and has entered into licensing arrangements that leverage awareness of its core brands among its retail customer base. The Company is currently relocating their headquarters from Salt Lake City, Utah to Broomfield, Colorado.
About the USOThe USO lifts the spirits of America's troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. We provide a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases in the U.S. and abroad, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services. We also provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops, military families, wounded warriors, troops in transition and families of the fallen. The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs and services are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff.



About Interbake FoodsHeadquartered in Richmond, VA Interbake Foods LLC is a baked goods manufacturer with over 110 years of business experience. Interbake Foods is the North American cookie and cracker Division of Weston Foods.  This includes Interbake Foods in the USA and Colonial Cookies Limited in Canada.  Weston Foods' mission is to be recognized by its customers as providing the best bakery solutions in North America and Interbake is privileged to serve the marketplace with our award-winning products and services.  Interbake Foods consists of three distinct business segments: Retail Private Brands, Contract Manufacturing and Girl Scout cookies through our ABC Bakers Division. 

We would like to encourage you to spend a little extra time this Sunday with your family, here is a list of great "Snacktivities" to enjoy with the kids, from mix and watch movie night.....to a family costume contest, these ideas are so much fun. Turn off that TV and put down those devices for a little quality time.  Enter to win the trip of a lifetime for your family in the #MrsFieldsMoments contest HERE , just upload a fun photo of your cookie moment and you will be entered to win a trip to Washington DC. 
Share this with your fellow bloggers and friends! 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Middle School Makeover Part 5: It’s not your problem



Our last big general advice chapter focuses on handling problems with your teen. Let’s dive right in:

“One of the biggest, most important, and hardest paradigm shifts that comes with parenting a middle school is that you should no longer solve their problems for them” (page 67).

This can be difficult for some parents because it means your child is growing up and becoming more independent. It can be helpful to see this as the remarkable thing that it is. You get the opportunity to teach them to solve problems rather than just tell them how to.

Michelle offers us some problem solving DON’Ts:
     -Don’t solve issues for them
     -Don’t skip empathizing and rush to solution
     -Don’t suggest a solution that would be right for you and not them
     -Don’t blow it off or make it seem unimportant if it matters to them.

She also gives us some tips on how to teach problem solving:
     -Introduce idea before problem occurs
     -Promise to stay calm
     -Promise he/she doesn’t have to take action
     -Get buy-in (ask them to continue to come to you with problems)
**you can also refer to the very helpful flow chart supplied on page 81 for more structure

Remember: even if they don’t choose the best option, their problem solving skills will be strengthened!

Thoughts for Discussion:

How have you tried problem solving with your teen in the past? Has it been successful?

Have you ever struggled to coach your child how to problem solve?

Next week we will begin going through part two of the book and dissecting more specific situations you may come across with your middle schooler. Stay tuned!