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parenting advice

How to Avoid Brain Drain during Your Child’s Summer Break

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Since school is out for many children across the nation, parents may be wondering how to combat the Summer brain drain. That is the effect of kids losing some of the information, skills and knowledge they acquired during the school year over the three months of vacation. These tips from our friends at PartTimeNanny are perfect to share again. Here are tips to boost your child’s information retention and reinforce the lessons she/he  learns every day.

Vocabulary Words – Make learning these words fun by inventing games or incorporating the words into existing word games. You can post the week’s vocabulary words in strategic places around the house and quiz your child on the spelling at different times. Use the words in sentences and spell them out instead of saying them.

Reading – Take an interest in the books assigned to your student. Ask him about the books he is reading in school and hold conversations relating to the topics they cover. Kids may not have time for additional reading during the school year, but on holidays and vacations consider making suggestions. If your child shows interest in a particular topic, explore it with him. Not only will your interest help reinforce what he is learning in school, it will also provide you with valuable bonding time. You may find that you both have similar interests, giving you a foundation upon which to build a more meaningful relationship with your child.

Math – There are plenty of math games that you can play with your child. If you are working with a very young child, you can reinforce simple concepts like addition and subtraction with items like pennies or popcorn. Older kids may enjoy helping you cook, and you can help them with measurements and show them how to work with fractions. Have your child figure out the math for doubling a recipe or cutting it in half. Experiential learning with real world situations has a tendency to stick.

History – The Internet has an infinite wealth of information. You can take your child on a virtual tour of the world, visiting different eras without ever leaving your living room. There are many videos available on the various historical figures and periods. Sometimes viewing the right movie can have a long-lasting, positive impact. Also, if you travel during vacation time, consider going to some historical sites in your travels. Some families travel to such sites to make the history lessons real. The Gettysburg Address is probably easier to remember if you’ve actually stood on the historic spot, rather than just looking at a picture or two.

Helping your child to problem solve, think critically and develop a good memory will also help in reinforcing school lessons. Many school systems these days are less focused on teaching some of these skills, as more and more classrooms teach for testing. The problem with this method is that kids learn the information that they will need to know for the test, but once the test is over that information is quickly lost. When a child is taught how to think, comprehend and memorize, the lessons go deeper and less information is lost. You can help your child develop these skills by playing card games, board and memory games.

Playing with your child will also help improve your memory as well, so you will both benefit by the practice. There are several types of memory games available on the market, or you can create some of your own. Teaching your child games like checkers and chess will help her develop critical thinking skills as she learns how to strategize and anticipate the other person’s moves. The abilities she develops through these games will assist her in her school work as she begins to learn how to see patterns and figure out the plan for solving the problems.

Reinforcing what your child learns at school doesn’t always need to be about the exact lessons that are being taught. Part of reinforcing the lessons is making them relevant to real life. Look for ways to make them interesting, sometimes showing how that lesson is a part of a bigger subject. Getting involved in your child’s education is an investment you can’t afford to neglect. Working with your child may help develop skills that will eventually create a lifelong learner, enriching both your lives and your relationship

Father’s Day: 10 Apps for Stay-at-Home Dads

Apple’s powerful iPhone is one of the most popular mobile devices on the market and is widely celebrated for its ability to help busy professionals streamline their lives and boost their productivity. Working as a stay at home dad is definitely a full-time job and the iPhone can help you manage all of the different responsibilities that come with it. These 10 apps are effective tools for dads who stay home with their children and act as a primary caregiver, offering plenty of advice, tips and assistance along the way.
  1. Parenting Ages & Stages – Parenting Magazine is a beloved and trusted resource for parents. Now, their advice, tips and useful parenting information is available through this free app, which is fully customizable and will provide you with age-appropriate developmental advice and information about various milestones.
  2. Library Locator – If you can surmount the obstacle of helping a little one to understand the importance of being quiet in the library, a world of wonder and imagination opens up for her. With this free app, you’ll be able to find all of the libraries in your area, hitting every Story Hour along the way!
  3. ICE (In Case of Emergency) – When an emergency or crisis strikes, information that you know like the back of your hand can escape you. That’s where this powerful free app comes in handy, allowing you to store all of your emergency contacts and other relevant information. When you need to access your child’s blood type, allergy information or a list of medications he’s on, it’s all at the tips of your fingers with ICE.
  4. CBS Sports – Keeping up with the score isn’t always easy when there are little ones to attend to. Thankfully, this free app will allow you to follow all of your favorite teams, accessing scores, stats, news and highlights while managing your parenting duties.
  5. Habit Changer® Feeding Your Kids – Making sure that your children eat well and learn to make good dietary choices as they get older is a very important part of successful parenting. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most complicated. This free app will help you instill good eating habits and reverse less healthy ones though a series of small changes.
  6. Chore Bank – When kids are expected to complete a list of regular chores, it can help them learn a sense of responsibility that will follow them well into adulthood. This $1.99 app not only helps stay at home dads keep up with which chores have been assigned and which are completed, but also any allowances or spending money earned.
  7. WebMD – Knowing when to treat at home and when to consult a professional can be both confusing and a bit frightening. When your child’s health is in question, you’ll want a respected and trusted resource. That’s where the free WebMD app comes into play, loaded with features like Symptom Checkers, Drug Information and First Aid Essentials.
  8. Find My iPhone – Even if you try to keep your iPhone away from little fingers, there will inevitably come a time when a child is so entranced with your expensive device that she can’t resist. Unfortunately, that’s usually also when she’ll misplace it somehow. This free app helps you locate one missing iOS device by using another.
  9. The Weather Channel® – Planning a big, exciting outing only to be foiled by rain because you forgot to check the weather forecast can make for very unhappy children, which is why this free app should have a place on your iPhone. Get not only up-to-the-minute forecast information, but also push alerts for severe weather and high pollen levels.
  10. SimplyNoise – Dads who have discovered the magic of a car ride or washing machine know the power of white noise to soothe a restless sleeper. This $0.99 app features high-fidelity white, brown and pink noise that can lull your little ones to sleep in no time.
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6 ways to be the Dad your kids will appreciate in 20 years

by Leon Scott Baxter
When I was growing up, I thought my dad was a freak. 
He wore strange clothes, said weird things, and listened to horrible music. In fact, he used to sit on the living room floor wearing giant headphones listening to his vinyls.
Every now and then he’d unplug the headphones and let his music fill the house (I didn’t like these moments): Elton John, Simon & Garfunkle, and Cat Stevens.
I couldn’t stand this music…because it was his music. I boycotted any songs, all artists that my father enjoyed, because I wanted to disassociate myself with his out-of-date, old hat, lyricists.
Twenty years later, when I was all about getting those eleven CDs for a penny (remember those promos?), I’d choose my Sugar Ray and Lenny Kravitz, but I’d find myself always throwing in some kind of out-of-date, old hat Elton John or Cat Stevens-like artists. Why? Because although my dad really was a freak, he did have good taste in music.
Sometimes it takes time for kids to appreciate their fathers and what they do. I guess it’s a form of delayed gratification.
If you want to be the dad that your adult children will appreciate, here are six easy ways to get ‘er done.
1. Avoid Courtesy Smiles
If your kid just ain’t cutting it, don’t pretend he is. My daughter loves basketball, but she’s not great yet (saying she’s good might even be a stretch, but I love the girl). One day she asked, “Papa, do you think I’ll ever play in the WNBA?”
Sure, I could have smiled and fibbed, “Of course, you’ll definitely play pro basketball,” but it’s crucial we keep our children grounded…without breaking their hearts. So, I replied, “If you want to be in the WNBA, you’ll have to practice a lot more.”
Keeping it real, while offering a way to keep the door open to their dream is ideal. And, kids know when we’re buttering them up, anyway. Young people perform better when adults express sincere expectations for them.
2. Beat ‘Em At Checkers
Too many dads let their kids beat them at checkers, Chutes and Ladders or tennis. They feel it would break their little one’s heart if she lost to Dear Old Dad. Wrong! She will be so thankful one day that you didn’t.
Because I was a fast runner in school, I would challenge my mom to races, and she never let me win. She’d always beat me by a stride or two. It didn’t damage my psyche. On the contrary, it gave me something to shoot for. As I got swifter, Mom would run faster, still barely beating me.
I still remember the day. I was twelve-years old, and I beat my mom in a foot race. Ecstatic, I asked her, “Did you let me win?”
“No, you won fair and square.” That triumph meant something to me. By my mom not letting me win, I learned resilience. I learned how to lose, and I learned to appreciate a true victory.

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Is Your State among the Best or Worst for Working Moms?

Women making up roughly half of the American labor force and many of them are also working moms. To help working moms (and other women) assess how attractive the state they are living in is for women, WalletHub, the leading personal finance social network conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms.
Using 12 key metrics such as median women’s salary, female unemployment rate and day care quality rankings, WalletHub analyzed the attractiveness of each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to a working mother.
Here is a summary of the rankings:
  Best States for Working Moms Worst States for Working Moms
  1 Vermont                                  42 Oklahoma
  2 Minnesota                          43 North Carolina
  3 Wisconsin                          44 West Virginia
  4 New Hampshire                  45 Georgia
  5 Massachusetts                          46 Arkansas
  6 Washington                          47 Nevada
  7 North Dakota                          48 Alabama
  8 Maine                                  49 Mississippi
  9 Virginia                                  50 South Carolina
  10 Ohio                                   51 Louisiana
Here are some other key stats and some interesting comparisons:
  • Day care quality is five times better in New York than in Idaho. 
  • Child care costs (adjusted for the median woman’s salary) are two times higher in the District of Columbia than in Tennessee.
  • Pediatric services are 12 times more accessible in Vermont than in New Mexico.
  • The ratio of female to male executives is three times higher in Alabama than in Utah.
  • The percentage of single-mom families in poverty is two times higher in Mississippi than in Alaska.
  • The median women’s salary (adjusted for cost of living) is two times higher in Virginia than in Hawaii.
  • The female unemployment rate is four times higher in Nevada than in North Dakota.

For the full report and to see where your state ranks, check out the report HERE
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5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking your Child

In this era of the “helicopter parent”, we see plenty of evidence of parents overbooking their children in activities. But the effects of involving your children in too many activities could have health consequences. The stress can lead to anxiety and depression in children.
To help parents avoid this dangerous potential consequence, resident expert on character education for the Wear the Cape Foundation has come up with “5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Create Life Balance”:
1.     Let your kids know that you care about them for who they are, not just what they can do. Children need to know that your love is not contingent on their achievements.
2.     Remember that children do not have the same sense of time that you do. Part of growing up is being able to put things in perspective. There will likely be another friend, another team, another trip if this one does not work out.
3.     Working hard at something you love to do is one of the best parts of life. It takes some of us a lot of experimenting to find those things we love. Kids need that free time to try new things, as well as the permission to give them up and try something else.
4.     Some kids organize their time and find their interests with just a little exposure; other kids may need a bit of a push to try things that don’t seem attractive or interesting (or may be threatening). The trick here is to be sensitive to individual needs and persistent in offering opportunities. If you need to be pushy, try to offer alternatives, so kids have a voice in what they will be doing. For example, some children thrive in competitive sports, and others may find their niche in hiking or dancing.
5.     Remember to include exposure to helping others in your family activities. One of the best ways of developing empathy in our children (and ourselves) is to feel the gratitude that is expressed when we help others. This doesn’t happen if we don’t have the opportunity of interacting with others in need or whom we help. This can happen within the context of the family itself, as well, and doesn’t necessarily require a formal charity event. Create opportunities in which children can feel that they have meaningfully helped other family members or the whole family accomplish something. The combination of caring, responsibility, feeling respected, and gratitude is a powerful stew that nourishes the soul.
“When we’re overprogrammed and feel we can’t keep up, or are constantly running on empty, stress can lead to anxiety, depression and take a toll on our minds and bodies,” commented Dr. Brown. “For children, this can surface in many ways – trouble sleeping, frequent irritability, aggressiveness with siblings, trouble in school, moodiness or frequent illness are all common signs that something is not right and needs to be explored.”
To raise children of good character, a combination of guidance, freedom, and support in the context of shared values should be provided, Brown adds. 

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5 Budget-Friendly Activities for Families with Kids

With warmer weather finally upon us, everyone has the outdoors in mind. You don’t need to spend a fortune to make memorable memories for the entire family. Below are five fun budget-friendly activities from Ashely Spicer, co-founder of FLYAROO Fitness, a fitness program designed for toddlers and preschoolers.
·         Hula – Hula Hoops are just a few dollars, but can create hours of fun and can be a lifesaver on rainy days when you’re stuck inside. You can use it just like a jump rope, create a human ring toss game, play hula hoop pass or host a friendly competition to see who can hold the classic spin the longest.
·         Mini Yoga – Growing can be stressful on the body and mind and yoga has been proven to improve balance, focus and emotional well-being. Not a yoga expert, no worries, the Butterfly, Tree, Bridge, and Child’s pose are moves any child and parent can do together.
·         Build A Dance Studio – Move furniture and tables out of the way if needed and stick to songs that are 2-3 minutes long. Dancing is not only great for the soul, but just 20 minutes of dancing is great exercise and most importantly fun for the whole family. The best part, you can create your own signature move. Some of my favorite songs to dance to are “Roar” by Katy Perry, “Waka Waka” by Shakira and who doesn’t love the “Cha Cha Slide.”
·       Unstructured Fun – Pack a healthy picnic basket full of fresh fruit and whole grain sandwiches and head to your local park for some unstructured fun. Help your child use their imagination as they swing, slide and climb to victory while you channel your inner kid and fly through the air on the swing set.
·         Just Bike It – If you don’t know how to ride a bicycle, make it your mission this summer to learn. Not only is it great exercise, but can be great for family bonding. If you don’t own your own bike, no worries, many towns have affordable bike rentals. Just make sure your family is wearing proper protective head gear and pads for the junior riders. For babies and toddlers, there are seats that attach to your bike.

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17 Father’s Day Meals to Make for Dad

Bellyitch Rewind

This Father’s Day why not go brave and try to make your dad or your kids’ dad a meal and surprise him. Breakfast in Bed, or a special griller or a nice snack before the big game would make an excellent option and alternative to going out to eat, waiting a long time to get seated and spending a lot of money. 
We’ve assembled 17 recipes including options for various ethnic dishes, deserts, side dishes and main options to pick from and we tried to get recipes that are fairly easy to make or require not too many ingredients or complicated steps. 
Check out the collection and feel free to share! Enjoy!

Check out 17 Easy to Make Father’s Day Dinner Recipes

by JJ Ghatt at Foodie.com

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5 Last Minute Memorial Day Cook out Salad Recipes

If you’re heading out to a cook out for Memorial Day and still scratching your head on what to take over to the host’s home or what salad to make if you are hosing a barbecue or cookout, here are 5 easy and simple salad recipes from the FoodNetwork to consider. Above is the Roman Salad



Ingredients

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup pitted green and black olives, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
8 fresh basil leaves, shredded
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes (about 3 tomatoes)
Directions
Cook the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat until thick, syrupy, and measuring 1/4 cup, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Combine the olives, parsley, anchovies, capers, garlic, basil, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl and toss to combine.
To serve, slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick rounds and place, slightly overlapping, on a serving plate. Spoon the olive and parsley mixture over the tomatoes. Drizzle the reduced balsamic over the salad and serve.
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/recipe_print/0,1946,FOOD_9936_36960_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html?oc=linkback

BLT Pasta Salad

Ingredients

12 ounces corkscrew-shaped pasta

1/2 cup milk
12 ounces lean bacon
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens
5 heads Bibb lettuce, quartered, or 5 cups chopped romaine hearts
Directions
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as the label directs. Drain and toss with the milk in a large bowl; set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 3 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme and garlic to the pan and toss until warmed through; season with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon into bite-size pieces; set aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture with the pasta.
Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and 3 tablespoons chives with the pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce; toss again to coat. Garnish with the reserved bacon and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve at room temperature.
Per serving: Calories 960; Fat 56 g (Sat. 20 g; Mono. 30 g; Poly. 18 g); Cholesterol 125 mg; Sodium 2,114 mg; Carbohydrate 73 g; Fiber 5 g; Protein 44 g

Black Bean and Corn Salad

4 ears corn, husks removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup snow peas, julienned
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Directions
Preheat the grill to medium.
Grill the corn until lightly charred, about 2 minutes, turning frequently. Transfer the corn to a cutting board and using a serrated knife remove the kernels. Set aside.
In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, then the red bell pepper and the red onion. Saute for 3 minutes, then add the vinegar, beans and corn and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the snow peas and saute for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat to a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold.



Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Black Olives

Ingredients

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Quinoa Salad:
4 cups salted water or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 cups quinoa
16 spears asparagus, trimmed
Olive oil, for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pitted nicoise olives
4 ounces aged goat cheese, shaved
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
Directions
For the vinaigrette: Combine the vinegar, honey and mustard in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse a few times to incorporate.
For the quinoa salad: Bring the salted water or vegetable stock to a boil and add the thyme. Stir in the quinoa, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Preheat the grill. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on all sides until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, fold in the asparagus, olives, goat cheese, basil and parsley. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten the salad; don’t make it too wet. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with more of the vinaigrette.
Serves: 6; Calories: 477; Total Fat: 29 grams; Saturated Fat: 6 grams; Protein: 13 grams; Total carbohydrates: 43 grams; Sugar: 6 grams; Fiber: 5 grams; Cholesterol: 9 milligrams; Sodium: 446 milligrams

Orzo Salad With Shrimp and Feta

Ingredients

Kosher salt

8 ounces orzo pasta (about 2 cups)
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails removed), coarsely chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup diced English cucumber
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons halved kalamata olives
Directions
Preheat the broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the label directs). Drain and rinse under cool water; shake off the excess. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside while you make the shrimp, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping.
Toss the shrimp on a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the garlic, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a single layer. Broil the shrimp, turning once, until opaque and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the shrimp, lemon zest and juice, scallions, mint, dill, cucumber, feta, olives and the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil to the bowl with the pasta; toss. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 6 hours. (Bring to room temperature before serving.)

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NUK® is the Only true Orthodontic pacifier (GET $1 OFF to TRY)

Sponsored Post

 

For first time moms (and dads) of newborn babies, a pacifier can be a saving grace. It’s the perfect aide to soothe baby during those times in the day when fussy, cranky, tired or simply hungry and anxious for a feeding.
Well-known pacifier brand has updated its popular pacifiers for the first time in 55 years to incorporate a new advanced nipple that naturally fits in baby’s mouth for oral development.
The new design has integrated channels that apply less palate pressure. There is also a scoop nipple cavity to  maximize tongue movement. A heart-shaped shield  prevents irritation and the thin neck to this new pacifier lessens jaw pressure. And for the eco-conscious moms out there, it is also BPA free.
Best yet, it’s the only true orthodontic pacifier!

 

Recipe 1

Give NUK® a try! NUK® is offering a $1 off NUK® pacifier coupon.

All you have to do is take the Pacifier ABC Quiz HERE and receive the coupon!

Try it out! And come back here and let us know how they work out!

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10 Things To NOT Ever say to your Kids

I stumbled upon this very well written article published last Spring in Women’s Day, titled, “10 Things You should Never Say to your Kids.” Seeing as how I’m guilty of uttering more than one of these offenses, I read author Denise Shapani‘s explanations of each and they make complete sense! Very insightful stuff.  Now the challenge is to remember these lessons and resist the urge to repeat the offensive utterances. Oy!

The list of the ten are:

1. “I know you can try harder.”

2. “Are you sure you need that second cupcake?”

3. “You always…” or “You never…”

4. “Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother?”

5. “I told you waiting until the last minute was a mistake!”

6. “You’re the best at soccer!”

7. “Don’t worry—the first day of school will be fine.”

8. “Because I said so!”

9. “I wish you didn’t hang out with Jack; I don’t like that kid.”

10. “That’s not how you do it! Here, let me.”

Head over to Women’s Day to read Shapani’s reasoning for each HERE!

photo: Thinkstock