Monday, March 19, 2018

How to TAKE AWAY SCREENS! without losing your mind

"I'm bored."

Don't you hate those words? Kids get bored way too easily. And with Spring Break in the air, we're about to hear them say it more! Especially if you're trying to be a responsible parent and LIMIT their SCREEN TIME. That is such a hard thing to do! Screens are becoming an ADDICTION. We need to remind kids there are other fun options for their down time.

A few years ago, I made a list of things for my kids to do whenever they bemoaned having nothing to do when their video game time was maxed out. I would just point to the list on the fridge. This is a sample (age adjusted, as needed):
  • play a board game/card game/chess
  • Nerf
  • Play-Doh
  • build stuff - Legos/Imaginext/Magnetix/marble slider
  • race matchbox cars
  • Star Wars guys
  • costumes
  • build a fort
  • hide and seek - lots of variations: people or things, in the dark, inside/outside
  • basketball, baseball, kickball, soccer, football, etc
  • pool table/ping pong table
  • puzzles
  • make up a game (ball tag was one)
  • make a video
  • bake with mom 
This is a game My Mom made up for the Grandkids, the Ball Game:

Then there are the less popular items, encouraged to do to earn brownie points for sleepovers or cash:
  • Read!
  • science experiment
  • math practice problems
  • Chores and more chores! There's always chores to do!
  • go through their closet, dresser, or junk drawer
  • walk the dog
My "Stuff To Do" list was made for my boys, but girls can do all this and more! If I had girls, I'd keep most of it the same, depending on what they enjoyed, plus have a ton more stuff on it! These are things I liked doing as a kid (but I played with Barbies instead of Star Wars guys... my battles were like soap operas, not space operas, haha - and that's a post for another time!)

Having these things in an organized list, the kids have a menu to choose from. Instead of searching through their stuff to find something to do, they can read through the list and see what they're in the mood for. They can even help make the list and customize it and adjust it as needed.

Please help save the world, one child at a time and LIMIT SCREEN TIME! We want Creators and Leaders, not Robots (they'll take over the world soon enough, haha)!

Happy Spring!!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Dining Out with Kids

I went out to eat with my guys on Saturday. My kids are mostly all adults, so going to a sit-down meal is way easier now that they all know better than to lick the salt shaker or try make a great escape from a high chair to forage for crumbs under the table.

It wasn't always easy! Over the years, I learned plenty-- some lessons the hard way-- like don't let them run around in stocking feet. Boy #3, Cole, was two when he was running back and forth from the play space at a fast food restaurant to the chicken nuggets at the table when he slipped, fell, and smashed his face into the table edge. Plenty of tears, blood, and money (medical and dental bills!) later, I realized that things happen fast-- it's best to pay attention and be proactive!

Here are a few tips for keeping kids safely entertained while dining out. 

-Have fun. They grow up-- fast! Enjoy the time you get to spend with them. Fast forward a few years and you'll get to have all the quiet dinners you want. 

-Order ahead, if you're venturing out of the fast food arena. Most places will allow you to place your eat-in order online or over the phone, so your food is ready to eat when you get there. Most menus are online if you need to decide what to order. 
-Distract them. Kids get bored easily. I see plenty on iPads and phones, but there are old school, low tech ways to entertain kids. A notebook and a pack of crayons are not only entertaining, but never run out of batteries or break if tossed on the floor. 
-Interact with them. The habits you make now will last a lifetime. Talk to them when they're two and they will talk to you when they're teens. I hate to see parents totally focused on their cell phones while their kids are doing a Houdini level escape from a high chair. 
-Play with them. Eye Spy and What Animal Am I...great ways to interact in crowded spaces. In Eye Spy, the spotter picks something in eyesight and tells the group the color of the item and everyone guesses until they spot the item. What Animal Am I? One person in the group thinks of an animal and then the group gets to ask questions until they narrow it down to identify the animal. 
-Move around. Take a walk to the bathroom for hand washing. Washing hands before dinner not only uses up some of the wait time, it's a great way to cut down on illness. 
-Reward them. Let kids know when they are doing the right thing. Table manners don't happen by instinct. When they sit in their seats and aren't screaming or throwing food, tell them what good boys or girls they are being. 
-Finally...know their limits. Don't wait until they are starved or fatigued to head out for a leisurely dinner. They're little. Imagine a night out to eat is the equivalent to you going for a jog. Imagine how excited and lovely you'd act if someone made you go for a jog after a long day-- I bet you'd be a crab too. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Quick Fix - I love Sharpies!

Being a writer and a teacher, I have a natural attraction to office supplies. I have to limit my visits to Office Depot and try to veer clear of the stationary aisle at Target. Post-its, paper, and pens Oh my!

And as the Lazy Housewife (Efficiency Expert), I look for ways to make things last. I hate working too hard and I hate spending too much money! Duct tape is probably my number one go to. And Sharpie Markers are a close second. They really make a statement! =D
Besides terrific expressive writing for getting a message across or labeling boxes for packing or shipping, Sharpies are awesome for fixing things up around the house.

Here are just a couple of examples:
Our wood kitchen table has lots of natural imperfections - and my family has added many more, leaving white nicks and chips. I dab a skinny Sharpie on the spots and Ta Daa! Looks a ton better!
I also extend the life of some of my shoes... The heels of my boots were completely worn and faded - but I don't want to buy a new pair until they go on sale (which is pretty soon, but not soon enough to wear this season!)
So much better! Not brand new, but wearable. And I only used a black Sharpie! I tried a brown one as you might be able to see in the before shot, but it didn't match. Black worked perfectly!
(BTW, I only fixed the heels, the lighting was a little different in the second picture.)

I've touched up ceramics, frames, plastic, metal, dice, you name it! And they write on most surfaces without smearing - plastic baggies, tape, glass, fabric, etc.

So, always have black Sharpies on hand if you need a quick touch up for something dark.

Do you have a Sharpie moment? Any advice on touch ups?

Happy March!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Entertain Me!

February was not a great month for movies and shows in my house, so I have nothing to recommend. My husband has been doing most  of the picking. I told him I may have to fire him if he doesn't step up his game and make some good picks.

Speaking of games...

My family enjoys board games, so we're always looking for new fun. We came across Secret Hitler, the board game. At first, I thought this was going to be too simplistic to be any fun. The rules are simple. 5-10 players are each dealt a card identifying them as liberal, fascist, or Hitler. At the beginning of the game, all players close their eyes and the players who drew the fascist and Hitler card are allowed to open their eyes and see who is on their evil team.

The object is then for Hitler and his minions to try to take over the government by tricking people into enacting fascist policies.

It sounds complicated, but it's super easy and whole lot of fun.

What's even better is that if you don't want to buy this game, or want to try it for free-- there is a free download on the game's website.

We bought our version for $35. (I didn't realize it was available for free!) But it's so much fun, it's worth it.
Get your free PDF or order your own board game here!
February was a good month for books. Most of my reading is spent on beta reads, or reading rough drafts of yet-to-be published works. for fellow writers, but I do buy books too. This month's favorite read was a book I got whole it was on sale, probably months ago. I often go to Kindle's free reads and download books that look interesting.

This one was a winner. It's a memoir of a young Californian teacher who is hired to teach in Arizona in 1912-- the first year of Arizona's statehood into the union. Historic memoirs are such a great way to take an intimate peek at history!

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Monday, February 19, 2018

When people are divided...

I am a HS teacher
I am a HS mom
I hate guns and violence
I am pro 2nd amendment

These things seem to contradict one another when each one should place me on one side or the other of a highly controversial debate.

When people are divided by a fence, I look for a gate.

I'm not going to say any more about this issue. We don't like to get political on this blog. What I want to talk about is COMPROMISE. It's time to start mending fences...

I've heard many outrageous theories and knee-jerk "solutions." I've also heard many thoughtful comments and sane conclusions from both sides - because I'm willing to LISTEN.

As a teacher, I have the privilege of observing every kind of person thrown together in one place. My number one goal is to help teens succeed through school and become better adults: able to deal with real problems when they enter the harsh world of reality.

That should be EVERYONE'S GOAL! The sad truth is, not enough adults are willing to become parents who need to teach children that life isn't always going to go their way and discipline them when they break the rules. Give kids perspective and life lessons and friends from every walk of life -- these things are so much more valuable than useless, dust-collecting trophies.

We need to LET THEM FAIL sometimes and show them how to LEARN FROM IT! They need to be taught how to listen to someone with a different opinion and have a civil discussion rather than fight or resort to violence!

I could go on, but like I said, I don't want to incite a controversial war... My final thoughts: Every problem of this world has to start somewhere and the solution can usually be found in the same place - IN THE HOME.

Thanks for listening. Hope you have a positive week!

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