Alpha Mom » Guest Contributor http://alphamom.com parenting and pregnancy opinions and information Sun, 21 Dec 2014 23:27:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Filling in the Blanks http://alphamom.com/parenting/coming-out-to-your-children-about-your-alcoholism/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/coming-out-to-your-children-about-your-alcoholism/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 17:28:38 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=26216

Our guest contributor’s name is being withheld upon request.

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When I introduce myself from here on out, I am supposed to say, “Hi, my name is ______________, and I’m an alcoholic.” That’s the first step, according to the brochure some nice woman handed me as I entered my first AA meeting day before yesterday.

As I have left that space in my introduction blank, it’s fairly obvious I’m not all the way there yet. That step, and all the subsequent ones I’m going to have to tread, are not entirely clear to me yet.

It’s not that I have any doubt that I’m an alcoholic. I know what alcoholics look like, and they look a heck of a lot like me. And my mom, and my aunt, and my grandfather, and my cousin, and my great-grandmother. I am well-acquainted with alcoholics, and the specter of all those slurry words and empty, glassy stares loom large in my childhood memories.

I hated it. Hated them sometimes, and I swore that no matter what, I’d never end up like them. I’d never allow my children and grandchildren and nieces and great-grandchildren to equate me with “alcoholic.”

For a long time, I simply avoided alcohol, figuring that would be the best way to circumnavigate my inheritance. In high school and college, I was everyone’s designated driver, the responsible one who, as a bonus, could lord all that moral superiority over my drunken classmates, mother, and grandfather, knowing I was above all that. I would never be like them.

When I had my own children, and it came time to deliver an ultimatum to my mother – she’d have to choose, alcohol or her grandchildren – I had already begun to slide down the same slope she’d traveled. I knew I was slipping, and I knew where that slope led, but to reveal that reality to anyone else would be to admit I might just be like my mother, and I was too angry at her to allow any such comparison.

When my children were young, avoiding that comparison was easy. My children were too little and too oblivious to comprehend how many glasses of wine I’d had. I figured I’d get the drinking back under control by the time they were old enough to be observant. Because, of course, I could stop any time I wanted to.

I just didn’t want to.

This year, we started to talk to our oldest, very observant child about alcohol. We were matter-of-fact and blunt. Alcohol has had a tight and devastating hold on both sides of his family for generations. We told him that it’s going to be very important for him to pay attention to his drinking. To know the difference between social drinking and problem drinking.

Yes, very important, I repeated, as I sociably sipped my wine.

Three days ago, sociability slipped into problematic which slipped into unconsciousness, and I was careless enough to let that happen in front of my entire extended family. I’d like to say my observant eldest child did not notice, but I have no idea. I don’t remember. That’s a blank, too.

The next morning, my father informed me that I’d have to choose – alcohol or them – and I chose them. I cried, threw up, showered, and drove to my first AA meeting. My husband offered to go with me, but I knew these were steps I’d have to take alone.

When I walked into that church basement, packed with one hundred other alcoholics, I wasn’t fooling anyone. No introduction was needed; I was simply one of them.

This weekend, over a dinner without that problematic glass of wine, I will have to look my son in the eye and say the words that fit into that blank up there at the top of this page for the very first time. While I am scared to death, it will be a relief. It will be the end of ten years of sliding and the beginning of my journey back uphill.

My son introduces me to his friends as many a lot of things – mother, wife, writer – and I I’m incredibly proud of those labels. Proud enough that I refuse to allow this newest label to obliterate everything else I’ve worked so hard to become. I’ve finally done the math and figured out that the only way I get to keep those other identities is to admit the word “alcoholic” to my list of identities.

Because when my son is my age, I want him to be proud of me, particularly if our mutual inheritance grabs hold and threatens to drag him down. As his mother – particularly his alcoholic mother – the most important gift I can give him is the power of my example to guide him if he ever stumbles upon the treacherous terrain of our family’s well-worn slippery slope.

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What You Need to Know To Discuss Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Your Kids http://alphamom.com/parenting/talking-to-kids-about-dr-martin-luther-king-jr/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/talking-to-kids-about-dr-martin-luther-king-jr/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 06:37:22 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=23325

Our Guest Contributor is Kelly Wickham of MochaMomma

There’s a plethora of things I hope to teach my own children, but as an educator for the past 20 years I am committed to teaching as a way of life. There are things I hope to teach my students, too, and as the years continue on I am realizing that I have an almost desperate need to pass on things to them that I learn myself. Mark Twain once famously said “Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned” and that is true in every sense of his words. For instance, when I step foot into an Algebra classroom it takes a moment for me to remember how to do those problems and by the end I have a forehead-smacking moment of I knew that already!

Every year, when we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I find myself re-learning things I already knew and finding new information as I traipse down the rabbit hole that is Google. That lead me to thinking about what it is we really need to know about Dr. King when we’re teaching our children and, in my case, students. If you’re wondering about where to start when talking to your children about this larger-than-life man in American history, who accomplished so much for our country, here are some jumping off points.

1. Honoring a day for Dr. King took decades. The campaign to create Dr. King Day as a national holiday was first introduced in 1968 but wasn’t observed as a matter of law until 1986. It took until 2000 for it to become recognized by all 50 states. Younger children will be able to understand this concept, but older children can research just what it took to finally make this a reality. Arizona, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Mississippi held off as long as they could. Even in Utah it was known as “Human Rights Day” until 2000, adding to the controversy of observing a day in honor of Dr. King.

2. Dr. King won a Grammy Award. The award was presented posthumously in 1971 in the category of Best Spoken Word album for Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam. Dr. King is considered one of the best orators of all time, but was also a passionate manifesto writer and poet. After winning the “Man of the Year” spot in Time magazine, he went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and donated his winnings of over $50,000 to the Civil Rights Movement.

3. He wasn’t really popular during his most famous speech, I Have A Dream. Though Dr. King was well known to everyone from politicians to the common man hoping to get a union job, only 23% of Americans supported him when he marched on Washington during the summer of 1963. His powerful speech helped move the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, ultimately, society forward. Dr. King gained enough momentum in the Civil Rights Movement that even his assassination in 1968 didn’t prevent it from continuing.

4. MLK Day is the only federal holiday that honors a private citizen. Of all the holidays we observe federally in the United States, there are only three holidays reserved that honor actual people: a former President (George Washington), an explorer (Christopher Columbus), and Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. How much change would you have to help make as a private citizen to have that honor bestowed on you? Due to the work he did to further the cause of Civil Rights, President Clinton signed federal legislation into law and declared a national MLK Day of Service in 1994. In it, he put out a call to citizens to take action in their communities as volunteers.

5. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t finish high school. As a child, Martin was very bright and even skipped two grades in school. Yet, he pursued education passionately and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of 15. He continued his education at Crozer Theological Seminary and earned a Ph.D at Boston University. It’s ironic that while we consider him such a powerful speaker he once took a class in Public Speaking while at Seminary and earned a “C.”

6. We still have much to learn about Dr. King and won’t know it for another 14 years. In 1977 a district judge ordered all known copies of the recordings and transcripts of the FBI’s electronic surveillance of Dr. King to be sealed. J. Edgar Hoover was so afraid of Dr. King’s power that he considered him a threat and a Communist and gave the orders to have him taped. To this day, they are held in the National Archives and sealed from the public and access won’t be granted until 2027.

photo source: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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PS3, Wii or Xbox? Let me help! http://alphamom.com/family-fun/ps3-wii-or-xbox-video-gaming-systems-compared/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/ps3-wii-or-xbox-video-gaming-systems-compared/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 23:07:24 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=22890

We are fortunate to have Liz Gumbinner as our guest contributor. Liz is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech. Liz is also Target’s spokesperson for the holiday season focusing on tech, gaming and electronics. Today she is here to help us navigate the world of gaming systems.

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This holiday feels like the year of the video game. There’s hardly a kid I know these days who doesn’t have at least one of the major gaming systems—or at least hope to have one by the time Christmas is over!

It can be a little overwhelming looking at Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii and trying to figure out what’s right for your family. So unless you’re a gaming nut (like uh, ahem, someone in my house) and happen to own all three systems, hopefully I can help you figure out what’s best for your family:

NINTENDO WII / WII U

nintendo wii u

The basics:
The Wii was the first of the motion-activated systems, making it the most popular console around the world to date. It tracks your movements when you hold a simple, stick-like controller in your hand as you dance or hurl a javelin or jump hurdles. And the new Wii MotionPlus increases the motion control accuracy.

The biggest new change is the addition of the brand new Wii U: a revolutionary, hand-held controller/gaming screen hybrid. It not only lets you control the game in innovative ways (like with tilt/shift) it can bring up bonus screens that are played right in the Wii U. My favorite part though is that gaming can actually be moved from the TV screen to your controller and taken to another room. So when Mommy needs the TV back to watch Downton Abbey, your child won’t have to argue, “just let me finish this level!”

The pros: The Wii is intuitive, easy to set up, and even the youngest kids can get into a game of Mario Kart or Wii Party, making it my favorite for families with younger children. It’s really fun with groups as well. Like all of the systems, it has Internet connectivity so you can download new games or add-ons right from the system and play with other players.

Overall it’s also very convenient that you don’t need a tremendous amount of space for the sensor to recognize you. A few feet back should do it, which is important if your TV is in a narrower room.

The cons: Nintendo really designed these games for family connectivity and fun so you’re not going to find the serious graphics of other systems, especially if you have older kids who prefer the shoot-em-up games. Also, because the system is tracking a small controller and not your whole body, it’s easy to “cheat” the system if you’re lazy; for example you can just swing the controller back and forth during a dance game and it will still score you pretty well. The solution: Don’t cheat.

Also, while the console itself has an SD slot for photos (you should use that), and Netflix video streaming, it can’t play CDs or DVDs so it’s got limited use compared with the other systems.

Some top-selling titles:
Wii Sports, Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit, Wii Party, Just Dance 4, EA Sports Active

Good deal at Target:
Nintendo Wii Console with Wii Sports & Wii Sports Resort $129.99, including $10 gift card

Wii U 8GB Basic Set Console in white, $299.99

Bottom Line: Great for family gaming fun for all ages at an excellent price, and the Wii U could make it a category game-changer as the technology continues to improve and update.

SONY PLAYSTATION 3 / SONY PLAYSTATION MOVE

sony playstation move

The basics:
This is really an all-in-one entertainment console, with gaming capabilities, an excellent Blu-Ray player and the ability to connect to the Internet, stream shows and movies, and play many games with friends and family in other cities.

The addition of the PlayStation Eye camera and the “Move” motion controllers (which feel like holding giant glowing microphone) allow motion-activated gaming. In the more traditional PS3 games, the Dual Shock controller has enough buttons and arrows and joysticks to give it a lot of capability, especially when you get into more complex adventure games; and feeling the controller vibrate in both hands (the “shock” part) when you blow something up or hit something really adds to the immersive sensation of the gameplay.

The pros: The games overall for PS3 are simply outstanding. And the Move technology is easily the most accurate of the motion-activation systems, because the camera tracks even head tracking, and can zoom in or out. Voice commands are a great plus.

The Move controller is more precise than the Wii, plus you can get additional controller shapes with interchangeable heads like ping pong paddles, golf clubs, pistols, and even an archery bow.

As for the entertainment side, the PS3 really is a decent Blu-Ray player (it is Sony, after all) so we use it to pop in movies, especially with the Dolby surround sound capabilities. We also use it as our main entertainment hub, running Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming movies through it as well, and it’s fairly easy to navigate through the screens using the controller. You can even watch 3-D movies!

The console’s storage capability can be quite large, holding up to 1800 games, or 140 films, plus songs and photos. And the Bluetooth technology for wireless gaming is a huge plus; you can talk with friends while teaming up on a game like Call of Duty, or Borderlands.

The cons: Sony designed the PS3 so that it doesn’t play PS2 titles—very frustrating when you upgrade and have to start over with your game library. (It does play PS1 titles though, should you have those lying around.) Also I find that the Move itself doesn’t have as many “must-have” games, and the controller is pretty big – not as ergonomic and comfy in your as the Wii controller, and definitely a lot to handle for smaller kids’ hands.

Some top-selling titles:
Little Big Planet, FIFA Soccer 13

Good deal at Target:
PlayStation 3 Epic Mickeys: Power of 2Bundle, $269.99

Bottom Line:
Terrific system for the family that loves entertainment, from gaming to movies; easily the number one pick of serious cross-platform gamers.

XBOX 360 with KINECT

Kinect by Microsoft

The basics:
While the Xbox 360 was already a popular system, Microsoft entered the motion-controlled gaming world when they added the Kinect sensor in 2010, and technology is mind-blowing. This is truly the first controller-free system, allowing you to use your hand motions and body movements to control every aspect, from game set up and pausing (open your fingers, and extend your arm down at an angle like a bike signal) to the actual game playing itself.

It’s also a phenomenal media system, and with an Xbox LIVE membership—which you’ll want—you have access to multiplayer Kinect and controller gaming, HD movies, live sports, and streaming entertainment through services like HBO Go, HuluPlus, Netflix and even YouTube.

The pros: The technology overall from Microsoft is just growing by leaps and bounds in every way. Because you aren’t burdened by a controller in hand, it’s really the best system for fitness with programs like the outstanding new Nike + Kinect Training, and general activity with all of the popular dance games. There is something super cool about seeing your real body moving along with the characters on screen, and knowing exactly how you’re doing.

Like the PS3, the Xbox also goes well beyond gaming into entertainment with so many options through your Xbox Live membership. I also like the Family Center which lets you place time limits on gaming time, and give allowances of Microsoft Points if you want older kids to have some say in what games come in the house next. And Bing-powered voice control is so helpful for finding movies you want without scrolling through lists.

Now Microsoft has added some genius portability features, with Xbox Smart Glass which lets you connect your Xbox 360 system and your tablet. In cool ways for gaming and entertainment You can even start a movie on your TV, then flick it to your tablet to bring it with you.

Also hooray for not having wires and controllers all over the living room!

The cons: It is nearly impossible for children under about 5 to control the game on their own, and the sensor may not pick up their motions at all. (In a sports game, it may read them as an adult on their knees, not a small child.) You also really need 6 feet or more between you and the sensor, and that includes space behind you for when things get active. Our living room is narrow and to play well we have to move our couch every time, which is extremely annoying.

Also, while Xbox Live is phenomenal as an entertainment option, of course, there’s a charge. A Gold Family Pack (4 memberships for the price of two) is $99.99 a year

Some top-selling games:
Kinect Adventures, Dance Central 3, Just Dance 4, Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster

Good deal at Target:
Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Holiday Bundle with Kinect Adventures and Disneyland, $249.99 Includes Xbox Live 3 month Gold card)

Bottom Line: This is the very best system for keeping families—and especially kids in grade school and up—active while they play, plus it functions as a very comprehensive entertainment console. The technology is allowing for some amazing features that the other systems don’t come close to having.

If you’re considering one of these systems, there’s a terrific Price Match deal at Target right now through Sunday 12/16 – bring in any ad promoting the same product for less and they’ll match it. You can even show a lower deal on your smartphone in store and the cashier will honor the lower price! But keep your eye out for last minute, pre-Christmas sales. They’re coming!

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Liz Gumbinner is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech, and is Target’s spokesperson for the holiday season focusing on tech, gaming and electronics, to help share ways that Target is making it easier for families to have an amazing holiday.

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D is for Disorder http://alphamom.com/parenting/young-child/d-is-for-disorder/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/young-child/d-is-for-disorder/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 19:10:24 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=18252

I always thought that parenting would get easier as my kids hit the elementary years, but though the physical strains, sleep deprivation and diaper changes are over, things are more complex these days. Now I have a bright, creative, witty nine-year-old who seems to be overwhelmed by life.

If your child has struggled with any type of disorder, you know how frustrating the process is. Life is consumed by educational evaluations, teacher conferences, visits to psychologists and psychiatrists. Medication, therapy, books, classes. Not to mention the time, money and pressure on family life. So you take all of the advice, diagnoses and suggestions. Then add those of your family. Your parents believe it’s psycho-babble and some well-meaning friends suggest it’s just a phase. Your husband might rather ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. It’s not going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.

As I watch my daughter scream at her shoes or hit her sister for simply brushing past her, I am starting to understand that she sees the world differently. Sensations overwhelm her. Our nervous system processes millions of sensations every day, every minute in fact. What most of us don’t even think about as background noise can be completely overwhelming to my daughter; the sensation of wind on her face, the tension of the seatbelt in the car, the volume of the television. So a time-out for hitting her sister hasn’t been the right response for us, but instead she needs a helping hand to navigate through our world of sensory overload.

We’ve been given many different possibilities: ADHD, anxiety, OCD, sensory processing disorder, bipolar disorder, mild Asperger’s Syndrome. My brother has Asperger’s Syndrome, so I see the similarities as well as some dramatic differences, but I also know how difficult it is on a family. As part of our human nature, we insist on naming the problem so we can begin to fix it. We look for causes – diet, plastics, viruses, maybe the chlorine in the pool? We read every new article about things that might be hurting our kids. And it seems there are toxins everywhere. We become angry, frustrated and confused by all of the information, and the lack of information.

So, it’s a disorder. Things are not ordered correctly. Not normal. I hate the word. I think we’re looking at a world where we all see things differently and if we don’t start talking about it with our kids and let them talk about it with each other, they won’t have the confidence to cope with life. I know that many kids these days struggle from the alphabet soup of disorders: OCD, ADHD, SPD, PDD. Why aren’t we talking about it more openly? Our family is tackling the issue on multiple fronts with therapy, medication and every possible activity that might help. But I want my daughter to understand that she’s not alone. It’s the term “disorder” that’s holding us back as parents. We don’t want our kids to be labeled, ostracized, different. Once kids realize that they’re not alone, we can start the conversation and maybe realize that we’ve all been different all along.

 

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Author’s Note: I chose to remain anonymous since the internet is such a public forum and I feel that my family’s privacy is not entirely mine to give away. We have been open at school and in our personal life about our daughter’s sensory issues, hoping to start a conversation among parents and children. I have left it to my daughter to decide if she wanted to talk about it with her friends and was so proud when she did – and they decided that wearing a necklace that you can chew is cool! Her friend went out and bought one too.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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50 Things To Do in Orlando With Kids Before They Grow Up http://alphamom.com/family-fun/activities/orlando-activities-with-kids/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/activities/orlando-activities-with-kids/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:46:56 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=17474

Our guest contributor is Angie Lynch, who writes A Whole Lot of Nothing

As a native Floridian, I know my way around the Sunshine State. Having kids with whom to experience all of the activities and attractions, it’s extra fun to see the Orlando area from a kid’s point of view. Orlando is known for being a vacation destination, and alongside all of the theme parks, Central Florida is home to amazing kid-friendly activities. From the nature trails to water parks to professional sports and art classes to sweet treats, Orlando has a never-ending list of fun things for families and kids to do.

1. See the nighttime fireworks show at Magic Kingdom over Cinderella Castle at Disney World.

2. Take a swan boat ride on Lake Eola.

3. Attend an Orlando Magic basketball game.

4. View the manatees at Blue Springs State Park.

5. Swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove.

6. Go ice skating at RDV Sportsplex.

7. Take a hotel tour of Disney resorts while Christmas decorations are on display, making sure not to miss out on the life-size gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian.

8. Walk through the downtown farmer’s market, eating grilled corn on the cob.

9. Drink a pint of Butter Beer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

10. See the stars at the Orlando Science Center planetarium.

11. Ride a bike on the West Orange Trail.

12. Watch a movie with dinner at the AMC Downtown Disney 24 Fork & Screen.

13. See all of the millions of Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in December.

14. Jump off onto a zip line over the swamp canopy in Kissimmee.

15. Get slimed when you stay a weekend at Nickelodeon Suites Resort Hotel.

16. Meet Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

17. Play and learn science at Wonderworks, the upside down building.

18. Take a scenic canoe tour of Wekiwa Springs.

19. Visit the Holocaust Memorial in Maitland and watch a film about those who lived it.

20. [Redacted]

21. Dine with the Disney Princesses at Akershus in Epcot.

22. Go on the Kim Possible scavenger hunt in Epcot.

23. Have a gourmet mini cupcake and a cup of frozen yogurt at Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly.

24. Pet and feed sting rays and dolphins at SeaWorld.

25. Earn a driver’s license from Driving School at LEGOLAND.

DSC_3621

26. Trade pins with cast members all around Disney World.

27. Watch the annual Citrus Bowl Parade pass through Downtown Orlando.

28. Order the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream at Disney’s Beach Club, and eat the entire thing.

29. Visit the Orlando History Center during one of their special events.

30. Hang out at the Children’s Library at the downtown Public Library, reading aloud your favorite books.

31. Plan ahead for an Off-Broadway tour performance at Bob Carr Performaning Center.

32. Spend a day at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium discovering historic oddities.

33. During the non-summer months, picnic with the elephants at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

34. Putt-putt to your heart’s content at the one of the 5 Central Florida Congo River Golf locations.

35. Drive out to Green Meadows Farm and petting zoo to meet with the animals, ride the train, and take a pony ride.

36. See the hundreds of alligators and gator wrestling show at Kissimmee’s historic Gatorland. Make sure to find the enormous albino aligator!

Gatorland

37. Visit Horse World Riding Stables and learn more about how to properly ride a horse.

38. Jump around at AirHeads Indoor Trampoline Arena.

39. Have lunch at Dave & Busters then stick around for an afternoon of arcade fun.

40. Find your way through Long & Scott’s Corn Maze during the Fall months, making sure to take a hay ride through the farm.

Corn Maze

41. Attend a spring training game for the Atlanta Braves at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

42. Watch the as the ducks march through the Peabody Hotel on International Drive.

43. Take an airboat ride through the Florida swamps at the headwaters to the Everglades.

44. Pick a bushel of citrus from U-Pick Showcase of Citrus in Clermont.

45. Attend an Orlando Solar Bears hockey game (beginning in Fall 2012).

46. Spend the weekend at Star Wars Celebration at the Orlando Orlando County Convention Center.

47. See a kid’s theater show at the Orlando Repertory Theatre.

48. Take an art class at Crealde School of Art in Winter Park.

49. Race the whole family in go-carts at Fun Spot.

50. Swim the day away on the water slides and wave pools at Wet n’ Wild.

Related: Here’s our 65 Things You Must Do & See at Disney World list.

 

(This series was inspired by Mommy Poppins’ 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up.)

Top Photo credit: Thinkstock

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GroupMom: Deal of the Day Offerings for Kids! http://alphamom.com/family-fun/groupmom-deal-of-the-day-offerings-for-kids/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/groupmom-deal-of-the-day-offerings-for-kids/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2011 15:09:27 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=15063

By the Mouthy Housewives

Why should adults be the only ones to benefit from awesome Deals-of-the-Day? After all, kids love a bargain, too. That’s why GroupMom now offers children as young as one-years-old special deals designed to make their little lives a bit easier. So break open those piggy banks, dig into those couch cushions and scrounge up some coins, kids—these offers won’t last long!

TODAY’S GROUPMOM DEALS:

  • 2 Dimes for 1 Hour of Patiently Listening to a Recap of Your Wii Game
  • 40 Cents For 3 Dinners Where The Food on Your Plate Doesn’t Touch the Other Food on Your Plate
  • $1 for An Entire Day Without a Hygiene Lecture
  • $3 To Find Your Missing Pokemon Card in the Pile of 10,000 Other Pokemon Cards
  • 53 Cents and the Savings Bond From Grandma Gets You No Indoor Voice! Reminders for 24 Hours (offer subject to change depending on mommy’s mental state)
  • 11 Cents to Actually Look at Your Artwork Before Saying “Good job!”
  • 50 Cents for No Eye Rolls While You’re Whining About How Tough Your Life Is (must be 13 or older)
  • 25 Cents and You Don’t Have to Take a Bath For Two Nights
  • 45 Cents and You Get to Paint Mommy or Daddy’s Toenails Neon Pink with Unicorn Stickers. (No extra charge for giving us a foot massage!)
  • $5 Gets You No Mommy Yelling All Day (This offer has already expired and can no longer be redeemed)
  • 50 Cents For Not Sneaking Spinach Into Your Brownies
  • 12 Cents for not Making Gagging Noises When You Pick Your Nose. (20 cents for both nostrils)
  • $10 for Actually Buying That Your Sister “Started It”
  • 50 Cents for Not Giving You a Big Hug and Kiss in Front of Your Friends
  • 25 Cents for 5 Minutes of Playing the Drum Set We Hid in the Basement
  • $1 Per Poop Joke at the Dinner Table
  • 30 Cents For Two Less Carrots At Dinner. An Extra Dime for No Carrots At All.

 

More parody and humor can be found over at The Mouthy Housewives website. Go ahead and click on over but first tell us if there are any deals you think your kids would like to see offered on GroupMom.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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If Kids Can Be Banned from Restaurants, These People Should Be, Too http://alphamom.com/parenting/baby/if-kids-can-be-banned-from-restaurants-these-people-should-be-too/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/baby/if-kids-can-be-banned-from-restaurants-these-people-should-be-too/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2011 15:42:09 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=14634

By the Mouthy Housewives

This week we heard that a restaurant in Pennsylvania is banning kids under the age of six from its premises. Because kids can be noisy.  And annoying. And picky eaters who need highchairs. And apparently, they shouldn’t be exposed to other members of the human race. We are unclear whether the restaurant will offer a post by its door where parents can tie up their children while they enjoy a delicious meal, or whether the sight of salivating children will be too upsetting to the restaurant’s patrons. Maybe they’ll put a bowl of water on the floor for them just to be nice.

Still, being mothers ourselves, we admire the initiative to make a dining experience more pleasant. That’s why we have some suggestions for the other types of people restaurants should exclude. People who none of us like to see breaking bread at the next table. Let’s make eating out safe for everyone, okay?

Who Should Be Banned from Restaurants:

  • Toothpick users. Especially those who examine whatever they extract like it’s a freaking diamond.
  • People who call themselves “Foodies”. Without irony.
  • Women who say, “Oh, I really shouldn’t” when offered dessert. Live a little, baby.
  • Anyone who tucks their napkin into their shirt collar like they’re ready for some good eatin’.
  • People who lean back from the table and unbutton their pants after a meal. Nobody wants to see that.
  • Any and all groups of women who try to divvy up a bill to the last penny and yell things like, “But Sharon just had a salad! Why should she pay for Jenny’s steak?”
  • People who chew with their mouths open. Even toddlers know that’s rude.
  • Men who hold their utensils like cavemen.
  • Anyone who yells “WoooHooooo!” and slams their glass down after they’ve finished a drink.
  • That thin gorgeous young couple who are all over each other (No, we’re not jealous. Why do you ask?)
  • The group of frat guys who are pounding on the table and screaming, “Chug! Chug! Chug!” It’s just rude to be so loud and not buy the other patrons a complimentary round.
  • The couple who are both constantly on their smart phones. They are quiet. And creepy. And don’t talk. Are they at least texting each other?
  • That person alone who is reading. We just don’t like her silent, high brow, “I’m into literature” attitude.
  • The person who doesn’t leave a tip on their table. Because now we feel bad for the waitress and have to tip more ourselves.
  • Awkward dates. Or ones going *really* well. Ahem.
  • People who dump the complimentary bread or chips into the to-go container.

 Seriously?
  • Anyone with a camera. With a flash.
  • People who make the waiters sing “Happy Birthday” to them when they really should be getting us another glass of wine. So selfish.
  • Individuals who comment on what they aren’t ordering from the menu because it “doesn’t agree with me.”
  • People who go to a steak restaurant when they’re a vegetarian.
  • Waitstaff who don’t write down your order and instead “use their memory.” Does this ever work? No, it does not.
  • Anyone that is compelled to TwitPic a hamburger.
  • Children. Oh.

More SATIRE and irreverence can be found over at The Mouthy Housewives website. Go ahead and click on over but first tell us who else should be banned from restaurants.

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Hair Care 101 for Curly-Haired Tots http://alphamom.com/parenting/hair-care-101-for-curly-haired-tots/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/hair-care-101-for-curly-haired-tots/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2011 16:58:10 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=14465

Advice Smackdown ArchivesWhile Amalah is easing her way back to work from maternity leave, we have asked some internet friends to step in with their words of wisdom on some Advice Smackdown questions that have been out of Amy’s area of first-hand knowledge. Casey Mullins from moosh in indy is our guest contributor today.

Dear Amy,

First I want to offer my condolences on the loss of your father. I am hoping that this question will be an easy one for you, even though it has me stumped. But since it is about babies AND hair, I thought you would be the perfect person to ask.

My daughter is about two and a half, and has adorable curly hair. Straight out of the bath it’s ringlet-y curls all over, and then as it dries the curls get a little bigger.

It’s adorable, but it’s also hard to manage. If I brush it in the morning it tends to get kind of frizzy, but I can’t NOT brush it. She sleeps on her stomach and apparently rubs her head on the mattress or something, because lately she gets these huge rats-nests of tangles around her face. I’ve started putting her hair in pigtails during the day to keep it out of her eyes and a little more under control. The way it’s growing is also kind of weird… along the edge of her hairline it’s still pretty short, but the hair on the crown of her head is much longer. As in, hair from the top of her head actually comes farther down her back than hair that grows near the nape of her neck. Of course, the long part is what gets the most tangled, but it’s hard to put just that part up in a ponytail. Anyway, I’ve never had curly hair so I don’t really know how to work with this. We wash it about twice a week and I’ve started using adult conditioner on the ends. Should I try any other products? I’m not sure what to use on hair that’s still baby-fine. Should I have someone cut it so it’s all more one-length? I don’t really want the Little Orphan Annie look. What do you think?

At Least I Don’t Have to Cut Bangs Yet

So you birthed a baby with curly hair, come, sit close, let us commiserate and celebrate the joys of kinky headed children. I know for me one of the greatest joys is just how easy a curly head is to pick out in a sea of straight haired little girls. However the commiseration begins with all the comments. ZOMG THE COMMENTS.

“Is her hair naturally curly?”

“She’s going to hate that hair when she gets older!”

“Where did she get that curly hair?”

“AWW SHE’S A LITTLE SHIRLY TEMPLE!”

Hair Care 101 for Curly-Haired Tots

Look, people, I know you’re just trying to be nice, but “IS HER HAIR NATURALLY CURLY?” She’s three and do I look like a pageant mom? I’m pretty sure painting a badger’s toenails would be easier that curling a toddler’s hair. The good news is that us moms with curly haired progeny can bond together over products, techniques and styles that most moms never have to worry about. Having a child with curly hair could easily be considered a lifestyle. That is unless you don’t really care, because I know there are days when I let the haircare slip and my eldest runs around society looking as though no one really loves her with her wild tangle of frizzy hair.

Hair Care 101 for Curly-Haired Tots

So today I impart to you the wisdom I have learned over the past six years of dealing with my daughter’s head full of golden ringlets.

1. Trim and trim often. I know when it came time for Addie’s first haircut at around two years old I was petrified that her curls wouldn’t come back. I think many moms worry about this and put off a haircut as long as possible leaving their little kids with unruly mullet looking rats’ nests. Curly hair needs trims just as often (if not more often) that straight hair simply because it can dry out much faster, especially at the ends where it is more prone to breaking since it tangles so easily. *deep breath* The curls will come back, even if they don’t a neatly trimmed head of hair looks much better than a somewhat curly mess. Addie has wanted long hair forever, but it’s much easier to keep her curls short and layered and if I had it my way she’d sport a short curly bob like she did back when she wasn’t allowed to have an opinion on her haircut.

Hair Care 101 for Curly-Haired Tots

2. Go to a real salon. Cutting and trimming curly hair is an art, and not just anyone can or should be doing it. Especially when it comes to bargain haircutting places. Curly hair grows at different speeds and in different levels of curliness on the head so it’s important to find someone who can balance everything out and make everything play nicely together. Occasionally you can find someone who is skilled in curly hair (generally it’s people who have curly headed children) at a cheap place but if you’re serious about maintenance, call around until you find someone skilled with curls. I’ve had the most luck with Aveda trained stylists. And while you may be taking your kid to a grown up salon, generally a kid’s cut in a fancy place won’t cost you a whole lot more than a mediocre cut in a strip mall. Not to mention a regular stylist for your curly headed child will get to know how your kids hair grows, making each visit easier and each haircut better than the last.

3. Do not brush. Ever. Brushes are not meant for curls. Wide toothed combs and fingers are meant for curls. Stock up on them and leave one in every room of your house if you must so you’re not tempted to use a brush in a hurry. Curls have their own pattern and a brush does nothing but mess with the way a curl naturally wants to curl. Keep a spray bottle in each room as well if you need to, because just using your hand and the faucet will land you with a very damp kid and unevenly damp hair (which = frizz.)

Hair Care 101 for Curly-Haired Tots

4. Do not wash curly hair everyday. It dries it out. In fact some curly heads can get away with never actually shampooing their hair, or only shampooing the greasy parts occasionally. I however have to shampoo Addie’s hair at least twice a week or the little kid A) smells like a wet dog or B) ends up with cradle cap. It’s very important that when you do shampoo curls you don’t mess with them too much, don’t rub and tangle them, instead scrub the scalp with your fingertips and gently work the shampoo through with your fingers as well.

5. Even if you don’t wash curly hair everyday, it should be conditioned during every shower or bath. Use a moisturizing conditioner meant for kids (more on specific products later.) Again, don’t rub and tangle, simply run it through allowing the curls to maintain their own pattern. When you dry the hair don’t rub it with the towel, instead blot it, comb it from the nape of the neck up (allowing for more volume) scrunch on product and finish styling with only your fingers. Allow it to air dry (or use a diffuser if you must.) Even if the curls look clumped together don’t mess with them until they are dry, and once they are just do some light puffing up with your fingertips at the roots.

Hair Care 101 for Curly-Haired Tots

6. Prepare for a lot of product trial and error. Six years ago there weren’t the products for curly headed kids like there are today. And over the course of those six years I used an awful lot of adult products on a little girl. I’ve learned that it’s more important how you wash and handle the curls than it does how many products you use and how much they cost. Some of the best advice I got was from another mom of a curly headed girl, she said that she uses kid’s ethnic hair care products on her towheaded baby. They are super moisturizing like a grown up conditioner but safer for little faces. My current favorite products are by Curly Q’s, a line for “multi-ethnic women and girls.” Not only are they organic and all natural, they also have sulfate free options. They are not heavy or greasy, nor do they leave gobs of build up. Not to mention they smell like delicious cake batter. I found it at Target for around $10 a bottle…it may be slightly more difficult to find than other brands depending on where you live. The Curly Q site also has more excellent resources for curl care. The best news is that the products work well both in the humidity of Indiana (where I live) and the dry air of Utah (where we’re currently visiting.) Other products I’ve used that I feel comfortable recommending are Ouidad KRLY Kids (not as moisturizing but very gentle) and Circle of Friends (some of the smells are nauseating and the packaging is…well…let’s just say I’m a graphic design major and am heavily influenced by package design. *ehem*). While they don’t have a specific formula for curly hair their more moisturizing products are in fact quite moisturizing, however many are 2-in-1 which isn’t always ideal for curls.

One final thing is not to try new products on hair that hasn’t been recently cut or trimmed, even trimming off a half inch can make an enormous difference in how curls behave and by trying new products on an old haircut you won’t get a real idea of how the product is supposed to work. (That being said, keep receipts and return what doesn’t work, otherwise you’ll end up with a giant product graveyard.)

The 30 second wrap up?

-Call around until you find a stylist who is skilled in curly hair.
-Get your kid a real haircut.
-Don’t wash too often and when you do don’t scrub or tangle the curls.
-Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
-Wide tooth combs and fingers only.
-Don’t mess with drying curls, fluff only at the roots once dry.

Caring for curls will get easier as your baby gets older and his or her hair grows in thicker, what works now may not work this time next year or even when the weather changes in winter. Ah, the joys of curls. But honestly? I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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“Sleeping Beauty” and Other Games That Let Mommy Snooze http://alphamom.com/family-fun/sleeping-beauty-and-other-games-that-let-mommy-snooze/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/sleeping-beauty-and-other-games-that-let-mommy-snooze/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2011 13:14:04 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=14245

This post is a collective work by The Mouthy Housewives (lucky us!)

Isn’t summer vacation great? School’s over and the kids are home!  All day.  Every day.  Hour after hour. Minute after minute. Second after…okay, you can see where we’re going with this. It’s painful.

What with September and back-to-school being only a few decades away, we’ve been keeping busy by playing lots and lots of fun games with our kids. Lots. All Day. Every day. Hour after…anyway, after a recent round of Duck, Duck, Grey Goose on the Rocks, we paused to read Twitter and saw this bit of genius by @OutnumberedIsMe:

 

OutnumberedIsMe

Holy moly, what a game changer!

Because we saw that tweet as a siren song for all of the parents who’ve had it with Twister, Charades and Red Rover. (Question: Why is Rover red? Doesn’t he know we’ve all gone blonde for summer?) And that’s why we’ve come up with a few new games that are fun for kids, but more important, relaxing for parents. Yep, there are no losers in these games, only lots and lots of sleeping/winning!

NEW SUMMER FAMILY GAMES

1. “Sleeping Beauty”: Poor Mommy, she’s fallen under a magic spell and can’t wake up until Daddy comes home at 6 p.m. to kiss her awake. Shhh, kids! Let her sleep or an evil witch will show up! Mwahahahaha!

2. “International Beauty Parlor”: Mommy goes to a beauty parlor in a another land where nobody speaks each others language. The children/spa workers must wash and massage her feet while only communicating in sign language. Do a good job if you want a tip, kids!

3. “We’re Going Camping!”:  Build a cushion fort, get sleeping bags and give the kids candy.  Tell them that if they come out of the fort, the Hungry Bear will eat the candy. The Hungry Bear then naps on couch. (Note: The Hungry Bear is also now the Cranky Bear because the couch is cushionless.)

4. “Dinosaur!”: Mommy is an extinct dinosaur! Oooh! See her fossilized remains there under her down comforter? You can look from a distance, but remember, just like in a museum, no excavating or you will be sent to Museum Security until dinnertime.

5. “Metamorphosis Fun”: Now Mommy is a caterpillar! Look at her in her Snuggie/cocoon! Sit quietly and watch as she transforms into a beautiful butterfly in about an hour or so. Oh, wait—“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” is on. The metamorphosis is going to take a little while longer. Sorry.

6. “We’re Off To See the Wizard!”: It’s Wizard of Oz time! Your kids are the Munchkins, the cat is the Cowardly Lion and the aluminum foil covered dog is the Tin Man! The yellow road awaits, but first Mommy needs to go shoe shopping for some kicky red sandals. Then possibly pass out in a field of poppies. Uh-oh—here comes the Wicked Witch of the PTA. Quick, kids, spray her with the hose!

7. “The Little Rascals”: Take a trip into nostalgia with this fun game from a more simple time. Let your kids bust into a “junkyard” (aka Daddy’s half of the closet) while Guard Dog mommy sleeps in the corner. Classic hijinks! Afterwards, enjoy a snack of baked beans from the can and a bit of cod liver oil to ward off scurvy.

8. “CSI: Mommy”: Look, kids! There’s a body behind the couch and it’s not moving! Put on your sunglasses, your rubber gloves and start investigating! From the looks of things, the body’s been there a few hours, but you still have to be careful when taking hair samples and dusting the coffee table, night stands and other knick knacks for fingerprints. But careful, this is for older, more responsible children only.  Ones who know how to operate a vacuum cleaner and make the wood floors shine.

Happy game playing and remember, summer is for having fun, bonding times with your kids. You just don’t have to be awake for it.

 

More irreverence can be found over at The Mouthy Housewives website. Go ahead and click on over but first tell us if there are any fun summer family games we should know about.

 

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Still But Not Silent: Honoring Stillborn Babies http://alphamom.com/parenting/still-but-not-silent-honoring-stillborn-babies/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/still-but-not-silent-honoring-stillborn-babies/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2011 15:57:13 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=14100

Advice Smackdown ArchivesWhile Amalah is on maternity leave, we have asked some internet friends to step in with their words of wisdom on some Advice Smackdown questions that have been especially hard to answer.  Today, Cecily Kellogg of Uppercase Woman is our guest contributor.

Amy,

I am normally a fan of big girl underwear, accepting that the intent of most people is not malicious and that’s it’s easier to choose not to be hurt than to be hurt most of the time, but I’m having real trouble doing this right now with a situation.

Background: I got pregnant with our second child almost immediately after we started trying again. Our second child turned out to be boy/girl twins – Whoohoo/oh my gosh! Things proceeded well and then at just past 24 weeks, we lost our girl twin to what turned out to be a cord accident. This was followed by six weeks of hospital bedrest, tocolytics, contractions, stress and the like until we couldn’t safely continue to keep them in and our second son was born ten weeks early. He spent about two months in the NICU, then come home and has been doing really well.

He is not my problem. People have been absolutely wonderful supporting our whole family with him, remembering his early birth and just really making us feel supported. What is making me crazy is no one else seems to remember that our daughter even existed. Yes, she was born still and small (24 weeks is about a pound), but we did meet her, we did hold her and she did exist. Yet, it seems that she is only real to me, our older son and to a lesser degree, my husband. It’s us and the medical professionals who see our son as a single twin.

My conscious, intellectual brain knows that it is really hard for people to remember that she existed. It’s not like with a normal stillbirth and there’s a “lack of baby” to remind people. And intellectually, I feel like I should just let it go, but the emotional part of me screams that I would not be letting “it” go, I would be letting her go!

So, the advice I’m looking for is how to handle comments that are really insensitive IF the person remembered our daughter, but aren’t really given that they don’t. For example, making jokes about trading their to-be-daughter for our newborn son to “save them from a girl”, saying we are lucky that our kids don’t outnumber us or a grandparent saying that an upcoming grandchild will be their first girl (to me or my husband, not as casual conversation to someone else). Even the ubiquitous “are you going to go for a girl” feels to me like I need an answer for it that includes our daughter’s existence. I can’t find anyway to answer these kinds of comments that doesn’t either A. completely kill the mood of the conversation and leave the person feeling uncomfortable or even hurt (definitely not my goal) or B. leaving me feeling like I’ve just discounted her existence and hiding my hurt feelings/anger.

I am comfortable answering the quick question of how many children do you have with two, but for any kind of conversation that is more in-depth, I prefer to say that we had three children. I thought that this might just fade naturally with time, but I don’t think that it will, so I’m thinking I really do need to work through an answer. I will always know exactly how old she would have been through the blessing of her twin brother.

We did go through grief counseling and I honestly really feel like I’m ok with the entire situation, when the whole situation is acknowledged and real. I read Half Baked and An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination while our son was still in the hospital and really enjoyed and benefited from both of these books. I am happy to laugh, cry and even make jokes about our daughter’s loss without even a hint or risk of getting upset or my feelings hurt or anything like that, but somehow the just void is worse.

I really think the answer is that I need to find even bigger big girl underwear and recognize that outside of our nuclear family, she’s not a fact in other people’s reality, but thought I’d run it by you as well!

-Off to the big girl underwear store…

First of all, this isn’t Amy. While Amy is on maternity leave celebrating the birth of her ridiculously adorable third son, the nice folks here at Alpha Mom have asked me to step in and offer up some advice in response to your question. If you wonder why they thought of me, well, I lost twin boys when I was nearly 24 weeks pregnant myself. Which sucked, but gives me some insight into your experience.

Secondly, oh honey. How awful for you! I am so, so, so sorry you had to experience such a tremendous loss. It’s just such a huge and horrid thing.

Oh, the insensitivity! I don’t know why we as a culture have such a difficult time responding appropriately to the loss of babies, whether from miscarriage or stillbirth. It seems to be a rather dramatic example of “out of sight, out of mind” which, on bad days, can make me shake with grief and rage.

Every time I’m asked if my daughter is my only child, there’s a hitch in my response because I don’t want to deny the existence of my sons. However, like you, I also don’t want to be an asshole and force them to acknowledge my grief when they are simply being clueless. Luckily, I’m blessed that many of my friends and family DO remember to acknowledge my sons, so for me, this is more of an issue that comes up with acquaintances than family.

In my opinion, it’s perfectly acceptable to insist that your family members remember your daughter. When a grandparent says, “This will be our first girl grandchild!” You can gently say, “Living, anyway.” Say it softly and lightly and it should be well received – although, frankly, you aren’t responsible for their reactions.

When having a daughter or the number of children you have comes up in conversation with folks you know less well, I would learn to take a cue from YOUR mood. If it’s one of those days when you can mention her with a smile and love – and answer detailed questions without ripping a scab off the wound – by all means talk about her. But on those days where the pain is fresh and close to the surface, you might want to let the moment pass because you can unintentionally pummel your listener with your grief, and that can make the situation doubly awkward. I remember one day at work I chased a customer out of my store because she came in with baby twin boys and I felt so heartbroken that I told her about my boys; I swear, her stroller left skid marks she left so fast.

Trust your gut. You know how much you can take.

Lastly, I have to say that it does ease with time. It’s now been nearly seven years since I lost my sons, and the words “only child” leave my mouth comfortably when I talk about my daughter. There are still some bad days, but most of the time now I’m okay with the fact that my sons live on just in my heart.

I wish you much peace and healing, my dear.

****

You can read more from Cecily at her personal blog, Uppercase Woman.

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