Raising Wonder Women: Parenting Lessons from DC’s Latest Blockbuster

I have a special affinity for superhero films, but my anticipation for Warner Bros. Studio’s “Wonder Woman” has been unique. I remember watching reruns of Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince that hit the 1970’s with supernatural strength; her lasso of truth, indestructible bracelets, and invisible airplane beat the heck out of any accessories Barbie could offer. Now, as the mother of three girls I was hoping director Patty Jenkins and DC would offer the Princess of Themyscria her own slice of blockbuster justice. I clicked over to my favorite flick checker Kids in Mind and determined that at least my oldest could see it. The verdict is in: DC has (finally) succeeded, and Gal Gadot’s Amazon warrior made it happen.

As my oldest daughter and I drove home, the car was filled with life lessons gleaned from watching Wonder Woman on the big screen. Whether you see the movie or not, these six lessons can be a great help in raising our own women of wonder:

1. When there is no War: Rest and Prepare

Education is a high-priority in our household, and so is joy. We are using this short season of childhood to prepare them for the life to come. This means they must be ready to tackle the challenges that lay ahead, and they must also know how to value rest, so that they are not swept into meaningless business. While they may not venture off to end mythological rivalries, the world holds enough war that at some point it will be their time to stand. We arm them: mind, body, and soul by teaching them not to waste time, and a balance must be struck between rest and preparation.

2. Be Willing to Fight for Those Who Cannot Fight For Themselves

I will teach my children to resist the temptation to be that person who sees injustice and does nothing. Whether it is wielding a sword, words, or hope, in me may they find a cheerleader and someone willing to do the same. It will always be my encouragement to do something. That they would find where their strength comes from, and live boldly…

…Continue Reading at The Portland Moms Blog.

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Holding On & Letting Go (for PMB)

I know she is growing up, but as I witnessed her pulling out the summer peppers and preparing for their forthcoming carving, I was both impressed and saddened that she didn’t need my help. Still young, but the oldest of four, my daughter removed the stem ends, sliced the pepper’s ribs from the sides, and pushed the seeds away. Scrutinizing each step as she carefully and craftily proceeded, constructing and cooking lamb piperade for dinner. I stood off to the side as she deftly handled the blade, and acknowledged that just because she is able to keep her fingers from the edge of the knife doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous when she is handling things that could harm her.

letting-go-holding-on

Peel. Chop. Sauté.

Disgust crosses her young face. It is time to handle the lamb. She asks for help, not because she needs it to get the job done, but because she hates the feel of raw meat. I join her, finally invited into the space she has set apart to create and compose the dish. The time of spending every moment together has long past; it has given way to school, books, and her own personal preferences. She no longer needs her mama to entertain her, groom her, or feed her. It brings great freedom to us both, but I have begun to see how I will need to hang on to her as she lets go of me… Continue reading at The Portland Moms Blog.

7 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Full-Day Kindergarten

Nope, not going to happen” was my consistent response to my husband when he put homeschooling on the table. He always reminded me that I have a Masters of Science in Education, and I would remind him of my spastic organizational skills. Privatized education, at-home learning, and the public education system; we explored them all, landing on the path we both walked as kids, public school.

I have escorted three of my children through the doors of elementary school, and left them for hours. With my oldest two it was only for two hours and 45 minutes. But this year I sent my five-year-old darling away for the whole day. For the 2015-16 school year, Oregon joined a slew of other states implementing full-day kindergarten, and it touts a banquet of benefits. There is more routine, better opportunity for social development, and longer instruction time for to the newest generation entering academia.

Our children are still learning to brush their hair, but we are asked to send them away for the entire day. Are they ready? Here are some tips from the trenches, and some recommendations from the lovely woman who spends 6 hours a day, 5 days a week with my daughter; one of your very own Oregon full-day kindergarten teachers.

  1. Wean Your Would-be Kindergartner From NapsPrep for full-day Kindergarten

Trust me, I begrudgingly enforced this last summer, but I can’t imagine how my daughter would have done in full-day kindergarten if I hadn’t. She was falling asleep when she got home into October, and once she even fell asleep in class. I told her she doesn’t need to be embarrassed, but we need to stay awake to learn. I empathize, and tell her it used to happen to me all the time. I just don’t let her know I was in high school.

  1. Count All the Things! At least up to 20

1…2…3…apples, books, or people in line in front of us. You can practice this skill virtually anywhere. Equipping your emerging learner with the skill of counting to 20 will have them ready to take on the world of mathematics…Continue Reading @ The Portland Moms Blog.

The Burden and Beauty of a Sister @PDX Moms Blog

Hey, hey, HEY! What is going on in here? In this house we don’t fight with our sister, we fight for her.”

This seems to be a common refrain for me these days, as I seek to break through the chattering cacophony of little girl voices seeking to be the most strident, shrewdest, and scrupulous of them all. I have three daughters, and as their legs get longer so does there resolve to fight for their ground, their wants, and their rights.

But you know what? They are 10, 7, and 6, so their ideas of what this means are seriously flawed, and I blame it on their underdeveloped brains. Someday they will be adults and they will see that it didn’t really matter where Barbie slept in her dream house, they should have let it go when someone was wearing their socks, and it’s okay to sit up so that everyone can share the couch. But, alas, today is not that day…read more at The Portland Moms Blog.

The Mom’s Road Trip Survival Guide for Portland Moms Blog

I know just the title of this piece sounds like a bad idea. However, our family has taken many long road trips, and it’s worth it (especially, when you look at the price of flying a large family). We bond as our little clan journeys together, exploring new places, and building wonder-filled memories in the minds of our young kiddos. However, taking a 10+ hour drive hasn’t always been beautiful. In fact there are times it has felt like flat-out torture. Nursing babies, exploding diapers, and incessant bickering have led to many clenched jaws and yearning to escape the four-wheeled pressure cooker. But I have picked up some knowledge along the way, and here are my top ten survival tips for a family road trip:

Practical

  1. Make Sure There are TWO Adults in the Car

    This will give you someone to laugh with when the crazy hits. I know this is not always an option for everyone, but it really helps keep the other adult sane, awake, and off their phone.

  2. Prepare for the Unforeseen

    Are your kids prone to carsickness? Mine aren’t, but there was that one time on that one road trip where someone lost their lunch all over the backseat in the exact middle point of our trip. Here’s what would’ve been handy, and now we never travel without:

    1. Gallon-sized Ziploc bags. These fold up small and will hold a gallon’s worth of stomach contents, AND can also contain the smell of any soiled clothing until it can be washed.
    2. Paper towels
    3. A small spray bottle of odor-destroyer. You will really wish you had this should your kiddos get a tummy bug while stuck in the car.
    4. A first-aid kit
    5. Multiple sets of easy-to-grab clothes in the trunk of the car should you need them…See more at the Portland Moms Blog.
I know just the title of this piece sounds like a bad idea. However, our family has taken many long road trips, and it’s worth it (especially, when you look at the price of flying a large family). We bond as our little clan journeys together, exploring new places, and building wonder-filled memories in the minds of our young kiddos. However, taking a 10+ hour drive hasn’t always been beautiful. In fact there are times it has felt like flat-out torture. Nursing babies, exploding diapers, and incessant bickering have led to many clenched jaws and yearning to escape the four-wheeled pressure cooker. But I have picked up some knowledge along the way, and here are my top ten survival tips for a family road trip:

Road Trip Survival (1)
Practical

  1. Make Sure There are TWO Adults in the Car

    This will give you someone to laugh with when the crazy hits. I know this is not always an option for everyone, but it really helps keep the other adult sane, awake, and off their phone.

  2. Prepare for the Unforeseen

    Are your kids prone to carsickness? Mine aren’t, but there was that one time on that one road trip where someone lost their lunch all over the backseat in the exact middle point of our trip. Here’s what would’ve been handy, and now we never travel without:

    1. Gallon-sized Ziploc bags. These fold up small and will hold a gallon’s worth of stomach contents, AND can also contain the smell of any soiled clothing until it can be washed.
    2. Paper towels
    3. A small spray bottle of odor-destroyer. You will really wish you had this should your kiddos get a tummy bug while stuck in the car.
    4. A first-aid kit
    5. Multiple sets of easy-to-grab clothes in the trunk of the car should you need them
  1. Pack Some Food

    Traveling for over ten hours means you will likely need to eat two or more meals, not to mention snacks. IF you are going to eat fast food, ONLY do it once, and choose the least greasy options. Twice can cause stomach problems, and they will be more grumpy and whiny because they feel uncomfortable.

  2. Kill the “Are We There Yet?” QuestionSay Goodbye to-Are We There Yet-- (1)

    This question always starts about 15 minutes into the road trip. If your child can tell time say to them, “You can ask me that question again at (an overestimated time of when you think you’ll arrive o’clock).” If they can’t yet tell time or forget to wait for the official checkpoint, I usethis trick: Print out a picture of your car, glue a piece of a straw on the back, and run a ribbon through it. Now the car can move back and forth on the ribbon. Pin each end of the ribbon to one side of the car and move the car once an hour, telling them when the car reaches the end of the ribbon you will be at your destination. 

  3. Limit Fluid Intake

    If you’re traveling with at least three kiddos you know they don’t really need water every time they ask. Sometimes they are just bored and looking for something, anything to do. Just be careful to keep a close eye on how much they are drinking, or you will be making extra stops. When we know one of our planned stops is approximately 30 minutes away, we hand our kids juice boxes and let them have at it; but back in the car, sips are far and few between until the next stop nears.

Discipline

  1. Talking Time Out

    This works surprisingly well. If our kids start bickering or speaking words that tear down their siblings, we declare a talking time-out. Any and all offending children are not allowed to speak for 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes depending on the severity of their offence.

  2. Clips of Self-ControlClips of Self-Control

    When you are all buckled in, discipline can get tricky. I found this system on Pinterest. The gist: each child gets a clothes pin with cut-out character on the sun visor. If their clip is still up at the next stop, they get a treat of some sort. Buy the treats ahead of time and have them in the car. Waiting for a bunch of kids to decide what they want at the truck stop might take more time than you would like. Bonus: avoid the potential sugar rush and inevitable crash by making their favorite activity the treat (coloring book, road trip game, or the power to pick the next song).

Boredom Killers

  1. Audio Books

    This is probably one of my favorite traditions we have picked up. We always check out an audio book from the library that the whole family can listen to, and preferably covers the whole trip. Some of our faves are The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Giver by Lois Lowery, and The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins.

  2. Technology Helps

    While I do think it is good to limit screen time for everyday use, I allow a brief break in that rule for extended road trips. Many family vehicles have built-in ways to watch movies and if yours (like ours) doesn’t, a laptop, a digital download on a tablet, or a portable DVD player of any variety is a Godsend. These also tend to make it easier for naps as they often lay their heads down on the one pillow we allowed them to bring, and drift off to sleep. For the first three hours of our trip, we say no movies. We promote books, car games, and discussion, but after that initial three-hour leg, it becomes more about maintaining the peace. We take breaks for an audio book, but I am grateful for this technology. I seriously wonder sometimes how my single mom did not LOSE HER MIND when she took my siblings and me on road trips.

  3. Adult Sustainment

    1. Headphones. When you are not driving and your driving partner is awake enough that you can take a brief time-out, these little beauties are your ticket to temporary escape.
    2. Plenty of pre-drive sleep!
    3. Coffee and/or energy drinks. In other words, DO NOT get sleepy; when roads are windy and children are sleeping make sure YOU are wide awake. Pull over if you have to or switch drivers. Your cargo and the others you share the road with are too precious.

road trip kid

What road trip tips do you have? Please add them in the comments.

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Thank You, Poison Control @ PDX Moms Blog

Thank You, Poison Control

“I didn’t have the number for the Poison Control Center in my phone the first time I needed it. The deadly substance that threatened my littles? Baby powder. I had it high on a shelf, seemingly safe out of reach for my three-year-old who had just begun to share a room with her one-year-old sister.The next morning they slept in, and I was feeling quite smug about the successful transition from my husband’s and my room, into sibling cohabitation. Then I heard laughing. They hadn’t been sleeping! I opened their door with a wave of anticipation. There they were; little, white dust-covered cherubs; one with a guilty look on her face, and the other with a look of pure joy.

The older of the two had scaled the dresser and laid hold of the prize. Then, with her chubby little hands, she sprinkled the baby powder ALL OVER the crib mattress. By the time I walked in they were both covered in the perfumed white talc, enveloped by a cloud of their own creation. They had been holding onto the crib railing, vaulting themselves into the air, and hammering their little legs into the now toxic crib sheet…” Continue reading at Portland Moms Blog.

Mastitis Misery and How to Avoid It (For PDX Moms Blog)

Writing @ PMB (1)

I knew I was clueless about breastfeeding, but I had no idea it could mean a trip to the operating room for mastitis. I was simply befuddled that breastfeeding could be so difficult. It’s natural, right? Babies need to eat to survive; surely it should be simple despite the voices saying it wasn’t. Nevertheless I stood corrected.

I tried to stay patient when she wouldn’t latch on, and I cried with relief three days later when we met with a lactation consultant, and figured it out. The lady was a Godsend to a 20 something, desperate, emotional, first-time mom lost in the clutter of breast pump parts, nipple shields, and gigantic peek-a-boo bras.

After helping my new babe and me get the rhythm and rhyme of this nursing dance, the consultant explained that I had enough milk to feed triplets, but I was engorged, and she was pretty sure I had the beginnings of a mastitis infection. I followed her suggestion and scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN. The diagnosis was confirmed, I was given antibiotics, and sent on my way. I should have gotten better in a couple days, but I didn’t. Instead, the condition advanced, and the infected area was increasingly red, hot, and tender. I was weak with flu-like symptoms, and got little sleep, but I just figured that was typical for new moms. I had no way to reference what normal was supposed to be.

I thought I only had to endure the pain until the antibiotics did their thing, but then one day I got out of the shower and pressed the worsening red area, only to discover deteriorating skin and a seeping wound. It was as if the infection was trying to force itself from my body. ALL FROM BREASTFEEDING!Keep reading at Portland Moms Blog.