Whit Honea, author of The Parents’ Phrase Book.
Topic: Easy, useful phrases, scripts, and techniques for every situation.
Issues: Words to help you discipline and enforce limits; build a child’s self-confidence; handle questions about life and death; talk to your kids about friends, bullies, and playing by the rules—or not.
Whit Honea, author of The Parents’ Phrase Book.
Valentine’s Day is no longer just for lovers and romantically significant others—today, people give Valentine’s gifts to their parents, close friends, and (of course) their children. And the children give us gifts too (we all wear our glitter-pasta necklaces with pride, don’t we?). If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for your little prince or princess, here are some nice ways to say “I love you” (in addition to the actual words).
Love Potion Pop Fizz
If you’ve got a game enthusiast in the family, check out Skylander’s new Love Potion Pop Fizz. Despite his name, this little guy is anything but mushy and sweet; instead of shooting Cupid’s arrows, he throws vials of strange substances. Still, he’ll be a cherished addition to your gamer’s Skylanders collection. Because he’s a seasonal limited edition, he’ll eventually be hard to find—but right now you can still get him at Amazon, Game Stop, or your favorite retailer for about $10.
Glow Cuddles Bear
Dreamz to Go Groovy Globes
Cosmic UFO (Cloud b)
A well-rested child is a well-behaved child, and Cloud b encourages and facilitates sleep with a sweet line of creative nightlights and bedtime toys. One of our favorites is the adorable, soft Glow Cuddles Bear. Cuddles has a light hidden inside his chest and when he gets a hug, the light glows soothingly. There’s also a gentle, calming heartbeat sound that helps lull little ones to sleep. Cuddles has two sleep timer options: 10 or 23 minutes. Because his facial features are sewn on, he’s perfectly safe for infants and toddlers. The only exception are the three AA batteries (not included), but those are encased in a parent-only-accessible hatch. Retails for $35.95 on http://cloudb.com.
If you’re considering a teddy bear for your child, you’ll want to stay far away from the 50 Shades of Grey Bear from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, which comes with a variety of accessories, including blindfolds and handcuffs. Definitely rated R.
For older children who still like to fall asleep with a nightlight, Cloud b has a couple of great options. Dreamz To Go Groovy Globes have graphics of hearts, flowers, and peace signs etched into the globe. When you turn on the bulb, the light shines from inside and projects those groovy images onto your walls and ceiling. It’s a great way to move your little Valentine towards sleep. The Globes are available in pink or aqua, and require 3 AAA batteries (included). Retail is $25.95 on http://cloudb.com.
The Cosmic UFO is a fun addition to any child’s room. Shaped (as you would imagine) like a UFO, it projects images of the Northern Lights and makes “intergalactic” sounds that make your child’s space look and feel like the great outdoors. The UFO’s brightness setting are adjustable and there’s a 23-mnute auto shutoff timer. Batteries are included. Retails for $44.95 on http://cloudb.com.
Love Poppers (Hog Wild)
Adding a whole new dimension to the phrase “blowing kisses,” Love Poppers are fun, silly animals that shoot soft “kisses” (foam balls with lips on them) at their target (great for reaching your sweetheart from across the room). Pop the balls into the animal’s mouth, squeeze the belly, and watch the kisses fly and the laughter ensue. The kisses are soft, but we recommend that you do your shooting outdoors, just to be safe. Poppers come in four flavors: monkey, pig, squirrel, and cow, and each comes with six balls and retails for $10.95. Refills are sold separately in stores or at http://www.hogwildtoys.com
Remember way back to drivers’ ed and that long checksheet you had to go through before even starting the car? (Adjust all the mirrors? check. Put your seatbelt on? check. All passengers properly situated> check.) These days we just get in the car and go without thinking twice (or maybe even once) about the little things that keep us safe when we’re on the road.
Every year there are millions of car accidents, many of which are brought to you by driver who aren’t paying attention. Doing a safety check takes only a few minutes and it’s well worth it. We may think that we’re focused on the job at hand when we’re behind the wheel, but we’re often a lot more distracted than we know. For that reason, it’s never a bad idea to take a look at our habits and see whether there are any ways to improve our safety on the road.
Staying safe is everyone’s responsibility, but not everyone takes that job as seriously as they should. And even when they (and we) do, momentary lapses in judgment still happen.
1. Buckle Up
Maybe the easiest ways to improve safety is to wear your seatbelt. Yes, this seems like common sense, but as we’re backing out of our driveways or pulling out of our morning coffee stop, it’s easy to forget. A huge percentage of accidents happen in parking lots or very close to where at least one of the participants lives. Yes, they’re often pretty low speed, but without seatbelts, there’s still a lot of potential for serious injury. So before you put your car in drive, make sure everyone is buckled up.
2. It can wait
The number of accidents attributable to distracted driving is growing every year–and so is the number of fatalities. As a result, lawmakers around the country are coming up with new legislation designed to limit the use of mobile devices while in the car. Support the “no texting and driving” initiative by using a magnetic sign to show your support of the campaign. This also helps remind other drivers how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road for even a second.
3. They’re watching our every move
Set a good example for your kids to help improve safety for the next generation of drivers. Technology will only increase how much activity can be performed while driving, so it’s important to let your young ones know that inattentive driving is dangerous. This includes not just texting, but messing with the radio dials or even using your hands-free phone devices while driving. Make your calls, enter addresses into your GPS, and send your texts while you’re parked.
4. It can wait–again
How many times a day do you check for email or texts or look up something on Google or Facebook? Those things are all fine and dandy when we’re sitting at home or at the office or standing in line at the post office. But when we’re moving a two-ton chunk of metal down the road, they’re anything but fine. So stand for road safety and make sure your kids see you doing it. The life you save could be theirs.
Dear Mr. Dad: I lost my job more than a year ago and have been unable to find another. My wife works part time, but doesn’t bring in nearly enough to cover our expenses. We have no health insurance, burned through the little savings we had trying to stay current on our mortgage and other bills. Now we’re faced with having to take money out of our retirement accounts to make ends meet. I’m so embarrassed by this whole thing that I can barely face my children. What can we do?
A: I’ve been (and still am) in almost the same situation and I definitely feel your pain. The good news is that you already took the first step: acknowledging that there’s problem. The bad news is that you’re in for a bumpy ride. Here are some steps that should help.
- Buy some throat lozenges and get rid of any weapons you have around the house. I’m only half kidding. This may be the most frustrating and infuriating experience of your life; you’re going to do a lot of screaming (hence the lozenges), and you don’t want to do anything to hurt yourself or someone else. Believe me, it’s tempting, though.
- Ask for help. Start by talking with your mortgage company about refinancing your home or modifying your loan. But be prepared for an exercise in twisted logic. My lender told me that I made too much money to do a loan modification but not enough to refinance. There were other options available, but I didn’t qualify because I was current on my mortgage. Apparently, being a responsible adult and paying my bills meant that I couldn’t get help. Defaulting, however, would have made it a lot easier (try to avoid this).
- Look into the Making Home Affordable Program. This actually encompasses two separate programs, HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) and HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program). The rules can be complex and seem designed to exclude as many people as possible. In my case, conveniently placed loopholes made me ineligible for any program. Check your eligibility here: makinghomeaffordable.gov/
- Apply for insurance through healthcare.gov. But hurry: If you don’t make the February 15 deadline, you may have to wait until October to enroll. Ready for more twisted logic? My income was so low that I wasn’t eligible for Obamacare and had to enroll in Medicare. But then Medicare denied coverage because I have money in IRAs. If I take it out now, I have to pay penalties.
- Apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps). Check your eligibility here: snap-step1.usda.gov/. Also look into local food banks.
- Ignore the media. Every day there’s a new story about the booming economy and dropping unemployment numbers. I’ve seen precious little evidence of that. Plus, those statistics are carefully manipulated to exclude all the people who have given up looking for work, who are working part time for economic reasons, or who are under-employed. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics—the agency that calculates the “official” data—the true unemployment rate is roughly double the official one.
- Use your situation as a lesson—if you can talk about it without scaring your children. Being in horrible financial straits (which, hopefully, won’t go on too much longer), made me a lot more sympathetic to homeless people and others who access government benefits.
- Get past embarrassment. You and your wife worked for many years, and a lot of the taxes you paid has gone to help people in need. Now it’s your turn, and there’s no shame in getting the help you deserve.
Pizza contributes to higher calorie, saturated fat and sodium intake in children’s and teens’ diets. And as the second largest contributor to calorie and nutrient intake in children’s diets, its impact on maintaining healthy weight is important. The authors of the study, “Energy and Nutrient Intake from Pizza in the United States,” appearing in the February 2015 issue of Pediatrics, (published online Jan. 19) examined dietary recall data from a period of several years for children age 2 to 11 and teens aged 12 to 19. On the days pizza is consumed, it makes up more than 20 percent of the daily intake of calories. Plus, overall calorie intake for that day is much higher. Since dietary counseling is more effective if focused on specific foods, rather than overall nutrients, and pizza plays a prominent role in children’s overall diet, the authors suggest that pizza be directly addressed in nutrition counseling. And because pizza is available from multiple sources (restaurants, fast food, stores and schools), efforts should focus on improving nutritional content and marketing.