Kids Beyond Limits + 1001 Things to Love about the Military

Anat Baniel, author of Kids Beyond Limits.
Topic: Breakthrough results for children with autism, Asperger’s, brain damage, ADHD, and undiagnosed developmental delays.
Issues: The need to shift to connecting with the child rather than fixing him/her; nine steps to improve the child’s brain, which will produce remarkable—and sometimes immediate—results; harnessing the brain’s capacity to heal itself; how parents can incorporate the nine steps into everyday life.

Star Henderson, author of 1001 Things to Love about the Military and co-founder of Army Wife Network
Topic: A celebration of military life.
Issues: Obvious and not-so-obvious traditions, advantages and experiences military members, veterans and their families share. Includes resources military brats and their parents should know about, along with fun “You know you are a military brat when…” and “You know you are a military parent when…” lists.

Building a Childhood

Kids and building go hand in hand: Make it bigger, higher, better, greener—whatever strikes their fancy that particular day. Not only are building toys a good time, but they‘re also great for parent-child bonding, and have been shown to improve motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, cooperation, creativity, spatial skills, and more. No wonder we love ‘em so much!

play doh minionsPlay-Doh Disguise Lab Featuring Despicable Me Minions (Hasbro)
Sometimes we all feel like minions. But what do minions do when they want to feel like someone else? Enter Play-Dough Disguise Lab. Just put your minion into the hair styling chair (one purple minion, one yellow minion, and chair are included) and give him as many silly and crazy hairstyles as you’d like. Your child will have so much fun with this, and you will too. You can trim their hair, choose different colors, and even make things that Minions love like ba-na-nas. The kit also comes with scissors (not sharp), a comb for styling, and four cans of Play-Doh. With the Minion movie coming out this summer, this Play Doh kit will be even more popular. About $18 at Toys R Us and other retailers.




lego batman penguin3 LEGO DC Comics Batman: The Penguin Face off
LEGO, of course, are great building toys. With a dizzying number of sets and sizes to choose from, there’s something for every kid (and every parent) to play with. “LEGO DC Comics Batman: The Penguin Face” off lets kids recreate and act out their favorite superhero moments. In this kit, the goal is to help Scuba Batman bring justice to that diamond-stealing, umbrella-wielding waddler, Penguin and his minions (no, not the yellow ones—this villain’s minions are robot penguins). The kit comes with Batman and Penguin (and two minions) mini-figs, the “diamond,” a ton of weapons—including Penguin’s umbrella, and all the ingredients to build Batman’s scuba vehicle and Penguin’s duck boat. Penguin and the duck boat appeared in the recent movie “LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League.” The title is quite a mouthful, but it was pretty funny, and a good flick for the whole family (especially all those LEGO and/or Superheroes fans). If your child isn’t into superheroes and prefers something a little more “real,” take a look at the Swamp Police Starter Set, which comes with four mini-figs, an alligator, boat, raft, “hideout” spot, and quite a few accessories, including a spider, snake, handcuffs, walkie talkies, a shovel, and more. Ages 5-12. Batman is about $13, Swamp is about $10.

bun bunBun Bun! (The Bridge Direct)
If you think that all building toys have to be blocks or bricks and have hard edges, you need to meet Bun Bun. These cute, cuddly (and collectible, of course) animals were created to be stacked and piled up. Stacking plush toys have already created a splash in Japan and other countries, and they’re just now hitting the US markets. Bun Bun combines two things kids love: building and animals which is great. Better yet, both boys and girls we tested Bun Bun with loved them and couldn’t get enough. The first wave of characters includes Kit Kit (Cat), Moo Moo (Cow), Pup Pup (Dog), Shu Shu (Monkey), Bit Bit (Mouse), Pip Pip (Pig), Bai Bai (Polar Bear), and Bon Bon (Rabbit), and they come in four sizes: mini (4”) small (7”) medium (10”) jumbo (16”). But regardless of the color, size, or animal, Bun Bun encourages kids to be creative and get their engineering on. For all ages. Prices range from $5 to $20.

My Interview on the Life of Dad Show

life of dad

life of dadHad a great time yesterday chatting with Ryan Hamilton and Art Eddy from Life of Dad. Check out the podcast here.

If you haven’t already heard Art and Ryan, you really need to. They’re smart, thoughtful, and inspiring. But most of all, they’re committed dads who are walking the walk. Check ’em out on Facebook and their blog.

Something You Probably Didn’t Know About Sexual Assault in the Military

Source: DoD News, U.S. Department of Defense. Photo by Glenn Fawcett (Released)

Source: DoD News, U.S. Department of Defense. Photo by Glenn Fawcett (Released)

Source: DoD News, U.S. Department of Defense. Photo by Glenn Fawcett (Released)

When people talk about sexual assault, the assumption is that the victims are all women and the perpetrators are all men. But in a speech on April 22, 2015 that didn’t get nearly enough coverage, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter demonstrated the dangers of assumptons (which, as one of my Marine Corps drill instructors was fond of saying, “make an ASS out of U and ME).

Speaking to ROTC cadets and midshipmen from a number of colleges and universities, Carter pointed out that “last year, we estimated that at least 18,900 service members — 10,400 men and 8,500 women — experienced unwanted sexual contact. And too few of them — particularly men — report these incidents as assaults.

Wait, what? Men can be victimes of sexual assault? Sad but true. Even sadder, most male victims are too embarrassed to report it.

The Secretary added that’s 18,900 too many, and that “no man or woman who serves in the U.S. military” should ever be sexually assaulted.” He then went on to say something that every one of us needs to hear.

“When victims are most vulnerable, their leadership and their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines need to stand by them in solidarity, not turn their back or turn away. We need those assaulted to have people they can count on. It may not be easy, but I need you to be one of them — in person and online…. That’s why I need you to be leaders,” Carter said, “not just in the line of duty, but online also. I trust most of you would intervene if you saw someone being bullied around campus. But too many people let that stuff slide online — we know that — and sometimes offline too… We can’t allow those who do the right thing — either in reporting an assault or standing up to stop one,” he continued, “to be belittled on Facebook, ignored at [the] chow hall, passed over at promotion time, or mocked in the officers club. That’s counter to the ethos you signed up for, and it’s just plain wrong.”

Amen, Mr. Secretary. Amen.

April is Foot Health Awareness Month so Play it Safe

mrdad - foot health

mrdad - foot healthAlthough this post is sponsored, all opinions 100% my own. In the U. S., more than 38 million children play some kind of organized sport each year. That’s great except for one thing: kids’ bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing, which makes them more susceptible to injury. Actually it goes beyond “susceptible”: A third of children who play a team sport are injured seriously enough to miss practice or games. Ankle sprains and breaks are among the most common sports injuries for both children and adults.

So what can you do? Kids should have at least one or two days off from any particular sport each week to avoid overuse injuries. And on “on” days, a good stretching session can loosen up those muscles and help prevent muscle tears or sprains.

It’s also important to makes sure your kids—and you, too—are wearing the right shoes for the right activity. For example, tennis shoes (the ones made specifically for tennis) will provide different support and traction than shoes designed for runners. And cleats for baseball are different than the ones for soccer or football.

The best way to ensure that you’re getting the right footwear is to go to a store that specializes in athletic shoes, or call the office of a local podiatrist for suggestions. Be sure to have your feet measured every time you purchase new shoes, as feet size and shape can change (especially in kids) as we age.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to take good care of your feet.  A 2014 survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association showed that a quarter of adults were unable to exercise due to foot pain. And nearly 40 percent said they’d exercise more if their feet didn’t hurt.

If you or your child experience a foot or ankle injury while playing sports, getting it treated right away is key to preventing further damage. Putting off treatment for too long can cause toe deformities and other podiatric problems. And don’t be fooled by the old adage that if you can move your foot, it’s not broken. The truth is that it’s entirely possible to walk with certain kinds of fractures.

To highlight the importance of taking care of your feet, the American Podiatric Medicine Association has launched their Play it Safe campaign. Visit their site for tons of great foot-related info.