We have an ongoing struggle in our home almost every night at about 6:10 p.m.
What’s for supper?
Whether you call it supper, dinner or whatever, what it means in my house most of the time is, “What is Mom going to fix tonight?”
My husband doesn’t cook, so thankfully he’ll throw out the idea of takeout, which I gladly latch onto if I’ve had a particularly tiring day.
With two parents working outside the home, it’s difficult to get a balanced meal on the table when my children are hungry.
My mom used to suggest I cook on the weekends and then freeze the food. Yes. That would be a good idea, but, so far, I haven’t successfully done this.
Then, there is the crockpot moms who always have a meal waiting for them when they get home. Yes. That’s a good idea, too.
This week, we have had chicken Dorito casserole (I made), Sonic burgers and lasagna/broccoli/bread (I defrosted and shoved it in the oven).
This morning, I washed strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, placed them in a tray and stuck those in the refrigerator for after-school snacking.
I don’t think this is a bad run for the week, but I still labor over this. I have no idea what we will eat tonight.
If it were just me, I’d probably eat cereal.
Do any of you struggle with evening meals? Or have you overcome the last-minute rush?
Share your ideas (and recipes!) that have fed your successful meal planning.
It was going to be another school project to stress about, another one to agonize over – a year in advance. When I saw the covered wagons being pulled by children in bonnets, aprons and overalls last year for the annual third-grade Chisholm Elementary School Land Run in Edmond, I began to worry way before the event about how I could pull something like that off when my first child hit third grade this year
I shouldn’t have worried. The entire production from start to finish was a ball (see related story here), and, as it turned out, building a covered wagon was not as intimidating as it seemed. Making the project even easier was that teachers divided their classes into “families” of four students who would run the Land Run together, and each of those families needed to produce one wagon, not each student.
We ended up with two because two of us had wagons and both of our students were excited about creating one. Each of them was different; anyone could use either approach to create a covered wagon, although the one from my son and me was a little puny compared to the outstanding one that his friend’s family built. That one could hold three children at least. Ours, more like a small family dog. On the other hand, the puny one was easier to pull, so its drivers found the claim to stake before the big one could get there.
First the large one: The Taylor family had a big metal cart used for extensive gardening to pull flowers around a yard while planting. We took chicken wire and shaped it in the shape of the covered wagon and cut up two hula hoops to frame the chicken wire and make it more sturdy. Plastic ties connected the hula hoops to the chicken wire, the chicken wire to the cart and the sheet to the chicken wire. The sheets, dyed in black tea to make them look more rustic instead of crisp white, were then arranged over the chicken wire/hula hoop frame to look like a wagon.
In that cart went blankets for the picnic lunch, sack lunches and bottled water and the claim stake that the kids painted with their family name on it. The familiy of four third graders on their own avoided discussion about who would be the wife and husband and the kids by calling themselves the “Oakley Orphans,” which accidentally became the “Okley Orphans” when the “a” was left off of the painted sheets covering the wagon.
Our puny wagon started with PVC pipe – I can’t remember which size, but it was probably around an inch in diameter or less. It was bendable, thanks to a strong dad who worked out regularly. He bent the pipe and fit it into the top of the Radio Flyer red wagon. I used Gorilla duct tape to secure it to the wagon (see the Land Run slide show linked on this page). Voila! That was it, except for the sheet that needed to be draped and arranged around the pipes.
Now I have a wagon ready for my next two children, and all of my concern about how to be a part of the Land Run is behind me.
I’m also thankful to the mom who loaned my son her son’s overalls and Western shirt for the occasion. Next year, I know to ask a mom in the class ahead if I can borrow a costume for my daughter. And now I’m confident enough in my Land Run abilities that I will even be able to make cute lunches in old-fashioned tin cans wrapped in bandanas like one forward-thinking (or backward-in-time-thinking?) family did this year.
Here is the slideshow of photos from the day.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
So my 3-year-old son has been getting in a bit of trouble at day care lately … for saying (gasp!) a four-letter word …
Yep, heck. Now at first, I thought maybe he shouldn’t be saying it so I didn’t really respond when his teacher told me (well, spelled out) what he had said and how she handled it (she put him in timeout).
But over the weekend, as we watched the kids’ movies Madagascar and Cars, I realized that they say “heck” in those movies (both of which they’ve actually watched at day care).
So what do you think? Do you think his teachers are overreacting or do you think “heck” should be considered a bad word?
Comment here or email me your thoughts.
~Erica Smith, Copy Editor
By now many of you have seen or heard about last week’s “Oprah Winfrey Show” and her segment on the epidemic of plastic trash in the ocean.
I only saw a few minutes of the show — the swirling mass beneath the surface, the plastic bag wrapped around the bird — but it made me realize even more that we need to take action. For us, for our children.
The wind in Oklahoma is unforgiving. Plastic can quickly get away from you, and in an instant, like a balloon, it can travel up and away.
Plastic shopping bags as well as other plastics catch on fences, snag on grass and weeds, get caught on tree branches and drift to lake shores.
Ireland and Denmark have placed taxes on plastic bags, and consumer use was reduced drastically. Why can’t we do this in Oklahoma? Why can’t our state make the stand that we want to start making a difference in our country?
There’s so much we can do to make a difference. My daughter told me a story last week about a man she saw unwrapping a piece of candy. He unwrapped it, let the wrapper drop to the ground and then got in his car. She questioned why he didn’t just keep the wrapper to throw away later.
I’ve switched to reusable shopping bags.
Now, what will you do?
What will Oklahoma do as a state to make a difference?
– Linda Lynn
At what age should my daughter be allowed to become a mallrat or venture out on her own?
This week, Katie, my 14-year-old, asked if she and a friend could be dropped at the mall on a Friday evening to see a movie. This is not the first time this discussion has occurred at our house. And, once before, my husband did let her see a movie with friends without supervision, but it was during the day.
The first time I let Katie even walk the mall alone with friends was at her 14th birthday party. But I stayed and pushed her little brother around in a stroller while they “did their own thing.”
Skenazy encourages parents to let their children roam and experience new things by themselves, empowering them to be individuals and not live in fear.
I admit this is just the opposite of how I continue to raise my children. I know I’m “too” protective by some standards. Yes. I used to roam all over our 200-acre farm when I was younger. I would go fishing and exploring by myself. And, although it wasn’t my choice, at 14 years old I walked the streets of Washington, D.C., when I was separated from my Close Up tour group. The next day, about five of us (without adults) rode the subway and toured our nation’s well-known monuments and museums.
I loved the experience.
So, why do I try so hard to shelter my children from their own adventures?
I live in fear of ”what if.” I read the newspaper. I watch the news shows. And I’m appalled and scared by what might could happen.
Is there maybe a happy medium? But what would that be?
Share with me your stories of letting your children experience independence. Do you let them walk alone to school, the grocery store or snowcone shack? What are your limits on your children’s independence?
– Linda Lynn
I don’t have an iPhone, but I have an iPod Touch. With both, you can buy or get free applications that allow you to simulate feeding a dog, touching a waterfall, playing a piano and so much more. You can also check calories, movie reviews, breaking news and the weather.
They’re interactive and fun.
But what was Apple thinking with its latest app?
Apple is in the news now for offering a “Baby Shaker” application that allows users to simulate shaking a crying baby until it quiets and has red Xs over its eyes.
This new “game” has angered parents, child welfare groups and organizations that work to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation has demanded an apology and e-mailed press releases, asking the public to contact Apple about their disappointment in this product.
As a result of public outcry, Apple has pulled the app.
– Linda Lynn
This week is Playground Safety Week (April 19-25). It celebrates the 28th anniversary of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Handbook for Public Playground Safety” – a document many states use as the basis for the playground safety laws.
The Safe Kids Coalition (which has a chapter in Oklahoma) gives these reminders about keeping kids safe on playground equipment:
1. Make sure the equipment is inspected frequently and kept in good repair.
2. Be sure surfacing beneath equipment is safe. The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with energy-absorbing material (rubber, sand, wood chips) and not grass or soil.
3. Don’t let kids wear helmets, necklaces, purses or clothing that has drawstrings around the neck, such as hoodies.
4. Don’t allow kids to engage in or play near, those who are pushing, shoving or crowding around the equipment.
5. Keep toddlers younger than age 5 in a separate play area, away from equipment designed for bigger kids.
6. Above all, keep your children in sight and within reach at all times. Give them your undivided attention when they’re playing on or near playground equipment.
Playgrounds are meant to be an enjoyable, fun time for children. Let’s keep them safe.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
My daughter is nearing 7 months old and she still does not sleep through the night. So I’ve been doing “research” about how to help her do this so my husband and I can stop being daytime zombies. The number one method that I have found is best known as “crying it out.” I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I am not a proponent of this method. I tried it for a week and honestly felt like it was a nightmare and that it made everything worse. I’m trying some other options first, but we may have to come back to the crying method (putting her in her crib and letting her soothe/cry herself to sleep).
So far, the most important thing I’ve found in my sleep research is babies need to go to bed early — 7 or 8 p.m., even as early as 6:30 p.m. This has been such a surprise for me because we were putting my daughter in bed about 11 p.m. or midnight, right before we went to bed. I guess the thought process was that the later she went to bed the later she would wake up. Not so says my research. We were more than likely making her overtired and too fussy to sleep. We’ve started putting her to bed earlier. So far it’s been by 9 p.m. and we have already seen some success. But I’m shooting for about 7:30 p.m.
Ronisha Carpenter, copy editor
My daughter Kaci was squatting on the ground next to my son at homeplate. She was helping her 3-year-old brother hold onto the heavy bat and swing at the soft ball perched on a batter’s tee.
It was Cade’s first time to play baseball in a real baseball diamond. Smaller in size, with soft rubber under foot, this field was just right for Cade and his teammates’ occasional spills.
After some encouragement from another mother whose daughter had played in the Anyone Can Softball league, I signed Cade up to participate.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined Cade either grinning from ear to ear – or screaming and kicking. Luckily, on Sunday, Cade was all smiles as he ran after the ball that he and his sister had just hit. Then, with a little guidance, he was running to first base.
This was not only a new experience for Cade, but also one for our family. It was encouraging to sit in the bleachers with the rest of the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who were there to cheer on their Mustang or Rowdies teams.
This year, the Anyone Can group was unable to play at its previous field, but it has been embraced by The Miracle League of Edmond.
– Linda Lynn
*Summer can be a time of fun, sun and relaxation but it’s also a season with it’s own dangers. In an effort to bring summer safety awareness to the forefront, I will be writing a weekly series of summer safety topics, starting with last week’s post about the importance of protecting children’s eyes from the sun.
The weather is warming up and that means more children will be playing outside, and at one point or another, that means near or in a pool, pond or lake.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list drowning as the second-leading cause of unintentional death among children age 1 to 14. Children age 1-3 are at the greatest risk. 90% of drownings occur in residential swimming pools and retention ponds near the home. Most were last seen in the home and had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes. The majority were in the care of one or both parents at the time and were not the result of parental negligence.
Startling statistics, but one thing really stands out to me: The majority were not the result of parental negligence. So that means it can happen to you, to me, to our friends and family. Most of us aren’t negligent parents. We want to protect our children and we always have the best intentions. But looking at these statistics, drownings happen under the care of the most responsible parents, in the smallest amount of time, which is why this is such an important topic.
Steps to prevent drownings include:
1. Barriers. Pool fencing can help prevent children from gaining access to the pool area. Back yard ponds can also be fenced in or a mesh cover can be used to cover them. Install a four-sided fence that completely separates the pool or pond from the house and play area of the yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall. Use self-latching gates that open outward, with latches out of children’s reach.
2. Life jackets. Whether swimming in a pool or at the lake, life jackets are a must. According to the CDC, in 2006 9 out of 10 who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket. DO NOT use air-filled pool toys as a means for floatation or in place of life jackets. These are toys, not life-saving devices.
3. Watch. Designate an adult to watch a child in the bathtub, swimming in or playing near any pool or body of water. Remember, a drowning can happen in less time than it takes to answer the phone. The designated adult should not be involved in any other activity than watching the child(ren). That means no mowing the lawn, reading or talking on the phone while having the child(ren) in your care.
4. Learn CPR. You are the first responder should a child start drowning. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, you can have already saved your child’s life. The American Red Cross has classes in the metro area year-round.
5. Learn to swim. Take heed, however, that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend this as a primary means of drowning prevention for children younger than 4. Classes can be taken at the local YMCA, or check your city’s community centers for class offerings.
6. Swim with a buddy. Make sure older children never swim alone. Using city pools or parks with lifeguards is also a way to enjoy pool activities with an extra layer of safety.
Let’s keep our children from becoming a tragic statistic this summer. It’s worth the extra effort to keep them safe so they can enjoy many summers to come.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor