I Love to Read Month

8435321969_c1eea0631a_oFebruary is “I Love to Read Month” – a great time to talk about helping our kids establish a love of reading. Study after study shows the benefits – everything from learning about the world, to gaining confidence, even improving social relationships. I talked with KSTP about ways to get kids excited about reading. Click here to watch the interview.

Click here for a list of 100 great children’s books.

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Mom Job Description

8674946413_71c98193a6_oHelp Wanted:
Baby seeking mom to help with feeding, care, cuddling and diaper changing. Around-the-clock attention required.

I would guess that is the job description most women have in their heads when they sign up for this crazy ride called “motherhood.” But those moms who’ve been around the crib a time or two know it’s not so simple.

The real mom job description includes a few surprises:

Dentist
Pulling teeth is about as much fun… as pulling teeth. The expression makes sense to moms. Pulling teeth is usually bloody, tearful, and, quite frankly, pretty frightening, considering most moms don’t exactly know what we’re doing!!

Fun Killer
“Time to brush teeth!” “Bed time!” “Did you do your homework?” “Please pick up this mess!” A mom’s job is never done until she knows everyone else’s jobs are also done. She’s the one who has to say no to a second helping of ice cream or fifth slice of pizza. It’s an important job in the long run, but it’s not fun to be the fun killer.

Trash Collector
The words, “Here, Mom” are almost always followed by the kids handing over a piece of trash. It doesn’t matter where we are, they must figure Mom will take care of it. What amazes me, though, is when they walk past a trash can in order to hand me their garbage. Then they’re told to turn around and throw it away themselves. Even trash collectors have their limits!

Poop Cheerleader
All moms know to expect to change thousands of diapers for each baby. But they’re not prepared for all the other ways poop makes its way into their daily routine. You may have to clean poop off the carpet, off the walls, even out of your hair. You may also turn into a poop cheerleader for a toddler who’s terrified to #2. Moms have been known to quote Austin Powers, “You show that turd who’s boss!”

Performer
It’s fun to make up silly songs to entertain toddlers in the privacy of your own home, but the concept of privacy is lost on the little ones. When you’re standing around with a group of parents and they ask you to sing that song from last night, there’s no point in trying to resist. You may as well embrace your inner rock star and belt it out.

Cardiac Surgeon
Moms are heart-menders. When those little eyes look at you overflowing with tears, it’s your duty and privilege to scoop them up, give them a hug and fix whatever is breaking their heart. But it’s not just their heart you have to mend; no matter the reason, when there’s a child with a broken heart, there’s usually a mom with a broken heart nearby.  

Motherhood: The toughest, messiest, happiest, scariest, never-ending, most tiring, most rewarding job ever created. Help wanted.

Love in Different Languages

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Love is universal – there is a word for it in nearly every language! From the French word amour to signing in ASL – I talked with FOX9 about why Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to teach kids about different languages and customs. Click here to see the full interview. 

Click here for instructions on how to build the Eiffel Tower with Duplo Legos

Click here for instructions on how to make a flag mosaic for Italy

Why is Caillou Bald & Other Questions Parents Ask

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One of the most heated debates in parenting circles isn’t about bottle or breastfeeding, co-sleeping or whether parents should work or stay at home. The burning question on parents’ minds has to do with the “kid who’s four.”

It makes sense – we spend countless hours with our two-dimensional friends in our living rooms. Why would we open the doors and invite them in without asking a few questions? Here are the questions I have actually heard parents debate:

Why is Caillou bald?
Everyone else has hair – Caillou’s parents and grandparents, his friends Leo and Clementine, and everyone else in his class. Even his little sister, Rosie, has a full head of red locks. Why is it the main character doesn’t have a single strand of hair? What’s even more strange is that kids who ask “why?” 50 times a day either haven’t noticed or cared.

Why does Daniel Tiger only wear pants at night?
Daniel Tiger isn’t the least-dressed neighbor in the land of makebelieve – O the Owl only wears green sneakers. Considering he’s an animated tiger, I can overlook daily outfit of a red zip-up sweater, but the odd part is that he puts on trolley pjs, pants and all, at night. Is a little consistency too much to ask for?

Where are Max and Ruby’s parents?
These brother and sister bunnies spend all day, every day playing together. They mostly get along, but they have their spats and disagreements. It doesn’t matter what the issue, they’re left to figure it out on their own. I guess since they’re bunnies, their parents could be busy taking care of dozens of other babies.

Where in the world is Adventure Bay?
The Paw Patrol pups save the day around Adventure Bay. As the name suggests, they are near a large body of water with warm, sunny beaches. It appears to be an ocean because there are whales swimming around. However, at the drop of a hat, the pups head off to ski and snowboard with Jake and Everest. Where on earth can you find such weather extremes so close to each other?

Will the Neverland Pirates ever spend their gold doubloons?
At this point, Jake and his crew are really more like hoarders than pirates. Every time they see gold doubloons, they “grab ‘em and go,” and now their buried treasure chest is overflowing. They could afford to spend a few of them, or, heaven forbid, give a couple to ol’ Captain Hook. He could use a kind act.

Where does Mickey’s clubhouse go?
It seems like we waste a lot of time cheering “Meeska, Mooska” and waiting for the clubhouse to appear. Why does the clubhouse have to disappear at the end of each episode and where does it go? What is The Mouse hiding?

WHY IS DORA YELLING?
This show seems to be very educational. Exposing young kids to words in foreign languages is a great idea. But they’ll never retain the words if I quickly change the channel every time I see Dora’s face. Kids yell enough. I don’t need it coming from the TV, too.

Spoiler alert- while researching this article, I found there are actual answers to some of the above questions. If you want to be the know-it-all at the next parents group, go ahead and Google some of these questions. But take it from me, knowing the answer may ruin the fun of a lively debate.