Nut Job 2: How the Stars of the Film Spend Family Time + My Review!

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Nut Job 2: How the Stars of the Film Spend Family Time + My Review!

Animals on a mission! That's how Nut Job 2 draws you in. And in this world, you are definitely rooting for the animals over the humans! The film is filled with several themes; environmental protection, teamwork and caring for others. All of the messages are easily translated into a wonderful family discussion.

And when it comes to family, the stars of the film gave a little insight during a press conference before the premiere of the movie, on how they spend 'family time' in their homes. They all agreed how important it is to make time for family bonding, love and care.

Surly Squirrel- Will Arnett says his family goes outside together, they go to the park, get in the pool. They build Legos, they draw and lots of READING is happening! Hooray for Surly!

Precious- Maya Rudolph says her family is a huge movie family. They cozy up, make popcorn and just relax.

The Mayor- Bobby Moynihan says lots of their time is spent diapering... a new baby girl explains this type of family time!

Jimmy- Gabriel Iglesias has a 19 year old son, they hang out together and Gabriel says he's kinda that 'cool' dad.

Check out the trailer! Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature opens August 11th. Enjoy the ride!

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Ditching Summer Camp in 2017? HuffPost: Three Things Our Family Learned From a Camp Free Summer

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Ditching Summer Camp in 2017? HuffPost: Three Things Our Family Learned From a Camp Free Summer

The emails were beginning to pop up in my inbox, some as early as March from summer camp programs and mom friends alike, all in an effort to schedule the summer camp season. I hemmed and hawed not committing to anything. I politely avoided making any plans, thinking I would have to schedule some camp time at some point. But I just never got around to it.

Then I asked my boys a question that I didn’t exactly know the answer to. I must say...

Read the full HuffPost story here...

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LA Parent Magazine: Giving your Child the Ability to Say 'No'

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LA Parent Magazine: Giving your Child the Ability to Say 'No'

The weekend was winding down and the four of us headed out for a Sunday matinee. We all decided on “Miracles from Heaven,” rated PG. It’s a story about a 10-year-old girl who has a rare, incurable disease. The mother becomes a fierce advocate for her daughter and the film eventually ends with the young girl recovering from her illness, in what can only be described as a miracle.

But we never got to see the miracle. About a third of the way through the movie, my oldest son, Jackson, who’s 8, tugged on my arm and said he wanted to leave. I whispered to him, “Why? What’s wrong?”

“I just can’t watch this. I want to go now,” he explained. I didn’t understand. Why was this such a big deal? He knows it ends in a miracle. He got up and walked out of the theater. I followed. My husband, Andrew, and my other son, Asher, remained in the theater. I did everything in my power to talk Jackson into going back in. He wouldn’t budge. After a few minutes of sitting with him outside the theater, I told him I would wait with him until the end of the movie. Just as we started to settle in, Andrew rushed out with Asher and tried to convince Jackson it would be OK. Jackson was adamant. He wouldn’t go back. He said it was “too scary.”

We all finally decided to leave. My husband, being the frugal one, went to explain our predicament to the ticket takers and we ended up getting a refund. On our way out, Jackson was quiet. Andrew and Asher quickly started talking sports. I took Jackson’s hand and smiled at him. I stayed quiet too. Then, just as we were about to get into the car, Jackson said to me, “Mommy, thank you. I feel respected.”

Keep reading below: LA Parent Magazine

 

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HuffPost: Get Your Kids to Talk About Their School Day

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HuffPost: Get Your Kids to Talk About Their School Day

Check out my tips on HuffPost!

School is in full swing now. Both of my boys are back on schedule. Jackson is in third grade and Asher is in second. And when I pick them up from school, I want to hear it all. I want to hear about every single part of their day.  

Heck, if I could, I’d be a fly on the wall. But I can’t, so it’s up to them to tell me what the day entailed and it’s up to me to get it out of them… EVERYTHING.

I know that’s not going to happen, but there are a few ways to get an answer to the question, “What did you do at school today?” and hear more than, “I don’t know.”

First, what’s helped me and what can help you is to ...

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HuffPost: Ringling Bros. Ringmaster: Setting Expectations for Your Child

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HuffPost: Ringling Bros. Ringmaster: Setting Expectations for Your Child

His voice is powerful and his flair for showmanship is undeniable. Johnathan Lee Iverson is the Ringmaster for Ringling Bros. “Out of this World.” 

The world premiere in Los Angles, at the Staples Center, kicks off the national tour. It’s a feast for the senses. Gravity-defying acrobats, the globe of steel motorcycle daredevils, along with magical animals is awe-inspiring. Add in the element of high-stakes ice skating, and fans everywhere will cheer from the edge of their seats. This extravaganza will more than meet your expectations. The show is a vehicle to “...make the impossible, possible,” explains Iverson, “I always try to get people to understand we are living art. I never really put down the top hat.” 

Keep reading on:

Huffington Post BLOG

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Summer Learning... as Easy as 1-2-3

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Summer Learning... as Easy as 1-2-3

The 'Summer Slide' is real. Statistics support it. Kids have a loss of learning, mostly in reading and math during the summer months.

So how do you keep your kids in an active learning mode? Most importantly, you want to make sure your children enjoy it. Otherwise, it won't be fun for anyone involved. 

I've outlined three easy steps to get your kids learning without them even knowing it! (It's something I pulled from my days as an elementary school teacher- it works!)

And remember, Summer is a time for relaxing, so do numbers 2 and 3 at your leisure. Let the learning happen naturally. Let your kids know you'll be working on a project together and that you'd like it completed in a week. See how involved they might get in making sure the project gets done. This is another way that they're learning and they don't know it... time management!

Now have some fun learning! It's as easy as 1-2-3!

1) DO SOMETHING FUN!  (It can be anything they consider summer fun)

2) Kids write about their very fun experience!  (creative writing- let them pick. Don't worry about grammar or spelling, just let the creative mind flow. You can always correct it at another time, together. Also, this works for all ages. Kids who aren't yet writing can dictate to you.)

3) Kids create something based on their experience -get tactile! (I usually tell my kids to find something in our home. This allows them to problem solve and figure out how to make something out of nothing.)

Here's one example of the '1-2-3' Summer learning themed method in our home!

1) DO SOMETHING FUN!

One afternoon we made our way to the highest slide in the sky. It's called Sky Space. It's downtown Los Angeles. 1,000 feet high in the sky!

2) Write about the very fun experience!

Jackson and Asher decided to write poems. (Honestly, I think they picked poems because they thought it would be faster. Fine, at least they're writing!)

Oh, the awesome views. 

What a delight for me and you!

It was so fun.

You could see the sun!

It was so high, my mom almost cried.

-Jackson

 

SKY SPACE IS:

Scream as loud as you can

Kiss your mom after it

You really like it

Stop screaming now!

Pay for it

At the platform, don't face plant

Could you have done it again?

Excited for it!

-Asher

 

3) Create something based on the experience -get tactile! 

Jackson and Asher used Lego's to build the Sky Space slide. The object behind the slide is the elevator that took us up to the 70th floor of the US Bank Tower.

 

 

 

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HuffPost: It's Simple, You're a Great Dad! Happy Father's Day!

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HuffPost: It's Simple, You're a Great Dad! Happy Father's Day!

You’ve been doing the daddy thing for 8 years now. You are my partner in parenting. We’ve been through it all... together.

 

We haven’t always known what to do or how to do it, (They have kept us on our toes) but we’ve tried our best. I know I can be hard on you at times. My expectations are high. (You can thank my dad for that) I have never felt alone, though. I have always felt that it was a 50/50 deal. (cleaning is another story, no one is perfect I continue to tell myself) But when it comes to parenting, you are in it. You are present. I appreciate you. The boys appreciate you. We have a happy home. (It’s certainly filled with challenges) But Jackson and Asher know love and I’m so grateful for that.

Keep reading on The Huffington Post...

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HuffPost: Practicing How to Say 'I'm Sorry'

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HuffPost: Practicing How to Say 'I'm Sorry'

It was Saturday night. My husband and I had just come home from a happy date night out, dinner and a movie. Our home was calm and quiet. We thought we’d hear great things from the boys’ 12th grade babysitter... not so fast. Turns out it sounded more like the feature presentation that played out in our home was “Boys vs. the Babysitter” and the chaos had just come to an end.

sorry.jpg

 

Our sweet babysitter was a bit shell shocked. She didn’t want to get the boys in trouble, but I urged her to tell me what went down. She said the boys fought with each other and were wild. Okay, the boys do fight and they ARE WILD. They are boys. Still their unacceptable behavior got worse. According to our babysitter, the boys told her: “We won’t go to bed unless you promise to bring us candy at 7:30 in the morning.” WHAT? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. There was no way this behavior was going to be taken lightly. NO WAY.

Keep reading:

Donna Tetreault on Huffington Post

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HuffPost: Soccer Mom to Soccer Coach and Back to Soccer Mom

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HuffPost: Soccer Mom to Soccer Coach and Back to Soccer Mom

I never played a game of soccer in my life. When I was nine years old, I asked my mom if I could be on a girls’ soccer team. She didn’t even think about it. “No, sorry, I don’t want you to get hurt,” was her calm but unwavering response. I didn’t push it. I didn’t want it that much, I guess. Instead, I became a cheerleader on the “Little Red Devils,” my brothers’ soccer team. My dad was the head coach.

Fast forward to motherhood: I am a mom to two boys, ages seven and eight, who are sports fanatics. They play sports, they watch sports, they even find ways in school to write about sports. According to my seven-year-old’s math teacher, he figures out his math problems by talking about touchdowns and two point conversions.

Keep reading:

Donna Tetreault on Huffington Post

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American Ninja Warrior: The Dream

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American Ninja Warrior: The Dream

This is Asher. He's six. He hangs from every door-jamb in our house. He literally jumps and moves, whenever possible, all day long. If you know him, you know this is not an exaggeration.

So.... a few weeks ago when I happened to run in to two of the most amazing American Ninja Warrior stars ever, I could not contain my excitement. I immediately ensured a pic for my boys.

And then this video message... from the sweetest (and toughest) ninjas ever!

Whaaaat??? Asher and Jackson could not believe their luck. "Will we see them at Tempest?" they asked. Tempest is a Ninja training center, kinda near where we live, actually, not really. But we just started taking them there to work on their Ninja moves and now Brent teases that they might see them one day! NO WAY!!!

So on this magical day and to keep with the Ninja theme, we head on over to Tempest. All the while, the boys asking if they will be seeing Brent and Kacy. (Brent, they took what you said literally, 6 and 7 year old boys tend to do that)

We get to the gym, the boys filled with excitement and I walk them over to their class. But then, another dream comes true. The boys cannot believe their eyes. In fact, I have to shake them out of their surprise. Standing in front of them is....

IMG_2308.JPG

Yep, that's the one and only Flip Rodriguez! One of the best and well known American Ninja warriors. And for the next hour, the dream is a reality, training with Flip! This is meaningful... during last year's American Ninja warrior competition when Flip fell into the water, Asher cried. Asher and Jackson  love these guys.

So to all you remarkably talented athletes, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. Your strength, kindness and passion is unique. You all are heros I'm happy to have my kids look up to!

Congrats on a great season Brent, Kacy and Flip!

xo

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We are all EQUAL, according to a four year old!

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We are all EQUAL, according to a four year old!

Yesterday, when I picked up my guys from preschool, I asked Jackson, "What did you learn today?" I ask both of my kids that every day on the ride home. Usually they tell me that they can't remember or that they don't know. They are only three and four after all. But I hear I should expect that same answer in elementary and high school as well. Anyway, back to the point. Jackson's answer was different this time and it was exciting to hear. He said he learned about "Luther Martin" - obviously he meant Martin Luther King.


My interest piqued quickly. I said, "What did you learn about MLK?" He said, with a strong voice, arms raised and all five fingers pointed, "WE ARE EQUAL!" I told him he was right! He asked for clarification as to what equal means and I told him that if someone is allowed to do something, say, like a kid wants to play Superheroes (that's what he is focused on 24/7) everyone can play Superheroes... even babies and grandparents. He nodded and said it again, "EVERYONE IS EQUAL!"

I thought about our conversation later that night and smiled to myself that my very young children can understand the concept of equality. We teach that in our home, but the reinforcement in the classroom makes me proud of the school my children attend. And to me, it means even more than that. This provides an effective anti-bullying lesson. Jackson's teachers didn't talk about bullying during the MLK conversation, but the concept is clear. I hope this will remain with my children and I plan on making it a high priority.

And isn't it timely? Just this week, the governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed a bill making California the first state in the nation to add lessons about gays and lesbians to social studies classes in public schools. The landmark bill requires public schools to include the contributions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in social studies curriculum. In a statement the governor said, "History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books."

So I say, "Hooray!" I know we have a lot of work ahead of us as a society, but we are making strides. Beginning in preschool and continuing all the way up to state government... and beyond we CAN teach our children what Martin Luther King wanted us all to LIVE.

This post was originally published in 2012.

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How Pope Francis Is Helping Me Be a Better Mother

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How Pope Francis Is Helping Me Be a Better Mother

 

I follow Pope Francis on Twitter... and I'm not alone... millions and millions all over the world do. We all have our own reasons for following, but for me I use his tweets as a tool toward being a better mother. Weekly or even daily reminders help me internalize what is really most important. 

According to the New York Times, "President Barack Obama is still by far the most followed world leader on Twitter, but Pope Francis is considered the most influential by the number of his messages retweeted." And even though Pope Francis does not write his own tweets, he does approve of the messages that go out. They usually come from his homilies, speeches, or official documents.

In his most recent LIFE magazine cover "Pope Francis in America, The Spirit of His Revolutionary Mission," it's evident his reach and presence in our world is undeniable. And with all that, still he is able to deeply touch me, just a regular mom, with his grace and love.

Just this week, this inspiring tweet: "God loves the lowly. When we live humbly, he takes our small efforts and creates great things." What a beautiful endorsement to teach our children how to try their best and be humble always.

His availability and message, to all of us, is so clear in pictures.

Love others

popefrancisnyc.org

popefrancisnyc.org

Have fun

epicpew.com

epicpew.com

Truly Connect 

inquirer.net

inquirer.net

Here are a few of his most inspiring "parental" tweets that resonate with me:

"Dear parents, have great patience, and forgive from the depths of your heart."

"A great challenge: stop ruining the garden which God has entrusted to us so that all may enjoy it."

"Beware of getting too comfortable! When we are comfortable, it’s easy to forget other people."

"It is so important to listen! Husbands and wives need to communicate to bring happiness and serenity to family life."

"There is so much noise in the world! May we learn to be silent in our hearts and before God."

And I found this phrase in one of his homilies, which we all know we should do, but for some reason, coming from the Pope, it just seems so simple.

"A healthy family life requires frequent use of three phrases: 'May I? Thank you, and I'm sorry' and never, never, never end the day without making peace."

So as Pope Francis embarks on his journey to the U.S. and the anticipation builds, I humbly pray for a safe and successful trip for the People's Pope. Only hours ago he tweeted and asked for prayers.
 

"I ask you to join me in praying for my trip to Cuba and the United States. I need your prayers."

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Living, Learning and Supporting the Adventurous Spirit!

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Living, Learning and Supporting the Adventurous Spirit!

In the turquoise waters of the Carribean, Jackson and Asher could not be happier. The guy in the middle is Manny. He's from Turks and Caicos, known as a Belonger. He is the boys' new best friend.

This is a short "picture book" like story of how Manny gave my kids their latest lesson in living an adventurous life... and helped me, mom, let go... just a little.

 

First off, life on top of the world. (really on the top deck of the boat) Lesson number one: Take it all in.

 

Snorkeling in the middle of the ocean, anyone? Lesson number two: Fear not!

 

Sometimes things can get a bit messy and unattractive, go for it anyway! Lesson number three: give each other a white sand facial!

 

Lesson number four: Don't EVER let ANYONE keep you from forging on! It's your adventure, you can tame any iguana you want to. Even this funny looking guy on Iguana Island.

 

Listen to those with experience is lesson number five. Manny shows the boys how to feed seagulls fresh conch.

 

One... two... three... GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

 

And... success.

 

Last, but not least, follow your heart. Lesson number six: You are the captain in your adventurous LIFE!

 

Just a little footnote from mom to Asher: sometimes mischief can get you into trouble, my little-tiny.



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Teach Your Kids to Talk to You!

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Teach Your Kids to Talk to You!

We all want our kids to talk to us about their lives. We want to know what makes them happy, what makes them sad. We want them to open up!  So how do you do that? You can teach them, nudge them to spill the beans. 

My advice: Be like a reporter and DIG! But DIG carefully.

Check out the video below, it may give you some new ideas on how to get your kids to talk to you!

How do you get your kids to open up?

 

Here are some quick tips that have worked for me!

-Start talking to your child very early on, the earlier you start, the better at communicating they'll be

-Be empathetic

-Take the time- put down the phone! (yes, I'm guilty too!)

-Be engaged

-Ask open ended questions

-Listen to it all!

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REAL Girl Camp Empowers One Girl at a Time

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REAL Girl Camp Empowers One Girl at a Time

I am delighted to have my friend, Kristen Huffman guest blog here on SuperMommyNot! For parents with girls, Kristen shares her story and how "REAL Girl Camp" can empower your precious, little girl. Thank you, Kristen!

When I was 9, I was into the Beatles, riding my bike, making up funny stories with my best friend, Jessica, and eating mac and cheese.

Kristen Huffman- Elementary School

Kristen Huffman- Elementary School

They say that this age is a precious time.  There is a not-yet-bridled vivaciousness we all remember about it.   Being a girl did not yet have rules.  I was clear on who I was, but, of course, adolescence brought with it a hyper awareness of my external environment.  When I think of the sacred time of growth that followed, I mostly remember just being scared.  Scared at school, scared at what I didn't understand, scared at all that I was beginning to see.  I did, however, continue my relationship with mac and cheese. Thank goodness.

What we shape in ourselves at that scared time shows up throughout schoolhood, and beyond.  This is an undeniable reality of social organization amongst children, amongst humans.  But what would happen if there were more openness in the nooks and crannies of adolescence?  What if, as girls, we began to celebrate the transitions occurring in our bodies, and revered those female gifts that keep the world alive?  Whoa.  What would that look like, if girls learned how to foster and support each other early on, especially as things got confusing?  What if relationships were chosen from awareness, and if girls learned how to create healthy boundaries and communication?  What if they were able to see beauty in their abilities and uniquities, in spite of the TV telling them what makeup to wear?  What if womanhood was an idea that just got progressively more exciting with age, because it was celebrated from youth?  

Kristen Huffman- Today

Kristen Huffman- Today

This is a reality, and it's a vision I am so excited to be a part of.  It starts with education, and ends in empowerment.  We can change the world by allowing our girls to remain strong.  This is highly contagious.  The effect that one empowered girl has on the world is immeasurable. Let's strengthen our world one girl at a time.

We might all wish we had such tools growing up.  Let's give them now to our daughters, our nieces, and to each other!  Join me in getting our girls ready.  REALgirl is an extraordinary program.  5-day summer camps are registering right now, and I thank you, Donna, for the opportunity to introduce REALgirl on your blog, SuperMommyNot!  

 

3 Things You Can Expect From Your REALgirl Graduate:

  1. She will have a clear sense of her unique voice and value in the world, and, therefore, feel empowered to express both with ever-increasing confidence and clarity.
     
  2. She will navigate all relationships in her life with grace, compassion, and assertiveness. This includes her relationships with her family, friends, and peers. REALgirls are equipped to handle mean girl behavior, to support others in need, and to cultivate healthy relationships.
     
  3. She will possess the tools to be a leader in her own right - whatever her path may be. She will act as an inspiration for others through leading by example, making life-decisions from a place of self-knowledge, strength, and groundedness.

 

Testimonials from REALgirls

"We learned to be happy with who we are and not try to change ourselves for someone else." - Emilia, age 10

"REALgirl taught me things I didn't even know about, and it answered questions I didn't even know I had." - Charlotte, age 13

"REALgirl helped me with being shy. It has shown me new ways to protect and help myself." - Mackenzie, age 14

"It has really taught me the power of girls and women, and how capable they are of planning and achieving their goals." Emily, age 12

 

How do we instill these powerful tools?

  • Arts and Crafts: Tap into her creative center, and visually capture powerful life lessons 
  • Yoga and Meditation: Connect with her mind and body, finding her intuition and trusting her truest self
  • Dance: Cultivate play, healthy self-expression, and appreciation for her body as a temple
  • Theater Games: Practice using her voice, collaborating with others, and giving herself permission to be silly
  • Media Literacy: Unveil truths about advertising and develop a savvy filter for media & societal messages
  • Group Chats: Learn about the powerful female body, fill in "gaps" in the history of women, and so much more
  • Guest Experts: Learn self-defense and health & nutrition so she can operate at her best
  • Sister Acknowledgement: Celebrate her own and others' strengths and unique gifts, and build sisterhood 

 

Questions? Ask us at info@realgirlprograms.com. Want to know more? Visit www.REALgirlPrograms.com.

 

 

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Passion: How to Help Your Kid Find it and Nurture it!

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Passion: How to Help Your Kid Find it and Nurture it!

As parents, we all have hopes and dreams for our children. Many of us share similar goals. We want our children to receive a quality education, be productive citizens, have values and morals, find their passion or passions in life and, of course, be happy and healthy. All of this is a work in progress and it’s up to us to guide our kids.

In our family as our own young sons grow, a theme that continues to pop up for us is making sure we are diligent in exposing our boys to all types of experiences, to help them discover their talents and passions.

At the moment, both boys love singing, dancing and playing sports.

So how can parents inspire their children without over-scheduling them? How can we avoid unwittingly pressuring them? What is the most healthy way to go about helping children find their passions?

I asked Joani Geltman, an expert in the field of Child Development and parenting to weigh in. Geltman has also raised a successful, healthy and happy daughter. She is an actress who just appeared on Broadway and has three movies out. Geltman explains that she did not push her daughter, she only supported what her daughter wanted to do. They started out small, she says “it was not sophisticated at all.” Geltman says if you want your children to find their passions and succeed it has to happen in a “natural way.”

Here are some tips from Geltman:

-Many parents bring their own interests and passions in support of family life, only steering their kids in the direction they see. Understand that when they are young “they will go in the direction you want them to go in.” You have to pay attention to what makes them happy. Parents can’t navigate everything.”

-For really small children, it’s simple. Watch them play. What are your children doing during undirected play? Put things out and take a big step back. Follow your kids’ lead, recognize what their talents are, what they want to do. In elementary school, listen to them. They will tell you what they like if you’re willing to hear it. When it comes to teens, if you don’t step back, they will go in the opposite direction you are promoting.

-Allow your child to be your child. If he is a high energy person, then let him be busy. If he is not, then just let him be.

-Introduce your children to many things. “It’s like taking them to a buffet.” But do not over schedule, it’s all about balance.

-Sit back to watch and listen- pay attention to his/her nature, your nature may be different.

-Make your kid feel understood.

-Remember too, that someone’s passion doesn’t always have to have an end result, a passion can be simply for enjoyment.

Joani Geltman is an expert in the field of Child Development and parenting. She has been working with parents, children, schools, and companies for over 30 years. Ms. Geltman has developed a number of seminars especially designed for parents of teenagers on understanding their teen’s cognitive and emotional and social development. Adolescent Psychology-The Parent Version, and Sexting, Texting, Drinking And Drugs are two that are in great demand at schools and community groups all over New England.

Joani’s book: I Get it: Three Magic Words for Parents of Teens is available on her website:www.joanigeltman.com. Joani also writes a daily parenting tip blog. Currently there are over 300 tips to help parents navigate the teen age years. http://joanigeltman.blogspot.com/

Here are some other great tips I collected from Kate Fox, the director of Free Spirit Nature Camp and the new Birch School, a child-centered learning community and home school resource center.

-Encourage time with friends. Kids learn new things from each other all the time. The path to their passion may lie in a tip from a friend.

-Be patient. Many adults are still searching for that certain thing that resonates with them. We shouldn’t expect our kids to know what their particular interest is by any certain time.

-Offer many opportunities. After school classes, summer camps, art and dance schools, museums and libraries all offer kids chances to learn more about the things that interest them. Let your children try new classes, especially those that happen just once. Look for a spark that might grow after their first exposure and be sure to give opportunities to repeat activities of interest.

-Try not to be so overly enthusiastic about your child’s new interest. Let the child’s affection grow slowly, and don’t interfere at first. Often, when you show great enthusiasm and therefore expectations, your child will back away from the activity in reaction to the pressure. Instead, facilitate the activity as necessary, but be laid back and somewhat disinterested in the final outcome.

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Celebrating Mom: Giving to the Michael J. Fox Foundation

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Celebrating Mom: Giving to the Michael J. Fox Foundation

It’s been a year since she hasn’t been with us. It’s been one of the toughest times of our lives.

We are a close family. We are loud, Italian and Catholic. We are that family, the kind in each other’s business… way too much. We can’t help it. We love each other no matter what. That intense love is what she taught us.

We know her beautiful spirit is with us, but we struggle and miss her everyday. We check in with each other via phone calls and texts, “I really miss her today,” “I felt mom just now,” “Today is so hard,” “Feeling stronger for the moment.”

But even though we miss her and our lives have been changed forever, we choose to celebrate her. We talk about her funny ways, her no nonsense parenting style and her love.

On her birthday, November 3rd, we celebrated Italian style, just the way she’d like it! We went to mass as a family and then ordered in from one of our favorite Italian restaurants… topping it all off with some heartfelt spirits!

Even though she is not physically with us, she continues to bring us together. She is our rock.

In honor of our mom, Loretta Tetreault, please give this holiday season. Any amount will help in finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. My mom looked to Michael J. Fox for inspiration and so do we. To make a donation, head on over to: MichaelJFox.org

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Parents, Do You Sing To Your Kids?

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Parents, Do You Sing To Your Kids?

Check out the highlights of a new survey on Music Education- it may change the way you see music in your home.  (Survey conducted by Music Together LLC)

 
*        72% of parents with children under 18 years old believe that you are born either with or without the ability to carry a tune 
 
*        A shockingly low 17% of parents sing to their children daily
 
*        Nearly all (98%) believe that children need music education

Photo: Courtesy of Music Together

Photo: Courtesy of Music Together

Ken Guilmartin, the Founder of Music Together says, “It is not true that you are either born musical or not.  Just as we are all born with the potential to speak our native language, we are all born with enough music ability to learn to sing in tune and move in time, as long as parents and other primary caregivers provide an adequate music environment during early childhood. Of course, not everyone will emerge as a musical virtuoso, but we also don’t expect every child learning to talk to become a famous actor. But, all children can certainly learn to carry a tune and comfortably participate in music activities throughout their lives.”

 
He adds: “While it is heartening to see that music education is valued by so many parents, the survey shows a misunderstanding of the role of parents and caregivers in their children’s music development. We teach children language by continuously talking and reading to them. Imagine if you only talked to your child once a month! Similarly, the best thing parents can do to support musical growth is to sing and dance with their children, as often as possible.” 
 
*        According to the survey, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) parents report singing to their children, yet the majority (55%) do it only once a month and 41% do it only once a week. Only 17% of parents sing to their children daily. 
 
“Listening to music is fine, but it’s a good idea to actively make music with your child every day. The good news is that you are likely doing it more often than you might think. Bouncing your child on your knee along with the TV or radio, making up silly songs, singing a lullaby—these are all ways to create the supportive and rich music environment children need to develop their inborn music potential. And keep in mind it is not about how good a singer you are! What’s important is that you model the enjoyment of making music yourself. Some adults feel self-conscious about their own singing and dancing and some may think they need to be a great singer or musician in order to be a good musical role model. But, research suggests that even parents who cannot sing in tune can still provide their child with a positive disposition for music-making. In addition, singing and dancing together can be an important way to bond with your child. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for everyone!”  according to Guilmartin.
 
Other highlights of the Music Together survey include:
 
• The likelihood of parents to agree that learning music is important to a child’s general development increases with the age of the parent: 18-34 (79%), 35-44 (89%), and 45-54 (92%). 
 
• Nearly all (98%) of U.S. parents with a child under 18 think children need a music education. The average age these parents think music education should begin is at 3.3 years old. Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) think this education should begin before the age of 1; 52% believe this education for children should begin between ages 1 and 5; and 18% believe this should happen at age 6 or older.  
 
• Dads are more likely than moms to say that music education should start at a later age (average age to begin music education: 4.0 vs. 2.7, respectively). Dads are more than twice as likely as Moms to say this should start at the age of 6 or older (26% vs. 12%, respectively).  
 
For the complete survey results, please visit: www.musictogether.com/mtsurvey2014.

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15 Ways to Ask Your Kid “What Did You Do at School Today?”

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15 Ways to Ask Your Kid “What Did You Do at School Today?”

Today Asher started Kindergarten and Jackson started first grade. And when I pick them up from school, I want to hear it all. I want to hear about every single part of their day.  Heck, if I could, I’d be a fly on the wall.  But I can’t, so it’s up to them to tell me what the day entailed and it’s up to me to get it out of them… EVERYTHING. I know that’s not going to happen, but there are a few ways to get an answer to the question, “What did you do at school today?” and hear more than, “I don’t know.”

First, what’s helped me and what can help you is to interview your kid (not to the point of exhaustion), but just enough to get some good ‘intel.’ ALWAYS ask open ended questions. If you ask simple, “yes” or “no” questions, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Make a game out of it! Then sneak in a few questions that will ensure some juicy details. My advice comes to you after years of interviewing kids as a journalist and understanding that they are the toughest interviewees ever!

So here we go!

 

1) Give me two names of kids in your class.

 

2) What was your teacher wearing?

 

3) What was the first thing you did in school?

 

4)What was the last thing you did in school?

 

5) What did you see in another kid’s lunchbox that you’d like for your lunch?

 

6) What was your favorite part of the classroom and why?

 

7) What game did you play at recess?

 

8) What part of the day did you like the least and why?

 

9) Tell me how you felt when you first walked into the classroom?  Nervous, excited?

 

10) What was one thing your teacher said to you that was silly?

 

11) Guess how old your teachers are.

 

12) Give me three chances to figure out what your favorite subject is. And if I don’t get it, you don’t have to clear your plate at dinner tonight.

 

13) What color uniform (or outfit) are you planning on wearing to school tomorrow?

 

14) If you could go back to school today and start the day over, what would you do differently and why?

 

15) What are you looking forward to tomorrow at school?

 

So you get the drift parents, and if none of this works you can always revert to bribery… here’s a little conversation that’s worked for me in the past and goes a little like this:

Me: So what did you do in school today?

Them: Nothing

Me: Nothing?

Them: Yeah, nothing.

Me: Oh gee then, you must be eating too much sugar, your brain isn’t working right. We better not have dessert tonight.

Them: They start talking…

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