Archive for May, 2006

31
May
06

For the Summer

Though summer is a great time to relax and spend time with the kids, it’s also important that you don’t let what they’ve learned during the school year slip away. Some parents choose to use flash cards or workbooks, which help, but can be extremely boring for a child who wants to run outside and play. There are hundreds of activities you can do with your children, and if you have trouble coming up with some on your own, there are projects at craft stores like Michaels and A.C. Moore and specialty toy stores like The Discovery Channel Store and Learning Express (no, I’m not getting ANY endorsements) that are a lot of fun for the entire family.

For a free solution, there are state parks all over the country, and many of them have low or no-cost summer programs for children or the family. You can take younger children on a textile walk. Simply go for a walk around the neighborhood. Point out things that you see and encourage children to do the same. Ask kids what they look like, smell like, and feel like. Depending on how close you are, Washington D.C. has many activities that are great for the family, and all of the Smithsonians are free. If you can afford it, summer camp is a great way to keep your kids socializing and get them involved in some outdoor activities. Many YMCA’s offer an affordable option.

30
May
06

Because They Lived…

Memorial Day is sacred. As an American, especially an American who hails from a LONG line of soldiers on both sides of my family, Memorial Day means a lot more than great bargins, pool openings, and the first grilled steak of the season. Memorial Day is just that, a day to memorialize, to remember, and to thank those men and women who gave their lives so that I could live mine. It is a somber, sacred occasion, so forgive me if I NEVER hold a BBQ. It is NOT a day to have a party, take a trip, or see a movie. It is NOT the “official start of summer”. It is, in short, our true Thanksgiving Day.

Our nation has been engaged in several types of wars, some in which our country and it’s livelihood were ACTUALLY at stake, and others, like Vietnam and the Gulf Wars, in which we fought only for the profit of the wealthy and powerful. Either way, soldiers died truly believing that they were defending this nation and its people. A sale and a BBQ is not an appropriate way to mourn the loss of those lives, and certainly doesn’t celebrate the reason for their sacrifice. Yesterday we mourned the loss of friends, family members, and complete strangers who gave their lives so that, if we’re lucky, our unborn son will never be in the difficult and disturbing situation our soldiers find themselves in today. Don’t we owe these men and women a little more remembrance than bargains and BBQ’s?

25
May
06

Day Care

Choosing a day care can be extremely difficult for parents, especially those who are not quite comfortable leaving their children with strangers. When choosing a day care, there are a few things parents should be aware of. The best way to learn about any day care or school your child will attend is to spend a day there. Sometimes it can be hard to take a day off of work, but it is certainly worth it when you’re child’s care and education is at stake. When visiting a day care, you should look for the following things:

1. A Schedule – make sure the center has a schedule for the kids. It is VERY important that this schedule does not include more than 1 hour of unorganized play per day, which would amount to about half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon. A good schedule for a day care would include organized activities in the morning with literacy centers and math activities, about half an hour of free play, Circle time (which includes instruction on the days of the week, months of the year, the weather, etc…), and a group reading (preferably with a book large enough for all children to see). In the afternoon some schools require nap time. If your child does not take naps, make sure that the school is aware of this and WILL NOT force naps. Ask what activities are available for these children. After nap time, story time is a good activity. If free play is included in the afternoon, ask what activities are available. Most of them should be activities that build motor skills and help with coordination.

2. Discipline – make sure you know hoe the center handles discipline. Children need consistency, and if the center has no set plan for discipline, it’s probably not consistent. Make sure that children who are being disciplined are not called out in front of the group. Just as you wouldn’t want your boss to yell at you in front of your colleagues, your child will be embarrassed if his teacher corrects him in front of the group. When the children are disciplined, make sure that the tone of voice used by the teacher is appropriate. Yelling at a child, especially one that is not your own, is never acceptable. It teaches the children to mistrust adults, and that is not the kind of experience you want your child to have in any school or day care. The best methods for discipline involve a warning, a removal from the situation with a time-out for one minute per the child’s age with an explanation of the unacceptable behavior, and an apology from the child when the time is up.

3. Lunch – many day cares provide lunch or snacks for the children, and the quality of these is extremely important. Make sure that the lunch includes milk or juice (NOT the sugary kind), a vegetable and fruit, a meat or other protein, and some kind of grain. Snacks should be healthy, as well. Make sure that the day care provides you with a schedule of meals and that you check with your child daily to make sure the center is sticking to that schedule. Some day cares will provide a schedule but through talking to your child you find out that he has been eating only peanut butter and jelly. Some day cares may not have an objection if you choose to pack your child’s lunch yourself, just make sure they are aware and that they do not allow your child to trade items that you have packed for less healthy items other children may be eating.

23
May
06

Legends, All

When I was growing up I often had my mother around. Every day at 4PM I could count on being incredibly bored as Oprah was on TV and it was the ONLY time of day that my sister and I were forbidden from changing the channel (until 6PM when my Dad got home and put on the news). When my mother went back to work, I continued watching Oprah (I was 13) and I often found her show interesting. I particularly enjoyed her book club (not started until much later), but her program seemed mostly uplifting and a break from what daily talk shows seem to have become.

With all of Oprah’s talk about women, especially those in positions of power, it became clear to me that, as a woman, it is my duty to give something back. She is one of the first women who made it clear that we could be anything we wanted. We did not have to be homemakers. We didn’t have to get married (poor Stedmand). We certainly did not have to have children. None of these things defined us. Only our intelligence, our generosity, and the way we choose to live our lives really determines who we are. Even so, Oprah felt the need to celebrate the “ordinary” women, the homemakers, the teachers, the grandmothers, so that we may be inspired by the way they have lived there lives and learn from their example.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an Oprah worshiper. I haven’t watched her program in years, though I think I should probably start again. But it was her Legend’s Ball that brought me back to the table and made me realize that I have been neglectful in my duties to myself, to the women in my life, and MOST ESPECIALLY, to the women around the world. First, I am going to start by getting involved in women’s issues. I have a few months off from work, I might as well use it to the advantage of those around me. Next, I will be writing letters to my local, state, and federal representatives to find out exactly what they’re doing to help women and telling them what I think they SHOULD be doing. Finally, I am going to start my own local women’s organization where we can share our successes, our failures, and continue along the course of providing for women’s needs, fighting for women’s rights, and honoring those that have helped us come this far.

21
May
06

Letting Children Die

The wealthiest nation in the world, a phrase we use often enough when it suits us, has the second worst infant mortality rate in the modern world (tied with the United Kingdom). It seems to me we should be doing better, but the United States, with all its technology, money, and more neonatal and intensive care beds per person than several countries, still ignores women on many levels. Many, especially those in rural or urban areas, do not have access to the information necessary to take proper care of their children in the womb. Prenatal vitamins, even with a prescription, are expensive, and not necessarily a good purchase to make over food, milk, or heat. Low income mothers cannot afford to cut back on their work hours to give themselves the amount of rest required to actually grow a person inside of them, and the nutrition statistics for the average American make it pretty clear that few are eating what they must to keep themselves healthy, let alone an unborn child.

After the baby is born, most mothers must return to work immediately in order to pay for the care of the child, forcing them to place the child in Day Care, where understaffing (the pay and conditions are atrocious) and a general lack of knowledge on the part of the providers (only one per site MUST be college educated) can lead to illness, malnutrition, accidents, abuse, and neglect (trust me, my husband teaches preschool, I’ve seen this first-hand).

So why does this happen? I feel it has a lot to do with the lack of respect afforded women in or culture. No guys, we are not doing well. American culture does not teach a respect for women or mothers, and it still does not treat us as equals. For a better model, take a look at Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Germany, Norway, Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada. We are still treated as objects to be possessed, unable to take care of ourselves, and unworthy of equal pay and benefits. We ARE the givers of life. Yes, you have a small part in it, but we are the ones who make the decisions to have, keep, and raise a child, with less than equal help from men. We MUST demand better treatment, equal treatment, respectful treatment. And obviously, we have to do it ourselves. Ever woman should be actively involved in Women’s Organizations, regardless of your religious beliefs. We have to work together to save ourselves, our children, and our society. If we don’t, no one else will.

These are my favorites, but more organizations can be found at The National Council of Woman’s Organizations:
National Association of Working Women
Alice Paul Institute
American Medical Women’s Association

20
May
06

Preparing For Kindergarten

Whether you child has been in preschool or not, many parents believe that Kindergarten is the time when children are taught the fundamentals of education, the basic building blocks upon which the rest of their education will rest. While this is largely true, many parents assume that there is nothing they need do to prepare their children for this first step in their educational career. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true.

Parents can do a lot with their children at home to prepare for and enhance their child’s education in all grades, but Kindergarten will start your child off on the right foot. Preparing children with some basic knowledge will help both your child and their teacher. Here are the most important things your child can know when entering Kindergarten:

The Days of the Week
The Months of the Year
Numbers to 31
The Colors of the Rainbow
The Letters of the Alphabet

These seem like pretty simple things, but the more time your child’s teacher must spend on them, the less he or she can spend on phonics and writing instruction, community awareness activities, and social interactions.

14
May
06

You Go, Lou Dobbs!

Recently Lou Dobbs attacked President Bush and his cabal on their immigration policy. The spark may have been the idea that placing National Guard troops at the boarders would do ANYTHING to really stem the flow of the nearly 3 million illegal immigrants that cross them each year if our policies continue to favor them. I think it’s quite clear that the best way to stop them from coming is to HEAVILY fine, and possibly close down businesses that hire them. In 2004, only 3 employers who hired illegal immigrants were fined. I could find three businesses employing illegal immigrants just by walking down the street. And when the illegal immigrants are found, they MUST be deported. Being sent back to your own country makes it harder for you to get back in, especially if we ACTUALLY fund and increase the Boarder Patrol, and deters you from uprooting your family once again.

I am torn by the plight of the illegal immigrant, even though all of the immigrants I know are 100% legal. It was very difficult and very expensive for any of them to obtain Visas. In some cases, it took as long as 10 years and as much as $12,000. In many countries, the application fee alone is phenomenally high for the income of the middle class worker, and once they do get here and get jobs, the majority of their income goes towards lawyer fees, more application fees, etc., making it extremely difficult for them to rise out of poverty. The system is against them, like it is against all of them, but they should not be protesting that they should be given amnesty. If they want to be taken seriously, the need to protest against the policies and the fees that make it SO DIFFICULT for them to become legitimate, legal citizens. As illegals, they technically don’t have the right to protest anyway, so if they’re going to do it, they should make sure it’s for something that won’t alienate the very country they’re trying to become citizens of.




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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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