Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cell Phones for Kids!!

Firstly, I consider myself a die-hard luddite. I don't like technology. I don't want technology. And, I am being dragged into the 21st century, kicking and screaming (you should have seen the fight I put up concerning blogging--but, I'm finding it's an awesome way to communicate, so here I am doing just that). If I could, I would spin my wool for blankets and communicate with smoke signals. So, you can imagine how I protested against my kids getting cell phones.

Now, I'm sure you know the next twist in the plot:
My two oldest kids have cell phones!

My soon-to-be teenager just got a Kajeet phone and was more excited than Aunt Bea at a state fair when she tore open the package! In less time than it takes for me to fold a load of clothes, she had already figured out how to text, download, get ringtones, send pictures, do special effects, and just about everything else that leaves me in a perpetual fog (I'm still trying to figure out speed dial). As she was testing out her new cell phone, I looked at my husband and asked, "Is this going to cost us an arm and a leg?"

His reply? "Check this out. It is SO cool!" He took me to the computer and showed me how we can control if she pays the bill or we pay the bill, how we get alerts if the "wallet" gets low, how we decide what calls she can receive, and also how we can choose when she is allowed to use it (I'm seeing school hours as off-limits). My final opinion? This is technology I can live with!

I would love to hear how other moms out there handle cell phone issues. Personally, I like knowing that I can always contact my kids, even when they are out with friends. I also believe that kids can get absorbed in computers and cell phones, so limits need to be set. But silly me, forever the luddite... I still write letters and can my own pickles (Aunt Bea would love me)!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

school anxiety

A mom wrote in recently to ask what to do about her daughter who is very anxious about starting kindergarten, even to the point of having anxiety attacks when she thinks about it. The mom did not send her daughter to preschool, and the two are very attached. What to do? Well, mama, I feel your pain and I'll try to help out as much as I can.

My own experience is just the opposite. I sent my daughter to preschool, and then kept her home for kindergarten. It happened one day when I was bringing her home from preschool and I questioned why I was sending her to school in the first place. So many times we fall into this cultural belief system without a second thought. School is like that--not that it is right or wrong, but it is a cultural pattern that we continue without really questioning why. If we really get down to the heart of the issue, we will find that many of our thoughts, habits and patterns are just handed down to us from our culture and our society.

My suggestion would be to question why she must attend school. Are you worried about meeting her educational needs? Does she need to branch out and foster more friendships? Do you need her to go to school so that you can go to work? Spend some time and write down the reasons she must attend school (all cultural and societal pressures aside). School must be something that will enrich your child, as well as your relationship with her. It should never be heartache and anxiety. There will be enough reasons to have anxiety attacks throughout life--school should not be one of them.

Personally, I have both. One of my children attends school (my oldest is in high school) and the rest of them are homeschooled. We decided to take the school issue one year at a time, and every year we have decided that homeschooling was such a fulfilling and enriching option that we have continued with it. Now my oldest will be going into high school, and I look at her today and know that she is not only mentally prepared, but emotionally as well. She was that child that stayed home from kindergarten, and I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to share her school experience with her.

Take it one year at a time, and spend some time getting to the heart of the issue. School may not be the right option for her at this point. However, if you feel that it is, then try to soothe her anxiety by preparing her for the change. Visit the school with her, walk down the halls, get excited about the new opportunity, let her know that you will be very close while she is at school (perhaps even at a nearby coffee shop or shopping center for the first few days). I hope that helps and please let me know how she is coping (and you, too!).

Please, moms, if you have any advice to help a child make the transition into school, post it here and help this mom out. Thanks so much!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Question about Dairy

As many of you moms know, I am not into dairy. But I recently got a question from one mom who wants to know what to use in place of butter. Margarine is terribly unhealthy. I use light olive oil in my baking, and Smart Balance for everything else. That's the healthiest replacement I've found so far (non-hydrogenated, no trans-fat). But if you moms have some information to pass along, please share it.

Also, another mom asked about finding a replacement for milk. She and her daughter aren't too keen on the taste of soy milk. There are so many flavors of non-diary milk, that there has GOT to be one out there for you. You may want to get turned on to soy milk by buying some sweeter flavors, like Very Vanilla by Silk or some of the chocolate varieties. You can then cut back on the sweetness as you get adjusted. Also, try different brands and see if one suits your taste.

Another mom wrote in because she is worried about the estrogen in soy milk. Actually, soy contains a natural chemical that mimics estrogen. And the chemicals and hormones that you get from dairy is a LOT worse than anything you would find in soy milk. My entire family does soy milk, and personally, I have not noticed anything adverse (if only I could blame PMS on soy milk....). However, if it bothers you, try rice milk or almond milk. There are delicious varieties of both. I got some rice cheese tonight that was delicious in my lasagna.

So now it's your turn, mom. What do you think? Write your comments and let me know.

Learning is so much FUN!

If given the choice, my boys would play video games indefinitely, leaving only to make occasional bathroom visits or stick something edible in their mouths. Fortunately, they have a mom who keeps close tabs on the gaming situation. They are only allowed to play on the weekend, and then it's only for an hour (yes, I'm pretty harsh).

I would love to hear from some moms out there who struggle with this same situation--video game fanatics!

I have figured out a way for them to scratch that electronic itch without turning their brains into a thick gray soup. My 9-year-old son has a Leapster, and absolutely loves it. None of the kids own a handheld video game system, but honestly, they don't even miss it when they have this groovy gadget. He and his 5-year-old brother play on it constantly and have NO idea that they are actually learning something. Leapfrog also has all of the cool names that kids identify with--Disney princesses, Sonic, Ratatouille, Batman, you know the rundown.

Another option that we have found is to keep a lot of learning software available in the house. I give them about thirty minutes a day to do computer, and the kids always head for the Jumpstart programs. I purchased them for homeschooling, but the kids play it every chance they get. Knowledge Adventure has some great titles that all ages can enjoy.

I'm totally digging it, and it really helps battle the video game monster. So what do you moms do? Let them game? Replace them with learning toys or software? Let me know because I'm always looking for some great ideas!