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How to Calm Back to School Jitters

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Whether your child is entering kindergarten as a first-time student or preparing for the first day of his senior year, the first day of school is no laughing matter. Youngsters are nervous about whether or not their teachers will be nice, how many friends they’ll make on the first day and their ability to keep up in a new grade. Older kids may share the same worries, along with the added pressure of trying out for sports teams, finding their way through high school for the first time or making their mark when they’re part of a massive student body. There’s no denying it; back to school jitters have always been part and parcel of the education experience, a fact that’s not likely to change any time soon. While you can’t remove the sources of all your kids’ anxiety at the beginning of a new year, there are things you can do to make the transition as painless as possible.

Plan a Visit Before School Starts

One of the most common reasons for young kids to feel anxious or afraid when a new school year is approaching is a simple fear of the unknown. Most people feel a bit of trepidation when they’re faced with an unfamiliar situation, but adults and older kids are typically more adept when it comes to managing those fears than small children. To combat anxiety borne of a fear of the unknown, make a point of taking your child to visit his new classroom and meet his teacher before the first day of school. This familiarity may ease his nervousness when he reports for the first official day of the new school year.

Avoid Over-Scheduling

When you have more things on your to-do list than time to complete them, you feel anxious and stressed. Your child is no different, which is why it’s important to keep his schedule at a manageable level. This especially holds true at the beginning of a new school year, when he’s busy trying to adjust to a new classroom and new academic demands. Extracurricular activities and sports may have to take a backseat, especially if your child is feeling extremely anxious over his lack of free time.

Watch Your Mouth

As a parent, you want your child to get good grades so that she can eventually attend a decent college and have a better chance of pursuing a lucrative career path. When your determination to help your child succeed becomes a fixation on academic perfection at all costs, however, you’re actually doing your child more harm than good. The American Academy of Pediatrics even warns against the dangers of unrealistically high parental expectations. Make sure that you’re not fueling the anxiety fire by imposing unreasonably high expectations on your child.

Help Little Ones Understand How to Cope With Their New Environment

If you’re sending a little one off to kindergarten or even early elementary grades, it may be wise to role-play key situations in order to ensure your child knows how to deal with them as they happen. Work together so that your little one is comfortable and capable of communicating bathroom needs, asking for help or introducing himself to new people.

Normalize, But Don’t Minimize

There’s a difference between helping to normalize the very natural trepidation that your child is feeling and minimizing her feelings over the situation. Let her know that it’s normal to feel scared or upset about the first day of school, but don’t make her feel like her nervousness is wrong or that it’s not a valid way to feel.

Take Bullying Seriously

Some fear and anxiety is natural when kids are getting ready for a new school year, but deep-seated fears and a profound worry about how other kids will react to him can be an indication that your child was suffering at the hands of bullies by the end of the last term. If you’re concerned that your child has been the victim of bullying and that it’s the underlying cause of a reluctance to attend school, it’s advised to discuss the matter with him, school administrators or his teacher from the previous year.

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What to Include in Your Nanny’s Annual Review

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After the often long and involved process of finding and securing the right private, in-home childcare provider, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your work is finished. After all, you’ve found a nanny who works well with your family and everything is running smoothly. Still, it’s important to make a point of holding an annual nanny review, if for no other reason than to discuss the upcoming year and address any changes that may have taken place since you first drafted a nanny contract. When you’re preparing for your annual review with your childcare provider, these are a few of the things that you’ll want to make a point of addressing.

Compensation Changes

If your nanny has requested a raise or a cost-of-living wage increase, it’s essential that you address that request as part of your annual review. Whether you plan to grant the increase or can’t find room in the budget, you shouldn’t neglect to mention the subject. It’s also wise to broach the subject if your nanny hasn’t mentioned a raise, as it’s likely the first thing on her mind when the time for a review rolls around. Establishing whether or not there will be a change in her current compensation package early in the review gets the subject out of the way, making room for other productive conversations without keeping her on tenterhooks regarding her salary.

Change of Duty Agreements

Typically, a nanny is responsible only for household chores related directly to the care of your children. In some situations, your nanny may be willing to perform other tasks if she’s compensated accordingly, but it’s important to ensure that those duties are outlined in her nanny contract. The relationship between a nanny and her employer is an ever-evolving thing, so there will almost certainly be changes in the way that your nanny works over the course of a year. If her hours will be decreasing due to a child’s enrollment in preschool, increasing because you’re expecting another child or you’re interested in expanding her role into a household manager capacity, the annual review is an ideal time to discuss the subject.

Performance Evaluation

Even if you’re happy with the way that your nanny cares for your children and maintains the household while you’re away, there are probably areas in which you feel that she could use some improvement. If not, you certainly should be telling her that she’s doing an outstanding job and reiterating how important she is to your family. One of the primary purposes of an annual review is to discuss her performance, so make a point of including your observations.

Nanny Log Review

If your nanny keeps a written log or documents major milestones, this is a great time to talk about the difference she’s made in your kids’ lives and their leaps and bounds in development under her care. You can also address negative situations or events, and talk about ways that they could be handled differently in the future.

Her Expectations and Observations

Your nanny may have questions or situations that she’d like to address, or changing expectations as her position evolves and your children get older. Make sure that you set aside a bit of time to listen to your nanny’s thoughts, what she expects going into the year ahead and any grievances she may have. Your nanny needs to feel free to discuss things that she sees or how she feels without fear of repercussion, so make your annual review a safe, judgment-free zone in which she can do just that.

Projected View of the Upcoming Year

When you go into your annual review, it’s wise to have a mental overview of what you expect from the year to come. While it’s not possible to accurately predict every change in a busy family’s routine a year in advance, you should be able to make a few guesses. An impending new addition to the family, the beginning of a preschool or kindergarten routine, an upcoming promotion that will require you to be away from home more or any other major lifestyle change that affects your nanny should be discussed. The review is a great time to get on the same page about the year ahead and to prepare to face the challenges and excitement that is sure to follow together.

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25 Blogs Featuring the Most Inspiring Parenting Stories

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Parents do an amazing job at the best of times, but when life becomes particularly challenging, the most exceptional parents shine through. Every parent will face difficulties in raising their kids, so reading stories from other parents is a good way to inspire renewed hope and determination. Simply knowing that you are not alone and that other parents have fallen down only to get back up again can really make all the difference. As a parent, if you have found yourself struggling or unable to cope, these 25 bloggers will help inspire you with accounts from their own unique journeys.

Loss of a Spouse

Dealing with the loss of a spouse is devastating on its own, however, when you have kids you have to find a way to carry on. For the sake of her children, a bereaved spouse is forced to battle through her own grief. She becomes the emotional sounding board for their grief, often having little or no time to address her own loss. If you have been bereaved, you will find a large support network of parents who understand what you are going through in these five blogs.

Adoption Stories

No matter what a couple’s reasons for adopting are, they are providing a child with a stable, loving home. Without adoptive parents, many children would live out their early lives in government care or temporary foster homes. These parents fill a void for children who would otherwise never know the love of a family. Sadly, the world is still in need of a dramatic increase in couples willing to adopt. With that said, there are some truly inspirational stories from parents who made the selfless choice to adopt in these five blogs.

Inspiring Eco-Parents

When it comes to protecting the environment and raising a new generation of children who care about the planet, eco-parents are leading the way. By using innovative conservation, waste reduction and greener parenting methods, these Earth-warriors are inspiring a new way to think about how to instill responsibility in young children. If you’ve been thinking about how to get your family to go green, these five blogs are a good place to make a start.

Parents of Special Needs Children

Most parents with special needs children are inspirational; you just don’t get to hear about it all that often. Special needs parents tend to shrug off the challenges that they face, instead simply viewing what they do as no different from what other parents would in similar circumstances. However, when the parents of a special needs child do decide to share the challenges that they face, it is often a source of inspiration for parents everywhere. The parents of special needs children in these five blogs may not see themselves as out of the ordinary, but they do have a story to tell that will benefit all parents.

Single Parent Stories

Throughout society single parents are probably the most stigmatized – and unjustly so. Unless you have had to care for children on your own, you cannot imagine how difficult it is. Yes, single parents can have days where they struggle to make ends meet, but that does not mean that they do not have lessons to share. Some of the greatest parents have had to do it all on their own, while the rest of society has scoffed and judged. These five blogs tell the tales of single parents who will inspire you, and give you a whole new perspective on what you can achieve, even when you are alone.

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Crazy Things Kids Say About Old People

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Sometimes kids say the sweetest things. Other times, they make their parents cringe with embarrassment. Either way, hearing a child’s perspective on different topics is always enlightening. The subject of old age is no exception. As much as parents try to teach their kids to respect their elders and value those who have lived longer than them, children seem to cultivate unique views on the elderly and often have no qualms about sharing them.

“Old people wear glasses and they can take their teeth out.”

Blame it on the stereotypes portrayed on children’s television that kids seem to think that everyone they consider old must have glasses and dentures. Few things make a parent cringe more than if their child decides to approach an older adult to put in a request for denture removal, though. From a child’s point of view, however, these requests are not offensive. They are simply fun and entertaining.

“Grandma’s face is mushy.”

Skin loses elasticity as it ages, so when children go in for a kiss, they often remark that the skin of elderly relatives is soft or mushy. Kids blurt these things out without knowing that it might be obnoxious. Often, a mushy face is a delight for little ones, and they think that they’re offering a compliment, when they’re actually making a pointed observation about aging.

“Where’s your cane?”

Again, due to stereotypes, children often think that older people come with certain “equipment,” much like their action figures at home. If someone informs a child that they are old, a child may challenge the statement by demanding to see a cane as proof.

“Old people forget stuff really fast.”

Some people do experience a decline in memory as they get older. Therefore, older friends and relatives may ask your child the same question more than once. Unfortunately, being unaware of the shame that may accompany this, children often have no problem pointing it out.

“Old people like to buy stuff for kids.”

Grandparents everywhere can be blamed for this concept. Because so many kids have such generous elderly family members, they often begin to think that shopping sprees at the toy store are something that old people come programmed with.

“They smell funny.”

In Japan it is called “kareishu,” the distinct smell that older adults have. It is not an unpleasant scent, but it is different from other age groups. Researchers speculate that it is an evolutionary adaptation that has equipped each age group with its own scent. All kids know is that they can sniff out a grandparent if they need to.

“Old people will die soon.”

This is something that is often made light of on television shows, but understanding aging and death is something that kids can have some trouble with. The first thing they need to know is that it is unkind to say such things. The second thing they should be made aware of is that everyone will age and eventually die.  This will help them understand that they too will one day be in the older person’s role. Finally, they need to know that they don’t have to worry about this. Even if they made the statement, as many kids do very matter-of-factly, children need to be told that even though they might think someone is very old, that person probably still has a lot of years left.

“Can I help you cross the street?”

This one is not such a bad stereotype as it does teach kids to help those who are older than them. That being said, it can be very embarrassing and insulting to the older adult who is perfectly capable of crossing the street on his own.

“Grandpa lives at the airport.”

Many long distance grandparents report that their grandkids assume that they live at the airport because this is where the child finds them when picking them up over for a visit.

All jokes aside, it is very important to teach children the value of the elderly. The truth is, they have lived longer and have wisdom the younger generations lack. They have also learned the value of slowing down in life and taking the time to “smell the roses.” This can make them the most fun members of the family, especially for kids. Children should be taught that the elderly are not to be discarded or ignored, and that one day they too will take their place as elders in society.

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21 Blogs with Insightful Tips for Helping Kids Through a Move

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Moving to a new home is an exciting venture and a time for new beginnings, however, it can also be very stressful for you and your kids. To prepare your kids for the stress of the move, be sure to tell them you’re moving as soon as possible so they have adequate time to adjust. Involve the kids in the plans for the new house, and try to help them make a positive transition to their new school. Encourage your kids to ask questions, and really listen to them as they voice any fears and concerns they may have about the transition. These 21 blog articles will provide ideas for helping your kids adjust to the idea of moving, as well as get them involved in the moving process and settled into a new school.

Adjusting to the Idea

Once you decide to make a move, you should hold a family meeting to share the news. Talk about the change with enthusiasm, and be sure to highlight all of the wonderful things that will be available at your new location. Check in with your kids regularly to make sure that any questions they may have are addressed. For more tips on helping kids adjust to the move, read these seven blog posts.

Involving Kids in the Move

It’s important to involve the kids as much as you can with the move.  Let them pack up their own belongings if they are old enough, and ask them to go through all of their stuff and sort out what can be donated and what needs to be packed.  These seven blog entries will provide more suggestions on getting your kids involved in the move.        

Settling into a New School

Starting a new school is stressful for kids of all ages. After all, no one wants to be the new kid that has no friends.  To avoid this problem, try to facilitate your meetings with other kids before school starts so that your child can see at least one friendly face in the crowd.  Another important thing is to make sure your child knows how to get to school and knows his way around the school.  Look at these seven blog articles to find more ideas for helping your child adjust to his new school.

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Is Lying to Your Kids About the Tooth Fairy Wrong?

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Who knew that being a parent would bring with it so many ethical dilemmas? Once parents map out how they are going to discipline, feed and teach their children, there are still more predicaments to face. One of the dilemmas parents today face is whether or not to tell their little ones the truth about the Tooth Fairy when milk teeth are beginning to be replaced by permanent ones.

It was not so long ago that people thought nothing of saying that storks brought babies, giant bunnies hid eggs and fairies collected teeth. However, these traditions started back when there were no televisions or electronic gaming systems, usually only one parent worked outside the home and people still spanked their children and fed them castor oil to discipline them. Parenting has changed a lot since then.  In light of a new age in parenting, should the Tooth Fairy perhaps die and be buried alongside items like the dunce cap, Dad’s after-work pipe and the phrase “children should be seen and not heard?”

Technology, Kids and the Ready Availability of Information

Kids today live in the age of information. As soon as a child can read, he is able to get online and look up answers to his many questions. Gone are the days when a child would asked, “Why is the sky blue?” and parents had to quickly make up a response. Gone are the days where the parent is seen as the one who knows everything. Kids have Google for that now. So, in this technological age, should people adapt and become more like their computers, operating on pure logic and science, or is the data overload all the more reason to cultivate imagination and fantasy?

For answers, parents should look to some of the brightest minds in science, teaching and parenting. Einstein, arguably the greatest scientific mind the world has known, said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” It sounds like Einstein would be in favor of the Tooth Fairy, and that he would see her as an asset in building great minds for the future.

Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, was also a brilliant mind, especially when it came to children and teaching. She said, “It’s a great mistake, I think, to put children off with falsehoods and nonsense, when their growing powers of observation and discrimination excite in them a desire to know about things.” She seemed to believe that indulging children in fantasy was beneath them and that children would enjoy learning facts much more.

Most parenting experts today seem to hold both schools of thought. They say fantasies help young children develop creativity, language and cognitive skills. However, as a child gets older she should be told the truth when she is ready for it. How do you know if your child is ready? Robin Goldstein, PhD says in her book The Parenting Bible to follow the child’s lead and look for clues. For example, if your child is crying over the prospect of the tooth fairy not being real, she does not want to know the truth, whereas if she seems more offended by the fact that you actually expect her to believe that a mythical creature is able to make it to thousands of homes each night undetected, she wants you to come clean.

There may be danger in going to the extreme in either direction. Some parents fear they are setting a bad example by lying, and that their children will feel that honesty is not valued in the home when they learn the truth. Another concern on this end of the spectrum is that indulging a child so much in fantasy will result in him never being able to face reality. There is also the other worry, that myths like the Tooth Fairy make children greedy and replace meaningful rites of passage with a desire for money and gifts. Looking at it from the opposite perspective, parents worry that in an age of potentially endless screen time, children are taking in too much data from outside sources and not using or developing their own minds, therefore without any fantasy and imagination, a child may fail to develop the thinking skills necessary to create and solve problems in original and imaginative ways.

Use Your Own Personal Moral Compass

Whether perpetuating the Tooth Fairy myth is wrong or not is something that only you can decide for yourself, based on your personal set of ethics. To discover your values, try asking yourself if you think a lie is wrong if it makes someone feel better. For example, if the family dog dies and it makes your family feel better to think that the dog is living on a farm or living in Doggie Heaven, is that lie wrong? Also, think back to your own childhood. Did your parents tell you about the Tooth Fairy? If not, do you wish they had?  If they did, do you wish they hadn’t?  How did you feel when you learned the truth? Your answers to questions like these can help you discover for yourself what you think is right and what morals you want to pass down to your children.

If you are still on the fence about whether to lie to your child and tell them about the Tooth Fairy, you can take another approach. When your child loses a tooth, you can tell him that some people believe that a fairy comes to collect teeth at night and leaves a gift in return. You can then ask your child what he thinks about this and if he would like to try it. This allows the child to decide for himself what he wants to believe.

When it comes to truth, the fact is that humans have indulged in fantasies, myths and symbolic rituals since as far back as historians can trace. As a species, humans are creative beings who look for meaning in their experiences, not simply for facts. Whether or not you tell your children about the tooth fairy, they will most likely still invent stories, imaginary friends and clever ways to explain things that they do not understand. It should bring you peace of mind to know that both Tooth Fairy believers and non-believers have been able to grow into healthy and happy adults, regardless of their parents’ personal take on this issue. The fact that you are taking the time to explore the topic rather than just blindly passing on tradition is meaningful in its own right, and your children will be grateful for this either way.

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21 Blogs Making Fun Homemade Mixtures for the Kids to Get Their Hands Into

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Kids love to get their hands into things, and some children learn much better by doing things rather than just listening to others. This type of learning is called tactile learning. If your child is a tactile learner, you can make your own tactile substances to entertain and teach him. To find recipes for different tactile products you can make at home, take a look at these 21 blog posts.

Playdough

Letting the kids help you mix up a batch of play dough isn’t just fun, it’s also a great learning experience. You can get them involved in the assembly process by having the kids measure out the ingredients for you; not only will this allow them to help out, it will also teach them basic math skills. There are several different ways to make playdough, and you can create dough with different scents and colors, too.  These seven blog articles will give you the recipes you need to whip up a batch of dough for your kids.

  • DIY Playdough Try this recipe for a homemade version that smells great and is very similar to the store bought variety. Keep in mind that it will have to be refrigerated before it can be used.
  • DIY Playdough This dough recipe is made with gel colors that allow you to control the color of it. Since it’s made with salt, you won’t have to refrigerate it.
  • Homemade Self-Hardening Clay Using very few ingredients you can make clay the kids can sculpt with.
  • Homemade Gluten-Free Play Clay If your child suffers from a gluten allergy, this flourless play dough is a good alternative to regular play dough recipes.
  • Homemade Clay Family Handprints You can use this homemade clay to make handprint plaques that you can cook in the oven.
  • DIY: Homemade Play Dough Have fun using all kinds of Kool-Aid drink mix to make fragrant play dough that will stay fresh for months when kept in an air-tight container.
  • No Cook Homemade Playdough (Improved Recipe) The benefit of this dough is that you make plain white dough that can be portioned out and colored with cake decorating colors.

Sand-Like Substances

Playing with sand doesn’t have to be reserved for beaches or sandboxes. Sometimes you can play with sand right at home. It may sound like a messy disaster, but the recipes in these seven blog articles require minimal ingredients, are inexpensive to assemble and are simple to clean up.

  • Indoor Sand Castles Use this recipe to make a batch of cloud dough for your kids to use when making sand castles inside.
  • Indoor Sand Castle Stuff You can combine fine sand that you can buy at a craft store with some cornstarch to create an indoor sand castle.
  • Indoor Sand Castles Mixing sand with the other ingredients in the recipe allows you to have an indoor sand castle making session.
  • Indoor Sand Castle To mimic the look of real sand, mix up some sand, alum and cornstarch with water and cook it into a sandy dough.
  • Flour for Sand (Toddler Play) Give the kids something different to do and create a learning opportunity with the help of this blog post.
  • Recipe for Moldable Sand By using wheat flour you can create a moldable sand that has the same color and glitter as real sand.
  • Non Toxic Moon Sand Tutorial This recipe uses olive oil, which makes this moon sand edible, though probably not very tasty.

Goopy Fun

Sometimes you just need to get your hands messy! Mix science with getting a little goopy and you have a fun afternoon project you can do with the kids.  Whether you want to make slime, gak or flubber, you’ll find a recipe for each in these seven blog posts           

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10 of the Most Hated Cartoon Characters by Moms of All Time

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Kids love their cartoons, and parents can often plop down on the family couch with a child in their lap and find themselves equally drawn in and amused. However, there are some characters many moms find themselves despising. Perhaps it is an irritating voice, a bad message they send to children, or an annoying, repetitive catch phrase, but whatever the reason, there are some cartoon stars that are hard to tolerate. Here are the top ten most hated cartoon characters among moms, which they are forced to stomach for the sake of their kids’ happiness.
  • Caillou – Caillou is a four year old boy from Canada who attends playschool, hangs around with his friends and spends time with his family and pets. Many kids around the same age become captivated by this show because it does a good job showing day to day events that toddlers can relate to from their point of view. However, Caillou annoys many parents because he comes across as whiny and spoiled. There have been episodes of the show where Caillou has thrown himself down on the floor and kicked as a result of not getting his way. His parents never seem to mind his antics and often give into him, thus enabling his behavior. When they do, Caillou does not thank them, he just runs off cheering, “Yay!” While children enjoy the show, many moms see it as a bad influence and cringe at the idea of what kind of person Caillou will grow up to be!
  • Spongebob Squarepants – It has to be said that Spongebob is often enjoyed by adults and children alike. It is extremely well written and amuses people of all ages. Many moms have been brought to hysterics during some of the episodes. However, Spongebob seems to always be on television and children never get tired of watching him. The star, Spongebob Squarepants himself, can be a little much after a while with his annoying laugh and high, nasally voice. The character is meant to be annoying, so he will often repeat phrases and songs over and over again, much to the dismay of the other characters in Bikini Bottom and to moms everywhere. There is truth to the phrase “too much of a good thing” and Spongebob Squarepants is a prime example. It is extremely hard to escape from this porous guy; even when you leave the house he can be found everywhere from snack boxes in the supermarket, to books in the library, to rides in amusement parks! Moms experiencing Spongebob overload often begin to find themselves groaning, much like Squidward, at the sight of him.
  • Lucy Van Pelt – In watching the popular Peanuts cartoons, no character is quite as enraging as Lucy. She bullies her little brother, often threatening him with physical violence, gives horrible psychological advice and hates animals (“Ugh! I’ve been kissed by a dog!”). Worst of all is how she constantly convinces poor Charlie Brown to try to kick that football, building up his hopes only to render him once again without an ounce of self-esteem. From a mom’s point of view, there is nothing redeeming or even funny about Lucy’s behavior. It’s because of people like her that we have the anti-bullying campaigns we have today.
  • Angelica Pickles – The popular ‘90’s cartoon, Rugrats, had a character most moms wished they could ban in Angelica Pickles. While most of the main characters on the show were babies, Angelica was the slightly older cousin who went out of her way to scare and sabotage her younger counterparts. Although she filled the villain role nicely on this unique children’s show, she was also a terrible role model for kids. There is nothing more anti-mom than a character that hates babies!
  • Candace Flynn – The older sister from Disney’s popular hit series Phineas and Ferb, Candace Flynn not only annoys moms, she also has them scratching their heads in confusion. The show itself is excellent, with very smart running jokes and interesting characters. Phineas and Ferb are two step brothers who decide to make the most of their summer vacation. They do this by coming up with ingenious ideas each day, such as inventing a device that translates animal language into English and constructing a giant robot tree house. They implement these ideas right in their own backyard. Phineas and Ferb teach kids to believe in themselves, use their imagination and, most importantly, that being smart is cool. But then there is their teen sister Candace, who wastes her summer away by obsessing over “busting her brothers.” With each new project or invention that Phineas and Ferb undertake, Candace tries to get her mom to see what the boys are doing so that they will finally get in trouble. Of course, in one way or another, Mom never sees what the boys are up to. Most moms agree that Candace is a spoilsport and that if they found out their kids were building space crafts and engineering rollercoasters, punishing them would be the furthest thing from their minds! How can creativity and imagination be wrong?  Shame on you Candace Flynn!
  • Woody Woodpecker – An old classic that can still bring chuckles to kids everywhere, if you can find it, is Woody Woodpecker. However, his laugh is even worse than Spongebob’s! Who can ever forget that melodic, “Ho-ho-ho ho ho! Ho-ho-ho ho ho!” It always seemed to be accompanied by a mother’s troubled sigh. When he wasn’t laughing and driving someone crazy, both on screen and off, he was loudly pecking away. After a long night with a crying baby or a sick child, those sounds could go right through a mom. It’s no wonder they don’t show this one much anymore.
  • Dora the Explorer – Moms of preschoolers everywhere have been saturated with Dora the Explorer. The show has been applauded with many awards, and it takes over a year to produce a single episode because of all the hard work that is put into the educational quality of the show. However, this does not change the fact that over time even cheery little Dora can become hard to take. Much like Spongebob, Dora is everywhere, so there is no eluding her. If you have a preschooler, you will see Dora even without cable TV. She is smiling at you from your grocery cart, other children’s t-shirts and on shows in over 25 countries outside of the US. Many preschoolers enjoy watching Dora both on TV and on her many DVD’s, over and over again. Over time, her voice, her constant questions and those same songs she sings on every single episode start to pluck on a mother’s fragile nerves. Dora often asks the children questions on her show and she pauses for what seems like an eternity, giving them the chance to answer. Even some children appear impatient at these silent parts when they yell out the answer and have to wait for Dora to finally respond.
  • Scrappy Doo – Back when nephews on cartoons were all the rage in revamping an aging series (remember Donald’s Huey, Dewey and Louie and Popeye’s Papeye, Peepeye, Pupeye, and Pipeye?), Scooby Doo introduced us to his own nephew, Scrappy Doo. Scrappy changed the dynamic of the show from a groovy and mellow mystery by adding his own brand of hyperactivity and aggression. His catch phrases “Let me at ‘em! Let me at ‘em!” and “Puppy Power!” were irritating to say the least. Now, instead of observing the Mystery Machine Gang using their brains to try and figure things out, children and moms were forced to listen to bad one liner jokes blurted out by a rambunctious pup. Scrappy was not simply added to the show, he became the show, dominating almost every scene and becoming the hero in the end. For Scooby fans, this was unforgivable. The anti-Scrappy feeling was so prevalent that it was reflected in the 2002 film adaptation of Scooby Doo when it turned out that Scrappy was the villain!
  • Wonder Pets – The Wonder Pets hit the preschool TV circuit in 2006.  The show is about three classroom pets that double as superheroes when school lets out. They rescue primarily baby animals, forever singing as they complete each mission. If this sounds adorable, remember again the “too much of a good thing” rule. There is only so much cuteness a person can take, even a mom. Like Dora, the Wonder Pets sing the same songs to the same melody each episode. The songs have gotten stuck in many a mom’s head and they have found themselves singing these cloying tunes at the most inopportune of times. For that reason, Linny, Tuck and Mimi have all made this list.
  • Max – Max and Ruby is a cartoon based on the popular book series by Rosemary Wells.  Max and Ruby are young rabbits who live together in a house in a quaint little town. Ruby is the older sister. She is quite active in Bunny Scouts, and often undertakes other worthy pursuits such as music and writing. Max is her three-year-old brother.  He doesn’t talk much, but manages to thwart Ruby’s plans each episode. Ruby is eternally forgiving and things usually work out okay in the end, but in the meantime, many moms feel for Ruby, wondering, “Where are these bunnies’ parents?” Although they have a grandmother who looks in on them from time to time, Ruby is primarily responsible for putting her brother to bed, cooking meals and doing the shopping with her uncooperative younger sibling. This seems like an awful lot of pressure for a seven-year-old Bunny Scout. Max usually only speaks one word at a time, and that word is usually some sort of demand that goes against whatever Ruby is trying to accomplish. If she asks him not to touch something or to wait patiently for just a few moments, Max is guaranteed to disobey. Often Ruby’s hard work is ruined by Max, and this is difficult to watch. It may be all in the name of entertainment, but moms do not approve!
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How to Hide Electrical Wires from Computers, TVs and Small Appliances

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Electrical components are an increasingly essential part of everyday life. From the television, media player and cable box on your entertainment center to the computer in your office and the lamp on your desk, it seems like everything is plugged in these days. While dangling cords are unsightly and lend a cluttered appearance to an otherwise orderly room, they’re also a hazard for households with small children.

Kids can wrap themselves in dangling wires to the point of strangling, use them to pull heavy components from high surfaces onto their bodies and follow them to access electrical outlets that pose an electrocution risk. There are a variety of reasons why you should hide those wires, but not always a lot of obvious solutions to accomplish the task. These tips can help you keep wires and cords out of sight and, more importantly, out of your little ones’ reach.

Use Commercial Channel Products

Because electrical component wires can pose such a risk to children, there are commercially available products designed expressly for the concealment and obstruction of them to keep kids safe. These channels are hollow inside, and run the length of a flat surface to secure the cables in a way that makes them inaccessible to little fingers. They’re easily found through childproofing supply specialists, and can be painted to match the décor of your room for aesthetic purposes.

Consider a Built-In Entertainment Center

While it’s not always a viable option for renters, taking advantage of a wall that runs along a closet allows you to build an entertainment center that keeps wires truly out of reach. Because they’re swept back through the wall to be plugged in inside a closet, kids aren’t able to tug on them, tangle themselves in the cords or even access the outlets they’re plugged into.

Repurpose Plumbing Pipes

Taking a page out of the loft style book can keep electrical wires safe from curious fingers while lending a bit of big-city flair to your room. Threading cables through repurposed metal plumbing pipes to act as a conduit for the cables is a stylish choice, but also one that’s so sturdy even the most determined little hands can’t get through to the contents. Just be sure that the pipes you’re using aren’t made of lead, as some repurposed or salvaged piping does come from very old homes that used dangerous lead pipes in years past.

Look for Neutral Colored Cabling

If cables are already a bit difficult to get to for your little one, you may be able to get away with simply choosing neutral cabling that blends in with the surrounding wall. The wires will be difficult to see and thus unlikely to spark curiosity, and also won’t catch the eyes of guests for a safe and stylish solution.

Secure Cables Along the Floor

If you’re forced to run long cables across any length of the room, it’s best to secure them to the floor with a commercial conduit, products designed for children’s safety or even heavy-duty tape under a large rug. This solution may not be effective against little ones that are crawling or toddling around, but they will keep older kids from tripping over wires stretched across the room as they run or play.

Consult a Childproofing Expert

There are professionals that make it their business to secure and hide cabling from kids in the interest of their safety. If you’re having trouble keeping wires and cords out of your child’s reach despite your best efforts, it may be time to call in the experts to ensure that your electronics, and especially your little ones, are safe.

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30 Blogs with the Best Tips on Helping Your Child Prepare for Standardized Testing

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Standardized testing can be difficult for children, especially those who don’t test well. Every child is presented with the same test, so there’s no allowance for level of understanding or aptitude to the subject matter. As a parent, obviously you want your child to receive the best possible education, which includes scoring well on standardized tests. With these 30 blogs, you can help ensure that your child is fully prepared for any standardized test.

Understanding Standardized Testing

The first step towards excelling in standardized tests is understanding how they work. Although the word “standardized” suggests that every test is the same, there are a number of important differences in the tests that you and your child should be aware of. These five blogs will give your child an idea of what to expect, as well as provide them with a number of useful preparation strategies.

Getting in the Zone

As with any test, being in the right frame of mind can make all the difference in your child’s results. All the studying and practice in the world won’t do your child any good if they crumble under the stress of a testing environment. To make sure your child is ready in body, spirit and mind, check out the advice in these five excellent blogs.

Preparing for Literacy Based Tests

Each type of standardized test requires a different approach to study and preparation. Tests that come under the umbrella of literacy are particularly tricky because your child will have to show acceptable writing, reading and comprehension while being tested against a set criterion. With that in mind, study these five blogs to help your child improve literacy in time for his next standardized test.

Math and Numeracy Tests

Math is the purest of all the sciences and is not a test subject to take lightly, standardized or otherwise. Your child will have plenty to contend with having to worry about the layout of the test, too. Whether your child is a top scoring mathlete or he struggles with numeracy, use these five blogs to give him the boost that he needs on his next standardized test.

Improving Reading Comprehension

No matter what subject your child is covering in his next standardized test, excellent reading comprehension is absolutely essential. It is not enough to understand the subject matter of test questions; your child also needs to possess the reading comprehension skills to interpret the questions and what is being asked of them. Take your child through these five blogs to help improve their cognitive and reading comprehension skills.

Science and Technical Tests

Science and technical tests encompass a number of subjects, however, the rules for approaching these standardized tests are not much different than with a single subject. There is one universal rule for science and technical tests: read first, address the question and then read again. These types of tests are also very time-consuming, so your child would do well to take a number of time-trial practice tests. The tips in these five blogs are great for science and technical tests, but you can also use them for other types of standardized testing.

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