Friday, April 29, 2011

Introducing...... Just Ask Justin!

Meet Justin!
He is an 8 year-old fun loving, smart and handsome kid! He loves school, playing games, soccer, karate, cub scouts and all things Lego! Justin has volunteered to let me interview him once a week to chat about things kids love!
Feel free to ask questions too. Justin would love to answer them!

Today's topic: Computer games!

Pam (aka Mom): What are your favorite computer games?
Justin: My favorite computer games are:
1. Moshi Monsters
2. Club Penguin
3. Jump Start
4. Poptropica
5. Kerpoof

P: Which one do you like the best and why?
J: My favorite computer game is Moshi Monsters. You get to get to do fun things like creating your own monster, finding moshlings, decorating your house and playing mini games. Go to the website by clicking here: Moshi Monsters Rule

P: How often do you play Moshi Monsters?
J: Like three times a day. You have to check on your moshling garden to see if you caught a moshling. You also have to feed your monster.

P: What is a moshling?
J: It's a type of pet that you catch in your garden after you plant special seeds. You buy seeds at the Seed Cart or Super Seeds. You have to plant the right seeds to catch a certain type of moshling. Some special moshlings can only be caught if you are a member.

P: Thank you for your time today! What do you think we will talk about next time?
J: You're welcome. Next time we can talk about my favorite game system. Or we can talk about any questions other kids ask. Bye!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mind your manners

Good manners seem outdated today. Kids want this, want that, get me this, do that, all showing disrespect for their parents, adults and even themselves. But manners need not be a thing of the past.
Here are 5 important reminders on how to mind your manners.

1. Start young. Please and thank you can be learned from the time children learn to talk. Reinforce the good behavior and ignore the bad. Good manners are habits that can be learned and practiced early and often.

2. Teach patience: Children should be taught not to interrupt when others are talking. The Golden rule applies here: Treat others as you want to be treated. Children don't like it when they are interrupted, they shouldn't interrupt others.

3. Sharing is caring: Sharing is a hard concept for only children. They are so used to having all their toy all to themselves. The more play dates and social activities your child attends, the more he will learn that sharing is actually fun and makes you feel good about yourself.

4. Cover your cough or sneeze: I have noticed that preschool children learn to sneeze or cough into their elbow instead of their hand. This is a great habit to get into as it reduces the spread of germs and is more polite than letting it fly all over the room.

5. Show respect: One of my husband's least favorite replies is yeah or nah. My son is showing great improvement in showing respect by replying "yes Ma'am or yes sir."

As an added bonus, Schoodoodle makes a Mind Your Manners game for ages 4 and up. It can never replace what we as parents teach our children, but reinforcement and repetition never hurts.

Remember, our children repeat what they see and hear. If we have good manners, chances are, our children will as well. Make manners and important part of everyday life and you will see a big improvement in the Please and Thank-you department!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five Fun Earth Day Activities

Happy Earth Day! Here is a Fun Friday post
that will keep your kids busy while celebrating our great planet:

1. Reduce: A simple way to respect the earth is to reduce the amount of electricity we use. Try doing this for at least one hour today: Turn off all the lights, unplug appliances except the refrigerator and freezer, turn off the TV, computer and all video games. Then go outside and enjoy the earth. If it's raining, no worries. Just put on your raincoat, mud boots and splash away.

2. Reuse: Make a pencil holder out of a coffee can. Take the wrap off an old, empty coffee can. Find some decorative paper, comic pages from the newspaper or design your own paper. Cut a strip of paper to fit around the can. Glue in place with a glue stick and decorate with ribbons or stickers.

3. Recycle: Do you have stacks of books and toys that you never read or that you have outgrown? Find someone that is younger than you and give them away. Another place to recycle your toys and books is at your local church.

4. Be a Trash picker: All you need is two hands, a garbage bag and some gloves. Walk to the end of your driveway, with an adult, pick up all the cans, bottles, papers and trash you can find and fill your bag. Be sure to place the trash in the proper recycling bins.

5. Visit your local dump: Do you know how much garbage your town makes? Take a ride to the dump/recycling center with your parents. Take note of the huge mountains of trash. How long do you think it will take all the trash to break down? Also take note of the recycling center. How is recycling sorted?

Have a great day. What other activities do you do to honor Earth Day?
Remember to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do couch potatoes have eyes?

Are your children couch potatoes? Do they spend more time in front of a screen (TV, computer or gaming system) then they do outside? This article posted today on HealthDay, Yahoo news, stresses the importance of exercise for kids of all ages.

Couch-Potato Kids: It Shows in Their Eyes, Researchers Say

Who knew that the vessels in your children's eyes get narrower from lack of exercise? That narrowing can lead to increased blood pressure which can then lead to heart attacks and strokes. I was shocked when I read the article. I usually associate narrowing of the arteries with stressed out adults, overweight people or elderly people with multiple health problems. I was relieved to learn that starting at the TV is not the cause of the narrowing of the vessels.

Berrocal stressed that parents should know it's not the TV or computer time affecting the retinal vessels, "it is the lack of exercise." And that lack of exercise often gets worse as screen time climbs.

This article is a must-read for parents of school-aged children. I don't think taking away TV or game time is the answer to the world's cardiovascular health problems. I think kids should still be allowed a moderate amount of screen time with a healthy balance of outdoor fun. Exercise, exercise, exercise can change those couch potatoes into tater tots! :)

Does this article change the time your child spends in front of the TV? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Money doesn't grow on trees

Do your children get paid to do their chores?
Do they get paid if they do extra jobs, other than normal chores?
How much money does the average school-aged child get every week?
All these questions and more prompted me to do an informal poll about allowances on one Facebook. The results left me feeling like a kite stuck in the proverbial money tree.

Fifty percent of respondents answered yes, my children do get an allowance. All of them listed specific requirements for getting this allotted allowance. Some children had to do their all of their chores, do them correctly and in a timely fashion. Others had to always do their chores plus extra jobs such as pooper- scooping the back yard, feeding chickens and gathering eggs. Younger children received $2 to $4 a week. Older children, if they made their siblings beds, received $5 to $8 a week.

Most of the respondents that answered no, did not give a reason why their kids don't get an allowance. My 8 year-old son does not receive an allowance at this time. He is expected to do what is asked of him without asking when or why. He is an only child, so he tends to get more toys for things he excels at. My husband's perspective on allowances is stricter than most. He feels our son doesn't need an allowance unless he goes above and beyond his normal chores. When he starts helping more with yard work, snow shoveling and even pooper-scooping, then we will talk about an allowance. Until then, we are content to carry on as usual. Our son doesn't get paid to do the chores he is expected to do routinely.

My parents always told me "Money doesn't grow on trees!" Are your children pruning that money tree or even stripping it clean? I would love your feedback!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

5 Things Boys Love to Read About

My 8 year-old son loves to read about unique and disgusting things. The more unique the better! Anything from Space travel to animal feces keeps his interest!
Here is our top 5 list of things that every boy loves to read about:

1. Action/Adventure stories: The Choose Your Own Ending books are a favorite in our house. We can read the same book all day but it always is a new and different story. It's like you get ten books for the price of one!
2. Mystery stories: Those cliff hanger mystery stories that send chills down your spine, keep us up past his bedtime so we can find out what happens next. Goosebumps keeps our flesh crawling as we turn the pages at lightning speed!
3. Our galaxy and beyond: The Solar System and new things happening in Space Travel send our heads spinning round and round. Things keep changing so fast, we can hardly keep up.
4. Extinct bugs and mammals: Every boy loves to collect bugs and snakes in the back yard. It's even more fun to read about the ones that we will never see.
5. Bodily fluids: We spent a month reading books about how your body works. So many questions, so little time. Of course, the passing of gas is always a big hit with boys, not sure why.

What type of books do your boys like to read? Do they like poetry or purposeful books about poultry?

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nintendo DSi gets 5 stars!

Where were this hand-held game wonders when I was growing up? The Nintendo DSi, a personal video game system, gets 5 out of 5 stars in my book. It brings handheld gaming to a whole new level.
Amazon lists the product features here.

**Enjoy the largest screen size, best audio quality and thinnest design of any system in the Nintendo DS family.
**Download exclusive games, clocks and calendars via the Nintendo DSi Shop.
**Take pictures using either an inward or outward facing camera and chose from 11 different lenses to customize your shots.
**Connect wirelessly to browse the internet, share photos and play with others. Even connect to the Wii console for more fun.
**Access your music in the AAC format off any standard SD Card.
**Chat locally with PictoChat with pictures, even rainbows.

My son and I came up with a list of what we love about the DSi and what we don't.

We love that we an buy games at the Nintendo DSi Shop. Many games are free or less than $10. A regular priced game costs $15 to $40.00. A side note about games, there are over 1,000 games made for the Nintendo DSi. Over 200 of them are educational, puzzle or strategy games. Mario games are a favorite at our house.

The DSi doesn't just play games. The PictoChat feature is fun. You can chat with your friends like your parents do on their phones. The DSi has a cool flipbooks creator. It also lets you go online to your favorite websites. It can even download sounds.

The DSi take pics of your friend and yourself. There are settings to change them, lots of special effects and you can use them in downloaded games.

The only things we don't like about the Nintendo DSi is that it is hard to put down after you get involved in a game. The game cartridges are small and easy to lose. Invest in a hard plastic case to keep them safe and sound. And, most importantly (according to my son) it is not 3D.

Compared to the Nintendo DS, the DSi is easier to hold has a bigger viewing screen and has many more features to make game playing more exciting. The Nintendo DS does not have 2 cool cameras, it does not have internet connection which means you aren't able to download games.

Is the Nintendo DSi right for you or your children? It's a solid yes for children aged 6 to 96. There are games for all ages and stages. Do your kids ask you "Are we there yet" on car rides? They'll be asking "Are we here already" when they have the DSi to keep their brains and hands busy. The Nintendo DSi can be bought at your local WalMart, Target, Best Buy, or on for around $150.00. Be sure to invest another $14.99 for the Nerf Armor to protect your DSi from damage.

How do you feel about the Nintendo DSi? How do you feel it compares to the GameBoy or Sony PSP? Please share your thoughts about the greatness of the handheld gaming.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How tech savvy are your kids?

Kids today can use a laptop, cell phone, MP3 player, Nintendo DS or smart phones just as easily as we used a baseball when we were kids. Is technology good for kids?

Opinions differ on the subject of kids and technology and connectivity. Some feel exposing kids to computers, gaming systems and other high tech devices in the early years, increases intelligence and problem solving skills. Others feel kids need to spend less time with technology and more time with nature.

How technologically savvy are your kids? Do you let them use the computer, Wii, Nintendo DS, MP3 player or your smart phone as often as they want Or do you limit their access to today's technology?

Stay tuned for my next post based on YOUR answers to the tech savvy kids question.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Talk back to me

Today I would love to get your opinion on what you, my hard working parent readers, would love to read about. So, please, go ahead, talk back to me. You have my permission, no punishments handed out here. Say whatever is on your mind. Are there topics you wish someone would blog about but you've always been afraid to ask? Are you kids doing wonderful things and you just want a place to brag?

Please speak up, no need to raise your hand.

I have a few ideas up my sleeve if you'd rather pick from my to do list:

1. How to study spelling words

2. List of top 10 educational websites for kids

3. Boys love to read about gross stuff

4. Talking to your kids about world disasters: How did you explain 9/11 to your kids?

5. Fun, cheap things to do on weekends

6. Things you wish your parents had told you when you were a kid

7. Things you wish you parents had never told you when you were a kid

The possibilities are endless. Thank you in advance for your suggestions and comments.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hot tips on Fire Safety with Sparkles

Sparkles, the Fire Safety dog has taught countless children the importance of Fire Safety, along with the guidance of Firefighter Dayna and Spanner. I want to share with you some of Sparkles' fire safety tips that every family should practice.

The main thing my son and I learned when we first met Sparkles in her book, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, is that we need to practice fire safety EVERYDAY! Repetition is the key to remember important information.

Here are a few tips along with a video that will help you and your children be fire safe:
1. Remember that firefighters are helpers and friends. Never hide from firefighters.
2. Stay away from hot things that can hurt. If you find matches or a lighter, they are not toys, do not play with them. Give them to an adult.
3. Smoke alarms are loud but they keep you safe. If you here the alarm, get out!
4. Have an escape route mapped out. Practice your escape route with your family routinely.
5. Get Low and Go! If you need to get out of a smoky area, crawl under the smoke and get out.

Thank you Firefighter Dayna for letting me brag about Sparkles on my blog!

To find out more about Sparkles and how to be fire safe, click here.

To see Sparkles Fire Safety message:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letting dogs love your kids

Growing up, the best part of my day was coming home to see our fluffy brown dog Coco waiting for me at the end of the driveway. She was the happiest member of our family and it showed every time she wagged her bushy tail. I loved how she made me feel.

Once you have a dog, life just isn't the same without one. Dogs make a house a home that is friendly, warm and sometime furry.

Since we own 3 different breed dogs, I thought I would give you my opinion on how they fit into the family life.

Labs: They love people, kids can climb all over them, their whole body wags when they wag their tail. They are very oral, meaning they want things in their mouth all the time. May need to hide your shoes and toys for the first few years. These lovable labs stay puppies for many years! Our lab, Gracie, is 10 years old and she is still playful and spunky!

Border collies: They love people, especially when you're holding a frisbee, ball, flashlight or any other potentially "chaseable" object. Borders are high energy, but extremely loyal and smart. They don't normally chew toys or shoes unless left alone when they are pups.

Great White Pryenees: They love people and all animals. Great livestock protectors but are really giant fluffy teddy bears behind a watchdog bark. Great with kids, they help children who are afraid of dogs overcome their fear. Their size may be intimidating at first, but once the child sees how gentle they are, they fall in love with them.

Dogs give unconditional love: who doesn't need some of that!
Dogs give companionship to kids of all ages.
Dogs give help kids increase their self confidence. Have you noticed how proud your child is when they can make a 200 pound Mastiff sit on command?
Dogs give kids a job to do. After all, don't kids need to earn that allowance by feeding the dog?
Dogs love trucks! They make excellent back seat companions to only children.
Dogs love to clean up after your kids. They are the first ones to the "scene" when someone spills a bowl of Cheerios.

Obviously, I am a dog lover and I hope it shows.
Do you let your kids be loved by dogs?

Have a happy tail-wagging day!
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