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Thursday, June 14th, 2012
I’m a huge fan of “Once Upon a Time,” and if you watched the show as avidly as I did each week, you’ll recognize actor Raphael Sbarge in his dual role as Jiminy Cricket and psychologist Archie Hopper. The show, which has been renewed for a second season, is centered on the power of storytelling and finding the extraordinary truth in ordinary fairy tales.
Here, in an exclusive essay for Parents.com, Sbarge writes about his own roles as father, storyteller, and entertainer for his two kids. He shares how making up bedtime stories (such as The Adventures of Seymour and Alice) helped instill imagination, creativity, and a love for books. Just in time for Father’s Day, read an excerpt from the essay below.
I have two children, a son and a daughter. Django is now 7 and Gracie is 9. One problem I had when they were younger is that a book for one child wasn’t necessarily for the other, and bedtime was a precious window. I discovered one day, quite by accident, that I could make up my own stories. These stories would invariably come from a kind of free association, as random and ridiculous as whatever would occur to me in the moment, like the tale of a female pillow that had lost her owner and decided to find him. Or a bird that woke up one day and was able to talk to humans but would occasionally lose control and speak bird again.
But I really hit pay dirt with my ongoing series, The Adventures of Seymour and Alice, about a brother-and-sister adventure duo that would often get lost and find themselves in fantastic and perilous circumstances, yet by ingenuity, gumption, and a deep desire to help one another, would always find their way home. Click here to read the full essay by Raphael Sbarge.
Follow Raphael Sbarge on Twitter (@RaphaelSbarge) and on Facebook (facebook.com/officialraphaelsbarge).
Photo Credit: T Love Photography by Tena Fanning
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bedtime, bedtime stories, celeb dad, celebrity dad, dad, Dads, fatherhood, once upon a time, parenting, parenting advice, parenting style, raphael sbarge, Storytelling, telling stories | Categories:
Entertainment, GoodyBlog, Holidays
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Editor’s Note: Ellen Seidman, from the Parents.com blog To the Max, sent this to us from her friend Jill at Scary Mommy.
This guest post is by the awesome Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy, one of the most popular mom blogs out there. That’s because Jill is extremely funny, extremely wise, extremely real and all about extreme honesty. Jill’s mom to Lily, 8; Ben, 6; and Evan, 4. Somehow she’s managed to write a book, Confessions Of A Scary Mommy. It’s out this week, and it’s every bit as relatable and delicious as her blog. I asked how she squeezed that in—who has time to write a book?! “I wrote a lot of it at 3:00 a.m.,” she explained. Ah. And now, her top 5 mom moments that drive ya nuts.
There is absolutely nothing in the world that compares to the love that I have for my children. It is consuming and overwhelming and simply the most powerful emotion I have ever felt in my life. It’s perfect.
So, how is it that these children whom I love more than anything in the world have a way of getting to me like nobody else ever has? The intensity of the annoyance and frustration I can feel for creatures I love so much never ceases to amaze me. Maybe it’s the balance of loving people so much — that the other emotions have to be equally as intense. I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but it’s a good thing that I do love them so much, or I’d have a pretty tough time liking them. Especially at times like these…
1. When they fuss over bedtime. I just don’t get it — if someone were to give me a bath, put me in clean pajamas, read me a story and rub my back until I fell asleep, I would think I’d died and gone to heaven. Instead, my children insist on bargaining on the timing, refusing to brush their teeth and fighting over bedtime stories. It always ends up being the least pleasant way to end a long day.
2. When they act up during a work call. It’s hard being a work at home parent — hard for the mom to maintain a level of professionalism when she’s chewing leftover grilled cheese crusts for lunch and changing diapers in between assignments, and tough for the kids to understand that they need to respect a role other than mother. The toughest part by far is the work phone call. If I have an important call, I will set my children up with TV show or a computer game, a snack, and instructions not to interrupt me unless there is massive blood, broken bones or an intruder in the house. When the door bursts open because someone changed the channel or they ran out of popcorn, visions of throwing the TV on the floor and bolting off to an off-site office dance in my head.
3. When they whine. When my daughter was a newborn, she cried a lot. Like, constantly. I was convinced that the worst sound in the world to a mother was her darling offspring’s inconsolable cry. What on earth could compare to that? And, then she hit the whining phase and those tears suddenly became melodic.
4. When they wet the bed. I know, I know, it’s not their fault that their bodies aren’t yet wired to wake up in the middle of the night, but still, little pisses me off more than seeing a figure next to my bed at 3AM whimpering that he is soaking wet. The most infuriating part? It always, always, seems to happen on the very night when I have finally washed the sheets and freshly made the bed.
5. When they trash a clean playroom. It’s a rare occurrence when I actually get around to deep cleaning and organizing the playroom. Hours and hours of Lego sorting and Barbie organizing and putting every last toy in the proper box pays off, though, when I can step back and admire the beauty of everything being where it belongs. Sadly, it never lasts more than five minutes before one of my children will inevitably look for some minuscule item and dump out every last box in the process.
Like I said, it’s a good thing I love them so much. Remind me why I do, again?
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being a mom, Book, Books, confessions of a scary mommy, Ellen Seidman, jill smokler, mom, mom humor, motherhood, parenting, parenting book, parenting style, scary mommy, To The Max | Categories:
Your Child, Your Life
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
When it comes to parenting, I think the majority of moms and dads wish they could enjoy a little more good old fashioned quality time with their kids. However, given the numerous directions most parents are pulled in on any given day, these opportunities can oftentimes get lost in the shuffle. Until now. One of our Parents Advisory Board members and Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Harley Rotbart, M.D., has written a new book with hundreds of little ways parents can make everyday moments special. I’ll turn it over to him to explain further:
Parents.com has been kind enough to allow me to share a few words about my “No Regrets” approach to parenting, and tell you about the new book, No Regrets Parenting – Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012). I’m a pediatrician, Professor and Vice Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, where I’ve practiced for the past 30 years.
Each day with young kids can feel like a week, and each week like a month. But as every new birthday passes, childhood seems to streak by at warp speed. “No Regrets Parenting” is a fresh, commonsense approach to time management for those of you who shudder at the thought of your kids growing up too fast, leaving for college, becoming young adults before you’ve had a chance to fully experience their childhood.
NRP is not like other “time management strategies” that are geared for efficiency with kids rather than for intimacy with them, for organizing rather than optimizing time with your kids. How to get everything done is not the same as how to make the time with your kids meaningful and memorable. NRP is about capturing the precious moments of parenting that otherwise are lost in the name of efficiency. It will show you how to transform the mundane and exhausting routines of parenthood into special parenting events. Car pool, bath time, soccer practice, homework, dinner hour, and sleepovers can all become more than just obligations – they can be opportunities, for intimate quality time with young kids. NRP teaches parents the important difference between minutes and moments. It’s not how much time you have with your kids, but how you spend the time you have that matters in the life and legacy of a young family. NRP helps you find the time to feel good about your kids’ childhood – and still get it all done!
As a pediatrician, I am privileged to observe best parenting practices but, unfortunately, I have also witnessed parenting strategies that aren’t working. Too many sad stories from parents whose careers and adult responsibilities so overwhelmed their lives they felt as if they had missed knowing their kids. Childhood had gone by too quickly. Parents wishing they could do it over again, re-prioritize. Parents with profound regrets.
NRP is for busy parents in our busy times. So there will be no regrets.
The days are long, but the years are short. And now is the time.
No Regrets Parenting is available as of today, 2/21/2012, in bookstores everywhere, and at all online book vendors (you can buy it here). The book will be excerpted in the March issue of Parents. Also, see the blog, follow the tweets and share No Regrets Parenting Facebook posts, all linked at www.noregretsparenting.com.
More related features on positive parenting:
7 Ways to Raise a Well-Rounded Kid
The 6 Best Gifts You Can Give Kids Without Spending Money
Find Your Happy Parent Place
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Friday, February 10th, 2012
Chemo During Pregnancy Doesn't Seem to Harm Baby
A new study finds that the babies of women who had chemotherapy while pregnant aren’t at higher risk for a variety of medical disorders, a sign that the treatment should be safe for the fetus in most instances.
Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say
The widening achievement gap between affluent and low-income students has received less attention than the divide between white and black students, which has narrowed significantly.
Like Father Like Son? Y Chromosome Linked to Heart Disease
A new study suggests that heart disease risk may be passed from father to son.
Video of Chinese Toddler Sobbing in Snow Sparks Outrage Over Parenting
A video of a toddler crying while running in the snow nearly naked has sparked a firestorm in China, but the boy’s father says the exercise was meant to strengthen his son.
Amid Protesters’ Disruptions, City Board Votes to Close 18 Schools and Truncate 5
A NYC board voted on Thursday night to close 18 schools and eliminate the middle school grades at five others, citing poor performance.
‘Tuba Raids’ Plague Schools in California
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The popularity of banda music, in which the tuba plays a dominant role, is seen by some as the cause of a recent rash of thefts.
Sunday, October 9th, 2011
In addition to making sure there are always fresh batteries in your home’s smoke detector, staying calm, being prepared, and knowing what to do during a fire emergency are the first steps to staying out of danger.
This week, as focus is on fire safety and fire prevention, think about introducing everyone to life-saving methods. First, have an open conversation about fire dangers with your kids. Then, keep kids and objects that can easily catch fire at least three feet away from the hottest parts of your house, such as the stove, the fireplace, any candles, etc. Also, make sure there are working smoke detectors on every floor of your house and that you test them at least once a month. (According to the CDC, an average of 4 out of 10 fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms.) Finally, organize an escape plan and practice it several times. (Read more about protecting your family from fires.)
You can also suggest that your child’s class take a field trip to the local fire department to learn safety tips first hand – that will come in handy if you ever face an unexpected emergency at home. (Read our Executive Editor’s pancake breakfast/fire alarm experience.)
Visit the U.S. Fire Administration website for additional fire safety guidelines.
More About Fire Safety on Parents.com
The photo above is from Wikimedia Commons.
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Monday, October 3rd, 2011
October is also National Down Syndrome Awareness Month (in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month). The CDC estimates that 1 in 691 babies are born with Down syndrome each year, in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome (47 instead of 46), an occurrence that results in mental and physical challenges.
This guest post was written by Amy Julia Becker, a mother who lives in Lawrenceville, NJ with her husband and three children (one boy and two girls). The oldest of her two daughters, Penny, was born with Down syndrome, and Becker shares her parenting experiences below. Becker’s most recent book is A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny. She blogs at Thin Places, and you can visit her website at www.amyjuliabecker.com.
When our daughter Penny was diagnosed with Down syndrome two hours after she was born, I immediately worried about her future, her health, our ability to take good care of her, and our community’s willingness to accept her. I thought my world would shrink into a closed room with four walls labeled disability, special needs, developmental delays, and early intervention. But by the time she was one year old, I wanted to introduce her to strangers on the street so that they could share in her infectious smile and ready wave. I’m only five years into parenting a child with Down syndrome, but I’ve learned a few things that have helped me become a better mother to Penny (and to her younger brother and sister, who have developed typically).
Learn to Give and Receive
Before Penny was born, I treated life as if it were an equation. Hard work plus a happy childhood equaled a productive and satisfied adult. Penny helped me to understand that human beings aren’t products on an assembly line. We all have different needs and different abilities. Penny’s needs are more obvious than mine, and her body is more vulnerable. And yet her classification as “disabled” has served to show me my own weaknesses—my impatience, my tendency to judge people based upon surface impressions, my stubborn independence. I remember a time when a young woman with Down syndrome came to our house. She didn’t speak very clearly, and she needed assistance with some simple household tasks. But she sat on the floor with our son, William, who was being fussy, and her gentle, soothing presence brought him great peace. This event is one example of what I have learned–to see life as a web of relationships based upon giving, receiving, and mutual care. Penny has taught me not only to receive her as a gift, but to view every person in my life as a unique being with something to offer.
Stay Focused on One Thing at a Time
Early on, I learned that I couldn’t predict when Penny would reach developmental milestones. The half-dozen baby books on my shelf wouldn’t help me if I wondered when she “should” roll over or clap or eat with a spoon. For a while I thought I needed to let go of goals for her altogether because I didn’t want to equate her value as a human being with her ability to walk or talk. But eventually I realized that Penny would learn and grow, even if she did so at her own pace. My husband and I started to focus on helping Penny learn the next thing, whatever that might be. Now that she’s in kindergarten, we ask: What’s the next thing she needs to learn about reading? About numbers? About friendship? It’s easy for all parents to spend too much time worrying about the distant future; trying to focus on one thing at a time has provided me emotional freedom.
Concentrate on Character Instead of Comparisons
When Penny was a baby, I often found myself analyzing other children her age and wondering how she measured up. If I discovered that she could do something another kid couldn’t, I felt self-satisfied and superior. On the other hand, when other kids her age could run across the room and Penny still hadn’t begun to crawl, I felt panic rattling inside my chest. I finally realized that whenever I met another child, I asked, “What can she do?” and the comparison would push me away from that child and parent. If I changed my question to “Who is she?” it allowed me to focus upon the child’s character. Every child became valuable and interesting once I stopped comparing them.
Now, with a happy, healthy child who has just started kindergarten, I wonder sometimes why I felt so scared. Having a child with Down syndrome has expanded my world, and my heart.
More About Down Syndrome on Parents.com
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Monday, September 12th, 2011
I recently had the chance to sit down with singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr. and his 13-year-old daughter Kate to talk about their partnership with American Girl as well as Harry’s parenting experience. American Girl’s newest dolls, Cécile and Marie-Grace, are from New Orleans circa 1853. Despite their different appearances and backgrounds, the girls become best friends. To accompany the release of the dolls, Harry wrote a song about friendship, “A Lot Like Me,” and Kate recorded it. All proceeds from downloads of the song benefit the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a performance space and center for music education in New Orleans.
How did you become involved in this partnership with American Girl?
Harry: American Girl was interested in two New Orleans–themed dolls, and I’m from New Orleans, so they wanted to see what I had to offer. We thought it would be cool to have Kate be a part of it too. We like working together anyway, so I couldn’t think of anybody better to sing a song that I wrote. Kate truly lives the message of, ‘It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside, it’s all about what’s on the inside.’
The song is aimed at young girls. What was it like to write for a younger audience?
Harry: It’s just a matter of writing what feels best for me. I read the stories and thought they were great. The message was so clear, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a way to try to express that with a piece of music.
What do you hope girls take away from this song?
Kate: I hope they learn, as my dad said, that it’s what’s on the inside, not on the outside [that matters]. I’ve been able to travel the world and see the different backgrounds that people come from and the different religions that they follow. I’ve realized that it’s not about what they look like.
What’s important in your friendships? What do you look for in your friends?
Kate: I look for trust, loyalty, and kindness. I think if you have those three things then you have something special.
You two share an interest in music. Do you plan to collaborate in the future?
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Harry: I hope we get to do something again. My life is spontaneous and things just kind of happen. I look forward to years and years of working with Kate in different capacities. (more…)
American Girl, American Girl dolls, celeb interview, celebrity interview, charity, fatherhood, Harry Connick Jr., interview, interviews, Kate Connick, New Orleans, parenting, volunteer | Categories:
Friday, September 9th, 2011
September 11 is a painful event that brings up painful memories, even now during the 10th year anniversary. Every parent has a story that may be too stressful to share, but dialogue about September 11 may be appropriate as kids get older and discover more about our nation’s history.
We asked our bloggers and writers to share their personal stories and thoughts on how to discuss this dark moment with kids who may be too young to remember that day.
Advice from Experts
Parents Seek Advice
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911, advice, discussion, expert advice, expert tips, grief, loss, News, news stories, parenting, September 11, talking to kids, tips, tv news, World Trade Center | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News, Your Child