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Tip of the Week

Teaching Tips on Reading Skills for Kids
By Jodie Lynn,

Getting kids to learn how to enjoy reading can be quite stressful and frustrating for a parent. Here are some tips to utilize that seem to work well for those reluctant readers.
  1. Get your child a library card. As soon as he is old enough, let him get his own card. It is very exciting for kids to have their own card and make their own choices in reading material.

  2. Don't frown on his choice of books or reading material. Let your child make the choice on what to read. It might not be the book you would have picked out. In fact, it might even be a comic book, the back of a cereal box or a bubble gum wrapper. As long as your child picks up something and begins to read, it doesn't really matter.

  3. Let your kids see you reading. Laugh aloud and show them what it is that you are laughing about. Open the book to that specific page or picture and point to the words and read them to your child. Say, "Books can really be funny!"

  4. Set aside time for reading together. In the beginning, it might only be three times a week, then every other day and eventually move forward to each day. It almost always works best if you will take turns reading.

  5. Ask questions about what he just read. Don't do this with every page. Children know exactly what you are trying to do. Indeed, it works much better if you make a statement like, "Wait -- I don't understand why Jordan did not like the large red truck -- do you?"

  6. Encourage reading material on things he likes best. If your child loves Fairy Tales, shoot for that topic to begin. Alternatively, let them choose a wide variety of mixed topics, some of which you might was to roll your eyes -- but just stay calm and smile.

  7. Be Flexible: If you have a reading time scheduled and he just does not want to do it, go with the flow. It's important to show your child that reading is fun and is not a chore, test or quiz. You can always catch up later.

  8. Tape the session. Nothing is funnier as taping a reading session. Parents can get much farther with kids if they will let down their guard every once in a while and act silly. Play back the tape and your child will hear themselves reading and then hear your part where you acted silly. Maybe by changing your voice.

  9. Share personal stories. When reading with your child, point out a similar instance in real life. For example, if a character in the book falls down and drops a glass of milk, you could say, "That happened to me when I was seven." Or, "That's just like the time when you fell down after tripping over the dog...remember."

  10. Read everything aloud. If you will read signs, instructions, even the weather forecast off the TV and etc., aloud, your child will hear words and make a connection. He will see and hear how words are powerful, fun and descriptive while building his vocabulary and enjoyment for reading.
Remember, don't punish your child if they are not catching on to the joy of reading as quickly as you would like for them to -- it'll all work out as long as you stay calm.

copy; 2005 Jodie Lynn

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Parent to Parent ( is now going into its tenth year and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. Lynn has a regular family segment on radio programs, one of which is syndicated to over 20 stations. She has written two books and contributed to two others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest best-selling parenting/family book is Mommy CEO, revised edition. Preorder Lynn's new book, "Mom CEO: Avoiding the Distressed Housewife Syndrome and Winning at Motherhood," online or from any bookstore. See for more details. Permission granted for use on

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Tags: Family/Relationships - Family, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Relatives

Watch The Weight Of Your Child's Backpack

Complaints about back and shoulder pain are increasingly common. Parents have every right to be concerned about how heavy their child's backpack is. In fact, overweight backpacks have been getting so much attention that April was declared National Backpack Safety Month by the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations.

Children, mostly under age 14, are reporting backpack-related pains that result from repetitive strain#151;schlepping packs from home to bus to school to classrooms to bus to home several times a day, five days a week. They typical overstuffed backpack weighs in at about 14 pounds, which is often 15% or more of a child's body weight, and that's too much. The strain of leaning forward to support the load is causing painful necks and backs and even changes in posture. Symptoms can be so severe that the kids have to be treated in emergency rooms.

Some kids have it even worse, hauling around packs that weigh as much as 40% of their body weight. Get out your calculator; If you had to lug 40% of your body weight in and out of cars and up and down stairs all day long you'd be in some serious pain too.

Fortunately, there may be some ways to save our kids backs:
  • Weight your child's backpacks once in a while and keep it under 10% of his weight.

  • Keep non-essentials to a minimum. Does your child really need to carry all those books at the same time? Will she use every one of them that day? If your child won't tell you, make a few calls to her teachers.

  • Investigate whether your child can share books with one or more of his classmates. That way each kid can carry a smaller portion of the total load.

  • If possible, arrange to have duplicate books at school. Or invest in a few paperbacks (particularly of literature books) and have your child keep the hard-covers at home.

  • If your child really does have to carry a lot of books, at least be sure to get the right kind of backpack. Single-strap packs cause the most discomfort because they're carried on one shoulder, which means that the child is always leaning to one side. The best#151;and most comfortable packs#151;have two padded straps and an abdominal belt.

  • Get a rolling backpack if your child's school allows it. Some don't though, because they're worried that students will get injured, trip, or fall over them in the classroom or the hallways. Why they aren't worried about the kids' backs is beyond me.

  • Treat your child to a nice neck/shoulder/back massage.
Armin Brott, hailed by Time as 'the superdad's superdad, has written or co-written six critically acclaimed books on fatherhood, including the newly released second edition of Fathering Your Toddler: A Dad's Guide to the Second and Third Years. His articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, American Baby, Parenting, Child, Men's Health, The Washington Post among others. Armin is an experienced radio and TV guest, and has appeared on Today, CBS Overnight, Fox News, and Politically Incorrect. He's the host of 'Positive Parenting, a weekly radio program in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit Armin at Permission granted for use on

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Tags: Family/Relationships - Family, Relationships, Relatives

Countdown to Fire Season:
Five Things to Do Now to Prepare

By Larry Koman

The recent fires in Santa Barbara are a stark reminder that the California Fire season is here early. If you escaped damage from the fires, consider yourself lucky. Losing a home to a fire is a life-changing event that no one should experience. Even if you don't live in a rural area, you are not immune to damage from fire. Many people in San Diego would have never expected that they would be affected by brush fires, but many lost their homes anyway.

You should take this time to make sure you are prepared in the event of a fire. Here are five things you can do to be ready.

Have an Evacuation Plan Any plan is better than no plan. Think about what you would do if you were suddenly told to evacuate. Where would you go, what would you do? What about the kids, pets, and the elderly? Have a family meeting. Talk about what to do if you were forced to evacuate. Make sure everyone knows their role, where to go, where to meet, and where to call. Talk about what stays and what goes. Remember that you might not have much time. Write it down, make a checklist. This will take the stress out of the evacuation order and make things easier.

Review your Insurance Coverage This is a good thing to do from time to time. Call or visit your insurance agent and review all of your insurance, especially your fire insurance. If you don't know who your fire insurance company is, find out and write it down and keep it with your important papers. Most Insurance Companies will be happy to review your coverage with you, and many have tools especially designed for this purpose. Make sure you know what is covered. This will give you piece of mind in the event of a fire.

Inventory your belongings Take some time to make a list of what you own. This doesn't take long but will help you remember if it is all gone after a fire. Go from room to room and write down what you see. Make notes about the items like where you got it, how much it cost, etc. Don't forget the obvious, like the furniture, but don't overlook the little things either, like window coverings, pictures, paintings, and special finishes. When you're finished, put the list in an envelope and put it somewhere you can get to it after a fire. Keep it somewhere else; a safety deposit box, an office, or a relative's house. If possible take pictures of every room and keep the pictures or disk with your inventory.

Gather Important Things Together I look around my house and I notice I have important things in a lot of different places. I looked for a copy of a picture a while ago and found that I have a drawer in the kitchen, a drawer in my office, and a drawer in the den, all with pictures. If I had a fire today, I might lose all of them. I also have some important papers in my office and some in the den. You should gather important pictures and files together so they can be gathered up quickly. Placing them in a fire proof safe or cabinet away from the garage or kitchen will help insure that they survive. The hardest thing to replace after a fire is the pictures and important papers. Take this step now and have peace of mind in the event something tragic occurs.

Fireproof your Home Although there is really no such thing as fireproof, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of fire damage to your house. If you have an older home with a shake roof, think about replacing it now with a composition shingle or cement tile roof. Spending a little money now will give you added peace of mind later. Clear debris from around your house, even if you don't live in a rural area. Clearing combustibles from around your house will reduce the threat of fire damage and make it possible for Fire Fighters to maneuver around your house to help defend it.

Whether you live in an area exposed to brush fires or not, taking these steps now will help make your family safer and give you peace of mind. If your home is suddenly destroyed, you're prepared.

Larry Koman is a Certified Property and Casualty Underwriter and a Licensed California General Contractor with more than 20 years experience inspecting and rebuilding homes damaged by fire, earthquake, and other disasters. For more information visit Permission granted for use on

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Tags: Adult Child-Parent, Family/Relationships - Adult Child/Parent, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships

The Great Crib Escape
By Armin Brott

Dear Mr. Dad: My year-old child has begun to climb out of the crib at night. How do I keep her safe?

A: Start by thinking about her environment in larger and larger circles, from the crib to the door. First, the crib. There get rid of all those bumpers (those oh-so-cute fabric pads that used to protect your baby from banging her head against the inside of the crib). Bumpers make great stepping stones for climbers. Also, take all those big stuffed animals, pillows, and heavy comforters out of the crib. These items were dangerous as suffocation hazards when your baby was small. Now that she's bigger, they're tickets to freedom.

Start by explaining to your child that this is her very own, safe, special bed, and that she can sleep there all night, just like Mommy and Daddy do in their bed. Then, if you haven't done it already, adjust the crib's mattress so it's at the setting closest to the floor. If the lower mattress and lack of climbing materials still don't prevent escape, you have a few options.

You might consider buying one of the commercially available safety nets that fit over the top of the crib like a large dome. These nets always seem a little like you're imprisoning your child, but they're a temporary solution (they're also excellent for keeping roaming pets out of the crib).

If safety nets aren't your style, consider installing a gate across her doorway or using a doorknob safety cover that your child won't be able to open. If you go this route, though, be absolutely sure that your child's room is completely childproofed.

As your child approaches two, she'll begin associating climbing and jumping with the possibility of falling, and may become more cautious on her own. You can help the process along by reminding her#151;'Remember how you fell down and bumped your head and cried?"

Whatever you do, don't just give up and put pillows around the crib, as some people do. Because pillows can shift around and expose the bare floor, this is not a good long-term solution.

The next step is a "big girl bed," which can be a mattress on the floor or a twin bed. The twin bed should be pushed against the wall, with a bed rail on the outside. This all applies until it is time for potty learning, when the world gets even bigger!

Armin Brott, hailed by Time as 'the superdad's superdad, has written or co-written six critically acclaimed books on fatherhood, including the newly released second edition of Fathering Your Toddler: A Dad's Guide to the Second and Third Years. His articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, American Baby, Parenting, Child, Men's Health, The Washington Post among others. Armin is an experienced radio and TV guest, and has appeared on Today, CBS Overnight, Fox News, and Politically Incorrect. He's the host of 'Positive Parenting, a weekly radio program in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit Armin at Permission granted for use on

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Tags: Character, Courage, Conscience, Character-Courage-Conscience, Military, Values

Soar Above theClouds
By Emily Sue Harvey

Renewal has never been portrayed to me quite as vividly as during myfirst flying experience aboard a 747 jet. The delayed flight, due torain, plunged my spirits. Finally, the engines roared to life and Ifelt myself raised up, up until we lifted from earth. Outside thewindows, the clouds swallowing me were gray and angry, painting myemotions desolate.

Then, a remarkable thing happened. Suddenly, we burst free of the darkclouds, into glorious sunshine and a sky so blue and clear I could seeto infinity. Joy! I've never before nor since experienced such amystical example of rising above darkness.

We've all experienced encountering dark and rough places through whichwe must struggle. Such experiences have stirred me to reach out toothers and simply say, Hang in there! Above those dark clouds, the sunis shining!
Here are five tips for breaking through clouds:
  1. Trust: Understand that you have little to no control overcircumstances. This "aha" often finds us on the short end of the stick.We cannot help that. What we can help is the way we perceive ourselvesas we journey through dark clouds. Trust in your ability and strengthto persevere. Buried in grief years ago, I remember distinctly stoppingdead in my tracks one day and saying to myself, "self-pity will killme." And I knew in my heart of hearts that was true. From that momenton I refused to be a victim. No "poor me" passed my lips. It was thebeginning of renewal.

  2. Stay Busy: Nothing can restore one's emotional andspiritual balance like staying active. The mind can only fully focus onone thing at a time. Whether your pain is from grief, heartbreak,depression or myriad other sources, forcing your focus on positivethings will aid in a smoother healing. During grief, I sang in thecollege choral group. As a scholarship section leader, I led ensemblesfor the upcoming Spring Concert. Nothing is more difficult than singingwhen one's heart is breaking but the group patiently coaxed me along,overlooking my tears, validating me with how "needed" I was, until,weeks later, I sang from Sound of Music as joyfully as the rest.Staying busy was cathartic in my healing, moving on process.

  3. Be Flexible: The journey through dark clouds is alwaysdifficult. Just when you think you're about to top them, setbacks canoccur. These are the times you must chill out and ride it out until youreach another plateau of recovery. A friend of mine has a daughter,whom I'll call Laurie, who is going through drug rehab via a MethadoneClinic. Laurie wants desperately to wean off the methadone and get onwith her life. She must constantly readjust dosages, due to withdrawalcrises. But she's growing stronger by the day by exercisingflexibility.

  4. Exercise Your Inner Strength: We must increase our senseof power by exercising it. Sure, it's tough sometimes, especially whenwe're at our lowest ebb. During my period of loss, I yanked myself upby the boot straps by reflecting how my departed adolescent daughterhad perceived Mama as Superwoman, who'd always made things right andwho could conquer anything.

    It was on that note that I put one foot in front of the other and kepton keeping on during that difficult time. "Oh, you're so brave," folkstold me. And I thought, "You just don't know what I'm feeling inside."But later looking back, I saw how important that interval was in myjourney to renewal and healing. It was the walk - the exercise - thatbuilt up my spirit and mind to where I was able to walk through thedarkness with unprecedented strength.

  5. Gather Role Models: Role models forge us a path andinspire us to follow. They bring us to a clearer understanding ofthe who we are and what we're meant to be. My best friend had adifficult childhood. Abandoned by her parents during adolescence, shewas reared by her grandmother, a stalwart woman who taught her goodcommon sense. Charlene ignored poverty and went on to become who shewas meant to be. She picked role models from those amongst her withadmirable attributes. Teachers and church folks she loved and wished toemulate. She chose her Home Economics teacher's posture and carriage,practicing it until perfected.

    From others she gathered nuggets of diction, health habits, wisdom, andacademic excellence. An honor student, she dressed impeccably allthrough high school, sewing her own clothing from scraps of leftovermaterial from clients she sewed for. I didn't know until later of herdire circumstances. After all, she'd always had a big old smile, washomecoming queen with a reaching out personality that drew folks likebutterflies to flowers.

    Now, she's one of the most beautiful and strongest women I know.Charlene was wise enough to know the value of following exemplary rolemodels. So do I. Especially the ones who have weathered life'sthunderstorms and rise above those dark clouds into sunshine and clearskies. It lets me know that if they can soar above the clouds, so canI!
Emily Sue Harvey writes to makea difference. Her upbeat stories have appeared in dozens ofanthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Chocolate for Women,From Eulogy to Joy, A Father's Embrace, True Story, CompassionateFriends Magazine, and Woman's World. Emily Sue served as president ofSoutheastern Writers Association in 2008-2009. PeterMiller's NY Literary and Film Agency represent Emily Sue. Her firstnovel, Song of Renewal, published by Story Plant, will be released inthe spring of 2009. For more information visit granted for useon

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Fears Of A Clown
by Bob Schwartz

There are certain words spoken by a child that can send a shiver of panic through every parental nerve ending. I've discovered that the words causing the greatest consternation were not "Don't worry, the tattoos can always be removed with a laser" or "Can you believe putting in six eyebrow rings barely hurt?"

Rather, the words which sent me quickly into a panic attack were, "My Gymbo's gone!"

Most children, sometime in their early bedtime careers, take a liking to sleeping with a stuffed animal, cuddly clown, small blanket or even something out of the ordinary like one of my children's predilection for nightly embracing a deck of Rugrats Uno cards. Don't ask.

Our son fell into the clown category, and while putting him to bed one night during a family vacation in Canada, we discovered the terrifying experience of finding that his Gymbo the clown was gone. Vanished. Without even a trace of stuffing left behind or a crayon scribbled note.

After ransacking the room and coming up Gymboless, it was clear that he was most likely the victim of an involuntary dollnapping. We concluded he must have been inadvertently scooped up with the sheets that day by the hotel staff. Poor little Gymbo was lying innocently on the bed one minute and then, suddenly, his world was torn asunder with the disengagement of a fitted sheet.

Apparently, he was abruptly wrapped up in the bed linen and tossed down that dark and seemingly never-ending chute to the basement laundry facility. He went from his sheltered suburban upbringing, to being quickly exposed to the giant underbelly of a hotel building. He was naively left to wonder what he'd done to be cast aside and jettisoned into the dungeon of the sheet and pillow case world he was then forced to call home.

The immediate focus was damage control by one parent and Gymbo retrieval by the other. As our son broke out into hysterics, he made it painfully clear that no Gymbo for him meant no sleep. For everyone. And after a long day of nonstop vacationing movement, no sleep was simply an untenable concept for me.

My wife quickly got connected to the hotel laundry room and explained the dire circumstances. She was advised that they'd not seen him yet, but amazingly, they requested she provide them a description of the victim.

This caused us to immediately wonder just how many stuffed dolls they had lying in that basement. Was there some international black market for stuffed cuddly things going on down there? I grabbed the phone and interjected that we'd be able to pick him out of a lineup, so please just let us know how many cotton clowns they'd seen recently. Or perhaps they'd like us to come down and do a composite watercolor painting for them.

I handed the phone back to my wife who patiently provided the laundry staff the unmistakable physical characteristics of a stuffed blue and yellow clown #151; a missing button on his body-hugging suspenders, frizzy red hair, a frayed right leg, about twelve inches long, a bow tie, and with an unwavering cat that ate the canary smile on his face. I felt very confident they wouldn't confuse him with a mattress pad.

As we anxiously paced back and forth, the phone finally rang. In a thick French Canadian accent, the unemotional voice said, "Vee have located your clown."

The words, spoken so solemnly yet somewhat muffled, forced me to become fearful they would next demand a ransom? Or, worse yet, advise us that after a violent fifty-minute foray in the tumble dryer his arm was hanging by a thread?

My wife and I were so thankful that Gymbo was soon delivered to our door in one piece and wearing that same cockeyed grin, but to me, he had a little shell-shocked look. I could only think of the horrors he must have seen down below, tossed in amongst the giant spinning washer along with stained tablecloths and thrown about in the whirling dryers with a bath towel pressed against his face.

We could only hope that the familiar rhythmic breathing of his sleeping owner in the footed pajamas would soon erase the memories of his emotionally charged excursion into the outside world.

We did learn to avoid any unchaperoned Gymbo excursions in the future by tying one end of a shoelace around his waist and the other end around the bedpost each morning. I know that doesn't necessarily look all that loving, but hey, he never stops smiling. And it does eliminate one potential for bedtime parental panic.

Once was enough #151; for all of us.

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Tags: Adult Child-Parent, Character, Courage, Conscience, Character-Courage-Conscience, Family/Relationships - Adult Child/Parent, Family/Relationships - Children, Family/Relationships - Family, Military, Morals, Ethics, Values, Parenting, Politics, Relatives, Religion, Values

Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy at Home
by Lesley Spencer, MSc; Founder President Inc.

Many Americans these days are finding themselves out of shape and overweight. Why is that? The bottom line is we are taking in more calories than we are burning. It takes a conscious effort to reduce calories, eat healthier and get regular exercise.

Exercise does not have to be a dreaded word either. The good news is that exercise gives you more energy, stress relief, better health, clearer focus, sharper mind, better sleep, better bone health, better sex life, and it decreases the risk of cancers, heart attacks and heart problems. Forget the benefits of just looking good and realize exercise not only makes you feel good, it can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Here are some tips to get you on your way to a healthier lifestyle:
  • Put your workout clothes on first thing in the morning. You'll feel more "obligated" to exercise once you are dressed in your workout clothes.

  • Use music to energize and motivate you to exercise. Get a few great CDs that energize you. Turn it up and jam out! The music will motivate you and help the time pass by more quickly!

  • Always keep a water bottle and a healthy snack with you. When you get hungry, go for the healthy snack instead of heading to the pantry. Try to keep your water bottle full so that you can drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Follow the two-bite rule. If there's something you absolutely must have, take two bites and be done! You'll get your fix and be proud of your will power to put it down!

  • No time for exercise? Make a goal to walk for 30 minutes at least three times a week. You'll find if you make it a priority, you can fit it in. Try going right after breakfast or after taking your kids to school.

  • Need to be motivated to exercise? Find one or two workout partners to motivate one another. If you don't have anyone near by, find a virtual workout buddy on the Self-Care message boards. Share successes, motivate one another and just enjoy doing something for yourself!

  • Keep a diary of what you eat for a few days. Calculate your intake and decide where you should cut back. (You can find nutritional charts on the Mom's Assistant section of

  • If you have cravings for something sweet, try eating something tart to curb the craving such as a pickle. If you crave crunchy salty snacks, try having an apple instead.
Take the leap. Commit to exercising a few days a week and before you know it, the benefits will be their own motivator! You will feel better, look better and be better.

Lesley Spencer is founder and president of the, Inc. Network whichincludes:,,,,, and (coming soon!). She has a Master's Degree in Public Relations and has been featured in numerous media outlets including CBS News, Forbes, Business Week, Parents, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. She has been working from home for over 10 years and has two children whom she absolutely adores! Permission granted for use on

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Tags: Character, Courage, Conscience, Character-Courage-Conscience, Family/Relationships - Family, Military, Parenting, Relatives, Values

Discipline, not Punishment
By Anne Leedom

It's kind of tragic that just as we master the baby and toddler years we are thrown a whole new set of curves. Our kids grow and develop new and not always desirable behaviors and we now have to learn how to cope once again.

So I set out to construct the perfect plan and I am proud to say it has stood the test, at least for now. Behavior battles seem to be at a minimum in our home. Based on information from a variety of experts, I have put into motion a strategy that should provide long term relief and a much happier and harmonious day.

The Set Up
Let's face it. We just push our kids too far. We stray from the routine to the point where even the most accommodating child will break. It could be preventing them from getting their rest, letting them get too hungry, asking them to be overly patient while we do our errands, chores or work, or providing so much fun and stimulation that they simply go on overload. This is a critical element to watch, or you will have the perfect situation for the ultimate tantrum.

Watch the Barometer
Without warning kids can suddenly hit their limits and patience begins to wane rapidly. Too often parents try to dictate in this moment how they want their child to behave. Unfortunately, the barometer is rising and our wishes will almost certainly fall on deaf and increasingly angry ears. As soon as you notice the struggle, begin to take the child aside to a quiet location and try to reason with them. For example, 'I don't want to take a bath can become a conversation about whether to take a bath or shower. In these crucial early moments, giving kids a small choice can go a long way toward preventing a potential meltdown.

Change the Course
Even the most prepared parent will encounter those horrid moments when kids are just going to wail. The key in this moment is to move past the moment as quickly and quietly as possible. Deciding to give them a bath in the morning instead of right at that moment or letting your child read in bed with the door closed for five more minutes will almost certainly restore harmony. Sure, you may not be able to expedite the plan you had in mind, but the goal is to work together. It's not about giving your child control; it's about giving your child some control. Disciplining your child is a team effort. You need to involve your child in the solution so they are more willing to cooperate. Parents who raise kids in this manner have kids who will cooperate more often than not. The battles are over before they begin and you will not be caught wondering what to do when those difficult moments arise.

Keep in Mind
No one reacts well to the word 'no . There are dozens of ways we can say no without over-using this word. Simply saying, 'Gee, that's a thought. I will think about that, has a completely different sound to a child. Kids know when we mean no. But once again, they like to feel they are being considered in the process. A little tact is another key ingredient to raising kids with at least a few less tantrums.

Ultimately, these strategies give parents something we all long for. We want to feel like we can actually overcome the battles and feel like we have won, but not at the expense of our kids' love and respect. Discipline that empowers the parent and the child is a winning formula for the long haul.

Anne Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Permission granted for use on

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Tags: Family/Relationships - Family, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Relatives

Things to do When Traveling by Car and Light Snacks For Kids

This is the time of year when families begin to plan for their vacations and many will be taking to the roads via automobiles and need help in trying to make it a good experience.

Some pointers are listed below:
  • Plan ahead and get the kids involved in the planning the trip along with a map or road atlas.
  • Discuss what you will see and perhaps get a video of where you are going.
  • Check out possible points of interest along the route and stop there for meals or a stretch.
  • Kids enjoy talking into a tape recorder to "report" what is out the window or other momentary facts.
Bring along a bag of distractions. Hand them out only as a last resort.

When traveling with kids, get things for them to share and things just for each child. "Trouble-Free Travel With Children" by Vicki Lansky, (Book Peddlers, $9.95) has tons of things to do with your children as well as plenty of ideas to do before you get started to ensure it is the best one yet. The "Everything Kids Travel Activity Book," by Erik Hansen (Adams Media Corporation, $6.95) has many choices for kids in the age range of 8 to 12.

Think about buying music that everyone in the car will enjoy like "Kids' Roll Party," (Lightyear Entertainment, $6.95) has cool rock 'n roll tunes from the 70's in today's kids' words and themes.

Start your trip early around 3:00 a.m. so the kids will still want to sleep through the morning, make frequent stops to use the bathroom, eat light snacks, run around, stretch at the rest stops and do not let the kids drink caffeine.

Nutritious treats to think about can be the small pre-boxed raisins, cherries, cranberries, trail mix or buy the larger sized containers and make up your own by mixing and adding dried non-sugar cereal.

Alternatives for Keeping up with Children's Activities and Meals
  1. Have a large "at-a-glance" calendar. Place it on the counter by the telephone. Write any appointments, deadlines or activities on it with a colored pencil. Put the person's name or initials followed by the event. Use different color pencils for each name. Use the same color for the same person. Everyone can glance at the calendar and know what is going on by color.

  2. Have a large calendar on the wall. Make sure it has big squares representing the days of the month. Write down everything - including meal choices that each member of the family has decided on. This way, there will not be any "what are we having for dinner" questions or who chose it.

  3. Organize your day by time. Clip all papers from camp counselors, childcare teachers or anything from the school for the upcoming school year in chronological order on the refrigerator. Once a week make a schedule of the following weeks' events, organized by day. Each day is organized by time. This schedule is posted on the refrigerator. Don't forget to add who is to do what to help in the kitchen and other chores.

  4. Keep a diary by the telephone. Each day is a page, and all activities are entered plus meals for the week. You can often refer to it for what happened the previous year around the same time and even look to see if there was a meal you cooked that the family particularly enjoyed.

  5. Plan snacks and meals in advance. Having meals planned in advance can save time, energy and arguments. If you know your weekend is going to be spent mainly in the car, quick easy to clean up meals and snacks are timesaving and healthy alternatives to stopping at the fast food window. Cut up vegetables the evening before and place in a glass container filled halfway with water. This keeps them extremely crisp. Drain them in the morning and place in the top tray of an ice chest enclosed in a "freezer" baggie. Place sliced fruit in a freezer bag in the same area.
Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family/health columnist. Her latest paperback book is Mommy-CEO: 5 Golden Rules, 2001 revised edition, which covers family and health tips. Check out the new Mom, CEO totes, cups and T-shirts on the website and order yours today. All moms are working moms and are the real CEOs in life. Jodie Lynn originated the terms, Mommy CEO, Mom CEO and CEO Mom and all implications in "honoring balance in the life of moms/women," in 1989 and in print since 1996. Preorder her newest book, Mom CEO: Avoiding the Distressed Housewife Syndrome and Winning at Motherhood, soon! copy;2005 Jodie Lynn. Permission granted for use on

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Pots and Pans: TheEssentials
Excerpted from
"Two Dudes One Pan: Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen"

By Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo,
published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008

When we were thinking of the different pots and pans to use, we decidedto focus on the truly essential pieces, the ones that no kitchen shouldbe without. These are the ones that we think are the most important.

The Big Bowl
With one large bowl, you can make a variety of dishes, from salads toceviches. We prefer metal to glass because we can bang it around on thecounter and in the sink without worrying that it will break. Wood isfine for salads, but don't use it for ceviche because the bowl will geta fishy smell. Mixing bowls are one of the few pieces of equipment thatyou can cheap out on. Save your money for a good quality skillet,roasting pan, or Dutch oven instead.

Nonstick Skillet
Instead of making a big investment in an expensive nonstick skillet,buy an inexpensive one that has moderate heft and a comfortable,welded-on handle (the screwed-on handles can come loose an get wobblywith time). You really shouldn't spend more than fifty bucks on anonstick skillet. A twelve-inch nonstick can fry a frittata just aswell as it can accommodate long fish fillets. It's the size werecommend to start with; though a small eight-inch nonstick comes inhandy for frying eggs.

Classic Skillet
Whether you call it a frying pan, a skillet, or a sauteacute; pan, agood-quality, evenly weighted skillet is one of the most importantpieces of equipment in your kitchen. This is the pan you'll turn totime and time again for searing meats, sauteacute;ing vegetables, andmaking pan sauces. The handle should be oven-safe so the pan can gofrom the stovetop to the oven or broiler without a problem. Enameledcast iron works well, too, but we find it on the heavy side. If youwant to work on your biceps while you cook, though, go for it! As withthe nonstick skillet, a twelve-inch skillet is the size to start with.

Dutch Oven
This is a piece of equipment worth investing in. It's used for slow,wet cooking methods, such as braising short ribs in beer orslow-cooking lamb shanks with wine. Since it's constructed forstovetop-to-oven cooking, a Dutch oven is usually made of heaviermaterial that can withstand long stays in a hot oven. A six-quart Dutchoven can comfortably hold big pieces of meat and roasts and is deepenough to contain any liquid you add for the cooking process. In apinch you can make soup, boil water for pasta, and deep-fry in a Dutchoven, making it a really valuable all-around player in the kitchen.

Roasting Pan
When you're dry roasting without much liquid, this is the pan tochoose. It should be large and deep enough to hold a six-bone prime ribor a Thanksgiving turkey, with handles that are easy to get a good,solid grip on. Invest in a roasting pan with a thick, even, andheavy-gauge bottom. If you can't devote that kind of money to a pan,then you can always place a baking sheet underneath a flimsier roastingpan to provide a little more support. Be sure to purchase a roastingrack along with your roasting pan if it doesn't come with one. Theseare handy for elevating chickens or pork loins to circulate air formore even browning.

Baking Dish
We use a 9 by 13-inch 3-quart glass baking dish for all of ourdesserts. You could get all fancy here if you wanted and buy a priceyglazed porcelain or clayware baking dish, but we opt for the tried andtrue (and cheap) glass Pyrex dish for a few reasons. One, it's cool topeek into the oven and see right through the baking dish to check thecolor of what's baking (which is why we also prefer glass over metalbaking pans). Two, its curved corners are easy to clean. Three, if itbreaks, it's no problem. Go to any department store or even a grocerystore and you can replace it for less than fifteen dollars.

We didn't include a saucepan chapter in our book because you can'treally make a meal in a saucepan. That said, a saucepan is useful forlots of things, such as making rice, polenta, fruit compotes andsauces, and cream sauces (cregrave;me anglaise, beacute;arnaise, andmore); heating stock; and blanching small-cut vegetables. Saucepanshave straight edges and sharp corners while sauciers have roundedcorners; they're fairly interchangeable, though sauciers are a littlebetter for making cream sauces because you can really get into thecorners. We tend to prefer good-quality heavy-gauge steel-cladaluminum- or copper-core saucepans because they heat evenly and retainheat - qualities that are vital for rice and cream sauces. We like longhandles to keep our hands away from the heat, and we prefer weldedhandles or riveted ones to those attached to the base by screws thatcan come loose with time. A good 2- or 3-quart saucepan should lastawhile.

In June 2008, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo created LA's newestrestaurant, animal. The food is fresh and seasonal, refined yet rustic,and perfects the rare art of unpretentious sophistication. In addition,Jon and Vinny are the 'dudes behind the Food Network show Two DudesCatering, and have appeared on Iron Chef America and Last Call withCarson Daly. TWO DUDES, ONE PAN is their first book. For moreinformation visit and granted for

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