Friday, May 30, 2008

10 Fathers Day gifts for the Dad who is positively medieval

This is for those guys who love castles, knights, siege weapons and anything else medieval. This is what my husband loves, so of course I have been shopping around. I have created a list of things I found for others who are also looking for medieval gift ideas for Fathers Day. It is nice to find unusual gifts and I like shopping, and I don’t mind sharing what I find.

Please note that this is just a list of with the sites and prices I found. I am sure that these or similar items can be found on other website.

Working Wood Siege Tower. This is a little siege tower is a1/18th scale replica of a 13th century war engine. It actually shoots a clay ball over 10 feet. It is a kit so it has to be made, but that is half the fun. The kit comes with rolling wheels; lowering drawbridge and firing catapult and includes some modeling clay for projectiles. Requires scissors and white glue. I found this at x-tremegeek for $39.95.
R/C Jousting Knights. This one just made me laugh. Each set comes with two horses, nights and lances. I can see my husband and son having mini jousting tournaments. Each one trying to knock off the others knight from the remote controlled horse. This just looks like to much fun. I found this at Think Geek for $24.99.

Monty Python Mini Bobble Heads. This will work for anyone who is a Monty Python fan. There is the Black Knight or a Knight of NI to pick from. They are definitely different but fun. I found them at Think Geek for $6.99 each.
Wooden War Engine Kits. I found two kits here, one for a catapult and one for a trebuchet. You have to put them together and will need a cutting tool and glue. The catapult is perfect for chucking balls of paper and other small objects over cubicle walls. The trebuchet is better for long-range targets. I can just see getting this and the working wood siege tower and end up having a mini war on my hands. I think it would be a lot of fun for everyone. I just don’t think it would just be paper balls being used. Get some of the guys together and I don’t want to think what they will send flying into the air. These I found at Think Geek for $19.99 up to $34.99.

Lifesize Office Warrior Weapons. This set has useable (people sized) sword, axe, and shield made of expertly painted foam latex. So they look cool on a wall and you can have fun with them well. Though I think it would be a good idea to get two sets. This does give new meaning to dealing with a conflict at the office though. I know that if I got these they would never make it to a wall. I would actually have to get 4 sets, one for each of us. I already learned that when I got the foam swards from the dollar store. These would get used in my home. I could get some great pictures of my husband having to defend himself from the kids. I found these at Think Geek for $49.99 and $59.99.

Hand Crafted Leather Shield. This is an actual hand made one-of-a-kind leather and wax shield with a Celtic cross design burned into it. This is great for on the wall or just to show off. Definitely for the guy who is into shields and armour. This is at Medieval Magic for $250.00

Handcrafted Leather bracers. These are very unusual handmade leather bracers with Celtic horse design burned into them. These are art. They would look great displayed, but can actually be put on as part of a costume. Though they can be used for SCA combat. This is at Medieval Magic for $100.00.

Celtic War Sword. This is a simple sword that is made of stainless steel and has a leather scabbard. It looks nice, easy to wall mount or have as a costume. This one was nice to look at. However I have to admit that with any sword I would not actually buy one for my husband, as he is very picky about them. He loves to collect them, but he has to pick them. I found this one at Brothers Smith-Sword for $27.95.

Functional Great Claymore Sword. Now this is a sword that stands out. It is huge. It would look great on a wall, however the site indicates that it is a functional sword. I think that means that it will take an edge were the Celtic war sword would probably not. This is for the sword connoisseur. I found it at Brothers Smith-Sword for $249.95. I know that if my husband were to pick he would get this one over the smaller Celtic war sword.

Spangenheim Helmet. Who does not want a suit of armour? Well that can be very expensive and take up a lot of room. However a knight’s helmet I can fit into my home, and display it. I found some interesting helmets that can be used as a display, or costume, at Brothers Smith-Sword . This one was $79.95. However I found some amazing handcrafted custom helmets at Golden Boar Armoury like this Phygian Style Shovel Face Helm. I could not find out a price because each piece is custom made, so prices will depend on a lot of things.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

5 Unusual Fathers Day gift ideas

A card or a tie seems to be the only traditional Fathers Day gifts. There is no safe fall back gift if you have no idea what to get your dad. Sometimes it can be hard to find the right gift or find the one that shows how you feel. Other times it is just nice to find something that is unusual and fun to give. Here are some unusual Fathers Day gifts for dads of all ages.

Please note that I am listing the website that I found them on and the price listed on it. I am in no way connected to these websites and I am sure these items can be found in retail stores or other online shops.

Survival Kit in a Sardine Can. This is great for the guys who like to camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, or long road trips. It made me think of my Step Dad who works in the woods as a forest ranger, but I think other people will like it just because it is so odd but useful. It is an actual sardine can filled with 25 survival items: non-aspirin pain reliever, adhesive bandage, alcohol prep pad, antibiotic ointment, book of matches, compass, chewing gum, sugar, salt, energy nugget, duct tape, fire starter cube, first aid instructions, fish hook & line, note paper, pencil, razor blade, safety pin, reflective signal surface, tea bag, waterproof bag, whistle, and wire clip. I found this at for $12.99.

USB Memory Watch. This is for the guy who has to be connected all the time, or just likes spy gadgets. It is a watch that can be used to store 2 GB or 4 GB of data. I like this because it can be useful, you don’t need to carry around a disk or something, just upload info, MP3 files, pictures, or whatever into your watch. There is less chance of forgetting it or loosing it, which I tend to do. On top of that it actually is a nice looking watch. For an external data storage and watch the price was pretty good. I found this at for $34.99 and $54.99.

Working Wood Siege Tower. This is for those guys who love castles, knights, and siege weapons. This is a little siege tower is a 1/18th scale replica of a 13th century war engine. It actually shoots a clay ball over 10 feet. It is a kit so it has to be made, but that is half the fun. I actually know quite a few men who would love to spend an afternoon building siege towers and then using them to battle each other, or at lest see who’s is the best or shoots the furthest. I know they built catapults out of Popsicle sticks and spent the afternoon trying to be the one to hit the most targets in a cardboard castle. I have a list of people for this one, even if it was designed for age 9 and up. The kit comes with rolling wheels; lowering drawbridge and firing catapult and includes some modeling clay for projectiles. Requires scissors and white glue. I found this at for $39.95. I can think of the trouble I would get into with this on my desk. Just picture it, low cubical walls all around, “Where did that come from!” would be the cry.

Stainless Steel Wallet. I know that wallets are not that unusual, but this one is. It has the texture of silk but is actually woven from micro fibers of stainless steel. It makes me think of the duct tape wallet that was so popular a few years ago. I found this at for $79.99.

USB Rocket Launcher. My husband has this one on top of his wish list for Fathers Day gifts. He loves it because you operate it using your computer. I think this is the gift our 5 year old is going to give him. I will never get the two of them off the computer with this. They will play with this for hours and never get tired. Though I did see one with a web camera that lets you see what you are aiming at. It is the USB Webcam Rocket Launcher will shoot up to 15 feet. If two people have them then they can take over each other’s remotely and fire on each other. Sound like a lot of fun. I found both of these on for $29.99 and $59.99.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Balancing a Child’s safety with the need for free exploration: parenting past and present.

Balancing a child’s safety with the need for free explorations is handled differently today then it was in the past. Why, because each generation has learned from the mistakes of the last generation and technology has changed. Sure we don’t let our kids play in the kitchen when we cook, we put gate up so they cannot get in. Why, because too many kids were burned and we learned to do things differently. We don’t let our kids bike with out a helmet, or at least the helmet is on when we can see them. Why, because we like our kids to not have brain injuries. We keep our kids wired to us by cell phones and some times GPS trackers. Why, don’t we trust our kids? Yes, about as much as our parents trusted us and I am sure if my Mom could have put a GPS on me back then she would have. This gives us some feeling of safety for our kids as kids can be and are picked up off the streets every day.

Does keeping your child out of the kitchen when you cook prevent them from learning hot don’t touch, or this is how you make dinner? No, they can still observe out of harms way and we can do other activities together that teach in a less harmful environment. Does making your child put their helmet on when biking hold them back, no. Is making them call you at specific times on their cell prevent them from exploring the world, no but it lets them know that you care about them. In some ways it even lets them explore more, we can find them or check in with them at any time, it just takes a call and we know what is going on. Or as much as they tell us, there is still trust issues out there.

I am not saying that our parents did not try to keep us safe, just that our perceptions of what needs to be done to keep our kids safe is different. I am sure our children will also have a different view on what is safe and what is not. Parents in the past said, “Don’t put any thing into the electric socket”, we say the same thing but now have little plug caps to put into them to help remove the temptation. Trust me if a kid is determined to stick some thing into the electric outlet they will find a way. But that is why we tell our kids not to and have better fuses to shut off the electricity if they do. We still tell our kids, don’t play by the pool, and don’t go in the pool if we are not with you. However, we now put fences up with motion detectors on the gate and special motion detectors on the pool to give us warning if someone is in the water.

We have better ways of keeping our children safe now; it does not hamper our children’s need for free exploration. We are not keeping our kids from exploring; we are just making sure it is in a safer environment. We don’t leave guns, or matches in places where kids can get to them and tell them don’t play with that, it is not a toy. We lock them up (the guns and matches, not the kids). Our kids can still learn that guns and matches are not a toy with out being put into a situation where they harm themselves or others. I like to think that we have come a long way from the time of having seat belts but not using them to having car seats and buster seats with special belting to keep them safe.

About 10 years ago my friends parents where babysitting their grandson. He had just started to go from crawling to trying to pull himself up. The Grandmother made her husband his tea like usual. She boiled the water, put the bag in and then put it on the end table by the couch. The little boy used that table to pull himself up. The table fell, the hot tea burned him so bad he had to go to the hospital for 3rd degree burn treatment and his chest will be scarred for life. As a result of this I always made sure I used a travel mug with a lid around my kids, that I took my cup with me when I left a room, or made sure it was in a high, secure place. My kids learned my cup was hot and that they were not to touch it. Did I stop putting my cup in a safe place, no, just for my own peace of mind. I learned from the mistakes of others, as I hope my children will learn from my mistakes.

Ignoring is a wonderful tool when dealing with kids

Now please note that this is not ignoring a child but to praise positive behaviors and to not acknowledge negative behaviors that are not harmful. The idea is that if we give positive attention when children are doing what we see as being good we are reinforcing the positive behavior. This would be if your child was helping tidy up and you tell him or her what a big help they are being or when they are playing nicely with other kids and you tell them how proud you are that they are doing such a great job sharing. This will encourage your child to continue this because they get attention from you.

The ignoring comes in when a child is doing what we the parents see as behaving badly. This is when you child asks for a cookie before dinner and when told “No” has a tantrum. The idea is to not pay any attention to the screaming child on the floor doing everything he or she can to get that attention. As long as they are not harming themselves, others or damaging things let them scream and cry. They are still not getting the cookie. If we feed into it and try to calm them down or explain why they cannot have a cookie they are getting attention and will more then likely keep it up. If you know that when you say, “No you cannot have a cookie now, it is almost dinner time” that a tantrum will start instead give him or her an alternative to the tantrum or cookie by saying, “No, you cannot have a cookie now, it is almost dinner time, can you help set the table.” That may divert them from the tantrum.

However if the tantrum starts just ignore that behavior. They don’t need to get your attention for negative behavior. Let them cry and scream, don’t look at them, don’t show any interest in what they are doing by word, body language or facial expression. Make sure everyone ignores this. Eventually the child will figure out that this is getting them exactly nothing, no attention and no cookie. Think about it as an adult, you feel kind of silly ranting and raving about something if no one pays any attention. It works the same with kids to. First they will increase the level of the tantrum to get your attention, once they don’t get it they eventually stop. After you do this several times kids will actually reduce the number of tantrums and the severity of the tantrums because it is not getting them anything.

It is very important that once the bad behavior is over you quickly find a good behavior to complement or praise them on. This quickly re-enforces that positive behavior gets them attention, negative does not. It has been found that if we give our kids lots and lots of positive attention with words, body language and facial expression all day and ignore the negative behaviors the negative behaviors reduce. Ignoring is one of the hardest parenting skills to master. It is hard on us to see our kids upset; we want them to be happy. It is stressful having a kid screaming and crying and not do anything about it. You want to make them stop, it is hard to not try to make your kid stop telling them to stop or explaining why they cannot have the cookie. In the long run though, ignoring is an incredibly useful tool. We just have to give ourselves permission to ignore a behavior and then train ourselves to do so.

Friday, May 23, 2008

How to keep your teen girl safe when she parties

How to best keep your teen girl safe when she parties, become the party home. Let your home become the one every one hangs out at. Sure you have a messy house and a large food bill but at least you know where your teen daughter is at and what she is doing. You can control what goes on in your home, make sure drugs and alcohol is not getting into the teens, and no place for them to have sex. The reality of this actually happening is slim to none as teenagers want to party at the place with the least supervision. So you have to deal with the reality that your teenager is going to party with her friends some where out of your control.

You need to teach your teen girl that she can party and have fun without drugs or alcohol, give her the real information about what drugs and alcohol do to a person. Control what you can and educate her on every thing else. We also must teach by example. What is the point of saying, “Do as I tell you not as I do”? It does no good to tell a teen girl not to do some thing she sees her parents and other role models doing.

Things parents need to think about to keep their teen girl safe when she parties. People need to understand that a party can be any activity outside your supervision. It can be at a school party, a birthday party, friends home, at underage dance clubs, or your teen girl can get fake ID and get into actual bars and clubs. There are too many things to worry about these days. If we let our teen girls party we need to make sure they understand what is ok, not ok and the consequences of her and others actions. What are we the parents most concerned with? Sex, Drugs and alcohol for the most part.

Let us deal with each of these: First Sex.

As parents we need to have the sex talk with our children, both boys and girls as early as possible. This way they will hopefully have a good idea of what sex is, what is ok and not ok, and the consequences like pregnancy, Aids and other STD’s. We cannot stop our teens from wanting sex, or even having sex. All we can do is try to make sure they make the best possible informed decisions.

We also need to build our teen girls self-esteem so they don’t need to turn to teen boys and men to feel better about them selves. Girls with low self-esteem often turn to sex to become popular and mistake the attention they are getting for love or as giving them value. Others with low self-esteem will let people treat them badly, even selling themselves to others for sex because they don’t think they are worth more or deserve better. We as parents need to do what we can to stop this from happening. We must let them know they are valued and loved by us, just the way they are. Not an easy thing to do.

What we need to make sure our teen daughters understand is that teen boys and even grown men want to have sex with them. Yes even when a teen girl is only 13 guys are trying to get into their pants; they don’t just want to be fiends. For the most part teen boys and men will tell her what ever she wants to hear to try and have sex with her. Others may go a more direct rout, using drugs and alcohol to get rid of her inhibitions, and make it easer for them to convince her to have sex. Others will use alcohol, and drugs to cause her to be unable to fight them off as they rape her. If you are passed out it is kind of hard to say “NO”. Others will just rape, with or with out the use of drugs and alcohol. Our daughters need to know this, not some sanitized version of life. They must understand that this can happen to them, it does not just happen to other people.

Second: Drugs

All children, and teens, must understand the difference between drugs and medicine. Medicine is some thing a Dr. prescribes to make a specific medical problem better. Drugs are sold or given by people who want them to get high, become addicted, and give them money to get more drugs. Sure the idea is that drugs make you feel better, have better sex, or just remove you from problems. The reality is that drugs make you stupid, addicted and change who you are.

So we make sure our kids and teens know not to do drugs. That it is not a cool or fun thing to do, even if other people around you are doing it. Doing random drug tests at home help them say NO. It makes it easer for them to give a reason for not doing the drugs, a way out from peer pressure. It is much easer for a teen to say, “I can’t do that or be in the room when you do it because my parents drug test me when I get home” then to say “No I don’t want to do that”. For the most part unless a teen girl is looking for drugs to escape their lives they appreciate having a way out from taking them.

The real problem here is that drug dealers are marketing and targeting preteens and teens. Our kids and teens don’t even know that they are taking a drug. There were some sour candies that the dealer coated with a drug and they looked the same as the regular sour candies. Others have made special suckers; the drug was mixed in with the sucker ingredients when they were being made. It looks like a sucker, why would any one think it was not one. Then they don’t sell drugs to the kids and teens, but they sell a candy that is special, makes you feel better, or how ever they want to market it. The next thing you know the kids and teens are addicted to a drug they did not even know they were taking. Drug testing at home can catch this and help find where the drug is coming from.

Third: Alcohol

This one is the hard one. It is legal and teen girls see their parents drinking. If it is ok for the parent to drink alcohol why can’t they? It is one of those do as I tell you not as I do type situations, and that never works. A lot of people do not see there is any harm in drinking even when it is underage drinking. Telling teen girls that drinking puts them at risk can help keep them from drinking, but only if they understand the hard facts about it. Not some lame, “Don’t drink its bad for you.” Drinking impairs decision-making so you have to stop them from having the first drink.

Teen girls need to understand that it puts them at risk to be raped as well as other things. Alcohol is responsible for most teen deaths. Death caused by drunk driving is the one most people think of. However alcohol poisoning is right up there as well as non-vehicle related accidents. When some one is drunk or stoned things that would normally be obviously dangerous is not seen that way. This would explain many injuries and deaths like trying to race across a train track and beat the train, or jumping off a cliff into water to go swimming.

How to keep your teen girl from drinking or doing drugs? There are home tests that you can use to tell if she has been drinking or doing drugs. It makes it easer for her to say; “no I get tested when I get home”. If she is old enough to drive get her to always be the designated driver. The best thing to do is to be brutal in showing the consequences. Not just the films about drinking, or showing the cars that were in drinking related accidents. Show them the people on the street, homeless, see if you can show some one detoxing from alcohol or drugs. Have them talk to some one whose friend or family member died from alcohol or drugs. Make her watch how people act when drunk. If she does come home drunk film her. Then show her what she is actually like when drunk.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Summer Birthday Party ideas for boys 4, 5 and 6 years old

Summer is a great time to have a birthday party. There are a lot of options available for every budget, from free to as expensive as your budget can handle. There are a lot of outdoor activities and locations for parties, though you should always keep in mind that weather will not always co-operate. Always have an indoor back-up plan.

The time and day that you have the party on is going to have an effect on a lot of things. The best time for guests between 4 and 6 years old is usually 11am to 1 pm on a weekend. This time will usually work with most families so that the guests you invite can come. In the summer it is possible to have parties during the week between 11 am and 1 pm, however you can expect fewer guests to be available. Evenings can work, but you may want to have the party from 5:30 or 6 PM until 7 pm to prevent interfering with bedtimes. Afternoons are better then evenings, though some people feel afternoon parties are more disruptive to their routines and you may have fewer guests then if you have it at 11 am.

You do not want to have the party last longer then two hours at this age. Any longer then that become disruptive to routines. Kids may start to misbehave or act out from the stress of the disruption of their routines. Also parents are less likely to bring their kids to a party that is going to be more then two hours. For the most part you can get a lot of fun and activates into two hours, anymore then two hours becomes stressful for everyone.

The best place to have a summer party is a local park with playground. Often there will be a picnic area, bathroom, on a bus route, and plenty of parking. Some places even have large covered areas that you can hold the party if it rains. Several in my city will also have little water parks, splash pools with lifeguards. This gives you a lot of options for party activities, though if the playground is big enough you may not need any. The beach can also be a good location, with lots of space, and there is usually a park area for picnics or local restaurants with bathrooms and food. Theme and water parks, zoo’s and places like the lion safari are also great ideas. You plan the party early so everyone meets to enter together, and then are free to enjoy the park after the party is over. Keep in mind that although you can get group discounts it can be very expensive. This can also be overwhelming for 4 to 6 year olds.

Once you have a location picked out you will want to think about activities and food. Kids this age have very short attention spans so having several activities on going so that they can move from one to another as they feel like. Don’t try to have very organized or complicated activities. Simple games and toy areas work best. Have some sidewalk chalk available, bubble stuff, some creative toys like trucks, cars and balls, balloons on strings and then let the kids be free to have fun. They are very creative at this age and are likely to be quite happy to chase on another around a tree then play some formalized game with rules.

Food, keep it simple, kids are picky. If you have a portable BBQ then do hotdogs. If you don’t then bring sandwich makings and let the kid’s parents make their sandwich as they know what their kids like. Have a selection of cut fruit and vegetables with a dip, chips, popcorn, and a selection of drinks. Pop is not a good idea here, fruit juice boxes and water works best. Cake is traditional and fun however a wonderful idea is to have a selection of cupcakes with out icing available. Have a table set up with the selection of cupcakes, several types of icing, and plastic knives, and some fun toppings such as gummy candies, mini colored marshmallows, sprinkles, and anything else you can think of. Let each kid pick a cupcake, put what ever icing they pick onto it and then let them pile it high with toppings. This gives you a great activity for the kids, reduces your prep work and is guarantied to have the kids having a messy but very enjoyable time. Just make sure you have enough cupcakes for multiple seconds as the kids will keep coming back just because it is so much fun.

Open gifts when they are all eating and then give the gift/grab bags out. At this point most parents will start leaving. However if you are in a public park even if they hang around you can pack up and get ready to go home. This cuts down on the guests that never leave, and leaves the door open for everyone to stay for as long as they want. So as long as you and your kids are having fun, stay.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Have you told your kids how wonderful they are today?

There have been all these studies that have shown that you don’t spoil your child by praising them. It is actually more positive to consistently praise your child for trying then it is for completing the goal. It gives them the confidence to keep trying, improves their self-esteem. The best part is that if we the parents are constantly giving praise for the good things they do, even when they don’t succeed, we are giving them positive attention. They are less likely to act out trying to get any attention. I like that, I can tell my kids how great they are doing and we both win, they feel positive about themselves and don’t go off the deep end trying to get my attention. I feel a lot better being able to tell them they are doing something great then spending all my time trying to get them to behave.

So can you tell I have been taking “The incredible years” course? Our youngest just turned three and suddenly we had this uncontrollable screaming child that nothing would make happy. If her brother has something she has to have the same one he does. The very same one, from his plate or hand. Nothing else will do. She will say; “I want that one!” and point to what ever we were going to hand our son. Some times we would not even know what would set her off, she would just have a full blown tantrum and the more we tried to find out what was wrong the louder and longer the tantrum would become. She would get upset if we tried to comfort her and if we tried to leave her alone. It was a no win situation. We had no idea on how to deal with this sudden behavior change. We called for help and were signed up for the very next “The incredible years” course.

It is working and has improved our lives. Our son is no longer asking if we are bringing her back home from Daycare. He did not want us to. We had to make some big changes on just how we interact with our kids. Most important is that we actually play with them, not just supervise or be available but actually get down on the floor and play. We had to start thinking about what we were saying and what it means to us and what it means to the kids. What does Behave actually mean? We may be asking them not to jump, or to stop hitting each other, or to walk with us in the store, or any number of things but we say, “behave” instead of what we actually want. What does behave mean to a child? If one day we say behave means to not fight with each other, and the next day to stop climbing the couch we should not be surprised if our kids don’t know what we expect from them when we use the word behave.

The most powerful thing we learned though is to tell our kids positive things about themselves all through the day, not just when they have done something perfect. That they are doing something positive is worth praising, even when it is something they do all the time. The more positive things you tell your kids decreases the negative comments and discipline required. By focusing on the behaviors we consider good and ignoring the ones that we consider bad (but not dangerous) the positive behaviors increase, the bad ones decrease. Mind you the negative ones will increase for a bit until they get used to the positive feedback, you just have to make it through the transition and then stay consistent and life with your children should be easer and more fun.

We noticed a change right away, first an increase in the negative and then suddenly a dramatic decrease. Though our daughter is considered difficult and strong willed we have reduced the big tantrums for the most part, and we like that a lot. She is constantly testing us but it is no longer the full-blown wars we were having with her. We don’t feed into it anymore. What has freed us is knowing that we don’t have to win every battle but to pick our battles instead, to acknowledge what we like and ignore for the most part what we don’t. Tantrums don’t last that long if they don’t get the attention, and don’t get their way no matter how much they scream. The more you tell your kids how wonderful they are the more wonderful they actually become.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Single Mom and Mothers Day

It is important for you to teach your children to value you; Mothers Day is a great opportunity to do that. It is hard when you are a single Mom and end up being the person getting your kids to make a gift or you end up buying your own gift for them to give you. As awkward as it is you need to give your children the opportunity to show how much the love and appreciate you. If you don't show your children that who you are and what you do are special and important how will they learn that it is? So you need to let your kids find a way to show that they love you, even if it ends up that you do all the work so that they have something to give you. If you are lucky than you will have family close by that can help you teach your children what Mothers Day is about.

There are some great things that you can do for yourself on Mothers Day. Find other Mothers and treat yourselves. It can be a wonderful to have an excuse to put yourself first, even if it is only for an hour. Go for lunch when the kids are at school. If you have the money then do the spa day, or what you can afford. Even having dinner out or delivery with your kids can be a treat, something special. It is in all how you handle it. It is not just having pizza for dinner, but Mothers night off, or Mom special meal.

There are quite a few fun things to do with your kids on Mothers Day. Let the kids help with making dinner, or clean up even if they are young and you end up doing more work. This will get them into the habit of doing things for you on Mothers Day, and understand that making or buying something is not the only way to show love and appreciation. Starting a Mothers Day tradition can make things easer on you and your kids. Every year make hand impressions in plaster of paris is fun, and the kids can paint them or what ever. Get a charm bracelet or necklace, every year have the kids pick out a charm so that every year you have a new charm and a good memory of picking it out. What matters is that you find something you and your kids enjoy and turn it into you tradition. It can be as simple as always having a movie night, or you spend the day making a craft, such as hand painted ceramic mugs and such, but you do it together.

Mothers Day can be whatever you and your children make of it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

All grown up gifts for Mothers Day

It was easy when we were kids, a card and some craft we made at school made Mom happy. Now we are all grown up, what do we give Mom for Mothers day? It depends on the relationship we have, how close we live together and what we can afford. There are always traditional gift ideas to fall back on, but sometimes it is nice to be able to have a gift that is unexpected and totally appreciated.

Mothers Day is all about showing how much you appreciate your Mother. If you know your Mother loves something it makes it easer to find unique gifts every year. The real problem is when you just don’t know what to get. You ask but she will not tell you what she would like or always says, “What ever you give is fine.” Some Mothers will appreciate a phone call, a card and flowers others expect something more. Only you know your mother.

Flowers and plants are a nice gift if you don’t live near your Mom as they can be delivered just about any place and you can order at the last minute even if you forget about Mothers day. For a lot of people flowers and a card is what they give their Mother every year. It is quick, easy and can fit into almost every budget. An unusual twist is the new edible fruit arrangements. Those look very cool, are unusual and tasty. Only draw back is that they have to be eaten quickly and stored in the fridge.

Gift baskets/bags are also a quick and easy gift idea. There are tons of companies that will create specialized baskets and deliver them. This is a good gift if you don’t live near by because they are delivered. It is also good if you forgot about Mothers Day because they can be ordered at the last minute. They can be a good idea if you just don’t have the time to go shopping or have no idea what to get as you can order theme ones.

However, gift baskets are a lot of fun to make up yourself and ether mail it or if possible present it to her yourself. The ones you make up yourself are wonderful because almost anything can be put into it. If there are special mementos or things that remind you of your Mom you can put them in and talk or write about what they mean to you, therefore what your Mother means to you. You can put as much or as little time, money and effort into a gift basket as you want to. The more effort you put into it though the better the basket is, even if you don’t have a lot of money or time. Put in mementos and little reminders, like pictures, stories, sea shells that remind you of a special summer vacation, things that are special to you and your mother. Make sure you explain why something is important, what memories you have surrounding that item or image.

A meal is also a nice way to show how you feel. Sometimes a home cooked meal hits the spot and others really enjoy a meal out. Tickets to a show or even taking her out to a show are excellent gift idea as well. Gift certificates or an actual day at the spa with you are nice. A fun treat, even if it is just to get a manicure, pedicure or facial. This is what I would love, a spa day just for me to get away and relax for a few hours.

Having a family photo done with everyone in the family. This may involve having people come from far away but it can be a wonderful gift to arrange. You will have to coordinate everyone to be at a studio at the same time, or hire the photographer to come to you. Then you let your Mother pick the picture she likes the best. Have the picture framed and make a big deal about presenting it to her. This is a wonderful gift when families have spread out all over the place.

There are a lot of options in jewelry for every budget. There are quite a few pendants with #1 Mom, I love you, Hug or any number of Mother symbols in sterling silver up to platinum and any combination of gems. The same can be found in rings, brooches, earrings, necklaces and more. It is important to find something that has value to her. I think that the new picture on a pendant is a great gift. You can give her something to wear and show. The idea is to get a picture of both of you and have it engraved or imprinted onto the pendant. Or even a picture that has significant to her, such as a photo of a great moment in her life.

Many people will give big once in a lifetime gifts to express how they feel; trips, cruses, cars, homes, very expensive jewelry and many other extravagant gifts. Others will find the small things that will make their Mothers happy every year. Little things like showing up unexpectedly and spending time with her, or taking her shopping or cleaning up the house. Sometimes simply find something that she would not do for herself and do it.

Mind you my Mother would find all of this a waste of time and money. She would be much happier if I called and let her talk to the grandchildren, and sent her some strange exotic plant for her greenhouse, or at least some seeds for something odd and unusual. Every Mother is different. It is going to be a matter of sticking with the tried and true card, flowers and meal combo or trying for something else.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

How to tell if your child has a speech problem

Children all develop at different rates and other children should not be used to compare your child’s speech development. One child may be able to properly us P or M at 1/1/2 years and another may not until they are 3 years old. To be able to figure out how your child is doing with speech you need to know what are realistic expectations, and when to get help. It is important to identify problems with speech as soon as possible and find out if it is a delay or a disability. They are treated differently, but if a delay is not caught in time it can be seen as a disability. The sooner a delay is identified and treated the easer it is bring that child up to the same leave as their peers.

The first thing you need to know is when should a child be able to make specific sounds. How can you tell where your child is in speech if you don’t know where your child should be? More often then not we the parents will either have unrealistic expectations and think our child should be further then they are, or we will not realize that our child needs help because we are used to the way they speak and can understand them. Please take a look at the sound list below and the time lines on it and see where your child is and where they should be.

The second thing you need to know is when to start looking for ways to help your child if they don’t have a sound yet. This is usually about the half point of an age rage children are expected to have the sound by. For example P is between 1 ½ to 3 years so if your child is two and a few months and does not have it then you need to start helping them develop that sound. However if your child still does not have it at the far end of the age range then you need to start looking to find out if your child needs some help, are they delayed or have a hearing issue, do they need speech therapy.

Sounds are learned at different ages depending on how difficult they are to say. The chart below shows the age range during which each sound is learned.

Sounds Can start as early as (in years)
Time to help if not using sound yet (in years)
Should be using thesound
in words at all times (in years)

P (pin) 1 ½ years Between 2 and 2 ½ 3 years
M (monkey) 1 ½ Between 2 and 2 ½
H (hat) 1 ½ Between 2 and 2 ½ 3
N (nail) 1 ½ Between 2 and 2 ½ 3
W (wagon) 1 ½ 2 ½ 3 ½
B (ball) 1 ½ Between 3 and 3 ½ 4
K (kite) 2 3 4
G (girl) 2 3 4
D (dog) 2 3 4
T (toe) 2 4 6
Ng (Wing) 2 4 6
F (finger) 2 ½ Between 3 and 3 ½ 4
Y (yo-yo) 2 ½ Between 3 and 3 ½ 4
R (rabbit) 3 4 ½ 6
L (lamb) 3 4 ½ 6
S (sun) 3 5 ½ 8
CH (chick) 3 ½ 5 7
SH (shoe) 3 ½ 5 7
Z (zipper) 3 ½ Between 5 and 5 ½ 8
J (juice) 4 5 ½ 7
V (vase) 3 5 ½ 8
Th (thumb) 4 ½ Between 5 ½ and 6 7
TH (feather) 5 6 ½ 8
ZH (treasure) 6 Between 7 and 7 ½ 8 ½

If you think your child may need some help but don’t know how to help them get these sounds, or if they are and the end of the age range and still don’t have the sounds please check out the Early Words website. They have information to help you and more.

Early Words is the umbrella organization of Hamilton's preschool speech and language services for young children. Parents, childcare providers and other professionals working with young children can call for information about children's speech and language development and workshops. They have a web site,, which will let you compare your child’s development from 3 months to 6 years with what is considered to be normal development. They can tell you what you can do to help your child develop.