Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Sept. 3rd: A Toddler’s Treat

On Monday, September 3rd,  a new generation of preschoolers will get the chance to experience Make-Believe as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood premieres on PBS Kids  with a special one hour block of two back to back episodes. (check local listings for exact time).

Produced by The Fred Rogers Company, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood follows the adventures of a 4 year old tiger named Daniel Tiger, who is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from the classic show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Daniel Tiger uses the show to invite children into sharing his experiences in his peaceful yet lively neighborhood. Targeted toward preschoolers aged 2 to 4 and their parents, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood teaches kids fun and practical strategies and skills needed for growing and learning.

“No one knew better than Fred Rogers how to connect with children,” said Bill Isler, President of The Fred Rogers Company. “And, like Fred, Daniel Tiger will visit preschoolers every day. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is an exciting new series with all the right elements to appeal to today’s children and families. It’s well-poised to become a much-loved classic for years to come.”

Daniel starts his day by donning his red sweater, tying his sneakers and inviting his preschool pals at home into the bright and lively Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood features the next generation of the original characters from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Daniel’s best friend is O the Owl, who lives with his Uncle X in the tree next door to Katerina Kittycat, daughter of Henrietta Pussycat. Daniel also loves to visit Prince Wednesday, the youngest member of the royal family headed by King Friday, in his castle; and Miss Elaina, who lives with her parents, Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Music Man Stan, in the Museum-Go-Round. The familiar red trolley “ding dings” its way all around the Neighborhood.

And guess what?  We’re hosting a giveaway! One lucky aMomKnowsBest reader will win a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood gift pack, complete with a Daniel Tiger luggage tag, crayons, Daniel Tiger printables, backpack and crayons, pencils, stickers, and more…and it’s all courtesy of PBS Kids!  Just leave a comment below telling me why you want to win or what you thought of the show.  We’ll pick a winner by September 6th.  Also, don’t forget to go to the PBS site for more Daniel Tiger interactive fun.

What Does YOUR State Smell Like?

Better Homes & Gardens State WaxI love how a scent can immediately take me back to another time in my life.  The smell of Rave hairspray transports me to the late 80′s and my best friend’s bathroom, where we must have gone through a can of that a week as we tried to see how high we could spray our bangs.  Beef jerky makes me think of my first television job, in Oklahoma.  We shared the building with a newspaper company and the custodians would make beef jerky in the basement.  The number of roaches in that place was unreal!  My sense of smell is strong, for that reason I love candles, and perfume.  Rarely will I pass by a flower without stopping to smell it.  Hyacinths remind me of my grandmother, from England, who had the most lovely garden you’ve ever seen.  Each spring, when these flowers are in bloom, I take a big whiff and WHAM! I’m eight years old again posing for pictures in my grandma’s garden on Easter Sunday.

I’m blessed to have lived in so many wonderful places, all across the country.  Some have more distinct smells than others and Rhode Island is no exception.  What Rhode Island lacks in size, it makes up for in splendor.  So, naturally, I was delighted to be asked to take part in Better Homes and Gardens ‘State Fragrance Contest. ‘  The task?  Use Better Homes and Gardens Scented Wax Warmers and Scented Wax Cubes to come up with a scent original to Rhode Island.

The warmers are available in several different styles and the wax cubes comes in packs of 6, with dozens of scents.  They’re only available at WalMart  and you can get them both for less than $20.  That’s a bargain! 

 

 

There are so many things to love about Rhode Island, but perhaps the most notable is the ocean.  I couldn’t create a “Rhode Island scent” without incorporating our sweet smelling ocean.  Trust me, I love Fall in Little Rhody and those Fall scents are to die for, but there’s a reason we’re called the Ocean State.  For that reason, I decided to stay true to what most people know and love about Rhode Island: The ocean and Del’s lemonade. A scent was born, Sea Breeze Delight. To create this scent I added one cube of Fresh ocean flowers and one cube of  Lemongrass verbana to my wax warmer.  Pure heaven.

 

Some benefits of the wax warmers and BHG scented wax:

  • You can fill your home with your favorite fragrance, for less. For a small space, use just one cube…for a large space, use more!
  • The warmers are attractive and come in several different styles and colors.  Priced at  just $15 and scented wax cube packs, start at only $2 each
  • Safe to use with no flame or soot (great for the workplace, or areas with little ones)
  • Easy to re-use and clean (just wipe clean and pour the wax back into the tray)

I’m not wild about voting contests, but if you’re so inclined, I’d love your support in making Rhode Island’s Sea Breeze Delight the top state scent. If it’s chosen 10 A Mom Knows Best readers will get a $25 Walmart gift card.  Additionally, 10 randomly selected voters will be chosen to win a Wax Warmer and a 6-pack of Wax Cubes. Here’s where you vote:  The Better Homes & Gardens Facebook page.

For those of you living in Rhode Island, what scent would you choose to represent the state?  What about those of you who live elsewhere?

Disclaimer: A gift card was provided to me to purchase the wax warmer and cubes.

S’mores Bash in a Bucket:Hershey’s Camp Bondfire

It’s been blazing hot in Arizona; if we aren’t at the pool we are indoors with the air conditioning at full blast!  Hershey’s has a terrific campaign going on right now to celebrate family, friends, memorable moments and summer,  called Camp Bondfire.  On their facebook page, they are giving away a fire pit and s’mores skewer set to fans who sign up to be campers.  How fun is THAT?

With Tucson’s triple degree temperatures, I decided to take my s’mores party indoors. While I love sitting around a fire, the weather just doesn’t support it.  I almost think our little party worked out better this way, though.  I had the kids help me line graham crackers on a pan with a Hershey’s square on each cracker and a marshmallow on top.  I put them in the oven for a few minutes and then let the kids put the s’mores together.  They were a big hit.  HUGE!

The only issue we had was Paige having a complete meltdown once she realized she could not eat ALL the s’mores herself.  I sent all the kids home was some s’mores in their buckets and told them to share the bash in their buckets with family members at home.

Look at this sad face, as she tries to stuff as many s’mores into her mouth as possible!

If you need some inspiration, and you’re looking to create memorable moments with your family head on over to Hershey’s facebook page, where you’ll find an interactive application.  A terrific group of bloggers from The Motherhood will serve as camp counselors,  share their own special memories and ideas on how to create new ones with your own families.

Disclosure: This post is part of my participation in the Hershey’s Camp Bondfire campaign, but all opinions expressed are 100%  my own.

All Aboard ‘The Dinosaur Train’

Ever since my daughter started going to school a few days a week, she’s been more enthusiastic about saying her ABCs.  She loves going around the house and finding things that start with each letter of the alphabet.  The EMMY®-nominated children’s series DINOSAUR TRAIN® will be incorporating the alphabet with its traditional dinosaur facts and stories during a one-hour “Dinosaurs A to Z” special premiering TOMORROW, May 14th on PBS KIDS!

There’s also a  Dinosaurs A to Z Countdown Contest on the new Dinosaur Train’s Twitter and Facebook  pages, where you and your kiddos can answer  fun and educational Dinosaur A to Z trivia questions for a chance to win Dinosaur Train prizes every day!  Don’t forget to check your local listings for tomorrow’s special.  I hope your little ones enjoy it as much as I think mine will!

 

My Blog Got Hacked!

 

Many of you had been emailing me to ask what was going on with the blog.  The short answer is, it was hacked.  Big time.  The knowledge required to fix it was way beyond my technical scope, so I had to call in help.  I tried fixing it, with help, three different times, only to have it hacked again and again.  Finally, what worked is deleting ALL the comments ever received on this blog.  Heartbreaking, but it had to be done.  You see, spammers were bombarding me with comments and there was simply no way to sift through everything without deleting all of them.  The website seems to be in full working order now, but occasionally, I will stumble across something that isn’t working properly because of these hackers.  Very frustrating.  So, thank you for your continued patience and support.  It feels good to be back.

A Boy’s List of “50 Things I Do for Fun”

My middle son is obsessed with electronics, in particular, the computer. He can take or leave television (me, too, thanks to Hulu), dabble in X-Box and the DS, but according to our James, Minecraft or Spore on the computer make his life worth living…or so he thought.

My husband and I limit access to his ‘beloved’ to one hour a day if he plays that much music on the piano and his trumpet. Sometimes we just limit it entirely at our discretion depending on how mindful he is of the rules. We are probably stricter than most parents (certainly not close to the Tiger Mom!) mostly because we feel strongly that there are many other ways to spend one’s time than with electronics. We want the children to consider those ways when they discover free time in their very busy schedules. To us, it’s an important developmental milestone in the process of maturing to know how to manage time when no one is there to dictate.

During a discussion with my husband about what other activities he might do instead while dad was using the computer for a complicated recipe, 11-year-old James came up with a fantastic array of options. It was so wonderful to see this many childhood pastimes that I thought I would share it with other parents who may get the same argument that “there’s nothing else to do!”

“50 Things I Do for Fun”

1. Drawing cartoons
2. Designing the school newspaper
3. Playing computer (interestingly, not #1)
4. Basketball
5. Reading
6. Soccer
7. 4-square
8. Going to school with a fake moustache
9. Sketching logos
10. Taekwondo
11. Yo-yo-ing
12. Singing
13. Piano
14. Racing the dogs
15. Bicycling
16. Cooking
17. Clay sculpting
18. YO-MAMA smackdowns with friends (??)
19. Sword-fights with Nicky (younger brother)
20. Writing stories
21. Making forts
22. Bubble: a school game
23. Dancing
24. Practicing my lettering (bubble, 3-D, grunge)
25. Man-hunt
26. Playing “Predator”
27. X-Box
28. Talking with friends
29. Listening to music
30. Going to parties
31. Bouncing on my friend’s trampoline
32. Tackling Nick
33. Cracking jokes
34. Hiking the woods
35. Climbing sheer dirt cliffs like at KIma’s (grandma’s)
36. Searching the paths for quartz and stockpiling it
37. Building snow tunnels
38. Trick-or-treating
39. Snowball fights
40. Trying to walk across the huge snow pile without falling (snow plow’s pile)
41. LEGO’s
42. Petting the dogs and getting licked
43. Daddy-Fun
44. Playing jail with George, Olivia and Nick
45. Sampling cookies
46. Throwing rocks to see who can hit a target
47. Rock-jumping
48. Climbing trees
49. Swimming
50. Tasting VICTORY!

While is sure is great to be a kid, I see many activities I like to do, too. Perhaps this is a list I can refer to when I get off this computer!
Happy playing to all!

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25 Things I Want My Daughters to Know

Have you read the book or seen “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch?  If not, let me share a little about The Last Lecture.  It is a tradition at Carnegie Mellon for teachers to do a “Last Lecture” where they are asked to imagine they are going to die soon and clarify what would they want to say or teach for their last presentation.  In the case of Randy Pausch, he was actually dying of cancer when he gave his “Last Lecture”. His personal experience made the lecture all the more poignant. Many people connected to his lecture on YouTube, ultimately making it an internet phenomenon. As a result, Randy had many tv appearances on a variety of news outlets. He admitted that while he was presenting as an instructor to his students, his lecture was also a way of leaving a legacy and some wisdom to his kids.

This made me ask myself, if I only had a few months to live, what would I want my daughters to know?  Thankfully I am lucky that I am healthy and  I intend to be with them to help them through any growing pains (as well as celebrate their joys and successes).   But knowing what thoughts I would want to impart onto them can make me more clear in what’s important to not leave unsaid. So I decided to write them a love note sharing some things I hope will help them down the road. Here it is.  What would your love note be to your kids?

To my beautiful, sweet daughters,

First and foremost, I know I say it all the time, but I love you. You are beautiful inside and out. You’re both smart, kind hearted and thoughtful. I am so proud to be your mom.

I was thinking the other day that there are some things I wish I knew when I was younger.  So I was thinking that it would be good to start to write down some of the  things I’ve learned from experience. Maybe sharing it with you will save you some heartache someday or help you follow a dream or enable you to accept your fears and do something any way.  Even just you knowing I love you so much that I’d sit down and write this for you is enough for me.   Here are a few “words of wisdom” I wanted to share with you….

  1. Inner beauty is so much more important that outer beauty. But you already know this one.
  2. Listen to your gut and stand up for what you believe in (not just against what you don’t believe in) or you might regret it.
  3. But pick your battles, not everything is worth fighting for.
  4. While you may disagree with and annoy each other at times, remember to love and respect each other.  I hope you grow up to be each other’s best friends.  As I always say when I see you hugging and playing together, “I love that you love each other.”
  5. No one ever got anywhere by just complaining. Think of what can be done to improve whatever it is you are upset about.   One rule of thumb I have is if I complain about it three times then I have a choice to make.  I can quit complaining and accept it or do something about it.
  6. Don’t waste your time gossiping.  There are so many more interesting and helpful things to talk about.
  7. Follow your passion. Try a bunch of things so you can find out what it is.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in the process, that is how you learn.  If you’re not making mistakes and feeling like a fool once in awhile you’re not challenging yourself enough.
  8. Always remember the saying “This too shall pass”.  This relates to sad and happy occasions.  Sometimes when you’re hurt or sad it will seem like you will feel that way forever. You won’t.  Give yourself time and things will change, they always do. The same holds true of when you’re happy.  Cherish every moment that makes your heart sing. Time passes too quickly not to stop and appreciate the moments and people who make you smile.
  9. When you’re frustrated, believe you can do something to change the situation or yourself for the better. But don’t waste your time trying to change other people.
  10. Don’t strive for perfection.  Just strive to continue to do your best and learn from every experience. I hope you will always remember the question I often ask you both, “What did you learn from this?”
  11. If you don’t have confidence in a skill, then have the confidence that you can learn it. Don’t let the lack of a skill stop you from achieving your dreams.
  12. Love lots and let your heart be broken.  I was afraid too often in my life and missed out on some living when growing up. Don’t let fear stop you from doing things you want to do and meeting people you want to meet.
  13. Even if you are afraid at times don’t label yourself as “shy” (or any other limiting label).  Realize you may just need to learn some new skills or gain some experience in order to feel more secure and confident in what you want to do and who you are.
  14. Be vulnerable. This is something I’ve learned late in my life.  I thought being emotionally independent showed strength.  But being vulnerable is not a weakness.  It takes courage to be vulnerable.  Often times the only real way to build true intimacy is by letting yourself be vulnerable.
  15. Don’t just rely on others for love and acceptance.  Accept and love all of yourself too.  Be vulnerable with yourself about who you are and accept all the good and all the imperfect in yourself.  Other people aren’t perfect either and they can’t always be there for you.
  16. People aren’t prefect and will let you down. It’s the ones who will build you up more than let you down that you want to stick around.
  17. Say nice things to yourself.  You are always going to be with you. You might as well be a friend to yourself.
  18. If other people criticize you, assess if it’s true or not.  If it is, you can choose whether to work on that weakness. If it’s not, realize that it’s not about you, it’s just their weakness and insecurities talking.
  19. Compromising is so important in relationships.  It’s good to find a balance of what you want and what others want.  However, there are some things you should never compromise….don’t ever feel you have to compromise your values or beliefs to please someone else, which ultimately means don’t compromise yourself.
  20. This is one of my new favorite quotes by Doctor Suess:   “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
  21. If you ever feel like you don’t belong  somewhere don’t take it personal. We all feel like we don’t belong sometimes.  Think of the ugly duckling story.   He didn’t know he was a swan and was hanging out with the ducks.  What a joy when he discovered other swans like him who understood him.
  22. It’s important to have friends who have things in common with you. It’s also important to be around people who don’t think like you do.  That is a great way to expand your perspectives. If you only hang around people who agree with you, you won’t be challenged to have new thoughts or perspectives.
  23. Here are two of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
  24. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you don’t agree with someone you don’t like them.  A person is more complex than one issue.  At the very least, you don’t have to agree with or like other people, but you should make an effort to show them respect.   A little respect can go a long way.
  25. If someone doesn’t respect you, you can turn the other cheek from the next room. You don’t have to stoop to their level and return the hurt, but you also don’t have to stick around and continue to be hurt.  Make good choices about who you spend your time with. Whether you’re aware of it or not, who they are will affect who you are.

I wrote at the beginning of this letter that I hoped some of the things above would help you avoid some heartache.  Scratch that. Sometimes we only learn things by experience which can include heartaches. It may also be that you will only truly understand some of these ideas after experiencing more in your life. My hope is that while I can’t stop you from having heartaches, hopefully when you do go through heartache, these words might help prepare you and maybe comfort you in some way.

Oh and just because I wrote some of these words of wisdom (or rephrased wisdom shared through the ages) doesn’t mean that I am able to live them every day.  All we can do is strive to do our best to live authentically while trying to make the world a better place, hoping we learn something in the process and gain some true friendships along the way.

Also, I’m sure I could have written a whole book because there is so much to learn in this life.  But this is a start.  I would love to hear or read your words of wisdom some day.

With all My Love,

Mommy

P.S.- No matter what life brings you, may you alway find the fun and joy in living.

 

 

 

 

Randy Pausch is sadly no longer with us. He lost his battle to cancer.  However, his example and message continue to touch many hearts, including his kids. What are some things you would like to tell your kids? Please share your wisdom in the comments. Then be sure to share them with your kids through words, letters or whatever way you can. Just be sure to share them. Your child is too precious and life is too short not to do it.

 

 

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Cinco de Mayo Margaritas!

It would really be a shame if you only made these margaritas today. I am hoping that you will enjoy them all weekend long. Heck, all summer long and then perhaps into fall. Or maybe for Christmas Eve. This will be your new favorite marg recipe for sure. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a marg connesiour of sorts. Not that there is a licensing committe that has relegated this honor upon me or anything, but let’s just say that the margarita and I? We have been around the block a few times. That block has gotten progressively  blurry a few times, but that doesn’t matter, does it?

Now if you are still using that awful pre-made mix to which you just add tequila? Or even worse,  the ones with the tequila already mixed in? You need to move into the new milennium. Really people, those are packed with sugar and artificial colors and flavors. Not that I mind those things when I am eating an Oreo, mind you. But for the love of all that is good….take a few steps and make it a bit more fresh. You won’t regret it! Here’s what you need to get people hanging from the chandeliers make this recipe!

1 Container of Minutemaid Limeade (found in the freezer section of most grocery stores, and not the itty bitty ones)

Tequila (not the Jose Hornitos kind, either)

Triple Sec

2 fresh limes

Gran Marinier (this will set you back a few but lasts forever and is fully responsible for the awesomeness of this drink)

Salt (optional)

Okay. Salt the rim of your glasses if you like. And if not, I will just call you wussy. No, that’s fine….some of my most upstanding friends like their margs saltless! I don’t judge. Keep limeade mix in freezer till ready to party use. Take out one half of mix and reserve in a different container. Empty other half into blender. Fill half way again with tequila. (I use Jose Gold, but if you are packin’ the Patron, more power to ya!) Fill one quarter full with Triple Sec and add. Squeeze juice of both limes in blender as well. Fill to the brim with ice. Mix will be thick, but softens to a loveliness over just a few minutes. Here’s the key!!! Pay attention. Don’t drink yet! Slowly drizzle some Gran Marinier over the top of each drink. Now taste. Aha! Who’s your momma now? Wait, don’t answer that! I am only two peoples’ mama. That I know for sure. Okay, drink up, put on some Tito Cruz and get dancin’!

When to Wear White – No Rules

Ever wonder, when exactly can I wear white again?  The answer – always when you are talking about white denim!

White shoes or white linen – a little different, save those items for the summer or the old rule “after Memorial day/before Labor day”.  White denim is always great!  Now, that being said, you may not want to sport an entire body of white in the messy weather months, but white goes with every color and texture.  Black and white are a standard all year – every season.  A neutral palette of white with creams or tans is so now and so classy.  White with a bright color or bright print is very popular.  Don’t you love red, white and blue?  The nautical look is always classy in New England! 

I love dressing up white! Whether I’m decorating it with layers of jewels or pulling it together with a coordinating jacket, it makes me feel fashion savvy.  Clothes and accessories are emotional, right?!  Afraid to wear white because of stains?…are you a mommy with sweet, yet ready to stain little fingers reaching up to you?!  I never leave without my Tide to Go pen. It’s amazing!  (I was so excited to score a free one at our Getting Gorgeous event in April!) My little ones are past this stage, yet somehow I manage to find stains and I love this little Tide stick.  Afraid to wear it because hips/legs could appear even larger that they are?? Draw the eye up! Pull it together with a pattern on top that looks fabulous with the white, yet draws all the attention up- like this black and white top or a fun flirty floral!

So wear your white, ladies - It’s the new black!

What have you paired your white denim with? Do you ever create a suit like our celebrities in the photo did? Can you do it? Can you wear white before Memorial day?!

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How Do You Teach Your Children to Listen…to Themselves?

Often we are concerned about whether or not our children are listening to us, their teachers or any other authority figure. Listening is an important skill. However, while it’s important to learn listen to others, it’s also important to learn listen to ourselves. How do you teach that?

While one daughter was at an afterschool activity, I was waiting with my other daughter.   The activity was taking longer than I expected and she was doing a really good job waiting and getting her homework done. I told her that when she got her homework done she could pick something from the snack machine. We usually don’t do this, so this was a special treat.

After getting her homework done we went over to the snack machine. She very quickly was overwhelmed with all the choices. She picked about 10 things that she thought she would like. To help her make her choice (and so we weren’t there all day), I told her to turn around from the machine and close her eyes. I told her to think about what she might want and see what popped into her head. This time only 2 things popped into her head. She was then able to pick one.

Sometimes we can be so overwhelmed with what we see as choices that we lose touch with ourselves and what we really want. So it’s always important to stop, take a break from distractions and check in with ourselves. What I taught her was an intuitive way of decision making. We often learn about logical processes ( such as pro/con etc) in decision making. Intuitive and gut feelings can be helpful too. In fact, while this simple technique can be used for making simple choices, it can also be used when feeling peer pressure. That is one of the most important times to listen to ourselves.

 

If I were writing a story then the story would probably end here. But life isn’t a story is it? It just keeps going and so did our learning for that moment. Learning to listen to ourselves was only lesson number one.

My daughter sat eating her treat for a little bit. She then said, “Mommy, sometimes my mind plays tricks on me.” Of course I asked her what she meant by that. She proceeded to say, “Sometimes it makes me think I want something but I really want something else.” She clarified, after eating her treat, that what she really wanted was the other option. Which led us to two more lessons in life:

Lesson number two- It’s sometimes really hard to figure out what you really want.

Of course I also discussed with her…

Lesson number three- Sometimes we need to learn to appreciate what we have and not keep focusing on missing what we don’t have.

Who says you can’t get anything healthy from a snack machine? How about some healthy perspectives and conversations?

How do you teach your child to listen to themselves?

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