Monday, June 20, 2011

For all the dads out there...

Forget all the ridicule you've gotten over the years for playing rough with your children. Roughhousing has been proven to help children throughout life, despite what many mothers and grandmothers might think! Catapulting your children across the living (onto a matress or pillows), flipping them over your back (so they land on their feet) and the always fun game 'pile on top of dad' help to build confidence, strength, character and closer bonds between child and parent (The Art of Roughhousing). Don't believe me? Well, now you can read all about it.

Anthony T. DeBenedet, board-certified physician, husband and father of three girls, and Dr. Lawrence J. Cohen believe that, 'with safety in mind, roughhousing releases the creative life force within each person, pushing us out of our inhibitions and inflexibilities'. This passage can be found in their recently released book The Art of Roughhousing in which they not only support roughhousing but also encourage it with over 150 pages detailing different forms of roughhousing and diagrams depicting the safest way to roughhouse.

As a little girl, I always loved these times, when my father would allow my brother, sister and me to climb ontop of him, wrestle him to the ground and then have him tickle us until we were giggling so hard we needed a break to catch our breath. One of my favorite games, that I believe scared my mother and grandmothers, was when my father would pick us up, hold us to the wall and say, 'Now, you stay there. I'll be right back.' And with that he'd turn and drop us just a bit so we slid down the wall, but then quickly catch us and tease, 'I told you to stay there!' to which we woud just giggle and ask him to do it again.

This moment, although seemingly scary for an onlooker, was delightful for me because I knew that I was not in harms way, that my daddy would catch me and I'd be just fine. Like the doctors in this book say, it is games like this one that helped form a close relationship with my father, and mother.

So if you think that roughhousing is not beneficial, I encourage you to read this book. It is wonderfully written, with basic beginner tips and roughhousing games which then lead to advanced and extreme roughhousing for older children. There are games for all ages (of children and adults) that will definitely bring smiles and laughs to all those playing. Check it out on and let me know if you had/have any favorite games!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Straight from Orbit City...

Baby Boy's new high chair! I hope to heavens that Rosie doesn't show up in the next few days to replace me...

Monday, June 13, 2011


This weekend my parents came to visit me in Chicago. We made our way around much of the city between Friday and Sunday, hitting The Bean (aka Cloud Gate), Navy Pier and the Art Institute. While at the art museum taking in the beauty of Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, I heard what sounded like a dog toy. Now, after dozens of field trips in elementary, middle and high school to museums I know a few things that make my thought very unlikely. 1) dogs are not allowed in museums unless they are service dogs. 2) if a service dog is in a museum it is most likely not playing with a squeaky toy (that's just a guess). 3) museums are supposed to be on the quieter side, unless of course it is a children's museum or an interactive museum. So, with those thoughts quickly filtering through my head I turned to see what in the world was making this squeaking sound. My ears had taken my eyes over to the handicap ramp where I saw a security guard, a man, and the tops of 2 children's head, walking, or running in the case if the children, down the ramp. At first, behind the ramp wall, it looked as if the security guard was walking one of those toy wooden dogs that claps when you pull it. But after she turned off the ramp I knew she was just walking with her arm behind her (it was also very unlikely that she would have had one of those toys, but I'm just sharing my thought process). So my attention was then turned to the two children running down the ramp. BINGO!

To my surprise the squeak was coming from the little girl, no more than 3 years old. I had narrowed down who the squeak was coming from, but I could not seem to pin point where, until I started watching her run. The squeak was in sync with each of her steps. It was her shoes! Fist, I laughed. Then, when she didn't stop running I thought, 'Would somebody please pick up that child?'

Who knew a cute shoe could be so annoying?

A great idea on paper, but in reality, maybe not so much. I Googled these squeaky shoes and came up with a number of websites that create these shoes. What I learned is that most of the people who created these companies that sell the shoes had adopted a child from China. Apparently, when they met their child, in the country that seems to create an abundance of odd (but often useful) nick-nacks, each child was in a pair of these shoes. The purpose, and a pretty obvious one, was to keep an ear out for the child(ren). Like I said, good in theory, not in reality. The obnoxious squeak was high pitched and constant, like a dog who refuses to stop chewing on his stuffed squeaky squirrel. Charming and annoying all in one.

For those of you who would like a laugh, enjoy this video I found on YouTube. (you'll have to copy and paste this into your browser address bar because the link button wasn't working. So sorry!)

Then if you think they're just wonderful, purchase a pair for your child, or if you don't so much consider giving them as a gift...! :-D

Friday, June 10, 2011

The English Language

As a nanny who is also a trained teacher, I know that children are learning language, even when we don't think they are. That is why I believe that it is crucial to provide children with the best, most appropriate and correct language as they grow up. Yesterday I posted a Facebook status, in all naivety, more for a laugh than anything else, but it drew quite a bit of attention within 5 minutes of me posting my opinion on the English language.

Has anyone seen the Gain commercial recently? Well if not, please take a look. Because the rest of this post will make more sense if you do.

I don't know about you, but the first time I saw this commercial I cringed and thought, 'How could a national commercial, with (most likely) some well paid and good writers, make such a huge vocabulary mistake?' Maybe it's that I paid attention in school, or it's just the fact that I had some of the best English teachers out there, [shout out to Mrs. Varga, Mr. Kennedy, and Mrs. Schwartzle], but I hope that more people are better educated to know that 'gooder' is not a real word!

Now, I posted a statement addressing this and the other too-often-used word 'funner' on Facebook informing Americans (in a comedic way), that indeed these words are not real. Then, maybe a mistake maybe not, I posted one more controversial language mistake: asks. I stated that when pronounced as 'acts' or 'ax', which happens more often than not, the word has a different meaning than it should. It was this part of my statement that surprisingly received more attention, and negative attention at that. I was called racist and told that the mispronunciation of the word was actually part of the 'language' Ebonics. (I put the word language in a quotes because I do not believe that it has been officially named as a language, such as 'Pittsburghese').

It was not my intention to sound racist, for I am not. It was more my intention to write about how frustrated I was that we live in a society that is often so nit-picky about the silliest of things, but doesn't seem to mind the mistakes so often made in our mother tongue, especially when using it in media that is nationally, or globally, seen and heard. Because, as I first stated, children, from the earliest of ages, pick up on language, using it in what they believe is the correct way. So if a child continuously hears the word 'gooder' being used, rather than 'better', they might start to believe that that is the correct word, when it is in fact not.

Now I know many of you might be thinking that I am completely throwing this out of proportion, but there is reason behind my concern. My junior year of high school, in preparation for the state wide test, my English teacher handed out copies of previous years' English portion of the test. She asked us to read the prompt, the answers given by the students and then award each student the score we think they deserve based on the criteria given, as practice for when we would take the exam. There was one essay, or rather I should say short paragraph, that caught many of my classmates' attention and had many of us laughing, mostly in shock. An anonymous student (from the previous year from an anonymous PA school) had written ' den I aks him wat he thinked...'. Besides the poor grammar and misspelling, it took some of my fellow classmates a few seconds to figure out what the student had meant to write:'...and then I asked him what he thought...' It got our class talking about what this meant for students who spoke one way with their friends and family, and then were expected to speak, or at least write, another way when it came to performing nationally.

We debated as to whether or not this student should be accountable for his extremely incorrect use of the English language, or if the teacher and school should be responsible for not correcting him and teaching him the proper spelling, pronunciation and grammar. We also discussed whether or not national and state tests should be reworded depending on the area in which it is given, due to slight changes in dialect. No real decision was made in my English class of 25 students, but I knew where I stood.

I do believe that people should be able to express themselves using whatever language or dialect they choose, but when it comes down to national and global usage, we should maintain one set American English language. Otherwise, I feel it would become too confusing if people started saying 'aks' with the intention of meaning 'asks', and so on.

So, to my readers, what are your thoughts on using correct vocabulary when speaking on a local, national and/or global level?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Magic Number(s)...

When I began nannying for this family in Chicago, the mother asked me if I would be willing to read What To Expect The First Year. I of course was very willing and also allowed her to sign me up for weekly emails from a couple baby websites. All have been very informative and helpful when both she and I are looking for answers to questions such as 'How many naps should my baby really be taking?' and 'Is it normal for my baby to be spitting up so much at five months?' But something that I had not only read about in the book and online, but had also been shared with by my mother and a few friends, was the shear joy that a few certain ages would bring. First there was 3 months. I didn't quite get it until Baby Boy turned three months. It was as if over night he blossomed into a little boy who held his head up, rolled over, smiled (almost) non-stop and enjoyed talking just as much my sister and I do when we're together. Oh, and the giggling and laughing, which brought endless smiles not only to his face but to mine! As months four and five were checked off the growing up list, Baby Boy continued to develop, making more eye contact, sitting up on his own (for short amounts of times), and rolling over from back to front (something that is a difficult task for a baby). But the next big milestone for Baby Boy... The big SIX!

Six months is another magic number for those parents looking for new developments in their child. Baby Boy turns six months tomorrow, but this past weekend he and his parents skipped out early friday morning to jet off to Kansas City to visit his grandparents, which meant that I wouldn't see him for three whole days. And let me tell you, when I woke him up this morning, I barely reognized the adorable, sweet face staring up at me. Yes, it was him, his parent did not switch him out. He looked longer (taller), he definitely had more hair on the top of his cute head, but the best thing of all was that he had discovered his tongue! Babies, so I've read and heard, go through stages where they discover body parts, like their hands around 3 months (the time at which parents with long hair always have a pony-tail holder on hand, when they stop wearing dangly earrings and remove any necklaces before picking up their inquisitive child). The hands then lead to the discovery of their mouth, and the realization that you can put almost anything in it! Including, but not limited to, fists, bottles, spoons, the dog's fur (yes, still attached to the long-haired, shaggy pet), blankets, Jeanne's iPad, and of course food!

So at six months I was expecting (and still hope to expect) the discovery of feet and legs, which leads to crawling and walking, but never would I have expected the tongue! All this leads me to this morning. From the moment I woke him up he has been licking his lips, sticking it out, and turning it from side to side. Hopefully I will be able to get a video of this hysterical process of his discovery but until then here is a video to help with the image. (note to reader... this is not Baby Boy)

With all that said, my readers out there, if I have any other than my mom (shout out to her for keeping me typing!), are there any numbers and moments you remember being excited, shocked and/or thrilled about your child reaching, either early, on time, late or just randomly? Share them with me!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sweet-Salty Tooth

I am the daughter of a sweet-toothed mother and a father who would prefer something salty. I got the best of both. I love sweet and I love salty. However, I can only take a pinch of either at a time. So tonight when I was picking my mom's brain about Agave Nectar as a replaced for sugar in recipes, I stumbled upon The Kitchn (no, it's not spelled incorrectly) that gave me not only a great insight to this sweet treat, but other recipes that others had discovered by sheer accident! Have you ever had ice cream made with only ONE ingredient? But not only ONE ingredient, but ONE ingredient that won't go straight to your hips, thighs or butt? Have frozen bananas and a food processor? I was so skeptical when I saw this, but I knew I had frozen a few bananas last week, so I pulled out my Magic Bullet, one frozen banana (just one in case it didn't work) and gave it a try. And would you believe it, it worked! It's fantastic! I added a scoop of peanut butter and a very small handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips and I have myself instant HEALTHY ice-cream that is both salty and sweet! I wonder if kids would know the difference (if they like bananas, chocolate and peanut butter that is)??!!??!! Give it a try! It's also so easy that kids can make it themselves, with adult supervision that is. Experiment with different ingredients and tell me what you come up with! I think I'll give strawberries or blackberries a try next time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

... Anticipation for Summer

With summer quickly approaching, although it is hard to believe as Cumulus Nimbus rides overhead, parents and caregivers are frantically trying to find summer activities for their children who will be out of school within weeks. Whether it be summer camp, horse riding lessons, or the local summer soccer league some of these options are hard to narrow down, or even find, if you're in a big or small town/city.

As a caregiver, and teacher, I understand the need for children to interact with other children, even at the youngest of ages. It teaches them proper social skills and allows them the opportunity to make friends. Even though Baby Boy is only 5 months (and 10 days) old I have also found myself searching for events, classes and outings that he and I can do together when the sun comes out and the warm weather decides to stay longer than a day.

Where to search? The internet was my best bet. So up came Google, curser blinking at me to the beat of the Jeopardy song, as I decided what to type. The easiest thing to do would be to type the city I was in followed by 'kids': Chicago Kids. Up popped 'about 122,000' results. Ugh. Time to start weeding through the sites. (If you don't live in Chicago (this blog post is long) jump down to the bottom to see other city websites I've listed!)

First up, "Guide to Family Fun Events and Activities for Kids and Families in the Chicago Area". That was easy. A very basic yet inviting website presented me with five options: Calendar, Places to Go, Resources, Coupons & Deals, and Join Now! 'Calendar' seemed to be the best of choices, narrowing down my results by looking at a specific day of the week and going from there. It was, in fact! They divided the day by 'Activities', 'Entertainment', 'Kids Eat Free', 'Ongoing Exhibits', 'Performance', 'Storytelling', and 'Theater'. Each event had information on time, place, price and a link to their website. ChicagoKids is a great resource. The only downfall to this website is that you cannot search for events and activities by area (Chicago, Evanston, Lisle, etc.).

  • Positives: Well organized by date; provides resources beyond events and activities, such as Childcare information; Easy to navigate; Free Membership
  • Negatives: Unable to search by area of the city, Print can be small for some links

The next few results on Google were for parents visiting Chicago with kids, so I skipped those. Then I came upon The website is crowded with Buttons, Calendars and News and it seems a bit overwhelming, after taking a deep breath I decided to start at the top and work my way down. Eight buttons with, what I believe is, a car on them provide me with options to better narrow down my needs: Weekly Activities Guide, Summer Camp Guide, Free Museum Days, Birthday Party Guide, Classes Guide, Indoor Areas, Family Dining Guide and Summer Fun Guide. The print on each of these buttons is small, almost forcing me to pull out my reading glasses, but they lead to pages packed with information. It is definitely not as organized at ChicagoKids but it organizes its events by Week and Weekend. Each event is linked to its own page where it describes the event, place, times, day(s) and price, similarly to ChicagoKids. I could go on about this website, but then I would probably be writing a book and not a blog. I would say the best way to learn about this site is to just take a half hour or so out of your day to explore (or maybe 10 minutes a day for a few days)!

  • Positives: Many options for activities; Free Memberships; Coupons and deals;  provides resources beyond events and activities, such as Childcare information
  • Negatives: The mass amount of information displayed is distracting and can be frustrating if you don't know exactly what you're looking for or how you need to look for it; lacks specific organization (dividing events by day instead of week); delayed in updating their website weekly/daily.

Last but not least is Time Out Chicago Kids. I think this is one of my favorite resource websites that Chicago offers for families. Unlike the other two websites you can search for events by age group, times and neighborhood right on the main page. They also have easy-to-read tabs like does directing you to more specific subjects: Things to do, Arts + Entertainment, Eating + Shopping, Guides + Resources. Also on the main page is a daily schedule of events that are happening around the city, the weather and a number of articles related to kid things; music, movies, dining, etc. Overall I would say that this website has the most to offer, but each are great resources. Time Out also has websites for New York and Boston.

  • Positives: Well organized; Easy to read and navigate; Sortable events by age, time and neighborhood; 
  • Negatives: No free membership

Here are some websites for other cities in the U.S.


  1. Visit Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh is Kidsburgh!
  2. Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
  3. Ligonier Camp and Conference Center - Shout out to my home town!

What are you and your kids planning on doing this summer? Have any websites you recommend? Share them with me!