Category Archives: Children

“Being a Mom is Great” Moved to SoapboxMom.com!!

It’s official!

The Being a Mom is Great blog will now be called simply, SOAPBOX MOM!

Soapbox Mom Avatar

So, BMG Mom (aka bimmgee) is now soapbox mom or “SoapB” or Soapbox or soap!

Please join me over there now at soapboxmom.com.

And, when you find it, please let me know you did by leaving a comment.  As always, I appreciate your support!

😉

Also, if you’ve been so kind as to include me on your blogroll, please add me back as Soapbox Mom (and if I’ve lost your site, just let me know and I’ll be sure to add it right back onto my blogroll)!

Thanks!!

See you on the soapbox!!

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Filed under Children, Entertainment, family, Fun, games, life, parenting, personal, Thoughts

Yes, We Can!

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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For various reasons, I have stayed far, far away from politics on this blog. I used to be so deeply enmeshed in politics that it’s sometimes a struggle not to say something about the topic. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to stay far, far away. Until now.

This post may shock people who know me, but when I heard the first lady of California share an Eleanor Roosevelt quote about taking risks (actually, she said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”) I decided this post would be my risk for the day.

Whether you’re a Republican, Independent, or Democrat, I just ask for a few moments of your time (you have to watch it all the way to the end) to watch this video. In all my life, I’ve never seen a candidate (not just the video, more accurately the whole package) that moves me the way this guy does. I can’t help but think that he could do great things for our country.

Ask your kids who they support and who the other kids in their school think should be president. You might be surprised by the answer. Most kids I know (regardless of the party affiliation of their parents) enthusiastically say, “Obama!” Think about that. The little ones who, in many cases, have a closer connection to what’s real, to what matters in life (because they’re free from all the facades and spin and BS) have a passionate affinity for this man.

It seems to me that he’s just the kind of change this country needs.

Let’s not wait for the world to change anymore.

“We are the change we’ve been waiting for.”

— Barack Obama

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Filed under Barack Obama, Children, personal, politics, Thoughts

Free Rice – A Site with a Purpose

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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I’m so excited about a website our friends told us about last night.

It’s called Free Rice and it looks like this:

Free Rice Home Page

It’s great for your (older) kids, but don’t be surprised if you join in and try it, too. But be warned: it might be hard to stop.

Here’s how it works:

They give you a word and four other words beneath it. Then, you choose which of the four words most accurately defines or describes the first word. The site tracks each right answer and increases the degree of difficulty to keep you (or your kids) at the right level.

But here’s the best part: for each right answer, they’ll* donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

Wanna try it?

Just click the picture (below) or go to freerice.com.

Free Rice - A Site with a Purpose - for Your Kids!

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*The rice is paid for by adverstisers/sponsors of the Free Rice website. So you don’t have to contribute a cent. It’s fun! Give it a try! And I’m not getting anything for telling you about it either. I just think it’s cool and worth a look!

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Filed under Children, Education, Entertainment, family, Fun, reviews

When You Have a Bad Day…

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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My blogger friend over at Missives from Suburbia recently wrote a terrific post about how feelings originate from either fear or love. She presented a challenge to her readers to watch how we talk to and treat our loved ones and then make rational choices instead of impulsive ones. I took that to mean that I should consciously choose love over fear, kindness over harshness.

So today, the starting point for this challenge, I started my day in a fine way, with a smile on my face, newspaper in front of me, coffee in hand. Then the kids start acting…well…a little revved. Goofy, silly, loud, talking too much about farts and butts, you know, being just a bit overly wild. I chose to ignore it all (well, except when I reminded them of our rule of no potty talk at the table), but as for the other stuff, I just kept telling myself, “Give ’em a little bit of slack today. They’re so happy…they’ll be on their way to school soon enough…” (as I felt the beginning pangs of a headache).

Stressed Woman

I quietly slipped into my room to get dressed, pulled on one of my favorite sweaters, and got ready for the day, urging myself to believe that there are no bad days, only bad moments. Each moment we make a choice (or many choices), and I was determined to choose to keep moving forward, to keep things in perspective and most of all to just be aware of how my state of mind affected my choices.

Then I noticed a hole in my favorite sweater. When did that get there? Rats. Take that off, put on some other shirt. Whatever. Keep going. It’s just an article of clothing. As my day continued, it just kept getting worse and worse (I won’t bore you with all the details, let’s just say it involved PMS). It reminded me of that picture book I recently reviewed on my radio show, called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. You know, where everything seems to be going wrong and the bad moments continue throughout the day.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By dinnertime, I was really cranky and couldn’t muster a smile for anything. So I tell the kids to just give me some space. “I just want to check a few things online and then I’ll start making dinner,” I explain. So, I’m at the computer when I hear the first few notes of a song from the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks. I look over to my right and see my son holding a tablespoon like a microphone while he lipsyncs the words (he recently discovered how to do it and is pretty excited to fake sing to all kinds of music in a hammy, performing kind of way). It’s pretty darn cute.

Anyway, so I glance over and notice he’s there, but I keep typing away on my keyboard. Then I glance again and notice that he has no intention of moving. Oh, no. He’s standing there as if it’s the stage in the Kodak Theatre and I’m his audience of thousands. He’s still looking right at me.

I know, sometimes it takes me a while, but I finally realized that this wasn’t just a quick snippet of a song, rather he was trying to pull me out of my funk. So I stop typing and get into the moment…this precious moment that somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I recognize I really need right about now.

I turn toward him and see his eyes looking at me in a way only your own child can. I can’t help but smile. He’s lipsyncing to the song Bad Day but instead of Daniel Powter singing Bad Day, it’s the one from Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Alvin’s version of the song, Bad Day

It’s working. My cranky-wall cracks ever so slightly and I start to smile, but just a little grin.

Then, at just the right moment, right at this big crescendo, my daughter slides into view (on her knees, doing a sweeping slide that finishes with her left arm swinging up into the air for dramatic effect). She, too, holds a tablespoon mic in her right hand, and joins my son in the lipsyncing extravaganza. Our dog feels the good vibes (or something) and trots over happily, wanting to share in this jubilant affair.

The whole performance is enough to make me stand up at the end, with a huge grin on my face and a really warm feeling inside, wrap my arms around both of my kids and just revel in this amazing moment. The kids are absolutely beaming. They know what works for me, how to make me smile, what can bring a smile to my face (as long as I choose to let it in).

How can all that translate to you? Well, I could say, “You should buy the Alvin & the Chipmunks tune, have your kids learn the words to Bad Day and sing for you.” But that seems like asking a lot and wouldn’t necessarily translate.

No, I just offer you this: when you’re having a really lousy day (like Alexander’s or like mine or whatever kind of day is your kind of bad day), dig way down to get to that place where you can throw off the mask that we often hide behind as adults and then look at your kids. You know, really look at your kids. If they’re not singing, then try to imagine them singing. Or pick up a picture of them when they’re asleep or when they’re being their most adorable.* It will melt you and get you back to a place where you can more easily choose love, compassion and kindness. The place where your heart wants to be. It’s a glorious place. Really. And it’s the key to getting past those bad days moments.

More4Kids photo

Love’s hard to beat.

It’s moments like those that make being a mom really, really great.

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Images from Amazon and Google Images (including the one from here).

*This reference is to a post from another one of my blogger friend’s blogs, The Busy Dad Blog within which he shows a great picture of his son, affectionately referred to as Fury, at one of his most adorable moments. See what I mean? Makes you melt…and hopefully will do so even more when it’s your own.

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Filed under Children, family, life, parenting, personal, Thoughts

Is This Sport?

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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My daughter has been playing basketball half her life. She plays well and has a good time doing it. She opted not to play travel ball so she could just have fun playing it without the intensity and competitiveness of travel teams.

Recently, however, we experienced something that may have changed her approach and overall state of mind with respect to the sport. The crux of the problem? A parent.

In this particular game, she was playing really well. In fact, I was amazed by a few of her shots. It looked like she was being moved by some greater force or something. I mean, she floated down the court and, in one case, hit a shot from the three point line, using only her right arm, flinging it in with nothin’ but net.

Nothin’ But Net

It was beautiful.

She was having so much fun.

Until a dad from the other team apparently decided that the three high school girls coaching his daughter’s team weren’t doing their jobs coaching his daughter. He stepped in and took over, intimidating the girls and getting his face right in all of their faces. I couldn’t hear what he said to them, but my daughter’s teammates overheard him say to his daughter, “You see that #23? Whatever you do, don’t let her take a shot!”

He barked his orders and sent out his attack dog.

We’re talking fifth and sixth grade girls, here, people.

I was keeping the clock for the game, which meant I was sitting next to a dad from the other team, who was keeping the stats and the score in the official game book. He and I had been engaging in friendly chatter for the duration of the game. When Attack Dad turned his daughter into Attack Girl even scorekeeper dad noticed. He said, “Wow, she’s being pretty nasty.” He told me about how he believes that a lot of parents try to live through their kids and work out whatever they were unable to accomplish in their own childhoods. Sure, I’ve heard that and believe it. But, geesh!

At one point, when the girl had excessively elbowed my daughter (and had the bruises and cuts to show for it afterward), she asked Attack Girl, “What are you doing?” Attack Girl responded harshly, “It’s called playing a sport.”

Well, that’s not the way I’ve been taught to play sports. Or the way my kids have been taught to play sports. Certainly not girls’ basketball, anyway. And certainly not in elementary school.

After four fouls called on his daughter, my daughter went to the drinking fountain, shaken, crying and battered. Scorekeeper dad nudged me and said softly, “Er, I think your daughter’s crying.” Sure enough, he’d pushed her to the point of tears. She walked over to me. I hugged her and could feel her shaking. She showed me her cuts and said, “Mom, I’ve never played with someone so mean.”

The coaches took my daughter out for the rest of the game.

I didn’t know how to handle this situation. Attack Dad stands at about 6’3″ and fiercely glares at people. I don’t think it’s my imagination. During that game he looked fierce. Should I have gone over to the guy and said something? If so, what? Would that have really solved anything? The coaches were apologizing, the referees were apologizing, even scorekeeper dad apologized. He told me that his dad coached his basketball team when he was a boy and that, in his opinion, that girl was way over the top. There were definitely moments when it was all I could do to hold myself back from running out there and getting between them.

It was just awful.

I know I’m a bit of a lightweight and hate conflict, but I’m also a sports lover and appreciate the pleasure one can get from playing a good competitive game. But this? This incident was not sport.

I looked over at the guy and scowled in my own kind of glaring way, but then I remembered the hockey player’s dad who killed a guy. So, I decided to walk away. It’s what my daughter wanted to do, too. She said, “Mom, I just want to leave. Please.” So I wrapped my arm around her, held her close and walked out the door.

She really hasn’t played the same way since that game. I can’t help but wonder if she subconsciously fears more attacks, so she’s pulling back a bit on her level of play. Better to fit in than to be attacked (?!). I hope not. I hope the Attack Family did not win by intimidation. But, on the other hand, maybe my daughter has a point when she says we should start thinking about tennis.

Tennis Court Clip

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Images from Google Images and El Conquistador.

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Filed under Children, family, girls' basketball, parenting, personal, sports

A Tribute to Mom (or How to Decorate a Christmas Tree)

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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Yes…the holidays are upon us.

Stores blare Christmas music, commuters face nasty holiday traffic, shoppers swagger through crowded shops, busy busier frazzled parents lose patience with tired kids, and families spend hours (or days!) decorating their homes. It’s a time filled with ritual and traditions. And every family has its traditions. Some families go nuts every year on the outside of their homes hanging lights and signs…we don’t get crazy with our property — maybe we’ll put a few strands of white lights here and there, hang a couple of wreaths with bows, that’s about it.

But our Christmas tree inside our house? Ah, now that’s different.

We give heartfelt attention to our trees. My mom loved decorating Christmas trees. She trimmed beautiful trees. So did my grandmother. She had two trees at Christmas time with an elaborate, magical, snowy Christmas village underneath both of them, complete with kings on horses (or were they camels?) pointed toward her fireplace which had a beautiful creche inside. She spent a lot of time putting puffs of cotton underneath cotton batting then sprinkling glitter around to make it look like a shimmery, snowy fantasy land. She had little houses, animals and figurines spread all around and then a lovely little wooden fence on the edge of all of it. When we were old enough, my sisters and I would help her assemble this (what was in our minds massive) world. It was absolutely delightful.

We don’t even try to replicate that magic, but, sort of as a tribute to my family of origin, I put some effort into our tree. I enjoy decorating it. It all starts with the search for the right tree. We go out to a tree farm and my hubby uses a wimpy little saw (provided by the farm) and a whole lot of brawn to chop down a tree.

This year, our son spied a Norwegian Spruce (super prickly but great for holding lots of ornaments). It’s a funky tree, and we actually heard another family rejecting it because its branches were a bit wild and dense. We didn’t mind. So, in a Charlie Brown (well, Linus) kind of way, we decided that was the one for us. With a little TLC, we trimmed it, removed some of the sappy branches (and the twisted weedy thing that was growing up the trunk) and took it home.

Hubby and I put it in the stand without incident and then it was up to me to do the rest. I turned on some Christmas music, got a cup of tea and just sat and looked at it — not because I was feeling contemplative and pondering all my Christmases past, rather because I couldn’t find the box of lights. I had the tree topper, so I climbed up the ladder and set it on top, then I went back through the dozen or so boxes of decorations to search for the lights. I was just about ready to give up when, almost an hour later, I finally remembered that I stowed them in the attic.

Thank you, God! I mean, I needed the lights, because it’s the first step in the system. Yes, I have a decorating system that I’ve developed after years of advice and assistance from Mom. I start with the lights (I used to do a spiral around the tree, now I just zig zag up and around it and place them in spots that will optimize the sparkle factor). Mom always said that the key to making a great tree is to put some of the lights deep into the tree (in toward the trunk) to give it depth and provide maximum twinkle. Can’t skimp on the lights.

tree lights

Ornaments are another place to be generous. I try to find great ornaments each year (preferably after Christmas, to get a good deal on bulbs I wouldn’t otherwise buy) and I have a color scheme to which I am loyal — clear lights with red, gold and white (but very few white) bulbs. So when I see a special red or gold bulb after Christmas, I scoop it up, add it to the collection, and look forward to putting it up the following year.

Mom insisted that the general idea is to hang the largest bulbs around the bottom and the smallest bulbs at the top, but I save a few small bulbs to sprinkle here and there around the middle (where I need more color). The shiniest bulbs go closest to the lights to maximize the sparkle. All of this is probably basic, basic tree trimming knowledge.

So now I’ll share some of my favorite Mom tips. First, how to use very effective little trimmings called sprays.

gold spray

I’m not much of a crafty gal, but this trick is worth a trip to Michael’s (or AC Moore or whatever craft stores you have near you). Mom gave us some red and gold sprays that I carefully place in those bare spots that are otherwise just big, bland sections of green (Mom also used to add feathery birds to her tree, but I chose to omit them).

Another important Mom tip: ocassionally stand back a few steps and look at the whole tree to find the bare spots and fill them in with just the right decoration. I did just that and tweaked until I was satisfied. Then, I gathered up my french ribbon (the kind that has wire on each side — I use red ribbon with gold beads on the sides) and carefully wound it & twisted it around the tree. Finally, I used strings of beads and draped them around the tree, up and down the branches like this:

Christmas tree beads

Then, when I finally finished, I made another cup of tea, got a little plate of cookies and sat and looked at it.For me, it’s the most special part of my ritual. That’s the time when I reflect back on all the past Christmases, back when mom was still alive. I think about my mom and grandmother and silently thank them for all the wisdom they passed on to me. I think about the time in college when my mom took me shopping for Christmas decorations because she wanted to help me set up my very first tree (away from home). I remember marveling at her attention to detail and understanding what a difference it made.

When I spend that special time looking at our tree, I am so grateful for the many warm, loving memories. I feel blessed to have had all those years learning Mom’s tips, decorating with her, buying new decorations, laughing and singing carols. All sorts of feelings start rushing through me. I start to wish she could be sitting there with me, also having a cup of tea and some cookies. I wish I could see her beautiful, sparkling eyes as she gazed approvingly at the tree.

At this time of year, I miss my mom the most. So my ritual often ends with tears. Sometimes I cry, other times I just sit and smile. No matter what, though, just before standing up and going on with the rest of my day, I always say, “This one’s for you, Mom. Thanks.”

BMGmom Tree

2007 Christmas Tree (during the day)

2007 tree at night

2007 Tree at Night

Merry Christmas!

Happy Chanukah.

Happy Eid.

Habari Gani.

Happy Winter Solstice (that one’s for you, Dan!)

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Filed under Children, Christmas, Culture, design, family, holidays

My Day in Detention

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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I’m not a big fan of chewing gum.

When I was a kid, the only time I ever served detention was in eighth grade. Standing in the cafeteria, right next to the assistant principal, I cracked my gum…several times. It was a bad habit.

I stopped chewing gum after that and I’ve tried to avoid buying it for my kids. I blame it on the aspartame. “Oh, sorry, can’t buy that. Has aspartame.” Then my kids found this great gum at Trader Joe’s called Glee Gum.

Glee Gum

The gum pieces are small squares, so it’s much better than chewing those huge clumps of bubble gum and it’s not filled with all kinds of weird chemicals. I’m not crazy about Tic Tacs (the flavors seem a little…off to me and I always feel like I need to eat a handful to really satisfy the mint craving), so I thought this would be a good way to deal with coffee breath. I grab the little box whenever I need a little breath freshening. Harmless so far, right?

Well, the other night, the kids and I were driving back from my daughter’s chorus practice. The car was filled with music, chatter, and laughter when suddenly “Crack, pop, crack!” everyone froze. My daughter looked at me and softly asked, “What was that?” We don’t chew much gum in our house. I looked over at her like I was a teenager caught with a beer in her hand. “Uh…well…that? Yeah, well…it must have been part of the song.” She kept looking at me then slowly started grinning — you know, that slow “gotcha” grin. “Noooo, I don’t think so.” Grinning a little more. Then, “Are you chewing gum?” Brief pause. “No, wait, did you just crack your gum?”

They know all about the eighth grade experience. That’s partly why they were surprised I was even chewing it, but cracking it? That was the dirty deed. The black mark. The cause of my detention.

My daughter’s right at that age when she watches everything I do, analyzes it and records it in her “notes of mom” mental diary. I felt as if I could see the little teeny pencil in her head furiously scribbling an addendum.

“Isn’t that what you got detention for? Back in eighth grade?” My daughter is in middle school right now. She can relate.

“Um, well, yes.” It’s funny how memories take us back so much that we almost feel like that little kid all over again. Embarrassed. Humiliated.

Somebody somewhere (I hope!) is probably saying, “What the heck? You just popped chewing gum? What’s the big deal?” It’s all relative, I guess, so just insert your own transgression.

Anyway, so there I am, trapped in a car, in a very awkward moment with the kids wondering what I would say next. Would I spit out the gum and say, “Yeah, boy, I should have learned my lesson back then. It’s just plain rude to the people around me to pop gum. Sorry. Bad example.” and move on? Would I say, “That’s right, kiddo. Never mind! I’m the mom so I can! But you…don’t even think about doing it…ever!”

Nah, I took the middle road.

“Why, yes, I did,” I calmly replied.

Then my son chimes in, “How did you do that??”

So that’s all this is about. They’re fascinated at a new trick they want to learn. Hmm…okay. Different dilemma now. Do I say, “Never mind. You shouldn’t do that, so you don’t need to know.” Or should I teach them how?

I took a deep breath and told myself, “This is where you need to let go. I mean, you work for years and years with your kids to try and instill a sense of good judgment so that one day, when they’re chewing gum, standing next to their assistant principal, they’ll know what to do. They’ll make the right choice. They will have learned from you. Er, well, from your mistake. Even if they’re chewing the forbidden gum and they know how to crack it.”

So, I said, “It’s simple. It’s like blowing a bubble, just backwards. Flatten out the gum with your tongue and your teeth…”

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Filed under Children, family, parenting, Thoughts