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ask-logoThe Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics – announced today that the first day of summer, June 21, is National ASK Day (Asking Saves Kids) to remind parents and caregivers the importance of asking if there are unlocked or loaded guns in the homes where children play.

Nine children and teens are shot each day in gun accidents.  Nationwide, one out of three homes with children has a gun, many kept unlocked or loaded. Approximately 1.7 million children in the U.S. live with unsecured guns.

To help encourage more parents to ask this potentially lifesaving question, the Brady Campaign is launching a social media campaign that includes online advertisements.  Parents and caregivers will be urged to sign a pledge to spread the ASK message in their community.  The pledge can be found at www.askingsaveskids.org.  In addition, the Brady Campaign is encouraging parents to host ASK-themed play dates throughout the country on June 21st.

Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign, said “Parents worry a lot about mass shootings that are outside their control; however, parents do have the ability to prevent unintentional shootings by asking about guns in the homes where their children visit and play. We routinely ask other questions related to our children’s safety. Every parent should simply add this one to the list.

The campaign also includes testimonials from moms who wish they’d asked this question.

“We never had guns in our home, and we still don’t, but we are the ones without a child in our house,” said Ann Marie Crowell, of Massachusetts, who lost her son in an unintentional shooting.  “One question asked is one child’s life saved.  It could have been my son’s.”

Ashlyn Melton, of Louisiana, said she taught her son how to handle a gun and always locked up her guns.  “I never thought to ask other parents about their guns because I assumed they were as responsible as I am.  I wish I had. My son died on a playdate when his friend playfully fired a gun at my son’s head because the friend didn’t think the gun was loaded.  That gun should have been locked up and away from kids,” she said.

To help parents broach the subject, Jennie Lintz, the Brady Campaign’s Director of Public Health and Safety, suggested parents ASK by saying, “In the wake of all the terrible violence in the news, I’m worried about guns—I’m sure you are, too.  Please don’t take it personally, but can I ask you to reassure me that you don’t have unlocked guns in the house that might unintentionally hurt our kids?”

For more than a decade, the ASK Campaign has partnered with over 400 grassroots organizations to spread its message in neighborhoods nationwide.  More information is available at www.askingsaveskids.org.

The ASK Campaign is a collaboration between the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has promoted the ASK message to its 62,000 members across the country.  The ASK Campaign has successfully inspired 19 million households to ASK if there are guns where their children play. Parents and individuals are encouraged to visit askingsaveskids.org and Pledge to ASK.

Product Review – Shower Wands

RickieLargeA confession of sorts, we have never been the best about making the kids take as many baths as they probably should. However, now that BB is getting a lot of food (a lot) in his hair the bath has become more and more of a “have to” instead of a “we should.” Rubber Duckie & Friends showerhead and wand distracts BB long enough for us to get the rice or pasta that usually embeds itself into his mane. The showerhead has a kid-friendly flow that doesn’t blow them out of the water, which is good as LTD always wants to use it as a squirt gun. The showerhead comes in a choice of animal designs including duck, frog and hippo. Our goal of course is not only to rinse the boys quickly which is hard because as difficult as it is to get the boys in the bath, of course, once in they never want to get out, but to transition LTD in to taking showers. 


Book Review – World’s Best Father

960122_669795843040710_841942562_nLTD calls Mother’s Day Happy Mother’s Day as in I made you a card for Happy Mother’s Day, but Father’s Day is just Father’s Day, but he did ask me, but he had to check with his teachers first, what I wanted. Dave Engledow’s Confessions Of The World’s Best Father features in both words and photos his greatest (worst) parenting nightmares. Told through Day headlines like Day 1 and Day 580, he explores his daughter Alice Bee and his adventures on the bad parenting express. Day 490 shows a small kitchen fire while Day 393 depicts how many household items can fit in a normal bathroom toilet. Every picture contains his World’s Best Father mug like the Playboy bunny. My only regret is showing the book to LTD who perhaps took away the wrong lesson and asked to re-enact many of the photos. Who am I too argue, Day 1 begins.

The Hose

FireHoseStreamsLTD never did it, but BB wanted to make up for lost time. After 5 years of children without projectile vomiting last week, BB took the crown for best converting food into a riot stopping weapon. I picked him up from school and everything was fine, the teachers had nothing to report about how he was feeling, but when I opened the door of the car to put down their lunches and bags all hell broke loose. The only warning was a slight hiccup/burp and before I could react the spray was free. He shot it out like he was trying to qualify for some gross new Olympic sport. He covered himself, me and the front seat of the car. The worst part is that this was only my first trip as I was just dropping things off before going back in to get LTD. I used the boy as a human shield covering my soaked shirt and quickly got LTD outside without anyone asking me what happened. Once at home I was able to calmly address the situation. BB’s behavior was fine and he ate a little dinner but no one ever found out the cause of the eruption. In the end, I simply chalked it up to another parenting milestone and one more thing that I get to check off my bucket list.  


istock_adhdMay is Mental Health Month, and a time to bring awareness to the many conditions that make up mental illness.  ADHD, in particular, has taken the brunt of misinterpretation from our nation’s parents and educators, seeing a 41% rise in diagnosis in the U.S. in the last decade.

Dr. Prakash Masand, a psychiatrist who is a former consulting professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, and is president of Global Medical Education, says it’s out of control, with children being prescribed powerful medications that in many cases they don’t need, and parents and educators blaming simple misbehavior as ADHD.

For Mental Health Month, Dr. Masand offers the real facts about ADHD that most people don’t know:

-          ADHD is more than just bad behavior; it is a psychiatric illness with a well described constellation of symptoms and proven treatments.

-          Pre-schoolchildren with ADHD are more likely to present with hyperactivity, while adults with ADHD are more likely to have inattention rather than hyperactivity.

-          Some children can outgrow ADHD, but 40% will continue to have symptoms as adults.

-          ADHD is not caused by watching too much TV or eating junk food.  The exact cause is not fully known, but brain injuries, genetics, and environmental factors like alcohol and tobacco use in pregnant mothers, and preschoolers exposed to lead have a higher risk of developing it.

-          ADHD medication will not cause your child to become a drug addict, does not increase his risk of sudden death and will not turn him into a zombie.

-          There is treatment outside medication.  Proven non medication treatments for children with ADHD include behavioral parent training and summer treatment programs. Proven non medication treatments for adults with ADHD include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy and time management training.

-          If managed properly, children can go on to be extremely successful in school and adult life.  Some famous people with ADHD: Ty Pennington, Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Justin Timberlake and Michael Phelps.

What You Pointing At?

bellyBB may not eat solid food yet, but he is maturing in other ways. He can now say, “car” and by car I mean, “caaa.” But at least he says it while pointing to cars. He can also say, “Erica” the name of one of his teacher and again I mean, “Err-ca.” But I’ll allow it. The most mature thing he does is point to his belly when you ask him where his belly is and he mostly points to his nose when asked where his nose is, but the belly is a lock. He has a 100% success rate with that one. He can say da-da and ma-ma but so far has been stingy in the application. Once when I picked him up from school I thought he called me Daddy but if called under oath I’m not sure I could back it up. So BB is growing up and stayed tuned for news of eating with a spoon but still not solids. At least he is ready for beer in college. 

Product Review – Robot Turtles

robot-1900-loresspillSeeing this NYT article reminded me that LTD has been digging this game, Robot Turtles. Of course, he would have loved it based on the name alone, but he actually has been understanding it, which makes me feel slightly slow since he figured it out before I did. The game is designed to teach youngsters the basics computer programming and coding. I like it because even though it is about computers it is an actual board game and LTD has no real idea that it is about programming. The game has card like Use Laser and Function Frog so right off the bat we were in what my dad used to call, fat city. One of the “rules” is that the player must make funny turtle noises when moving and I must say that LTD’s robot turtle impression is not to be missed. One cool feature is that unlike the games of Trouble (with the pop-o-matic bubble) Robot Turtles can be played pretty quickly. The future is here when you can play a board game about coding for pres-schoolers and the future will really be here when LTD uses his new knowledge to replace me with a robot as he has threatened to do (don’t worry, he doesn’t use the word replace, he says he just wants a robot version of me as well, but I can see the writing on the wall). 






Book Review – A Bucket of Blessings

bucket-of-blessings-9781442458703_lgEvery now and again, it’s nice to be able to read the boys a story that doesn’t feature Transformers or other toy characters. Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal new book. A Bucket of Blessings is beautifully drawn by Jing Jing Tsong. The tale, based on an Indian legend, tells the us about Monkey and his quest for water during the dry season. The story is told through bright vibrant colors and simple text. The narrative is clean and focused and just the right length for bedtime. All of this isn’t important to LTD because all he cares about is the fact that the protagonist is called Monkey and the more you say the word Monkey to a little boy the more they laugh. The book also features an Afterword by Maya Angelou  with the words, “it is a blessing to be a blessing” which fits nicely into LTD’s lessons at school as the kids are learning about empathy.  The blue of the water is so bright that I thought we were going to wet the bed reading it. And in keeping with my policy of not spoiling the ending of books, I won’t tell you if the village gets water or not, I would only remind you that the book isn’t called a bucket full of dirt. 

Terrible Ones

nov32004Terrible Twos” Misnomer, According to Research

Research shows that the so-called “terrible twos” don’t need to exist when it comes to child development. In fact, the behavior often associated with this stage – tantrums, moodiness, nagging and an affinity for the word “no” – begins shortly after the first birthday. For parents, it is important to jump into action at this point so they can prevent the “two’s” from becoming terrible and turn them into something tremendous.

International research on infants has shown that 64 weeks after due date, or at roughly 15 months, a baby’s brain makes a gigantic leap forward. Babyhood is over and life as a toddler begins. This leap is significant as it is the basis for the person your child has the potential to become as s/he grows.

According to Frans Plooij, Ph.D., author of the international bestseller The Wonder Weeks and one of the world’s top specialists in infant/child development and parent-baby interactions, in order to make toddlerhood easier for both parent and child, parents need to understand what’s happening in their child’s brain and embrace what he is going through. By understanding what is going on in the brain at the age of 64 weeks (ninth mental leap) and 75 weeks (tenth and last mental leap in infancy), you can moderate the behavior of your “teenaging toddler” and help him navigate this period of development.

This stage, including the supposed “terrible twos” is cause for celebration, says Dr. Plooij, and needs to be approached as such. In the years since the publication of his original book, Dr. Plooij continued to research the developmental leaps in infants together with numerous national and international experts. The results are found in The Wonder Weeks, which explores how the ninth and tenth are key leaps to form the basis of a well-educated child in cleverness and in well-raised person.

These leaps are tremendous as it is during this time that a child begins to learn about – and set – values and norms that will carry him through life. This period, which Dr. Plooij refers to as “teenaging toddlers” is similar to a first adolescence.

“Temper tantrums, manipulation and a healthy ego are all part of a baby’s sense of self as they enter toddler-hood,” according to Dr. Plooij.  “Much like a teenager, a toddler will pout, push buttons and challenge to norm in order to get his way.” For both the toddler and the teenager, it amounts to learning how to assert himself and separate himself from everyone around him.

For the first time, a child understands he is a different person than mommy and his family is a different family than another family. Once he comprehends these differences, he learns to “play” with them. How? By tempting the rules and even acting out. At this age in development, the now-toddler has figured out how to push the right buttons until he gets what he wants.

According to Dr. Plooij, and the premise of his research, this doesn’t have to be a dreadful time between parent and child if the parent is prepared. “If you know what is going on in your child’s brain,” he says, “you know what you can demand from him. If you don’t know this you ask too little, giving no challenge to the child and allowing him to “be the boss,” or you demand too much, which can be frustrating for the child because he is simply not able to meet the too high standards. So the key is to ask that what they can handle, no more, no less, and setting reachable – but still challenging – goals.”

“Your toddler is now learning to be himself in a group,” he continues, “and all the nagging and temper tantrums are just his way of saying ‘Hey, Mom, give me some guidance here!’”

A child doesn’t need to act so “terrible,” as long as you know what to do and, more important: why he is acting this way. By understanding these leaps you can make the transition into toddlerhood, and the subsequent stages including the “terrible two’s,” into the “tremendous two’s” and beyond. “Tremendous,” says Dr. Plooij, “because it is with these leaps that a huge part of socialization is set for life. And tremendous: because good values and norms start now. If you invest in your toddler in this time, it will pay off for lifetime and especially in puberty.”

The Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth

NHL-Perfect-Teeth-225x225So yesterday the family reached a major milestone. LTD lost his first tooth. and by lost I mean we can’t find it. A few weeks ago, he announced that his tooth was loose (he woke me up to tell me the break news) and it did indeed feel a little wiggly. We had a previously scheduled dentist appointment for his six month check up so I when we went we had the Dentist take a look. She explained that it was not only okay to wiggle it, but she encouraged it as the tooth was never going to fall out on its own. She further explained that the root is so small that we need not doing anything when it falls out. So I basically forgot about it since it only felt slightly wiggly and she mentioned it could even take a few months. Flash forward to yesterday and when I picked him up from school he informed me that it was really wiggly. After my own examination it did seem like it was about to chew its last meal. At home we he ate a snack and then we went to pick up The Mommy. During the trip he casually tells me that his tooth is gone. I looked near him but couldn’t find it concluding it might be at the table or inside his digestive system. As we waited for The Mommy’s carpool to drop her off, LTD flipped his arms around and made a squee sound. I said, what are you doing, he said, I’m just so excited that I lost my tooth. The pure joy in his eyes was enough for me to bank for the next time something bad happens to me. Of course we couldn’t find it and I’m pretty sure he swallowed it so the next few days are going to be fun. Thankfully, he was really cool with writing an IOU note to the Tooth Fairy and he woke me up this morning to show me what she brought him. A shiny gold-colored dollar coin. In conclusion to sum up the electricity in the air, when I dropped him off at school this morning and he showed Charlotte his mouth she summed it up best,”Oh..My..God.”