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Product Review – Trader Joes Pancakes

pancakesI never thought little pancakes would be a thing that I would ever care about, but becoming a parent has changed my feelings about many things. In the past five years sure my priorities changed, but so has the places I go and the food I buy. Obviously, Trader Joes has unbeatable prices and certainly is a great place to take the little ones. Of all their products the Little Pancakes that come frozen and heat in less than a microwave minute are the best. Why because you can not beat the simplicity. In short they are a game changer. LTD dips them in real maple syrup (I’m from Maine so our house is exclusively real syrup) and pops them in his mouth. Why is so amazing, because it normally takes him forever to finish a meal as he is easily distracted and has zero time management skills. However, five small pancakes in a circle on a plate with syrup in the middle streamline his breakfast like no other meal. I know what you’re thinking, why is he going on about pancakes? Anyone who has ever tried to get a child out of the house in the morning know all too well that you can’t do it alone. The Fates have to be on your side. And Trader Joes Pancakes may arrive frozen but they heat up our son’s slow morning routine.

I’ll Have What He’s Having

tux2A few weeks ago, LTD, after reading what I assume was an issue of GQ, decided that he had to dress like me. Not a big deal on the surface and sweet that he wants to be like Daddy. However, LTD did not want to capture the spirit of my clothes rather he wanted to dress exactly like me. This involved not only being inspired by my daily choice but trying to influence my wardrobe. Sure he has a few belts and some cargo pants, but most of clothes don’t sync in the literal way LTD does things. As he tried to dress like me he would not only get frustrated, but attempt to rig the game. First he would ask me what I was wearing or going to wear and when he quickly realized he didn’t have the same outfit would try and get me to change my choice. So what started as a sweet tale of copycat coolness to be shared at Father’s Day events in the future devolved into temper tantrums and us being late every morning. Thankfully, like most of LTD’s phases past and it is like it never happened. Can’t wait to embarrass his college buddies by showing up to parent’s weekend wearing a backward baseball hat and board shorts.

Youngest Kindergarteners Most Likely to be Held Back

schoolhouseThe University of Missouri has an interesting article by Diamond Dixon about kindergarten.

For some parents, the decision of when to enroll their children into kindergarten can result in costly consequences such as another year of daycare expenses. In general, children must be five years old to be eligible to be enrolled in kindergarten. However, the developmental differences between a young kindergartener who barely qualifies for the state-mandated age cutoff date compared to a child who is almost year older, may have implications. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that the youngest kindergartners are about five times more likely to be retained, or held back, compared to the oldest students, resulting in higher costs for parents and school districts.

“Research on retention has been somewhat more consistent in suggesting that holding children back a year is not the most effective practice,” said Francis Huang, assistant professor in the MU College of Education. “Requiring children to repeat a grade is not only expensive for parents and school districts, but it also can affect children’s self-esteem and their ability to adjust in the future.”

Huang suggests that schools should continue to be more flexible in assisting kindergarteners of varying ages so that they can proceed normally rather than requiring them to repeat the grade the following year.

“The youngest students in a classroom can be nine to 12 months less mature than their oldest peers,” Huang said. “Since older kindergarteners can have as much as 20 percent more life experience than their younger classmates, teachers need to meet students where they are developmentally and adjust instructions based on a student’s ability. Studies have shown that only a small number of teachers modify classroom instruction to deal with a diverse set of students.”

Huang also investigated the relationship between retention and a child’s socioemotional skills, such as the child’s self-control and interpersonal skills, to further understand why younger students were more likely to be retained. Huang analyzed data from the nationally-representative “Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99” and found that, on average, the youngest kindergarteners were about five times more likely to be retained compared to the oldest kindergartners. However, Huang found that children with higher attentiveness, task persistence, and eagerness to learn were less likely to repeat a grade.

In addition, Huang also noticed that a child’s height was associated with the likelihood of a child being retained. This relationship existed even after accounting for differences in children’s academic abilities, socioeconomic status, age, and fine motor skills.

“Retention is usually reserved for children who struggle academically; however, if two children are having the same difficulties in the classroom and one child happens to be shorter than the other child, then the smaller, younger child has a much higher likelihood of being retained,” Huang said.

Since parents, teachers and school administrators may be operating under the assumption that early retention may be beneficial, Huang says awareness of higher retention rates among young students is important to acknowledge in order to address the issue. Huang’s study, “Further Understanding Factors Associated with Grade Retention: Birthday Effects and Socioemotional Skills,” was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

No Kids Allowed

bedA Beyond the Car Seat first, an adults only post. Got kids? Here’s how to keep the intimacy alive. Journalist Anne Rodgers and gynecologist Maureen Whelihan surveyed 1,300 women ages 15 to 97, including many in the throes of raising kids, about desire for their book, Kiss and Tell. Here are their tips for busy moms based on what the women they interviewed said did and didn’t work for them:

It’s important to know that being a mom and having a great love life aren’t mutually exclusive.

Chasing a toddler around or shuttling kids from soccer practice and piano lessons may not make some women feel very desirable. But just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have a great intimate life.

• Don’t talk about the kids. Kids don’t create desire, they create stress, many women the interviewed said.

• Get out of your head. The women surveyed for Kiss and Tell who were having better sex were the ones who were focused on the moment, not on laundry, bills, the to-do list, etc. Many said having the mood set with things like candles, music or a glass of wine helped with this.

• Private time. Once they are old enough, teach kids how to make breakfast for themselves on Saturday or Sunday mornings and use that time as mom and dad time.

• Understand the demands. Many of the women interviewed for Kiss and Tell said they wished their partners had a better understanding of how exhausted they were. Since men have eight times as much testosterone as women, the authors say they may want to think about how they can harness that “energy” and do things to help get their partner in the mood, whether it’s running a bubble bath, giving her a massage or just straightening up the house and putting away some laundry.

• Don’t ignore your spouse. As tiring as being a parent may be, maintaining a strong physical relationship with each other creates a bedrock of intimacy, which also comes in handy down the road when the kids are out of the house.

Rodgers, a former writer and editor for the Austin American-Statesman and Palm Beach Post, spent an entire year conducting the interviews for Kiss and Tell. Whelihan is a gynecologist in West Palm Beach and a founding partner of the Center for Sexual Health in Charlotte, NC.

Show me the Baby and No One Gets Hurt

jarBB has just started a new trend. Since he still refuses to eat solids we have been feeding him baby food. The Earth’s Best jars feature a picture of baby on them. Okay, where is he going with this? Every time The Mommy or I feed BB and our fingers cover the jar while we hold it, a problem is created. BB using whatever force is necessary demands that we uncover the baby on the jar and show it to him. Failure to comply is not an option. However, lest you think BB is a jerk. There is indeed a method to his madness. Once revealed the baby picture makes him laugh with intense joy. It is possible that his love for the baby on the jar is what is keeping him from eating regular food and if that is case I hope his college roommates enjoy feeding him banana-mango in a jar.

Product Review – MAM Cups

MAM Learn to Drink Cup - 9ozSadly, BB is still having trouble in the solids department, but thankfully, he is okay with liquids. Now that we are beyond bottles it has been difficult to find a good cup not only that he likes, but is actually spill proof not just says its spill proof. The MAM line features what they call the Starter, Trainer, Learn to                       Drink, and Sports Cups. Each member of the family is BPA-free, PVC-free, lead-free and CPSIA-compliant (I have no idea what CPSIA is but it is probably good that they are compliant. Additionally, the cups are dishwasher safe which is a very good thing if you have ever left milk in a cup and that cup under the couch for many weeks. However, what is pretty cool is that MAM has a design feature on their site that allows you to pick from themes including animals, nature, rock n roll, but all of that is irrelevant because they only design feature that matters (to LTD anyway) is Monster. Right now we are happy that BB is enjoying his spill proof cups because his brother tends to get animated during meals and has been knocking over glasses left and right.MAM Trainer

You Can Have it When You Pry it From My Hand

crowbar_36335_lgBB has started asserting his dominance. Now that he is 14 months and walking like a fiend he has decided to take things to the next level. Whenever I am laying on the floor in his room watching him play (and to be honest using my iPhone) he grabs my hand, forcibly, and pry’s open my fingers to shove a toy or book in it. Of course he demands it be returned almost immediately calling into question why he was so insistent in the first place. The very first time he pulled this move, I had no idea what was happening I thought he was trying to mug me for the iPhone. I can’t stress enough just how much force he used, torque was involved. The good news is that now I know his plans I don’t resist.

National Collision Awareness Month

Chief_carseatMarch is National Collision Awareness Month, a valuable time to shine the spotlight on child passenger safety.

• Car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old.

• Motor vehicle traffic death rates for children are higher in the United States than in other high income countries.

• And according to MMWR effective interventions, including child passenger restraint laws (with child safety seat/booster seat coverage through at least age 8 years) and child safety seat distribution plus education programs, can increase restraint use and reduce child motor vehicle deaths.

The Child Passenger Safety Tips and Resource Guide from the AutoPartsWarehouse.com contains the following:

• Car Seat Guidelines by Age (for example, children under two should always ride in a rear facing car seat)

• Child Passenger Safety Tips (from locking down electric window buttons to proper seat belt use)

• Links to key resources on child passenger safety

To directly access the guide, click Here:

Media Review – Toopy and Binoo

unnamedNow that LTD’s face is glued to any screen he can get his hands on the concept of three network and Love Boat reruns are foreign to him. For instance, a Canadian TV hit is now something he can actually watch here on Youtube. Toopy and Binoo is an animated show featuring Toopy, the mouse and best friend Binoo, a cat. It‘s no Tom & Jerry, that’s right only in friendly Canada could these to opposites be friends. The show is about 5 minutes long but a marathon would take over 8 hours as there are 100 episodes online. The preschool set can enjoy LTD’s favorite episode Worm Circus (can you guess why?), but all the episodes deal with positive issues like comradeship, proper manners, creative thinking, all with a dose of humor.

Disclosure: I received Toopy and Binoo products in exchange for a post about the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Walk Much

Frankenstein-1931-Boris-Karloff-Mae-ClarkeNow that BB is a walking maniac the bumps and bruises are in full effect but one funny thing that is also in full effect is his by now world famous Frankenstein walk. Of course 90% of the cause is the bulky cloth diaper he wears which bows out his legs, but still I would like to think he is a classically trained master vaudevillian and he is doing his Frankenstein walk on purpose. The other funny movement related bit in his act revolves around the wobble. For fear of a spit take, don’t drink when he is trying to balance himself from toppling over. I mean it looks like he is trying to surf. I only make fun because he always nails it and never goes down. Okay that’s not true but he always lands on his bottom.