Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Available Parent Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens + A Tip From Dr. John Duffy

The Available Parent by Dr. John Duffy A Product Description

Teenagers are left feeling unheard and misunderstood, and parents are left feeling bewildered by the changes in their child at adolescence and their sudden lack of effectiveness as parents. The parent has become unavailable, the teen responds in kind, and a negative, often destructive cycle of communication begins. Well, the truth of the matter is, you can physically be right next to someone and still not really be available to them. If you need them to be something they’re not, if you are harsh, criticizing and judging, if your anxiety is center stage, then you are not truly available.

The available parent of a teenager is open to discussion, offering advice and problem-solving, but not insisting on it. He allows his child to make some mistakes, setting limits, primarily where health and safety are concerned. He never lectures – he is available but not controlling. The available parent is self-aware, and keeps his own emotions in check when dealing with his teen. He is unconditionally loving and accepting, and open to new and different ways of thinking. As such, he is neither cruel nor dismissive, ever. The available parent is fun and funny, and can bring levity to the most stressful situation. All of that is to say, there are no conditions to his availability – it is absolute. The available parent fosters an extraordinary teenager.

We have a tendency today to over-parent, micro-manage, and under-appreciate our adolescents. Imagine for a moment shifting the dynamic in your relationship. If you can get there as a parent, you can begin to enjoy a healthy, satisfying, exciting new kind of relationship with your teenager, a relationship with a foundation not of fear, but of radical optimism. Dr. John Duffy's The Available Parent is a revolutionary approach to taking care of teens and tweens.
And we can all breathe easier as a thirteenth birthday approaches.

What I Can Tell You:
While I didn't always agree with Dr. Duffy, as I am 50% "helicopter parent". Two years ago I was 100% but I am dealing with kids 6 and 8 years old. I am getting better at giving them space as they get older and prove themselves. I also micro-manage at this time, mostly conversations, helping them use good manners however I don't believe I will do this as they get older. In my mind, how will they know how to be effective listeners, use good manners and good judgment, if they are not being told how to?
If I remove myself out of the veil of mommy to elementary aged kids, I think this is the perfect book to aid parents of tweens and teens. I love how Dr. Duffy looks at and sees things! These kids are not lying. They are saying exactly what they need from their parents and thankfully there is a book out there telling us how to interpret what they need and how we can adjust ourselves to be the best parent for our kids and especially our future relationship with them.

I know exactly who needs this book and I am so happy to be able to tell her about it. 

Five Quick Tips for the Successful Raising of Teens and Tweens
By Dr. John Duffy,
Author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens

Parents often ask me why their parenting seems less effective with their teens and tweens than it did when their children were younger. In the same breath, they also want to know why they feel so disconnected with their children. The good news is that parents have more control over these factors than they think. Here are a few quick tips that will help:

1. Save Your Breath: Lectures Never Work
The lecture doesn't work because it is a closed form of communication. There is no back-and-forth to it. I recommend instead open discussions, outside the drama and high anxiety of crises. Instead, try this: "Listen, I've noticed lately that your grades have been slipping, and I'm really concerned. What's going on? How can I help?"

2. Be an Emotional Role Model

Often, taking care of your teen means taking care of yourself first. As a parent, you need to know and understand your own emotional life well in order to model emotional management for your teenager. Just telling your teenager to "get himself under control" does not suffice. You need to exhibit and model self-control and emotional self-awareness.

3. Be Careful About Judgments
If we have a negative vibe about a friend or potential boyfriend or girlfriend, we need to make our feelings known. We need to do it in the context of an open conversation. Sit him down and ask about his new friends in a nonjudgmental way. Let him know your concerns. Stay away from judging phrases. And don't mandate that he stop seeing certain people. Perhaps toughest of all, be prepared to be wrong.

4. Laugh it Up, Wise Guy!

Laughter also contributes greatly to the richness of your relationship with your child. If you can laugh with your child during the smooth times, your relationship will be all the more resilient during the rough times. Laugh during the rough times -- you'll find connections and solutions come so much easier. Laughter brightens even the darkest of days.

5. Protect Time
When you're with your child, turn off the Blackberry. Don't answer the iPhone. The mail can wait. Make eye contact with your child, not the little screen. Let your child know that spending time with him, right now, is the most important thing. Not because you want it to appear that way, but because it truly is that way.
© 2011 John Duffy, author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens
Author Bio
Dr. John Duffy
, author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens, is a highly sought-after clinical psychologist, certified life coach, parenting expert, and proud parent. He has been working with teens, tweens, and their families for more than fifteen years. He has provided the critical intervention and support needed to help hundreds of families find their footing.

He has served as a contributing parent expert for a number of media outlets. These include AOL Health, AOL Parent Dish, Notre Dame magazine, Root & Sprout, bettyconfidential.com, makeitbetter.net, examiner.com, theteendoc.com, Chicago Parent, sheknows.com, Psych Central, Current Health TeensThe Oakland Tribune, andWorking Mother Magazine. He has also served as a parenting and relationship expert on a number of radio programs, including the nationally-syndicated Mr. Dad program with best-selling author Armin Brott, and The Lite Show on WNTD in Chicago. Dr. Duffy has also contributed to a number of books, including Living Life as a Thank You (Viva Editions) by Mary Beth Sammons and Nina Lesowitz.

Daddy's 72nd!

Today is my Dad's 72 birthday. We called him to wish him a happy birthday and the kids sang happy birthday which made him laugh and cry at the same time. My dad is not perfect but he did the best HE could and I love him to pieces. There are so many amazing dads out there and I happen to be married to one of them.

I love the idea of a day of celebrating Dads. There are so many wonderful father's out there and they DO need to be celebrated. Who doesn't love a Dad who really embodies everything we wish for in a father for our children.

Someone fun, happy, eager to teach yet sensitive and patient.
Someone who can play soccer yet enjoy a cup of pretend tea with a table full of bears.
Someone strong and loving.
Someone we can look up to and know will protect and take care of us no matter what.

While I love all the momprenuers I know out there, I know there are a ton of amazing dads and I want to honor them with a Maria's Space Giveaway hosted by little old me.

The Giveaway

These beautiful cuff links are by Vera Bradley who creates beautiful, feminine products. Founded by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller in 1982, Vera Bradley sells handbags, accessories, luggage, and paper and gift items through specialty stores, Vera Bradley Stores, Vera Bradley Outlet Stores and Vera Bradley. These cufflinks were created for Baekgaard



Vera Bradley for Baekgaard Mens Calypso Blue Cufflinks
• Collection: Calypso
• Color: NAVY
• Suggested Retail Price: $ 31.00
• Closure: Post
• Pieces Included: 2
• Material Type: Silk

The Sponsor: Maria's Space and Vera Bradley

To Enter: Leave me a comment telling me who you are entering for by Midnight, June 14, 2011


*Open to US & Canada only.
Disclosure: I am hosting this giveaway 
and received no monetary compensation.

Tuesday Takes - My Kids Love Summer Weather

Tuesday Takes
We spent 80% of the weekend on the deck. It was hot but we had the radio, the laptops and water guns, "jumpy thing", sand table and bikes for the kids.

Picnik collage

I seriously don't want them to return to school. Loved having my whole family home for three days.

Ruby Tuesday - A Child's Love

Ruby Tuesday
This is the container that housed my Mother's Day plant from Goddess. It was made in school and it took cute to be thrown away. She loves to draw and this shelf with my Willow Tree Collection is the perfect place for it to sit. Our hair is always made the same way which reminds me of a 1970s logo or something.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Self Portrait Sunday - May 28, 2011 - HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY TO ALL!

self portrait2

Color Carnival #92 - Join Us Every Saturday!

Well, that wasn't too bad right? Ok...so we are now in our second week at your new home. Hopefully we are unpacked and feeling a bit more comfortable. I understand moving is hard on everyone, and if there is anything you need please contact me anytime to discuss the living arrangements. I want you to be as comfortable as possible.

This week our winner with 3 votes is Lani with her lovely assortment of masks.

Very colorful. BTW, welcome to our newest submitter, Lorie we are pleased you have joined us and hope to see more colorful shots.

Welcome to another colorful week here at Color Carnival!

We will run till Thursday at midnight. At which point a voting button will show up, giving you time to vote and Saturday morning a new post will go up with the prior week's winner. Sound good?

Hope everyone had a great week.

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Kids Are True Animal Lovers And Adore The Endangerbles

If your kids are like mine, they are growing up to love and appreciate all living things. The Endangerbles are the perfect addition to this lesson.

The Endangerbles Want You To Know: We have been inspiring children to “respect and protect all the species of the world including each other " it is the mission of The Endangerbles. Its endearing cast of animal characters effectively entertain and educate children of all ages about the wonderful world of animals, specifically relating to those that are endangered, threatened or vulnerable.

In addition music, the Endangerbles also have adorable Endangerbles plush animals – that are cuddly and colorful. My kids love stuffed animals and so do I. They are a weakness of mine.

Handsome loves listening to music when he goes to sleep. It is something he has been doing since before he took his first breath (I was a headphone on the belly mom). This past week he has replaced his Baby Einstein with The Endangerbles CD. We all sing it now as Mom and Dad dance out of his room after saying goodnight.

Voting is Now Open

Voting now open!

Don't forget to cast your vote for your favorite Color Carnival photo. Click HERE to vote :-)

Good luck everyone!

Blind In One Eye by David R. Ford

Blind In One Eye: A Story About Seeing The Possibilities - A Memoir by David R. Ford.

Was my brother, the one born seven years before me but kept by my birth parents? Was it really possible that, after the lifetime I'd spent wondering about him, he was the guy a friend had just seen on the subway - the one who supposedly looked like my older twin?

Finding my brother would soon feel like a naive goal. His secretive and frightened parents had far more to hide than I could have imagined, and they had worked hard to maintain the elaborate facade of an ordinary family. Breaching their defenses would trigger events that quickly took control of my life.

Blind in One Eye is the true story of an adoptee finding, and being absorbed into, a shockingly troubled birth family - a story about abruptly leaving behind life as an only child. But it's also the story of someone with focused and demanding expectations who learns to see other possibilities, to see that the answers he actually gets in life might be more important than the ones he thought he wanted.

The most remarkable discoveries seem to come while looking for something else - as long as you're open to the possibilities.

What I Can Tell You:
Imagine growing up as an only child with loving adoptive parents knowing you have a brother out there with your birth family but then finding out that you don't just have a brother, you have 5 other siblings too! David calls them "the keepers" and "the throwaways". His birth parents put him up for adoption along with three girls before him then went on to have more babies that they kept.

It's a complicated story, one that David tells with a candid approach encased in realism and humor. It reads like an letter between friends. I felt like David is a wonderful person who is sharing his very complicated story because he wants to advocate for open adoption. He spent 40 years of his life searching for a family he knew was out there and then to hear that his eldest sister had been looking for him for years and had a semi relationship with the birth mother who comes off as a scared woman of the 40's. As a mother, reading the story of these "throwaways" and wondering how a mother could continue to have babies and give them up could if written by a different person, may have made me angry. However, David has such a way of telling the story, that I don't feel anger toward his birth mother. I feel pity, sadness and shame. If it were a different time maybe things would have been different. I am so happy that David has a family that he is getting to know and love.

Enjoyable, good read even if you have never experienced adoption. David is truly a wonderful story teller and I love his relationship with his wife. Kudos to him for putting this all down on paper for other adoptees to have a reference on how removing the veil of secrecy with adoptions can heal, soothe, and foster relationships that wouldn't have had a chance to flourish without knowledge and communication.

Sample pages

For more information on David R. Ford and his book, visit him on Facebook, Twitter and his blog.  To purchase his book, visit Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from FordWords Publishing for my honest opinion.

If They Are Going To Eat Candy Anyway.......

I am one of those moms, you know the one. It takes us 4+ months to eat what they get for Halloween and Easter with some disappearing into the trash almost daily. I allow a piece a day. There is no reason for all that stuff to be eaten until you are sick. My sister and I talk about this all the time, when we were kids, there was never a Sweet Police demanding we make the pick a good one because it would be your only for the day. We were allowed to eat until we were sick which is why I think we now eat until we are sick. Hopefully, by allowing our children to partake but with limits, we are setting them up to live a life of enjoying sweets without going overboard.  When my kids are allowed candy outside of the Halloween stuff, the selection is mostly things without teeth sticking taffy type things. I believe chocolate to be the best candy but my kids love to experiment. Last week they got the opportunity to experiment for a candy review and my kids were beyond thrilled.

Kids: "This came in the mail and we GET to eat it for you?"
Me: "Yup, go ahead. try each one!"

Surf Sweets Natural and Organic Candy was a big hit with the kids and me. We know kids and adults alike, love candy and now you can eat all those wonderfully, fruity gummies, jellies and sours without all the sugar.

Inspired by good, clean fun the makers of Surf Sweets, have created products that were inspired by surfing, active and lifestyles, and natural sweets.

Part of a Healthy Lifestyle -We want to help you foster a healthy lifestyle for you and your family. In addition to using natural, organic ingredients, Surf Sweets candy provides 100% of your Vitamin C per serving. We also understand that what’s not in your food can be just as important as what is. That’s why all of our products are free of trans fats, GMOs, corn syrup, gluten, artificial colors and flavors. We also produce our products in a peanut-free facility that is free of other common allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts, shell fish, and fish).

Staying active is also an important part of staying healthy. Engaging in fun sports such as swimming, running, hiking, active play -- and of course SURFING -- is fun and healthy. We like to ride the waves whenever we can, and hope that you’ll do the same!

All Natural and Organic Gummy Candy and Jelly Beans.

Company Overview
Surf Sweets organically-sweetened gummy candies and jelly beans are drenched in fresh fruit flavor. Free of artificial colors and sweeteners, these fun treats are great for kids and adults. Enjoy them any time you’re looking to add a smile to your day!

Surf Sweets is a socially responsible company dedicated to building delicious sweet snack brands that are better for our families and our planet.
Surf Sweets come in SEVEN varieties:
- Gummy Worms
- Gummy Swirls
- Gummy Bears
- Fruity Bears
- Sour Berry Bears
- Jelly Beans
- Sour Worms

My personal favorite was the gummy bears and worms while my kids loved the jelly beans and my niece the sour worms.

You can totally taste the difference. They are made only with ingredients found in nature.

Purity You Can Taste - When we say that our candy is made from all-natural ingredients, we mean that we don’t use synthetic flavors and artificial colors. If it doesn’t exist in nature, you won’t find it in Surf Sweets. Our products reflect the healthier environment that inspired the “Surf Sweets” brand and you can taste the difference.

Big plus to all my Celiac Disease friends out there: Surf Sweets are GLUTEN FREE

Need yet another reason to shop Surf Sweets? How about this, they are a cause friendly company who support the organizations committed to improving our planet (water and earth).

You can purchase Surf Sweets by putting your zip code into the store locator here or purchase online at store like Amazon.

Follow Surf Sweets on Twitter, Facebook or their blog to stay updated on all things sweet.

Disclosure: We received samples of Surf Sweets for our honest opinion. We were not paid in any way for our review.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chicken Soup for The Soul-My Cat's Soul And My Cat Sandy

From kittenhood through the twilight years, our feline companions continually bring joy, love, and laughter to the lives of their "staff." This collection of 101 new stories captures the experience of living through the natural life cycle with our cats — from the laugh-out-loud antics of kittens and tear-your-hair-out escapades of teenage cats to the more mature adult years and final stages of life. Stories cover each age and stage with all the fun, frustrations, special bonds and routines involved. The book also holds a special chapter about grieving and recovery when our feline friends leave us.

I am a huge cat lover and would get my kids a kitten each if there was no litter box involved or litter and food to buy never mind the vet visits. It just isn't feasible right now for us. I couldn't be the owner I would want to be. With all that said, there will be a time when I will present them with a pet and I think a two kittens in a basket would be the best gift ever.

If you are a cat lover this is the perfect book for you. My cat Sandi was put to sleep after 16 years when I was pregnant with Handsome. It was one of the hardest decisions ever. Feeling him move inside me while I held her for her final breath was excruciating and something I will never forget.  I had my mother for 12 years and my cat for 16. She was my very first FAMILY outside of the obvious. I loved the stories in this book and have re-read some as I have been thinking about Sandi a lot lately.

Alphabe-Thursday - F- FUN

Jenny Matlock

My Goddess has been asking for a hula hoop forever. This year she got one for her birthday and was thrilled for about a day. It now hangs in her bedroom but for one day, it was part of "the best day ever".

Picnik collage

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Infant's Tylenol Information

When I had my babies, Tylenol was the brand I trusted for them. I had the infant drops in my diaper bag, pocket book, and camera bag. It was my go to for all that ailed them. I even remember calling my sister in a panic about my first born with a little fever that was making him miserable. She said, "Oh just give him Tylenol, it's probably nothing to worry about, a little Tylenol won't hurt him."

A few months ago, I headed out for Goddess's fever and couldn't find any Children's Tylenol. Scary
since this was the brand I had been using and was unsure of what to use. I am not the only one concerned and the people at McNeil Consumer Healthcare (the makers of Tylenol) understand our concerns and have been busy making changes to both Infant's and Children's Tylenol which will be ready for this upcoming cold and flu season.

We can look forward to an enhanced bottle which will feature a SIMPLEMEASURE® (push in syringe and protective opening) on the Infants' Tylenol.

This new design will:
  • Provide even more accurate dosing and easier administration to infants
  • Allow for better control when dispensing with fewer spills
  • Further reduce the risk of children getting to the medicine in the bottle

The new, enhanced bottle with protective opening will be coming to Children’s TYLENOL® products soon.

There will also be a Dosage Change to help minimize medication errors, Infants’ TYLENOL® will now have the same concentration of the active ingredient, acetaminophen, as Children’s TYLENOL®, which will standardize dosing across the products and age groups.

When Infants’ TYLENOL® returns to store shelves as early as this upcoming cold and flu season, the products will continue to include specially designed dosing devices appropriate to the age of the child.

As announced by the OTC trade organization, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, other manufacturers also intend to transition to the same single concentration (160 mg / 5 mL) for all single-ingredient OTC pediatric liquid acetaminophen products. This transition of other manufacturers’ infants’ products to the children’s concentration may begin as early as this summer and is anticipated to continue into 2012.

There may be a time period when more than one concentration of infants’ acetaminophen products will be available in stores, and parents and caregivers might have both in their medicine cabinets. Caregivers should always read and follow the dosing directions on the package they are using.
Parents and caregivers should contact their child’s healthcare provider if they have questions about dosing instructions.

For more information, please visit www.chpa-info.org

Look for these changes to pediatric TYLENOL® products as early as this upcoming cold and flu season.

To see the upcoming changes for yourself head over to Tylenol

 “I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Tylenol and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Tuesday Takes - Love Notes From My Daughter

Tuesday Takes

Sending Goddess to full time kindergarten was so hard. She is my little buddy and I loved our afternoons together. I know she has to leave the nest sometimes but it was heartbreaking. What I love the most about her going to school is how excited she gets on art days or when she was the helper of the day. I love hearing "it was the best day ever" when I pick her up and I love the love notes she gives us.

Love notes from my 6 year old

Prospective Perspective - Outdoors


What's Up There?
Bird watching

This weekend my husband was preparing the deck for the gazebo when he spotted  nesting visitor. Being a good dad, he called Goddess outside to see it. He picked her up and together they discussed the bird and wondered if the nest had eggs. Goddess being the sharer she is, ran inside to get her brother and together they took turns with the binoculars, trying to get a better view.  So cute. I love when they are nice to each other.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

NEW! Departures: Two Rediscovered Stories

Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishers - Releases May, 2011

This book includes a short story about Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen. In the note below, Robin explains the re-release of this frequently requested novella.

“Rediscovered” is such a great word. It makes me think of that happy moment that comes when you open a suitcase and out tumbles a tiny shell you picked up on the beach on your last vacation.

My husband and I recently moved. In the middle of the packing of my old nest I found the original floppy disc where I stored this book when I first wrote it in 1995. It was a lovely rediscovery moment. My agent and I agreed that this book went out of print too soon. The team at Waterbrook/ Multnomah Publishers jumped onboard and agreed to make “Departures” available once again.
I think you’ll enjoy having an opportunity to pop in to see what happened with Christy and Sierra during a summer season that was full of changes for both of them. As I went through the restored manuscript while sitting in my new nest after our move, I felt as if I were visiting with old friends. The stories still bring a smile. I hope you’ll have the same experience as you read “Departures”.
About This Book
Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen cross paths on their way to summer vacations that reveal what a gift it is to have a true Forever Friend.

Now Boarding at Gate 10
After her high school graduation, still aching from Todd’s departure, Christy joins her family on a trip to Wisconsin to visit relatives. While there, she reunites with Matthew, an old friend from junior high. When Matthew starts to show a romantic interest in Christy, she realizes this summer vacation could change everything she thought her future would be.

In the Event of a Water Landing
Fifteen-year-old Sierra Jensen can’t wait to spend her summer vacation with her friend Jana at a pristine lake in Montana. But when they arrive, it becomes clear that Jana’s only interest is acquiring a boyfriend. Sierra just wants to hang out with the guys as friends, but Jana turns every encounter into a possible romantic relationship. As their friendship begins to suffer, Sierra wonders if it’s possible to find a Forever Friend who will listen to you, laugh with you, and keep your confidences.

What I Can Tell You: I love young adult books. For me, short stories aren't favorites of mine. I am always left feeling as if  things were just dropped and left. It always feels so unfinished to me.  I really enjoyed the first story of Christy returning to her home town for her grandparents anniversary after high school graduation. When she returns she is told that her first crush, Matt is looking to call on her. Is it possible to have a new beginning with her first crush? Is he even interested? I thought the author did a good job of creating a history of the characters. It was a sweet reunion. Very safe and perfect for young girls. 

The second story about Sierra didn't grab me. Sierra just wants to hang out with good friend Jana. Jana is different than she remembers and is only interested in boys. I didn't connect with any character. 

What I did like about these stories is I didn't feel preached to. Although there are references to scripture and God, the stories will appeal to young girls even if they aren't religious.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Blogging for Books/Waterbrook Multnomah.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ok, We Are Cooking With Gas This Week - Color Carnival #91

I know it was confusing last week. My linkz didn't work and you were at a new house and everything, it's hard to move and unpack all the boxes on time for guests but I think we've got it now.

Big thank you to everyone who stopped by with welcoming gifts, your gifts were way better than towels and casseroles.

Jama came by with a slew of colorful lucky knots.

Hocam stopped by with an adorable photo of a little one after a traditional dance show.

Lani showed up with a delicious plate of brownie bites.

Hong Kong Frequently Visited was here with some colorful friends

Lucy brought along one of my kids favorites, blocks.

And finally Cher, brought along a beautiful mosaic

I loved your gifts and appreciate your efforts as we get comfortable in our new home. So, without further ado....

Welcome to another colorful week here at Color Carnival!

We will run till Thursday at midnight. At which point a voting button will show up, giving you time to vote and Saturday morning a new post will go up with the prior week's winner. Sound good?

Hope everyone had a great week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Find People You Trust With Your Most Prized Possessions


As a parent, trusting the care of our child, our heart on legs to just anyone can be one of the most stressful things you ever have to do. So when I heard of Mom Trusted, I just had to check them out for myself. 

Mom Trusted is a wonderful parental resource.  As a parent myself, I appreciate so much when a parent takes action on something near and dear to them. In this case, early learning and childcare from preschool to babysitters.  The creators of Mom Trusted, set out to create a powerful, interactive resource that takes the stress out of searching for care givers.

When I moved to my area, I didn't know anyone and had no family to ask about the preschools or child care providers. Searching out preschools in your area, play groups, or babysitters can be very stressful.  With Mom Trusted, you put in your zip code and find a listing of your area with names, distance, website, phone numbers, and all pertinent information about the school such as rates, hours, licensing and more.

When you register with Mom Trusted, you can do so by creating a profile. You don't have to do this, the main page gives you the information you need without registering. However, by creating a profile, you now have a access to a forum of like minded parents. You can save your provider search, find parents in your area, join groups, ask questions of other parents and find yourself a wonderful support system of parents just like you.

With so many features, this is a must have for parents. As if this wasn't enough to register with Mom Trusted, I want to tell you that this is a free service. Can you imagine? All of this, and it costs you nothing except 2 minutes to sign up.

The same is true if you are a provider. Set up is free! Register your business and find parents who are already looking for you. It's a win, win situation.

So whether you are looking for a Preschool, Child Care Center, Nanny, Babysitter, head over to Mom Trusted and register today and follow them on their blog, Facebook and Twitter to hear the latest and greatest.

I found my children's preschool and completed a review to help future parents make an education decision on their child's school. Something I wish someone had done for me.

How Are The Schools In Your Area?

5 Steps To Fixing A "Broken" School
Author of Stray Dogs, Saints and Saviors: Fighting for the Soul of America's Toughest High School

Fixing a neighborhood high school with a quarter of its kids not showing up every day, single-digit test scores, 40 percent graduation rates, and extremely low morale is one of the hardest, least desirable jobs in education. The chances for glory are few and far between, and miracles are rare. And yet, there’s really no choice. Leaving things the way they are at deeply dysfunctional schools isn’t right, pulls down neighborhoods, and can affect an entire school system.

And yet, turnarounds can be done. Disorderly, dreary buildings can become safe, warm, and engaging places for kids to learn. Teachers frustrated and disillusioned with far-off administrators and over-stressed building leaders can become re-energized, hopeful guides and mentors. I know this because I’ve studied the research on school turnarounds and spent three years reporting on the effort at Locke High School. Located in a rough area of South Central Los Angeles, Locke was rescued by a dedicated group of teachers, an outside organization that took on the massive responsibility of running the school, and a lot of very, very hard work. There were mistakes and setbacks along the way, and the effort appeared to be on the rocks several times, but three years later the school is, well, a school again. The students who go there have a legitimate chance to get an education and go on to college.

So how do you start on the path to fixing a broken high school? Here are five not really very easy steps you should take:

1) Where Does Your School Stand?: One of the most important steps is to take a careful look at where things really stand – how students, teachers, and community members feel about the school, and how the school performs compared to other similar schools. What’s the pass rate for students taking key math and English classes? What’s the attendance rate for teachers and kids? How many freshmen make it through to graduate four years later? You’d be amazed how often parents, teachers, and even administrators don’t know where a school stands compared to its demographically-similar counterpart in another part of town.

2) Find Inside Allies: Ideally, a school improvement effort will at least partially come from inside the school itself – involving the teachers, parents, and community members who are part of the school and want change just as much as you do. That’s what happened at Locke, where a group of teachers tried everything they could and then, determined not to give up, circulated a legal petition to hand the school over to an outside education organization. It was a controversial and risky maneuver, but no one could ignore it because it came from a genuine desire to show that the kids and school could do better, and it came from inside the building. Parents, alumni, or community members can do the same.

3) Make the Building Calm and Safe: You want to make the campus safe and welcoming – without turning it into an armed camp or kicking all the so-called knuckleheads out at the first sign of trouble. That “lockdown” mentality won’t work for long and will actually undercut student achievement. You need to show that you can make things better with the same group of kids as before, treat everyone with the utmost respect and restraint, and demonstrate patient persistence during the early months when the new rules and systems are being tested by the kids.

4) Make Changes as soon as Needed: No matter whether you have months or a full year to plan, be prepared to adapt on the fly because there will be mistakes, bad hires, and plans that don’t work out. That's OK. The key is to be prepared to revisit and re-route along the way – whether it’s two days into school or halfway through the year. As long as problems are being addressed rather than being left as they are, the kids, parents, and teachers will generally understand. Problems that aren’t addressed – teachers or administrators who aren’t up to the task, for example, or rules that aren’t being implemented evenly, will create problems and undercut confidence in the effort.

5) Make a Clear Break with the Past: It’s tempting to avoid making big changes, but a turnaround can’t just be new paint and a new set of textbooks or computers if it’s going to have any real chance. It’s got to include new leaders, a certain number of new staff, new rules, and a new way of doing things. The key is to create a balance of familiarity, coordination, and accountability. You don’t want everyone off doing their own thing, or losing sight of the serious task of improving results. A core group of teachers and staff will want to stay and help with the turnaround. Another handful will be deeply opposed and likely to leave. But that’s OK. The veterans will create continuity and help orient the new teachers and administrators.

What’s it like to try and turn around a broken school? It’s deceptively simple at the beginning. It’s a trickle of halting, incremental success -- totally unlike the instant results and heroic figures who dominate the Hollywood version. And at times it may seem like everyone wants you to fail. But you’re not alone in doing this. The federal government is investing $3.5 billion and there are roughly a thousand schools around the country being turned around this year. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said, "We're not going to stand idly by where you have populations that are being poorly served, where we are in fact perpetuating poverty and social failure. Our country can't afford that."

© Copyright Alexander Russo, 2011.

Author Bio
Alexander Russo, author of Stray Dogs, Saints and Saviors: Fighting for the Soul of America's Toughest High School is an education writer whose work has appeared in Slate, Miller-McCune, Washington Monthly, Chicago Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. He's the author of three blogs: This Week In Education, District 299, and Hot For Education. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Please connect with Alexander on Facebook and Twitter, and visit Amazon.com for more information.

Pear Tree May Giveaway - 24 Invitations

Photo Cards
As a Pearista for Pear Tree, I am authorized to host a giveaway every month showcasing some of their beautiful stationary, stickers, cards, post cards and more. This month, Pear Tree is offering a lucky winner the chance to win 24 Party Invitations.
Graduation is coming up so fast. Now, would be the perfect time. Or maybe you are planning a birthday party or 4th of July Party. Why not get an early start?

This month’s coupon is PEARGRAD15 for 15% off a $49 order on graduation announcements and graduation thank you cards! Head over to Graduation Selection and choose the perfect card to redeem the code!

The Giveaway: One lucky winner will receive 24 Pear Tree Invitations

The Sponsor: Pear Tree Greetings

To Win:
Mandatory Entry. If this is not followed, none of your extra entries will count.
Leave me a comment telling me which invitation you would select if you won by June 3, 2011

For Extra Entries:
*Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link for (5 extra entries) (each entry must be separate).
*Subscribe to my newsletter/email (3 entries) (each entry must be separate)
*Follow my blog (2 entries) (each entry must be separate)
*Follow me on Networked Blogs (2 entries)
*Tweet ((leave your link) (3 entries)
*Share this post on Facebook by using the button below.
*Enter another giveaway on my blog and let me know which one.
*Comment on a non-giveaway post and tell me which one (up to 10 comments).
*Become a fan of Maria's Space on Facebook (Not my personal Facebook) and post a message that you entered with a link to the giveaway on your Facebook page and leave a link to the message in the entry form (3 Entries).
*Add me to your blog roll and leave the link (3 Entries)
*Add my main button to your side bar

*Open to US & Canada only.
Disclosure: I am hosting this giveaway for Pear Tree Greetings and 
received no monetary compensation.

Big Mommas Like Father, Like Son on Blu-ray Combo Pack June 14th

Get Even More Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son [Blu-ray]
and DVD on June 14, 2011

Just in time for Father’s Day, BIG MOMMA’S: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON bounces on the Motherload Edition DVD and Blu-ray combo pack on June 14, 2011. The Motherload Edition Blu-ray combo pack is the ultimate gift, including Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy and featuring and all-new extended cut, gag reel and deleted scenes. BIG MOMMA’S: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON is the third installment in the Big Momma franchise starring Martin Lawrence as Big Momma and FBI agent Malcolm Turner and Brandon T. Jackson as Big Momma’s stepson Trent and grand-niece Charmaine.

After stints as an undercover grandmother and an undercover nanny, FBI agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) adds “undercover housemother” to his resume in BIG MOMMA’S: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON. In this hefty new comedy, Big Momma is hired to go deep undercover as the Headmistress of the Atlanta Girls’ School for the Arts attended by aspiring music student and leading love interest Haley (Jessica Lucas). Proving “like father, like son,” Turner brings along his stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) to double as Big Momma’s grand-niece Charmaine and go undercover as a student in the school with hilarious results. The duo tries in vain to derail attempts by the school’s security guard (Faizon Love) to get control of the debauchery.

What I Can Tell You: I have seen all the Big Momma Movies and still crack up when I see Martin Lawrence as Momma/Malcolm. Come on, too funny.  Lawrence and Jackson are funny together. My favorite scenes were any that Jackson had to act like a chick with hot dorm girls walking around in towels. Classic comedy at its best. A dude in drag, done a hundred times, but still funny. Oh, and I have got to mention Momma does nude modeling. Hahahaha...hysterical. 

Although I missed Nia Long, as Malcolm's girlfriend I thought as far as a third attempt goes, this was funny.

This is obviously not an Oscar worthy movie, but, if what you are looking for is a good time, a few laughs at hidden identity and some physical comedy, this is a good choice.


Disc 1 Movie, Extended Cut and Added Features in high-definition Blu-ray:
●    Theatrical Version + Extended Version
●    Commentary
●    Gag Reel
●    Deleted Scenes
●    Big Momma’s: Bigger Busts Countdown
●    “Making the Music” Featurette
●    “Baby You Know” Music Video
●    “Lyrical Miracle” Music Video

Disc 2:
●    DVD of Theatrical + Extended Version

Disc 3:
●    Digital Copy


Disc 1:
●    Theatrical Version + Extended Version
●    Commentary
●    Gag Reel
●    Deleted Scenes

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company. Representing 75 years of innovative and award-winning filmmaking from Twentieth Century Fox, TCFHE is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming, acquisitions and original productions on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Digital Copy, Video On Demand and Digital Download. The company also releases all products globally for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce throughout the world.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment for my honest opinion.

The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore - Review

It's early summer when Ginny and William's peaceful life in Vermont comes to an abrupt halt.

First, their daughter Lillian arrives, with her two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely when Jane ends up on bed rest. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood - only this time around, their children are facing adult problems.

By summer's end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family - and the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true

What I Can Tell You: I loved it! The dialogue is very real. The problems very common. The question is simple, what does happen when your grown children return home? Ginny and William seemed very real! They are the parents we all wish we had. I couldn't imagine being able to run home to mommy and daddy as a mom of two at this point.

What the author does is weave a beautiful story where you understand all characters situations and are on their side.

Lillian showing up with her two very young children and not telling them what is happening in her life or why she is there. We feel bad and understand her need to get away and appreciate her parents letting her stay no questions asked but as the reader we know the truth of her problem and still feel bad that her parents have to allow her to stay.  The author does an amazing job of creating empathy, even for the "villains" of this book.

I got a few lessons from this book:
  • Once a parents, always a parent no matter how old your children are.
  • Enjoy life because things will  never be as simple and easy as they were when you were young, living in your parents house. You cannot recapture that time once you have responsibilities of your own life.
  • Just one ripple in a family, affects the lives of many. Imagine if you triple that ripple. Ahahaha...ok..just cracked myself up.  Anyway...really good read.

Friday Fragments Of Life - A Quick Catch Up

So much happening I don't even know where to start.

Organizing time to handle everything that needs to be done while still maintaining a life is hard but if you force yourself to map out time it can be done.  Shutting the computer off is highly recommended. If it is on you tell yourself, ahhh one moment, but you can get sucked in easily, so shut it down.

Signed Handsome up for Cub Scouts or whatever they are called for his age group. Handed over 72 bucks and know absolutely nothing. The whole sign up seemed very unorganized. When he asked if he was a Cub Scout, I told him I had no idea.

Loads of negative energy on my street. A once peaceful area now brims with conspiracy and a suicide. Nothing in the news over a week later and everyone wonders why.

Reading as much as I can about small business. No time for fun books. Need to educate myself on how to run my business. Buzz Chic is doing well on Twitter but my blog and Facebook are sad. Trying to spend some time getting those numbers up.

My new favorite show is Son's of Anarchy. So good! Like Soprano's on bikes.

Love listening to my Goddess sing, sweet and she really has so much emotion behind it. My favorite part is how she doesn't always know the words. Like Taylor Swifts, Love Story. "I talk to your groundhog, pick out a license, it's a love story, baby just say yes." Love it

Voted on the library budget yesterday. We have an awesome library. Wish more people came out to vote.

Didn't sign a petition yesterday, it was talking about putting a fence up in the playground. Our playground is already small. The reason it was started was because a mom feels that a preschooler will get hit by the kids on the swings, or has been hit by kids on the swings. What happened to watching your kids at the park? Make sure they don't run in front of the swings. Watch your kids! I have been drilling into my kids heads since they were old enough to walk at the park, "watch the swings! watch the swings". They walk all the way around them, and tell other kids to watch the swings. It has been done forever by moms. Maybe we all need to put down the cell phones and pay attention when our kids are at the park. Just saying!