What Ethan Taught Me: Not To Judge A Book By Its Cover

Being a parent is an awesome, amazing, frustrating, joyful, never ending experience. It’s also scary because you’re just flying by the seat of your pants, learning as you go. And while we all work so hard to teach our children life lessons and how to be good people, we sometimes forget that we are learning from them, too.

While I learn something from them everyday, sometimes they teach me something that really hits home. That amazes me and teaches me a lesson that maybe I’d learned before and forgotten about. Lessons that make me a better person.

Mia and her sixteen cents taught me the importance of slowing down and appreciating the important things in life.

Lila’s lesson was all about the importance of a sincere apology.

Each of my kids has taught me many things, some lessons more important than others. This is one of those very important ones. Ethan recently reminded me to never judge a book by its cover.

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Last week, the girls went to the Father/Daughter Dinner through the school. So Ethan and I decided to head out to BJ’s Restaurant, his favorite. We sat down, and after ordering, we chatted while we waited for our food.

As we waited, a young couple sat down at the table next to us, and I see Ethan looking at the girl. I turned to look at her, and I’m sure the look on my face was one the girl had seen many times. She was a pretty girl, but she had this penny-sized black mole right above her lip and off to the side a bit.

I’m not going to lie, it was ugly. She wasn’t, but the mole was. I’m sure everybody looked at that mole with the same look that I gave her, one that said “ewww.”

I am far from perfect myself, and we all have things on our bodies that we don’t like. I have a birthmark right down the center of my forehead. You can really see it when I’m really cold or angry. If you met me, you probably wouldn’t notice it, but I see it every time I look in the mirror. I’m self conscious about it, even after having it for 40+ years and trying to have it lasered off. I’m sure she feels the same way about her mole.

And yet, when I looked at her mole it made me think Thank God I don’t have that thing on my face. Because I’m shallow. And human. And wasn’t thinking.

I could hear the couple talking, and they decided not to eat but to just go to the bar for a drink instead. After they left, I told Ethan “It’s not polite to stare at people. I know that mole was ugly and it’s sad that she has it on her face, but you still shouldn’t stare. Just be glad you don’t have a mole like that on your face.” Mother of the year, right there wasn’t I?

And that’s when Ethan said “I don’t think it’s sad, I think it’s unique. It made her face look interesting.” We talked more about it, and he told me that she is probably very nice to people because so many people aren’t nice to her. He told me that having one thing on you that’s not pretty doesn’t make you ugly. He told me he thought she was pretty.

I was blown away by my son, and at the same time I felt to be about two inches tall. I leaned over and thanked him for reminding me not to judge books by their covers. I had to explain to him that was a way of saying not to judge people by what they look like. He nodded his head and said “You taught us that mom” and I thanked him again for reminding me how important it is.

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I may not be Mom of the Year every day of the year, but I must be doing something right if my kids are learning – and sharing – these lessons. Thank you Ethan, for making me a better mom.

Preventing The Flu: Tips For Prevention & Care

Preventing the flu. That statement makes me laugh because I have kids. They’re like little walking germ magnets. And while they’ve already been sick this year, they didn’t get a super nasty case of influenza or “the flu” and I think it’s because we do everything we can to try to prevent it. So I thought it might help if I shared tips for preventing the flu with you that are easy to incorporate into your day-to-day life and to teach the kids too.

If the flu hasn't made it's way to your house yet, you are lucky! There are ways for preventing the flu. This post explains what the flu is, symptoms, and how to steer clear of it.

 

Now let’s say that the kids get the flu. How do you care for them? First off, make sure to follow safe and proper dosing of over the counter medicines. I have 10 tips for to help here. ALWAYS read the drug facts label and never give oral cough/cold meds to kids under the age of four. Give them lots of love and snuggles, and chicken soup. For more tips and tricks for dealing with sick kids, I love these tips from real moms.

And the last 3 weeks here have been full of puke. I mean almost all of us have gotten hit with the stomach flu. Jason got it first three weeks ago, I had it last week, and then Ethan and Mia got it this week. Luckily Lila hasn’t got it yet, though chances are she’s probably going to since our house seems to be covered in sick.

So is the stomach flu the same as preventing the flu? Kinda…but the stomach flu is HIGHLY contagious. So wash hands. Wash hands a lot. Wash hands and then wash them again! If someone gets it, wash all toys and wipe everything down to get rid of the virus. You’ll find more on the symptoms and treatment of the stomach flu here.

If the flu hasn't made it's way to your house yet, you are lucky! There are ways for preventing the flu. This post explains what the flu is, symptoms, and how to steer clear of it.

 How do you avoid the flu during the cold and flu season?

Halloween Safety Tips For Keeping The Kids Safe While Trick-Or-Treating

The countdown to Halloween night is on! The kids are bugging me relentlessly about “how many more days” there are until they get to trick-or-treat. And while it’s fun to see ghosts and goblins and fairies and princesses running around asking for candy, it also can be a dangerous time. I mean think about it, you never know who’s door your knocking on or what kind of people you may cross paths with.

Halloween Safety Tips

I don’t normally take unsolicited guest posts, but when Crime Wire asked if I’d be interested in sharing this infographic with Halloween safety tips, I decided to take a look. And it’s got a ton of great information on it, so I thought it would be helpful to pass it along to you, too.

Do you take to your children about Halloween safety? We always trick-or-treat with the kids, and of course tell them not to run into the street, not to go to houses that don’t have lights on, etc. But there’s more to it than that, and these Halloween safety tips are a good place to start.

Trick-or-treating is a fun time, but can also be dangerous. Keep your kids safe by sharing these Halloween safety tips with them and by being involved.

You’ll also find additional Halloween safety tips here. What tips would you add?

Looking for some Halloween inspiration? You’ll find tricks and treats on my Halloween board on Pinterest.

Cold Season Is Here! Here Are Tips For Avoiding Germs In Public Places

Cold season's here! I'm sharing tips for avoiding germs in public places to help you and your family cut down the chances of getting sick this season.

The beginning of the school year always results in the kids bringing home colds. Cold season is definitely here and my kids all have the runny noses to prove it. I take lots of measures to keep our home germ free, but doing it in public places is much harder. You probably visit the following four public places often, and I’m sharing tips for avoiding germs while you’re there.

 Tips For Avoiding Germs In Public Places

The Grocery Store (And Target, Walmart, or any other store you enter!)

I think that by now everybody knows to wipe down the shopping cart handles before you touch them. At the grocery store, it is not just germs from people that you have to worry about; if blood from raw meat gets on the handle, you or the kids could potentially ingest bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. Gross. So make sure you wipe down the entire handle and any other part of the cart that you think you’ll touch. And ask the kids not to hold on to the cart.

After you leave the store, make sure to carry Wet Ones or other hand wipes or antibacterial hand gel in your purse or car and make everybody use them.

If you use a fabric shopping-cart cover to protect your little ones from touching the cart, know that germs can survive longer in fabric than on the cart’s plastic handle. Make sure to wash the cover regularly.

The Doctor’s Office

Have your kids (and you too!) wash hands before and after going to the doctor’s office. Carry antibacterial hand wipes or gel in your purse and don’t be afraid to use it. If you are really trying to stay germ-free you can even allow your children to bring their own toys or books to keep them busy while they wait.

If your doctor’s office is like mine, it’s probably divided into a sick and non-sick waiting room. Not that germs don’t travel, but if you are there for a routine visit, don’t sit in the sick section. 

The Playground

Not just the park, but any place the kids play. I read somewhere that jungle gyms are more germ-infested than public bathrooms. Blech! While yucky to think about, it makes sense – bathrooms are cleaned regularly but playground equipment is never cleaned.

Teach your children not to touch their mouths, noses, or eyes at the playground. Easier said than done, I know. Before leaving the park, make sure to use antibacterial hand gel on everybody’s hands and to wash them thoroughly when you get home. Start doing it when they’re young and it just becomes a regular habit.

Restaurants

Whether you are at a restaurant or just borrowing a high chair at a family or friend’s house, make sure to use those antibacterial wipes to clean it before putting your child in it. As crazy as it sounds, you can even wipe down the table and chairs before using them. Every little bit helps!

What tips for avoiding germs in public places can you share to help prevent germs during the cold and flu season?

Stranger Danger: What You And Your Kids Need To Know

Remember being in school and learning about “stranger danger?” Me too. But that’s something that only happens to other kids, right? Kids that live in crappy areas. Kids whose parents don’t pay enough attention to them. Kids who aren’t smart. That is 100% completely untrue. How do I know? Because it happened to our family last week.

My 14 year old niece was on her way home from school, when an unknown 24 year old male approached her and tried to lure her into his car “just for a few minutes.” She told him that she was only 14, and he said he didn’t care. He asked for her phone number. Offered her a trip to a local amusement park. Offered her money…MONEY…to get into his car.

We live in a low-crime city. Nothing major happens here very often. Sure there are thefts and fights, but rarely murders, rapes, kidnappings, or abductions.

My niece is a smart kid. She doesn’t run around with the “wrong” crowd or drink or do drugs. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, and a family that makes sure that she stays on the straight and narrow path. She knows that bad things happen to good people.

She’s not sheltered or a wild child. She’s smarter than her years, and knows better than to talk to a stranger. She’s smart enough to know that when a strange man approaches her (stranger danger!) and won’t leave her alone, she needs to say and do whatever she needs to do to survive the situation.

I’m not kidding when I say she’s smart. She took video, without him knowing, of the conversation they had. She got his license plate number. She gave him her (totally fake and not even close to her real) phone number when he asked…anything to make him go away. But he didn’t. She walked off, and he got in his car and followed her. Fortunately, someone upstairs was watching over her and sent a Good Samaritan to her rescue. A random woman noticed something was not right and stopped to make sure my niece was okay. That scared the guy away.

What I’m trying to say is that stranger danger is REAL. It happens. It happens to good kids in good towns. It happens to smart kids. It frickin’ happens.

The suspect was arrested a few days later thanks to my niece keeping her wits about her and being smart enough to get as many details as she could. And because of a Good Samaritan. Because who knows what would’ve happened if that woman didn’t stop to help.

And you know what? People didn’t believe the story. After we shared it on social media, people said it wasn’t true because there was no proof. People thought we exaggerated the situation, or tried to make it sound worse than it really was. People thought that since he didn’t touch her that a charge of Annoying or Molesting a Child Under the Age of 18 was harsh. Jail time even if he didn’t actually do anything? Here’s how I will address that one: What does a 24 year old man want from a 14 year old girl whom he doesn’t even know that would make him offer her money to get in his car “just for a few minutes?” It wasn’t good conversation about current events, we all know that. He wanted something sinister. He came from another county, cities away, to find a young girl. For conversation or friendship? I don’t think so, and I bet you don’t either.

Stranger danger, in any way, shape, or form, should be a felony. I’m sorry, but just because “nothing happened” because he didn’t get the chance to make it happen doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be held accountable. I don’t feel bad for him. I don’t care about his excuses. I want other parents to know that stranger danger happens, every day, every where, to every kind of kid.

So what do you need to know so that you can make sure your children are prepared if something similar happens to them? Thankfully, our police department shared some tips that can be used by kids anywhere and everywhere if they are ever in a stranger danger situation.

Stranger Danger: What You And Your Kids Need To Know

Do your children know what to do in a stranger danger situation? It happens, no matter where you live. Here's what your kids need to know. I know because it happened to my family.

Thank you to Corona Police Department for sharing these tips that can be used by all parents to educate their kids about Stranger Danger and what to do in these situations:

  • Never talk to strangers
  • Never take items from strangers, such as money or candy
  • Never go anywhere with someone you don’t know
  • If approached by a stranger, stay more than an arms reach away from them
  • If approached by a stranger, seek help immediately
  • Trust instincts, if something feels wrong seek help and call police immediately
  • Use the buddy system whenever possible, avoid walking to or from school alone
  • Know your home address and phone number in case school officials or police need your information

I’d also like to add that if kids are walking home or anywhere and they are alone, they should also stay off of their cell phones and pay attention to their surroundings! Just like when adults are driving, being on a phone while walking alone can be dangerous.

Another tip we’ve implemented with our kids is that if they are approached by anybody (whether they know the person or not) who tells them that mom and/or dad wanted them to go with him (or her), they should know the password. A secret word the kids can remember but that nobody would ever guess. All 3 of my kids know the word. And you’d never guess it!

And always tell your children that if someone is trying to grab them or makes them uncomfotable in any way, to kick, scream, yell, bite…do WHATEVER they need to do to get away or to get other people’s attention.

Luckily for my niece and for all of us, she trusted her gut, stayed away from him, and said what she needed to say to try to get away from him. We are SO PROUD of her and her bravery. While she is doing okay after the incident, she’s feeling a lot of victim feelings and trying to digest what happened. Please send her some positive thoughts and good wishes; she deserves them!

And please, PLEASE share this information with your family and friends. Because it really can happen to anybody.