February 28 Is National Tooth Fairy Day

National Tooth Fairy Day

February 28 is National Tooth Fairy Day, celebrating this favorite childhood visitor. Because losing baby teeth can be traumatic, the Tooth Fairy helps lots of kids be brave enough to make it through this rite of passage. Knowing that the Tooth Fairy will visit to claim the lost tooth often helps young children work through any anxiety they might feel about loose teeth.

Kids lose 20 teeth as their mouths mature; the first tooth is usually lost between the ages of 4 and 6. For parents, the first lost tooth is a rite of passage and a transition from toddlerhood to childhood. For kids, it can sometimes be very scary, and the tooth fairy is a great way to dispel some of the fear about losing teeth.

History of the Tooth Fairy

lost toothThe history of the tooth fairy can be traced to ancient times, when parents believed that children’s teeth had to be specially protected when they fell out to ward off evil spirits. In medieval times, parents would bury teeth to protect their children from evil spirits. The tooth fairy visits with each lost tooth; kids leave the teeth under their pillow, and the tooth fairy harvests the tooth and leaves money (and sometimes a little fairy dust) in its place.

Tooth Fairy Movies

Who wouldn’t want to see Dwayne Johnson (formerly The Rock) in a tooth fairy movie dressed up in a tutu and fairy wings? Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, and Julie Andrews, came out in 2010 and is available streaming and on DVD/Blu-ray. Johnson plays a hockey player with the nickname “tooth fairy” for all the teeth he has knocked out of his opponents’ mouths. When he makes a bad choice, he is sentenced to serve a week of tooth fairy duty by Lily (Andrews), head of the tooth fairy department.

The sequel, Tooth Fairy 2, was the 2012 follow-up, starring Larry the Cable Guy, who assumes the role of a tooth fairy to earn the love of the girl of his dreams. Tooth Fairy 2 is also on DVD and streaming. Both Tooth Fairy movies make great family films that pay homage to the tooth fairy tradition – with hilarious twists.

This year to celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day, why not enjoy a tooth fairy movie with your kids?
Image Source: MorgueFile

Survive the Winter Doldrums with Weekend Fun

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Winter doldrums have set in and the weekends have you cocooned tighter than a hibernating bear. Don’t let winter get you down! Here are some great ideas for turning the weekend into something to look forward to again.

Indoor Weekend Fun

weekend funBowling. Bowling is the perfect winter activity, and everyone in the family can participate. If you have different skill levels, get two lanes, one with bumpers and one without, and hold a mini family tournament.

Concerts. From local school concerts to philharmonic performances to rock and roll, indoor music venues offer a great option for new adventure.

Movies. Hot buttery popcorn and big screen entertainment. Is there really anything better?

Outdoor Weekend Fun

Skiiing. OK, I don’t ski. The idea of sliding uncontrollably down a hill at mach speeds with trees presenting all kinds of smack-you-in-the-face danger, I can’t bring myself to do it. But I’ve heard it’s a great way to spend a day. Even if you don’t like skiing, hot chocolate in the ski lodge while watching other fall down the hill is great entertainment.

Sledding. Why else have snow? Grab anything from a plastic bag to an ice blog to grandpa’s toboggan and find the nearest hill.

Fun without Leaving the House

There are times when leaving the house simply isn’t possible or desirable, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on fun.

Movie and popcorn. What’s better than going to a theater for a movie and popcorn? Healthier popcorn and movies in the comfort of your own home!

Scrapbooking. Take a trip down memory lane by pulling out a box of old pictures. Do some scrapbooking or just enjoy the moments.

What Do You Do for Weekend Fun?

Share your ideas in the comments below. We’d love to know what you do to beat the winter doldrums!

Image source: Stock.xchng

Surviving Your Relatives During the Holidays

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

So you survived Thanksgiving with the family, and now Christmas is only a few weeks away and you’re just not sure you can keep that smile pasted to your face through one more holiday meal. This survival guide will help you maintain until the last present is unwrapped and the last morsel of ham (or in our case, lasagne) is scooped off the plate.

Barbed Questions – Watch Out for the Hook

If you’ve ever gone fishing and baited your own hook, you’ll know it’s not the pointy sharp end of the hook you have to watch for but the barbs along the hook designed to keep the fish on the line. Questions from family members can catch you just like a hook.

“Are you and XXX going to get married/have a baby soon?”

Regardless of what fills in your particular barbed hook, this nosy question may simply be aunt Martha wanting to know what’s going on but more likely is a statement of “Why haven’t you yet.” There’s only one way to deal with the hooks: avoid them.

Best way to answer: “How sweet of you to ask! Can I get you another glass of wine?”

There’s a Critic in Everyone

Whether they complain about the way you cook, the way you do your hair, or the five pounds you gain since they last saw you, these are the people who truly know how to make the holiday miserable before you even get to the day.

The don’t ask questions but instead make statements like “I could never eat that much…I’d be stuffed!” (as you help yourself to a second serving of dinner). Or, “I’ve always thought long hair only looks good on women under 40.”

Don’t worry, there’s no winning with this one. The solution is to have a very strong glass of wine (or a shot of Southern Comfort) before this person arrives, so that everything they say can be taken with a smile and a giggle. She’ll be hoping for a different reaction, so enjoy throwing her off-kilter, then offer her the dip for the veggies.

Politics and Religion for Dinner?

We all know it’s against the rules to bring up politics or religion at a family meal, but the land mines are often laid so thick that you won’t even realize you’ve given someone the perfect segue to spout their opinions until it’s too late. The best approach is a direct one, reminding everyone at the table who are about to come to blows that the rule is no political talk. Then pass the mashed potatoes.

The direct approach works well for those occasional family guests who still think it’s ok to tell racist or sexist jokes, especially around the kids. These are the guests for whom it is completely ok to take aside and explain that you simply won’t tolerate it in your house and around your children. Just do it with a smile.

Quirks and Kinks

So your sister won’t stop talking about how much she loved Fifty Shades of Grey or your grandson will only eat meat and bread and not the delicious cornbread stuffing you prepared with roasted pecans?

Take a deep breath, look around, appreciate that you are all together, and let it go.

Families can be our best source of strength or our biggest frustration, especially around the holidays. The best thing you can do is remind yourself that life is too short to worry about it. Just enjoy the moment and do what you can to change the direction of the conversation when you think you might otherwise tear your hair out.

 

6 Fall Activities Parents Can Do with Children

Finding activities that relate to a child’s surroundings are a great way to give them unique experiences and allow them to learn something new. Fall is a really unique season and provides lots of different activity options for you to do with your children. Some of these fun and exciting activities to do with your children are:1. Rake and jump into leaves- Most people do not enjoy raking leaves, but children can find a way to be excited about most anything. Not only will you have a little helper with your fall chores, but you will also get to spend quality time with your children. Raking leaves is also a skill that children should have, and doing chores with your children can give them a sense of self worth. It is also fun for children, after they have raked up lots of leaves, to jump around in them and play with them.

2. Carve pumpkins- A classic fall activity around Halloween time is carving pumpkins. Kids find the gooey insides of the vegetable fun and new to play with. You can also play up the creativity of your children by letting them design what the pumpkin will look like. You can teach them safer knife skills while in a controlled environment. Lastly, you can have fun cooking together with the flesh of the pumpkin or the pumpkin seeds.

3. Think of and create a homemade Halloween costume- Halloween is a really exciting time of year for children, especially because they get to take on a new persona. Talk to your child about what they think they would like to be for Halloween and see if it is something you can make together.

4. Make hand turkeys- Hand turkeys are something that every child will probably do throughout the course of their lives. Teaching them to do this is a great way to bond and also to boost their creativity. You can also take this opportunity to teach them about turkeys and their significance to the time of Thanksgiving. You could also find a turkey related book to read together to pair with this art project.
5. Collect leaves- The changing of the colors of the leaves during the fall is something that can be very puzzling to children. It is also a beautiful natural change that your children are likely to be excited about. You can take this opportunity to educate your children on why the leaves change color every year and you can gather up all of the unique leaves that have different colors and shapes. If you are feeling creative, you can also implement some of these gathered leaves into a crafty project. It can be something as complicated as scrap booking to as simple as gluing a leaf to a paper and letting your child decorate as they please.6. Participate in a hay rack ride- Hay rack rides are generally only offered in the fall, so taking the opportunity is important. It’s something fun that you can share with each other.

Parenting Tip: Keep Older Kids Involved in the Holidays

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Our biggest fear at having a ten-year age difference between our first set of kids (the ones Dave started making without me) and our second set of kids was that we didn’t want the younger ones to catch the disease of teen cynicism too early in life. Having older kids and younger kids at the same time was challenging. They never liked the same movies, never were on the same school schedules, and unless you’ve had a terrible two tantrum thrower and a teen attitude hit you all at the same time, why you just have not lived.

But there was an up side. Not only was our daughter, Kira, an excellent babysitter and helper with her little siblings, but she took an active role in their lives.  The older boys did not share her enthusiasm for learning how to change diapers or feed babies, but they spent time playing and bonding with their younger siblings, keeping them entertained. Of course, Kira’s perspective is different now that she is in her 20s (you know, the stage when your kids realize you’re only one step away from senility and they know so much more than you). She moans and groans about all the babysitting she had to do (forgetting that we at least paid her for her time!)

The hardest part about having the two generations of kids, however, is the holidays. The older kids were too old to trick-or-treat by the time the youngest could enjoy it, and that teen cynicism was in full force around Christmas and Easter.  Rather than ruin it for the younger kids or be disappointed at the attention that goes to the younger crowd during the holidays, we included our older kids in the planning and more behind-the-scenes activities. Including them not only kept them from feeling like the entire season was focused on the younger generation but hopefully helped to prepare them for their own eventual parental duties.

The secret to keeping older kids involved during the holidays is to keep them involved in the fun and show them the magic that continues to exist even after the curtain is pulled back and the wizard is revealed.

MomsGetReal Roadtrip Day 12: It’s a Circus, Circus Out There

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Cleveland was relaxing and wonderful, a perfect start to our trip. St. Louis was magnificent and friendly. Colorado was majestic and intimidating with it’s high summits and plunging canyons. Utah felt like home, given the family connections we had (we even went to a movie). But Reno was a circus. From construction blocking roads making it difficult to get to our hotel to people seeing our New York license plates and assuming the worst about us to the Circus Circus hotel’s inability to keep up with the demands of their consumers (disabled and not), this portion of our trip saw some low points.

Low enough we’re leaving a day early and spending the extra time in California communing with the Redwoods.

Low enough that if we do another trip (which we’re planning for a few summers from now), we’ll navigate around heavily populated portions of my home state.

But we had great times too, from the delicious buffet breakfast at the Silver Legacy Flavors Restaurant with my cousin and his wife (a cousin I had never met except online – we connected in our shared passion for digging up our genealogical histories) to watching the kids play the same midway games that I played when I was young to connecting with my very first best friend and her family for dinner to catching up with other friends and family in the area. I don’t regret the stop, and love the connections we have formed and reinforced.

The theme of our travels really has been making and improving connections with the people who are important to us, and to cement memories of these people in our kids’ minds to ensure that they understand how deep and how important family connections are.

But for Reno, two days is more than enough time.

MomsGetReal Roadtrip Day 10: Riverton, UT to Reno, NV

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Saying goodbye to my sister today was supposed to be easy, because we knew we would be seeing each other twice more this month – on the coast and at the family reunion. But the knowledge that we’d soon be heading back to New York and 2,400 miles away hit both of us hard. I cried off and on all the way to Elko, and even still cannot think about the distance that will be between us.

Parker and Anika were affected as well. Anika cried almost as long as I did, and Parker simply withdrew. The kids came up with a solution, however: we need to move to Utah. Anika would like to finish 4th grade in New York first, since she loves the teacher she will have.

Another cross-country move? Are you kidding? Well…the kids certainly think that’s the solution. They spent most of the day trying to convince us of the benefits. Realistically, I don’t think it’s possible…our home would be difficult to sell, if we even wanted to sell it. While Riverton is a beautiful community it’s about ten times larger than we’re used to…and we’d be back in dry heat desert again. Ack.

Is there a solution that will let me be near my sister more? Other than making regular cross-country trips (which are too costly to do too often) I don’t know. But I wish someone would invent a Star Trek-like teleportation device and solve my problems.

MomsGetReal Roadtrip Day 9: Family Ties

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Spending time with my sister has been an extraordinary pleasure. We truly are the best of friends, but more than that, our children – her 15-year old, her 12-year old twins, my 12-year old, her 10-year old, and my 9-year old – love each other so much. It has been incredible to watch them engage and get to know each other as teens and tweens instead of as little munchkins. I almost cannot tear them apart to leave.

Family ties have always been important in our family. We grew up knowing not only all of our own aunts, uncles and cousins (my dad has seven brothers and sisters; my mom has four) but all of my mom’s and dad’s aunts, uncles, and cousins as well. Great aunts and uncles and second and third cousins are an integral part of our lives and childhood memories.

I guess that is why it has always been important to me that my kids know their cousins and have some sense of the family to which they belong. That is a large part of why we are taking this road trip, in fact. When we moved to New York in 2008, Anika was not quite 6 years old. She did not remember my grandma – her great grandmother or my aunt and uncles. She barely remembered her Auntie Tiana and her cousins. It was very important to me that she establish ties and memories of the people who mean so much.

We’re not done reconnecting with family. In Reno, where we’re headed next, we’ll be visiting with more family (including a cousin I’ve never met). When we head to the coast, my sister and my dad will join us. And, we’re having a family reunion with my mom’s side of the family and all of her siblings and two of her mother’s siblings will be there.

You can make all the friends in the world, but only family can truly understand what it’s like to be who you are. Those shared roots and shared history make a difference.

Princess Masks and Stomach Pills – A Day in a Mom’s Life

Getting Real With Mary Swan-Bell

Lily, my five-year-old whirlwind, loves to hone her fashion designing skills. Unfortunately, sometimes her materials of choice leave something to be desired. Let me be more specific: Two of her favorite textiles are tissues and plastic bags. Ugghhhhhh. Whenever she begins one of these endeavors, I immediately develop an ulcer.

Obviously, given the disposable nature of these materials, the end result is NEVER what she has envisioned in her idealistic little mind. Hence, as the project comes to fruition, frustration leads to anger, which ultimately leads to tears and occasional door slamming. Lily usually gets pretty upset too.

So what is a trying-to-be-good mom supposed to do under these circumstances? I certainly don’t want to squelch her blossoming talents, but I absolutely know how it’s going to end. “Oh, that’s a great idea, honey, but I’m not sure if taping the tissue to your head is going to result in the Arabian princess mask look you want.”

“Why?”

“Hmmmm, for starters, the tape probably won’t stick too well. And then, if it does, it will probably pull your hair out when you take it off.”

“Can I cut this hair off?”

“That’s probably not a good idea.”

“Why?”

(ISN’T THE WHY PHASE SUPPOSED TO END AROUND THREE?)

“Because when the hair starts growing back, it will stick out and look funny and we won’t be able to put your hair in ponies.”

“I don’t care.”

And that is when the ulcer starts to bleed.

I’m not really well known for my patience. Especially with Lily, who definitely should have been born first when I was young and naïve and had more energy. But here she is, keeping my brain young and my stomach in knots. So, I make a few additional helpful suggestions: “Wanna play memory?” “Would you like a cookie?” “If you scrap this idea, I’ll take you to DisneyWorld!” Alas, nothing distracts her from her ultimate goal, and she pipes up with, “I’ll just use string instead of tape!” Excellent idea. Have you ever tried to tie string to a tissue? It’s a rocking good time.

But we manage to do it, she dons her Jasmine mask and twirls around happy and satisfied with her creation. I smile at her, take her picture, swallow a few stomach pills and then I’m happy too.

Spoiled Kids at Christmas – So What?!

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

There’s been a lot of talk in the mommysphere lately about whether or not we’re going overboard at Christmas with the gifts we buy our kids.

Yep. We do.

So what?!

Ok, so I don’t endorse going completely in debt, skipping the house payment, or otherwise putting the family in jeopardy to have a good Christmas, but if you want to spend a little extra on your kids this time of year, what’s the harm?

Does a once-a-year spoiling really lead to ungrateful kids?

I think the ungrateful, it’s-never-enough, more-more-more attitude is something that develops the other 364 days a year when parents don’t say no, don’t set boundaries, don’t have limits, and otherwise kow-tow to their children’s every whim.

So if my kids, for 364 days are forced to understand the meaning of sacrifice, to make choices about whether they want this or that because they can’t have it all, do without, and learn the importance of giving to others, then you bet I am going to enjoy spoiling them come Christmas.

What do you think? Do parents go overboard?