Archive for September, 2009

ReUsies come in many different styles to fit your little one's "tastes"!

ReUsies come in many different styles to fit your little one's "tastes"!

As school began this year, I found myself caught somewhat off guard as I ushered three of my four children off to school for the first time instead of two. Several things were surprising to me. First, it’s amazing how much longer it takes to get three out the door as opposed to two! Second, school supplies are now a “purchase in bulk” item rather than a “lets stop by the store on the way to school” project. And third, I can go through a jumbo box of ziploc bags in less than 3 weeks!!!!

Yikes! I am not  the most conscientiously “green” parent but I do make an effort to not be obscenely wasteful and this particular realization had me shaking as I grabbed the box of plastic bags for lunches. I couldn’t believe there was no other alternative to this kind of waste. Enter ReUsies!

ReUsies has developed a product to replace plastic sandwich bags forever! They are made from  100% cotton lined with leak-resistant nylon and have a Velcro closure. They come in two different sizes, Snack Size (approximately 6″x5″) and Sandwich size (approximately 7.5″x6″). The snack size can hold a half sandwich or whole sandwich with the crust off and is great for crackers, pretzels, fruit slices, or similar quantities of snacks.  The Sandwich size  can hold a regular sized sandwich, bagel, or similar sized snacks. If you’re like our family, a typical lunch might contain one large snack bag and two smaller ones.

One of the best things about ReUsies is the ease of care! They can be machine washed, washed in the dishwasher (my personal favorite!) or wiped clean in soapy water and air dried! One of my biggest hold ups with the product was my fear that after prolonged or extended use, they would begin to smell or break down (as do my dishrags!) but I am pleased to say that after a month of use, they still look (and smell) just as good as new!

When it takes over 1,000 years to break down a single plastic bag (and a single family of 3 kids is capable of disposing of over 180 bags a month!!), this product could make a considerable difference in the future of our children. Not only is it safer for the environment, it is safer for the food we consume since less contact with plastic means less contamination to food. When you live in a climate like Arizona where temperatures can reach up to 115º (even higher if your food sits in a car for any amount of time), plastic and food don’t always make a safe combination.

For more information or to purchase your own ReUsies, visit their website at They are currently running a special through the end of September 2009 that includes free shipping!

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Silver Apple Award sponsored by Ace Air and 3TV

Silver Apple Award sponsored by Ace Air and 3TV

Do you have a child enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in an Arizona school that has been positively impacted by the dedication and inspiration of a special teacher? If you have seen your child make unusually large strides in their education as a direct result of an individual teachers efforts, then you might want to take a moment and nominate that special educator for the Silver Apple Award, created by 3TV in 1991. This year, eight Silver Apple awards will be awarded to exceptional teachers during the 2009-2010 school year, one award per month. Each winner will receive not only the recognition of this prestigious award but will also be given $500 for use in their classroom. In these difficult economic times, when salaries are being cut and teachers are scrambling for classroom resources out of their own pockets, this is truly a wonderful way to support the daily efforts they make for the benefit of our children.

Teachers are some of the most important people in the lives of our children and yet they often receive the lowest pay, fewest accolades and least amount of respect. Of course, everyone loves to recall the nightmarish teacher that scarred them for life!…but the ones we truly remember are those that have quietly influenced every aspect of who we are simply by their subtle inspiration and extreme patience as they attempted to fill our minds with useful knowledge and temper that knowledge with the ability to use it wisely.

My daughter had one such teacher last year who cheerfully brought excitement and wonder to the entire learning process. I was amazed as I assisted in her classroom at how her students responded to her contagious zeal for learning and soft-spoken methods of teaching. It is these few and incredibly priceless teachers that these awards were meant for!

If you feel you’ve got a teacher that fits the bill, then download the Silver Apple Awards form, have it signed by their school principal and then either mail or fax it back to 3TV by March 5, 2010 by 5 pm. Completed forms can be faxed to 602-207-3545 or mailed to:

attn: Silver Apple Award
c/o 3TV
5555 N. 7th Avenue
Phoenix Az  85013

For more information, you can visit their Arizona’s Family Cares Passion to Action website.

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An opposing viewpoint on the scheduled speech by President Obama, By guest blogger Stacy Mantle Staley

Work hard in school. Prepare for a satisfying career. Wash your hands so you don’t get the flu. Participate in your community. Offer service to your neighbors and country. Don’t spend countless hours in front of the TV – get out and do something!

Certainly these are messages we don’t want our kids to receive. I mean, jeez. What would happen if children actively participated in life rather than stand around and passively hope everything goes to plan?

I’m honestly surprised that our President is being accused of “indoctrinating” (the current buzz word for the day) our children with a left-winged socialist agenda. Those doing the criticizing are convinced our President will single-handedly reduce our children to zombie-eyed hippies who blindly succumb to his Jedi mind tricks and carry out his every demand.

(Quick – put on your tin-foil hat and shut your eyes!)

Give me a break. The kids of today won’t listen to their own parents – what makes you think they are going to do what our President says?

Here’s the thing, folks – the lesson plan that has been under so much controversy was created by a quite ineffective (if you ask me) curriculum designer. I’m certain that our President didn’t sit down to develop the original lesson and I’m even more certain that there was no intent to brainwash children.

What’s interesting is that if these right-wing conservatives had stepped up like this during the election, they wouldn’t have to deal with Obama being in their kid’s classrooms in the first place. But rather than show up at the polls, they choose to direct their frustration onto the president who was elected in by the majority.

What’s even more difficult to understand is how people feel that this is an affront to their children’s mind? I don’t think there was this much of a public outcry when Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush entered our children’s classrooms. If there was, I didn’t pay any attention to it… No more than I paid attention to my principal, or my parents, or my teachers, or anyone in any type of authority position.

I have every confidence that when I ask my stepson what he did in school today, his immediate answer will be “nothing.” When I press the issue, he’ll respond, ‘Oh yeah – there was something on TV. It was cool. I got to text message for 20 minutes and the teacher didn’t even get mad.” When I ask what the speech was about, it will be answered by a shrug as he walks out to get his bike and go for a quick ride before homework, “I dunno,” he’ll mumble.

Yeah – good luck indoctrinating my pre-teen of anything, Mr. President…

I’m not a political analyst or a psychiatrist. I’m not heavily involved in politics, and honestly – never really cared for the topic. I’m also not afraid of my kids (or anyone else’s) being “indoctrinated” with a set of values that their parents should have provided in the first place. If you’re all this worried about your kids being ‘brainwashed,’ maybe you’re more afraid that you haven’t done your job indoctrinating your child with your own set of values. I’ve always felt less than adequate as a step-mom, but even I have the confidence to allow my kids to listen to a 20-minute speech. Then again, I know they are strong enough to make their own decision. And if they’re not, I’ll still be around for them when they’re ready to talk. But, I won’t stuff my own personal values down their throats; not politically, spiritually or mentally.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll try to do that once in awhile, but I know that I will fail.

Why? Because if nothing else, I’ve taught the kids to think for themselves, to make their own decisions, and to find their way – whether I agree with it or not. Just as my parents did for me. I will tell them my thoughts on the subject, but I won’t force them to believe as I do. I will protect them to the best of my ability, but I won’t shield them from the world.

And I hope that you won’t either…

Please visit our forum and share your thoughts on Obama’s speech as a teacher, as a parent or as simply a concerned citizen.

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President Obama has restored a measure of my faith by rewording some of the language issued in his lesson plans for children, meant to coincide with his Tuesday address to students. Instead of “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president”, the lesson plan now reads “write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals”. While I appreciate the efforts to correct some poor word choice, I still have serious reservations about how this speech is being advertised and implemented. As one reporter put it…”it’s a good idea but poorly executed”.

In my defense, I was pretty upset when I first heard about the planned speech as you may have guessed and I should know better than to blog when I’m fired up! But my reaction was primarily due to the way it was announced, implemented and advertised (or not advertised I should say). I have my own reservations about politicians in general (not just democrats but republicans as well) and I have a difficult time believing any of them have completely benign and altruistic motives. I think it is the duty of our citizens to question the motives and actions of our leaders. Our country was based on this belief and no one should be bullied because they speak their mind. I am excited and encouraged that this article has generated such heated opinions on both sides. This, my friends, is the true beauty of our country’s freedoms…that we can discuss our views and make each other aware in ways we might not otherwise allow ourselves.

In regards to the President’s forthcoming message to our youth, I for one will be allowing my children to watch…he is our President and I do honor that appointment. However, I will be watching with them. President Obama should recognize that the strength of our nation is NOT in our youth alone…it is in the power and strength of our families. If he would like to truly strengthen the nation through education, then it is not to the children alone that he should direct his message but rather to families that can then support and encourage one another in this capacity. This is the true message I hope our President gleans from the debate over this issue.

about how they can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals

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Are you questioning? If you're not, you should.

Are you questioning? If you're not, you should.

Are you aware that Obama is set to give a speech directed specifically at our school age children, meant to be delivered while they are at school, away from the influence of their parents? If this doesn’t worry you, it should. The mere fact that I am hearing this announcement not from my school district, not through the televised media, but instead through a small and obscured article buried on the 5th page of the Arizona Republic, honestly has me very concerned as a parent.

The U.S. Department of Education claims the speech is benign and strictly educational in nature. But the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona is voicing sincere concern about the message, describing it’s content as “too worshipful toward Obama” and “educationally unsound.”

The idea that the president wants to speak to the american people is frankly encouraging and I would normally be quite excited about sitting down with my whole family and absorbing together the message that he wants to share, discussing the content in our family and sharing ideas about what we thought, what it means and what impact it might have on us as a family and as individuals. If his motives were truly altruistic, than the family setting is where this type of educational motivational message should be shared.

However, that is not Obama’s intention. He has issued lesson plans along with his message  that encourage students to “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president” which are to be collected and redistributed at a later date by the teacher as a means of holding students accountable. Other lesson plan directives encourage “building a background knowledge about the president of the United States by reading books about president and Barack Obama.”  Teachers are encouraged to have students write down key messages from the address that can be put up on a classroom poster. One of the questions teachers are encouraged to ask during the speech is “What is the President asking me to do?”. Wouldn’t you like to know the answer to that question BEFORE your kids do? If Obama truly wanted to make a difference, this speech should take place in the home, NOT at school. Political posturing is not something we should encourage at school. Those are opinions that should be nurtured and cultivated in the home.

Kids in middle school and high school are also given lesson plans to use in conjunction with the speech that include writing excerpts from the speech and encourage questions such as “Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us? How will he challenge us?”. No where that I can see in these lesson plans is there a call for students to think critically. They are merely encouraged to regurgitate spoken dogma.

If these revelations don’t disturb you on some level, than let’s take a quick moment to recap our path to the current state of our nation. Our government first initiated a requirement that our banks make massive loans to people that have no ability to pay back, creating an artificial housing bubble that has since crashed the economy. We initiate a “no child left behind” rule that systematically dumbs down our education so that rather than give kids true educational challenges so that “no child is left behind”, we make standardized tests so remedial that  “no child to be left behind”. We allow, and in fact encourage, unelected judges to write laws that radically change our way of life. We are at war with an enemy that we are not allowed to name for fear we might offend someone.

And now we come to the present.

We have a president that no one knows anything about with many questionable affiliations with radical groups like Acorn, and yet no one in the media even questions his history or motives. He quietly talks about creating and funding a mandatory civilian defense force (which begins with optional military classes offered in the government funded school systems, don’t believe me? check it out for yourselves…it’s called the H.R. 1388 Serve America Act) that is meant to be stronger than our military for use inside our own borders.  Obama, himself, stated on a July 2, 2008 campaign speech in Colorado Springs that “we cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we set. We must have a civilian National Security Force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, and just as well funded.” In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t even read the founding documents of our nations in our school anymore. The pledge of allegiance is optional.

Not worried yet? Think back to the 1930’s where another charismatic, motivated, excellent public speaker, albeit a relative political unknown at the time, surfaced. Still not ringing a bell? He was elected to office during another economic crisis. He quietly and subversively seized power starting with government, moving into bureaucracy, then through political and emotional rallying of the children (who were even encouraged to join a Youth Movement in his name where they received constant indoctrination), and finally by promising jobs to the jobless, money to the money-less, healthcare for everyone and rewards for the military-industrial complex. With a compliant media, a newly pride-filled nation convinced of their own superiority, he accomplished true change…just not the changet the people thought they would get. I’ll bet if you thought real hard, you could put a name to this man. He even had his own logo, just as Obama does.

Parents, WAKE UP! It is no coincidence that this speech airs during the most inaccessible time for working parents. It is no accident that Obama seeks to rally the youth while they are away from our influence. That is how it works. A little at a time. A piece at a time. As Neal McCluskey, associate director of Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom said, “You don’t want to see this coming from the president. You don’t want to see this coming from the federal government.”

For more info: Fox News Politics, Stand Up for America

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When did Noah prepare for the flood? ...BEFORE the rain!

When did Noah prepare for the flood? ...BEFORE the rain!

Have you ever given much thought to disaster preparedness? If you are living in areas prone to natural disasters, the answer to that question would probably be an eye roll, followed by a resounding “of course!!!”. But if you’re like me and  you live in an area that is seldom affected by natural disasters, then the realities of that question might be a little tougher to put into perspective. The problem is that we never know when disaster might strike (or in what form it might take) and the time to prepare is BEFORE it hits…there’s rarely an opportunity in the aftermath.

If your neighborhood were faced with a fire, a riot, flood, tornado, hurricane or earthquake, the most critical need for help after the disaster is during the first 72 hours. But, as some of the more recent catastrophes have demonstrated, community and government assistance will probably not be available during this critical time period. So it would seem a wise idea to have a 72 hour kit prepared for each member of your family that could be grabbed quickly as you run out the door that would sustain your family for this critical time period. I’ve got a few suggestions that were handed down to me through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Provident Living resources. Remember that this is meant to be a “survival kit” and while you will want to be comfortable, there will not be room to be extravagant…

Each person should have the following items packed away in a lightweight backpack…

  • Plastic bowl, spoon (old cool whip containers work great)
  • Food for that individual
  • Flashlight (store batteries separately)
  • Roll of toilet paper and plastic grocery bags for sanitation
  • Pancho or large garbage bag
  • entertainment (crayons, coloring books, puzzles, etc.)
  • small blanket or space blanket
  • change of clothing stored in plastic bag

Some sample menus are as follows (remember, each persons food items should be easily stored in a large plastic ziploc bag or other lightweight container that can be sealed closed)…

Day One:

  • Breakfast: Cereal, powdered milk, fruit cup, box of OJ
  • Lunch: Cup of soup, saltine crackers, box of apple juice, pudding cup
  • Dinner: Corned beef hash, applesauce, box of grape juice, granola bar

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Instant Oatmeal, fruit roll, box of apple juice, hot cocoa/ice tea
  • Lunch: beef jerky, peanuts, applesauce cup, box of grape juice
  • Dinner: chili with beans, saltine crackers, box of OJ, tapioca pudding cup

Day 3:

  • Breakfast: 2 granola bars, box of grapefruit juice, hot cocoa/ice tea
  • Lunch: box of OJ, cheese and crackers, fruit cup, granola bar
  • Dinner: beef stew, bread sticks, box of OJ, fruit cup

Some other items that might need to be distributed into the packs of the older children or parents:

  • Sterno
  • latex gloes
  • family records and valuables
  • feminie hygiene needs
  • siposable diapers
  • medications for three days (include tylenol, tums, etc.)
  • first aid kit, hand towel, radio
  • can opener, pot, and pot holder
  • utility/pocket knife
  • small ax, heavy gloves, tarp, and matches

Don’t forget to include enough bottled water for each person for three days. In these unpredictable and difficult times, it is important that we be as prepared as possible for the safety and well-being of our families. When asked why you are preparing for disaster when you live in a “disaster-free” zone, you can answer with a smile, “when did Noah prepare for the flood?…BEFORE the rain!”

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Do your kids like surprises?

September 1st, 2009 3:44pm

Tired of hearing the rantings and ravings of your child as they complain about having to feed the dog AGAIN…”I did it last night…how come I always have to do it?”. Instead of having the same chores for your children every week, hold a special “chore drawing” on Sundays! Pull pictures from our clipart gallery representing each chore you wish your children to be responsible for. Cut them out and drop them into a hat. Each child then gets to take turns picking a picture from the hat to determine what chores they will be responsible for that week. If you have a wide range of ages in your family, you may need to have a drawing for the older kids and a drawing for the younger ones (so that the little ones don’t end up with chores they can’t handle). Then, go to work! Have your kids log onto MyTime Calendars and each one can create their own chore chart by matching up the pictures they drew out of the hat with the ones in the clipart bar. They can drag and drop them into the chore chart and be ready to go for the next week! Kids will learn matching skills as they match their cut up pictures with the ones in our clipart gallery as well as learning different chore skills each week.

As a fun variation, have an “awards ceremony” on Sunday before the next weeks drawing to “award” each child with some special recognition for a job well done (even if it is just letting each child stand in front of the family while you recognize some extra special accomplishment they did while doing their chores that week). Kids thrive on extra attention and even more so when that attention is due to good accomplishments. The early they learn that contributing the family chores can be fun and rewarding, the more likely they will be to turn these experiences into good long-term habits.

Do you have a technique that works well for your family to keep track of responsibilities? How do you divvy up the chores?

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