I was on the phone with actor, director and author, Sean Astin, last week. We chatted about parenting, music and of course, his new animated Disney children's television series, "Special Agent Oso." (FYI, "oso" means "bear" in Spanish.)
Sean and I laughed and traded stories about our kids. (Sean and his wife, have three daughters, ages 3, 6 and 12.) At the end of the call, I felt like I wanted to invite his family over for little backyard party so we could drink margaritas and make burgers while our kids run around, giggle, catch bugs and climb trees.
I saved my notes and went about my work. Days later, I tried to find those notes. Guess what? Gone. Poof. Like black magic. I had that awful ache in my stomach as if I'd I walked into AP Chemistry class and forgot to study for a test. And I remembered finding my kids at my desk last week next to my opened laptop. This parenting thing? It can really interfere with work in the most unexpected ways.
Lucky for me, my conversation with Sean
Blog Posts by Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff
- Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff | Parenting – Fri, Apr 3, 2009 6:01 AM EDT
I was on the phone with actor, director and author, Sean Astin, last week. We chatted about parenting, music and of course, his new animated Disney children's television series, "Special Agent Oso." (FYI, "oso" means "bear" in Spanish.)Read More »from Daddy dish: Actor Sean Astin goes undercover as "Special Agent Oso"
photo credit: charlene prince birkeland/crazedparent.orgSince we're talking about how much we spoil our pets, I immediately thought about how I recognized my puppy's birthday last weekend.Read More »from Do you celebrate your pet's birthday?
Little Luna Lovegood, my black Labrador Retriever, just turned two years old. Here's the thing: My dog makes me smile often throughout my day. She listens when I tell her to behave. She's a goofball when I need to see some silliness. When the kids are in chaos mode, she walks over to me as if to say, "Sister, we have a problem." And she cuddles into the cutest little ball next to me at night while I'm reading. (And she also makes me do some embarrassing things.)
So Luna is definitely worthy of a birthday celebration.
My kids wanted to bake her a cake, but I had to talk them down by letting them know how sick it would make her. We settled on making her a really crazy-filled Kong (peanut butter, chunks of cheese and her favorite dog treats), the boys sang to her, and we put her birthday hat on for a few photos (and more treats).
But there are some dog
- Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff | Parenting – Wed, Apr 1, 2009 8:19 PM EDT
photo credit: AFP/File/Amos GumulirMadonna can pretty much cause a ruckus if she looks at someone the wrong way. It's clearly not a surprise that her efforts to adopt another child from Malawi have ignited more stories about celebrity adoption and whether or not it's fair that wealthy, high-powered families are put on the fast track.Read More »from Madonna's latest adoption saga: Cruel and unethical?
But Madonna's attempt to bring 3-year-old Mercy James into her family fold brings up another discussion: Is it ethical or cruel for Madge to take kids away from their family?
There are those who believe this situation is completely wrong and unfair. I disagree. To know and accept that your child would have a better life in someone else's care is heavy on the head and heart. To give your child up for adoption so that your child can have a life you cannot provide? It's the ultimate parental/familial sacrifice.
When Madonna adopted David Banda, the then 2-year-old was in the care of the Home of Hope orphanage. David's biological father, Yohane Banda, allowed and encouraged the adoption. When
- Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff | Parenting – Tue, Mar 31, 2009 11:51 PM EDT
The experience of raising children is priceless (most of the time). But have you ever played with online calculators that try to tell you how much it will cost to raise your children? According to one at BabyCenter, we'll have spent more than $450K on our oldest kid, assuming we'll pay for college. My eyes are slightly glazed over.
Given our current economic climate, I imagine most parents are looking for ways to adjust their spending habits. Families might find themselves spending more time together at home as they cut back on activities like going to the movies, eating out and attending other events. Let's call it "Family Night In."
It's never fun to feel like you're forcing your kids to spend time with you, especially when it's part of a plan to maintain a family budget. But you can also look at it as an opportunity to create a new tradition: Family Game Night.
Check out my picks for five games that could make your family game night an event your kids will enjoy.Read More »from Family night in: Games to play when you're hanging out at home with the kids
A little lesson in how to save the earth.When school vacations approach, I like to stock up on a few surprise games and kits for those moments when my kids need a little infusion of "new" fun. I veer towards science kits, mostly because my kids geek out with excitement in a really cute, entertaining way.Read More »from Green kids: "Save the Earth" over spring break
Over the weekend, in between baseball practices and our town's Little League opening day ceremonies, we tested out a new product from The Young Scientists Club called "Go Green - Save the Earth!" (US$10). It's small in size but contains enough projects to keep preschoolers and younger grade-school kids busy for several hours. (The kit is targeted at children ages 5 and up.) Along with being in any "school break survival kit," "Go Green" would make for a fun, inexpensive birthday gift.
My kids learned how to use pH paper to test water for acidity and they recycled leaves into a peat pellet. But their favorite activity was learning how to create pulp from paper, turning that old mush into new paper that they could write on.
- Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff | Work + Money – Mon, Mar 30, 2009 9:43 PM EDT
photo credit: funnyexam.com/
Parents never like having to read a letter from their kid's teacher telling them how their child misbehaved in class.
But what would you do if your kid brought home the letter to your left?
I'd start looking for a new school. How 'bout you?
- Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff | Parenting – Mon, Mar 30, 2009 9:12 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Getty ImagesAs part of your spring cleaning, you might want to add "Check kid's credit report" to the list of tasks you need to complete.Read More »from Busted: Feds discover $100 million child identity theft ring
Last week the Secret Service broke up a $100 million identity theft ring and the victims are kids who can't even sign their names yet.
According to a news report, the case started in Placer County in California, where 29-year-old Jerry Le was arrested for identity theft. He allegedly stole children's identities to buy several luxury cars and a $500,000 home.
Authorities originally thought it was a $10,000 scheme but they soon found that Lee was linked to a larger, nationwide fraud case.
So should you be worried about your kid's identity being stolen? Paranoid, no. But concerned, yes. An estimated 500,000 children are victims of identity theft each year.
The good thing is that you can take simple steps to protect your kids from identity theft. Five tips to follow:
- Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff | Parenting – Fri, Mar 27, 2009 8:32 PM EDT
photo credit: cococakecupcakes.blogspot.comMy youngest son is turning four in May and I am ridiculously obsessed with baking and craft blogs as I look for inspiration. (I'm also all about birthday parties on a budget.) I swear, I don't know how I am going to keep up with my "test kitchen" list of baking projects. There are some seriously talented and creative parents in the blogosphere who are coming up with crazy-cute ideas.Read More »from Itty bitty bites: A "Very Hungry Caterpillar"-inspired birthday
Look at this birthday party "cake" that was inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. (The book recently turned 40 years old.) And don't be scared off by the fancy frosting and fondant--you could easily use a frosting spatula (a butter knife also works really well) for a smooth look. Instructions are here.
And? You could even start your kid's birthday with cute, caterpillar-inspired pancakes.
Very spring-like, simple and budget-friendly.
More itty bitty bite inspiration:
Colorful rainbow cake will blow your kids away
Birthday party inspiration: DIY Hello Kitty cake pops
- Charlene Prince Birkeland, Shine staff | Pets – Thu, Mar 26, 2009 7:11 PM EDT
You can walk your dog fashionably.When our puppy was ready for walks, I picked out an extra hot pink leash to lead her around our hood. I can't even remember what brand it was but I do remember that it was an awful leash. It was difficult to hold and its soft rope-like texture hurt my hands. Also? It was too long. I don't know how folks use those super-long, 26-foot retractable leads to walk their dogs, especially when they are still in that jumpy puppy stage.Read More »from Stylish pets: Vera Bradley dog leash to fashionably walk your dog
We alternate among four dog leashes, depending on what we're doing on that walk. If it's just a casual stroll, I use a 10-foot lead. If we're focusing on training, I use a 4-foot lead. I tie a knot at the mid-point of each leash and it's the spot that I use to tug her collar when she's not listening.
I am also head over heels for this limited edition Vera Bradley dog leash (I have it in black with a paisley print). It's the perfect length (6 feet) for my dog and it's super sturdy, with just the right amount of give. Plus, it's just cute. (When you're the mom of
photoe credit: croqzine.comWhen my youngest son was a toddler, I used to take big boxes and turn them into pretend stoves and ovens so he could cook away the day. We always ran into the same problem--the makeshift stoves/ovens were cool but we always had to toss them after a few days because we were short on space. (This is also the beauty of cardboard box crafts, but it would have been nice to just have a toy stove that he could keep.)Read More »from DIY toy stove for preschoolers and toddlers
Croqzine.com posted a very simple, easy and budget-friendly way to create a toy stove using a plastic storage bin and some other crafty materials (paper, glue, tape). Another perk of this toy-stove project is that your kid can store all the cookware inside the storage bin. Check out the full instructions.
As for the toy pots, pans and utensils, I recommend scouting garage sales and craigslist to get these items on the cheap. I've also had good luck posting to my neighborhood/local mom's group message boards where I've asked if someone was interested in offloading toy cookware.