Blog Posts by sarahlynne

  • Parenting Guru: The End of My Love Affair with American Girl

    Girl playing with doll.Girl playing with doll.This morning, while at the grocery store, I saw a preschooler carrying her American Girl doll around by the arm. The doll's hair was disheveled and her clothes were crumpled. Although she looked worn, I bet she was brand new; maybe a Christmas gift.

    Two weeks ago, I went into American Girl to buy a gift for a friend's daughter. I hadn't been for a few years, and nostalgic, I went looking for my favorite historical characters. But they were nowhere to be found. Instead, I was overwhelmed by the overpowering narcissism emanating from the store. It was two floors, and evidently, all the historical dolls and other "second rate merchandise" was upstairs. Instead, the store was focused on doll after doll that could be personalized to look just like its owner, wore clothes that looked like they came from Limited Too and had hobbies more exciting than any 9-year-old I know. And as for accessories? You can buy anything from crutches to skis to pom-poms. As if that weren't enough, you

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  • Parenting Guru: A Tribute to My Son's Gymboree Teacher

    This past week, I learned that my son's Gymboree instructor, who was a mother herself, passed away suddenly. I barely knew this woman, but I was devastated. I realized I had taken her presence for granted; she was someone I counted on seeing each week. But then, one day, with no notice, her life was taken from her.
    She was 29.
    It's just so so sad.
    Here is my tribute to this vibrant and wonderful teacher.

    "Welcome, welcome, everyone.
    Now you're here,
    Let's have some fun."

    When my son heard the raspy but happy singsong voice of Miss Casey, he turned his head to find her. Wherever he was in the room, he knew now that class was starting. He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him, over to where Miss Casey was sitting, welcoming the children with her smile and song. It always amazed me how quickly and sweetly she could capture the attention span of 15 toddlers.

    "Casey, look!" I remember exclaiming. Only a few moments before, she had helped my son turn around and

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  • Parenting Guru: A Holiday Wish for Military Families

    Christmas tree and heartChristmas tree and heartI know some of them are too young to remember.
    I know some of them don't really know what's going on.
    I know they're happy and distracted.
    I know they're proud.

    But still-

    We watch them run over and kiss the phone when they hear daddy's voice.
    We see them laugh and wave at mommy over Skype.
    We cringe a little when they ask questions.
    We don't know how much to tell them.
    When they hear the song daddy always sings, they pause and look around.
    They are waiting.
    No matter how old they are, they know we're missing a piece.

    So if I could give these children one gift for Christmas, it would be their daddy or mommy.

    Home from war.
    With their family.
    For good.

    Sarahlynne is a Parenting Guru and navy wife.

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  • As I watched my computer's screensaver scroll through pictures from the last few years, I smiled as I saw formal pictures of our wedding give way to holiday celebrations, pictures of our son and family get-togethers. The photos are familiar. So usually, I scan the faces, without really looking at the picture.

    But tonight, I looked a little deeper. I looked behind the people, behind the faces, to the background of the picture. And what did I see? A stray book on a chair that I now remember reading to my niece last Thanksgiving; framed pictures strewn on the floor because we'd just moved into our house; pillows on the floor from the day I made a fort for my son. I saw a dress thrown on the bed, an outfit that had been considered and then discarded, and a dirty fork on the table from the most delicious slice of chocolate cake. These were details I'd forgotten about the days the pictures were taken. In fact, in one of my favorite wedding photos, there is a sneaker lying on the floor

    Read More »from Parenting Guru: This Thanksgiving, Don't Clean up too Much. Your Photos will Thank You
  • Parenting Guru: 10 Things You May Not Know About Military Wives

    1. When a deployment is imminent, we just want it to start. That doesn't mean we want our spouses to leave. We don't. But when the date has been set and our husband's bag is sitting half-packed in the corner of the bedroom, we start getting anxious, worried and a little bit angry. We think about the upcoming months and everything he's going to miss and everything we're going to have to do alone. It's overwhelming. Once they leave, we can start to tackle the challenges one at a time and that's so much easier than the waiting. But those last few weeks before he leaves are wrought with frustration, nervousness and a little fear.

    2. We are not miserable the whole time they are gone. We don't like that our family is split up, but we can't live in the future or press a pause button on our life, so we focus on other things. Hobbies, children, visiting friends and family, work; our life is still full. Just not complete.

    3. But there are tears right underneath the surface.

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  • Parenting Guru: How Primetime Television Perpetuates the "Mommy Wars"

    Last week, I settled in to watch one of my favorite shows, "Private Practice." One of the main conflicts was that Violet, the psychiatrist, was adjusting to becoming a stay-at-home mom. Lonely and frustrated, she begs her pediatrician friend to get her invited to a "mommy group," even though he asks her, "Are you sure this is what you want?" (As if he knows she would never get along in this situation...already an annoying stereotyped dialogue.)

    And, just as her friend predicted, it was a horrible experience for Violet. At the end of the episode, she goes back to her working friends for support.

    The episode left me frustrated and disappointed. The mommy group scene was so predictable and annoying. It exacerbated the obnoxious, over indulgent and flaky stay-at-home mom stereotype, while it perpetuated the working mother as one who is too smart to stay at home:

    The scene began by panning across a nicely furnished, clean home. One woman was standing by her kitchen island,

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  • Parenting Guru: Skipping the Costume this Halloween

    The costumes all look the same for boys. Dinosaur, teddy bear, or another type of cuddly animal like a monkey or kangaroo. My son would look cute in all of them, but each time we walk through a Target or Carter's, I just can't bring myself to buy one.

    I thought about other options. He could be a baseball player, a pirate or a swing dancer. He looks really cute in hats. But, I don't know how to sew and I couldn't find a zoot suit in size "toddler." Imagine that. So…

    I looked online. He could be a hot dog, a garbage can or a juice box. A juice box? Yup. Apparently, there's a costume already made for that and pretty much anything else you can find in the grocery store. Do people really get excited about dressing up babies like a barbeque condiment?

    I just wasn't into any of it.

    And then I realized why.

    I'm not the kind of parent to move childhood along quickly. As much as I love holidays, (and I really, really do) I believe there's a time and place to celebrate

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  • Parenting Guru: How 9/11 will Affect our Newest Generation

    My son looks at fire trucks with curiosity and awe. He likes to push his toy truck around the driveway, pressing the buttons over and over again, listening to the sirens and songs. "Look at the fire truck!" I say when we see one pass. He waves enthusiastically.

    Of course he does. He doesn't know terror. He doesn't know heartache.

    I was a senior at my upstate New York college, sitting in my Shakespeare class. They let us out early. I left a cocoon of comedy and walked into a campus of confusion. We all stared at the television, our academically saturated brains trying to comprehend what the newscasters were saying. It couldn't be true. Not here. What were they talking about?

    At 4 p.m., we found ourselves on the college green, sitting on our sweatshirts in the grass. We cried on each other's shoulders. Some students were still on the phone, finding family members. The chaplains said prayers. The dean tried to comfort us. They didn't want to scare us. We were still kids.

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  • 1. Will I make a good first impression on my students? As a teacher, I always had a go-to "first day skirt." It was pretty and flowy, not too long, and went well with a white top. I wore it with heels, and it gave me confidence. On that critical first day, you have to get student attention, come across as fun and smart, set classroom rules but not seem too strict, and set high academic expectations but make the year sound exciting. Just like your little one brings something from home to comfort her, every teacher has a special confidence secret that we lean on for a little extra luck on that first day.

    2. Will my classroom management plan work? Classroom management plans are constantly tweaked to better prevent classroom disruptions. Many are quite complicated with visual charts, reward and penalty systems and color coded classroom teams. We spend hours putting a plan together and then basically, cross our fingers that our students will buy into it.

    3. How much of my own creativity

    Read More »from Parenting Guru: Five Things the Teacher Is Thinking at the Beginning of the School Year
  • Parenting Guru: Teaching our Kids to Play May Mean Taking Away the Toys

    The shakers are square and colorful. My son loves to hold one in his hands and bounce up and down, listening to its rhythms. Once a week, when we go to his toddler play class, he gets a shaker to play with as he explores the obstacle course for that day. Since we've started the class, the teachers have encouraged the parents to take the shakers from the babies and place them a few feet away. This tactic "encourages" the children to move through the tunnel, bridge or climb the baby wall. But every time this strategy is presented, my stomach turns. Forget that it encourages children to look like puppies playing fetch; there's something else that bothers me.

    Yesterday, the teacher set up a climbing mat, a balancing plank, a small tunnel and a slide. Before the class started, my son discovered the mat, crawled up and traveled through the course with a huge smile on his face. He laughed when he looked through the tunnel and saw my smiling face. He slid down the slide with ease.

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