Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes


After being back at my parent’s house for a month, I feel as though I’ve finally gotten back into the swing of things. I’m not as irritable as I was when I first got home. I’m more likely to sit downstairs in the living room in the evening to do my reading or my internet surfing or watch TV with the family than migrate up to my room to spend a few hours alone. 

And now, just when I’m starting to feel comfortable again, it’s time to head back to school. This will be the last time I absolutely have to be back at my apartment out east, because while I do need to maintain a residence for scholarship purposes within commuting distance of my school, nothing says that I actually have to be staying in that residence. 

Over the past eight months, I’ve been back and forth between my apartment at school and my parent’s house. The worst part is always the transition. Coming back home is hard, and going back to my apartment is hard too. But the important thing to remember is that all transitions are impermanent.

What are some transitions that are hard for you?  

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Driving around doing errands the other day, I was reminded that Administrative Assistant Day is coming up next week. While I have nothing against administrative assistants, it got me thinking about my own holiday I am starting. It’s called “ Happy Mad Dash Parenting Day”

“Happy Mad Dash Parenting Day” has its origins, well, in your parents. Perhaps you first learned about it as you were, unbeknownst to you, driving your own parents’ mad dash. Maybe you first noticed the sweat beads on their foreheads as a young child asking for the umpteenth glass of water before bed. Or, perhaps you first spotted a slight parental twitch when you went on a sleep-over and decided to come home at 11pm at night. No … I know, it was the strange way your mother grit her teeth every time you came home excited to do an end of term project. Could it be that it was due in two days and half of your grade was based on your project?

Mad dash parenting seems more the normal then the exception for most parents at least at certain times. Sweat beads, slight parental twitch, and grated teeth at the moment, we are trying  to negotiate a dance class and two separate baseball practices for our daughters tomorrow night.  There is also a birthday party to be had this weekend. (Don’t these things sound good when we are considering them months earlier? So break out the , EMERGENCY CHOCOLATE! This is a signature food of this special holiday. Give me instant energy and yum! Top that with a cup of strong java, the official drink of this holiday. Who needs sleep with this holiday  favorite?  Make sure you wear your festive attire! Any old thing laying around will do. Don’t worry about that button you missed on your shirt! It’s not a look of disheveled you are sporting, but one of festivity that connotes you’re really participating well in the mad dash. It mixes nicely with the sweat beads, twitch, and grated teeth anyways.

So when you see a fellow mad-dasher, remember that this is all just a state of mind. You can give them a “happy mad dash parenting,” card, some chocolate, coffee, or just a big bear hug in sympathy.  Someday soon the children will be grown and we will be bystanders watching our own children, with their children, doing the mad dash. Walk anyone?

 

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Welcome to the Blogging Community


After almost a year of blogging, I finally feel as though I’ve started getting into the swing of things. Blogging for a company is different than being a personal blogger, but Tutor Doctor WNY has given me the opportunity to explore issues of education, organization, nutrition, and life in general with so much freedom that this blog has often felt like a personal blog. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs as far as readership has gone, with some months beyond our wildest expectations and others that have been sad, significant dips. In any case, it has been our privilege and honor to blog to those who have read our blog, and now thanks to one of our readers (Vicky the Northern Chicky, who keeps a fantastic blog running that we absolutely recommend for all of our readers), we have been nominated for a Sunshine Award! In keeping with the terms of being an award winner, here are my answers to the 10 Sunshine Award questions.

Favorite Color: A sunset orange color (which is, incidentally, the color of my brand new $14.99 purse from TJ Maxx!).

Favorite Animal: Sloths, no matter how many toes!

Favorite Number: 3. I’m not sure why.

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: A can of Arizona Green Tea with Honey.

Prefer Facebook or Twitter: Twitter. Facebook just seems to make me into a green-eyed monster lately, and I spend a lot less time on Twitter.

My Passion: I’m still searching for that one, but I think it has something to do with social justice and debating.

Prefer Getting or Giving Presents: I’m not very good at giving presents, so I still prefer getting!

Favorite Pattern: I like all patterns, but I think my current favorite might be multi-colored polkadots.

Favorite Day of the Week: It used to be Thursday, when my family did pizza night and watched Survivor. When I had grad classes, it was Monday, because I had no classes and I got to volunteer tutor. Now, I’m not sure. Every day sort of feels the same.

Favorite Flower: Gerber daisies for a bouquet, orchids for potted plants, and tulips for a garden plot.

My Nominees: Coming soon!

Again, a huge thank-you to all our readers, and especially Vicky the Northern Chicky, for all your support!

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Summer Camp In Retrospect


When I was maybe twelve, my mom decided that I should go to summer camp. Now, I had been to day summer camps before, where I was dropped off in the morning and then picked up in the evening to spend my night in my familiar bed. This year, however, from the catalogue of Girl Scout summer camps that my troop leader had sent home, my mom picked out a horseback riding camp and decided it sounded like a great idea for her daughter who loved horses.

Except that this camp was an overnight camp over two hours from home. A week-long, overnight camp for a girl who could barely make it through one-night sleepovers at friends’ houses down the street was a big deal.

So what are my tips for parents of kids who may dread going to an overnight summer camp? Give your child some sense of control over the situation.

As an adult, I can see that part of being a parent is pushing your child to do things outside his or her comfort zone. However, there have to be some boundaries that allow children to not have total meltdowns. Giving your child some control over a situation can make a big difference. My mom took me out shopping to fill the gaps in my supply list, and let me pick out the things that I needed. Those small choices let me feel a little bit better about the situation. One of the biggest issues I had came from the cabin I ended up staying in. I was a little bit hesitant in making a decision, so my mom barged into a cabin, threw my things down on a mattress, and introduced herself to the girls who I would be staying with before I got a chance. Meanwhile, I had been making tentative friends with the girl in the next cabin over, but by the time I had secured a bed my mom had already laid out my sleeping bag in the other cabin. Give your child the space to make decisions, and let her have a little time to be hesitant. You may think you’re doing him a favor by pushing him in the right direction, but sometimes kids can surprise you and do things by themselves.

Summer camp ended up being really fun, and I have great memories from that week spent riding horses and singing Girl Scout camp songs. I’ve always hated the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but it often does ring true. I can’t directly attribute anything in my life to that experience at summer camp, but I know that it has impacted me in ways I can’t even imagine.

What are some of your best (and worst!) summer camp memories?

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Inclusivity, Diversity, and Sensitivity…Oh My!


One of the things that I’ve striven for while writing this blog is inclusivity. While my own experience as a privileged white woman has probably bled through in my writing, I have always attempted not to make universal statements or assumptions about the people reading this blog. One of the ways in which I thought I had been most successful in bringing in other identities and “voices” was through my picture choices. I didn’t just feature stock photos of white children and families. I didn’t just feature boys or girls. I was inclusive. I was diverse. I was sensitive.

Occasionally uncomfortable Google searches (such as Down's Syndrome student) lead to great images such as this one of a dance class. (Image Credit:http://articles.dailypilot.com/2011-03-28/news/tn-dpt-0327-down1-20110328_1_dance-lessons-dance-classes-tennis-lessons)

But then yesterday, when I went on Google Images hunting for a picture of a little girl in a princess outfit, I came to a sudden and painful realization. I had been completely ignoring people with disabilities as I had been so focused on racial diversity. My Google searches of “Asian girl at computer” or “white boy at computer” suddenly seemed inadequate. Diversity and inclusivity are about so much more than race, gender, or any other visible characteristic, but I feel that including pictures that a greater majority of readers can then identify with is incredibly important, especially as this blog focuses on education.

At Tutor Doctor WNY, our students are from many different backgrounds. We have gifted students and special needs students, students from rural parts of Genesee County and the urban centers of Rochester and Buffalo. Because our students are diverse and are continually showing us the strength of diversity, we pledge a continuing commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and sensitivity on this blog. If there are any ways that we can improve our performance in this area, please feel free to let us know your concerns or suggestions.

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Princesses Everywhere


This morning I had the chance to babysit my sister for a few hours, and because of the weather outside and the fact that it was early in the morning, we decided to watch a movie on Netflix. I had spent a few minutes perusing the options under the Children and Families tab, and had come up with a few that I thought sounded appealing for her. It wasn’t until we were looking at them together that I realized all the options involved princesses. Unsurprisingly, my sister chose a movie with, you guessed it, princesses.

Most little girls seem to love being princesses just for the cool accessories. (Image Credit:http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/cerebralpalsy/Interesting)

While we were watching, my sister made comments about the princess’s beautiful dress and crown. “You know,” I said, trying to sound casual, “she would be pretty even without the pretty dress.” My sister ignored me in favor of the mermaid on screen. As a kid, I was really into playing with dollhouses and Barbies and all sorts of imaginative games. As an adult, I’ve prided myself on being a strong, independent woman. How are grown-ups supposed to reconcile the lessons they’ve learned growing up with the fantasy world of children, a world that is often full of sexism and unrealistic scenarios?

I’m still not sure. At the end of the movie, when the prince saved the princess with true love’s first kiss, I kept my mouth shut. What I wanted to say was “you know, love is great and all but getting kissed by a boy doesn’t make the world perfect,” but I didn’t. How do you allow kids to enjoy childhood fantasies while still preparing them for the real world?

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(Don’t) Put It In Writing


My brother recently went through a bad break-up, and the first thing I did when I heard about it was happily defriend his ex-girlfriend on Facebook. I recommended that he do the same. While there may be some people who remain friends with their exes both in real-life and in social media, my policy has always been more of the cut your losses and run. Rather than run the risk of jealousy or misplaced drama, I prefer to keep things as cordial as possible by keeping them as distant as possible. Of course, there’s another reason for my reluctance to remain friends with exes of any kind on Facebook, and that’s the possibility of social media disasters.

Talk to your child about how to appropriately use social media, and consider how you use it yourself! (Image Credit:http://www.kidonthebus.com/2010/08/your-child-on-facebook.html)

Now, a social media disaster can come in a lot of forms, but for those of us with fewer than 10,000 followers on Twitter and a meager 400 friends on Facebook, most social media disasters come from relationships gone sour. The one thing almost all social media disasters have in common is that somebody puts in writing something that they shouldn’t have been saying in the first place. Offensive or even mildly offensive comments on Facebook or Twitter, whether they are in private messages or available for anyone to read, can become a serious liability. Maybe you’re upset with your girlfriend and so you post a sexist comment on Facebook, which then gets around to not only your cousins and friends, but also to your coworkers and your classmates. The thing is, by putting comments in writing, even if they’re intended as jokes, you’re opening yourself up to problems. You may lose a friend or a job, start a family feud, or even get the police involved (depending on the level of the comment you’ve made). Part of social media is controlling your image, and so you need to be aware of the things you’re putting in writing. Just because you might say something to a friend doesn’t mean you should post it on your Facebook. I pretend that I now have potential future employers reading every post, which helps me weed out what I should and shouldn’t say.

Instead of posting something on Facebook, why not use the site to set up a meeting with some of your friends? Saying something in person is a lot less serious (or verifiable) than saying something in writing…just make sure that nobody’s wearing a wire at your table!

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