Monthly Archives: May 2014

A New Family Time

So it is getting closer to the end of the school year.  I remember that when I went to elementary school many moons ago it was a time of review for finals and very little ‘new’ learning.  That certainly isn’t the case today.  Instead my first grade daughter has an Ecology project and presentation due this Friday and we have just been informed that a History project is coming!

Now it is great that learning has been extended for more of the school year but two big project in the final month seems a bit over the top.  This is especially true for parents of grammer school children who are really the ‘doers’ of these projects.  And yet, looking at it from another perspective these school projects are actually promoting more family time since they call for a family effort to complete them.  Thinking of it this way makes the tears, smiles, Aha’s, tension, time crunches, brain breaks and debates somewhat more bearable.  Already my daughter and us are much wiser about water ecology and smiling about our ideas.  Now lets hope we can pull it off by Friday!  As our fish says…’Don’t worry, be happy’


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Monday “Think About It”

It has come to my attention that next year my daughters school will no longer offer ice cream novelties for children at lunch time.  The reason is supposedly the Federal School Lunch Program instituting a policy where any food that is offered for sale that ‘competes’ with the items offered on the school lunch must meet certain requirements.  Ice cream doesn’t meet these requirements.

I can hear the moans now.  I can see the protests.  I can feel the pain.  Our attempt to ban Chocolate Milk failed.  I wonder how this brilliant plan from Washington is going to work out?

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

I can still recall the smell of those old encyclopedias.  The set, circa 1970, had a scent I attributed to old knowledge and a long aisle of books, in a far off corner at the library.  It was scent of both mustiness and a cool, pleasant corridor.  It was something my mind connected to reading, learning, and work on big projects at a young age.  Ahh yes, I am reliving science fair time.

At the end of the school year, my daughter’s 4th grade class has a science project due.  When I attended last year, I was a little blown away by the displays and presentations.  This was many moons away from my science fair and its rows of poster boards.  There were laptops, power point demonstrations, and digital displays of experiments.  These children seemed so wonderfully confident and ready to discuss their work.  They were like sophisticated academics, in 10 year-old bodies.  I was a bit awed and a bit overwhelmed.  When it came to my daughter’s turn, would she be like these students?  Would she pull the pieces together for such an amazing demonstration?  Were parents supposed to help?  Had they played a hand in these incredible displays?  What learning came out of this for the students?  Where do we begin?

At times, our children’s projects and work is overwhelming for both student and parent alike.  Before the anxiety bus leaves, hit the pause button.  Start at the beginning.  For me, I soon realized that this project was going to unroll in bite size pieces.  The 4th graders are devoting a portion of class time each day to planning; creating a hypothesis; experimenting; and writing up the results.  Parents have been asked to guide and support, but not do the work of the child.  They are walking through much of the process at school, with their classes, but will complete the report, and I imagine any display board or power point demonstration at home.  I am sure they will need to dedicate time at home to discussing their work and their results, with the judges and anyone passing by.  This is manageable and sensible.

When I think about it this way, I get excited for the discovery process that awaits each child.  While fourth grade was a lifetime ago, I do not remember a sense of bite size pieces, just devouring or perhaps choking down a bunch of information from musty books.  What a wonderful way to bring science alive to this age group!  Such confidence building measures and profound learning experiences may be just the remedy for a young girl who is a budding scientist in the making, but at that age when girls often loose ground in math and science.  Yes, I’ll be excited for my oldest!  While I won a blue ribbon at a science fair long ago, on a project about plants, the real reward for my oldest and I will be the entire scope of the experience….

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Eight Brain Foods To Make Your Kids Smarter

Brain-shinyWhile your brain may only take up 2% of your body mass, it utilizes up to 20% of your energy. Brains need a complex mixture of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to function and grow. If you feed your kid’s brains the right food, they will perform better academically and enjoy improved memory functions.

The most immediate need for all brains is a constant supply of glucose which can be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Ensure a good supply with regular meals crammed with healthy nutrients and augmented with water for hydration. When you don’t eat regularly or when you go for foods that aren’t healthy, you will experience a lack of concentration and memory loss. This explains why your teen’s exam diet of fast food and gummi bears won’t help to improve their grades.

Brains also like iron which you can find in whole grains (like oatmeal), red meat (especially liver) and vegetables like spinach, raw asparagus, snow peas, kale and beets. See a full list of foods rich in iron here.

Eating regularly is also important if you want to keep your brain functioning optimally. Try to avoid drops in your blood sugar with regular meals and snacks on fruit, nuts and granola bars between meals.

The Top Five Foods To Feed Your Brain:
Green leafy veggies: like spinach, kale and cabbage are packed with vitamins B6, B12, Iron and folate.

Pumpkin seeds: just a handful a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, which helps develop your cognitive and memory skills.

Wild salmon: packed with essential fatty acids (Omega-3), these oily fish are a good source of protein.

Whole grains: bran, whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice and wheat germ all contain lots of vitamin B6 and folate which increases the flow of blood to the brain.

Seeds and nuts: provide Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which help to improve your mood while their thiamine and magnesium ramp up your memory.

Akai berries and blueberries: These amazing berries are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and protein. Akai berries even have omega-3 fatty acids.

Broccoli: a wonderful source of vitamin K, which improves cognitive function and brainpower.

Tomatoes: these happy fruits contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage to cells which contributes to the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Tomato juice is also a good source of iron.

Best Drinks For Your Brain
Juices, especially those high in anti-oxidants and vitamins like cranberry juice or aloe juice. Green tea, especially macha which packs a great anti-oxidant punch and many vitamins and minerals to boot.

Always drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated is important for proper brain function.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 5/22/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Monday “Think About It”

If spring is such a ‘happy’ season why am I so stressed out?  Why don’t I find Pharrell Williams song so bloody HAPPY? Was it the hard winter? Perhaps it is the numerous family deaths catching up? Maybe it is the winter fat showing it’s ugly face in the mirror? The spring allergies? The drastic increases I’m seeing on food prices in the store?  The slowness of business?  The lack of Affordable Healthcare? Politicians? Siblings?

I’m sure all of these have a small roll but for me it is cutting grass!  What a waste of time, energy and resources.  It is a big part of the lack of writing I get to do here on this blog since this is the time of year when you can cut it three times a week in our Western New York area.

Push or rider I don’t care because cutting grass just gets you nowhere! I can’t wait till my daughter can help but till then how I look forward to the dog days of summer 2014 when I can cut the grass so short it burns out and then I can just trim the weeds that dare to show any signs of life every two weeks.  Then I can look to Winter 2014/2015, with glee in my eye and joy in my heart, to the snow again!  To me a shovel and snow blower beats any mower!

Christmas Blues and Cindy Lou Who where are you?  Christmas in July certainly doesn’t do when the only carol I hear is my Briggs and Stratton singing with dozens more on a beautiful Monday morn!



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Sunday Morning Shout Out

sick cartoonThe dreaded stomach bug made an appearance at our house this past week.  Let’s just say it’s as unwelcome a guest as a rude relative; as unwanted as a root canal; and as much of an ‘ick’ factor as it gets for me.  Fortunately, it only took one of us completely down.  Unfortunately, when sickness comes into a house, it can sometimes set the parents back for a week, even when a child bounces back after a day.

Stomach bugs are usually caused by viruses or food poisoning.  In children, gastro-intestinal illness is usually pretty short-lived.  At Web MD’sRemedies for Nausea and Vomiting,”, there is much good information about how to best treat such sickness in children.  From ensuring your child stays hydrated through water and other liquids (including: juice, broth, and drinks with electrolytes in them) to applying acupressure to eliminate nausea and the use of ginger to remedy it, there are many good ideas for parents.  I would like to add prevention strategies, such as teaching your child proper hand washing and using probiotics. Probiotics, as you are probably well aware, are widely available and a means of replacing good bacteria in your body, that can be lost through antibiotic use, and by the things we eat and do not eat.  These things, combined with rest, can help keep the stomach bug out of your home and out of your lives.  Can I hear an AMEN?

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Monday “Think About It”

Did you praise your child today for something they did?  I hope the answer to this comes pretty quickly because all children, even those who are older need some praise to balance out the daily negativity and criticism they hear.  Some caveats do come with this: 1. It needs to be authentic, 2. There can be too much praise, 3. The quality of the praise is more important than the quantity.  Two resources you might find value in reading are WebMD’sThe Right Way To Praise Your Child” and a post on titled “Praise: Why ‘Good Job’ Isn’t Good Enough

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