6 Things Every Mom Needs to Remember

My oldest child is heading to college this fall. That translates in mom talk to, “Friends beware. Spontaneous ugly cries may occur.” It also means I’ve gotten a little bit (okay… a lot bit) sentimental. While meandering down memory lane, I remembered two friends of mine. They were both older – one a grandmother with gray hair and dimples. The other an energetic empty nester. Every visit these ladies slipped in some piece of mothering advice before they left. Their perspective changed my perspective of how to raise my kids and I’m so grateful for it. Guess it’s time to pass that good advice on.

Things to Remember…


1. Don’t Stress About Keeping a Clean House.

It’s a phase. You’re not a slob. One day those sticky handprints on the glass are going to make you smile.

happy messy kids

2. Happiness is Not About Stuff.

Name brand clothes, yearly vacations, and presents overflowing under the Christmas tree aren’t necessary. Kids can be happy with a lot less than we think. Never go in debt for a kid’s want. Wanting is a motivating and healthy thing for every child.


3. Date Your Spouse.

Find a babysitter you trust and get out of the house! Weekly if you can. One day the kids will be gone and you need to still like your spouse! Dates can be as simple as going on a walk. Strengthening your marriage will strengthen your whole family.


4. Date Your Kids.

Your kids need time with you too. Not time with you and the baby. Not time with you and their little sister. Just you. Go grab a one-dollar ice cream cone together. That’s enough! Find ten minutes regularly that’s all for them. Doing this with my kids when they were young made them more willing to talk to me about the tough stuff when they were teens.

kids helping make dinner


5. Teach Them How to Help Themselves.

Chores teach hard work. Saving money teaches discipline. Talking face to face with unkind friends teaches bravery. Asking a teacher for help teaches self-reliance. Don’t save your kids when things get hard. Walk beside them and teach them how to save themselves.


6. Praise, Hug, Repeat.

Let the little things go. Praise the good more than you correct the bad. I know I would feel awful if someone only pointed out my mistakes while I was learning something new. Our kids are still learning how to be kind human beings. Be gentle, fun teachers. They’re going to turn out great.

love your children



About the Author

Hey! I’m Jenner –  a mother of four. A Texan. An author. And the wife of a beautifully bald elementary school teacher. I’m a wee bit obsessed with Christmas music and love writing. My writing has appeared in Jack and Jill, Friend, Ensign and Highlights magazines. You can also find it on storybird.com.  Catch me on my blog or follow me on Twitter here: @slushpilestory




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To Spy or Not to Spy: When to Give Kids Privacy

Privacy: what kids want and what parents struggle to give. Tweens and teens especially crave independence and privacy from their parents. If they think their parents are spying on them, they will figure out how to be sneakier and do more stuff behind their parents’ backs. Also, parents who give kids more autonomy and privacy are victimized online less frequently than kids whose parents are more controlling and invasive. So we definitely want to give kids privacy!

But the world is a scary place – what if something bad happens and you aren’t even aware it’s happening? How do you protect them while also giving them the independence and privacy that they deserve and need to become responsible, thriving adults?

How much privacy you give depends on your child’s age and level of responsibility. Start out young, like when they are preteens, with less privacy.

kids privacy rules

So for instance, your 10 year old wants an Instagram account. This is a great opportunity to start getting your child used to what is okay for social media. Let your child know that you will be monitoring her activity and after a weekend of having Instagram, the two of you will review what’s been going on and then create a social media contract. This will give you the chance to see what she does with Instagram and how it could possibly be dangerous or inappropriate – like having a public account and random people liking her photos.

Once you’ve set up those guidelines, continue to monitor her account with your own account. Check out her photos, who is liking them, and what comments people are making. Whenever something weird happens, like maybe there is a comment that you think could be mean, ask her about it.

Then keep the conversation going. Ask her about things you see on Instagram – fun videos she has posted, how to create an Instagram story, has she heard about a recent news story on cyberbullying and why might someone cyberbully someone else? Getting these conversations started early, when you are still monitoring her activity, and she is open to talking with you about these things will make it easier to continue these conversations as she gets older.

Often during these conversations, our own preconceived judgments come out. Maybe you think your child said something mean to someone else. But sometimes, that’s just an adjustment in communication that happens across generations. So instead of accusing her of saying something mean, start the conversation by approaching it from a truly curious perspective. That will help your child feel comfortable talking with you and won’t put her on the defensive every time you talk about social media.

teens privacy guidelines privacy rules

The more your child proves that she is responsible, the less you check in on her – the more privacy you give her. Maybe she can have a SnapChat account. There are still rules that you came up with before in your contract that you continue to develop, but you also give her space to be independent and stop checking to ensure she’s following the rules because she’s already proven how trustworthy she is.

Giving your kids privacy doesn’t mean that you’re not paying attention to their online or in real life lives. You keep that conversation going that you started when they were younger. You ask them about new apps and how they work. You can ask them about their friends. You can ask them about their Instagram account. You can ask about something you heard happening at school and what do they think? Do they ever have trouble with social media? Again, by being truly curious and open to learning from your child, they will feel more comfortable coming to you and telling you what’s going on. Then, when something uncomfortable, risky, or hurtful happens, they will know it is safe to come to you for help. And that is how we keep them safe.


About Fireborn Institute

Fireborn Institute is a non-profit that provides parents with practical and easy-to-remember strategies to help their children in school. Through our lectures, podcasts & handouts, we coach parents on topics such as helping with homework or conquering a messy backpack. Our ultimate goal is to help parents help their kids thrive at school.

About Katherine Firestone

Katherine had a hard time in school because she suffered from undiagnosed ADHD till her junior year of high school. What made her successful during this time was the support system she had around her. After college, she worked as a teacher, and saw that parents wanted to help their kids at home, but didn’t know what to do. She started the Fireborn Institute to give parents ideas on how to help because success at school is enhanced at home. 

She is also the host of The Happy Student, a podcast for parents on promoting happy academic and social lives.  The show provides practical strategies on a variety of topics based on Fireborn’s 4 pillars



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Science Says: Eating THIS Could Change Your Kid’s Social Life

Mom confession:

The idea of sending my kid to school terrifies me. You guys, it’s still four years away, and it’s stressing me the heck out.

And it’s not because I’ll miss him—though I will.

It’s because kids are mean, and the day my son comes home heartbroken because of another child’s cruelty is one I dread beyond description.

Heavy, I know.

BUT, guess what—there is one thing I do every day already that could be helping prevent those grade school problems well in advance. And that’s feeding my son fruits and veggies.

Say what??

A study done in Europe is telling us that not only can a well-balanced diet increase your child’s physical health, but it could help foster better mental and emotional health as well—peer relationships included.

Researchers found that after studying over 7,500 children ages 2 to 9, and then following up again 2 years later, the kids who practiced better dietary habits (like eating fruits and vegetables, limiting sugar intake, and eating fish multiple times per week) scored better on psychosocial well-being assessments. That meant that self-esteem was higher, parent/child relations were better, and that emotional and peer problems were fewer at baseline as well as follow-up.

Um, I’m on board.

Now, while the research didn’t exactly prove causation—meaning that existing mental and emotional health could have an influence on one’s diet to begin with—I’m thinking there isn’t much to be lost by playing it safe and serving up another scoop of roasted cauliflower.

Because even if my kid is bullied at some point (haven’t we all been??), I’d like to hope I’ll have given him every opportunity to handle it with emotional strength and grace.


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The Ultimate Southwest Road Trip

Pictures this: You head out on a road trip around the incomparable American Southwest. In just one week you can see some of the most gorgeous sights the U.S. has to offer. Here are 12 must-see places on your southwest road trip route from TravelPirates. You can easily start this trip from Los Angeles or Las Vegas, and you can also reverse the order of stops.


Stop 1: Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Your first stop is Joshua Tree National Park, famous for its eponymous trees and incredible stargazing. The park is about the size of the entire state of Rhode Island.

Stop 2: Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), AZ
The Grand Canyon is the second-most visited national park in America, and is probably on the most bucket lists. Spend time at the very accessible South Rim, and consider camping overnight.

Stop 3: Antelope Canyon, AZ
There are actually two sections to Antelope Canyon: upper and lower. Famous for its surreal rock striations and sunbeams, this photographer’s dream can only be accessed on a guided tour. The canyon is also just a 15-minute drive from Horseshoe Bend.

Stop 4: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UT
This area is loaded with unique rock formations, like arches, hoodoos, and a petrified forest. It also has historical significance, as both dinosaur bones and petroglyphs have been discovered there.

Stop 5: Monument Valley, AZ/UT
If you’ve ever watched an American Western, then you’ve seen Monument Valley on film. Now, it’s time to see these incredible sandstone buttes, some as tall as 1,000 feet, in real life.

Stop 6: Mesa Verde National Park, CO
While Mesa Verde is home to some impressive landscapes, it is even more famous for the hundreds of cliff dwellings that dot the park, like the 900 year-old Cliff Palace.

Stop 7: Arches National Park, UT
The sandstone arches of this national park are some of the most iconic natural features in America. While visiting, tread carefully: the park is trying to preserve the 2,000 arches that dot the landscape.

Stop 8: Canyonlands National Park, UT
Right next door to Arches is the unique and colorful park that is Canyonlands. Filled with great opportunities for hiking, rafting, and photography, it shouldn’t be missed.

Stop 9: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Bryce Canyon is famous for its fire-colored hoodoos, or rock formations similar to pillars. Consider taking a horseback ride for a unique way to see the parks wonders.

Stop 10: Zion National Park, UT
Home to the stunning 15-mile long Zion Canyon, this park is a great place to stop for a hike. The park also has a shuttle bus system to transport visitors to various popular spots.

Stop 11: Las Vegas, NV
Why not spend a night of your trip in Las Vegas? Whether you’re traveling solo, with a group of friends, or on a family vacation, this colorful city caters to everyone.

Stop 12: Death Valley National Park, CA
The name “Death Valley” may have some negative connotations, but it’s a fascinating place to visit. It contains Badwater Basin the lowest point in North America, and is officially a dark sky park, meaning the stargazing is unbeatable.

Sample Itinerary

  • Day 1: Los Angeles to Joshua Tree (2 hours); drive to Grand Canyon, South Rim (6 hours)
  • Day 2: Morning at Grand Canyon; drive from Grand Canyon to Antelope Canyon (2.5 hours)
  • Day 3: Morning at Antelope Canyon; optional excursion to Grand Staircase-Escalante; drive to Monument Valley (2.5 hours); drive to Mesa Verde (3 hours)
  • Day 4: Morning at Mesa Verde; drive to Arches National Park (3 hours)
  • Day 5: Morning exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks; drive to Bryce Canyon (4.25 hours)
  • Day 6: Morning at Bryce Canyon; drive to Zion National Park (1.75 hours); drive to Las Vegas (2 hours)
  • Day 7: Depart Vegas for Death Valley National Park (2 hours); return to Los Angeles (4.5 hours)

Total Driving Time: 35 hours | Total Distance: 2,000 miles

TravelPirates is a free-to-use travel search website and app with the largest travel Facebook community in the world (9.4 million likes!), powered by a team of expert deal hunters who find the best travel deals and tricks for seeing the world on a budget.


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5 Things Parents Should Know About End-Of-Year Testing

By Hilary Scharton, Vice President of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure

Every spring, schools across the nation give students millions of standardized tests.  Students sit for hours, filling in answer bubbles with their number two pencils for an exam that may span days.  They’re told the tests are “important”, they need to “do their best”, and that they have “one chance” to show what they’ve learned.  For any child–much less one with test anxiety, ADHD, or learning disabilities–it can be a painful process.

Should we let our students take these tests?  In 2015, over 650,000 students1 nationwide opted out of standardized tests. In some parts of the country, up to 20% of students did not participate.  What can a test tell us about how our kids are doing? Here are five things parents should know about end-of-year testing:


Tests don’t measure what we think they do

We expect tests to tell us how much students have learned.  However, significant evidence shows tests aren’t great at figuring out what you know or what your potential is.

Consider the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  For many of us, it was a rite of passage that evaluated your entire school career and gave colleges a way to predict whether or not you’d be a successful student.  However, the best prediction you can make from an SAT is how much money your parents earn.2 Your score will go up 30 points for every $10,000 in your parents’ yearly income.  

In addition, scoring well on the SAT has almost no correlation with success in college.  The best predictor is high school grades.


Tests are designed to be efficient and compare groups

Most tests are designed to make efficient comparisons between groups, not tell us about individuals.  Group comparisons are valuable because they give us data about curriculum efficacy and how to allocate funding.

However, if we want efficient group measures, there are limitations.  These tests won’t cover every topic students learned and will need to be easy to give and grade.   

That means test authors have to use questions like multiple guess choice and leave out questions that might get at more important skills like critical thinking or creativity.  If you’re only doing multiple choice, you’re rewarding passive and superficial learning like memorizing facts or formulas.  When the last time was your job let you pick the right answer from a list?


Test prep is often antithetical to learning

In states where testing is king, it often comes with an emphasis on “accountability.”  The idea behind the accountability movement is that we, as taxpayers, should be able to ensure we’re getting the highest educational value for our tax dollar.  If that’s our ultimate goal, it makes sense to set up rewards (and penalties) so teachers and districts get the best performance possible from their students.

In these states, we see more time devoted to teaching test-taking skills.  Teachers and students learn which kinds of questions and topics are covered and dedicate class time to practice.  That’s not intended to game the system, but to give students tips about how to be a good test taker. (Ever learn that if you don’t know the right answer, pick B?  How often have you used that knowledge since you left school?)

The positive is that it usually works.  Students score a little better on the state exam.  However, research shows that states that focus on accountability perform much worse on nationwide and international tests than states that place less emphasis on accountability.  It turns out the time your teacher spent in class talking about answer B and #2 pencils would have been better spent teaching you more academic content.


Different tests tell us about individual learning

So if our current tests aren’t telling us what we need to know about individual students, what can we do?  In short, we need to do more testing, which sounds crazy.  We need to make sure we’re doing different kinds of testing so we get good group data AND good individual data.  We can best measure individual growth with authentic tests that are integrated into learning. Assessment is authentic when it asks students to apply their knowledge to real-world, meaningful problems.  

Imagine you’re back in geometry class and need to learn about volume.  Would you rather have your teacher tell you the formula and give you a worksheet to practice (how we’d learn if standardized test grades were the goal) or could you learn more if your teacher gave you a project to come up with a better juice box that minimized shipping costs and maximized profits?  

Likely the latter would not only make you more interested in learning about volume (“When will I ever use this?”), but you’d also have the opportunity to work on other important skills.  Project-oriented, goals-driven group learning is an engaging way to teach students how to apply what they’ve learned, while also giving them practice working cooperatively, being creative, and dealing with messy problems that might not have one “right” answer.  It gives students opportunities to apply their knowledge and a glimpse into what adults do in the workplace.

Teachers do this kind of assessment almost reflexively, whether students are raising their hands to answer a question, working in small groups, or doing independent research.  One of the difficulties with this kind of assessment, however, is that the rich experiential data in classrooms is often lost. Fortunately, schools more often have access to technology that will help teachers do assessment, quickly see results, and then make important decisions about what students know.  


How can I make sure my child is doing well?

Be involved.  Districts are great at letting parents know when and how students will participate in standardized tests, but the only way to know about what’s happening in the classroom is to talk with your child’s teacher.  

Teachers are experts–they know how important assessment is and how to do it well.  Don’t be afraid to ask how your child will be graded on what they learn, what success looks like, or how much time will be spent preparing for standardized tests.  

If you live in a state that emphasizes accountability, let your local representatives know that you care about more than test scores.  Ask for teacher and school ratings to connect to other metrics like college acceptance, AP completion/pass rates, or student engagement.  We, as parents, know what’s best for our individual children and must feel empowered to ask for it.

  1. http://www.fairtest.org/more-500000-refused-tests-2015
  2. http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/2013/TotalGroup-2013.pdf


About the Author

Hilary Scharton loves education and has worked in it, in some form or another, for her entire career. She currently serves as the Vice President of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure, the open online learning management system (LMS) that makes teaching and learning easier. In her role, she sets the strategic vision for how Canvas makes its products even more awesome for students and teachers across the globe, while focusing on leveraging technology to support improved instruction and equitable access for all students.  


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This is Your Child’s Brain on Music

I’m not expecting my son to become a concert pianist. He’s one of the most okay-ist 11-year old piano players around. And that’s just fine with me.  So why do I keep paying for lessons and nagging him to practice every day? I think his music lessons do far more for him than I can measure and research backs me up. A comprehensive longitudinal study, (German Socio-Economic Panel, 2013) found, “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance.” The study described kids who take music lessons  as having “better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious.” Personally, I’ve seen great things from my son as he has studied piano and now violin. When asked, he said that the greatest thing about studying music was that he was proud to be developing a talent. That alone gives me incentive to encourage him to continue and to give my other kids the same opportunity. Want to know what other benefits learning music can give your children?

Improved grades

Probably the most noticeable improvement you’ll see in your child’s academics is the increase in your child’s reading and verbal skills. Your child will also see improved mathematical and spatial-temporal reasoning and raised IQ. Learning to read music is akin to learning a new language and your child will see benefit when learning other languages. Plus, kids that study music are better listeners. Anything to get your kid to listen to you, right?

Slow the effects of aging

With the benefits of improved working memory and long-term memory for visual stimuli. Some studies suggest that music engagement may delay cognitive decline. You’ll be setting your kids up for a life-long skill which will benefit them for the long-term. It may not seem like something to worry about right now but slowing the effects of aging is an immeasurable benefit.

Strengthened motor cortex

There is no question that fine motor skills are important in all aspects of a child’s life.  Virginia Penhune, a researcher at Concordia University said, “Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli. Practicing an instrument before age seven likely boosts the normal maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions of the brain, creating a framework upon which ongoing training can build.”


The social-behavioral benefits can’t be ignored. My son was a very anxious child. Around the time he began studying piano, I saw that his anxiety began decreasing significantly. I was working hard in other realms to decrease his anxiety but I feel like it certainly contributed to an improvement in my son’s ability to manage his anxiety. A study by researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine found that a child’s musical background appeared to contribute to enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem and those children were better at managing anxiety.

There is a whole lot of research supporting the claim that music benefits your child’s brain. It’s almost difficult to point out all the benefits. Hopefully, your child’s school has a music program and you’ll be able to look on the bright side of your kid playing the recorder non-stop. But even in early-childhood, unstructured play with musical instruments is great exposure. And if you’ve been on the fence about music lessons, consider the many benefits it can provide your child. If you don’t have the resources to provide music lessons, don’t write it off completely. Consider getting a Ukulele and learning alongside your kids – YouTube has a plethora of instructional videos. Consider it time well-spent and reap some of the awesome benefits learning music can have on your child’s brain.


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A Harvard Doc Says My Son Doesn’t Have ADHD

Jerome Kagan, one of Harvard University’s dominant psychologists is making quite the rounds on the internet. In a 2012 interview, he shared a very controversial opinion regarding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — he believes it doesn’t exist. If you’d like to read his entire interview here, feel free, but let me spoil it for you: He believes we are over-medicating our children and ADHD, an invented disorder, could be dealt with through tutoring and paying more attention to our children.

Should I have started with the disclaimer that my oldest son is diagnosed with ADHD?  Probably. I think it matters because my point of view in raising a child with ADHD verses a psychologist who merely studies them may garner different results.

With that said, I do agree with quite a bit the good doctor stated in his interview. For instance, when asked about the difference in numbers between mentally ill children (aka kids with some sort of mental disorder attached to them) now and in the 1960s, Dr. Kagan replied:

“We have a 7-year-old child who is bored in school and disrupts classes. Back then, he was called lazy. Today, he is said to suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That’s why the numbers have soared.”

However, he then goes on to say he believes ADHD to be an invented mental disorder.

“That’s correct; it is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.”

Here’s where we disagree a bit. I completely believe our human race, as a whole, to be over medicated. I believe there have been man-made inventions which are preferred for instant reward. Headache? Pain reliever. Sore muscles? Muscle relaxer. Heart Burn? Antacid. You get the idea.  I also agree these “issues” are symptoms to something greater; more often than not, we don’t want to take time in discovering the cause of our symptoms–we just want the problem fixed. Now.


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Essentially Dr. Kagan is saying this is exactly what happens with ADHD. He believes that doctors and pharmaceutical companies drive prescriptions. And they may.


My doctor didn’t drive me to medicate my son.

In fact, my doctor preferred to try everything else before meds. Once on medication, he strongly advocated for the lowest possible dose.

Additionally, we spent many times in the office where our doc made sure it was very clear to my son that his meds would not solve all of his issues in school.

This doesn’t sound like a doctor being courted by a pharmaceutical company. And my monthly budget certainly didn’t want to add meds to the shopping list.

Are there families and children that are victim to greedy doctors and drug companies? Sadly, I believe there are. But for Dr. Kagan to make such a blanket statement regarding any and all children with this diagnosis is, well, dangerous.

Luckily he is just one doctor. One believer. One man. Forgive me if adding Harvard to the end of his name doesn’t impress me much.

Let me introduce you to Dr. Amen. The first thing I loved about Dr. Amen is he deals with disorders in children within his extended family (nephew) and his own daughters. I beg of you to watch the video below from its starting point to minute 37:15–about 5 minutes.

This man has been in the trenches and watched, lived with and loved children who have “abnormal” brain function 24 hours a day. This is a man whose opinion I value.

In watching many of his lectures, my biggest realization has been this: My ADHD son is not mentally ill. I will not refer to him as having a mental disorder or brain disorder.  What he does have is a brain that works differently than majority of humans.  Does this mean he’s abnormal? It does not. This means that instead of having blue eyes, he has brown. Instead of having freckles, he doesn’t have any. It means he functions differently from you and me.  Does everyone love studying frogs in the rain forest? Nope. Does loving to do that make them abnormal? Heck no. And maybe this is what Dr. Kagan is trying to say…but his wording simply doesn’t sit right with me. Rather than saying ADHD is an invention, let’s understand that ADHD is describing the way in which my son’s brain functions.

One more thing I will agree with Dr. Kagan about is that our current state of society and expectations makes it hard with someone (like my son) to function in the expected manner. Tutoring and more one-on-one time would help tremendously. It would resolve some of the “issues” those with this invented disorder have, but certainly not everything.


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If we were in the 1800s, my son would most likely have been milking cows and doing hard labor starting at 4am. After chores were done, he’d be in a classroom with 20 less kids than today, for a shorter amount of time. His diet would be significantly different and then he’d be back outside until dark doing more chores or playing until his legs dropped dead. So yes, Dr. Kagan, our society is different now. Our lifestyles have changed in a way that is not friendly to those who need to keep busy and function in an “abnormal manner”. But guess what? The ADHD diagnosis allows my son to get the extra tutoring at school you say he so desperately needs; without this “made-up invention” he can’t get exceptions in school with his 504.  Instead he’d be stuck in a classroom of 32 kids drowning.

If you want to get to the root cause of over-diagnosing ADHD, I’m all for it. The first order of business isn’t to look at the kids who are struggling, but to look at the environment they are struggling in. This very well could be one of those moments where the problem isn’t them — it’s us.  Let’s find ways to understand those who struggle, how they work, and what we can do to help them be successful.

Until our entire society can change together instantaneously, please be understanding and respectful to those who actually have brains which function differently than the average person. These are the ones who need to be labeled ADHD;  they need extra help, even if that extra help includes labeling them with what Dr. Kagan would call a “made-up invention” so they can get medication, or therapy recommendations, or exceptions in school…and the list goes on.

I am okay with medical professionals labeling the way my son’s brain function as ADHD. It’s not made up. Dr. Amen’s lectures and thousands of brain scans have made it very clear that my son’s brain is special, unique and needs a little bit of help to fit in to our societal boxes.  I just hope everyone else out there who runs in to a kid (or mom, or co-worker, or spouse) with ADHD can fully understand this and love these wonderfully special people we call ADHD.


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Science Says: THIS May Be the Reason You’re an Introvert

Everyone loves curling up with a blanket and a good book (or Netflix) in those dark, cold winter months, but did you know that wanting to stay that way—even after spring has sprung—could be a reflection of where you grew up?

According to a new study, there is a temperature-specific sweet spot that can predict whether or not a person will grow up to be an introvert or an extrovert.

Crazy, right?

Apparently, growing up somewhere where the average ambient temperature was 72 degrees Fahrenheit means that you’re more likely to be outgoing and agreeable than someone who grew up in a colder climate.

Researchers got data from more than 1.5M people from both China and the U.S. who were given a personality test and also reported the zip code of the place they spent most their growing up years. They even controlled for obvious factors like social class and still got the same results: kids who grew up in clement climates (not too hot or cold) were also the ones headed outside to try new things, meet new people, and allow those interactions to positively shape their personalities.

Not that introversion is a bad thing at all, but I’m thinking I have one more excuse to move my little family to the beach!


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Science Says: Don’t Tell Your Kids What To Do!

To structure or not to structure…that is the ever-pressing question for parents prepping for those seemingly endless summer months. Do you let the kids roam wild and free or keep them busy with a schedule of swim lessons and summer school?

There are pros and cons to either side of the argument, for sure. Those in the pro-freedom school of thought tout more imaginative play and less pressure for the entire family, while pro-schedulers see a chance to keep kids out of trouble and opportunities for meeting goals outside of the classroom.

Well, a study done at the University of Colorado Boulder may sway the structure lovers to free up the calendar a bit this summer.

parenting kids schedules

Researchers gathered data from parents of children ages 6-7 regarding their daily, annual, and typical schedules, specifically their structured and less-structured activities. For an activity to be categorized as less-structured, the child had to be in charge of what to do and how to do it, as opposed to more structured undertakings like formal sports practice or music lessons.

What they found was that the children involved in more structured activities performed worse on a test that revealed how well they used their executive functioning, “the cognitive control processes that regulate thought and action in support of goal-directed behavior.” In other words, the children’s abilities to perform tasks that would lead them to accomplish a goal were hampered by the very activities that were pushing them towards one.

The study even went so far as to say that two children who performed the same tasks in a day, where one was directed and the other wasn’t, the latter would actually learn more having been given the opportunity to decide for themselves what to work for and actually choose to accomplish it.

Pretty impressive, right? The real question is, does the same theory work on husbands…


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THIS Is The Only Bracket That Matters This March {And It’s Tearing Us Apart}

Did you know there is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of filling out the perfect bracket?

Well I don’t want to brag—okay, I totally do—but you’re looking at it.

Okay, so the stat is actually about a perfect March Madness bracket, but, if anything, the Disney + Pixar challenge is a million times harder and probably far more damaging to human productivity and relationships. I know my husband got a step or seven closer to sleeping on the couch when we got down to brass tacks over several key matchups.

Take The Little Mermaid vs. The Lion King: Sure, Simba’s got sway in the realm of heart-warming family narrative (maniacal uncle aside), but how do you compete with a movie that has an entire song set to the scene of a twisted French chef chasing a beleaguered crab with a cleaver? I submit that you cannot.

Well, Up tried. Using a powerful lineup of heart-wrenching love story and avian absurdity. But when your competitor can double team you with oh-so-relatable underwater angst and music that you can never forget the words to, you don’t really stand a chance.

And just like that, Little Mermaid unquestionably takes the championship.

But for you crazies who dare to disagree, feel free to fill out your own brackets…just make sure you don’t share the results unless you’re ready to really reevaluate your friendships.

Blank Pixar Disney March Madness Bracket


Post Script!

OKAY but wait! Here’s where I, Rachael Herrscher, take over Kara’s post because MY BRACKET is the only true and accurate bracket! Behold:

Finding Nemo. The End.

Looking For A Blank Disney Pixar March Madness Bracket?

Want to fill one out for yourself? You can find a blank one HERE >> (Just click on the image, save the file to your desktop and then use a service like PicMonkey to fill out your bracket online OR just hit print and get nuts)

March is almost over — so hurry and fills yours out and let us know who won! (cough . . . cough . . . it’s FINDING NEMO . . . NOT The Little Mermaid . . . KARA!)

 Hi, I'm Bruce! Finding Nemo


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