Archive for News

The #1 Thing You Can Do to Keep Your Kids Safe

car seat safety

We all want to keep our kids safe.

I spend an irrational amount of time researching safe sunscreens, choosing stainless steel or glass containers for their food, and selecting organic foods whenever possible.

The most important and completely rational safety measure I take for my kids by far, however, is buying, installing, and correctly using the right child safety car seat.

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children age 1 to 13 in the USA? And that consistent use of the correct child safety seat in the car could cut fatalities by about half?

Are you sure that your child is in the correct seat? Sure enough to be his life on it?

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Know Your Zone

Hurricane Sandy was devastating in this region–some areas near me are still rebuilding. We lost so much but we also saw the strength of our communities.

After years of near-misses, this catastrophe drove home the need for hurricane preparedness in the New York metro area.

The Ad Council and the New York City Office of Emergency Management want New Yorkers to “Know Your Zonein anticipation of the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on June 1st as part of Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 25-31st).

Although my family lives outside of the New York City limits, my husband helped coordinate the National Guard efforts to manage the emergency shelters in the city. If you live or work in New York City:

The Ready New York Hurricane Guide also contains instructions on how to develop a hurricane disaster plan and secure your home before a storm as well as a map of New York City hurricane evacuation zones.

By taking these steps and sharing them with friends and family, you can help reduce the risks of damage and loss of life if a hurricane strikes the New York area.

know your zone

The Show Must (Not) Go On?

You might think this is satire from a “fake news” site but it isn’t–a Long Island elementary school in the Elwood school district has canceled a kindergarten play because they are “responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills…”

Elwood Kindergarten Play Canceled

Another letter references the unusually high number of missed school days due to snow. Elwood, like the district in which I live, has half day kindergarten. So, morning kindergarten was likely canceled when there were delays. Although missed days in excess of allotted snow days are made up–kindergarten days missed due to delays are not.

However, the reference to “college and career” readiness implies a connection with the demands of the Common Core. Do the administrators at Elwood genuinely believe that a few days spent preparing and performing a school play in kindergarten will affect little Ava’s ability to succeed in college and find a high-paying job? Or are they scared that Brayden will bomb the state tests in third grade because his demanding rehearsal schedule distracted him from test prep? Or are they using these children as pawns to protest the requirements tied to implementation of the Common Core in New York?

Does anyone really believe that a five year old’s time is better spent bubbling in more scantrons?

Whatever is going on in Elwood, this is a sad day in early childhood education.

Twin Day for Spirit Week: A Bit of Fun or Exclusionary?

Earlier in the year, my daughter brought the “Spirit Week” flyer home with the list of daily “themes.” This year, there was a new addition, “Twin Day” was slotted instead of the wacky hair or crazy hat day that we had last year.


Our school has spirit weeks several times a year and they are always fun. A number of parents grumbled about the “literary character day” last year but my daughter went as Dorothy and had a lot of fun with it.

Something about “Twin Day” sent my mama-sense tingling, however.

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Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom — Yea or Nay?

We don’t have an elf on the shelf mainly because I need another thing to do this holiday season like I need more stuffed animals in my kids’ rooms. I have four kids ages 7 and under. If I can get them all in bed in time to watch an episode of Doctor Who on Netflix, I call it a win. The tooth fairy has almost forgotten her duties several times already and I don’t think an elf of ours would fair much better. Seriously, parents…why do you want to make more messes for you to clean up…do you need more kids? Want to borrow one of mine?

My daughter thinks that if she wishes on a star Santa will send us one. Sorry kid, blame Jiminy Cricket.

Before you call CPS on me, however, my kids will not be deprived of this wacky new tradition because their classrooms have their very own elves.

I was a little surprised to find out that my kid’s class had adopted (is that the proper EotS terminology? I am a newbie at this…) an elf. Let me be clear before I get fried in the flames of the Internet…I said, “surprised,” not “incensed” or even “concerned.”

Elf on the Shelf Classroom

So, I did some research (i.e. I asked my friends on Facebook and looked at the first page of results in a Google search…totally New York Times standards of journalism going on in here).

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How Do Military Families Feel About the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

I remember getting into a twitter tiff a few years ago with a fellow conservative about the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell. The gentleman basically accused me of pushing my liberal agenda at the expense of our men and women at arms. At which point, I informed him that I am hardly liberal and my husband was currently deployed to Iraq. My follow up question was, “When did you serve in the military?” At that point, he simply thanked my husband for his service and went his merry way.

I cannot say there is not homophobia in the military–but I have always believed there is a lot less than people outside the military family seem to think. Most servicemembers just want to do their duty. And most military families just want the best people possible supporting their servicemembers. Read more

Casualty Notification is a Sacred Duty — Not a Facebook Poke

As a military spouse, I spent my husband’s deployment terrified that I would see the black sedan drive down my street or that there would be a knock on the door and I would open it to find a chaplain and a casualty notification officer.

At least I could lay down some of the burden at night–there is a window during which notifications are made. This may seem like a trivial thing if you haven’t spent a year on edge but, trust me, it is some small solace to know you will not be woken or startled at 3am by a phone call or a knock on a door.

That is, unless, another soldier or family member takes it upon him or herself to text message you or notify you via Facebook.

What a horrible thing to do to a military family member!

While it is true that no form of notification can bring the soldier back to life, casualty notification procedures are in place for a reason.

  • The procedures ensure no false notifications. By notifying someone independently, you have disrupted the entire system and created an environment where rumors thrive.
  • You do not know how someone will react to the shock. Fainting, going on a rampage, driving off the road–these are all plausible responses to casualty notification. Let the trained professionals be there to handle it.
  • How someone finds out may affect long-term processing of the grief. People always remember where they were when they found out big news. The ceremony and respect of the official notification system, and the support that the military immediately offers, may ultimately help the family member process the grief. Maybe you do not buy this but it is NOT your call. You do NOT get to take that away from these families.

When a soldier is catastrophically injured or killed in action, his base is supposed to go on communications black-out. There should be a total lock-down of all telephone and Internet signals. And all soldiers and family members should know not to discuss casualties prior to official notification of the next of kin.

Yes, we all knew when someone had been killed in action when no one had any calls that night. Yes, the waiting was tense. However, that is a small price to pay to know that the proper respect will be paid to a fallen hero and his family. We owe our brothers and sisters in waiting at least that much.

(DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

Military Wives Have a Right to Speak Out About the Government Shutdown

I am just livid about the comments on articles like this one: Food or rent? Soldier’s Wife Fears Government Shutdown.

Yes, a lot of these idiots are trolls but I am shocked at the vitriol being spewed by such a large number of commenters.

Here is my response to those who think military families are uneducated “moochers” living off of their tax dollars:

And for intelligent and articulate commentary on the shutdown, check out Krystel Spell of Army Wife 101 on MSNBC.

Do you have a hero husband?

I saw this query on a few lists and a friend just forwarded me a separate request from the journalist.  I know many of you are married to bonafide heroes.

My hero does not like me to broadcast his heroic acts but, although I will respect his wishes, I believe talking about true heroism inspires others to act!

Are you married to a real hero?  Of course, I think all servicemembers are heroes–but are you married to a hero who has gone above and beyond?  Do you want to recognize your hero and shout it from the rooftops or at least the glossy pages of a “major women’s magazine”?  Here’s your chance:

[blockquote]We are looking for the heroes of 2010/2011 to feature in a major women’s magazine.  To be considered you must meet the following criteria (NO EXCEPTIONS).

You must:

  • Be Married
  • Have performed a truly heroic act and been recognized in the press for it.
  • Send me a compelling paragraph giving me the details.  Please do not send more than two paragraphs.
  • Send over the name, age, location and 2 photos of the hero as well as a link to articles/video detailing the act.
  • Get your information to me no later than Thursday, February 10.

Please do not send over information unless you meet all criteria.[/blockquote]

Photo credit: Captain America

Please VOTE!

My site was nominated for Best Education Blog!My education blog, Naturally Educational, has been nominated for a Bloggers’ Choice award!  I am currently tied for third place so even ONE VOTE will help me!

And if you are really feeling the love, you can tell a friend or two on twitter and facebook!  I know we Military Family Members stick together and I can count on you, amiright?

I am professional educator–I used to teach in the classroom and now I am an educational writer and consultant.  It is what I have been doing for years and I am so happy to be able to share some of my activities, crafts, and ideas with the online community.  Currently, it is a labor of love.  I have no ads on that site (though I may eventually decide to offer limited, and carefully considered advertisements and sponsorships) and I do it for the pure joy of connecting with other parents and educators.

And if you are an educator and/or parent, I hope you will come connect with me at Naturally Educational.

This sort of recognition would mean a great deal to me…so I hope you will take a few minutes of your time to register and vote–and don’t forget to nominate or vote for your other favorite blogs while you are there!