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Recreational Social Activities

Group-oriented examples of recreational activities include sports of all kinds - hiking or if those are too physical for you try golf or swimming. But, Bike Riding with rallies is a recreational activity, and one that (usually) makes us happy and gives us a feeling of social connection. Bike Night is a loosely organized ride through many US Sates and cities of Europe. Bike Night has been going on now for many years. Participation ebbs and flows but generally is about 15 - 20 folks wearing Motorcycle jacket. Ages range from 20's to 60's. If you're old enough to ride and young enough to stay on, then you're probably just right for Bike Night.

Spanking Unleashed

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It’s back – that unsightly elephant in the living room.  Should – or shouldn’t we – spank our children.   The debate was re-sparked this week by a Tulane University study of 2,500 children, published in the journal Pediatrics.  Study results indicated that when children under three-years-old are spanked frequently, there's a 50% greater chance that they'll become more aggressive by the time they reach kindergarten. 

Well, Duh!

Our job, as parents, is to create a safe environment for young children – so they can explore without danger. As they mature and become aware of cause and effect the barriers are gradually lifted.  A friend once advised me – strongly – to spank my 18 month old because she wanted to splash in the bucket of toxic household chemicals that the friend had in the middle of the floor.  I moved the toxic bucket to another room and closed the door.  Simple.

My husband and did agree (in theory) that a short spanking would be in order if our toddler ever pulled away and ran into the road, not heeding our call.  We felt that physical punishment – since it had never been used before – would help them realize the potential danger of running into streets.  I don’t know if we were correct – and the situation never arose.   But once you’ve agreed that corporal punishment is acceptable in danger situations – you’ve opened Pandora’s Box.  A LOT of situations could be potentially dangerous – hence the need for gates and safety measures.  Even the road scenario – if our toddler was NOT under voice control and I had no available hands to restrain her – I would have used a harness and tether.  It would have solved the problem without showing the child that bigger and stronger wins.

Because really, if young children are taught that being able to physically conquer someone smaller is how you win – why wouldn’t they then demonstrate those learned skills when they are the “bigger kid”?

Twenty-five Things to Do with Snow-bound Children!

When the Weather Outside is Frightful

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It can be difficult to be stuck home for days on end – especially when everyone is used to being out of the house – DOING something every day! Here are some inexpensive ways to keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on YOU! (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling!)

Activities geared toward younger children are first!

  1. Pasta and/or bean play! Toddlers love to pour the shapes between different containers, shake them in paper cups/plates taped together, glue them to paper to make pictures, string them to make necklaces, etc.  Can be used for counting games, sorting, beginning multiplication…
  2. Coloring is always good. Go online to find free downloadable sheets:
    1. http://www.free-coloring-pages.com/
    2. http://www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages/
    3. http://www.dltk-kids.com/coloring.htm
  3. Make Play-dough! (much better than the nasty store stuff!) http://babyparenting.about.com/cs/activities/a/playdough.htm
  4. Puzzles are fun – and educational! For $20/year you can download EVERYTHING (coloring books, stories, find a word, crossword, math puzzles & more) from EdHelper! (great for homeschool, too) http://www.edhelper.com/
  5. Paper-dolls can make the hours blur! http://scrapbooking.about.com/od/paperdolls/Free_Printable_Paper_Dolls.htm

Confessions of a "Sucky Halloween Mom"

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Every year I have the best of intentions - I dream of pumpkin cookies, fantastic costumes, a terrific party, good friends and great times.  And every year Halloween descends and finds me scrambling for costumes, buying cookies and breathing into a brown paper bag. (and no...I'm not freaking out because it's Halloween - I'm freaking out because EVERYONE knows Christmas is only 2 weeks later - or at least that's how it seems)

Last year my son dressed as a red ant. He needed a sign to tell people this - because it wasn't apparent from his red pants & sweater - even after we added an extra set of arms! I'm trying to convince him to go this year as an annoying 8 year old - he already has the perfect costume!

This year we're in the middle of moving and are yet again pumpkin-less. We do have the spooky CSI house thing - if you count the sudden last hurrah of nine million flies! But it's NOT the Halloween of my dreams.

I suppose dreams are good - they give us a reason to try harder. Meanwhile - if you see my kids on Halloween wearing trash bags w/ real trash glued to it - please be kind!!! (and send extra chocolate home for me - I'm particularly fond of peanut butter cups!)

Meanwhile...there's always Next year!  Happy Halloween!

The Great Bathroom Hunt

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

The Traveling Porta-PottyMotherhood is the most amazing experience on earth (not having left the third rock, I can't speak for other places).  I am constantly amazed by the intricate details of life that non-parents would never, ever consider.

Take bathrooms, for example.

For most of us, a bathroom is a simple necessity of life.  Though we prefer to use private facilities, we will, when necessary, seek out the public restroom. For kids - using a new and different bathroom is like a mini trip to Disneyland (and much more affordable).  I expected to spend the toddler years in more public bathrooms than I knew existed - and was not disappointed.  Indeed, with three children we spent more time in restrooms than we did in the stores or restaurants! In fact - we ended up deciding WHERE to go by choosing the best bathroom!

"I'm NOT going to that McDonald's near your parents - the bathroom is filthy!"

"NO! We can't go play at the Burger King playground - they don't have a changing table!"  (this was a NEW BK north of Frederick, complete with playground. I asked the OWNER why there wasn't a changing table in a CHILD friendly restaurant and was told they were "too dirty". I threatened to change my baby's diaper on their front counter, but never got up the nerve to follow through!)

Turns out that high-end malls have the best bathrooms - and the most! Since they also have awesome play areas and multiple book stores it was a perfect family destination for a couple with three kids aged 3 and under.

Then we moved to the country. No malls - but LOTS of cornfields. We started carrying a child's potty chair in the back of the van, complete with plastic grocery bags to line the pot. We had to pull off the road more times than I can count - but it worked. I was VERY excited when the last child became school age - no more traveling potty chairs!!

Turns out their fascination with bathrooms - and need to use bathrooms frequently - did NOT change. The kid's are now 8, 10 & 11 - and I STILL spend more time looking for bathrooms than I spend doing laundry (which might explain why I'm dressed in mis-matched stripes).  Just yesterday we visited Grandma - 75 minutes away. Knowing my children, I made sure they all "went" before we left. [for those without children - this involves telling EACH child at least three times, then quizzing them, then sending them AGAIN (cause they failed the quiz), quizzing again, Repeat until all three kids answer affirmatively.  (don't worry if they don't have shoes - they're only going to Grandma's).

The Spoiled Under-30 Crowd!

by John K. Johnson

We all have one (or more) friends who send us every stupid email in the world; every dumb joke, every cause - real or not, every outrage (again, real or not).  Most of us delete 99% of these emails and get on with our lives.  Me, I tend to read them, scream at them, research them and send them back to the original sender with the results of my research telling them just how WRONG the email was.

However, every once in a while, you get one that is worth your time, you read it, you enjoy it, you share it with your significant other, or forward it to you email list - or you post it on your website!

THE SPOILED UNDER-30 CROWD!!!

 When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking Twenty-five miles to school every morning....

 Uphill... Barefoot... BOTH ways ...Yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in &*^% I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!
 
But now that... I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today.  You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a $#^% Utopia!

Free Range Kids?

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson
Free Range ChickenFree Range ChickenAs parents we protect our children - it's our job. Are we keeping them so "safe" that they never get the opportunity to develop independence? I came across two writers today (thanks to Twitter) discussing "Free-Range Kids". Free-range is a hot topic these days, especially for chickens! Our chickens free-range in our fenced back-yard (and lay some awesome tasting eggs!)Yet the term also applies to chickens that receive a few minutes in a small outdoor cage, as well as the lucky chickens who range over 20 water front acres on my friend's farm.

Now let's consider "free-range kids". My kids play outside alone, on our property. This was a big thing when we moved to the Eastern Shore from Frederick, MD - my young children were NOT allowed out without me, even in the fenced backyard. (I couldn't see them from inside) Just last summer I let the older two (ages 9 & 10) ride their bikes to the beach when we visit Grandma. This is a private beach - but it was the first time I let them out of my sight. But I grew up free there, and wanted the same for my kids. [click "read more"]

There's a ???? ???? in the Toilet!

You just know that can't be good.

I'm just sitting there, minding my own business, and I hear the sound that makes every parent freeze in their tracks. At least, one of my kids is screaming with that voice; it's the voice that says "There is arterial gushing from my neck region", or "She touched me". I struggle to make out the content of the scream through the door that is separating us.

"There is ???? ______ in ???? upstairs toilet." Oh yeah, I wanted to hear that. Maybe I can pretend to be asleep?

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