Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or Teen: Should Teenagers Be Allowed to Trick or Treat?

The following is a two-in-one blog post that contains two completely opposite opinions about teens and trick-or-treating:

With Halloween fast approaching I thought it was time to dust off the cobwebs on how I feel about teenagers going door to door for candy. I’ll make this one quick and painless: NOT.

Put simply, a teen is not a child and anyone past the age of 12 shouldn’t be knocking on doors for free sweets. I’m all for the dressing up part; that’s a cool way for kids -- I mean teens -- to be creative and have some fun, but getting free sugar, nope. Not from me. 

Maybe it’s because I am a woman but groups of boys ranging in height up to almost 6 feet tall have appeared at my door on Halloween wearing hockey masks. Now is that a Halloween costume or is that sporting equipment pressed into use? Not only do I feel a little intimidated opening my door at night to an unknown group of young men, but the more of them I give candy to, the less candy I have for the little ones who find it truly magical that someone agrees that they make the best Sponge Bob they’ve ever seen and rewards them for it with free candy.

Teens are simply looking for a way to stay out late with their friends and I’m all for it. Hey, I was a teen once. Even a tween. But come on, teens don’t -- or at least they shouldn’t -- need the reinforcement and socialization that Halloween teaches the little ones.

For the youngest of the trick or treaters it’s a big deal to have mom or dad wait at the curb while they amble up the driveway, knock on the door themselves and yell, “trick or treat.” Interacting with grown-ups other than your parents when asked “who or what you are” is also self-esteem building. They were brave. They separated from mom or dad, marched up that driveway, knocked on a stranger’s door and regaled them with a timeless and much beloved threat. That’s pretty scary stuff for someone 6 thru 12. (Sorry, no pun intended.) But for someone 13+, I don’t think so.

Here’s a wild idea: why not have your teenagers walk the little ones from house to house.  They can get dressed up, socialize with their friends who are walking their smaller siblings and maybe make a little Halloween loot for their efforts?

That’s it from this great pumpkin. Happy Halloween!

Karen Boyarsky is an advertising copywriter who has worked at major ad agencies in NY, SF, LA, Silicon Valley and Las Vegas. She is also an avid blogger. Follow her on Twitter @Boyarsky_kareni.

The QueenMom, on the other side of the spectrum, shares her opinion:

As a mom of seven, one thing that I know I have worked hard to preserve is the innocence and excitement of each one of my children, which includes the magic of holidays. Whether it's Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, there's never an age where you want your children to stop feeling the magic that the holidays bring.

With my oldest two approaching the ages of 13 and 12 in December this year, the last thing I'm prepared for is their excitement during the holidays to diminish. Both of them will trick-or-treat this year, and both will look forward to what Santa will bring them under the tree. I wouldn't want it any other way...and as I look forward to future years, although I know that the excitement and magic will change as they progress through their teen years, I also hold tightly onto the hope that their belief in the magic stays strong for just one more year each year, no matter which holiday it is.

My parents did the same thing for me. I was never too old to trick-or-treat or get excited about Santa or the Easter Bunny's annual visits. I cherished the story The Polar Express as a little girl (I actually had the book with the bell included and my mother read it to me every Christmas season), and although I'm not one to shed tears easily, I still find the movie bringing tears to my eyes each year as I watch it with my children. It never fails, too, one or several of the children ask me the same thing: "Mommy, why are you crying?" and I quickly brush the tears away, not really 100% sure why the tears fall, but knowing in my heart that that bell still rings for me, and I never want it to stop for any of my children. And, so far, that bell still rings for them all...

If - or when - that bell stops ringing for any of them, I will be heartbroken...

Back to the topic of teens and Halloween, adults have Halloween parties, play dress up, share candy, and join in on the fun with the kids. Many will admit that Halloween is still their favorite holiday...and that's because we don't have to "outgrow" the spirit of holidays, no matter how "old" we get.

Whatever happened to being a kid at heart?

It's when teenagers are involved in toilet-papering and other mischievous activities on Halloween that things get out of hand, but a little trick-or-treating? In my opinion, I just don't see what harm it causes...and I'd rather know that my children are trick-or-treating with their friends than wonder what mischief they may be getting into.

As a final note, I will say that as long as my children still feel the spirit, and as long as they want to dress up and trick-or-treat, I'll be helping them get dressed in their costumes and sending them out for a night of candy collecting.

Will I let my teens trick-or-treat? Absolutely! I guess I'll just have to make sure they don't trick or treat at Karen Boyarsky's house. :)

So, with two very opposing views presented here, we're wondering what you think about the Trick-or-Teen topic. Should teenagers be allowed to trick-or-treat or not?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mom: The Family Therapist

You keep talking Mom, I'll write it all down...

It’s no surprise to anyone visiting that throughout history, mothers have been tasked as the caregivers for children. It’s a role that has constantly evolved as children learn new skills. In fact, a study released by Proctor & Gamble notes that although the responsibilities of motherhood began about two million years ago, the burdens placed on a mother were very different from those experienced by male human beings. Back then, like today, mothers were responsible for the development of infants, and making sure that they had access to enough calories during their early stages of life.

The Evolution of Moms’ Roles

In modern times, mothers still handle great amounts of responsibility and often sacrifice their own wants and needs in favor of staying home to nurture and raise children. Through all stages of their life, children look to mothers as a constant source of support and comfort during difficult times. Moms provide a shoulder to cry on after bandaging a bloody knee while children are learning to ride a bicycle. They are also a source of advice as kids get a little older and learn to navigate the often rocky landscape of relationships with others. As a mother, you have likely had to put yourself in your child’s shoes and recall the uncertainty of young love, the trauma of a sudden breakup, and the nervousness that accompanies social events such as school pageants and dances.

Calling Dr. Mom

As you adapt to your role as a mother, these impromptu counseling sessions to help your kids through sudden hard times probably feel like second nature. While you consider it just being a good mother, the rest of the world might see you as counselor repaid in the accomplishments and growth of those you love. The fact is data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the jobs for school and career counselors are projected to grow at a rate of 19 percent during the decade spanning between 2010-2020.

While you are never finished being a mom, you may find at some point that you’re ready to invest in your own career; counseling may be your calling.

If you’re still taking care of kids and you’d like to get an advanced degree in counseling, you can do so online. One source for this kind of degree is masters in counseling. Taking classes over the Internet allows you to balance your existing responsibilities with your education by choosing to log on and get your class materials during times when your kids are at school or asleep. This possibility also appeals to stay-at-home dads who are eager to turn themselves into marketable employees without ignoring the duties of parenthood.

In September, you might have read a blog post here that discussed how to fit in your workouts in the midst of a busy schedule. Organization was a key point there, and the same will be true if you decide to go back to school. As a mother, you’re probably already a professional when it comes to delegating tasks, evaluating any activities that you can cut back on, and making necessities more efficient. You already possess these abilities. Now, all you’ll need to do is simply reawaken them.

Author Karen Boyarsky is an avid blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @Boyarsky_kareni.

Ava Anderson - Ava Baby Products - Only the Best for Your Little One

For a while now, I've been following an old colleague, Nancy Brown, on Facebook on her Ava Anderson Facebook page. She's a triple star consultant for Ava Anderson and she's been telling me how wonderful the Ava Anderson products are, and that they're safe to use around my children - they're chemical free and non-toxic! 

She's been adamant about getting me to try them out...and I'm ready to tell you why...

Okay, Great Products...But Why Are They So Great? 

Now, she didn't really tell me how expansive (not "expensive", but "expansive") the product line was. I just thought Ava Anderson was a line of cleaning products that smelled good and were non-toxic and chemical free, according to what she said. Shows how much I know, right? Imagine my surprise when she tells me after months of trying to get me to try these products that there was an Ava Baby product line. Okay, now you're talking! Not that she didn't have me interested in the products, but the best baby stuff is essential around this house.

So, just recently I was introduced to three of the Ava Baby products, the lotion, the baby wash and shampoo, and the diaper rash cream.  

The diaper rash cream arrived right on time. Little Chase had been sick and, well, as a consequence, ended up with a mean diaper rash. We were using A&D Diaper Rash stuff and some hydrocortisone to calm any itchiness. Immediately after I received the Ava Baby diaper rash cream, I put it on his sore bottom, the poor little guy. 

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that overnight, the diaper rash was unbelievably better. The redness had decreased immensely, he wasn't trying to scratch it as much, and he definitely wasn't crying as much, and I was absolutely relieved! The Ava Baby diaper cream cleared up that diaper rash in a couple of days, something both the A&D and hydrocortisone could not do. As a mom, it makes you feel so much better when you use products that make your child better, doesn't it? And, now add to that the fact that these products are made with organic ingredients...

Let's Talk About the Baby Lotion and Baby Wash & Shampoo 

If you're not a fan of lavender and chamomile, then you won't like the smell of these products. They're both made with lavender and chamomile essential oils, and you can definitely smell the fragrance, but the aroma does calm down after a little while. For those of you who are like me, fond of the two smells, and those who know that these aromas are calming for people - and babies! - then, you will really like the lotion and wash. 


Here's a quick rundown of the ingredients in the lotion, just to give you an idea:
organic aloe leaf juice, organic coconut oil, organic apricot oil, organic olive oil, organic jojoba      oil, organic shea butter, oat kernel flour, pomegranate extract, cranberry fruit extract, lavender and chamomile essential oils. 

There's nothing in there that I wouldn't want to put on my little one's skin. As a matter of fact, I might have to use some for my own skin!

Okay, So You Were Right

So, now's the part where I have to say...Nancy, you were right. I didn't realize that your "chemical free" really meant "organic". You may have even told me that the products were organic, but it's really not until you actually read the list of ingredients that you realize that these products are made of natural ingredients. Safe to use ON our babies and, like the cleaning products, safe to use AROUND our babies.

A Bit More Background on Chemicals and Toxicity

I was reading one of the inserts in the box that my products came in and was surprised by what it said. Things that we really don't think about when we use products on our - and worse yet, our baby's - bodies. We know that our skin is our largest organ on our body, right? And, when we put chemicals on our skin, it seeps into our bloodstream...

This insert talked about a study that was conducted by the American Red Cross for the Environmental Working Group (the people who created the cosmetics database) in 2004. Newborns were randomly tested, and the cord blood of the infants that were tested exhibited 287 different chemicals!

Also explained on this insert was that even when products claim to be "organic", "pure", and "natural", they do not necessarily have to be - and usually are not - non-toxic.

Ava Anderson Products

So, that's why Nancy has been so adamant about Ava Anderson products! And, beyond the Ava Baby Products, there's also Ava Skin, Ava Body, Ava Face, Ava Sun, Ava Home and Ava Scent. Check out the product page for more information or follow Nancy Brown on her Facebook page to find out why Ava Anderson products are better to use around your home and family.

As an end note, I just want to say that you picked excellent products to stand behind, Nancy, and if anyone deserves to be at the executive level of the company, it's definitely you. No matter how difficult it is to get through to someone and convince them to try the products, you don't give up (how long did it take you to convince me to try them?)! Keep up that spirit! Ava Anderson is lucky to have you!

Friday, October 26, 2012

How Mitt Romney Plans to Hurt Families

The impending Presidential elections have stirred up quite the controversy this year, and the debates, regardless of who is debating, have turned into more than just the ol' Republican versus Democrat party arguments, if you know what I mean. 

I'm not one to keep my mouth shut about how far left I lean, nor will I back down from a political debate, regardless of how dirty it gets. I stand PROUDLY behind our President, Mr. Obama, and I will admit that although I also have not seen all of the "changes" that I expected during his first term, I strongly believe that no human being can make the changes that we expected in one sole term, especially with the republican party blocking every move he tried to make over the last 4 years.

I will also strongly stand behind my belief that Mitt Romney is absolutely NOT the man that should be chosen to lead this country. I'm having a difficult time (and I'm not the only one) figuring out exactly WHERE Romney lands on many of the important topics, as his shifting positions have left us all to wonder...

But, what I have pinpointed is that Mitt Romney is NOT a low- to middle-class family man.
Let's get to the facts...

  • ·        First of all, we all know someone who is elderly, and one day (hopefully), we will all fall into that age bracket. While Obama has fought to ensure that people, even with pre-existing conditions, can obtain adequate healthcare, Romney and his running-mate are planning to cut senior Medicare benefits. "How will this hurt families?' you ask. Many elderly people are exhausting their social security and pensions on their nursing care, and still yet it's not enough. They still need to use Medicare benefits to cover the other 40-60%. Now, if Medicare is cut by the 30% that Romney is proposing, the cost of nursing and elderly care is passed on to the next of kin...the daughters and sons, the grandchildren, and whoever else is available to financially support their loved one...causing a burden that, inevitably, could create extreme financial turmoil for any family.

  • ·         Under Romney, families with children can expect to pay about $2,000 more in taxes. I don't think I have to add any more about that.

  • ·         College is expensive enough, right? Parents are already wondering -and stressing out about - how they're going to put their children through college. Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, thinks it's a good idea to cut back college grant programs, like the Pell Grant. And, those work-study jobs that students depend on to make ends meet? They want to cut those back, too, by 42%, which is a whopping $15 billion less Pell Grants for our college kids.

  • ·         Romney wants to cut teaching jobs...and this was confirmed by John Sununu, former governor of NH. This not only cuts jobs and increases unemployment, it also slashes learning for our children by increasing the size of classrooms. Also on Romney's redution list? Policeman and fireman...go figure.

  • ·         Romney wants to cut funding for PBS...the television station that is constantly fundraising for a plethora of different programs for children and families?

  • ·         The Economic Policy Institute analyzed Romney's economic plan, and they say that his plan will lead to 608,000 jobs in the year 2013 and a 1.3 million job loss in 2014. That's just the first two years, if he is voted into the House as our President...I'm not sure if I want to know how bad it will get after that. And, if more job losses won't hurt families...well, I don't know what will.

It truly makes me worried that the Romney/Ryan pair is even a choice for America, especially when Mitt Romney has shown that he will say what we want to hear, and then switch positions to confuse us...or maybe he's confused? I highly doubt the latter. The last thing I want is a President who will say what we want to hear, and then do what they want to do.

Other than the gay marriage topic, Obama has been steadfast with his position on issues, and even his decision to "change his mind" about gay marriage isn't necessarily a bad thing, in my mind. To me, that was more of a change of heart and evolving of beliefs than a flip-flop or position shift, and that shows that he is human and he can have a change of heart.  

One thing is for sure: Obama is not touting policies that will hurt low- to middle-class families, like Romney is. As a matter of fact, Obama has focused on helping families, and I believe he will continue to do so. 

Here's to voting for the REAL family man to lead our country for the next four years!

I welcome your comments, thoughts and arguments. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Great Christmas Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

Christmas is just around the corner and if you are looking for inspiration, here are a few great gift ideas for the whole family. 

Gift Ideas for the Kids 

Balance Bikes-If you want a gift that your child will never tire of, a balance bike is a great gift idea. Not only will it encourage your child to be active, it provides hours of fun and it won’t break the bank. Whether your child is at crawling age or older, you can find balance bikes to suit children of all ages and abilities. 

Children’s Hampers-Rather than splashing out on one big gift, why not surprise them with lots of goodies in a children’s hamper? There are hundreds of children’s hampers to choose from with many stores giving you the option of creating your own. You can fill it with scrumptious chocolates, toys, books, games and more. 

Great Gifts for Adults 

Christmas Hampers-If you want a gift that is guaranteed to make an impact, a Christmas hamper is perfect. You can choose from a variety of different sized hampers and choose one that complements your budget. You can choose from different themed hampers and include everything from champagne and chocolates to a selection of festive treats including Christmas pudding, pate, cheese and chutneys.

Pamper Sets-Everyone likes to be pampered at Christmas but not everyone can afford to splash out on luxurious beauty products. Bath salts and luxurious body lotions make great gifts for the whole family and there are gorgeous beauty sets to suit every preference. Treat someone you love to a relaxing pamper session. 

Going online to do your Christmas shopping can help to take the stress out of shopping for gifts for the family. Whether you are looking for the perfect gift for a food lover or beauty products to pamper someone special, you can shop for all of your gifts in one place. If you are looking for great Christmas gifts for the whole family, go online to find a range of Clearwater gift hampers and Kids balance bikes for toddlers.

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