Feeding Your Tot Tater Tots

September 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy, Kids

By Susan Howard

Over half our country is considered overweight or obese.   We keep hearing these statistics about how fat Americans are, but how can we as parents do anything about the next generation of potential weeble wobbles?  Here are a few tactics to keep your little ones from turning into bigger ones.

Lead by example; make healthy food choices a part of your day to day regimen.

Put out a colorful bowl of fresh fruit that is visible to your family.

Let your children see you be physically active.  Be it swimming, running, weightlifting, hiking –whichever you pick, make it consistent.

My daughter sees me lace up my shoes and she asks, “Are you going for a run, Mom?”   At four and a half she is already asking if she can try and run with me.  They want to do what you do.  You are their mentor.

Be active with your children.  Coach their soccer team, practice playing catch in the backyard, or let your kid ride their bike while you run.

Create fitness traditions.   Sunday afternoon family bike ride, Thanksgiving morning 5k, Parent and me yoga, after dinner basketball hoops. Many of my clients get in an extra workout with their children by running with them at soccer practice, doing baseball drills, hitting tennis balls back and forth, you name it.  Nothing gives me more joy than to see parents passing the torch of wellness on.

Never eat out of a container.  Make yourself a plate with a portion on it!

(Confession: I mess this one up sometimes.)

Wait as long as humanly possible to introduce soda, or better yet don’t introduce it at all.  Even with the huge cash flow in soda companies I have never read anything good about it.  One would think they could find SOMETHING.  They can afford to hire scientist to try test after test.  Likely there is nothing to uncover except rotten teeth and obese kids.

Throw in some protein for most meals.  If you have a kid who likes eggs, that’s a great way for them to start their day.  Peanut butter and a cut-up apple is an easy treat, cheese sticks or yogurt.  You could try pieces of chicken with a mound of shredded cheese.

Offer veggies as often as possible, make it with something they like, put a thin pad of butter on top or sprinkled cheese.  Use spices as well; many kids (not all) like flavor.

If one parent is obese in your family, your child has a 40% chance of being obese. If both parents are obese, your child has an 80% chance of being obese.

Let’s tip the scale in the right direction.  We can inspire ourselves and our little ones.  They are watching you, believe me.


What if YOUR Kid is the Bully???

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

“Often the right path is the one that may be hardest for you to follow. But the hard path is also the one that will make you grow as a human being.”
Karen Mueller Coombs, Bully at Ambush Corner

This is hard to talk about.  It is embarrassing, humiliating, and somehow a reflection of how my parenting has somehow taken a wrong turn.  I am one who has no tolerance for bullying – EVER.  When my oldest son was bullied in high school by some redneck kid (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, went to the school, talked to an administrator, and it was straightened out and over.  When my youngest son was bullied this year in middle school by a snarky girl (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, called the teacher, who spoke to the counselor and together they dealt with it.  So imagine my absolute horror this morning when I receive a call from the assistant principal of the middle school:  my son was in her office…for bullying. 

She proceeded to tell me that he and another student had gotten into trouble during band class for talking too much, and when they didn’t stop, they got sent to the office.  The other student had told my son to “shut up,” but when pressed for the reason, the truth came out that it was because my son had been picking on him for weeks during band.  Teasing him and making fun of him when he got notes to the music wrong, or for making a mistake while they were all playing.  I hung my head as I heard her tell me that while my child had told the truth and admitted his role, that it was indeed a form of bullying, and she had just suspended another for ten days for the same thing.  What do I say?  What do I do?  I was immediately at a loss, and wanted to crawl under a rock.  I told her that I absolutely did not understand where it was coming from, considering he had gone through the same thing just a short time ago in the school year.  She also knew about the previous incident, and therefore didn’t quite understand herself.  So she said that she wanted to put him into in-school suspension for today, and for the two days following; I told her I was absolutely behind her one hundred percent.  But now I have to figure out what to say and do when he gets home – there has to be consequences here as well.  I am just at a loss. 

I have thought about it all day, since I got the phone call.  When I called Erikka, she was at a loss as well.  We have both seen how he can be with other kids, and have had talks with him about the way that he treats others.  We know he is very intelligent, but with that comes the problem that HE knows he is very intelligent.  We have seen and heard him with other kids, talking down to them like they are dumb, or not as smart as he.  So now he is apparently talking down to kids in band, speaking to them like they aren’t as good as he is as well.  After years and years, for as long as I can remember, he has been taught tolerance and to treat others as he would want to be treated.  We don’t believe that we are better than anyone else, so I’m not sure where he would obtain this arrogant attitude.  It is very troubling to me, as his mom, just as it was troubling when he was being bullied by someone else.  I absolutely cannot abide my kid being THAT kid – but how do I stop it?  I will, of course, call his dad this evening, and I am sure that he will want to talk to him.  It just seems that no matter what any of us say to him, or take away from him as punishment, nothing seems to get through.  I think this is what is the most disturbing to me – consequences don’t seem to phase him.  How do I get through to him, to make him see all of the potential that he possesses in that magnificent brain, if only he would use it for making himself into a productive and successful person on planet Earth?

What do you do when it’s YOUR kid who is the bully?

I tearfully told him of my disappointment, embarrassment, and disgust over his actions.  I told him about the little boy who lived a few miles from us, who killed himself three years ago at the age of nine, because he was bullied.  That boy would be twelve today, and in the sixth grade.  I told him that I could not tolerate my child being part of this horrible problem of bullying in this nation.

“Noah, you absolutely cannot be part of the problem, and it is a very big and very real and very wrong problem.  You MUST be part of the solution.  That kid that you picked on may not have very many friends, and what if you were the factor that pushes him to suicide – you don’t want to live with that kind of guilt.  Every one of those kids that have killed themselves over bullying experienced someone who was part of the problem – the bully.  You don’t want to be that person.  You can be part of the solution.  You can be his friend.  We can never have too many friends.”

“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.”

~ Jeffrey Benjamin


Friends Are Good

May 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Danny Thomas, Family, Kids, Urban Dweller

By: Danny Thomas

Last night
I watched
my daughter
fall asleep
while my dad
read her a book
that I remember him reading to me.
does it get much sweeter than that?

also, when I came downstairs this morning
the kitchen was clean
because my mother and I
had done the dishes together
last night
does it get much sweeter than that?

also, Saturday afternoon
we spontaneously had a terrific
gathering in our backyard.
A couple other families
some other friends and colleagues
spent the entire afternoon
hanging out in the backyard
playing with kids,
having good grown up conversations
and drinking good grown up drinks.
I ask you,
what could be sweeter than that?

It portends a fantastic summer.

I am looking forward to lots of
fun summer afternoons
sitting in the yard
drinking a big ginger
or a beer
laughing and enjoying the company
of other families
our dear old friends
and delightful new ones.

I am going to make this a priority for our family.
Social time, it is key to my mental health.
It does us all a world of good
and it’s a pretty simple way to feel good in the world.



April 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Danny Thomas, Family, Kids, Parenting, Urban Dweller


By: Danny Thomas


oh. my. god.
I have three kids
and a job
and a wife
who is at the beginning stages
of a career that is
the breadwinning career for our family
so she has to put in
the hours
whatever they may be
and she is a teacher
so that means
a lot of hours

my days
during the week go something like this…
if the kids haven’t been in our bed since five
I wake up at 6:45
wake up the six-year-old to get her ready for the bus
prod her along the process of getting ready…
pee, clothes, brush hair, brush teeth
4 simple steps…
which, some mornings, is no problem…
other mornings it is like Hannibal marching elephants over mountains…
on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have to do this with the three-year-old too
Jen is usually nursing the baby at this point
but is sometimes able to lend a hand in this process…
then it’s scramble to get food in the six-year-old…
the three-year-old gets fed at day care on the “T” days… (Tuesday or Thursday)
and after the bus on the other days…
scramble to get everything in the bags that need to go to school…
scramble to get coats and shoes on and get out the door
wait for bus
we usually have some time to play and goof around for a minute while waiting…
good times.
then it’s either walk the three-year-old to day care
or come home…
then I have a couple hours to get house work done
sometimes I fold laundry and watch t.v.
sometimes I do dishes
sometimes I write
sometimes I cook…
sometimes I zone out, listen to music and Facebook or Pinterest…
sometimes I do yoga
or take a shower…
Then, at ten-ish I head out the door
on the non-T-days I drop the three-year-old at the YMCA for 3 hours’ drop-in care
and take the baby to work with me – when I get there I feed her with a bottle
which sometimes goes well
but sometimes she complains about the plastic nipple a lot
and that is uncomfortable for both of us
almost always I spill a bit of sticky breastmilk on both of us…

after I get her to sleep
I work for a bit
checking emails, returning phone calls, updating websites… doing whatever…
then at 1:20 I race to get the baby loaded up
and head to the Y to get the three-year-old
luckily, she is always happy to see me…
some days though leaving the Y can be a tough transition for her
pouting or shouting or just general poopiness…

lets be honest any transition, or dirt, or birds chirping, or air touching her skin
could be cause for nuclear meltdown…
she’s three, after all.

Then when we get home it’s more housework
cooking, cleaning…
or playing Barbies, or princesses, or whathaveyou with the the three-year-old…
until the 6-year-old gets home
then it’s a bit of homework…
until gymnastics or ballet…

or if it’s a Tuesday or Thursday…
I head home to tend to the baby about noon – so Jen can go teach…
Then back to work at 2:30 to try to get ahead of the game (which never happens)…
and home at 5:00 pick up the three-year-old..
then home for dinner…
and maybe some relaxed time with the family
a walk to the park
or a movie
Or back to work for Box Office Will Call…

oh. my. god.
this pace is pretty tough.
nothing is ever as clean as i want it to be.
our poor baby sleeps in third generation hand-me-downs with third generation hand-me-down stains… bless her heart…
i am always behind on at least a half dozen things…

I feel like most of what Jen and I do together these days is talk about our schedule and calendar and make arrangements…
updating our Google Calendars together
mapping out the itinerary for the week…
so romantic…

If you add to our agenda any
of the inevitable variables
of life;
illness, car trouble, out of town guests, plumbing, a home project or a board meeting, or whatever…
we go haywire

not to mention the drama of various relationships and acquaintances..

we are constantly haywire…

I’m sure it’s common,
this pace…
I’m sure life is hard for everyone
no matter what the schedule
but I feel like, if I had to keep this up very much longer
my head might spin right off…

for us
we only have to get through
a couple more weeks
then school ends
for Jen
and we can re-adjust

but then summer camps start
Lil’ Chaos’s first drama camp…
and tennis
and swimming
and zoo camp
and wild buffalo adventure camp
and ballet camp
and all that…

oh god.
I need a drink.


Playing Catch

March 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Danny Thomas, Family, Kids, Parenting, Urban Dweller

By: Danny Thomas

A lot of my blogs start
with a train of thought
during a ride in the car
by myself,
often, early in the morning
which rarely happens these days.

I remember something
that I thought of earlier
in the week.
Or recall that Jen said, “you should blog about that…”
Usually I don’t remember anything, and my brain
finds its own path.

This week
I had a moment
that was all three.
I remembered an inspiring moment
that also happened to be something
Jennifer commented on…
and my mind took a little journey
along that way.
That is the best.

I was thinking about playing catch…

Earlier in the week,
I played catch with Lil’ Chaos.
We kicked a ball too.

I was also thinking about playing catch with my dad.
And my mom.
We played catch a lot,
It was the best.
Baseball, Football, Frisbee, Soccer…

And I was thinking about the ways in which playing catch are transcendent, rapturous, innumerable, and ineffable.

It is healthy; beneficial to the mind, body and spirit.

I was never much for Little League
I don’t think I had the attention span
for organized baseball…
I was one of those distracted by dandelions in left field..
An airplane over third base
could steal my attention from
whatever was going on in the game…

But I love to play catch…

The fact that Lil’ Chaos and I have
reached a point on our journey together
that playing catch
with a ball,
kicked or tossed,
is enjoyable
and gripping
for both of us
at least, for a period of time
is, for me, profound.

we played ball
in the backyard for
nearly an hour
worked on hitting for a while
and tossed the ball
and kicked one for a while too.

The peals of laughter,
pure joy
as she caught ball after ball…
and as she figured out how to get a ball to me
how to “hit me in the numbers”

Also, I was thinking about baseball mitts…

The baseball mitt
is a singular experience,
a unique sensuality.

We had a few around the house.
They didn’t come from anywhere,
they were just there.
There was a catcher’s mitt I liked best.
and it was the one right handed mitt around that fit me,
so that was lucky.

Maya is a lefty.
She needs a new mitt
the one she has is too small.
It’s also pink
and purple
and has Dora on it.
We are beyond that now…


Almost Time

February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Danny Thomas, Family, Kids, Urban Dweller

By: Danny Thomas

there is something mystical about a
when the sky is bluer than blue
and the sun is bright
but soft
and it’s ten degrees

something otherworldly
about the combination
of cold
and soft

I turn
next month
that is an
“almost” forty

I have the biggest problems
with the
“almost” numbers

I am not okay in
almost time

I am barely okay
in any time
“almost” years

feel like

w/out fruition.

I like fruition.

there are people
who were born at a time
and in a place
that makes
Britney Spears
the beginning
of music for them.

This as much as anything else
makes me feel old…
right now.

what is it that makes
a time
your time?

that makes
this time
our time?

We have a new baby.
a third girl.
We’ve been calling her Zuzu.

She was born five months and twelve days
before her big sister’s birthday
who was born five months and twelve days
before her big sister’s birthday.

my wife did this math
this calculation
while in labor
hard labor
she was in sort of a trance at the time
out of her mind
somewhere shaman
and laboring mothers
and Buddhas go

eventually the epidural kicked in
and she came back to earth
and shared
those numbers with me…

I don’t even know what to do with that information
but it seems significant…


She is magical,

She is strong
and delicate
and unique
and full of potential.

and she has two big sisters
filled with love,
and two goofy stumbling,
bumbling parents,
also filled with love
and a very furry cat,
that is filled with something…
like love…
only more feline.

how lucky she is
and how lucky we are to have her.

in this time
our time

I guess the thing about time is that
is all potential
it’s always
it happened.
it’s happening.


When I Grow Up

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Kids, Same Sex Parent, Shannon Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph

what their kids what to be when they grow up

When I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be a doctor. I played doctor with my baby dolls. I ingeniously used red and white crayons to simulate drawing blood from their tiny plastic arms. Every stuffed animal I owned possessed a toilet paper cast on at least one extremity. My mother bought Band-aids in bulk. I told everyone I was going to be a doctor. There was no doubt in my own mind that I would grow up to care for the sick and infirm. I was going to be a healer.

In college, I was smacked in the face by reality. Medicine requires the study of a healthy dose of science. Science was never my strong suit. I excelled in English and Literature. Math and Science were of less interest to me. All it took was one peek at an Organic Chemistry textbook, and I was quickly charting a new course for my future. Ummm…Psychology. Yes, psychology would be a fine major. An infinitely useful degree.

Looking back on my own early ambitions and current reality, I want my children to pursue their dreams. I don’t want them to be plagued by self-doubt or insecurity. I want them to find and do the things that bring them happiness in life. With that in mind, I asked my children last night at dinner what they want to be when they grow up. I am afraid to admit it, but I believe my children have inherited my general lack of ambition. I expected to hear that they aspired to be brain surgeons. Nuclear physicists. Lawyers. Pulitzer prize-winning authors. Unfortunately, I was not even close.

Nicholas announced, quite proudly, that he wanted to grow up to be a professional Wii player. Nicholas is my child who has declared on numerous occasions that he never plans to leave home. He would be perfectly content to remain in my home 24/7 playing video games. I have to admit that at the young age of five, he is quite an accomplished gamer. He has quick reflexes, amazing dexterity, and a real talent for all things electronic. I have visions of Nicholas as a thirty-something-year-old man. Still living in my basement. Working at Davanni’s Pizza. Playing Mario Kart all hours of the night. I have visions of nerdy Nicholas who never gets a date. Nicholas who takes his sister to prom (he has no female cousins, so he’ll have to settle for Sophie). Nicholas who develops a fluency in Klingon. I have visions of serving microwaved pizza rolls to Nicky and his equally socially inept 30-something cronies hanging out in my basement. I believe the time has come to discourage the video game obsession.

Nicholas’s twin sister, Sophie, announced at dinner last night —as she complained about the “yucky” crust on her french toast— that she would like to grow up to be a “food taster”. I can completely and totally envision Sophie as a food critic. She could not have chosen a more appropriate profession to utilize her particular skill set. Much like Anton Ego from Ratatouille (my only pop culture references these days come from Pixar), she was born to “provide the perspective” on everything, most enjoyably food. She is the child who, to my utter annoyance, will perform a play-by-play of every single bite of food I put into my mouth. As she leans over my plate, breathing on my food, she will describe it in detail. She will say that it is gross…that it stinks…that it looks funny…that it feels slimy. She is the queen of complaining about food. As a food critic, she could actually be paid to bitch and moan about the culinary delights placed in front of her. She may be the only one of my children who ends up successful in the career of her choice.

When it was Lucas’s turn, he excitedly declared that he is going to be a “monster scientist” when he grows up. I was unsure exactly what he meant by this. When I asked for clarification, he explained that he wants to prove the existence of monsters —most specifically, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. That’s right. My son is going to be one of those toothless weirdos hanging out in the woods with a camera trying to get photographic evidence of Bigfoot. Keep a look out for his work coming to a newsstand near you. The National Enquirer, of course. If he thinks I am buying him a plane ticket to Scotland, he is sorely mistaken.

So there you have it. My children. The professional slacker, the complainer, and the voodoo scientist. Could a mommy possibly be more proud?


GLSEN Presents Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project

April 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Kids


In an effort to make K-12 sports and physical education safer and more inclusive for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and a diverse coalition of athletes, journalists and sports figures have launched Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project.

“I am really excited to be working with GLSEN to create a Sports Project that will help to make sports and physical education a great experience for every student no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression,” said GLSEN Sports Project Director Pat Griffin, former Director of It Takes a Team Education Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Issues in Sport at the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Read more about this new program here!



Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian


Potty Training One-Week Update

December 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family, Kids

By: Brandy Black


Tips on your Toddler’s First Bike

July 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Kids

By: K. Pearson Brown

It’s an enduring memory for every parent when a child takes off pedaling for the first time on a two-wheeler. That thrill of independence and the rush of the sidewalk under the tires can be the start of a life-long enjoyment of bicycling — that is if the child is ready to ride, according to Santa Monica’s Performance Bicycle store sales associate Jarrin Black.

“If the child is ready, and he or she has the right equipment, then the experience will be a positive one, and the child will want to keep riding,” says Black, who specializes in fitting children for bicycles.

Black recommends the following guidelines for parents who are purchasing a first bike for children and preparing them to ride it for the first time:

1. Safety first. It’s a no-brainer that kids should wear a helmet. In fact, Performance Bicycle does not let children test ride a bike without one. Pick a helmet that fits comfortably and that your child likes, so that he or she will enjoy wearing it. Tip: have them try it on and wear it around the house to get used to it, and enforce a “No helmet, no ride” rule.

2. Color matters. Silly as it sounds, color may be one of the most important factors in selecting a bike, because if junior doesn’t like the color, he won’t ride it. This is where The Performance guarantee comes in handy. If your child isn’t 100-percent happy with the bike, you can bring it back and exchange it in 90 days. Even after the time period expires, if there is a problem, the shop will work with you to find a solution.

3. Go slowly. Tricycles are a great first step, and balance bikes are a huge leap in helping a child gain coordination and balancing skills for bicycling. When children have mastered trikes and balance bikes and seem bored with them, then it is time to graduate to a two-wheeler, with training wheels to start.

4. Don’t Push. Wait until a child shows signs of being physically and mentally ready for a bike, and literally, don’t push. Let the child ease into pushing off and riding when he or she is comfortable, and never give a bike a shove with a child on it and expect them to “sink or swim.”

5. Consider quality. Cheaper is not always better. You may pay a few dollars more when you buy from a bike shop versus a department store, but at a bike shop you can be assured that the bike was hand built by a professional mechanic, and you will get service and adjustments that do not come with bikes sold by mass retailers. Also beware of off-sized parts with mass-produced bikes, as they may require special tools to make adjustments.

6. Get the right bike. Fit is key for a first bike, and the fit may depend on comfort rather than what a chart says is right for your child, though charts like the Grow Up With Performance chart online at http://www.performancebike.com can be a helpful guide, particularly if you are ordering online.

If possible, bring your child with you to choose a bike. Toddler bikes range from 12” (2 to 4 years) to 16” (4 to 6 years), though size is a better gauge than age in choosing a frame size. As a rule, the child should be able to stand over the top tube with at least an inch or two of clearance. Girls’ style bikes generally offer even more clearance. When seated, they should be able to touch the floor with tippy toes or the balls of feet. Arms should be relaxed and slightly bent. Parents should resist the urge to buy a too-big bike so that a child will grow into it. At Performance Bicycle, their Growth Guarantee program offers discounts of 10 to 15 percent when you upgrade your child’s bike to the next size.

7. Keep it up. Over time a bike needs tune ups to maintain it. Another advantage to buying at a bike shop like Performance is that minor adjustments are included in the purchase price for the lifetime of the bike. Parents should check a bike regularly to make sure bolts are tightened, gears and wheels are aligned, and all moving parts are working together smoothly. Warning: use only bike chain grease and not WD-40, as the popular lubricant can actually cause a chain to lock up.

8. Gear up. Make sure your child has all the accoutrements to ride safety. Besides the mandatory helmet, there’s a bell so that she can give audible signals when approaching another bike; a head light and flashing rear reflector, which are required by law after dark in some jurisdictions, including Santa Monica; and for the aggressive rider, consider adding a hand break for extra stopping power and to get little ones ready for their next, more-advanced bike with hand breaks.

Ride Safe and Look Cool with the Toddler Bell Fraction helmet ($39.99), available at Performance Bicycle.

9. Get to know your mechanic. There’s nothing like the service of a reliable mechanic to give you confidence in the quality assembly and maintenance of your bike. At Performance, the man known to all simply as “Jorge” has diagnosed and fixed bike problems of which other shops gave up, and he’s been doing it for 35 years.

10. Enjoy the ride. Equally important as teaching kids the rules of the road (i.e., ride to the right, pass with care, pull over to stop, etc.), is showing them how to enjoy the experience of bike riding. Bike riding together is not only terrific exercise for everyone but also a great family activity. Cruise the bike path from Venice to Santa Monica (avoiding the busiest hours between 6-9 am), enjoy the scenery, and stop for ice cream along the way. Make a day of biking, and make a day of great memories.

Outfitted for Riding with Performance Century Series Boys Shorts (on sale $24.99) and Cannondale Kids Fundamental Jersey ($31.99), available at Performance Bicycle.


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