An Important Skill to Practice This Summer!

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Fun Ways for Kids to Practice Typing

My daughter is currently in 3rd grade and going through state testing at school.  For the first time in California’s history, the online assessments to measure how well students are doing on curriculum aligned with the Common Core are done on a computer, where students are expected to type on a keyboard and navigate the online test.

There was a practice test online that she showed me and although I knew the test was taken on the computer, I was shocked when I realized she had to TYPE in some of her answers,

Now, I know this is a totally different day and age, but I didn’t even learn to type until 7th grade, and here my 3rd grader is typing answers in on a keyboard! Crazy!

When I voiced my surprise at what 3rd graders were expected to be able to do on a keyboard to a teacher friend of mine, she said,

“That’s why the best thing you can do for you kids over the summer is have them type, type, type!” 

I knew I would have my kids read of course over summer, but I never thought of having them practice typing, which is why I wanted to share some fun ways for kids to practice typing I have thought of and I want to hear your ideas as well. Please comment below.

Fun Ways for Kids to Practice Typing

Once your kids have the right hand positions and which finger to which keys down (you can have them practice online via a ton of free typing programs), the best thing for them to do is practice.

Set Up An Email Address for Your Child

You can easily set up an email address for your child and have them practice by emailing family members or friends.

I thought it would be fun to designate a summer “Email Pal” for my daughter (pen pals for the year 2015) and have her share once a day what she did or where she went.

In addition to giving her great keyboard practice, I think it will also be a fun way for her to journal this summer.

Or, I might send her a daily question or subject to respond to.

(Of course, as with all things online with children, it is important for parents to closely monitor kids’ activities and have access to all passwords.)

Collaborate With Your Child on a Piece of Fiction

Another idea I had was to have my daughter write a story, but instead of taking pencil to paper, I would have her type it into a Word or Pages document.

If you have a child who loves to write, this would be really fun on its own.

However, if your child struggles coming up with ides, you could start the story, and have them add in the next part, then you pick up where they left off and add on, etc. etc.  I am sure the end result would be fun, and it would likely inspire them to want to check it to see what you wrote and think about how they want to  continue it.

It would also be a great way to teach them how to go back into their writing and learn to edit on a keyboard.

Do you have a way your kids practice their keyboard skills at home? Please share! 

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What’s in a name?

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Choosing a baby name is one of the most important decisions you will make for your new little one. Baby names are a huge deal, for example, millions waited to hear what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would name their new baby girl (no pressure!) – and I for one, absolutely love the name they picked…Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.  Certainly fit for a princess!

Whats-In-a-Name Which leads me to my next question – what’s in a name? How do you choose a baby name?  There are so many decisions that go into picking a moniker for your child, and sometimes it can be a bit more complicated than just picking up a baby name book.

What if you and your partner can’t agree?  Are there family names to take into consideration?  Do you like all variations of the nicknames?  Do you tell people the name you’ve chosen before the baby is born…or after?  Wow!  Lots to think about, right??

Agreeing on a baby name

Let’s tackle the first, and perhaps most obvious, challenge – both you and your partner should love (at least like?) the name.  Oh boy (or girl)!

I’ve had my baby names picked out since I was a kid – yes, seriously. Especially my girl name – Elizabeth. My mom loves to tell that story that I named every doll I ever owned “Elizabeth” my whole childhood.  And when my husband and I got married, he knew that if we ever had a girl, it would be our Elizabeth (Thankfully he loved the name too, and it happened to be a family name on his side.  Win-win!).

Here’s the deal we made.

I picked the first name of our first child, and he picked the middle name.  When our second baby came, he picked the first name and I picked the middle.  We each had “veto” power if the other one came up with a name that we absolutely could not live with (and we had to promise to use our veto power sparingly).  That system worked well for us.  We each had a say, we each got to pick a name that we loved.  And thankfully, we each liked the way the two names sounded together.

How did you (or how are you) and your partner handling the name game?  The combinations are endless…and so are the ways to choose!

Questions to ask when considering baby names: 

– Do you gravitate toward a traditional name or a more unique name?  If you pick a traditional name, do you want a unique spelling?

– Is there a family name…or family naming traditions…that need to be taken into consideration?  Talk to your partner and see what the expectation is.

– Think about all variations of the full name and nickname(s).  Do you like them all?

– Who gets final say?  Is it a joint decision? Will you split it up like we did? Discuss (in advance!) what will happen if one of you really dislikes a name that the other one loves.  What will be the deciding factor?

– Will you include other people in your decision…or is this something you will be keeping private?

Naming before the baby is born…or after? 

Ooohhh, this is a big topic among my friends. People tend to feel pretty strongly about it – do you wait to see what the baby “looks like?” Or do you settle on the name before the baby is born?

For us, we have always picked the full name before the baby is born.

I love being able to bond with the baby and call him/her by name.  Now that I have big kids with this pregnancy, they love already knowing her name.  It’s not just a “baby,” it’s helping them to recognize her as her own little person.  They read to her, sing to her, have conversations with her…it really has helped our whole family connect with her.

So since we have decided, I would love to share with you…

Our new little princess will be Miss Emma Jean!

Since we’ve been talking about a third child for a really long time, we’ve had another boy and girl name picked out for a really long time.  Both my husband and I love the name Emma (and how well it goes with our current kid names), and chose Jean, for my beautiful Grandma Jean, whom I was very close to (and who passed last year).

We are thrilled with her name, and reference “Emma” instead of “baby” pretty much all the time.  To us, she is Emma, even in utero.

I also have friends who swear by choosing the name once they are holding baby in their arms. They have their top two or three names, and love to see what the baby looks like.  I say, to each their own – as long as you’re having fun and bonding, go for it!

To tell or not to tell

I’ve seen a growing trend lately that friends and family pick the name before the birth, but choose not to share until baby is born.

Usually for one of two reasons – 1) It makes for a fun surprise, especially if people already know the gender before the baby is born. 2) People do not want unsolicited opinions about what they are choosing to name their baby.

I see both points.  I’ve just never been able to keep it to myself! It is rather interesting, though, that people feel compelled to give their opinion on the name you’ve chosen…whether you ask or not.  I guess it’s pretty much like anything else in pregnancy – people think it’s fair game to weigh in.  Most of the time, I’ve had people rave over the names I’ve chosen. And then I’ve had a few that say things like, “Oh. Well, I guess it will have to grow on me.”

Take this with a grain of salt, mamas. Being pregnant, you’re used to unsolicited advice by now (unfortunately).  If you choose to share your name in advance, say it proud, and shrug off any rude or unwanted comments.  It’s your precious baby, and your precious name!

Baby naming websites and apps

There are literally hundreds of sites that can help you research and choose the perfect baby name for your little one, and here are just a handful to get you started.  I know (believe me, I know), it can be  overwhelming.  Browse through books or sites during your downtime, and have fun with it!

www.babynames.com 

www.babycenter.com

www.parents.com

www.babble.com

www.sheknows.com

And, of course, there are apps for baby names, too!  Here’s a great article on Mashable that lists top baby name apps to help get you started:  “Baby Name Blues? 10 Apps to Help You Choose!”

Or check out this fun article found on www.brit.co that can help you find the best baby naming app for you:  “7 Apps to Help You Pick Baby Names.”

How did you pick your baby’s name?  Any great resources or tips to share?  Any drama or funny stories?  We’d love to hear from you below!

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Field of Honor 2015

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Field of Honor

 

The Newport Harbor Exchange Club Field of Honor 2015 is on display today through Sunday, 5/17 at Castaways Park, located at Dover Drive and 16th Street in Newport Beach.

The event which is put on in conjuction with Armed Forces Day, will feature 1776 U.S. flags in honor of all military men and women.

We take our kids every year to the Field of Honor.

It is so beautiful to walk around the park (overlooking Newport Harbor), surrounded by American flags.  The dedications and photos on the flags will bring tears to your eyes.

Park in the lot in front of Newport Harbor Lutheran Church, 798 Dover Drive, Newport Beach, 92663. You will see the signs from there.

Take your kids and keep this event on your radar every year.  It’s always the weekend before Memorial Day. Have a great weekend everyone!

For more information visit www.nhexchange.org.

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Important Child Safety Reminders

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These important child safety tips just might save a life or save a child from a serious injury.
Please share!

child-safety-tips My friend Amy is an Emergency Room Trauma Nurse at CHOC Children’s Hospital and asked me if I was interested in sharing some of her child safety tips based on her experience and the injuries she has witnessed in light of May being National Trauma Awareness Month. I couldn’t think of a more important post for parents.

Child Safety Tips

by Amy W., MSN, FNP, CEN
Trauma Nurse Coordinator
CHOC Children’s Hospital 

1. Water Safety Tips

Spring and summer are an exciting time of year in Orange County. There is much to celebrate and many reasons for family and friends to gather such as Memorial Day, Graduations, Father’s Day and Fourth of July.

With adults chatting with their friends it is easy to lose sight of adequate supervision of children, especially near bodies of water such as swimming pools.

Drowning is the leading cause of death and disability in California for children under 5 years of age.

It is not even summer yet there have been more than 16 drownings or near-drownings in Orange County already this year. Adequate supervision means not sitting poolside reading, socializing with guests, chatting on the phone, operating the grill or listening to music with a headset. Such distractions are deadly. Here are some reminders for keeping children safe near water.

1. Parents always need to designate an adult to supervise their swimming kids by keeping them in their direct sight at all times. While there may be plenty of bodies milling about the party, if no eyes are trained on the child, a tragedy like drowning can happen in the blink of an eye.

2. Never leave your child unattended near water. Not even for a few seconds.

3. No one is drown proof. Don’t assume your child is water safe just because he or she had swim lessons.

4. If a child is missing, check the pool first.

(Note from Jen: I have heard of people having a special bracelet or other symbol that can be passed around that identifies the adult “on duty” to watch the kids while swimming.  I thought that was a good idea and I wanted to share. Especially during parties where distractions are possible. Plus, it makes sure there is no confusion or miscommunication over who is supposed to be watching the kids.)

2. Avoiding Unintentional Falls

Unintentional falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children in the United States. As an emergency nurse for over 15 years I have seen it all…falls from playground equipment, bunk beds, trees, etc. However, I am still amazed at the number of children who fall out of second story windows. This occurs in homes of all socioeconomic status and among children of all ages. Some tips to prevent window falls and keep children safe in your home include:

1. Screens are intended to keep bugs out, not children in.

2. Install window stops so windows open no more than 4 inches.

3. Move cribs, chairs and other furniture away from windows.

4. Do not let children climb on furniture or use drawers or shelves as steps.

5. Secure TVs and furniture to the wall using mounts, brackets, braces, anchors or wall straps to prevent tip-overs. These kinds of accident happen more than you might think so take a few minutes, secure your TV and furniture.

3. Poison Danger Reminders

1. Keep toxic substances and medications out of reach of children.

2. Store all chemicals, medicines and toxic products in their original containers, not in food containers or soda bottles that kids will want to drink from.

3. For help, call the nationwide poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Memorize this number, program the poison control center into your cell phone and place it near every landline telephone in your home.

Every Parent Should Know CPR 

Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. You can find a number of CPR classes near you on the Red Cross website here.

For more information on how to keep your kids safe this summer and everyday please visit to www.choc.org/health-topics/safety.

Amy has worked as a registered nurse in pediatric and adult emergency medicine for over 15 years and is grateful for the opportunity to manage the area’s first pediatric only trauma center. 
Amy is an Orange County native and resides in OC with her husband and two school age children.

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5 Tips to Help with End of School Burn Out

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end of school burn out

Every year about this time I start to see the classic “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever” post circulate around because this time of the school year most moms can relate to a feeling of just being OVER IT. I am talking about the end of school burn out.

That’s me right now. I’m over it.

I am over drop offs and pick ups.

I am over rushing. The school week feels like we are either rushing to get out the door to school or rushing to come home to get someone or rushing to do homework.

I am over papers. Papers about school events, school work papers, school lunch papers, papers, papers EVERYWHERE. The school papers are killing me right about now along with the trees.

I am over after school snacks. My kinder gets out at 1:30p this year and my 3rd grader gets out at 3:10p. That means I have two rounds of after school snacks. Just after I finish serving and cleaning up little one’s, the oldest is home and ready for a snack.

I am over making lunches and trying to think of new healthy lunch items they will actually eat.

I am over emptying said lunchbox after school with nothing eaten.

On that note, I am over the lunch boxes and backpacks all together. No matter how hard I tried this year to get the girls in the habit of coming home, emptying their backpack and lunchbox, I failed. After school it is like an explosion of backpacks, folders, papers, lunch boxes, sweatshirts, socks, shoes, everywhere. I am ready to burn the backpacks and never see them again.

I am over working in the classroom. Dear teachers, if you are reading this, I am NOT over you. We love YOU. It’s those crazy kids I am over.  What happens to them mid-May? I am sure they are over it too. And I only have to be around them for 1. 5 hours a week. God bless you teachers. I bow down to you. If I am a parent feeling this over it, I can’t imagine what you feel.

5 Tips to Help with End of School Burn Out 

No matter how much I would love to throw in the towel and be done, reality is, we still have some time to put in. Therefore, I have put together these tips on how to survive end of school burn out.

1. Weeknight Dinners? Whatever.

Most of the year I try to cook something for dinner at home, but this time of year there is no time for fretting over meals. During the last few busy weeks of school, I give myself a break and go for a weeknight take out or restaurant meal as needed depending on my mental state. Or, I will feed my kids something ridiculous like frozen waffles (not actually frozen, but toasted) and eggs for dinner. As long as I get some sort of food in them, I give myself a break and consider it a success.

2. Visit the Nail Salon

If you are feeling burnt out, high tail yourself to the salon and get your nails and toes done. No matter how many things around me are a hot chaotic mess, I always feel more put together when looking down at my manicured hands or pretty toes. And pay $10 for the extra massage while you are at it.

3. Schedule a Weekend Mental Health Block

Why is it that along with the end of the school year hoopla there is ADDITIONAL hoopla to also factor in? I am talking about dance recitals, Mother’s Day, sports banquets, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, what have you. It’s exhausting. That means our weekends also get jam packed and when my weekends are jam packed, I go INTO the week feeling tired, and End of School Burnout Mom does not need that. Even on your busiest weekends, schedule a block of time (don’t tell me you don’t have ANY), even one or two hours to escape by yourself or with your husband to relax. You need it. You deserve it.

4. Make a List

I feel burnt out when I am overwhelmed, and this time of year, the list of things to do is ridiculous.  When things start feeling overwhelming, get a good ole’ piece of lined paper and a pen and write down every single task that is on your mind, current and upcoming. Just let it all flow out in a stream of consciousness, every single thing you have to do, arrange, pick up, buy or prepare.  Then organize the list into chunks of things you can get done together. Finally, cross off those suckers as you complete them.  Nothing beats the feeling of crossing off a task.

5. Spend Time with Your Mommy Friends

And when all else fails, girlfriend time always helps, especially fellow burnt out ones you can call over and not have to apologize for the state of your house. There is something about spending time with your girlfriends that recharges your soul.  That, and a little wine never hurts either.

We are almost there, moms! The Finish Line is in view. What do you do when you start to feel end of school burn out?

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