10 Benefits of Preschool

benefits of preschool



Did you place your child in preschool or do you plan to?  Have you thought about the benefits?  I believe in early childhood education, and as a result Xavier went to preschool for 3 years before he started kindergarten.  It was money well spent, he learned skills that I believe are important for creating a strong foundation for entering kindergarten and beyond.



What he learned:  


  1. Social skills
  2. Field trips with classmates on a school bus
  3. Group participation
  4. Learning to do homework
  5. Making friends outside of family
  6. Playing well with others
  7. Daily naps without a fight or protest 
  8. Eating meals in a cafeteria style setting  
  9. Enhanced athletic skills
  10. Following directions from teachers

He’s 2 in the picture above; he’s 5 in the picture below.  How time flies.  Last year we sent him to the local recreational center for the summer so we could focus on his athletic skills.  He enjoyed his summer.  He took swimming lessons, learned basic football and basketball skills, and made new friends.

preschool activities

Research has shown that early childhood development is essential for our children.  It builds a strong foundation for success in later years and I believe it.  We have seen a payoff for both preschool and time spent at the recreational center for Xavier.  He’s reading, doing times table, writing sentences and excelling in sports.  He received an award for outstanding performance in football, and his team has made it to the championship in basketball this year.  Go Tarheels!  


early childhood development



Xavier benefited so much from preschool, we put Zarriah in as well.  She’s 2 here and loves school so much she looks forward to going every day.  Sometimes she goes on the week-end, lol.  She said her friends are there and she loves her teacher, Miss Sheila.  Look at this face, it’s 8:00 am in the morning.  She’s heading out to enjoy the day at school.  She knows her ABC’s, she can count to 10 and is learning to play well with others.  She understands Time Out and loves to read.  She has learned basic manners, excuse me, thank you and please.  When she’s ready for a nap, she says “Gaga I’m ready for bed.”  Amazing.  


We love the fact that she too will have already grasped going to school and doing homework.  She will understand the group setting concept when she enters kindergarten and her social skills will be developed.  I believe in investing in children, and there are just some things you can’t teach your at home.  Your thoughts on Preschool?

Attract Backyard Birds With Birdseed Pine Cones

 

birdseed pine cones

First, I started bird watching and feeding my backyard birds several years ago.  It is a hobby that I have come to love, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I started making birdseed pine cones, and the birds are loving them.  They literally pick the pine cones clean.  The birdseed pine cones are easy and fun to make with kids.  There’s really no recipe, but I thought I would share how to make the pinecones.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

 

feeding backyard birds

Next, pick a day to gather pine cones with the kids.  You can gather them from your neighbor’s yard, a park or yours. If neither of you have pine trees, locate an area where you can gather a few without trespassing.  Furthermore, they are essential to your project.  I use a medium or large pinecone.  The larger the pine cone the more birdseed it will hold.

You will also need the following items:

  • peanut butter (Purchase store brand)
  • twine or yarn (You can purchase twine from the Dollar General)
  • birdseed  (You can purchase seed from the Dollar General)
  • a paper plate
  • plastic knife
  • plastic spoon

 

feeding backyard birds

You will want to watch the birds feast.  As a result, hang the pine corns in place where you can see and high enough where cats or other predators can’t reach them. Therefore, tie a piece of the twine or yarn around the top of the pine cone leaving the ends long enough to hang it from a branch as shown.  Spread the peanut butter over the pine cone (be generous) with the knife.  Also, place the pine cone on the paper plate and sprinkle the birdseed over the pine cone with the spoon.  Cover the birdseed pine cone thoroughly.  You can use the spoon to press the seeds into the nooks and crannies.  Be sure to do this around the entire pine cone.

This is a fun project for kids to create on rainy or snowy days.  Furthermore, they will love the craft more when they see the birds enjoying the treats.  Additionally, if you need visuals on how to prepare the pine cones you can get the instructions here.  Once the pine cones are prepared, have fun watching our feathered friends gobble up the birdseed pine cones.  I guarantee you they will devour every seed.  Place them in a location where you and the kids can watch them enjoy the feast.  Consequently, you will be providing protein that birds need to keep them warm.

Last, freeze the pine cones before placing them outside.  Furthermore, place several in a gallon baggie and place in the freezer until you’re ready to use.  You will always have a few on hand when time is limited.

 

When Mom’s the Bread Winner

single mothers, single parenting, money management

Are you the bread winner in your family and feeling guilty because you’re not a stay at home mom?  If you’re a single mother, your chances of being a stay at home mom are slim unless you hit the jackpot with child support payments.  I felt guilty leaving my daughter when I headed to work., but someone had to bring income into the home so bills can be paid.   

Unfortunately, being a single mother is not easy. However, you must get over your guilt if you’re feeling any.  I missed my daughter’s first step and her first time being successful using the potty because I was working. I finally had to make peace with my situation and accept the fact that I had to provide for us.  After all,  the child support I was receiving barely paid for her child care let alone pay the other bills.  

I wondered how me working outside the home would affect her. I wondered if she would grow up thinking that moms who stayed at home or who had husbands who provided was abnormal.  I wondered if not having her dad in the home as a role model would affect her.  So many things went through my mind.  When I growing up my mother took care of the home while my father worked. You know the traditional woman versus man duties.  Mom cooks, cleans, does laundry and dad works, mows the lawn, fixes the pipes.    

I soon realized that times had changed.  The work force was full of women who had husbands and children, and still managed to run their homes.  The work force was also full of divorced or single mothers who also ran their homes, had children in school who were doing well and some had gone on to become lawyers, doctors and whatever else they choose.  I realized that the household that I grew up in was no longer the norm in society.  Women had moved up and on.  They had become multitasking moms and no longer fell into that traditional stay at home role.  

I also decided that I would never be my mother!  I love her for everything she did when I was growing up, I learned a lot.  She thought my sister and I going into the work force and becoming non-traditional mothers was strange.  Now she sees that it’s the new normal.  

As my daughter got older, we had several discussions about her father and me having to work to provide. She soon realized that she too was better off without him in her life, and stands by her decision to this day. He’s now on the outside looking in, and wishing he had a relationship with her and his grandchildren.  She understood that I wasn’t the only single mother in the world.  She had friends who had single mothers too. I continued to provide and she continued to excel because she had all the love and the necessities that she needed without a father in the home.  Here are a few lessons that she learned:

  • A mother’s love is the strongest love on this earth
  • She had a strong mother who taught her to be a strong woman and mother
  • Welfare and other public assistance is not an option when you’re able to work
  • Always work to better yourself and don’t blame others for you decisions
  • We don’t live in a perfect world
  • Break circles when you need to  
  • There are children who have fathers in the home who are drunks, drug addicts or who just don’t contribute and live off their wife or girlfriend

If you’re the bread winner and sole provider for your child or children, you’re doing your job as a mother.  You will find that it gives you a sense of purpose, and they will respect you for everything you’ve done for them.  Single mothers raised these leaders and celebrities:    

  • Judge Greg Mathis
  • President Obama
  • President Clinton
  • Mary J Blige
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Tom Cruise
  • Al Pacino
  • Barbara Streisand
  • Mariah Carey 
  • Halle Berry
Our children may not grow up to be presidents and celebrities, but we don’t have to feel guilty as single mothers and neither do our children.  Stand proud, stay strong and earn that bread!  
 

American Gold Finch: Attracting Backyard Birds

american gold finch

 

I’ve had several American Gold Finch visit my feeder this winter.  I watched them eat sunflower seeds from my garden last summer and became fascinated by their beauty.  The male sports feathers that are a beautiful shade of yellow and black.  They are unmistakable. They have a unique flying pattern, which consists of an up and down motion.  However, their bright yellow feathers turn dull during the winter.  I have learned that they “color up” in the spring and summer months, but lose their bright plumage in the fall and winter.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

Furthermore, American Gold Finch are small birds that love sunflower and thistle seeds.  My feeder contains black oil sunflower seed, so I see them regularly.  This little fellow just grabbed a sunflower seed. I plan to plant wild flowers in my garden this year in hopes that they will be attracted.  My sunflowers attracted them last season, so they will definitely have a place in the backyard.  They cleaned off every sunflower in my backyard.

I can’t wait until breeding season when the males molt and regain their beautiful yellow and black plumage.  If you want to attract these beauties to your backyard here are a few tips:

Place a feeder in a location where you can watch the birds feed.  Finches will eat from platform, hanging or tube feeders.

  • Fill it with black oil sunflower seeds or plant sunflowers in your yard.
  • Hang a thistle sock, they love thistle.
  • Fill a bird batch with shallow water.

I purchased a new camera with a zoom lens, so I’m hoping to get some great shots of them in my garden. Stay tuned for my spring and summer photos of the American Gold Finch.  Bird watching is a great activity to do with kids and get them involved in nature.

 

Kids Breakfast Ideas: Oatmeal Funny Face

Do you have a hard time getting your kids to eat breakfast?  Did I just ask that question.  Getting kids to eat any meal can be difficult at times.  I’ve been in search of fun and kid friendly recipes that can help us make meals enjoyable for our little ones and will be starting a series of posts with fun meal ideas. 


Oatmeal is big in my household, especially in the winter.  It’s hearty and warm on cold, rainy days and the kids love it.  I came across this little guy and immediately tossed him into the kids recipe box.  He’s adorable and has earned a spot on the breakfast table in the Gales household minus the squiggly lines.

It’s simple and the ingredients are healthy.  I think my 5 year old would enjoy decorating his bowl of oatmeal.  You will need the following ingredients:    

Oatmeal ( I use Maple Quaker Oats)
Sliced strawberries (eyes, nose, ears, mouth)
Raisins (eyes, hair)
Walnuts (eyebrows)

This recipe is from the book  Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts by Bill & Claire Wurtzel and can be purchased from Amazon. 

Should Boys Wear Pink?




Should baby boys wear pink?  Supposedly, the color pink was designated for girls and blue designated for boys so people would be able to distinguish a baby boy from a baby girl. This theory is somewhat confusing since it’s appropriate to use “neutral” colors, mint green and yellow for both a boy and girl. If these colors are
appropriate for both, how do we distinguish the gender? We ask if we’re unsure. You know the question, I’m sure you’ve asked it a hundred times too, “Is it a boy or girl”? If asking a simple question will clarify this uncertainty, why can’t we put little boys in pink and little girls in blue and eliminate the stigma? 

Could it be that we have developed a phobia and we’re afraid that if we put little boys in pink we think they will end up Gay? Afterall, pink is seen as quiet, calm and feminine color. On many occasions, I’ve heard mothers of baby boys say, “I’m not putting my baby boy in pink”.  Blue is seen as strong and steadfast, but in today’s society it’s acceptable for a woman to have these characteristics, at least to a certain point. Which leads to more contradiction.

Did you know that prisons use pink to help diffuse violence.  Why aren’t the prison walls painted blue if it is a manly color?  Instead they’re painting the walls pink and encouraging men to get in touch with their feminine side.  A side that we teach little boys from infancy to not have.  We all know that violent criminals need more than a pink wall for rehabilitation, but many believe that the color pink helps with this endeavor. Pink is a soft, non-threatening color. That’s what we want our violent criminals to be, soft and non-threatening.  Shouldn’t we have put them in pink at infancy if this is the goal?

Lets look at this contradiction from another perspective. It’s inappropriate for baby boys to wear pink, why men wearing shades of pastels these days?  Lavender, corral, yellow, and pink. Yes, I said pink! I’ve witnessed it in corporate America with shirts and ties, and polos for golfers. I witnessed one of my doctors the other day wearing a beautiful fuchsia tie. I wonder if an NFL linebacker would strut a fuchsia tie or pink shirt?  Yep, we found Brandon Spikes, who is a linebacker for the New England Patriots, not only in a pink tie and shirt, but in pink from head to toe.  Brandon calls it his lucky suit.    


Here’s the infamous and gorgeous Brad Pitt.  What is he doing, he’s rocking a pink suit.  Who would have thought that one of Hollywood’s finest would be photographed in a pink suit. 



Here’s a picture of my family wearing pink to honor my son-in-law’s 95 year old grandma who recently passed.  His mother requested everyone to wear pink in honor of struggle with breast cancer.  I must say, my son-in-law is wearing pink well and did so with pride.  


So what has changed? I’m crediting the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness in helping men and society as a whole become more comfortable in wearing pink and other pastel colors.  

We love to know if you would allow your little boy or grandson to wear pink?  Would you be comfortable if your husband or significant other wore pink?  Please leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.


  

J C Penney Portrait Review

J C Penney Portraits

I’ve been wanting to have photos taken for years.  Since I don’t photograph well I was always reluctant.  When I was offered an opportunity to have photos taken at J C Penney Portraits, I accepted the offer.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to have business and casual photos taken.  We take the kids to J C Penney Portraits for many of their photo sessions and we’ve always been pleased, so I believed that I had a chance at getting at least 1 good picture.  I ended up with so many, I had a difficult time selecting my package.  


Booking the session was easy.  I went on-line and selected a date and time that fit into my schedule and received an email confirmation.  As the date got closer, I received a call from the studio to confirm the date.  Additionally, we discussed the type of photos that I wanted to take and any props that I wanted to include.  I wanted a dressy photo to use for business and one that was more casual to give to my family.  

When I arrived at the studio, I was greeted by the receptionist who was quite professional.  She helped me select the backgrounds that she believed would work best with the color of the clothing that I would be wearing.  She was right, I love them.  The photographer had a great sense of humor, and helped to make me feel at ease.  She didn’t rush through the session and gave me an opportunity to have input on poses and the result of each shot.  
From there the receptionist helped me select my package, which was fun.  It turned out to be a positive experience and I love, love, love the photos.  


J C Penney Portraits would like to offer you an opportunity to experience a photo session at their studio too.  The offer includes:


  • – 1 free traditional 8×10 ($10 value) and 1 free sitting fee ($9
    value).
  •   – Plus get 23
    portraits of your favorite pose for $7.99 or 3.99 traditional sheets (reg $10)
    plus 20% off portrait collections.
  •   – Valid till
    3/31/14

For more information, check out their exclusive offer by clicking on the link.  I was quite impressed with the photos they had on display in the studio, they were stunning.  After seeing them, I plan to have a portrait taken with my children this summer.    


J C Penney Portraits offers several packages that will fit into many budgets, which is great since most people have a tight reins on their finances.  Book your session today, it’s a great time to make memories with a spring portrait.      
  
Note:  I was compensated by J C Penney Portraits with a gift certificate for this review; however, the assessment of the studio session is my opinion alone.  



Product Review: Minted Wall Artwork

  


I love beautiful artwork.  I fell in love with this piece of artwork called Blessing II.  It was a limited addition painting by John Holyfield, who lived in West Virginia.  West Virginia just happens to be the state that I was born and raised in. His story touched my heart and so did this painting.  John Holyfield was orphaned as a child and raised by his grandparents in small town, Clarksburg, WV. He is now a renowned artist who is known for his southern flare in his paintings.  A limited edition copy of Blessing II found a home in my breakfast room.

I was contacted by a company, Minted, to review their artwork.  I jumped at the chance, since I’m always in the market for a unique piece.  I found their selection unique.  Most of the pieces have a modern flare, which I normally wouldn’t select.      


I did find several pieces of art that I liked.  I recently remodeled my office and used a Paris theme. Although I like more colorful prints, there was one entitled Rooftops of Paris that caught my eye. It would fit perfectly in my office.  



Minted offers a large selection of prints for nurseries, children, limited edition and typography in various sizes.  They also offer framing for an additional price.  I loved that the artists are from around the world.  


I found an adorable Nursery Rhyme print that would be great for a mom who’s doing the baby’s nursery in this theme.  One of my favorite rhymes was the Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe.  Is this not adorable. 


I did Pin a few prints being offered in the Photo art challenge on the site, which ended up being my favorite category.  I fell in love with the City Photo art piece below.  You can add 14 different photos to the display, it’s adorable.  I’m seriously considering this piece for my grandchildren’s photos to display in my foyer. Head over to Minted and see what catches your eye.  The Photo category alone is worth the trip.   


  
Note:  I have been compensated for this review with a gift certificate; however, my assessment of the site is my own.  

Only Children Syndromes: Fact or Fiction

This is my beautiful daughter who grow up an only child.  When I was raising her, I heard many women say that they would never have one child because they wouldn’t want them growing up alone or only children are spoiled and misbehaved.   My daughter turned out just fine.  She had playmates, she listened and she followed rules.  Now I must admit, I spoiled her rotten and I enjoyed every second of it.  Yes, she had more
than most children because she was an only child, but that’s not my problem.  I told parents who were bold enough to make comments that maybe they should have stopped at one too.  


She find herself a target by other kids at school at times.  When we got to the bottom of the harassment, we found that the child or children where envious of  her clothes, other possessions, and accomplishments.  She was called Little Princess by some of her classmates and if you can believe it by some adults.  Those with siblings seemed to be the ones who were green with envy.  I’m not saying that all children who had siblings were a problem, but I am saying that the children she had issues with had siblings.   Funny, she was suppose to be the one who ended up with problems.   

During that time, I often wondered why people believed that only children would be unhappy, selfish, spoiled, lonely and maladjusted.  The Only Children that I knew did not fall into any of these categories.  I’ve also wondered how America explained the behavior of children who misbehaved and who had siblings.  Most importantly, when our children end up with drug and alcohol problems or behind bars, does it really matter that they were Only Children, the Baby, the Middle Child or the Older Brother or Sister?

I did some research on Only Children and I’m happy to say that this article in  Psychology Today discusses some issues that parents encounter raising only children, however, the majority of only children turn out to be happy, well-adjusted adults.  It has also been proven that children with siblings often have self-esteem problems because they grow up thinking their siblings were favored or they were neglected because mom and dad had to divide their time, attention and money.  Oh lets not forget the middle child syndrome and the arguments and hatred spewed between siblings.  Psychologist have found that it can take a lifetime to work out problems created because children grew up believing they were treated unfairly by their parents or siblings.  In some situations they don’t speak for years if ever again over childhood issues that were never resolved.  

My daughter has stated that there were times she wished she had a sibling, but for the most part she was content with her upbringing.  She had my undivided attention, everything she needed, and the majority of the time she got everything she wanted.  By the age of 21, she had traveled to places that most people won’t see in a their lifetime.  I had no behavior problems with her growing up.  She did not hit, spit or bit other children nor did she disrespect any adults.  She excelled in school and had plenty of cousins and friends to play with.  To this day, she’s very sociable and respectful.    

For mothers who only have 1 child, don’t allow the myths of the “Only Child Syndrome” make you feel guilty about your decision. Personally, I believe people should have as many children as they want and can afford.  None of us know how our children are going to turn out.  Whether we have 1 child or 10, we just do the best that we can raising them.  I survived motherhood one day at a time, and it is still my motto.  


Do you have 1 child?  Did you grow up an only child?  I would love to hear your take on this issue.  Please leave us a comment. 

5 Tips To Becoming A Confident Woman

 self-improvement, self-confidence, self-esteem

Have you seen women that exude an air of confidence and self-assurance.  Sadly, you wish that you had the confidence and you could carry yourself in that manner.  They seem to be able to conquer the world and achieve anything.  As a result, you admire them and wonder how they reached that level.  You secretly wish you had half of their skills and success.   You ask, how do you become a confident woman?

Unfortunately, I was there at one point in my life.  As a single mother, it was hard to imagine how I could ever reach such a level of confidence.  I was barely able to pay my bills.   I dreamed of making a six figure salary.  So, I wanted to know how to get there.  I wanted to be a strong mother, leader, a mentor and manager.  The fact that I couldn’t achieve success on my own became a reality.   Therefore, I needed guidance and advice on how to start my journey on becoming a  confident woman.
Our roles as mothers, spouses, partners and influencers is huge.  We need to display confidence around our children.  We also need to be confident around our spouses and significant others at times.  Additionally, we have a responsibility to others that we influence in our life and on the job. Building confidence is a process.  It doesn’t happen over night, but if you continually enhance your skills you will become a confident woman.
Here are a few traits that I believe all women need to become confident:
  1. Define Your Belief System –  First, these are your core values that remain unchanged.  They can include but are not limited to being ethical, family-oriented, reliable, trustworthy.  Define them and stand firm.
  2. Be ConsistentYou must be consistent in all areas of your life for the most part, but be flexible when needed.  If you’re inconsistent you won’t be taken seriously by your family, co-workers or anyone else that you influence.
  3.  Become An Achiever –  Next, set goals and make a plan to achieve them.  It’s important to be an example for your children in this area.  Achieving goals requires stamina and hard work.  
  4. Be PositiveI read daily affirmations to help me stay positive.
  5. Have a sense of humor Last, know that you will make mistakes along the way.  Be able to laugh, pick yourself up and move on.
Finally, if you don’t want to obtain a mentor, surround yourself with positive people.  Especially, those who have arrived at the destination that you’re trying to achieve.  Ask for advice when you need it.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a road map how to achieve success in your business or on how to be a good mother.  Most importantly, becoming a confident woman and believing in yourself will help you achieve your goals in all areas of your life.  Your spouse, partner and children will see it and believe it.  Take the first step to becoming a confident woman, and everything else will fall into place.  You may also like Why I Am Thankful For The Stumbles In My Life.