By Julie Baumgardner, MS, CFLE

a happy and strong familyIf someone asked you to describe the heartbeat of your home, how would you describe it – erratic, racing, consistent and steady, or always changing and unpredictable? Just as it is important for your heart to beat in a steady rhythm, research shows it is also important for the heartbeat of your home to be steady and strong.
The Warning Signs
We know that high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and being overweight are all factors that contribute to heart disease. Research has shown that an unhealthy heartbeat in the home can be caused by lack of communication, over commitment, high levels of conflict, in-laws with unrealistic expectations, an unhealthy family of origin, failure to balance home and work, out of control finances, and a variety of other things. READ More on The Heartbeat of a Healthy and Strong Family

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creating a scapbook page of childs birthSoon, your children will either graduate from elementary school, middle school, high school, or college. What a proud and exciting time this will be. From birth to graduation, creating a scrapbook for your child is a gift your child will truely charish in the years to come and can be passed down from generation to generation. Unlike the old days when tons of pictures were taken to capture every moment, today you can use scrapbooking to chronicle the life of your child up to, and including, graduation. Here are scrapbooking ideas for graduation memories to last a lifetime.

READ More on Scrapbooking Ideas – Creating Graduation Memories

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thomas-and-friends.jpgThis recall alert affects various Thomas and Friends™ wooden railway components and vehicles. According to the U.S .Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 1.5 million units are affected with this recall sold from January 2005 through June 2007.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in cooperation with RC2 Corp issued a recall due to lead in the surface paint of these products. Lead ingested by children can have adverse side affects.

Unless others instructed consumers should stop using these products immediately. For full information on the recall, including exactly which products, and for a return form, you can visit: or call RC2 Corp toll-free at 866-725-4407 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Thursday or Friday from 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. CT.

You can also read more about the recall at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Photo copyright Consumer Product Safty Commission

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independence-day-2007.jpgThis year has been going by too fast it seems! Its less than a month away. Independence Day is almost here.  What are your plans? How about planning on having a Fourth of July party for your child? If so, here are some tips to make it an extra special day:

Help your child make out invitations using red, white, and blue construction paper. Be sure to have an RSVP with a PS, noting everyone should dress in red, white, and blue. READ More on Fourth of July Kids Party Ideas

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by Stacey Schifferdecker
family-camping.jpgMy oldest son turned seven the day after his baby sister was born. We didn’t intend to have such a gap in ages between our kids—it just turned out that way. But it meant that either my son missed out on fun family activities or we brought the little one along. And that is how we ended up camping with a seven-week-old infant. Our friends thought we were crazy, but she was a great camper. In fact, she was even useful: when our tent started leaking during a heavy rainstorm, her disposable diapers were very handy!
Why camping?
Like it or not, life for most kids today is pretty conscripted. They tend to spend more time driving to play dates and planned activities than randomly exploring the great outdoors. Camping introduces kids to nature and gives them a feeling of freedom as they safely explore the campsite. It can also be a special family time when everyone can hang out and play together without other commitments or the lure of electronic toys.
Start out slowly
OK, maybe pre-kids you backpacked the length of the Continental Divide. It’s time to dial your adventures back for a few years. Try car camping at a local state or national park for a night or two or even setting up a tent in your own back yard. Our first camping expeditions were with our son’s Cub Scout pack, which is a mother’s camping dream: someone else did all the cooking!READ More on Camping with Kids

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A little girl feeling blueBeing or becoming a successful parent to your children is much more than just making sure they are fed properly or that they get to school on time. It's more than simply making sure your child is safe and behaving good. Being a successful parent also means raising kids without guilt in their lives. It includes nuturing your childs emotions. Guilt means to feel bad about something that was said or done in the past. To a certain extent, the past can be used as a tool to motivate improved behavior. This is because learning from the past serves a useful purpose. But guilt is not learning from the past.

The real feeling of guilt means to be immobilized in the present over something that has already occurred. It is a negative and confidence-crushing feeling. Guilt is a tool used by adults to make other people feed bad. We tend to use it more on children because we think that it is a good way to control their behavior. I understand that your intention is merely to control your child and put a halt to whatever they are doing that is causing trouble, but using guilt can cause more internal and external social problems within you child for years to come. READ More on Understanding Guilt and its Effects on Children

I have heard this way too much: “I have attempted to do everything that I can to get my oldest son to stop hitting his other kids. Sometimes he even hits me. Then I only get angrier. Punishing my son doesn't seem to work and my last alternative is to spank him. And when I do spank him and make him apologize, he's back hitting the very next day!”

There are thousands and thousands of parents who are going through this very same situation every day. One thing leads to another with a child who is behaving badly and then the end result is the spanking of him.

But how are we ever going to teach our children that it is not alright to hurt others when we continue to hurt them as well? What sense does that make? Sure it temporarily relieves the situation but you have just reinforced to your son that hitting is ok to do, especially to them. Do we really want to set that kind of precedent for our children?READ More on Does Spanking a Child Work? Some Spank Free Alternatives

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