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  1. These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Reads

    May 1, 2015 by admin

    We love to read. And we love to read out loud to Bluey. Our evening culminates in reading before bed. And our day begins with reading while snuggled up on the couch.

    Bluey and TRMom have two favorite new series that we think you may like check out, too!

    IMG_3026Violet Mackerel is a series written by Anna Branford that follows an independent, quirky, and insightful young girl as she reacts to the world around her. The writer manages to capture the subtle genius of childhood thoughts and is never condescending towards her young characters. You can’t help but fall in love with Violet as she defends trees or attempts to save money to purchase a treasure.   The books are perfect for reading out loud to your youngster.

    Mighty Monty is another series but this one is written by Johanna Hurwitz. The books follow a young boy with asthma who is timid, intelligent, and thoughtful. His many adventures will have you cheering him on and wanting more. The writer’s style is simplistic without being patronizing to her young readers or exascerbating to read aloud for a parent.  Ms. Hurwitz also writes the Riverside Kids series, and we really enjoyed Super-Teddy which was our introduction to that series.IMG_3027

    What are your favorite books of late?

  2. Tired

    March 23, 2015 by admin

    sleep_18991_mdLet’s talk about exhaustion.

    Not the kind that occurs when you’ve gotten into a book and just couldn’t put it down, so you only got 5 hours of sleep before heading off to work.  Not even the kind that happens when your kid was sick all weekend and you’ve barely managed 4 hours of solid sleep before Monday makes an appearance.

    Instead, we’re discussing the sort of exhaustion that builds up over time.  This bone tiredness is an accumulation of years of parenting.  It began when that lovely little infant first made her/his appearance and magnified steadily over the years.  Even if you were lucky enough to get a full night’s sleep (more than 7 hours) here or there throughout your parenting life, it did not manage to push away the overpowering exhaustion.  Trying to rest up is like digging in sand.  And no one really seems to talk about this epidemic very much.  We feel as if we haven’t slept in 17 years and we know we can’t possibly be struggling alone!

    We beseech well rested parents to tell us their sleep secrets.  Do we really just continue to hold on by our fingernails until our kids leave home?  Are you taking vacations without your kids in tow?  If you feel rested, refreshed, and energized – how are you achieving this feat?  And if you are as tired as we are now, know that you are not alone.

    We have lived with under eye circles for so long now that we can’t remember what we looked like without the deep blue rings.  We have distant glorious memories of drowsy morning sex and then falling back to sleep for a few hours.  We think we remember naps.  And we’re pretty sure that we’ve slept passed 7am at some point in our lives.

    We love our kids but we’re damn tired of being tired.

  3. The Family Calendar Goes Digital

    February 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2801_2It’s no secret that this is one busy TR family.  We’ve always had lot going on from Day 1.  Doctor’s appointments, playdates, work events, club meetings, vacation days… it’s a lot to keep track of for any family.

    We’ve used a number of different schemes to help keep everyone on track.

    For a long time we had a standard bank wall calendar hanging in the kitchen.  And we’d scrawl notes on there as we remembered upcoming events.  And we’d try to check the wall each morning.  As events got cancelled and rescheduled, the calendar quickly became an overwhelmed scribble.

    We switched to a larger “Family” calendar we picked up in a bookstore.  It featured bigger notation spaces and cute stickers to help serve as reminders.  But as our family grew, and activities accumulated, this family calendar also became an over-worked mess.

    There was a period where TRMom would print out pages of Microsoft calendar months from her office.  So TRMom and TRDad would email and call each other to update the computer calendar, and TRMom would print out a new version weekly.  We’d tape it to the wall and write in additions for the next week’s printing.  Better, but not great.

    We continued to struggle with finding methods to keep appointments up-to-date, how to remember to look at them, and still have a serviceable method of figuring out what was going on in our active little group.

    And then we got smart phones.

    It took us a good minute to work out the kinks, but we soon found we could easily add or remove calendar items from our shared digital calendars with ease.  And by setting your personal preferences, you can receive reminder messages about all, or some of your events.  Now it is very easy for us to keep track of this crazy busy clan.

    Our good friend Siri can even add calendar events for us, making this the easiest system we’ve used to date.  And you can have your family’s Facebook events automatically populate your digital calendar as well.

    By setting up multiple color coded calendars, you can even make calendars that show your kiddos only the events or reminders that pertain to them, and leave the “Send In Car Payment” notes out of their line of vision.

    We are happy to be able to have synched calendars at a moment’s notice.  It helps keep us all on the same page and limits the surprises. We highly recommend that if available, you consider utilizing these digital calendars for your family.

  4. “I Know.”

    November 5, 2014 by admin

    IMG_7314Sample TR Household dialogue:

    “You’re a great kid.”

    — ‘I know.’

    There are few points in parenting more satisfying than hearing your child assert their own goodness.

    Our kids know they are good kids because we tell them.  We point out when they do the right thing, be it holding the door for someone, or saying they are sorry for something, or offering to help someone else.  They are good kids.

    This doesn’t mean they never do wrong.  Of course they do.  They make mistakes.  They get angry.  They say a hurtful thing.

    But nothing they do changes their basic nature-  they are good kids.  Good kids who make errors.  Who have lapses in judgment.

    So when Bluey or Plum make a mistake, we can address the error without questioning their goodness. Good people screw up on occasion.  Good people have bad moments and bad days.

    Our hope is two-fold:

    1. We hope when our kids are admitting to mistakes, or caught up in a mistake, they remember not to internalize it.

    2. We hope that when our kids find other people erring towards them, they remember that people are generally good and that our kids treat those around them with compassion and understanding.  Doing a bad thing doesn’t make you a bad person.

    You’re a good kid.


  5. The Joy of Listening

    November 2, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8618_2Our Bluey adores audiobooks.  He has a solid collection of classics, modern fiction, history, and poetry on tape.  Most of these we’ve picked up at book sales and garage sales.  As his interest in audiobooks has grown, we keep an eye out for new stock when we are out and about.

    We’ve managed to find for Bluey books that he knows well- like several of the Ramona (by Beverly Cleary) series as well as new discoveries- like a reading of American history that he really enjoys.  (As libraries shift to digital content for audio books, many are shedding their collection of cassette books.  So keep your eye out for these sales!)

    Having books on tape allows Bluey to have further control over what books he’s experiencing at any given point.   It gives him a chance to relisten to his favorite parts as often as he likes.  And his audio books give him the opportunity to hear a different voice from his parents- a voice that might pronounce some words differently, or add emphasis in unexpected places.

    Bluey’s tapes on foreign languages help prepare him for using more advanced self-study tools including mp3s and podcasts.  And hearing a language spoken out loud is an essential part in mastering it.

    Bluey usually plays his tapes on a very old, very beat up Fisher-Price tape recorder.  It still works perfectly and has been handed down from his oldest sister.  The cassette player allows Bluey to transport his books with him from room to room, or even into the car.IMG_8619

    The discovery and now love of cassette tapes also has allowed Bluey to explore new technologies.  He’s learned to work the tape deck on the stereo system we have in our playroom.  He’s learned to how to rewind tapes that get spun out of the cassette, and the related importance of not getting the tapes tangled.

    Best of all, audiobooks are helping move our Bluey along on the path to becoming a full-on, independent reader.  As he fine tunes his notions of when and where he reads, and chooses the book he’s most interested in at that moment, Bluey carves his own path in literacy.

  6. Sick Day

    October 29, 2014 by admin

    The TR Family makes efforts to limit screen time and maximize activity, especially outdoor activity.  There is hardly a day when we aren’t out for a walk or a bike ride, or reading books rather than sitting in front of one more TV show.boy_33_sm

    But when a TR family member is down for the count with an illness, we are much more flexible with the house rules.

    When a kiddo (or adult) is sick that may mean we enjoy a movie at home.  We usually curtail or eliminate our walks around the neighborhood with the dog or biking off to the local grocery for a fun treat.  Instead we focus on restful activities and certain sick day indulgences, like extra popsicles to soothe a sore throat.

    It’s okay to make exceptions to your family routine for unique times like holidays and illnesses.  We don’t normally spend long periods watching television, but sometimes that sort of ‘spoiling’ is just what the doctor ordered.   We’re not afraid to let the rules shift for a day or so, as long as we know we can get back on track when the atypical event passes.

  7. Gender Frustration

    October 22, 2014 by admin


    This TRFamily doesn’t enforce gender roles.  We allow our son Bluey to pick out sparkly light-up shoes marketed to girls, if that is where his heart leads him.  And we encourage our daughter, Plum, to fight against gender stereotypes as well as embrace make-up, if that is her desire.  We have never instructed our kids to put back a toy because it is for the opposite gender.  Nor have we ever encouraged them to “be a man” or “act like a lady.”  The list of examples could go on and on and on.

    We think that this philosophy is a big part of what causes gender confusion for adults and children when first encountering Bluey.  Yes, Bluey has an incredible head of very curly hair.  But there are many hip young boys that have longer hair styles.  Yes, Bluey will occasionally choose to wear pink, or another clothing item that is seen by the masses as “girly.”  But many boys and men are breaking out of the stereotypical male color spectrum and clothing styles.

    So what causes so many people to question our son’s gender?  What is the reason that children constantly ask Bluey if he is a boy or a girl?  Bluey doesn’t have overtly feminine characteristics.  He doesn’t bring any beloved dolls, or other stereotypically female toys, on our outings.  Bluey doesn’t refer to himself as a girl.  He isn’t questioning his identity or declaring his gender to be female.

    Bluey does have a strong nurture trait.  He is incredibly talkative.  Bluey likes to engage with others while playing versus running amok destroying things and killing the enemy.  He will happily play with either gender that will accept his friendship- girls are not “gross” to Bluey.  He will admire a friend’s Barbie doll with as much attention as he will a friend’s brand new Transformer.  Bluey watches My Little Pony with as much enthusiasm as he has for the latest Lego Ninjago episode.  And did we mention that he likes to converse?

    It is sad that these characteristics in a young boy seem to throw off the population at large. Everyone seems to second guess their initial assumption that Bluey is a boy.  Shouldn’t a boy be much less interested in conversation?  Shouldn’t a boy want to only play with the other boys?  Why is this boy before me wearing pink?  He must really be a girl!

    We hear all the time, “She has such beautiful hair!”  On rare occasion, Bluey will reply “I’m a boy,” or “I’m a he.”  But usually Bluey ignores the pronoun directed toward him.  What weighs heavily on TRMom and TRDad is that there is any suggestion of confusion in the first place. Our Bluey is comfortable with himself- do these conversations make him question whether or not he is okay?

    Why is society so focused on boxing people up into neat little packages?  And why must our son, at five, have to deal with almost daily intrusions upon his gender identity?  What does it matter, people!  We rarely correct anyone when they identify Bluey as female.  It just doesn’t matter to us, and we don’t want Bluey to think that there is anything wrong with him.

    Recently, a little girl met Bluey at the park and they played happily for about 20 mintues.  The girl ran up to her mom and declared, “Bluey is my new friend. She’s awesome.”  The mother felt the need to correct her daughter, “I think Bluey is a little boy.”  And quick as that, the girl turned around to Bluey stating, “You’re a boy. I’m not playing with you.”

    It’s moments like these that stump us.  Why does the Mom need to correct this gender slip of her daughter’s?  And why is her daughter’s response OK?  Why do kids as young as four years old already believe that they can only play with friends of the same gender?

    Bluey’s long time friends constantly criticize Bluey’s choices by saying things like- “Oh. that’s a girl’s shirt.”  Or “That’s a girl’s TV show.”  No amount of discussion with the friends- “There’s no such thing as a girl’s shirt.  It’s just a shirt-” can penetrate the mountains of gender conformity pressure that kids experience today.

    It makes us very sad,  But we are incredibly grateful that our Bluey dares to do his own thing, in his own beautiful way.  Regardless of society’s loud suggestion that he should change.

  8. Talking To Strangers: We Encourage It

    October 8, 2014 by admin



    Perhaps against majority’s opinion or advice, we love talking to strangers. On our TR journeys large and small, some of our best take away moments are the conversations with the few people we have met along the way.  We do talk to strangers regularly and we encourage our kids to do it, too!

    We recently stopped for a quick lunch at a favorite local chain. As we were leaving, TRMom was suggesting to the kids that they make a stop in the bathroom. An elderly gentleman was sitting nearby and he interjected, “That’s some good advice!”

    Rather than ignoring this unfamiliar man or giving a dismissive smile, we struck up conversation with him. We shook hands, introduced our family, and chatted for a few minutes. As we were leaving, he declared, “You should have my card.”


    Tip: There is a huge difference between talking to strangers and heeding the whims or demands of strangers. We would encourage you to teach your kids how to IMG_8104recognize this subtlety and judge for your own family what works best.

    Allowing ourselves to engage with others only enhances our experiences and our connections to the world. We are all so isolated already thanks to Facebook, Snapchat, Texting, etc. These apps only give the illusion of connection. We don’t want our children to miss out on in-person, every day interaction with another human being.

    Humans are social animals.  We talk to each other and hopefully, we make connections.  If you only speak to people in your immediate circle, you severely limit your life experience.  So we chat people up when in stores or walking down the street- everywhere.  We encourage our young ones to introduce themselves and to share their thoughts with others.

    We meet so many interesting folks this way: the Korean War vet, the self-taught artist, the long time resident of town.  We’ve heard many stories from many people.  We encourage you to give it a try.  Talk to people and listen to what they have to say.  Who knows who you’ll meet next?

    They might just make your day.  Or you just might make theirs.

  9. What Happened Today?

    August 17, 2014 by admin

    We have a simple daily tradition at our home at dinnertime: Tell us what happened today?princess_11_md

    We like a little conversation with our evening meal, it’s a chance for us all to connect and reflect at the end of the day. But we don’t want it to just be TRMom and TRDad doing all the talking.

    So we have a time where we go around the table and ask: What happened with your day? Or: What’s the best thing that happened to you today? Or some other variation on the same theme. It gives everyone at the table a chance to share something, or tell us what’s going on.

    And we mean everyone. Guests at our home usually find themselves asked the same sorts of questions. We have two young friends who come over a few times a week, and while at first they were hesitant to talk, now they argue over who gets to go first!  These conversations give us a chance to learn more about our friends and our children’s friends.

    Rather than silent, sullen, or rushed meals- our dinners are a chance to speak your piece, to share an exciting event, or talk about an upcoming event.

    This dinner conversation is also a great learning opportunity. When Bluey was younger, much of his grasp of the passage of time came from these conversations.  It required him to think about the recent past and upcoming events, and to try and set things in order. For Plum, many dinner conversations start out simply enough but evolve into talks about dealing with school, friends, or life in general- topics many tweens are hesitant to bring up otherwise.

    Not every meal is scintillating conversation at our house. Sometimes the kiddoes don’t have much to say. And that’s OK, too. We encourage, but we don’t force, conversing at our meals.

    We’ll ask again tomorrow.

  10. No Food Zone

    July 30, 2014 by admin


    We came up with one step towards bringing a higher level of order to our house:

    No food in the bedrooms.  Ever.

    We’d been experiencing increasing problems having the kiddoes keep their bedrooms clean.  Our efforts at cajoling, convincing and threatening had come to naught.  We didn’t know what to do.  We found we had to step back and look at some of the causes of the clutter and the main reasons it bothered us.

    This resulted in a major rule change.  Eating snacks and such in bedrooms was no longer permitted.

    We got some resistance at first, but it quickly diminished.

    It’s early on in the new program, so we don’t have long-term results.  But the early returns are good.   Not only are we seeing no dishes and food waste in the bedrooms, but the absence of the foodstuffs seems to have helped foster a higher level of neatness and order in the bedrooms.

    We hope this is permanent.

    What else might be a good move for keeping a bit of order in your messiest rooms?  Let us know if you have further ideas for us to try.