Today’s Featured Author – Taiwo I. Ajao

Author Taiwo I. Ajao is on a virtual book  for Adunni Dares to Dream.

Excerpt

Whenever Adunni brought up the idea of school, somehow Mama found a way to end it. Despite the fact that she was illiterate, Mama was sharp, hardworking and very resourceful with money. Mama had married young, as was common in the culture, and she started to bear children as a teenager. It was unfortunate, however, that she experienced the loss of many of those children during childbirth. Only Adunni and her sister had survived, and Adunni wondered often about what she could have done to save those who hadn’t made it. Adunni was tearful as she remembered how her mother had nearly died last year during childbirth. Was every girl expected to get married and have children, even if it killed her? Adunni didn’t want to be like other girls: she wanted to be great! Adunni believed that to be great, she must be smart and be able to read, and learn great things.

Book Blurb

Adunni Dares to Dream is the true tale of a poor African girl who just wanted to go to school. Although she was a part of a very hardworking family, Adunni just could not have the finer things in life, like school, books, & literacy. In her culture, girls were just expected to look pretty, get married and have children. But Adunni wished for something more.

As Adunni dares to dream , she inspires many others to dream too, including a handsome young man who couldn’t stop dreaming about her! So Adunni has choices to make. Does she give in to her society’s expectations? Does she chose the status quo? What are Adunni’s dreams and where do her dreams take her?

About the Author/Illustrator

The Dr. Ajaos are a husband-wife, doctor-nurse team who have a joint passion for health literacy, preventative healthcare, and education for at-risk groups in the Global setting. Mrs. Taiwo I Ajao, the Author, is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health, while Dr. ‘Wale Ajao, the Illustrator, is an internationally-trained medical doctor with a Master’s of Arts in Communications & Producing for Film and Video. Together, The DrAjaos intend to address health literacy via it’s most fundamental forms: using the arts of writing, entertainment, and communication to educate children and their parents. Adunni Dares to Dream is the beginning of a beautiful merger of not just a celebration of educational achievement, but also of Faith, Hope, Love and Miracles.

You can find out more on their website.

Or check out Adunni Dares to Dream on Amazon

 

My kids don’t get enough exercise

You hear so much about the rising obesity levels in kids and adults in the United States that I thought I would look and see if my kids are getting enough exercise. Who am I kidding? I already knew they probably aren’t as active as they should be.

exerciseThe American Heart Association recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorously intense aerobic activity EVERY day. Most other websites only said an hour of physical activity but recommended it be aerobic. They also suggested children participate in muscle-strengthening activities three times a week.

Great, I don’t even get that. I admit it – my family leads pretty sedentary lives. I know we all spend too much time in front of the computer, TV or tablet.

But even before kids or heck, even when I was a kid, I don’t recall being very active. My husband said it all depended on what year of his childhood we are asking about. But his father was a high school basketball coach, so I suspect he was more athletic than I was.

As for my own kids, we do go to the park and sometimes ride bikes, but outside play is usually quite limited. Some of this is due to Lexie’s allergies. They were quite bad when she was a toddler, and we have never really gotten use to her spending a lot of time outside. When she does, you know she will be itching later no matter how much antihistamine we give her.

We are in Texas, so in the summer it is HOT – as in high 90s and low 100s. The only time worth going outside is before 9 (maybe 10 am) or in the evening. This makes outdoor activities more of a challenge.

Both kids do participate in indoor sports. Lexie does gymnastics, and Jase has karate. But these activities are only once a week. Neither of those is exactly vigorous exercise. When they took soccer, it still wasn’t daily practice. They had one practice and a game each week.

During school time, both kids have physical education classes. Jase had them three times a week while Lexie went daily. We also walk to and from school daily (barring really bad weather). But other than that, the rest of our time was sitting down doing homework or relaxing, which probably included an electronic device. (At least it sometimes includes dancing around to a Wii game.)

Even if their downtime isn’t focused on electronics, they are playing in their rooms. While that is great for the imagination, it does little for getting them exercise. (I say this as Lexie is tumbling and jumping in the other room. So much for quiet – but hey, at least she is moving around.)

DSCN0350

Lexie playing in the wave pool at Six Flags.

In the summer, I take them to the pool but this isn’t for serious competition-type swimming. It is for playing around. We do go places such as the zoo, the park or to a museum but really nothing strenuous in the way of exercising.

I guess I can blame most of this on my husband and me. As role models, we are falling down on our responsibility. Neither of us is very athletic and we too lead pretty sedentary lives.

I know we should restrict screen time and encourage more activity, but we don’t. The only good thing is that neither child is overweight. According to their doctors, their weight and BMIs are in the healthy range for their ages.

But I know they need more exercise so for the rest of the summer I think I will make sure they get out and do at least a little something every day. That is at least a start in the right direction.

 

Social Media and Kids

Earlier this month, I went to a seminar about social media and kids. It was presented by a counselor from one of our area middle schools.

Now, my kids don’t have cell phones, but they do have iPads that have WiFi ability, so they could have access to some of these apps (though they don’t). Also Jase will be starting fifth grade in August, so I figured it would be a good idea to find out what apps and social media kids are into nowadays and what the dangers associated with them.

The counselor stressed open communication with your child. She suggested using the available apps and social media as a way to start a conversation about what they put online. You know…the whole “Whatever you put on the Internet is out there forever” and such.

Her recommendation was to allow your kids to have some of the safer apps but require they give you their login and password information rather than you just friending or following them on the social media sites. This way you can check to make sure they are behaving in a safe manner.

Good-and-Bad-Teen-Apps-Parent-Guide-300x169She put the apps and social media into three categories: green (safe), grey (could go either way) and red (bad/stay away). (I may have missed some in my note taking. She listed them by their icons rather than their names.)

Green Apps: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Linked In, YouTube

Grey Apps: Snap Chat, Vine, Personate, Facetime, Texting, Messenger

Red Apps: Kik, Yik Yak, Omegle, Whisper, After School App, Secret, Ask.fm

Many of the Red Apps let users set up anonymous accounts – which means users can post things without their comments being traced back to them. This often leads users into making mean comments (cyber bullying) or posting things sexual in nature. (Kik doesn’t even link your account to your cell phone number.

unnamedMany of the red apps are rated for kids age 17+, but that doesn’t mean kids younger than that are not downloading and using them. She also suggested checking their phones for a “Secret Calculator” app. This app looks like a regular calculator to friends or parents but actually once the passcode is entered it is a place to store photos and videos. This is just one way that kids get around any parental rules.

And just because you forbid them to use a particular app or perhaps don’t even get them a phone, they find ways around it such as setting up an account on a friend’s phone. In the speaker’s opinion,(and I agree with her) it is better to have supervision rather than no knowledge of their behavior. (In other words, allow them some freedom but still monitor their activities and keep communication open.)

Another way of hiding things is to have a Finstagram account on Instagram. This is generally a second fake account usually used for only close friends where users share funny or embarrassing photos. Even though Instragram posts only show for 10 minutes or less, it doesn’t stop others from taking a screen shot of the image and sharing it elsewhere. So if your kid has a Finstagram account, they need to remember that what is posted is no longer private. It can go anywhere.

Overall, the course was an eye-opener, and it gave me a lot of things to think about. Here is the link to her go-to website for staying up-to-date on the latest apps and their dangers.

As kids get older, buying gifts gets harder

Before you know it, it is the time of year to start shopping for Christmas gifts. Ok, I will be honest. I was done with most of my gift buying before Thanksgiving.

But each year as the kids get older, it gets harder and harder to figure out what to buy them.

surprising-ways-kids-play-02-pg-fullWhen they were infants and toddlers, there were so many cool toys out there that they were happy with anything. Heck, they were probably happier with the box. When they are that young, any new toy makes them happy.

And then they start liking certain characters or shows. And the choices get narrower. Gone are the days when a red drum or a stuffed animal will make them happy. They now want Disney this or Dora that. But still the kindergarten age is relatively easy.

For me, the years after that are harder. Even if I have my kids make a list, you have to figure out which things they really want. Girls-Toy-AisleMy 7-year-old is apt to write down anything in a pink box or anything that looks fun. Well, girl things are often in a pink box, and all toys are usually presented as fun items. It makes her list long. (This year I stressed only writing down the things she really wanted.)

And then there is the ever-changing favorite thing. One month she is all about the new My Little Pony/Equestria Girl movie. She is singing the songs and wanting all the toys. They are on sales so you think about buying them – or perhaps you even do. And then, she finds a new favorite thing when she watches the latest Barbie movie or sees a commercial or finds out her friend Melony likes Monster High.

This ever-changing list of the “best” or “hot” toy is what makes buying for Lexie so hard. You have to look at her list and try to figure out which of these toys does she really want – and not because it is in a pretty pink box, which of these toys is not a passing fad. But the grandparents always want a list, so I do my best to guess which items she really wants and will play with. canterlot

For this year: My Little Pony has always been a hit with her, so we bought her the Canterlot Castle. And you can never go wrong with a toy from the movie Frozen so she is getting one of those too. She has been talking about the CleverKeet for over a month so that is what Santa bought her. (Yep, still believing in Santa.)

For the past couple of years, we have it easier with Jase as he has been into Legos. The problem is that he doesn’t always build some of the more complicated sets or even if he does, they never stay put together and soon his room is overrun with Lego pieces. Beyond Legos, he is into video games, which are usually an easy purchase. The thing with his items is they are no longer cheap!star wars legos

For this year: We have bought him a Star Wars Lego set and a video game. We are still waiting on purchasing his gift from Santa as he hasn’t said what he wants to ask Santa for. (I get the feeling that he may no longer be a believer but he hasn’t said so yet.)

So we have navigated the gift buying for this year. But I expect the same dilemma will hit me next year.

Gaining an hour of sleep with DST

This weekend many of us in the United States (and the 70 other countries that have Daylight Saving Time) moved our clocks back an hour to enjoy an extra hour of sleep.

Yes, it was the end of Daylight Saving Time. (Note that is “Saving” and not “Savings” as it is often mispronounced.)

pocket watchWe rejoice when we gain that “extra” hour and whine when it is the spring and we “lose” an hour.

Now for those of you who don’t participate in Daylight Saving Time (or Summer Time for those of you abroad), this is a twice a year practice where we adjust our clocks in an order to conserve energy (though it hasn’t been proven to save energy in today’s world of technology) and increase active daylight hours.

If you want more information on DST, you can watch Katie Couric’s quick 3 minute video explaining Daylight Saving Time. https://www.yahoo.com/katiecouric/daylight-saving-time-201419336.html

This whole time changing thing is hard for many adults to adjust to so just imagine what it does for your kids. While it is nice to think that you could have an “extra” hour of sleep, most young kids don’t go for that. They went to bed at their normal time (let’s say 9 p.m.) and woke up at their normal time (7 a.m.) except now it is an hour earlier (6 a.m.). They don’t understand why mom and dad still want to sleep longer.

Then in the evening, those same kids are wondering why they are tired when the clock clearly indicates they have an hour before bedtime.

In the spring, it is often the opposite problem.  I will have to wake the kids up at 7 a.m. but their bodies think it is just 6 a.m. And later in the day, they will protest going to bed because the clock may show it is bedtime but their bodies are still revving to go.

Of the two time changes, the one that seems harder to adjust to is the one in the Spring – or maybe that is just me.

Now I know there are those parents who try to slowly adjust their kids’ wake/bedtimes leading up to the change but that has never worked for us especially now that the kids can tell time. For that matter, we also have given up trying to slowly changing their wake times from summer (where they slept in) to school year wake times.  Yes, it makes for a couple hard days but they adjust.

Many people dislike DST. They don’t see the use of it. Maybe you have seen this saying on Facebook or elsewhere.

When told the reason for daylight saving time, the Old Indian said, “Only the Government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

But DST was never about giving you more sunshine. The sun shine the same amount of time regardless of what your clock says. But it is a matter of when it is light.

In October, I walked my kids to school in the dark. (School starts at 7:35 and sunrise was about 7:45.) But this week, it will be light when we walk to school as sunrise is at 6:50. And of the two, I would rather be in the light when walking them to school.

Planning for our cruise is still under way

In just 61 days, my family – along with my parents and brother – will embark on a Caribbean cruise as a joint celebration for my dad’s 80th birthday and my husband and my 20th wedding anniversary.

cruise list

Yes, we got our passports taken care of in February (or March for our son since they didn’t think the first birth certificate was official). We booked our shore excursions early too.

Occasionally over the past few months, we have briefly talked about things to take on the cruise and even bought a few things – water shoes, biodegradable suntan lotion and a new camera since ours stopped working on our last beach trip.

Now being a major planner, I need to start thinking about what we are going to pack and whether we need to buy anything else for the trip. One of my major concerns is over packing. It is easy to want to bring everything you think you might need, but the cruise cabin is not very big. We won’t have tons of room so packing smartly is needed.

Formal Nights

CIMG2188On our cruise, there will be two “formal” nights. Soon after we booked our cruise in December, we bought my daughter two nice dresses that were on an after-Christmas sale. Both my husband and I are already set for these nights, but my son has never really had the opportunity to dress up. I thought we might get by with dress slacks and a dress shirt. No so. Jase wants a suit, so he can be like daddy. (My husband is an attorney and often must wear a suit, though he hates it.) Now we bought Lexie’s dresses the next size up since we were buying them eight months before the cruise. I have been holding off with buying Jase’s suit. i am too afraid of a growth spurt causing it not to fit. I think we will buy it in July – a mere month before the trip.

Toys and kid technology

Typically when we travel, the kids pack a backpack with toys, stuffed animals, and their iPad/iPods. On our trip to Disney World last year, they were required to be able to carry this backpack through the airport. On this trip, I assume we will do the same, but I really want to limit at least them bringing any small toys that could get lost. Part of me doesn’t think they will use their toys very often but there will be some down time where they may need to get away from all the stimulus of the cruise and relax in the room.  Their iPads will go on the trip too but will be regulated to staying in the cabin.

And packing isn’t the only thing I need to think about. I am going to have to figure out how much cash we need to take for tipping of the people on our shore excursion and for buy souvenirs at vendors who don’t take credit cards. That reminds me…I need to add letting the credit card company know we will be out of the country, so they don’t think our cards were stolen to my list. See? So much to do and think about for a planner like me.

Questions, Questions,Questions #AtoZChallenge

Qjpg“Are we there yet?”

“How much longer?”

“Why does that man have dark skin?”

“How was the Earth created?”

“Where do babies come from?”

“Why can’t I drop Lexie over the side of the railing?”

Kids are filled with questions. Sometimes it feels like they have an endless supply. Some are easy questions – Can I have a cookie? And some are hard – “Why do people die?”

We recently took the kids to Dallas for Spring Break. I can’t tell you how often we heard “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” It made the drive seem so much longer.

Of course, there are always those questions that parents don’t know how to answer. Lexie recently asked, “How the Earth came to be?” Now I know some parents might say God created it. And that could have been the simple way out but not for us. It turned out to be a question that couldn’t easily be answered while driving in the car.

Plus when answering, you have to think about how much your child can understand of the answer. This especially holds true for the inevitable question of where babies come from or how they get in mommy’s tummy. You kind of just have to feel out how much your child wants to know.

You can start by giving a short answer and see if they accept that, or if they have more questions. The main thing is not to overwhelm them with information that they don’t want or are not ready for.

Another technique would be to ask them what they think the answer to the question is. This can always lead to some hilarious answers but can also give you an insight as to why they are asking the question.

Check out this website for 9 commonly asked questions and how to answer them.

Abstract red colored neon lights with the word Why uid 1647863Of course, one of the most common questions asked is “Why?” So every time you give your child an answer they say, “Why?” (Or in the case of my niece “how come?”) This can be a frustrating thing where you want to go “Just because” or “Because I said so.”

There is simply no way to stop kids from asking questions. And really asking questions is a good thing. It is the way they learn. I just wish that they would sometimes wait to ask their questions. Such as asking, “Why is that person fat?” when you are standing in line next to said person.