Tag Archives: parenting

Make my day: Dena Reany’s summer vacation

Not a lot I can add to this, which came across my email in the middle of a challenging, get-the-magazine-to-the-printer day and gave me just the smile I needed.

Dear Karen and everyone at Raising Arizona Kids,

Just a quick thank you to all of you for choosing us for the MAY cover for your magazine, and the wonderful trip to Legoland California and our stay at The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa!

From the moment we arrived we felt blessed to have won this awesome trip for our family. The resort was so kid-friendly and convinient with little ones that I have encouraged all of my friends to stay there! They treated us like royalty. I made sure to inform others of your magazine, along with sharing the article I wrote and the fact you chose us to win the trip.

As parents we were able to “spoil” the boys with a Legoland toy store shopping spree because we were not worried about the cost of the trip. What a blessing and such fun for them! My husband and I built in alone time for each child, which allowed him to rest with our little Luke (2 1/2) and get away from the crowds, while Aidan (4 1/2) and I rode all of the roller coasters we could get in!

My favorite moment from the entire trip was seeing Aidan’s face (filled with joy and excitement) from 4 inches away as we rode the “dragon ride” (his favorite, too!) Luke loved the musical fountains, which allowed him to dance and make his own tune. (He already dances to his own drummer so this was perfect!) My husband Justin enjoyed the amazing Star Wars scenes in Lego form so we sent along a Darth Vader picture that captured this. All in all it was a fantastic vacation that allowed us to escape the heat of Arizona, but also appreciate the place we live and the magazine that celebrates “those who work and play in the Valley of the Sun!”

Thanks again! Hope you all are enjoying your summer!

Dena Reany
Phoenix

Understanding life with asthma

Darius Collins tries to blow on his pretend air tube while his parents watch.

Try this. Roll up a piece of paper. Stuff it with cotton balls. Wrap the roll in tightly wound rubber bands to hold the cotton in place.

Then put  your mouth up to one end and try to breathe. That’s what it feels like when a child is in the throes of an acute asthma attack.

Understanding what asthma is — what it does to the body and how to respond — can help children cope with a disease that is not curable, but is in most cases completely controllable. That’s why Cardon Children’s Medical Center provides free asthma education and support programs for families in the East Valley and beyond.

One such event was held last Saturday in a classroom overlooking Tempe’s Kiwanis Recreation Center indoor wave pool. I was there with RAK multimedia journalist Vicki Balint, who was producing a video about the asthma support group and education program.

Certified asthma educator Diana Braskett, RN, CPNP, AE-C, was stationed at the first table families encountered after signing in. She pulled out a diagram of the lungs, answered questions and showed children how to make a pretend air tube.

Diana Braskett demonstrates the air tube activity.

“The cotton balls simulate the effect of swelling,” she explained. “The rubber bands are muscles constricting.”

Having asthma can be tedious. Braskett knows; she has a mild case herself. “You get tired of taking medicine,” she says. “I can relate. It’s especially hard for the little ones. They don’t understand.”

But understanding is key to the ability to carry on, to stay healthy, to participate in the activities a child enjoys.

Children must become familiar with their own particular asthma “triggers,” which may include dust, allergies, seasonal changes, rain, humidity, cold, exercise, upper respiratory infections and more, Braskett told me.

They must learn modifications to avoid those triggers — sometimes something as simple as knowing to stay indoors when the weather (or pollution) is bad. And they must follow their doctor’s treatment plan to the letter.

Each child’s treatment plan is different, of course, so no one approach applies across the board. (Learn more about asthma on Cardon Children’s website.)

Asthma educator Kim Reiners talks to Keegan Palmer about a peak flow meter.

Surprisingly, exercise is usually encouraged. Swimming, especially, can be good for children with asthma (if they are not sensitive to chlorine) because it forces rhythmic breathing and helps them develop upper-body strength. Children for whom exercise can be an asthma trigger may be taught to use their “rescue meds” before they participate, Baskett says.

“Some parents are afraid to let their kids exercise when it can be the best thing for them,” adds Kim Reiners, R.N., CPNP, AE-C, who pioneered the asthma support group and education effort at Cardon Children’s. Her station at the event allowed kids the chance to blow hard into a peak flow meter to measure their speed of expiration, or ability to breathe out.

At another station, Paula White, R.N., CNP, AE-C, was leading a board game. While it didn’t have the most enticing name (“The Breathe Easy Asthma Education Interactive Tool,” by Merck), the kids seemed to enjoy the opportunity to drive little cars around a “city,” landing on destinations like hospitals and parks to learn specific facts about asthma.

Paula White shows Isaiah and Issac Salter how to playan asthma education board game as their mom watches.

Families that attended the program were issued free wristbands for a swim in the wave pool after the event. So at times it seemed the greatest challenge they faced that morning was finding the patience to wait until the pool opened.

Who is your parenting guru? (part 2)

Following up on yesterday’s post, the remaining five parenting experts recommended by Raising Arizona Kids e-newsletter subscribers:

KEVIN LEHMAN

Kevin Lehman, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned psychologist and New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 books offering techniques, tips and insights on parenting, marriage and relationship issuesMaking Children Mind Without Losing Yours is the one that first comes to my mind when I think about Lehman, the father of five children and a resident of Tucson. His other books explore topics like birth order, childhood memories, single parenting, the importance of dads and even marital sex.

“I have found sound advice, natural-consequence education, responsibility training and humor in reading Dr. Kevin Leman’s work,” a Valley teacher wrote. “His practical approach to child-rearing and even couples work as a unified entity in parenting is superior in my book. All of this work is presented in a straightforward and highly humorous way. He’s engaging and knows exactly what challenges we as parents face on a day-to-day basis. I have yet to see his presentation in person but hope to very soon.”

LAURA MARKHAM

Clinical psychologist Laura Markham, Ph.D.  is the founding editor of the website AhaParenting.com. Her relationship-based parenting model is based on the premise that children who feel connected want to cooperate, that children need guidance — limits with empathy when necessary — but never punishment.

“I follow her daily posts and receive emails,” wrote the mother of a 2-year-old son. “She is brilliant, and every bit of advice she offers is relevant and realistic. Many parenting advice experts are impressive and great but it is practically impossible to follow through on their advice. She actually relates advice to real people who have jobs and busy lives.”

Here’s an appearance Markham did on CNN’s Joy Behar Show, where she responded to questions about scare-tactics discipline:

KIM JOHN PAYNE

Kim John Payne, M.Ed. is the author of the book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids.

Kim John Payne. Photo courtesy of SimplicityParenting.com.

The book blames “too much stuff, too many choices and too little time” for the fact that so many children become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or are even diagnosed with behavioral problems. Payne has been a school counselor, adult educator, consultant, researcher, educator and a private family counselor for 27 years.

I have to admit that I’d never heard of Kim John Payne until I got this recommendation from a reader who happens to be a trainer for this approach. As someone who feels no small amount of stress from the constant struggle to simplify and prioritize my own time, tasks and overcrowded email queue, this philosophy sounded very appealing to me. As our world gets more complex and technology makes it possible for incredible amounts of information to reach our consciousness, I truly believe that the successful people of the future will be the ones who can quickly assess it, determine what to let in and know what to dismiss as irrelevant noise.

JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE

Joesph Chilton Pearce‘s  book, Magical Child, was a national bestseller. Pearce focuses on the importance of emotional development, parent-child bonding and imaginative play.

From a 1999 interview with Journal of Family Life: “Children’s emotional experience, how they feel about themselves and the world around them, has a tremendous impact on their growth and development. It’s the foundation on which all learning, memory, health and well-being are based. When that emotional structure is not stable and positive for a child, no other developmental process within them will function fully.”

“Joesph Chilton Pearce is beyond recommendation or discussion,” one Valley educator wrote.

JOHN ROSEMOND

John Rosemond has worked in the field of family psychology since 1971. He has written 14 parenting books and his columns are syndicated in 225 newspapers nationwide. His mission, as described on his website, is “to help America’s parents claim loving leadership of their families.”  His first of four faith-based books, Parenting by The Book, promises that “any parent who so desires can grow children who [are] happy, emotionally-healthy children who honor their parents and their families with good behavior and do their best in school.”

“His books are timeless and he speaks directly to parenting issues with humor and examples,” one reader wrote. “The opportunity to invite a parenting guru such as John Rosemond to speak in the Valley would be an event not to miss,” wrote another.

That brings us to 10. After I’d already decided to limit the list to 10, I got an email yesterday from someone who was wondering if it was too late to suggest another.

“I’m curious to know if anyone suggested Larry Winget, the Paradise Valley author of Your Kids Are Your Fault: A Guide for Raising Responsible, Productive Adults,” she wrote. “I realize his style is significantly different from most ‘gurus’ but he speaks in a down-to-earth practical tone that is refreshing.”

Larry Winget. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

We actually have some experience with Winget, who appeared in our June 2010 magazine. Read Dan Friedman’s interview and listen to the podcast.

I decided not to take some of the remaining suggestions too seriously. I’m not sure I’d consider the Duggar family (from the TLC show, “19 Kids and Counting”) to be the best resource. And then there was this suggestion:

“My first choice would be God or Jesus, and…those two are definitely unavailable for a speaking engagement.”

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If you’d like to get our e-newsletter, send your email address to debbie@raisingarizonakids.comPut “OPT IN” in your subject line.

Who is your parenting guru? (part 1)

Two weeks ago I posed that question to the 15,000 readers who subscribe to our e-newsletter. It was wonderful to watch my in-box as many thoughtful responses came back.

It all started when Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb came to me with a unique opportunity. One of her clients has proposed partnering with us to bring a notable parenting expert to the Valley to speak. We wanted to find out who, in an ideal world, that person should be.

As I reviewed the responses, I realized that the list of suggestions is in itself a tremendous resource for parents. So as we take the next steps — contacting these people to determine their availability and fees — I wanted to share our readers’ “Top 10″ list of parenting gurus, in alphabetical order. Five are listed today; five more will come tomorrow.

NAOMI ALDORT

Naomi Aldort is a self-described “parenting guide,” an internationally published writer and public speaker. Her book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy, promotes the idea that children need love and validation, not control and behavior modification. Her perspective is considered “attachment parenting friendly,” according to her website, though she does not use the word directly because of “its multiple and contradictory meanings.”

I watched the following video, where Aldort offers some insightful perspectives when a parent believes “my child doesn’t listen to me.”

JAMES DOBSON

James Dobson, Ph.D. founded Focus on the Family as a non-profit organization, established to strengthen Christian family values. What began with a radio program on a few stations in 1977 has grown to a network of more than 3,000. He gives advice on Christian marriages, families and parenting through the ministry of Family Talk radio.

ADELE FABER AND ELAINE MAZLISH

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, authors of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will TalkSiblings Without Rivalry and several other books. Their work, based on the philosophis of renowned child psychologist Haim Ginott, Ph.D., suggest ways of communicating that make a profound difference in relationships with children. (Both MaryAnn and I are huge fans of these books, which were widely referenced back when we were both taking parenting classes.)

JIM FAY AND FOSTER CLINE

Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline, M.D. developed the Parenting with Love and Logic approach from 75 years of combined experience working with and raising kids. Like their books, Love and Logic seminars provides simple, practical techniques to help parents have more fun and less stress while raising responsible kids of all ages.

One of our readers, who has children 8 and 10 years old, wrote to share the fact that she is reading the Parenting with Love and Logic book. “It has really changed the way we parent and everyone in the family is more respectful to one another,” she write. “Our children are taking more responsibility and learning from their behaviors. [Fay and Cline] also have a website with an email newsletter that I receive weekly, which reinforces the book and reminds us how to parent. I would definitely go to a seminar led by these authors and I would tell my friends about it.”

Here is a sample from one of Jim Fay’s presentations:

STEVEN HUGHES

Steven J. Hughes, PhD, LP, ABPdN, is an assistant professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and maintains a private practice in St. Paul, where he specializes in the assessment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other learning and behavioral problems.

A parent himself, he chose Montessori education for his own family and is a frequent guest lecturer at the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota and a Montessori schools around Minnesota and Wisconsin. In his talks, Hughes describes how Maria Montessori’s brain-based approach to education “provides an unparalleled foundation for the development of academic, social, and executive functions critical for advanced problem solving and lifetime success,” according to his website goodatdoingthings.com. A book is coming out soon.

Tomorrow: Five more parenting experts our readers recommend.

An older, wiser mom

My son Andy’s birthday is today. He’s 26 years old. The number makes me gasp.

My thoughts are pulled back to the weeks surrounding his birth. The mystery, the worry, the pain — and the utter joy. And the vague recollection of a newspaper article that appeared when he was just five weeks old.

Before I got married, went to graduate school and had my son, I was a bureau chief for the Arizona Republic. A lot of the reporters and photographers still knew me. So when they needed a photograph of a new mom with her baby for a story they were planning to run, they called me.

Photographer Michael Ging came out to the little condo my husband and I were renting in north Phoenix and took a bunch of pictures. When the story appeared in the paper on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 1985, it included this photo, which will always be a cherished favorite:

Photo by Michael Ging.

I must have read the article, but I was probably so excited about the picture — or so overwhelmed by my role as a new mom — that I didn’t remember what it was about. When memories of  the photo surfaced today, I decided to revisit the story.

So I went to my three-ring binder labeled “1985″ and pulled out the yellowed clipping.

“A Different Kind of Parental Guidance,” by then Republic staffer Linda Helser, was about a resource for older first-time moms. It described a fabricated character named Rosalie, who had her first baby at 35. This professional wonder had graduated magna cum laude, enjoyed yearly promotions at her job and had married a successful guy with whom she took European vacations.

The arrival of her baby completely threw her for a loop.

“In Phoenix, there are many more older women having babies today, and they probably know less about infant care than even the young ones,” Helser quoted a local parenting expert as saying. The story described how these older, better-resourced moms were seeking parenting education with the same kind of vigor with which they’d pursued education and career training.

I was 29. Raising Arizona Kids wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye. But something about that newspaper article must have stuck in the back recesses of my mind. Because four years and one more son later, I was planning the launch of the Valley’s first monthly magazine for families. By then, I’d realized what Helser’s story meant by “mothers who are wise enough to admit they don’t know it all.”

Superheroes who are headed to see “Thor”

I’ve been frustrated with my blog lately. No time, no energy and an aggravating problem with the RSS feed that is preventing it from even showing up on our website’s main blogs page. I’ve got IT people working on that.

But today I am back. Ever since my post about “My life with superheroes,” I’ve been eager to share some of the cute pictures I’ve been getting from readers.

We asked families to send us pictures of the superheroes in their family for a chance to win tickets to a Saturday sneak preview screening of “Thor.” In the epic adventure, “The God of Thunder” discovers what it really means to be a hero.

The contest ended Wednesday and the complete list of winners is here. These are my favorite pictures:

Abigail Bayless Feldman of Phoenix, who is 7 now, but was 4 when this picture was taken.

Josh Hall of Mesa, who is 4. This was at his (rock star?) superhero birthday party.

Five-year-old Keagan Lewis of Phoenix.

Trinidad Jimenez, 12, of Phoenix.

Jonathan Wenzel of Surprise, now 4, was 2 in this Halloween photograph.

Eight-year-old Lucas Lundstrom, aka Batman.

Sharing happy news

When Dana McGuinness of Chandler and her 2-year-old son Gavin posed for our October 2010 cover, you couldn’t even tell she was pregnant. All you saw was a beautiful young mom and her adorable son, both of them relaxed and enjoying their day at McCormick Stillman Railroad Park in Scottdale.

Dana is the public relations director at ASU Gammage, so she corresponds frequently with our “Stage Mom” arts blogger, Lynn Trimble, to keep her posted on what’s going on at the venue.

On Tuesday, Lynn got some news of a very different variety. I was delighted when she passed along this message from Dana:

Just a quick note to tell you you Liam arrived on March 25 at 7:25am. He was
7 lbs, 12 oz and 20 inches long. He has a full head of black hair and what
look like blue eyes. So far has been a great eater and sleeper. His older
brother Gavin is enjoying getting to know him. We made it home from the hospital yesterday and are adjusting to our new life.

Congratulations to Dana, proud daddy Sean and big brother Gavin!

Gavin checks out his little brother.

100 mompreneurs and counting

It was longtime Raising Arizona Kids contributor Brittney Walker who came up with the idea of running a weekly feature on our website about local mothers who are running businesses.

Hard to believe we’ve already profiled 100 of them in our Monday RAK Mompreneur feature.

Brittney wrote the section for awhile, until she took a break to focus on family, community and church responsibilities. (We’re happy to say she’s got the writing bug again and has several assignments in the works.)

We gave the assignment to Brooke Mortensen, who interned with us right after she graduated from college in the spring of 2010 and continues to write for us as a freelancer.

Between the two of them, Brittney and Brooke have covered a wide range of mom-owned businesses. They’ve profiled photographers, jewelry makers, cooks/caterers/bakers and candy makers. They’ve interviewed moms who make fitness fun, moms who help other moms stay organized, moms with a knack for fashion — or finding deals, or dispensing advice — and even a “multi-mompreneur” who runs several businesses concurrently.

Certainly these moms are not lacking in energy, creativity or drive. They are a diverse bunch from all kinds of backgrounds. Each has a unique and interesting story of the journey that brought her to this place in life. But there are two things  that unite them all: passion for what they do and the desire to live life on their own terms so they can keep family as their first and most important priority.

As one of the Valley’s veteran mompreneurs (we started Raising Arizona Kids 22 years ago in my then-2-year-old’s nursery), I have great respect for those priorities and a deep and empathetic appreciation for how terribly challenging it can be to live up to them.

There is nothing harder than being a mom. And there are few things harder than running a business. When you’re trying to do both, your highs are very high and  your lows are frighteningly low. On your worst days, you are ruled by questions and doubt. You wonder why you keep at it. On your best days, you feel enormous pride and a deep sense of fulfillment.

And when you’ve been at it as long as I have, you start to gain a sense of the bigger picture. It’s not just about building a business. It’s about building a community — a family of people who care about something just as deeply as you do and sometimes even more. People who have developed their own threads of friendship and meaning within a context of shared purpose that wouldn’t even exist if someone hadn’t thought, “I wonder if I could…?”

Two sides of Debra Rich Gettleman

I love this photo of Debra Rich Gettleman, which was taken by Valley photographer Mark Gluckman and is published with his permission. It shows Debra in a scene from “Strangers in the Bedroom,” one of two, one-act plays by Harold Pinter playing through Sept. 4 at Theatre Artists Institute in North Phoenix.

I love the photo because it’s a visually intriguing portrait (Debra’s character plays a married woman openly carrying on an affair), but also because it suggests something more: two sides of a passionate and complicated personality. The Debra I know.

Debra has been a contributor to our magazine for many years. (The oldest article I could  find in our online archives was “Get your grimy hands off my belly!”, which she wrote as she was awaiting the birth of her son Eli, now 6.

Her articles and her blog, “Unmotherly Insights,” consistently rank highest in reader response. But the comments aren’t always positive.

Continue reading

Can you spell “winners”…?

The top spellers from each grade were seated at the front of the room, a giant map of the world behind them. They glanced around nervously as parents and guests arrived. In less than an hour, one of them would be the school’s spelling bee champion.

I was there to emcee the event, which took place at San Tan Learning Center in Gilbert yesterday morning. My job was to give a short talk before the bee commenced. The school’s founders, Kristopher and Rita Sippel, thought it was important to have someone in a writing-related field kick off the event by explaining why proper spelling continues to be important throughout life.

Finalists (from left): Maahi Ameer (first grade), Amanda O'Hara (second grade), Matt Joanes (third grade), Matthew Bujor (fourth grade) and Kimball Conover (fifth grade).

This was an historic “first annual” event at the school, which is participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee — an opportunity available to any private, public or charter school (and even homeschooled students) around the country. The 83-year-old program was created to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

I participated in the program myself as a fifth grader. After placing second in Alamosa County, Colo., I traveled to Denver to participate at the state competition. I didn’t make it past the written exam, but I never forgot the experience. And it added fuel to my already burning desire to follow a career that involved reading, writing — and communicating with words.

Maahi realizes he's won the spelling bee.

Yesterday’s competition was a bit of an upset. First grader Maahi Ameer emerged the victor after a hard-fought battle through several rounds with third-grader Matt Joanes after other finalists in the second, fourth and fifth grades were eliminated. Matt got tripped up by the homonym “missile,” spelling it “mistle.” Maahi followed up by spelling both “straightforward” and “octopus” correctly, making him the winner.

Maahi’s mom was there with his baby sister. I watched her as she videotaped the event and noted her reaction when he stumbled on a word early in the final rounds and it looked like Matt might win. She was more nervous than he was.

“Maahi must be a voracious reader!” I said to her after the event.

“Well, not really,” she said.

“He must really practice a lot!” I said.

“Well, not really,” she said. “Yesterday he wanted to ride his bike so I told him he could do that for an hour if he’d also practice his spelling words for an hour.”

What I finally learned about Maahi is that he’s one of those educational sponges who remembers what he sees, reads and hears. So spelling comes somewhat naturally to him, which is fortunate. But he has his work cut out for him. As his school’s representative, he’ll get a whole new list of words to prepare for the regional spelling bee in February. If his luck holds, he’ll go on to the state bee in March. Whoever emerges as Arizona’s top speller will travel to Washington, D.C. for the national competition.

Kristopher Sippel congratulates winner Maahi Ameer.

San Tan Learning Center is a K-6 charter school located at 1475 S. Higley Rd. in Gilbert. Tucked in a quiet corner behind a retail complex at Higley and Ray Roads, it evolved as a natural extension of its sister school, San Tan Montessori Private Prep Academy, a private preschool.

The schools’ founders, Kristofer and Rita Sippel, are an educational dream team. Rita is a certified Montessori instructor with a master’s degree in education and supervision. Kris modestly describes himself as “the guy who keeps the lights on” but he recently completed a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction. (Rita also is planning to work on a Ph.D.) “We really feel it’s important to have the credentials,” Kris told me. “It gives parents confidence in the program.”

Here’s something that gave me confidence in the program. After the spelling bee concluded, Kris made an announcement to the kids who were eliminated. He encouraged them to check with spelling judge (and parent volunteer) Tammy White so they could learn what tripped them up. I was impressed when I saw runner-up Matt’s concentrated focus as he listened to Tammy explain the difference between “mistle” and “missile.”

Clearly these kids are getting it. Competition is fun but it’s not the end game.

Maahi's mom, Shakila Arshad, captures a tense moment on her video camera.