Parent/Teacher Conference: My Drama Queen

January 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm , by

sophiadramaSophia is only 4 years old, so her parent/teacher conference is less about what she’s learning and more about how she’s behaving. I know that she knows her numbers and letters and I’m sure she’ll do just fine when she transitions to kindergarten next year (stay tuned for a future post when I laugh at myself for being this confident!). But for now, I just want to know how she’s behaving with the other kids. We didn’t get a lot of surprises. “Sophia is a leader.” “Sophia is very dramatic.” She even got an “O” for “outstanding” in the “sings along with songs” and “expresses herself well” categories.

Believe me, this is not a surprise. My husband and I both enjoyed performing in plays and musical presentations back at school. And Sophia’s “creative play” at home ranges from strutting her stuff in a pretend fashion show, belting out tunes from Disney movies (solos only, thankyouverymuch!), and spinning and leaping like she’s Clara from the Nutcracker.  And when you ask her to smile for a picture, you get an over-the-shoulder pose full of attitude.

But what do you do with a dramatic kid? There’s no fighting it—it’s just who she is. How do you hone those skills into something useful?  Listen, if someone happened to spot her “doing her thing” and offered her a high-paying TV commercial, I’d have a hard time refusing. But no, we will not be going to any auditions. Blame my fear that she’d end up like Lindsay Lohan. For now, we’ll just let her be a kid. An overly dramatic, runway strutting, superstar singing, over-the-top dancing kid.

So, tell me…what are your kids like? Shy? Dramatic? How do you nurture their personality quirks?

Do Good: 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve

December 14, 2009 at 10:56 am , by

51Dm5fyN7hL._SL500_Here at LHJ we think one of the most powerful ways to make our world a better place is to teach our kids to give back. Helping children learn why it’s important to care about the people and world around them—and giving them the tools to help out in their communities—is one of the best ways to spark change (and raise really good kids while you’re at it!). That’s why we really like 18-year-old Sondra Clark’s book, 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve. It’s geared toward tweens and gives great suggestions for kids with different interests and hobbies—projects with animals, ideas for crafty kids, eco suggestions and lots more.

Sondra knows her stuff: She’s the daughter of do-gooder and speaker Silvana Clark, and has taught crafts in Africa, served breakfast to needy kids in Peru, and distributed shoes in Guatemala. Pretty impressive, right?

You’ll find ideas to get any kid excited about giving back: Animal lovers can collect old tennis balls to entertain dogs in animal shelters. Little foodies can bake goodies for the Great American Bake Sale. Have a tech-genius? She can teach senior citizens how to use the computer. Many of the ideas would be great to do as a family too.

What about you–do you volunteer or do projects to give back as a family? Have you tried to get your kids interested in giving back?

What My Son’s Preschool Taught Me

September 24, 2009 at 4:52 pm , by

A preschool lunch made by Wendy Copeland (, a mom who's way out of my league!I was getting a bit lax in the eco-friendly arena. But preschool whipped me into shape.

My son just started preschool for the first time last week, and I thought I’d be the  dorky parent who sends carrot sticks and soy nuts for snacks when everyone else gets Lunchables or some other food that’s “fun,” mainly due to being based on white flour and sugar and housed in disposable cartons, boxes and bags covered with brightly-colored, bug-eyed licensed characters. For at least a minute or two, I seriously worried that he might be a preschool social reject because of his uncool, health-conscious lunches.  (In reality, I think he has a couple years before he risks becoming a pariah on those grounds.)

Turns out I seriously underestimated my ultraprogressive, parent-run preschool.  No Blues Clues-emblazoned Yoplait for this crew! Right in the family handbook, it spelled out a lunch and snack policy that was healthier and way more eco-friendly than I was planning to be. Healthy lunch and snacks only, they said, no sweets allowed—and please send food in reusable containers, with real cups, spoons and forks and a cloth napkin. “This practice will eliminate the waste of paper and plastic and help your child learn to preserve the earth’s resources.”

Whoa. I was planning on being eco-friendly and all, but no yogurt cartons, pretzel packs, or juice boxes EVER? What about those little containers of organic applesauce? Don’t they buy me some moral high ground, despite the plastic? What about my guilty addiction to Ziploc bags? And it would never have occurred to me to send a cloth napkin to school. The responsible citizen in me thought these were excellent rules, but the harried mom thought, “yikes!” I had some shopping to do.

After totally striking out at local stores—cloth napkins for kids and eco-friendly lunch paraphernalia are apparently far from the norm, even in my famously progressive neighborhood—I went online and found some great products (my favorites listed below). Scott was ready to go green.

But something else happened. Preparing his healthy, eco-friendly lunches guilted me into doing the same for myself—and because of his preschool’s rules, I was ready with all the right containers.

The ReSnackIt sandwich bag

I swear my turkey on whole wheat tastes way better in its hip-looking ReSnackIt reusable bag than it would in a Ziploc.  Even those drearily healthy carrot sticks have taken a step up: now they get dipped in the hummus I put in one of the tiny little Sassy containers I got for Scott.

The transformation goes further—as I put his cute cloth napkin into his lunchbox, I find myself thinking that, instead of a paper towel, I really could use a cloth kitchen towel to dry the counter after sponging it. Meanwhile, at work, the Envirosax company sent me a 5-pack of their portable, reusable shopping bags. Thanks to Scott’s preschool giving me a shove in the ecologically correct direction, I decided to try them.

An Envirosax shopping bag

Turns out they’re not only pretty, but practical: They fold up easily to the size of a Kleenex pocket pack, so you can always keep one in your purse, and they have nice long handles so you can hang them from your shoulders, making grocery-carrying a lot easier (a big deal in New York, where you have to shlep your bags for blocks).  Plus, Justin Timberlake uses them. How cool is that?

The upshot: After two weeks, I’ll bet all the paper and plastic Scott and I would have generated—but haven’t—would fill our kitchen garbage can.  I still use too many paper towels and too much plastic, but I feel great about the changes I’ve made. It took some effort to get myself set up with products that make re-using easy, but now it really isn’t so hard to pour some milk into a thermos or spoon some yogurt or applesauce from a big jar to a small container that I can throw in the dishwasher later. I wouldn’t have done it without a push—our culture is set up to encourage excess packaging and the idea that things can be heedlessly thrown away, and it’s so much easier to just go with it.

So, what I’ve learned so far in preschool? Just like the teacher says, rules really can make the classroom a better and happier place. And sometimes, peer pressure can actually be a force for good!

Do you have an eco-friendly lunch product you swear by? Check out my faves, after the jump: Read more