Alerting teachers to life threatening allergies

My sister sent me this image of her little one and it was such a cute idea I had to share.

Her children have some pretty severe allergies but neither are old enough to be able to articulate exactly how bad the allergies are. She wanted a simple way that the teacher could share with substitutes and other staff about the boys allergies. She came up with a simple plan.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Small dry erase board – the boys made these at a Home Depot Free Kids Craft Day



Write the child’s allergies on the board and then make a “NO” sign over them. Have the child hold the board while you take a picture. The image can then be emailed or printed at a local store for a few cents. The teacher can put printed images in her substitute folder or place them with any paperwork being distributed to other teachers (art, gym, music). Even if the teacher doesn’t know the child’s name she will be able to recognize that this child has a severe allergy.



Customized Binders

It’s back to school season again and this year my youngest Spawn needed a 3 ring binder. Not wanting to spend $6 on a zip up style binder we decided to get a cheaper, plain binder and decorate it ourselves. Here’s what we did.


  • Binder (any size), cost between $0.97 and $2 depending on where you shop.
  • Printed Duct Tape Sheets, cost $1.88 at Wal-Mart (we used 2)
  • Scissors and Markers


Remove any stickers or tags from the items. Be sure to rub off the adhesive residue well. Layout the design that you want for your binder. Cut as necessary to match the pattern or design. Peel and stick. When sticking you want to resist the urge to wrap the spine of the binder. Instead decorate the front and back and then cut a strip for the spine if you want to decorate it. If you don’t the tape will bunch when the binder is open causing it to loose its stickiness and eventually fall off. Here’s our finished design.

For our binder, we further embellished by putting my son’s name on the binder. He’s leaving the space at the bottom to write what it’s for once he finds out from the teacher. This was his design. You could use stencils, other stickers or Washi tape to design your binder. You could glue scrapbook paper although I haven’t tried that yet.

The end of a chapter

17 years ago I never even really thought about what this moment would be like. We had just moved into a new home as our apartment was to small for 3. That August, 4 weeks before my due date, we welcomed a 6 lbs 9 oz baby home. He hit the ground running and hasn’t looked back. Walked early, talked early and developed a love of reading early.

We homeschooled until he was 12 at which point we decided to send him to a private school for more advanced subjects. At 12 he tested into the 12th grade academically, but we knew he wasn’t ready emotionally for high school. Instead he went into 7th grade and later high school, where he majored in Drafting. Despite all his extra curricular activities he still found time to participate in a college credit program. He is graduating high school with a few college credits already under his belt.

He’s graduating high school. It sounds so foreign. It’s going to be strange having him leave for college in the fall. He has a confidence and understanding of the world that I never had at that age. He knows what he wants and has a plan to get it. I’m so proud.

The Non-Parent Problem

You have to love the non-parent. Their children will be perfect. That’s right I said will be. The non-parent is that person who doesn’t have kids yet but knows exactly what’s wrong with yours.

My youngest child has always been a challenge. While I’m not sure what is compelling his behavior I do know that non-parents have even less of a clue about it than I do. When he was 2, and completely non-verbal, we visited a church while out of state visiting family. The Sunday school teacher, a non-parent who had met my child for the first time only an hour prior,  informed me that he wasn’t pronouncing his “phonomes” (pronounced “F0 – Gnomes”) correctly. She said this with such pride that you would have thought she’d found a cure for AIDS.

She apparently failed to recognize that I majored in Speech Pathology in college. I’m also fully aware that phonome is not a word, medical or otherwise. It was wrong but there was a sadistic glee in signing to him that we were leaving and watching her stand there nodding, like she was waiting for him suddenly start talking. For the record he did start talking, 3 years later, after having speech therapy.

I have discovered over the last few years that the best way to deal with non-parents is by using humour.  Humour disarms the non-parent who is completely prepared to try to convince you that they know best, despite being a non-parent. The trick is to be subtle, as in the example above. This allows you to defuse the need to punch them without starting a verbal altercation. Often they either walk away baffled that they missed some obvious sign of the problem or they stand there trying to pretend that they “knew it” all along.

Please feel free to share your non-parent stories in the comments.

Simple Learning Games for Kids

Even before I homeschooled I was always trying to figure out fun ways to help my children learn. These games don’t require a degree in education or a need lot of money to do. Most don’t even require any preparation. Most of these games were originally designed for younger children, but a few simple modifications and the games can continue to be used with older children.

Alphabet/Word Game

This game has no physical items and can be easily adjusted to your circumstances or child’s ability. The basic concept is to pick a letter and have your child tell you when they find the letter or an object that begins with that letter. As the child gets older you can run through the alphabet one letter at a time instead of focusing on a single letter. With older children you can have them pick words were the letter comes at the end or have them spell the words that they pick.

War Card Game - Battle

Image by PlanningQueen

Math War

The card game war is a childhood classic. It requires two players and a traditional deck of cards.

Basic Rules:

  1. Each player should have a half of the deck. Keep the cards face down.
  2. The players turn over the top card of their deck at the same time.
  3. The person with the higher card wins both cards and places them on the bottom of their deck
  4. If both cards are the same then you “declare war” by placing 3 cards upside down on the played card, then play a fourth card right side up.
  5. The person with the higher value card wins all the cards in play.
  6. The player with all of the cards is the winner.

Math Rules:

The only difference here is that the cards in step 2 are added or multiplied together. The player who correctly solves the math problem first wins the cards. Steps 4 and 5 are eliminated in the Math Rules due to the math problems being solved. In this version face cards are worth 10 points. So a King and 4 would be 14 or 40 depending on if you are doing addition or multiplication.

Pass the Pigs

This game can be found in toy stores for about $5. I always keep this game in my purse, even now, as it’s a great way to pass time in restaurants while working on math skills. The game consists of 2 plastic pigs and a score pad. The pigs have a dot drawn on one side of them. The pigs are rolled like dice and points are given based on how they land. If they land with one dot up and one dot down then you have a “Pig Out” and you lose your turn.

We have modified the rules to eliminate the score pad. Instead we continue rolling, and adding, until someone pigs out. The pigs are then passed to the next person to see if they can beat the previous score. I prefer this method as it gives the child practice with adding bigger numbers and the game can be easily ended when food arrives at the table or the doctor is ready to see us.

What’s in a Name?

Picking a name is the one of the most important things you will do. This applies if you are naming a child, a business or even your pet. The name has to sound right and fit with the purpose for it.  A wrong name can lead to a lot of unintended headaches. There was a time when a very strict process was followed for naming. Modern society has done away the over all rules however some religious, cultural and family traditions continue. Here are a few things I recommend you consider when you decide to name something.

Naming Children

Top 10 names for 2011

When you are naming children you need to consider several factors.

  • Tradition – Many families have traditions about naming children.
  1. A popular tradition is to name a first-born male child after his father. This practice comes from the days when there were standardized rules about how to name children. While most of the rules have lost favor with popular society this one remains. If you do have this tradition, or would like to start it, with your family then you need to consider not only the child’s name but also how you will distinguish him from his father. a common practice is to add a y to the end of the name. John Jr. becomes “Johnny”. However, Johnny may feel that this version of the name is childish once he becomes an adult. And when John Jr has John III – then you will have all 3 at family functions and the mayhem will ensue. Trust me I’m named after both grandmothers and 2 aunts. There was nothing you could call me that didn’t get at least one other person thinking you were talking to them. Strictly speaking a child is only a “Junior” if his first, middle and last name are the same as the fathers. If he is named for an uncle then he would be considered “The Second”.
  2. A newer tradition is to name the children all starting with the same constant or theme. I’m not really sure how this idea started but it was highly publicized and gained momentum with the Duggars television show  “18 (19) Kids and Counting”, where all the children’s names start with the letter J after the father Jim Bob. There is another variation on this practice in which the girls are named with one letter and the boys with another.
  • Spelling – A recent trend is to use standard names and spell them differently. So Michelle becomes Mychele. While I can appreciate the creativity it will need a lot of patience as it will be frequently mispronounced or misspelled. It does no one, particularly not the child who may become self-conscience, any good to constantly hear ranting over their name. A simple way to check the readability of a name is to write the name down and have other people read it back to you. If the majority of people aren’t saying it the way you think it should be pronounced then chances are the spelling will need to be tweaked to get the desired results.
  • Unintentional Meanings  – Some parents attempt to be creative by naming their children words that create a phrase or saying. This can be very creative for Sierra Dawn or Summer Rose but very unfortunate for Holly Wood and Candy Kane.
  • Name Order – A child’s name will be said in various combinations. In most cases there are 3 main combinations for a name.
  1. First name – used by family or friends.
  2. First and last name – used by teachers, doctors, and in more formal settings.
  3. First, middle and last name – used in formal documents like diplomas, and when in severe trouble.

The exception is when a nickname comes into play. When considering a name all 3 aspects need to be taken into account. Let’s say that you want to name a daughter Bethany Annie Thompson (a made up name for the purposes of demonstrating my point). On the surface this looks fine but look more closely and you’ll see concerns. First of all the initials will spell BAT. This means that using initials on anything will bring teasing. Bethany Annie is also very hard to say aloud. Go on try it. It has to do with having a vowel sound after the soft Y sound and the addition of another soft Y sound at the end of Annie. Another potential concern is that Bethany may be shortened as a nickname to Beth. Unless we make a big deal out of calling our child by their full name, in this case Bethany, then others will adopt nicknames for them. If the first and middle name are both short then there it is likely that the child will be referred to by both names. Some parents do this intentionally, others hate it.

Naming a Business

A business has different naming criteria than a child, regardless of the modern trend to name the child after a corporation in the hopes of getting some sort of advertising payment. A business name should be clear as to the function of the business. Name’s like “Sally’s Place” and “Joseph Micheal’s” tell you nothing about what type of business it is. Instead of Sally’s Place try Sally’s Tavern, which implies that that it’s a bar.  Joseph Micheal’s could use Joseph Micheal’s Photography. It clearly states what the business is although it is a long name. In this case JM Photography or J. Micheal’s Photography might be a better fit.

When choosing names be aware of how the words go together. I wouldn’t recommend that Mr. Master name his Bait shop after himself.  If using initials then be aware of what other meanings the initials or acronym may have.  Thomas and Ann will want to reconsider using their initials for their business name, unless they are opening a strip club. The business name is the first thing that people will see and recognize about the brand. The name should be right for the business and attractive to the target market.

When considering a name take a minute to search for that name and see who else might be using it and what their business does. The worst thing for any business is to have it confused with a similarly named one. One of my first businesses was named NC Photography. It took all of 3 months for me to regret the decision. People were confused about why NC (as in North Carolina) Photography was located in the state of Connecticut. The trouble only became worse when the bank started to mix up my accounts with another business “NC Photo” who opened in the same town.

As with children’s names take a moment to write your business name. Say it out loud. Share it with a few trusted friends or family and note their reaction. Not just what they say, but how they react. If an eyebrow goes up or they are trying hard to fight off a hysterical outburst then you may want to reconsider the name.  Having a good name is not a guarantee to success but it is a step in the right direction.