Common Sense Parenting and General Life Coaching

Back to Business

I’ve been away from this blog for too long. Some of you have mentioned this to me several times. I feel I should be truthful with you dear readers. The truth is — I have a life. I know it may be hard to understand, but I simply don’t have time to sit in front of my laptop all day, thinking of fun stuff to discuss with you.  Though I have the ability, I do not tweet on Twitter. I do not walk around with my face in a digital screen texting people in the next room. I don’t have TV.

We could discuss why I don’t have television. That could be an interesting debate.

How about a bit of a chat about why strangers insist on  using the toilet when they are on the phone with me. Don’t they know I can hear them! It’s disgusting. One day I am going to say to the caller -” Excuse me Mr. Jones, do you know I can hear you peeing??” Would he even care?

There are more serious things we could debate. Things like Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or as I like to call it, Spoiled Brat Disorder. How about ADHD vs just being a kid? Why is it not OK to expect my 10 month old to be toilet trained? What should a parent do when their kid calls them a #*&!^%  name? Who is the grown-up, you or your child? When your child says “jump”, do you ask “how high”? Why is everything a disorder? Why do people refuse to take responsibility for their own behavior?

Why are there braille numbers on a drive up ATM?

The list is endless. Let me know what YOU would like to read about

Bath house In Sharon Springs, NY During Harvest Fest 2011

There is an exciting affair that converges here every September. It’s called the Harvest Fest. Thousands of people show up here so they have to park their cars in lots all around town and take the shuttle, also known as the head-start school bus, into the village. There are bunches of vendors under little white tents selling everything you can imagine –as long as its organic. There are tours of particular homes, as well as exclusive lunches and dinners using local foods, and even a “Hop”, which is another name for a type of barn dance. It has it’s history in hops picking—but I won’t go into that for now.  These events are usually sold out weeks in advance. This giant bash and all the nail-biting excitement was fashioned by two guys from Manhattan who have taken this town by storm. They are known as The Fabulous Beekman Boys.

Sharon Springs is normally a sleepy, pocket-sized town in the middle of New York State where the dairy cows outnumber the residents. During the Victorian Era, the well-to-do folks like the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers would come here to partake of the healing waters and wile away their summers in the lap of luxury. Sadly, in the last 60 years Sharon Springs has been outdone by progress. The town fell out of favor with the rich and famous, and became a great place to watch the grass er..I mean..hay grow.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge moved to this sleepy, historic town a few years ago and purchased a grand plantation known as the Beekman Mansion, where they have fashioned their farm. Let me tell you,  this is no ordinary farm.

If you were to drive by this lowly domicile on any day of the year, you would see something reminiscent of a Currier and Ives painting. The gorgeous country mansion, the enormous red barn, the rolling hills, this place has it all. It always looks magnificent. This amazes me.

There are goats, chickens, pigs and at least one Llama –named Polka Spot –she has her own fan club, on this farm. We can’t see the animals from the street though. How Josh, Brent and their buddy, Farmer John, manage to hide the animals and their…umh…excrement, is beyond me.  Is there a fairy that magically whisks away all things farm-like? If so, I WANT ONE OF THOSE FAIRIES.

Is it like the story of The Elves And The Shoemaker, where the elves come out at night and take away all the bad, messy, smelly stuff? If so, bring ‘em on! I have farm animals, I know how much they STINK! I’ve been in other people’s barns –especially cow barns, and they stink too. I bet Brent and Josh’s goats don’t stink at all. Perhaps they have found a way to keep them from making poop in the first place.

Every few days we need to shovel out the barn and pile the stuff someplace. I have never seen a pile of poop on the Beekman property. I see they have a tractor, but it always seems to remain in the same place in the front yard –by the way it is a very pretty tractor. It’s placed “just so” to enhance that painting I mentioned earlier.

Perhaps it’s the magic of television. Josh and Brent have a reality TV show on the Green Channel which follows their exploits as they balance working in NYC and on the “farm” at the same time. Their posse includes a film crew that flutters around the boys much of the time. By the way, no one who lives here can access the Green Channel.

The boys happen to be friends with Martha Stewart. Maybe Martha is the Magic Fairy that keeps everything Currier and Ives-ish!!  Perhaps she could stop at MY HOUSE to work her enchanted fairy stuff?? She has been seen in the neighborhood.

Now I have never been much of a groupie, so perhaps I am missing some big part of the picture here.  I just don’t get why anyone would drive for hours to stand in line for another hour to meet two guys from NYC? So far, I haven’t stood in line to meet anyone in my entire life –except maybe Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. If you show up in town during a regular weekend, you’d be sure to see one of the boys hanging around the store. Check out the goat’s milk soap while you’re there. It smells really good.

So what is the big fascination? Is it because they are gay? Is it because they are on TV? Is it because they know Martha Stewart, Rosie O’Donnell and Rachel Ray? Is it because they are from NYC? Why don’t the boys bring Polka Spot to the Harvest Fest anyway?

They have a great website. People from all over the world are on that site 24/7. A person could spend all day there reading blogs, getting recipes, looking at lovely photos, buying stuff….but I digress. You should check out their site at

The Beekman Boys and all that comes with them are plenty of fun. They bring lots of people and lots of excitement to town, but I still don’t get it. Perhaps someone out there who does get it will comment on this post! I could really use their marketing skills.

Speaking of Tantrums

There was a time when we expected nothing of our children but obedience,

as opposed to the present,

when we expect everything of them but obedience.

Anatole Broyard

My own lovely daughter Sadie was the queen of tantrums. This is a child who threw herself in the road because she couldn’t ride the “megaly round” –that’s  merry-go-round for those of you who don’t understand toddler speak — at the mall.

Sadie would do something bratty and then run away as fast and  far as her little feet could carry her. We live in the country so she could run pretty far, directly toward a rather large stream that was more than deep enough for her to drown in. Her face was filled with glee as she raced away from me and toward impending doom. Once she actually made it into the water, and for a few moments, was floundering around in the cold stream until her much older sister jumped in and plucked her out. Sadie was none too happy about being rescued, kicking and twisting her way out of her sister’s arms. Older sister promptly plopped Sadie on the ground and let her continue to scream.

         Note ~~ after this episode I went out and bought one of those child leashes that I said I would never own. People give you really nasty looks when you walk your kid on one of those things, but I decided that dirty looks were better than watching Sadie drown or get hit by a truck. I haven’t seen those child leashes in a while. Perhaps they have gone out of style or are considered child abuse now. If  you have a “Sadie” in your life I would still suggest getting one!


One day Sadie and I went to a small fair where they had food, games, crafts, and……A Bounce House! At first glance, Sadie was somewhat intimidated by this huge contraption in the center of the park. We got the tickets and she tentatively climbed into the bounce house. Sadie had a grand time bouncing and rolling and jumping around the bounce house for about 10 minutes until the young man at the entrance told everyone their turn was over and more kids were waiting.

All the other well behaved children scurried right out of the bounce house when their turn was over, NOT SADIE. My dear, loving, obedient child shimmied to the very back of the bounce house and clung to the netting along the wall. The young man politely asked sweet Sadie to come out of the bounce house — several times. Sadie absolutely refused to come out. At this point I had to take off my shoes and climb into the bounce house, followed by the young man and the older sister. It took three adults and several minutes to pluck screaming Sadie’s little fingers off the netting one by one and drag her flailing and kicking body out of the bounce house. When we finally got her out, still flailing, she dropped on the ground and started running. I grabbed the little darling and she threw herself on the grass screaming “BOUNCE HOUSE! BOUNCE HOUSE!”. At this point I sat over her and held her down so she couldn’t run away again. Sadie laid on the grass while she screamed and kicked and cried for at least another 5 minutes while the other patrons stared at us with their mouths open.

After much begging and pleading, Sadie decided to calm down and behave. “How would you like to get some lunch?”, I asked her. Sadie enthusiastically bobbed her head yes to lunch. “Are you going to listen to Mommy and behave now?” I questioned warily. “Yes Mommy”, promised the sweet Sadie. “OK, we’re going to get up off the ground now and get some lunch, ready?”, another head bobbing yes. I let go and stood up. I attempted to take her hand. She obediently stood up——-and darted right back into the bounce house where the screaming, flailing and finger plucking commenced !!   ~~~~~~Just a typical day in the life of Sadie.

Upstate NY Flood 8/29/2011

Hurricane Irene trampled the East Coast last week. No one thought a tropical hurricane could do any damage to a rural farm region 300 miles from the coast. After all, rural New Yorkers are tough–farmers who take care of themselves and their families any way they can. They can do every type of work from carpentry to automotive repair. They weld their own tractor parts to hold them together just a bit  longer. They spend long hours taking care of dairy cows, getting up in the middle of the night for the milking. They trek to work through blizzards, 6 foot snow drifts,and  ice storms. They have farm animals to feed  no matter how bad the weather. They tie ropes between buildings so they can find their way to the barn in blowing snow in the dark. They stock up extra food and water supplies, have wood stoves, snow-blowers and generators, all just in case the power goes out –and it does go out —alot. What they were not prepared for was a tropical storm in upstate NY.

Sadly, several hundred homes were swept away within a few minutes. Families lost everything; their home, their possessions, their livelihood. Other homes caught fire, but the fire equipment couldn’t reach them. Entire towns were virtually wiped out. Beautiful homes that were built 200 + years ago were filled to the rooftops with bacteria and chemical filled water and mud. Businesses are gone. A 130 year old, historic covered bridge was carried down river and destroyed.  The destruction of the roads and bridges in the area cut some people off from help of any kind for days after the floods.

Where there had been lovely, historic homes, and prospering farms and businesses there is now only mud. Mud and debris. There are tree limbs hanging from electric wires and family belongings hanging from tree limbs. Refuse is piled 10 feet high in the streets.  The welcoming country villages that have stood since the American Revolution have vanished in a day.

The people that live in this rural farming region are tough. They are survivors and they will move on. Their ancestors fought against the British for their independence and won. This region was known as “The Breadbasket of the American Revolution”. They raised the food that fed the Patriots.

This region has pulled together, neighbors helping neighbors. Children collect donations of school supplies for other children in front of Walmart. Some will rebuild and most will heal. My thoughts and prayers are with them all.

If you are interested in donating to the flood victims in this region. Please contact your local Red Cross and designate your donation for upstate NY – Thank you.

Tantrums Are not Fatal

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Kids Are Parasites!

Parenting Secret #1


I know you think of babies as being all cute and cuddly, and you think of parasites as being all gross and icky, but actually they are one and the same! Note the definition of parasite from below.

parasite [ˈpærəˌsaɪt]n

1. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) an animal or plant that lives in or on another (the host) from which it obtains nourishment. The host does not benefit from the association and is often harmed by it
2. a person who habitually lives at the expense of others; sponger

Honestly, from the time of conception until you end up in a pine box – children are parasites. Think about it. Parasites are organisms that survive by sucking the life out of other organisms. The zygote, or fertilized human egg, depends totally on another living thing for survival –kind of like a tapeworm.

An important thing to note here is that the parasite – heretofore known as child –can only be as healthy as his host –heretofore known as mother. I’ve heard the stories about mom going out on an alcohol binge and suddenly – poof! She’s pregnant? However did it happen? This path to conception is a poor option.

Research shows that the health of an unborn child can be affected by what the mother eats, drinks, smokes, and stresses about for up to 2 months BEFORE conception (Strock, 2010). Baby Daddies don’t get off the hook here either. If Baby Daddy spends much time watching football, smoking cigarettes  and drinking beer, his tiny, whacked out, drunken polliwogs are not in very good shape to create a healthy parasite either!


According to the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) a teratogen is defined as an agent that interrupts or alters the normal development of a fetus (unborn child). Some known teratogens are: Alcohol, tobacco, aspirin, methamphetamines, cocaine, herion dioxin, PCB’s, lead, mercury, uranium, radiation from cancer therapy as well as atomic fallout and radio iodine; certain infections such as rubella, herpes virus, syphilis, toxoplasmosis; many prescription medications such as Roaccutane, Restoril, Methotrexate and many more (OTIS 2009).

Maternal Stress has resurfaced as a significant factor in neuro-development of the fetus. If a pregnant woman experiences large amounts of stress her body releases adrenaline and cortisol. This in turn, creates high cortisol levels in the fetus, which can create developmental changes in the fetal brain (Strock 2010 p. 79)

Guoyao, Fuller, Bazer, Cudd, Meininger and Spencer (2004) report that it is during the implantation stage and first trimester (first 3 months) of pregnancy that both maternal (mother) and fetal (child) nutrition are of the greatest importance. Nutrition is the largest factor in the fetal environment that alters the human genome and may have lifelong consequences (Guouao, et al, abstract).

So…..It is imperative that mom gets the right nutrition during pregnancy. Babies are parasites! They eat what YOU eat.

Take your vitamins!

Human babies don’t appreciate alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes before OR after they’re born! Did you know that cigarette smoke is one of the main causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

Potato chips and diet Pepsi are NOT a meal.

I will continue to discuss how children are parasites after they’re born and until you are dead and buried, but that’s for another day. Look for Kids are Parasites Part 2 coming soon!

Just one more thing —– breast milk, breast milk, breast milk — The best cheapest and easiest nutrition for the first 12 months!

I’ll discuss more later…….

New Comments

Hey Folks

If you left a previous comment, I didn’t get it!! I fixed the problem. Please resend your stuff!

Dear Friends,

Back in the 1980’s someone wrote a famous book called “Why Johnny Can’t Read“. This book blamed the American public school system for poor reading skills. I’m going to tell you the TRUTH about why John still can’t read —

The REAL reason he can’t read is because parked in front of John is some thong wearing, tramp stamp showing, ass bearing teenage female!  Just say no to crack for heaven’s sake! If John should need to borrow a pencil from the girl behind him all he sees is 6 inches of cleavage and 2 squeezed together, pushed up, I dare you to touch me ta ta’s bouncing in the breeze!

What kind of parent thinks it’s a good idea to let their 12-17 year old daughter wear 2 band-aids and a cork to school?!

Please don’t give me any nonsense about a girl being free to wear whatever she wants in public. People! Get a grip here! Guys are visually based, hormone loaded, Tasmanian devils!  No wonder they can’t read. If your daughter’s ass is sticking out of the top of  those low rise jeans, the kid sitting behind her can’t think at all! Give the boys a break here. America needs men who can read!

We need to stop trying to be our child’s friend and be the kid’s PARENT instead. Create some rules and stick to them.

Lunch Wars: Win the Battle for Our Children's Health

Oh how happy I was to see the new book Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Heath by Amy Kalafa, producer of the award-winning documentary “Two Angry Moms.” I get on my soapbox all too often about this very issue, because I have one child who is so sensitive to food that teachers can tell if he ate a cookie at lunch, and the other possesses about as much will power as I have when it comes to saying no to cinnamon-flavored soft pretzels.

Why, in the world, would they offer seven-year-olds the option to buy Klondike bars, cinnamon-flavored soft-pretzels, Doritos, and Gatorade? I think the answer has to do with budgets.

But in the process we are raising fat kids whose academic progress is compromised by all the crap they shove in their mouths at lunch. Plus, those foods should be reserved for parents to give as bribing material. Without junk food, we are left with lame “no TV or video game” bribes, and in our house, food is much more effective. (I do realize all parenting books preach against this very thing, but you have to go with what works.)

Ahem. Sorry about that. At any rate, Kalafa has penned an important, provocative book that can’t help but get parents thinking about the nutrition of our offspring, especially in a culture fighting a war against childhood obesity.

She first lists the scary facts, and I mean, scary:

By their own assessment, our government determined that American schools are flunking lunch: A 2007 School Nutrition Dietary Assessment concluded that the vast majority of schools in America exceed USDA guidelines for the quantities of saturated fat, total fat and sodium in school lunches.

The surplus beef and poultry that the USDA offers as free commodity items to our school systems are held to a lower standard than fast-food chains like McDonald’s. In the past decade, the USDA paid $145 million for pet-food grade “spent-hen meat” that went into the school meals program.

The average dollar amount spent per school lunch nationwide is a mere $1, 25 cents of which is spent on milk.Factor in the minimum number of calories that school lunches need to provide our children with that remaining 75 cents, and it’s easy to see why many cafeterias wind up offering cheap, high-calorie foods like Pop Tarts, chocolate milk and pizza.

Even free water is not a given in many school lunch rooms across the country: As bottled water brings in revenue for schools—not to mention the food management companies that supply them with goods to sell in cafeterias—many schools’ water fountains have fallen into disrepair.

The kids who DON’T buy lunch at school are healthier—and they perform better academically: A 2008 study found that children who bought lunch at school were at an increased risk for being overweight. The study also found that students with a higher consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits and vegetables performed better on a standardized literacy assessment, independent of socioeconomic factors. (Science Daily, Mar. 22, 2008).

The average kid will eat 3,000 school lunches between kindergarten and 12th grade. Replacing the chemical- fat-sugar-sodium-filled fare most schools are serving for lunch with nutritious, wholesome food could have an enormous impact on our children’s health — and their futures: A 2008 study of 1349 students in grades 4 through 6 from 10 schools in a US city with a high proportion of children eligible for free and reduced-priced school meals participated in a multi-component School Nutrition Policy Initiative. Significantly fewer children in the intervention schools (7.5%) than in the control schools (14.9%) became overweight after 2 years.

Alas! Kalafa doesn’t leave us defenseless. She’s got a whole slew of things we can do to fight back, if we care to do more than just gripe. Most require a bit of time and sweat, of course. But this is a cause well worth fighting for. Among some of her suggestions are these:

1. Request a copy of your school’s wellness policy.

As per the federal Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, all US schools must have a Wellness Policy. This policy must include nutrition guidelines for all foods available on the school grounds. The law also mandates that the committee created to write the Policy include parents.

2. Rally your team.

Get involved with your school’s Wellness Committee if there is one—if there isn’t one, talk to other parents and members of your community interested in good food and nutrition and form your coalition.

3. Team up with food service staff.

Make an appointment to have lunch with your kid at school and to meet the food service staff (it will also give you an “on the ground” sense of what’s being served in the lunch room). Be sure and let them know you appreciate their work as well as how much you value good daily nutrition for your child. Be tactful. Inspire vs. demand the changes you’re seeking.

4. Food for thought.

Says Kalafa: “The more we teach our children about their food, the better equipped they will be to make decisions about what they want to eat and where that food comes from.” As school is where children do a great deal of their learning (not to mention where they do a good portion of their eating), food should be a part of your school’s curriculum.

5. Plant the seeds for good nutrition.

Help show kids where healthy food actually comes from by starting a school garden with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. If kids are involved in actually growing the healthy food that’s served in their lunch room, they’ll be more inclined to eat it!

I would add one more: model good eating–eat nutritious foods yourself. Kids learn more effectively from modeling than teaching. Even if they go through years of stuffing their faces with pop tarts, chances are that they will eventually eat like their parents,  because that’s what they know, and what they know is often more comfortable than what they don’t know. So the next time you want to sit down with a bag of Doritos, ask yourself if you want to teach that behavior to your seven-year-old.

Therese J. Borchard is Associate Editor at Psych Central and writes the daily blog, Beyond Blue, on She is the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes and The Pocket Therapist. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter @thereseborchard.ecause that’s what they know, and what they know is often more comfortable than what they don’t know. So the next time you want to sit down with a bag of Doritos, ask yourself if you want to teach that behavior to your seven-year-old.

Some time ago, while making a visit to a local convenience store, I happened to be in line behind a 30 something male and his small son. I stood by quietly while the man purchased several lottery tickets, a porn magazine, a carton of cigarettes, and a case of cheap beer. The child was perusing the gum and candy that was displayed on a shelf at his eye level.

The child very politely asked this man if he could have a .50 cent package of peanut butter crackers. The man looked at this child with disdain and snarled,  “What the f*** is wrong with you?? You know I can’t afford any %^@$# crackers!!”. The dejected and frightened child looked at his feet and didn’t say another word. The man (and I use that term loosely) continued to cuss and complain about no good, spoiled rotten kids who want everything, as he stormed out of the store with his stash of beer and porn, the poor child quickly following after him. Does this guy not hear himself?? Spoiled Rotten Kid?

I thought my head would explode. The only reason I didn’t buy this child the crackers is that I didn’t want the wrath of the idiot to come down harder on the child. Why oh why do people believe this is socially acceptable behavior?

There are many things parents do with/to their children that make me ask why. Why did you have this kid? Why did you take your clothes off in the first place? Why don’t we  have mandatory sterilization for stupid people?

What would YOU do?

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