Creating Good Readers and Brushing a Toddler's Teeth for 05/19/2018

Creating Good Readers and Brushing a Toddler’s Teeth for 05/19/2018
Dear Family Coach

Dear Family Coach: I want my kids to be good readers and read as much as possible. What’s the best way to make this happen? — Literary Dad

Dear Dad: Being a good reader and enjoying reading are two totally different things. It is possible to be a proficient reader who understands nuances, subtext and complex vocabulary but not passionate about sitting down with a book. It is also possible to adore reading but perhaps not score high on standardized tests. Focusing all energy on ability instead of satisfaction can suck the joy right out of reading.

Updated: Sat May 19, 2018


Creating Good Readers and Brushing a Toddler’s Teeth for 05/19/2018

Letting Kids Handle Their Money and a Tattler for 05/18/2018

Letting Kids Handle Their Money and a Tattler for 05/18/2018
Dear Family Coach

Dear Family Coach: My children often receive holiday cards with money inside in the mail from their grandparents. They usually spend the money on stupid stuff they don’t need. One time my son gave a $50 bill to the American Heart Association, which is noble but I also thought a bit excessive. Should we let the kids spend their money on anything they want (even if it’s a waste of money) or try to show them the value of saving? — Frugal Dad

Dear Frugal: Define a waste of money. My guess is your definition will be vastly different from that of your children. In the eyes of a 7-year-old, a $50 bill is not much different from a $5 bill. Children don’t know what money can buy or why it might be worth it to save a bit.

Updated: Fri May 18, 2018


Letting Kids Handle Their Money and a Tattler for 05/18/2018

Fiery BattleBots Fight in a Bulletproof Cage, It’s The Ultimate Family Show

BattleBots is one of the best family shows on television. After a year hiatus, thankfully Discovery Networks (Discovery and Science Channel) decided to revive the show. BattleBots like a mashup of mixed martial arts and a monster truck battle. Two remote controlled robots are put into a bulletproof cage and let loose on each other until one bot dies. There are fireworks and head on collisions, loose wheels flying, flame throwers and screaming and laughter and … I could go on and on.

We were invited to be guests at live taping of the show in Long Beach, California. I went into the old airplane hanger happy to escort my 11-year-old robotics-obsessed son to the event. I had no illusion that I, too, would have a blast. I was so wrong. It was one of the most entertaining events I’ve been to with or without my kids. Now we are excited to see how the season plays out. Who will battle who? What damage will be inflicted? What crazy antics will we see? We can’t wait.

There is so much I loved about BattleBots. Old people compete against young people. Men versus women. Kids and families against large BattleBot crews. Some have competed for years. Others are newbies in their first battle ever. There was a 15-year-old girl sitting in front of me with a giant pink bow in her hair. She was as enthralled in the action as my son. And what’s cool is that on a basic level BattleBots are just good entertainment. But the show also highlights how physics, engineering and robotics all play a vital role in the design of these massive 250 pound machines.

The Sharkoprion team

The names of the bots are inspiring. Some favorites are Sharkoprion, Huge (with the best tag line: We’re Kind of a Big Deal), Ultimo Destructo, Petunia, Minotaur and Kraken. We were lucky enough to sit next to Peter Lombardo from the Huge team. My son spent three hours picking Peter’s brain about robotics and building. And to his credit, Peter patiently and enthusiastically responded to each and every question. It was like they live in this universe were science is the coolest thing there is, and it was so awesome to witness.

You can catch Battlebots on both the Discovery and Science channels. Season 3 began on May 11 so check it out to see which bot survives until the end. The show airs at 8 pm.

My son Emmett’s review for your kids:

Battlebots is a TV show where groups of people make big robots. They use different blades and weapons to try to make the other robot immobile. They are in this big square ring with hammers and blockers on the sides. You try to drive around and hit the opponents with a weapon. You win if your opponent stops moving and becomes stuck.

Anyone can do it, and you can build what you want. There are so many different things that can happen. It’s fun seeing what different tools each robot has. It’s just a fun environment. It was so cool to see the inside of every robot. In real life they are actually big, not as tiny as I thought.

It’s always unpredictable and crazy seeing each bot that someone works so hard on gets blown up. No one cares. It’s just fun to compete. It was amazing to see how someone can completely destroy the opponent, rip them apart or melt them. It’s just really entertaining.

An Uncooperative Bar Mitzvah Boy and a Budding Rapper for 05/12/2018

An Uncooperative Bar Mitzvah Boy and a Budding Rapper for 05/12/2018
Dear Family Coach

Dear Family Coach: My son is scheduled to have his bar mitzvah next year, and it’s a very important event for our family. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see it that way. He never practices; he drags his feet to Hebrew school; and he has said repeatedly that he doesn’t care about Judaism. What can I do to change his attitude? — Kosher Pickle

Dear Kosher: This is a tough one because it involves faith and family and so many things you clearly hold dear. However, you’re pretty limited in what can be done. I’m guessing you’ve explained why his bar mitzvah is an important event. He likely knows the significance of the ritual and the history of the Jewish people. And yet, none of that has swayed him. At this point, you have two choices. You can continue to beg and bribe him until he finally makes it to the event. But you can’t complain if he doesn’t wow the crowd. The other option is to do absolutely nothing.

Updated: Sat May 12, 2018


An Uncooperative Bar Mitzvah Boy and a Budding Rapper for 05/12/2018

A Conference, Powerful Words & Silencing Your Inner Critic

Going to conferences always brings out my deeply hidden insecurities. On any typical day I am a fairly confident person. I work hard. I try to be nice to people. Life is generally good. But in the weeks leading up to any conference I’m a little shaky. I start obsessing about clothing (which I never do). I worry about meaningless stuff. My head gets the best of me.

Leading up to Mom 2.0 my mental firestorm always goes on overload. There are a few reasons why. To start with I really respect the people who attend. I read their words and listen to their podcasts and marvel at their Instagram feeds. I just sink into thinking, I’m unworthy. Oh course I’m worthy. We all are. But that doesn’t stop my inner critic from spewing belittling thoughts late at night.

The second and equally plaguing problem heading into Mom 2.0 is I really care about promoting my book. It took 20 years to learn enough to write it, and it’s my book baby. I want to tell everyone about it. But that’s the problem. It’s really hard to tell people about your book. It’s awkward. I’m awkward.

Lastly, there is always a time when it feels like everyone else has someone to go to the _______ (fill in the blank big event) and I don’t. Sure, I could ask to join someone. But that sometimes feels like offering to feed the bears. It could go really well or you could get mauled.

Still, excitedly, I drove to the conference, held this year in the lovely Langham Pasadena (thanks for the pens). The conference didn’t disappoint. I called my husband a few times, and he would say I was giddy. I met incredibly nice and interesting people. I presented on a panel with women I didn’t know, and it all worked perfectly. I went in determined to push myself out of my comfort zone, and I did. But the problem with leaving the comfort zone is that it’s uncomfortable there.

So when I went home and started thinking about all I said and did. I became mortified. I obsessed just like I did before the conference but this time I had actual experiences to harp on. Like the time I horrendously whipped out my book to give to a person I admire. Ugh, sorry. Or the time I tried to tell someone their Dove hair looked great but my compliment came off all wrong. Sorry, again. I could go on and on. I somehow was turning a great experience into middle school.

Before I sunk too deep into my breakdown, I flipped through my little notebook and remembered my two biggest takeaways from the conference. I replayed Brené Brown’s inspiring words: Talk to yourself like you talk to someone you love. I would never talk to someone the way my mind was talking to me. The other advice that really hit home was from Katherine Wintsch. In her Slay Like A Mother presentation she told us to stay in the present, “right here, right now.” And just like Brené Brown she told us to acknowledge the voice and then direct it to a friend.

If my friend told me all the crap I was telling myself, here’s what I would say:
You are being ridiculous. Even if you embarrassed yourself, who cares.
If you feel so badly asking for someone to help you out then offer to help someone else.
Give yourself a break.

All of the sudden I became the friend I needed. I started to return to my conference high shedding that awful critic. I incorporated what I just learned. And that’s what conferences are all about. It’s growth in ways you didn’t even know you needed.

Being a working mother these days is often about finding your inner voice and silencing the real or imagined chatter. I am so thankful to be able to have these learning experiences. Professionally, I prioritized my work and found the direction I needed. Personally, I picked up a new tool to fight my worst inner voice and a way to be a better me. Thank you Mom 2.0 for all of this.

On a side note: What makes me feel better about asking for help is also giving it. Here is what I have to share. If you are interested, message me on Facebook @thefamilycoach or send me an email here.

  • 1-page book review request sheet
  • Sample successful pitch letters
  • My book proposal for a nonfiction book
  • Ask me to do a book review for your book baby