Giving girls a different message

As the mom of two girls, one of whom is nearly a tweener, I am concerned about the messages we give our daughters related to body image, beauty, intelligence and kindness.

Every girls should feel beautiful inside and out. And every girl should feel powerful. Sadly, too many girls don’t feel this way.  And too often it feels like an uphill battle fighting the images and messages that permeate girls’ lives.

Recently, Colbie Caillat (pop singer), decided to lend her voice and fame to this cause in her song Try. It’s worth a look.

 

 

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Summer Camp Misery

When I was a kid, I didn’t   go to summer camp. I went to abuelita’s house. And this was fine with me because there were cousins for playmates, bikes to ride and plenty of trees to climb.

Things are a bit different for my girls. One set of grandparents lives 3 hours away. And the other has yet to retire. So what is a working mom to do? Why summer camp,of course.

There is only one small problem…my oldest daughter hates it.  She recently came in to show my an article in a magazine she was reading. According to their survey of tween readers “53% of kids do not like going to summer camp.” Grrr…can’t a publisher help a mom out.  ”Well, 53% is little more than half,” I replied. “That means the other half of kids DO enjoy summer camp.”

For the time being, summer camp is a necessity. And so at the start of every summer, I frantically text other  moms to see if and where they are sending their kids. I sit on the floor with heaps of brochures, a calculator and a calendar. Daunting, isn’t it?

This summer was a little shorter than most. We head back to school on Friday, July 25th. And my girls are excited to get back to their schools, friends and amazing teachers. For myself, well, I have to admit, the end of summer is a bit of a relief and I will happily discard the summer camp forms and brochures until summer comes around again.

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The World Cup has turned me into a sports fan

Anyone who knows me knows that I AM NOT a sports fan. I didn’t grow up with sports and don’t really enjoy being a spectator. But this year something changed. This year I am fully on the #TEAMUSA bandwagon.

Why the sudden change?  I can’t say for certain. I have unenthusiastically watched the world cup for many years now. After watching my own daughter play for the last 4 years, I have a deeper appreciation for the blood, sweat and tears that got each player and team to this point.

The drama of this year’s world cup has been enthralling. There have been so many memorable moments.  Ronaldo’s assist to tie the game in the last minute of the US v. Portugal. Can we talk about Tim Howard’s amazing goal keeping? There were heart breaking moments too. I thought it was crushing when Costa Rica lost to Netherlands and Chile lost to Brazil in penalty shoot outs.  And of course, there was Suarez hereforth known as Hannibal Lecter. But perhaps the scariest and saddest moment was when Brazil’s Neymar took a knee to the back and had to be carried off on a stretcher because of a broken vertebra.

So now, this non-sports fan can’t wait to find out how the story ends…GOOAALLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

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Music brings us together

One of my favorite things about summer is music in the park. It is a family tradition. One that my own children have come to love.

Each week we potluck, hauling in more food than will ever be eaten. We pitch the table, spread out the blankets, and pop open the lawn chairs and settle in for a relaxing evening picnic. For these short few weeks, we try to put aside the hustle and bustle of everyday life and we come together as a family.

For us, it’s about much more than music. It’s about having a standing date with cousins, tias, tios, grandparents and friends. It’s about watching our kids grown up together–like our parents watched us and like our grandparents watched our parents. We watch and smile as our children develop those priceless family bonds that will survive distance, time and space. To our kids, it’s about face painting, snow cones and rolling down the grassy hills. But we know it’s about much more than that.

Schedule:

June 4: Valley Concert Band — Genre: Big Band, 30-piece band
June 11: Plushtones — Genre: Vintage pop-rock. Inlcudes barbershop quartet during intermissions
June 18: Swingaires — Genre: Big Band, Swing era
June 25: Snap Jackson & the Knock On Wood Players — Genre: Americana, Bluegrass. Includes drum-and-bugle corps during intermissions
July 2: Valley Concert Band — Genre: Big Band, 30-piece band
July 9: Summit — Genre: Rock cover band
July 16: Tropical Nights
July 23: RBX — Genre: 50′s & 60′s
July 30: Steve Trucco Polka Band. Includes drum-and-bugle corps during intermissions
Aug 6: Valley Concert Band — Genre: Big Band, 30-piece band
Aug 13: Nick Isaak
Aug 20: Waterloo — Genre: Northern California’s premier Abba tribute band

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Roaming with Dinosaurs

In the eyes of my children, I am ancient. I must have been living when Dinosaurs roamed the Earth. That is the only plausible explanation of how I could have grown up without smart phones, tablets, Facebook, Youtube, Apps, Google and Siri. (Just to name a few.)

For those of you who share in my struggle to explain life before the modern age, I thought you’d enjoy watching this.

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Reflecting on dental visits: Then & now

As I compare my girls dental visits to those of my past, I am struck by 3 differences.

Scale-My childhood dentist had a Pac Man machine in his office (there I go dating myself again). And I thought it was awesome! But now when I walk into my my girls’ dentist’s office, I think I may have been deprived! The main area has several video game consoles along with several television screen playing some kid-friendly movie.

Fear of Dentists-Back in my day, if you were afraid and struggled when the dentist had his hand in your mouth, you ended up strapped in and laying flat on your back. I had a cousin who was absolutely traumatized by this experience. When my youngest began going to the dentist (around 18 months…the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends kids begin going after they get their first tooth or by their first birthday), the dentist was extremely patient. She let her sit on my lap, showed her all of the tools and used big sister to demonstrate how she cleans teeth. This is how several visits went. And now at age 6, my daughter loves the dentist. And for those times when children do get anxious, let’s say when they are having a cavity filled, they can sit back in a the chair, headphones on and eyes affixed to the television screen in the ceiling.

Timing-Braces are a rite of passage. And when I was a kid, most people (myself included) didn’t get braces until high school. But things are different today. A few weeks ago, my 9 year old got her first set of braces….That’s right, I said first set. And my daughter isn’t alone, a number of classmates and friends have braces too. (*Note that I said “first set”. After 18 months of braces to correct her bite we will take a small break from braces until all of her permanent teeth come in. And right around middle school, we will go in for round two. This time to ensure she has a picture-perfect smile.)

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It’s about the little things

Parenting in the modern era is hectic. And admittedly, the chaos often gets the best of me. When I am really in the thick of things I stop and remind myself that one day I will miss being this busy. I will miss the bickering, the piles of laundry overflowing in the corner and struggling to pull together a quick and semi-nutritious dinner.(Ok, maybe not the piles of laundry.)

Perhaps one of the things I will miss most is a little ritual we initially developed around the dinner table–High, Low, Funny. Going around the table, youngest to oldest we each recount the best, worst and funniest parts of our days. It is a small glimpse into the lives we live outside of our family. And it’s a time when we laugh, offer encouragement and applaud achievement.

Admittedly, we don’t always eat dinner at home or even together. But we can play High, Low, Funny anytime and everywhere. So next time you are feeling overwhelmed and disconnected, pause take a deep breadth and find a moment to make those small connections matter.

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What’s in that?

When I was a teenager (I’m going to date myself here), a McDonald’s cheeseburger was 39 cents. That’s right, I said cents (you can’t even find that symbol on my keyboard). At some point I began to wonder, what is in a cheeseburger that only costs 39 cents?

Flash forward…now I am a mother of school-aged children and my pondering over 39 cent cheeseburgers has evolved into $2.50 school lunches. I began to wonder, what’s in those lunches? And I came across a startling fact– once you factor in operational costs like labor, equipment, transpiration and material the actual amount spent on food is roughly $1.00! Can you really make a child a nutritious meal for a dollar?

According to Alice Water’s, owner of Chez Panisse, a globally renowned restaurant known for its locally-grown, organic ingredients, the answer is a resounding NO!  In a 2009, Op-Ed in the New York Times Waters estimated that it would cost roughly twice as much ($5.00 per child) to provide a kid with a healthy meal.

We have a long way to go, but living in San Joaquin County where fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful, we are well-positioned to move further away from processed and closer to “real” food. In fact, Lodi Unified already offers a fruit and veggie bar as part of their school lunch option. And last time I walked through the cafeteria I was tempted  to grab a salad for myself.

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Embracing my inner soccer mom

Before I became a mother, the term “soccer mom” conjured up images of an overly zealous mother who drove a mini-van with the little family stick figures on the rear window. When I heard people use the term “soccer mom” it never seemed to be a compliment. And as someone who is neither an athlete nor a sports fan, a soccer mom is the last thing I imagined I would be. Any yet, nearly a decade later here I am, a full-blown soccer mom driving all over Northern California in my SUV with my little stick figure family prominently displayed on my rear window.

How did I get here? Well, it started innocently enough. My husband and our preschooler were butting heads and I found myself caught in the middle. They needed something of their own; something that didn’t involve me. Soccer was it.

From the beginning my husband was all in, volunteering to coach a team of giggling 4 year-olds—a challenge that proved to be a little more difficult than he (or we) had anticipated. We kicked into problem-solving mode and were reading books, watching YouTube videos and talking to more seasoned coaches. And eventually, we found a way to make practices fun while also ensuring that the girls were learning basic soccer skills. I like, no need, order and so I found myself managing the team logistics. Soon this turned into becoming a full-fledged SYSA (Stockton Youth Soccer Association) volunteer—an age group coordinator to be exact. I found coaches, made teams and dealt with complaints. (Did I also mention that I can be a bit of a control freak?) Before I knew it, recreational soccer had turned into competitive soccer. And off we went.

If you are the parent of a student athlete, you know that this is exhausting and, often, thankless work. Who really wants to wake up at 4 AM on a Saturday to pack snacks and load the car? And yet, I do it willingly and usually without complaint. So why have I jumped into the role of soccer mom? A recent blog post “6 words you should say today” by Rachel Macy Stanford summed it up beautifully. At the end of the day I participate in this insanity because, “I love to watch you play.” I have grown to love soccer, not because I’ve developed an appreciation for the game but because I have developed an appreciation for what the game has given my daughter. Through the years I have watched her become more confident, assertive and silly both on and off the field; and so I enthusiastically and gratefully embrace my inner soccer mom.

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LCAP is more than 4 letters: It’s a call to get involved

About a month ago, I attended a meeting at the Lodi Unified District Office and was astounded to see that I was one of only a handful of people there to represent the interests of more than 30,000 students.  So, I’m taking a moment to explain LCAP.

If there is an acronym parents should know right now, it is LCAP. No, it’s not a new texting acronym.  It is the Local Control Accountability Plan and it is important. The state has given districts more flexibility in how they spend money. In exchange, the state wants to know that districts, parents, students and community members have worked together to  create a plan that will help the district achieve goals set by local and state priorities. The state priorities extend beyond academic goals and include things like parental involvement, student engagement, attendance and school climate. Why is it so important? For the first time, districts across the state will have to link their LCAP to the district budget. So if you want to have a say in the priorities your district sets, how your district will go about meeting local and state goals and how district funds will be used to meet these goals, then now is the time to get involved!

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  • Blog Author

    Jessica Mindnich

    A native of Stockton, Jessica Mindnich is a wife and mother of two. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Education from U.C. Berkeley and has expertise in child development, family socialization and academic achievement. Read Full
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