Archive for January, 2012

It’s still a Happy New Year!!

January 26th, 2012

Sometimes as I start these blogs my mind wanders… then I have to think about what I really wanted to say. I started out thinking I wanted to talk about winter activities for families. Then looked outside at the shining sun and melting icicles and my mind wandered. It wandered to New Years! I started thinking about an article I had read on the eXtension website and wondered “how many families are already frustrated and disheartened with their New Year’s Goals?” So I went back to the article and thought I would share it with you here.

I have excerpted it and added the full link at the bottom. My question to you is this…  Instead of getting frustrated about things that haven’t gone right or things you haven’t achieved… is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here!!! We can help keep you accountable!!

By the way family goals can be a great way to create family togetherness!

Wishing You a Healthy & H-A-P-P-Y N-E-W Y-E-A-R

H – ealth Make health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease – read on for ideas.

A – ttitude A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.

P – hysical activity The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends for adults: “Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.”
For more information and for guidelines for children:

P – eople Numerous studies indicate social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal (such as meeting with friends), make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death. Be wary, however, of social support that drains you through people being too demanding or encouraging you to engage in harmful behaviors.

Y- our body Schedule physical checkups as needed: eyes, teeth, mammogram, colonoscopy, general physical, etc.

To find the rest of the article go to:

And just in case you think I don’t really want to know – I DO!!  Is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here! It’s about family togetherness!

Lori Hayungs

education, nutrition, positive parenting, social-emotional , , , , , ,

I’m Bored

January 19th, 2012

It took a long time but winter finally arrived. Snow and cold are a combination that makes many of us want to hibernate. And it seems like the perfect excuse for kids of all ages (and parents too) to spend even more time using all the technology. But even that can get boring.

What can “pull” a tween away from his iPad or get a teenager to quit texting? Perhaps it is an invitation to join you in the kitchen as you make homemade pizza. As you make and bake in the cozy kitchen, an hour may turn into an evening laced with laughter and talking.

Or maybe you ask for their help in scanning old family pictures to put into an electronic photo album. Each photo is a chance to share family stories. Everyone has fun reminiscing and you get to pass along a bit of family history. Some of the old photos could end up as electronic screensavers or wallpaper.

Let the kids plan a party for their friends. Pick out a holiday or maybe it’s just a “mid-winter” celebration.  Join them in coming up with inexpensive and creative ideas for invitations, food, and entertainment. Even better – make it a family party and invite both adults and kids.

With the next snowfall, dare the kids to follow you outside for a walk (with camera or smartphone in hand). See who can take the most interesting photo of Mother Nature’s winter handiwork. And if a good-natured snowball fight happens, all the better.

Actually, the list is endless of what we can do as families during winter weather. Have the whole family brainstorm a list of indoor activities and outdoors activities that they like to do. Be daring and add a few new ideas to the list. The biggest challenge is to not let it be a time of inactivity and boredom just waiting for spring.

What does your family like to do during the winter months? Is there something new you’d like to pursue?

Donna Donald

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Plugging In For Special Needs

January 12th, 2012

I’m texting my daughter wondering when she needs me to pick her up. I’m writing my blog on my laptop. And I listened to the podcast on an iPad. Technology is important to me.

I listened with interest to what Dr. Susan Walker and the guys had to say… I was curious. I wanted to know where I fit in. I was hoping they weren’t going to tell me I was too ‘plugged in’. They didn’t. They made me feel like I was using the technology in a way that really supported my parenting. How refreshing for once! Instead of being told it’s too much I was told…think about how you are using it to support your family life in a positive way.

I started to wonder how I would share with you positive impacts it has made on our family… I hesitated to share this particular story but then decided that maybe there was someone else who wants to know if they ‘fit in’….. Technology can help parents find that emotional and social support they need when they have a child with special needs.

My daughter as Aspergers. She has difficulty in social situations. She is disorganized and struggles with self-confidence. She has amazing in-depth thoughts and ideas but struggles to express them verbally. We got her a phone for her 12th birthday. We initially wondered if she would be able to utilize the phone because she is intimidated to talk typically. But we were ‘hopeful’ that she might take to texting.

The child amazed us in a matter of hours. Her texts were stunning. Long full thoughts with CAPITAL letters and EXCLAMATION points!!!! She was thrilled to be able finish her thoughts without losing her confidence like she does when speaking. We were thrilled! And admittedly annoyed when she would correct us or impatiently text again and again waiting for an answer.

Technology supported her in a way we never guessed. The iPad has given her big imagination and a place to listen to/read books, as well a place to create The cell phone has give her a voice. As parents we struggled with the idea of ‘plugging her in’ wondering what others might say because she is 12.

Technology supported our parenting. It supported our child. It’s boundaries are limitless so it is up to us to set boundaries and find boundaries. Make sure that technology does not ‘replace’ your child’s learning but supports it. Also that it is appropriate for your child’s current development. Support groups and websites for parents of children with special needs are a fabulous place to let technology build us up as parents and fill our parenting tool box.

What ways has technology supported you or your family?  How have you benefited from getting your family ‘plugged in?

Lori Hayungs

Aspergers, education, positive parenting, social-emotional, special needs , , , , , ,

Turn That Darn Thing Off!!

January 5th, 2012

During the recent holidays I spent three days with my kids and grandkids. Every single person arrived with their smartphone and a laptop or tablet/notebook. While we watched movies and football games, people multitasked – taking and sending photos, texting, checking email, playing games, etc. And yes, I was doing the same.

So I was eager to listen to this month’s podcast on Using Technology to Help with Parenting. An important distinction made early in the podcast was the difference between what and how adults use devices and programs and how parents use them.

I learned in the podcast that technology allows parents to be multi-functional. They use technology for information and communication and for emotional support from other parents.  The digital divide is closing with age being a minor predictor. That’s good news for grandparents like me who use technology constantly at work and at home! And people are using Facebook to keep connected with people they don’t see often.

So what does this mean for you as a parent or grandparent? If you are using technology to communicate with your child, that can be a good thing for checking in, sending reminders, etc. But there is a flipside.  Be careful not to micro-manage your child’s life or allow them to become too dependent on your constant presence. Children need to learn responsibility and problem solving and how to be independent.  Also balance these quick exchanges with the face-to-face interactions that are vital to relationships. Insist on some technology-free time. For example, during our long weekend together meals were “no tech” times. We enjoyed both the food and conversation without the interruptions of tech devices. Of course the rules applied to both adults and kids.

If you are using technology to get information about parenting, there is more out there than we can begin to comprehend. A search on any parenting topic results in endless options. I usually restrict my sources to the educational sites and I am going to add the Tufts University Child and Family Web Guide to my favorites list.

How do you use technology as a parent? And how do you filter the endless possibilities for information via technology?

Donna Donald

media and kids

Episode 11: Using Technology to Help with Parenting

January 1st, 2012

From podcasts to text messages and Skype, many parents are adding technology to their parenting toolkit. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast takes a closer look at how parents can use information and communications technology for parenting.

Related resources

Additional links to be posted with the news release

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