Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The "Mommy I'm Bored" List of Responses

No matter how many things a child may have to occupy their time, chances are good that she/he will say this on at lease one occasion during their childhood:

"Mommy, I'm bored."

copyright worldofwritermom 2017

Being bored isn't a bad thing.  Being bored is something I hope to encounter again one day, since it is incredibly rare in the world of parenting.  Being bored is my goal. Until then, I have a few ideas for my children in the event they truly forget the menu of options at their disposal.  

Quick List of Seven Responses


"Go take something apart and put it back together."

(Make sure it's a toy or object that doesn't need to be put back the same way.  This is a learning experience.  Don't use your best expresso machine.)

 copyright worldofwritermom 2017


Read a book or Write a book

(You can find blank journals at the Dollar Tree)


Bubbles and Bubble Wands


Picnic and Play Time at the Park

copyright worldofwritermom 2017


Art Time - Painting!

  Washable finger paints smell great and clean up well.
*Suggest a collage of hands and feet.
*Finger print animal creations
*Stamp Printing
*Run a roll of brown packing paper across a fence or on the grass. 
*Hold the paper in place using masking tape, ribbons, or clothes pins for the fence & large rocks to hold down paper on the grass.
*Use large paint brushes or just hands and feet to create a mural


Art Time - Crayons!

Provide a variety of paper textures and empty a box of crayons onto a large plate. For additional fun add glue and other collage materials such as stickers, buttons, beads, and foam shapes. Just leave it out on the table and let the kids decide what to do.
(Developmental Age caution: Small parts not for younger children due to risk of swallowing/choking.)


Play in the rain, mud, dirt, and sand
Make time for outdoor play!

My wish for you is that you may one day find yourself bored and return to tell us about it. 

 Hope you have a great week!

Kindest Regards,
~ Mary

World of Writer Mom

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Summer Time Skills Lesson ~ I'm Not Kidding About These!

Now that summer has begun, here's my quick list of Ten Skills to teach your children before school starts again.  This list is based on personal research I have conducted and eye witness accounts of real life, complex tasks often ignored by your children. (Sarcasm warning for those who are not familiar with my lists of ten.)

List of Ten Things to Teach your Child
(before the end of summer)

Copyright mbvrodriguez 2017
World of Writer Mom

1. Filling the ice cube trays.  They do not magically refill themselves.  Also, the ice that scoots under a cabinet or stove does not disappear just because you don't see it.  If you know it dropped, look for it and any moisture left on the floor before I slip on it.

2.  Replace the toilet paper roll if there is not enough left to do the job for the next person who enters the bathroom.  Hint:  Two squares are not enough.  Bonus points if you do not leave the empty cardboard roll on the sink.

3. Practice your reaction times for spilled liquids.  The more pigment in the drink, the quicker you must procure absorbent materials. (An old towel, paper towels, or even an old t-shirt are fine with me.  Just clean it up!)  Staring at the spill, jumping up and down while yelling, "Oh my God, I spilled," and ignoring the incident until I discover the wet spot are unacceptable ways to manage this event.

4.  Clean up dishes, plates, and cups that are in your room.  If I run out of clean ones, I will have no choice but to dispense your meals and drinks directly into your hands.  And the clean up from that will be your worst nightmare.

5.  Hang up wet towels and clothes upon return from the pool.  You know darned well we have to take our clothes to the laundry mat. Do you really want to take a chance of science projects growing in your swim suits?  Yeah, I didn't think so.

6. Make sure you schedule your own times to read, draw, and express your creative selves.  Sit for too long and watch as the internet "accidentally" gets cut off.  Go ahead.  Try me!  

7.  Figure out how to cook eggs, make a sandwich, and get a bowl of cereal.  There are plenty of things you can whip up in the kitchen without my assistance.  Feel free to take advantage of this wonderful moment of independence.  Clean up afterward.

8. Organize, clean, and maintain your room.  You are old enough to know that the vacuum is not alive and won't eat your toes.  Please avoid sucking up the rocks, screws, and various sundry hardware that have navigated onto your carpet.  Don't blow shit up in there!

9.  The space beneath the couch cushions is not a bottom less pit for snack wrappers, socks, remote controls, etc...  When I lift those cushions I should not need a shovel to clean up.  If I can't run the vacuum over the underside of the cushions, we have a huge problem.   Get off your tushies and put that stuff into the trash can. It is literally only 10 tiny steps away.

10.  Mama's writing time is her therapy.  Do not monopolize the computer.  When I say it's time to transition to another activity, please comply.  You've seen me when I'm stressed.  It's not pretty. Learning to respect the needs of another human is a worthwhile endeavor.  As your mother, I am only too happy to offer this opportunity to you.  

Your Turn!
What's your list of ten things you'd like to teach your children this summer? Please share your ideas here! Real life stories and sarcasm are welcome.  In fact, I heartily encourage it.  Have a wonderful week!  You are loved and appreciated!

copyright mbvrodriguez 2017
World of Writer Mom

Monday, May 29, 2017

Cheerleaders ~ Breaking Through & Challenging Change

Competitive Cheer Teams
(not your stereotypical cheerleaders) 

by: Mary Varville-Rodriguez
(pictured here with her daughter, Bella)

My child is a member of a competitive cheer team.  She joined last year after school started due to some family issues and participated in some of their activities.  Starting later than the other team members meant she was limited in competition, but was able to cheer for the various sports teams during side line cheers. She also experienced some of the training involved in choreographed cheers and additional tumbling classes. We were new to this sport and hung on for the ride, all the while observing and absorbing the tremendous dedication poured into the planning of the two time state champion team. This year we intend to step up our game and become more immersed in the competitive side of this sport.  That's right!  This is an intense sport that requires cardio- conditioning, strengthening core muscles that support the lifts, tumbles, and stunts, and stretching to improve/enhance range of motion plus flexibility.

Competitive cheer involves hours of conditioning and practice.  It places demands on each participant's time and energy.  The training never stops.  School just ended, but the cheer team practices throughout the summer.  Two training camps are already scheduled.  Weekend tumbling instruction is also expected at a premier cheer facility run by a multi-award winning coach.  Expenses can run high to compensate the instructors/coaches, use of a special training facility, uniforms, and travel.  There is a significant investment of time and finances when these athletes dedicate themselves to the sport of competitive cheer.

Fundraising for the students involved with the competitive team is a necessary aspect of the budget.  I am working with my child to find ways to manage this component.  We were given customer incentive cards to sell for $20 each.  The card highlights a local pizza business that has six locations.  There are three break away cards.  One has a BOGO offer that is good until next year for multiple visits and the other two include free food items equal to $20 total with no purchase necessary.  So the card really is a good deal if you love pizza.  Seems simple enough to sell, right?  Well, here's what we've discovered:

Fundraising Facts

1. Not many people keep an extra $20 in their wallet
2. Checks are also rare
3. People are willing to donate $1, $5, $10 without the card
4. Individuals are overwhelmed by requests for donations 
5. There's still a stigma attached to being a "cheer leader" even if  you're wearing your warm up
     pants  and the long sleeve shell with school logo versus the short skirts.  

Yesterday I helped my daughter with this fundraising project for her competitive cheer team. I watched as she walked up to an individual, handed her a flyer, and explained her intent. The woman thrust the flyer back at her and said, "I don't like cheerleaders." That got me thinking about stereotypes.  According to an article written by Maggie Marion, (August 22, 2016) https://www.theodysseyonline.com/cheerleaders-breaking-stereotype, when you search the word "cheerleading" for Google images you get pictures of choreographed sports team dancers in revealing clothing.  However, if you search "All Star Cheerleading" you will see competitive cheer leaders who train and fight for world titles and train for thirty hours a week.  I began to wonder if there is a need to re-name "cheerleaders" and update the image that it still represents to many individuals.

Alexa Waddock is a former high school cheerleader who is now majoring in Individualized Marketing at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. She attended a Catholic High School in Manchester, CT and was the cheer captain for their competitive team.  She writes a blog that highlights the stereotypical images of cheerleaders versus the real, intelligent, and athletic individuals who break through the barriers associated with this intense sport.  You can read her insights at https://cheerleadingstereotypes.tumblr.com/ 

Melissa from OMNI Cheer wrote an article that debunks nine myths of cheerleading.(Posted on November 7, 2013 by Melissa in Cheer News, Cheerleading Safety) You can read her article at: http://www.omnicheer.com/blog/post/proving-9-cheerleading-stereotypes-wrong

Read more about breaking stereotypes!

(read this one to the end)

(Things everyone gets totally wrong about cheerleading)

These links offer a few articles I found and recommend them to anyone interested in this subject.  Given the challenges that competitive cheer athletes still face, I started to brain storm ideas for how to change the way we view cheerleaders.  A name change?  Here's an idea.  (Thanks to my years working as an Army Civilian where the titles and job descriptions were quite...creative.)

Disclaimer:  I once helped a colleague write her job description on an application for a new position.  She wasn't sure how to word some aspects of her job.  So I said, "You make copies and collate them to create handouts, right?"  She responded, "Yes."  I told her, "Okay then.  You're a duplication specialist."   Fast forward a few years to my employment with a well known child care franchise.  The owner contracted with a company who installed fragrance dispensers in each room and changed the natural, safe liquid scents once each month.  I happily greeted the installer with, "Thank goodness the scent management and distribution specialist is here!  We can really tell when it's time for your visit."  I loved the smile I received in response to my title for the individual.

One idea for re-naming the term "Cheerleader"
Competitive Aerodynamic Team Athlete 
copyright 2017 mbvrodriguez

It's not just a name change that's needed.  There needs to be a methodical way to change perceptions  of this intense sport while simultaneously revising the way we present these athletes to our communities.  Fundraisers are great opportunities to promote a different view of the traditional cheerleader persona.  This is also a perfect time to promote an athlete's skills for speaking, interpersonal communication techniques, negotiating, community outreach, marketing, and personal awareness.  The comfort level for fundraising at a football game where one is on familiar territory and feels safe is vastly different from approaching strangers and attempting to convey the purpose of your organization.  

I would love to learn how you have overcome stereotypes, developed fundraising strategies for your children, and what your role has been in teaching your athlete about advocacy both on and off the competitive field.

Thanks for taking time to read and I look forward to having you visit, follow, and share at:

To read more about our story and fundraising efforts, please visit
 Just $1 helps!

(The picture of Bella at age 19 months was a glimpse at the strong, independent young person she is becoming.)

copyright 2017 mbvrodriguez

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Motherhood of Worries and Fear ~ It's Part of the Deal


Even though I worked in the Child Development field for many years prior to becoming a mother, the amount of emotional and physical stress that accompanies this role was still way more than anything I had ever experienced.  I knew it wouldn't be a stroll on the beach at sunset.  Years of managing large groups of Infants and Toddlers prepared me for the crying, never ending feedings, diaper changes, illnesses, teething, and clothing changes after diaper blow outs.  I embraced the joy of witnessing milestones for each child.  I loved learning about the personalities, quirks, and adventures during each precious developmental stage.  It was my calling, and I appreciated being able to offer encouragement and support to families.

My experiences expanded when I became a member of an amazing team of therapists.  We worked with children who had developmental challenges and medical conditions that required specialized interventions.   It was eye opening and provided a well rounded education for me as I witnessed the beauty of each developmental gain.  I saw the struggles and strengths of each family and felt humbled by how little I actually knew prior to my employment.  Even with my years of experience in early childhood programs, nothing adequately prepared me for some of the heart breaking moments we encountered as a team.  I grew, I learned, and I became increasingly frightened by the daunting tasks associated with parenthood.  

Time passed quickly, and at the age of thirty I still hadn't found anyone with whom I felt the kind of connection I desired to become a partner and parent.  I was afraid of what could happen during pregnancy and child birth.  I had seen the trauma.  I watched families struggle in the aftermath of what might happen when a child is born with a disability or severe medical condition.  I  held a still born infant after becoming connected to a family whose first child was in our program.  We grew to know that baby even before he was born, knew his name, understood his family's love for him, and looked forward to his birth with the family.  The morning of his birth, I arrived at the office to check in and was greeted by our office manager.  She told me the baby had been born.  Before I had a chance to express excitement and joy for the family, I was told that the baby didn't make it.  I stood in front of her desk in shock.  How could this have happened?  Everything seemed to be going so well for the family.  I immediately went to my desk and made a few calls to find out where she was.

I wanted to be there for the family.  It was important.  I rescheduled my other visits for the day and called the hospital until I figured out where she was located.  The family was no longer in the maternity ward.  They were in a separate part of the hospital and already assigned a social worker who was also their grief counselor.  She met me at the entrance to that section of the hospital and informed me about what happened and what to expect.  The baby was in the room being held and loved by family.  Pictures were taken.  It was the first time I had witnessed this type of grief up close and so very personal.  The family wanted me to hold their beautiful baby.  It was a moment I will never forget, equally precious and heart breaking.  I remained with the family throughout the day until they were released to return home.  

When these unexpected tragedies occur, it can become difficult to see beyond the event.  I saw challenges every day as the result of my work.  I experienced traumatic moments with families who were trying their best to be parents.  Day after day more referrals came in and we had long meetings with families to discuss resources, options for assistance, and home visits.  It seemed like everyone had a developmental delay, medical condition, or severe disability.  Some children graduated from the program, some transitioned to the school system, and others had shortened life spans.  I once commented to an Occupational Therapist that I was scared to get pregnant and have my own children after hearing some of the birth histories.  She calmly reassured me, "That's because it's what we do.  It's all we see.  We don't get to always hear about the births that are successful or the children that are doing well."  I appreciate how understanding and comforting those words were at the time.

I realized that as much as I loved children, it was possible I could face whatever happened when it came to parenthood.  My work did allow me to face a few things.  When I did meet my future husband and the father of my three children, we discussed my experiences in child development.  I wanted him to be aware of risks, complications, and what we would do if our children had special needs.

Here are some of the points we discussed:

1.  The only birth plan I wanted was one where the baby was born with minimal to no complications.  Just get the baby out safely.

2.  I did not want any invasive testing that might compromise the baby's or my health.  

3.  I would want to know if the baby had any medical or developmental concerns.

4.  Even if there were complications, conditions, or diagnoses that were concerning, I would want us to face them together and love the baby as long as we were given.  

5.  I wanted us to know the gender of the baby and give the baby a name.  I couldn't get it out of my mind that the still born baby I held had a name, was known by his family, had a personality, and was loved even before his untimely passing.  I wanted to make sure our children had a name and identity in the event something happened prior to or at the birth.  

Graphic Attributed to:

Everyone deals with parenting worries and fears in their own way.  Some of the things that might impact your coping strategies:

1. Your experiences in child development and taking care of children

2. Your birth order in family of origin

3. Knowledge of anatomy and physiology during pregnancy

4. Exposure to children with special needs and how to manage resources

5. Support systems in place

No matter how prepared you want to be, there will always (and I mean ALWAYS) be things that are new and unexpected.  It's normal to be scared.  It's normal to worry.  It's normal to have fears.  The best we can do is make sure to reach out for help when needed.  Find the resources and supports that work for you and your family.  Talk to other parents and share stories.  It's incredibly powerful to realize you are not alone in your journey.  The adventures and memories are worth the time and energy.  You will be exhausted both physically, emotionally, and mentally.  But those moments will pass.  There are also plenty of fun, happy, and crazy awesome memories to share with your children.  So hang onto that hope.  You're not alone!

How to Find Early Childhood Intervention Services in your area:

(State Part C Coordinators)


Saturday, April 15, 2017


A Blessing for Food Baskets
Variations on An Easter Tradition

             Originally published April 19, 2014             
  (Updates have been edited into the original copy.)

Since childhood our family has had an Easter Tradition that transcends any chocolate bunny or gourmet flavored jelly bean you might encounter at his time of year.  My mother is from Hungary.  She came to the United States as a young girl and earned her US citizenship at the age of eighteen.  My mother may have been forced to leave her country, but the special details surrounding each Easter remain embedded in our tradition.  This year I am on my own again with regard to carrying on the annual Easter Food Basket Blessing.  I have to admit that I still feel less than adequate when it comes to fully immersing myself in the preparations.  In past years we lived closer and my mother shopped, prepped, and prepared everything with precision and attention to detail.  I miss that!

My mother is the Hungarian version of Martha Stewart, The Barefoot Contessa, and Giada DeLaurentiis (collectively they are amazing hostesses, decorators, and culinary geniuses).  Every memory I have of my childhood includes how effortlessly mom made it look to pull together festive celebrations for our holidays...birthdays too.  Everything happened organically. Home made foods, gifts, and entertainment served with heaping helpings of love were always on the menu.  I believe she made such an effort because of how hard she worked as a child and as a young woman.  The many challenges she faced as an immigrant were woven into every molecule of tradition and culture that she shared with her husband, six children, and the many friends we welcomed along the way.
This Easter my children and I are no longer living like gypsies...even though many of our things are still in storage in another state.  Our current situation has been stable for the past four years.  We do not share a two bedroom apartment with another tenant. (In the past we had one bedroom for four people.)  So, basically we lived "European Style" in our quaint little flat and existed as minimalists.  Truth be told...I kind of liked it. (We're still pretty low key when it comes to possessions.) Less material possessions means minimal clean up and more reasons to get out of the apartment like back in the day when I lived in Germany.  (I miss my little efficiency from those years.)  
The first time I published this article was April 19, 2014.  During that period the drawbacks of our living situation included not having all my kitchen items for cooking, no room to do my own decorating (the other renter already had everything in place when we got there), and my favorite basket that I purchased in Germany was in storage.  So...adaptations to the Easter Food Basket had to be made three years ago when my children and I went to the church for the food blessing. 
My mother always spent Good Friday preparing the items that needed to go into the basket as we headed to church on Saturday morning.  At the church the priest would bless the food we planned to eat on Easter Sunday after mass.  The menu usually included: Home Baked Bread, Butter, Hard Boiled Eggs (later to be made into "Heavenly Eggs" because you couldn't call blessed eggs "Deviled" now, could you?), Ham, Horse Radish, Garlic, Salt and Pepper.  It was a very simple meal that involved many hours of prep time.  We were convinced the food tasted better after being blessed and we always seemed to eat more too.  I always loved the smell of freshly baked bread...still do.  Sometimes mom would make a smaller loaf so we could have a taste right out of the oven.  Pure slice of heaven!
Memories are great.  They are also painfully hard to live up to when the bar has been set so high.  Still...I am determined to share this tradition with my own children.  So here's my modified menu that mirrors my childhood even if it will never totally duplicate the amazing gift my mom gave to me and my siblings.  The entire sensory experience of Easter always culminated in our special blessed meal...and that is what we will have tomorrow...my version.  (But Mom...I will still miss being there with all of you!)

Baked Bread (Using frozen dough that had to proof for 6 hours covered in plastic wrap) Still smelled amazing fresh from the oven even if I didn't mix the dough by hand
(Original Post)
(Note:  This year I used store bought loaf from store bakery.  It will smell delicious after warming in the oven to get a nice golden crust.)
Ham (Pre-cooked 3# ham from the store.  Just needs to be warmed up)
Eggs (I did hard boil these myself)
Garlic Salt/Regular Salt/Pepper and Hungarian Paprika (I will take large portions to be blessed and plan to label the containers when we return home.  Every time I use them I will be reminded of our special tradition.  And according to my mom, the food will always taste better since it is blessed.)
Butter (I purchased this too.  And no, I will not make a "Lamb" mold out of butter.  But if you do this I am quite impressed.  It's just not me and that's okay.)

My children and I  had one more hurdle to encounter three years ago.  Since our family's traditional "basket"  was in storage, we needed something in which to transport our food.  We got to church and placed our food on a special table that had been set up near the altar.  I smiled as I saw the collection of items placed there by the families who participated in this cultural display.  There was a large basket with beautiful embroidered linens...later the family shared that the basket was 60 years old and the linens were hand designed in 1921.  Other baskets were adorned with curling ribbons and tiny fabric flowers.  Most were draped with fancy towels or lace.  The priest arrived and offered some readings from the gospel and psalms.  He then encouraged everyone to gather around the table to share what they put into their baskets.  I loved this part!
The food blessing is part of many Eastern European cultures, so I was not surprised to see similar items in other family's baskets.  As I shared my mother's Hungarian tradition, I reached for the carrier of our items and smiled.  "Our basket is in storage," I admitted as I retrieved a pretty blue canvas eco-friendly shopping bag.  Everyone smiled back.  The best part was that I was totally more okay with my blue bag than I anticipated.  It was more important that I made it to the church with all the items I intended.  My children were calm and interested for a few moments. (A Bonus!)  Plus I had the opportunity to reconnect with a family tradition that is near and dear to my heart.  
(Note:  This year we do have a small basket I purchased from Good Will. It has double sided openings on top.  I will use a beautiful hand made shawl from Mexico to line the basket and cover the food.)
Three years ago, I corralled my children, made sure they were loaded into the van with clothing and shoes intact, and we made it to church on time.  After mass, we gathered around our table at home and enjoyed the blessed food.  I remembered the many Easters of my childhood.  Hopefully it was a good memory for my children too.  Blending familiar traditions with the adaptations of present day can be a daunting task.  But I think I'm doing okay.  I need to remind myself of that from time to time.  But I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that feeling.
So once again, I am sharing our tradition with you.  This year (2017) I have additional friends of my children to invite as we put together our basket of food.  It remains simpler than the miracles pulled off by my  mother, but I hope she would be proud that I am trying.  Being far away makes it hard to carry through some of the beloved traditions, but it is a good feeling to make the best of any situation and share what we have.
Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate this special time of year.  Our family wishes you wonderful times together, special memories of loved ones present and past, and the opportunity to pass along culture and tradition to the next generation.  Blessings to You!
More Information about 
The Tradition of Easter Food Blessing

About Me

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I have over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood Development Birth-Age 5 including work in classrooms and as an Infant/Toddler Program Manager.  I have several writing projects in progress including a resource book for parents of infants and infant room teachers in a full day child development (school) program.  The book will provide families with information about what to expect and how to monitor their child's progress in an Infant room.  My second book project involves how to cope with family challenges, lessons in forgiveness, dealing with a spouse's addiction, and reinventing yourself along the way.  I am excited about all of these projects and am currently accepting comments regarding experiences my readers have had placing their child into a full day child care program.  I would also like to hear from Infant room teachers.