Is #Maleficent with #AngelinaJolie Too Scary for Children?


I was thrilled to see an advanced screening of Disney’s live action film, Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning.  My expectations about how Disney would stay true to a classic without simply retelling the story, were surpassed.  It’s absolutely a must see; the question is, how old should a child be to see this movie?

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#RTI: Not Just for Students in #SpecialEducation. A Parent Must-Read

If you have children, you need to know about RTI, especially if they receive special education services.

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a framework for delivering academic intervention to every individual student. It is a part of special education law that puts the focus on instruction and whether it has enabled the student to meet his full potential.

RTI is relevant for all parents because all students are evaluated based on RTI. It is especially relevant if you or your child’s teacher has concerns about your child’s performance and functioning in school.

RTI is a tiered system that helps educators identify students who are struggling and how to meet their individual needs.  Informed decisions are made by the team of educators in your school regarding the progress of individual students.  The tiers of RTI are as follows.

Tier 1  In the general education classroom, evidence-based instruction is delivered by well-trained teachers, and under-performing students are identified through class or school-wide “benchmark” assessments. Students meeting benchmarks do not require Tier 2 interventions.

Tier 2 Identified students are delivered more intense evidence-based instruction targeting the problem subject area. Often in small groups.  Progress is monitored in six to eight weeks.

Tier 3 Students who did not respond to the intervention, according to progress monitoring, receive evidence-based instruction that may be individualized or delivered in much smaller groups, more basic curriculum, or more frequent instruction.  Progress may be monitored more frequently.  Or the child may be referred to the CSE, after which a Special Education program may be integrated into the model.

RTI gives us the documentation necessary to support referral to the CSE.

The Psyhologist’s Role in RTI

As a member of the Child Study Team, the psychologist helps make decisions on interventions used for each student, helps monitor students progress, and arranges meetings to discuss progress.  The psychologist helps meet the social-emotional needs of students in Tier 1 by developing and implementing school-wide social-emotional programs like bullying prevention, in Tier 2 by providing group or individual counseling, and in Tier 3 by overseeing the referral, evaluation, and IEP development process for students referred to the CSE and creating behavior intervention plans (BIPs).

If you have questions about RTI implementation in your school, ask the school psychologist or principal.

Dinner tonight: First Barbecue


We inherited a grill at our new house, and I’ve been dying to try it out since January!  I finally grilled dinner for the first time (without my father-in-law’s help) tonight.  Sliders, dogs, and corn on the cob were on the menu.


Our grill is a Weber gas grill.  Beyond that, I have no idea.  Oh, I bought replacement grates to cook on, just to be safe. Probably wasn’t necessary.  My father-in-law taught me all the safety and grilling basics that I needed to know in order to fly solo today.  It was all totally yummy!

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Oh, and I can’t forget the S’MORES!  We used those massive jumbo ones, and this is what they look like.


I think I found something healthy at McDonald’s!

Yesterday was our first day of the season at the beach.  This usually means a lot of preparation, a little anxiety, and an exhausting amount of fun.

…And then I have to figure out dinner. With nothing at home and restaurants closed for Memorial Day, my husband suggested McDonald’s.  “Haven’t you read the disturbing facts?” I ask.  Pink slime and chemically fortified fries that never go bad.  “I want a salad!”

I put up a little fight, then realized I was so hungry I could eat 20 pink slime nuggets, no prob.  So I looked up the menu on my phone to see the salads.  I think I found a great choice!


I had the Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken.  I asked for no shredded cheese to cut calories and because I don’t love cheese on my salads.  The dressing comes on the side, so I didn’t use the whole Newman’s Own packet. Therefore, the calorie count was no more than 360!  And I was totally satisfied!  (Full disclosure: I had a few of my husband’s fries, too.)  It was so yummy too, with corn, black beans, little jalapeño bits and crunchy tortilla strips.

I was not compensated for this post and I didn’t get anything free.


Memorial Day Traditions

My Memorial Day tradition always has been to attend the parade in town (and sometimes march!), then have our first true beach day of the season.  Today, my little family followed tradition without a hitch.  At the parade, my 2-year-old danced along to the patriotic tunes of the school bands and watched the fire trucks in awe.  My five-year-old, with a different perspective, really seemed to understand why we celebrate the uniformed service men and women and memorialize the lives lost in battle on this day.  Today was one of the exciting and challenging opportunities to open his growing mind up to our very big and complicated world.


It was a gorgeous day at the beach for fun, sun, and swimming (in very cold water).  The kids don’t seem to have an inch of sunburn, although I somehow neglected my shoulders big time.  I still consider that a success!

What are your Memorial Day Traditions?

10 Rainy Day Activities for Kids


Lately we’ve been having some generally yucky weather…with clouds, humidity, intermittent drizzling, and a threat of thunderstorm. Days like these are tough to plan with little ones.  I aim for my 5 and 2 year old to run around outside AT LEAST once a day so they can burn off some of their energy. Without outdoor activities, I have to get creative.

Refrain from turning on the TV and the iPad right away.  You may need these by the end of the rainy day, so don’t waste them too soon. Try these first:

1.  Start with a dance party!  It’s good for their health, and yours!

2.  Open up the dress-up trunk and have some role-play fun.  We went through the superheroes, pirates and princesses…then mixed and matched.

3. Unearth the puzzles.  You have lots of time for that mess today!

4. Lego master building time!

5. Have them help you bake some cookies. If you have the ingredients already, congrats, you don’t have to go out in the rain.

6. Put on your wellies and go outside anyway.  Jump in the puddles and make mudpies. We did this today and followed with showers.  WARNING!  Don’t go outside when there’s a looming thunderstorm.

7. While outside, use those messy painting crafts you’ve been avoiding, and let the rain wash away the mess.

8. When that gets old, let her “paint” the outdoor toys with water.

9. Just before the rain is a good time to let them draw all over your driveway with chalk.  It washes right out.

10. When all else fails, Disney movie!

What do you do to keep your kids busy on a rainy day?

Anxiety in Children

I hear a lot about today’s kids being more stressed out than ever before, and that the cause is over-scheduling their downtime, pressure to succeed academically, or just neurotic parents. We don’t know how much of this is true, but we do know that identification of anxiety problems in kids is higher than in the past.  Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children.

What does anxiety look like in children?

Children may be fearful of a specific thing or situation (phobias) or they may experience anxiety in many different situations (generalized anxiety disorder). Just like adults, children can experience anxiety as a result of disruptive or traumatic event (adjustment disorder; post traumatic stress disorder) or for no apparent reason.

When is it a disorder?

Anxiety and fear are normal and protective reactions to harmful threats.  A benefit to a sensitive fight-or-flight response, is that anxious children may be less likely to engage in risky behavior.  However, a child whose anxiety and fear keep him from enjoying activities, functioning well in school, or making friends, may have a disorder that requires treatment.

Children with anxiety disorders are more likely to experience depression as well.  If untreated, an anxiety disorder may lead to academic problems, social problems, and substance abuse.

What to do if you suspect your child is anxious.

Don’t minimize your child’s fears (“Don’t be silly, there’s nothing to be scared about.”), but don’t reinforce his anxious behavior with lots of attention.  Offer support while helping him challenge irrational beliefs (“What do you think will happen if you don’t get an A on your math test?).

Children have a higher risk of developing anxiety if a parent has an anxiety disorder.  It is unclear how much genetics and environment play a role, but it is worth taking a hard look at the way you handle stress.  Do you verbalize your worries often? Do you make it clear that you get anxious if you don’t have things done a certain way?

DON’T take on the role of therapist if your child’s anxiety is a persistent issue. If your child’s anxiety is preventing her from doing the things she used to enjoy or inhibiting her academic or social development, talk to your pediatrician.  You can discuss your child’s symptoms and decide on next steps.