Posts Tagged ‘children’

Do Your Kid A Favor….Four Things

JpegThere are three things wait, four things, parents have to teach their children before they are five, six or at the latest, seven years old. Otherwise…it’s too late. And if you don’t teach your child these three things consider yourself a mediocre parent. I should know.

#1 Teach your kid how to ride a bike. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of patience and running around. Your child is going to cry and get mad at you. They will want to give up, but don’t let them. Take the time to hold the back of the bike seat and run up and down the parking lot or side walk.

Learning to ride a bike when you are young is easy and not nearly as scary because you’re a short person on a short bike, you are close to the ground and you don’t look like a complete doooof if you are wearing all kinds of elbow and knee pads, extra underwear and a football helmet.

Little kids fall down all the time, it’s not that big a deal. But when grownups fall down it’s a monumental embarrassment. Kids fall down then pop back up. Adults fall down then miss work for a week.

I failed to teach Mary how to ride a bike. We rode with training wheels, then took one wheel off but that’s as far as we got and I didn’t force the issue. So my beautiful, brilliant adult daughter still needs one training wheel.

#2. Teach your child to swim, or let somebody else do it. First there’s the safety side of the equation. Unless you live in the Middle East your child will spend time around water, lakes and pools, he’ll end up on a boat.


When grown ups try to learn to swim they are terrified because they know the reality of the situation. If they go under they will die. The adult brain also interferes with the learning process. A two hundred pound man may know he can float but he doesn’t’ believe his great big fat body will stay on top of the water. So he thrashes around, sinks, gets water up his nose and gives up. The end.


Teach your child to swim to the edge of the pool and to hold on before they are one year old. The kid doesn’t have to be an Olympic swimmer, they don’t need to know all the strokes including the butterfly, but they better know how to float and how to get to the shallow end of the pool.

And think about this, the planet Earth is 71 percent water. You don’t want your child to be afraid of 71% of this place.

When a child learns to swim it’s cute, when an adult tries to learn to swim it’s embarrassing and traumatic.

#3. Finally, please teach your child how to shake hands. Little boys and girls.  All you have to remember is “firm grip and eye contact”. Their lives will be better with this one simple skill.

When Jack was 13 or 14 he decided he wanted to look like an absolute freak, bright red mohawk, suspenders, plaid golf pants. Still, he had a great handshake, he knew how to look an adult in the eye and act like a man so coaches, teachers and ministers cut him some slack and still loved him. Grown men let him date their beautiful daughters in part, I believe, because he had an excellent hand shake.

If a kid has a pathetic handshake I generally think they are weak or sneaky. I can’t help it. And yes, I know lots of scummy, slimy people have great handshakes. But do your child a favor. Start shaking hands with them when they are two years old. Shake hands all the time at home. Role play, shake hands in the morning and say “nice to meet you, sir.”  Kids will think it’s fun and remember, when they are little, remind them to shake hands with new people in private before you introduce them.  After a while, it will become automatic.

And the best part, when they are little but shake hands like a grown man, people will say, “wow, great hand shake buddy!”  The child will be really proud and keep doing it.

When Sandor’s thirteen year old buddies come over I shake hands with them. If it’s gooey we work on it. It’s that easy. Young men need to know how to shake hands but if you don’t teach them they won’t get it.

If I were to add one more thing to teach your kid, it would be how to make a phone call, if they aren’t calling their friends.  They need to know how to say, “Hi, this is Morgan, can I talk to Heather.”  At least once a week a kid calls my phone, looking for Sandor. They just say, “Uh, where Sandor?” I tell them what they need to do (sweetly) then tell them to hang up and try again. 98 percent of them do it and get it right.

We all want to make our children’s lives better. You can teach them the skills that will absolutely help. And it’s actually fun!




He Doesn’t Know He’s Sexy

alex 21cLast night  I was wrestling with hamburgers on the grill. They were big fat burgers,  we always call “Love Burgers” (thanks Uncle Daley). I kept trying to flip them too soon so they wanted to fall apart.

Then, just as things started to take shape with my grilling efforts, I got distracted.

Alex was playing catch with thirteen year old Sandor in the yard and it was just about the cutest most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen.  Alex is still pretty slow moving because of his surgery in October. But he was trying.  Wearing a bulky catchers mitt, he gamely threw the ball at his son.  Unfortunately, every fourth or fifth throw the dog got involved and snatched the ball our of the air, or chased it down before Sandor could get to it.  Then there was a ridiculous chase scene that ended up as slobbery wrestling match.

Alex didn’t get annoyed or impatient. And when they were finished, Sandor walked past me and said, “that was awesome.”

I flipped the burgers again, looked up at the Lord and thanked him. Then I gave Alex a hug that he didn’t really understand. Standing there in his grubby jeans and old tee shirt he had no idea how much I loved him because he played baseball for a few minutes.

Men don’t seem to understand that the sexiest thing they can do is be a good dad. When they love their children and make them happy, women naturally find that not only desirable but smoking hot. It tells us we picked the right guy, our instincts were correct.  And you know how much women like to be right.

It was a sweet moment until Sandor walked back out of the house. We were still hugging and Alex had his hand on my butt.

Sandor interrupted, “Hey there Mister, keep that hand north of the equator.”

“But I like the equator, it’s warm,” Alex replied.

“Noooo,” Sandor replied and disappeared back into the house as the Love Burgers burned up on the grill.



The First Baby Rules and Smoking Crack

chiro-care-on-babies-las-vegas-main20150921Last night a friend called Sandor and asked him to spend the night. I said something like, “yes, after you finish your homework.” Lexie, who is nineteen and home from college, looked at me as though I was rolling a joint at the dinner table. “But it’s Sunday! He can’t spend the night on a school night!”

I just shrugged. “I’m getting soft in my old age.”

Right now I have a boat load of young friends with brand new babies. I love looking at all their adorable pictures on facebook, baby toes and fingers, funny hats and faces smeared with food.  But I need to warn them all. You’ll have all kinds of high minded ideas, rules and practices for that first child. That kid will be astonishingly  healthy, cultured and educated. And it’s existence on earth will be documented,  pictures will be taken every hour.

But something happens with the third or fourth child.  My mother had massive photo albums of my two older brothers but I guess she ran out of film by the time I came along.  I literally can’t find a picture of “little girl me” with either of my parents. I have a storage unit full of her black and white family photos but I’m not even in the family  portraits taken by the church when I was six and eight years old.  I remember my mom getting so frustrated with my tangled hair that she decided to leave me at home with the maid.

Last week I laughed as I walked up and down the cereal isle at Kroger looking for Coco Puffs.  For the first fifteen years I had an ironclad rule.  I did not buy colored cereal, only the tan stuff, so no Lucky Charms, no Capt. Crunch with Crunch Berries.

I still have a few rules I take seriously. I’ve never let the kids have tvs or computers in their rooms.   I want to be able to look over a shoulder and see what they are looking at. There’s no doubt they’d be all over www.bigboob.com if I didn’t peek. And when they spend all their time in their room, I get too lonesome. We still don’t have any Playstation or Nintendo things at the house.  They can play all they want when they visit friends, but I don’t care for them.

As long as they make good grades, have good manners, say yes sir and know how to shake hands I still try to pick and choose my battles. If Sandor want’s a stupid hair cut I’ll probably just roll my eyes and say ok if he’s on the honor roll.

So far the system has worked out pretty well.  Yeah, I let the youngest eat bad cereal and go out on school nights but seriously, no smoking crack in the kitchen.

Grossss……Your Kid Has Lice!!!

lice-comb-in-childs-head-of-hairLice, head lice. Just saying the words can give you the gross out willies. Lice are worse than cock roaches and rats for some…and a lot more embarrassing.

A couple of weeks ago I got the dreaded phone call from the mom of one of my son’s friends. Lice!  Sound the alarm…LICE! We went on lock down, washing sheets, spraying couches  shampooing and combing with that wretched little fine tooth comb that is the Scarlett Letter of lice. Comb comb, comb. Then tap, tap tap the comb in the sink and squint to see if any horrible little bugs are visible.  And if there’s one there’s going to be a million, hours of combing and probably tears of frustration and pain.

Even if my family is declared clean and lice free, the simple act of buying lice shampoo is humiliating. I’ll drive across the county so no one knows me in the store.  I wouldn’t want word to get around in our little town. I don’t feel that way when I buy mouse traps or bug spray.

Once, a few years ago we went through a horrible lice week.  There was a student in school who wouldn’t take care of the problem and kept re-infecting an entire 3rd grade class. The school couldn’t force them to fix the problem.  We took care of our family. We washed and combed and combed and combed. Then, that weekend decided to get hair cuts.  One of my children was ejected from Master Cuts cause I’d missed a few.  Hot tears of shame in the mall. To this day my child remembers that as one of the most embarrassing and humiliating moments in life. Screw You Master Cuts! (Not really. Who can blame them.)

My husband has a special problem.  If I have a sore throat he’s sure he has strep. If I have a headache, he has a migraine.  If I say the word “lice” he starts scratching and itching and picking.  During this recent episode I checked his head twice. Nothing. Still he had to give himself the entire treatment two times…and still he was itchy.

Good news for me. I believe my hair has been chemically altered for so long those little buggers couldn’t stay alive on my head.

If there’s a family out there who claims they’ve made it through 12 years of school without a lice episode. I’m gonna say you’re lying you just drove across the state line to buy the shampoo and comb.

Just writing this has me all creeped out.  I have to go now and have someone check my head.

Awesome and Bizarre Stuff God Blessed Me With

I’ve been blessed with some awesome and bizarre stuff. God loves me, I know because he’s given me a few things most people don’t have..

1. I have really great legs. Yeah, I work out a lot and do hundreds of kicks in Taekwondo ever week but I have my mother’s legs. Mary and Lex got them too. We have great definition and generally don’t get cellulite, fat thighs or big hips, even when we put on ten or twenty pounds. (Sadly though, our butts are kind of flat). Because of my mom, we don’t store fat in our thighs. And we have nicely shaped calves and ankles, no “cankles” for us or chubby knees. Our fat goes to other places and that’s wonderful because It’s really hard to exercise your ankles and hips. Our legs are a genetic gift from God and my mom and I am thankful.

2. God blessed me by making me a McDaniel. And three of my children are absolutely McDaniels too.  We’re still waiting to see if Sandor develops the gift of friendly bull shit.  Being a McDaniel means we can snuggle into any group of  people from senators and presidents to garbage men and rednecks.  We can happily visit with just about anybody, we like almost everybody. It’s very difficult to make us feel out of place, because we know how gifted and wonderful we are. Oh, and we have an absurd amount of confidence so we assume people will love us, because we are McDaniels.  Generally, McDaniel’s are also magnificent story tellers. Some people say we are natural liars, but we like to think of ourselves as gregarious raconteurs. We like to put a positive spin on things.

This is where I should mention my husband, Alex.  I’m blessed with a man who puts up with us even though he often times doesn’t understand. he rolls his eyes a lot and wonders what we will say next.

3. We laugh all the time.  This is also part of the McDaniel blood line. We howl and giggle and hee-haw with laughter even when things are really really bad. We laugh when we are miserable and broken hearted because God blessed us with the ability to see something funny in almost every situation, from cat poop on the new carpet to family funerals. Thank you Jesus. Again I have also been blessed with a husband who doesn’t always understand why the hell we are laughing but he doesn’t tell us to shut up.

4.  God has blessed me with the most wonderful and naturally happy children on the planet. They all like and take care of each other. They are all playful and respectful, smart and really really fun to be around. 

At least ounce a week (I’m not making this part up no matter what I said in the previous paragraph) someone asks me how I raised such wonderful and smart kids. (so far I haven’t had to write a single check for college)  I just say “thank you they actually came delivered that way”. And it’s the truth.

We have plenty of flaws. We tend to be a little vain, with terrible handwriting and none of the kids are over the top athletes. Hard work is required for their  on field successes. But for the most top I am blessed beyond words.

I have a theory why God has given me four such extraordinary children. He has a good plan. But I’ll save that story for another day and just be thankful for what I have right now.

The Dangers of Gangsters and Chirdren In The Morning

Mornings with kids are beautiful and vulnerable, like an elegant land mine. If you step over it, there’s no problem. If you step on it you’ll  loose a leg.

My ego often times rides on morning success.  If the forty five minutes before the bus arrives goes well, I’m convinced everyone will have a bright and shiny day and I get to drive to work feeling like a successful mother.  If the morning is ugly, filled with tension or tears, I end up clutching the wheel, convinced  everyone will have a terrible, awful, no good, day really bad day

Mornings are like see-saws made out of Legos.   Too much pressure and the whole damn thing falls apart. When Mary was little she hated socks and having her hair brushed so mornings were really treacherous.

Now it’s Lexie, Sandor and me in the morning.  Lexie keeps herself on track. She’s sleepy but focused in the morning. She has a high school routine and it’s important not to derail her train.  Left alone she is excellent as long as there is hot water and cereal.  I just have to say the right things when she asks about belts, shoes, shirts and hair. Crimped or straight? Pony tail or crazy insane curls? Cowboy boots or Pumas?

I try not to give her jobs in the morning, instead I make a list and leave it on the kitchen table. At the end of the list there are lots of xxxooo  because I love her so much, especially when she unloads the dish washer.

At nine, Sandor is an entirely different creature. He’s a sloth like animal who doesn’t like to eat first thing in the morning. He doesn’t want to do anything except hug for the first hour.

In the morning, Sandor sees his clothes but I have to remind him to put them on.  He sits in front of his bowl of cereal but I have to remind him to eat. He finds his shoes but I have to insist he puts them on. 

One tactic I use on Sandor to wake his fuzzy brain up is silly, but works.  I set up goofy games on the kitchen table or leave a puzzle out with only two missing pieces. 

This morning  I sat on the edge of his bed. “There’s a secret message on the kitchen table for you.”

“What is it?” He opens his eyes.

“Not telling, you have to check it out yourself.”

“Who left it?”

“I don’t know.”

He staggers out and laughs when he sees my stupid message made with Scrabble letters. It says, “Yo Gangsa Face”.  I leaveextra letters out so he can add to the note.  He’s a nine year old boy so, of course, he adds the word “butt”.   The word “butt” makes everything funnier.

Mornings can be tricky but I have skills and sometimes manage to avoid the land mines.

*What’s your secret in the mroning?  Comment or e-mail me. I love that. hampoland@gmail.com

More Stuff To Teach Your Kids

                                                                           My son had a friend over to spend the night. I heard him say, “Come on, let’s play ninjas,” then “come on, let’s build a fort,” then “Come on. Let’s watch Adventure Time.”  The next time I heard Sandor say “come on,” I said, “Son, let Sam pick.”

   Sam was obviously surprised by his new found power, “Can we play with your legos or ride the 4-wheeler.”
  “Sure,” Sandor said then the two boys disappeared into his room. I realized I haven’t been enforcing and reinforcing the all important “Guest Rule”.


   After the boys played with the legos for a while i called them into the kitchen. “Ok, Sam, what do you want for lunch, sandwich or mack and cheese.”
   Sam, who is tiny and beautiful gave me a gorgeous grin. the kid has perfect teeth. “Mack and cheese! Man, I like this rule of your mom’s”

   Generally my biggest rule is the one about computer games and television. The guys only get those for thirty minutes at a time but I think the guest rule might be even more important because it teaches old school civility. I worry that good manners have nearly become extinct.

   An Indian friend of mine recently told he he worries about his daughters becoming too Americanized. When I asked him what he meant he said he had found most American teens to be rude and inconsiderate when they came to his house and he said they were extremely disrespectful to their own parents.
   While I don’t think the problem around here is as dire as he described, it reminded me the importantce of teaching my own kids to be repectful and polite. If I don’t, nobody else will.

Thank you very much.

Please, Teach That Kid How To Shake Hands Like A Man

My last blog was about men putting their hand in their pants and now I’m going to write about handshakes. Yeah, I realize that’s a little odd and I think I’ve written about this before but I’m feeling passionate and it’s really really important.

This weekend I met two perfectly good kids with really sorry handshakes. They were pathetic and weak and the kids didn’t have a clue what to say or how to make eye contact. The seemed hopelessly squirrely. I felt sorry for them because it was obvious no adult had ever taken the time to teach them how to shake hands.

Parents, it’s nearly criminal if you don’t teach your children, especially your boys, how to shake hands like a man and say, “nice to meet you”. If you don’t teach them, who will? You should start teaching your kids how to shake hands as soon as they can walk so when they are six it’s not a big deal. When they are toddlers shake hands with them around the house, at dinner shake hands at the table and say “Nice to meet you, will you pass the chicken, please?” AND YOU HAVE TO MAKE EYE CONTACT.

If you don’t teach your kids how to do this, people will think they are slimy little punks, like Draco Malifoy. Seriously, that’s what we are thinking. I know it’s wrong but if a 13 year old kid has a pansy handshake I assume he’s also the kid who picks on little girls and spits in front of Grandmas.

If you love your child give them an advantage in life and teach them how to shake hands.

And now, will somebody please help me off my soapbox?

You Can’t Handle The Truth or My Mornings

Every day I ask my husband, Alex,  how is day was. He says, “you have no idea”. Yeah yeah, I roll my eyes. Alex is the executive chef at a giant throughbred race track so, on a race day he may feed 15,000 people and walk 10 miles. Yes, he works hard, and he works long hours 50-60 a week, but I’m about ready to throw down. Because I don’t think he could handle my mornings for a week. So this blog is for every mom who gets it done.

This morning I tok a shower then woke Sandor up, who was grumpy. We found pants but he thought there was something wet in the pocket so I told him to find another pair.  When I came back he was staring at his hand, which was stuck inside Mr. Potato Head (I didnt’ ask why). He wasn’t happy.

“Please get your hand out of Mr. Potato Head” I said then I found more pants, put them on top of his head and told him to come eat breakfast.

Lex tried to cheer him up while they ate cereal and grapes but he wasn’t speaking. I sang something stupid but that didnt’ work so I turned on the radio. Right off the bat there was a song by Buck Cherry. Yikes “Yeah, you’re a crazy b*&#$ but you _________so good I’m on top of it,” what was that doing on my normally tame morning radio show? I moved like a “mom tsunami” across the kitchen to hit the stop button my baby toe hit the leg of the chair. Oh, my Lord, I started cursing worse than the song.
That cheered Sandor up. He started laughing so hard he spewed cereal milk on the clean laundry.

They went to the bathroom to brush their teeth and I stared making lunches. But the bread was moldy so they both got a sip lock full of sliced steak and a pop tart. That’s a decent lunch, right?

After feeding the dog, finding Sandor’s lost shoe and wiping butterscotch pudding out of his back pack I sent him off to find the lost library book.

Lexie needed ten dollars for something, then she needed my tennis shoes for PE, my camera and the necklace I got for Christmas…then she was ready for school but Sandor was crying. If we didnt’ find his library book he’d miss recess.

So Lexie and I went on red alert to find the lost book, which was next to the bathtub because he’d asked me to read to him while he was soaking. (Hey, he’s been sick, so yes, I’ve been babying the boy)

They both made it out the door and caught the bus and that was the first 30 minutes of my morning.

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth or the reality of my mornings. Alex may be able to feed the masses and roll out 5,000 pounds of corned beef sandwiches but I don’t think he could get the kids on the bus by 7:14.