June 4th, 2008 – The Fourth BlogBlast for Peace

By , May 31, 2008 10:12 pm

I heard a wonderful quote this evening on NPR’s All Things Considered. It is from Dwight Eisenhower, and perfectly fits the spirit of the BlogBlast for Peace:

“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”

Twice a year Mimi Lenox hosts the BlogBlast for Peace. She explains it better than I can, so please read this excerpt from Mimi’s blog:

Welcome to BlogBlast For Peace – The Fourth Launch! Dona Nobis Pacem is Latin for “Grant Us Peace”. The Peace Globe project began in the fall of 2006 with a simple post from this blog. The post ignited a flame in the blogosphere. The flame became a passion. The passion became a movement. It amazingly travelled from blog to blog across the globe until it reached 35 countries and 46 states. BlogBlast for Peace is a semi-annual blog event. It happened on my blog. It happened on your blog. It happened all over the world. It is positively inspiring to watch. The simplicity of three Latin words on a globe and bloggers writing amazing articles on what peace means to them.
Simple. And powerful.

On June 4, 2008 bloggers from all across the globe will blog for peace. We will speak with one voice. One subject. One day.

I’ll be publishing my third Dona Nobis Pacem peace post on June 4th. Do you care to join me and bloggers from all over the world? Your post doesn’t have to be anything profound. In fact, if you are completely speechless, then why not just “fly” your “peace globe” on the 4th? The point is to join in somehow and let your voice be heard.

Click here to find out how to create your own “peace globe” and have it numbered and displayed in Mimi’s gallery.

If you want to read the peace posts from my archives, then here they are:

June 2007
November 2007 (10 Ideas for Fostering International Understanding in Your Kids).

I hope to see you on June 4th!

(Graffiti photo thanks to morguefile.com and photographer clarita)

Meme Housekeeping

By , May 30, 2008 8:54 pm

The Meme of Fives

I was recently tagged by Toddler Mom Maureen for the Meme of Fives. Since I am notoriously bad at remembering to respond to tags, I thought I’d better get to this one right away. Plus, I have never done it before and it looked rather fun! Thanks Maureen!

The rules:
1. Post the rules of the game at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?

Running around after a two year-old and a one year-old.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

1) Put out my hummingbird feeder since the hummers are back.
2) Laundry (ho hum).
3) Give my cockatiels a squirt-bottle bath since the weather is warm.
4) Buy fresh potting soil and fill my outside pots.
5) Did I mention laundry?

What are five snacks you enjoy?

1) Anything chocolate – I find chocolate to be especially necessary around 2PM.
2) Whole wheat pita with hummus (nutritious too!)
3) Doritos (NOT nutritious so I simply can’t have them in the house)
4) Any kind of cheese (I have never met a cheese I didn’t like)
5) Pickled onions (that’s the British in me coming out)

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

Hmm…this one is tough because I don’t think my habits would change much, but I’ll try and answer.

1) Give a donation large enough to expand my children’s small but wonderful Montessori school through high school (it is now only to grade 4).
2) Set up a no-kill shelter for stray cats.
3) Be a space tourist and experience zero-G’s!
4) Buy a house in Hawaii for my sister and visit her often!
5) Spin a globe and go to the spot where my finger lands, no matter how remote (provided it is not in the middle of an ocean of course).

What are five of your bad habits?

I only get to pick five?

1) A constant desire to sleep late (unfortunately unfulfilled now that I have children). I am NOT a morning person.
2) Caffeine, especially in the form of tea.
3) I don’t drink enough water.
4) I hate to exercise.
5) Not putting away the clean laundry often enough. It sits in baskets around my house for days.

What are five places where you have lived?

1) France (Paris and Rouen)
2) Germany (Hamburg)
3) Oswego, NY
4) Albuquerque, NM
5) New Haven, CT

What are five jobs you’ve had?

1) Flight attendant
2) Lear jet pilot
3) Flight instructor
4) Lawyer
5) French tutor

Five people I tag:

1) Heather of Celtic Mommy
2) Michie of Seeking Imperfection
3) Gattina of Writer Cramps and My Cats and Funny Stories
4) Kate of Homeschooling in the Garden State
5) Yarrow of Yarrow of Witchwood

If any of you have done this before or would rather not do it, then please feel free to ignore the tag. My feelings will not be hurt!

7 Random Facts

I was tagged way back in February by Tomtemama for the 7 Random Facts Meme, and then again in April By Michie of Seeking Imperfection. Thank you both for thinking of me, but I am very embarrassed that it has taken me this long to respond. Sorry!

I did do this meme about a year ago (only it was 8 Random Facts back then) and since very few of you who read Unplug Your Kids these days probably knew me back then, I think I’ll just be lazy and republish my “facts” (which should be “random” or “weird” according to the instructions):

1. I have dual US/UK citizenship and am an Aquarius.

2. I have been an exchange student twice: a summer in Oslo, Norway at age 16 and, after having graduated from high school a year early, a year in Rouen, France at age 17. I also spent my junior year of college in Hamburg, Germany, but please don’t write to me in German! My French is good, my German (except for a few choice unpublishable words) has mostly disappeared.

3. I was an Air France flight attendant for two years so I have been to a lot of unusual places. My friend Wishy says that I am the only person she has ever met who can start a sentence with “On my way to Burundi….”

4. As a child I broke both my big toes and received absolutely no sympathy from my doctor-father. My sister thinks she has cuter toes than I do, but I disagree.

5. My car has a license plate frame that says: “A Woman’s Place is in the Cockpit” (I am a pilot).

6. I am “not the cheerleader-type,” as my mother used to say. Nor am I a jock. I guess I am an introverted nerd.

7. My secret favorite movie is “Dirty Dancing” because I wish I could dance with Patrick Swayze (who I actually once saw on a ski slope at Santa Fe, NM!).

8. I hate white walls in my house. All my walls are a color.

I am supposed to tag seven people, but I am not sure who has done this and who has not, so I will simply allow anyone who wants, to tag themselves. Please let me know in the comments if you want to do it, so I can stop by and read all about YOU!


Photos thanks to morguefile.com and photographers: “5” – imelenchon, and “7” – keyseeker.

I am a Blog Capitalist

By , May 29, 2008 10:20 pm

My first real foray in to the world of blog capitalism is open for business. No, I am not plastering Unplug Your Kids with ads for cheap narcotics, online casinos, and get rich quick schemes. It’s just my store!

All my life I have secretly wanted to own a toy store and a bookstore and fill my stores with all the toys and books that I like! (“Mines, mines, MINES!!!” as my 2 year-old would say). As a child, my toys were very meaningful to me. I am a packrat who kept many of them. I guess I just haven’t grown up yet.

Since owning a real “brick and mortar” toy or book store isn’t very practical in this day and age (especially in my small town), and there are plenty of wonderful online stores already, I decided to try setting up my own store through Amazon, just for fun. Besides, the toys and books that I like probably aren’t mainstream enough to ever be profitable anyway.

I have been fooling around with my store for over a year now, so it is finally time to try it out. I am quite proud that I managed to figure out how to fit the iframe reasonably well into my page. I feel like quite a techie!

As with all my Amazon links, I’ll earn a small percentage of any sale, even if someone enters Amazon via my store (or any Amazon link on my blog for that matter) and buys something else.

I don’t expect to become the next Donald Trump from this. My goal is very humble: to fund the purchase of a new book every month to review on my blog. I figure that in this way, I would be passing some of the goodness back to others. Of course I will feel that I have really hit the big time if I can cover the monthly cost of my web site hosting too!

This blog originally started out, long, long ago as a “shopping blog,” inspired by my friend Wishy who liked the gifts I bought her daughter. I guess my store is also a way to preserve that aspect of it, while I delve into other topics on the blog itself, as I have been doing for over a year now.

This leads to my last point…and if you have made it this far in reading my post, I am grateful! In addition to the more monetarily-oriented goals that I have mentioned above, I really hope that my store can help people cut through some of the toy and book junk out there. Having only a Walmart and Kmart to shop at for toys has made me an expert online shopper. I would like to pass along the good finds to others. Most of what I recommend, we have and love. The rest is stuff I would like to have and love!

So, I hope you enjoy the Unplug Your Kids store. If you like it, then check back from time to time because I will add new things as I find them. I also have a seasonal section that I plan on changing every so often. Knowing me, I will be tinkering with the store for quite some time.

The link is the “Shop Unplug Your Kids” tab in the upper right sidebar.


(Photo thanks to photographer Kevin Rosseel and morguefile.com.)

Impressions of a Week Without TV

By , May 28, 2008 8:01 pm

It was with great interest that I read all the final posts of the 2nd Annual TV-Turnoff Week Blog Challenge participants: 28 final posts in all. There were really some remarkable similarities among the reports. It was quite fascinating to me!

Here is a summary of my general impressions from those final posts:

1) On Day One, there was often some rebellion from the children which seemed to settle down rapidly by Day Two.

2) The importance of weather: many participants had wonderful weather that week and they had positive experiences. For those who experienced rainy days, it was more challenging.

3) Also – weekdays seemed easier than weekends for most. For those who “fell off the wagon” during the Challenge, it was usually on a weekend.

4) A surprising number of people (nearly everyone??) saw noticeably better behavior from their children, even after just a few days.

5) In addition to positive behavioral changes, a number of people noticed their children playing more imaginatively and independently without the TV as an option.

6) Many reported that their children seemed to be in better moods and that there were fewer sibling squabbles taking place.

7) Most husbands were harder to unplug than the kids!

8) Apparently most of us who maintain blogs are computer addicts. Almost everyone said beforehand that they were more worried about unplugging themselves, than unplugging their children! It seems that staying off the computer was quite challenging for many, but I did note a few bits of wisdom that I would like to pass along:

– A few people said that they thought that their spending less time on the computer actually brought out better behavior in their children. Having more attention from Mom (or Dad…but I think this was mostly Moms who took part) seemed to settle the kids down.

– One Mom admitted that even if she was busy with other things and still not paying a whole lot of attention to her children, the fact that she was not on the computer gave her kids “an illusion of attention” that was beneficial. (Sorry I don’t remember exactly who said that, but it is a wonderful observation!)

– Another person said that they realized that even though it seems faster to look things up online, it really isn’t because once they sit down at the computer they get sucked into other things like checking email, etc. This blogger said that from now on she will try to pull out the phone book for a number rather than try to look it up quickly online. (Kayris – The Great Walls of Baltimore)


The general feeling of most participants: the TV-free week made them realize how easy it is to just turn on the TV or pop in a video, without giving it much thought. It seems that the week taught most people the importance of mindfulness. It is not really a matter of turning it all off completely and forever, but to use TV mindfully, to be aware of when and why the TV is being used in the family.


There you have it! My unscientific impressions of what I read in the participants’ final posts. If you want to read the posts yourself, you can find the links here.

Thanks again to all who bravely joined the 2nd Annual TV-Turnoff Blog Challenge!

Review: “A Kid’s Guide to Giving” (Freddi Zeiler)

By , May 27, 2008 9:44 pm

Those of you who have been visiting Unplug Your Kids for a while, might remember my children’s Heifer International fund raising efforts. They made and sold Christmas ornaments, and earned money from their “Candy Bank” to contribute to my oldest daughter, E’s, class charity fundraising project.

E got so wrapped up in the fun of helping others, that she announced that for Christmas she wanted a book about different charities and what they do. “Santa” brought her A Kids Guide to Giving by Freddi Zeiler.

I promised you a review if we liked it, so here it is – finally!

Ms. Zeiler (age 20 at the time of publication) really began work on this book at age 14 when she became interested in charities, and started researching and compiling notes on different charitable organizations and how they spend their money. Her parents encouraged her to expand her research and turn it into a book to inspire other young people.

This book was just what E was hoping for. The first half discusses why to give, how to choose a cause, types of contributions (money, things, and time/effort), fund-raising ideas, and more. There are also sections on why it is important to know how a charity spends its money and how to avoid scams.

The last portion is a guide to tons of kid-friendly charities arranged by subject (“People,” “Animals,” and “The Environment”). It explains what each charity does and gives contact information, website, breakdown of how each dollar donated is spent, etc.

There is a small section for notes at the end, although my daughter likes to just put a check mark by her preferred charities. The hard cover and fold-over magnetic flap make it appealing in almost a diary, or notebook-like way.

My daughter likes to sit and read it, and I am happy to let her do so. Since this is a guide for children, the charities are comprehensible to children. You will not find yourself having to explain to your 7 year-old what a rape crisis center is, for example.

My children’s “charity of the day” is the African Wildlife Foundation (discovered through this book). They have already “adopted” one animal, a leopard, and are working on raising money to adopt another.

A final note: The recommended age range for the A Kids Guide to Giving, is 12 and up. My daughter is only 7, but she is an excellent reader. In my opinion, this book is suitable for children younger than age 12 provided they have the necessary interest and reading skills.


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