Almost half of Americans expect to rely a great deal on their neighbors after a disaster. Helping your community to prepare for disasters can lessen the hardship that is a part of any crisis situation. Learn skills you need to help yourself and others until help can arrive.

As part of President Obama’s Early Learning Initiative, the state of Alabama is participating in Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships, which allows Early Head Start programs to partner with local child care centers, serving infants and toddlers from low-income families.

Children establish eating habits as early as two years old!  At Head Start/Early Head Start programs, we partner with families to build healthy eating habits early; one way to do this is to serve meals family-style. Eating family-style meals is a great way to introduce healthy foods, model healthy behaviors and provide opportunities for nutrition education.

What is Family Style Eating?

Caring for young children's teeth is an important part of keeping their bodies healthy—and it's never too early to get started.

Strong first or baby teeth set the stage for strong permanent teeth, and help children play, learn, and grow. Children begin developing oral health habits early.  Once a child’s oral health habits are set, they often stay with the child for life. 

One of the best ways to really understand your child is to get to know his/her world. Hang out with your child. Children are not always good about telling their mom or dad what their worries might be.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended immunization schedule for children 0-6 years old protects children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.  The schedule is designed to provide protection early in life, before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

The days of cuddles and kisses come harder these days. If I’m being quite honest, I usually only get these things from my four-year-old when he’s sick or tired, or, just sick and tired of me asking for them. These are the days of my little one following Daddy when he mows the lawn, whipping his Hot Wheels Jeep in line so closely his little head is covered with grass shavings when they come inside for the evening. They’re sharing a “boys only” camaraderie that makes me just a little jealous … in the best way possible, of course.

Geneva Hughes, mom to 19-month-old Walter, hasn’t yet experienced her son pushing her away for Daddy just yet, but she hopes she’ll deal with it well. 

“I hope to handle it with a smile on my face, knowing that he needs every little second watching his Daddy, and learning from him how to be a well-respected gentleman,” she said.

Just as a special bond naturally grows between a father and son as boys grow older, keeping the camaraderie between a mother and son during this time can be as simple as making time.

“Inclusion is the best camaraderie building block in a mother son relationship,” Hughes concluded. “He goes where I go and does what I do. I enjoy cooking, and while I have to be careful with him because he loves to try to touch the oven, while I cook, he plays with pots and pans.”

As our little men grow, and decide spending time with mom is not as fun as hanging out with dad, how should we handle it? Two things: Learn to enjoy time alone again, and make a conscious effort to enter the boys’ world in a way only a mom can.

I enjoy the occasional spa visit, or an early Saturday morning breakfast with girlfriends, but recently I found a terrific way to enjoy more time with my son, by delving deep into his interest in all things related to construction. I decided to incorporate myself into his new, evolving world of pretend by making it come to life. I threw him a construction-themed classroom birthday party. 

While I still feel a hint of jealousy watching my little guy “help” Daddy cut down trees on our property, I rest easier knowing I’m finding plenty of ways to keep our mother-son bond strong as he grows. 

Mom’s Guide to Throwing a Construction Themed Birthday Party

1. Make sure your child is a fan. While a thorough search of Pinterest may convince you, a theme is “perfect” for you, make sure it is perfect for your child.  

2. Establish a budget. DIY-ing can be just as expensive as buying personalized or theme-related items from specialty party or crafts stores.  

3. Make the most of your venue options. If you have a child in preschool, classroom parties can prove great because you are almost guaranteed great attendance.  

Top: Even the tiniest of details can create a realistic and fun atmosphere for children as they pretend while giving them a break from their normal school schedule. Bottom: Boys like dirty things sometimes, and what is more fun to a four-year-old than eating “dirt and rocks” at his construction party? Right: Beaux William taking a break from the festivities during his construction birthday party.

4. Pay attention to details. When you think about decor, think about construction themed colors like yellow, orange and black to incorporate in the smallest of items, from napkins and forks to orange colored juice. Safety cones are a huge part of construction sites so use them in your décor. For my son’s party, I placed orange safety cones at the head of each table with a dump truck balloon tied to each. For his table cloths, I found runners that looked like a two-lane highway. 

5. Get creative with your food. For a group of four and five-year-olds, a small Chick-fil-a nugget tray was a good base with chips and yellow cheese dip, mozzarella string cheese, red velvet cookies and dump truck cupcakes.  

6. Make the goody bag fun and stick with your theme. After tracing cupcake toppers, I carefully crafted dump truck goody bags using plain brown paper sacks. Amongst various treats inside, I included a wrapped package of Oreos, labeled “spare tires.”  

Entering the weekend before the party, my family took a vacation and did not return home early enough on Sunday night for me to make a cake or cupcakes. However, due to careful planning the week prior, I discovered I could order two and, half dozen, plain chocolate cupcakes from a local bakery. Not only was this just as money savvy as baking the goodies on my own, but it allowed for certainty in the taste of the cupcake, while giving me the ability to get creative and ice each cupcake with yellow or orange icing, place my dump truck cupcake toppers and crumble Oreo cookies on top. For extra effect, I bought a toy bulldozer for the cupcake presentation. My birthday boy loved seeing another bulldozer to add to his collection carrying his dump truck cupcake with candles.

7. Don’t forget the hard hats! This brings your construction “site” to life.

8.Take many photographs. When your child tells you afterward that you’re the best like mine did, you will want the memories that introduced you into the world he and Daddy love so much. 

By Nicole Hall

When you think about tobacco marketing, I am sure you might think about the handsome cowboy, Camel Joe, or maybe even the Flintstones, who were once hired in the old days to promote a certain brand of cigarettes. The youth of today are not faced with television ads, billboards, or commercials, but rather a new marketing tactic called “point of sale.” Point of sale marketing takes place where the items are sold. Think about the last convenience store you went into. What did you see? If you take a moment to look at your surroundings, it’s hard to miss. I assure you, young, intrigued eyes take notice, as they are quite observant. The bright packaging. The discounts. The fruity flavors. They take it all in, just like the tobacco companies want them to.

Tis the season for little league games and summer sporting events, which brings us to the inevitable topic of competition. Most people would agree that teaching children how to compete is a valuable skill in life, and that childhood sports are one of the avenues by which to learn this. This is also an excellent opportunity to define the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition. 

You’ve seen her. She’s the mom at the grocery store that is the epitome of everything you are presently trying to accomplish. She’s athletic, and her workout shoes look well-worn (yes, her thigh gap proves it), but they look perfectly presentable to wear in the grocery store. Her shopping cart is filled with healthy(ish) foods, compared to your array of Tuna Helper and DiGiorno Pizza. And what really catches your eye the most: her child is with her. Sitting quietly in the buggy. With no hassle. With no crying. And, as your preschooler pulls you by the arm to the tiny toy section scrunched between the paper towels and magazines on aisle 10, you wonder how she did it.  

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.