Monday, October 26, 2009

Take Your Kids to LEGOLAND for Halloween Fun

Legoland goes all out for Halloween. They have spooky Lego creations and a trick-or-treat path for kids. If you've never been there and you're looking for something fun to do with your kids, consider going.

Here's an article Jennifer Margulis wrote about LEGOLAND for the Ashland Daily Tidings:

“This is the best day of my life!” Victoria Hilden’s 7-year-old daughter Hannah told her mom while they were at Legoland in San Diego.

Hannah and her 4-year-old brother Fisher, like hundreds of other Ashland children who have been lucky enough to go there, love Legoland. “What was the best for me was that we could say ‘yes’ all day long,” says Victoria. “It was their day from ten to five and I loved that they could make all the decisions.”


If you’re just hearing of it for the first time, you may be wondering exactly what it is. An amusement park specifically geared towards children ages 2-12, Legoland is an amazing place filled with life-sized creations made from … you guessed it, Legos.

As you walk around the park, you see Lego dinosaurs, Lego moms pushing Lego children in prams, Lego sharks, Lego pirates, Lego You Name It. A feat of creativity and engineering, these Lego creations are astounding to adults and to children.The rides are fun too.

Wildfires aside, San Diego has near perfect weather and is a wonderful place to take children—with its beaches, museums, Balboa Park, world famous zoo, palm trees, seafood restaurants, and whatnot. Better yet, if you’re willing to drive from Ashland to Sacramento (which takes a little more than four hours), you can get Web deals from Southwest Airlines to San Diego for as little as $49.00 round trip.

The downside to trips to San Diego? America’s Finest City is not a well-kept secret and people from around in the world will be with you when you’re there, even in the off-season.

To beat the crowds at Legoland, try to go on a weekday and get there the minute the park opens and stay as long as you can (even once the rides are closed you’ll enjoy looking at the Lego sculptures). Eat lunch early or late, and go on rides at noon when everyone else is getting hungry. “Summertime the best days to come are Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” says Julie Estrada, Legoland spokesperson. “During the fall and winter we’re closed on Tuesdays and Wednesday so Fridays are the best day to come. Parents usually take a Monday off as opposed to a Friday so Fridays the park’s a little less crowded.”

Splash Battle—a ride where you can spray other boats with sprayers from yours—is a favorite with every age group, as is the Driving School. Sponsored by Volvo (Legos are Danish made), this ride lets children ages 6-12 take a “driving test” in real mini cars. There’s a junior driving school for toddlers, ages 3-5 as well. Children have to follow red and green lights (watch out!) and traffic signs. At the end of the “test” they get a license.The roller coasters are also popular. Estrada calls these “pink knuckle” attractions because they’re not too scary. There’s the Technic Coaster, which has a four-story drop (get there early to avoid lines), and The Dragon, a coaster which first takes you through a dark indoor scene of knights, dragons, and loot and then boom! onto a wilder outdoor coaster ride.

In the excitement of shows and rides, it’s easy to miss Miniland USA but you should spend some time checking it out. There you’ll see San Francisco cable cars, 19th century Victorian houses, the Southern California coastline, and Las Vegas casinos made out of Legos (20 million Legos to be exact).

“Another great thing was the Lego bulk bins in one of the stores,” Victoria Hilden says. “I’m frustrated with the lack of standard Legos available in toy stores today. All you can find are sets and they’re all geared towards boys. We let the kids pick and chose their own colors and sizes—the big score was the little clear window pieces!”

Know Before You Go
Located in Carlsbad, about 40 minutes from downtown San Diego.
Tel: 760-918-5346 Web Site:
Parking: $10. Tickets: $80 for adults and $68 for children. Get discounts from hotels and combo packages.
Avoid lines by buying tickets on line. Looking for other cool things to do this Halloween? Check out A Traveler's Library's spookiest place in America and her round-up of other Halloween activities.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Help Your Wife Tie Her Shoes

There are lots of ways for fathers to be involved in pregnancy. The more you bond with your wife, the closer you'll feel to your new baby once he or she is born.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Doula in Ashland, Oregon

Our friend, Jenny Johnson, has started a doula service in Ashland, Oregon, for pregnant couples looking for a kind and calm birth attendant to be with them during labor.

Here's her announcement:
I am excited to announce that I am now offering my services as a birth doula in the Rogue Valley! After learning and studying as an apprentice with homebirth midwives, giving birth to my four children, and completing the Doulas of North America training workshop, I am ready to serve my community in this capacity.

I offer emotional and physical support throughout the childbearing year. My services include prenatal meetings, continuous support throughout labor and birth, and postpartum visits as well.

I share information with clients about various topics relating to pregnancy, birth and the care of new babies.

Jenny Johnson
(541) 482-6064

Friday, October 16, 2009

Musings of a Happy SAHD

This guest post is written by Robb Peck, an avid letterboxer in Vancouver, Washington, and a stay-at-home dad. Read more about his family at Out & About w/ Happy SAHD

Musings of a Happy SAHD
(as in Stay At Home Dad)

I started being home not long after our second child turned a year old and I lost my job, catapulting our family into a new place. Like millions of other Americans who have had this happen, I felt a bit betrayed and more than a little dismayed. I had spent better than half of my life training and practicing my profession, and suddenly I was no longer in charge. It was hard to shake that off and get going on looking for a new job while helping out around the house.

At first, I resisted the whole “Mr. Mom” thing. Sure, I would get the kids up and fed, do some cooking (more chances to use the grill!), and tidy up the house, but I was still in charge of the 'big' things – the cars, the yard, maintenance & repairs, etc. After all, I was still looking for a job, and my focus had to be on that. But, as life would have it, my wife and I ended up in a complete role reversal when she rather quickly found a great full-time job that paid better than mine.

We had a hard choice to make: If she kept her job and I eventually found one, we would have no one at home, and our kids raised in daycare – a choice we had long ago decided not to make. And it kind-of made sense: I had spent the better part of my life training to become a teacher, with 13 years of experience in the classroom – why not stay home and raise our kids?
So I've been a SAHD through the "terrible twos," potty training and preschool to now kindergarten and the wonders of the 5-yr-old "why" with our son, and from kindergarten and favorite 'dollies' through scouts and sleepovers with our 8-yr-old (going on 18-yr-old) daughter.

I've been the kids' social director for play-dates, birthday parties, summer camps, and sports.

I've gotten to do things many fathers miss: celebrate the first time my boy used the 'big potty'; spend an afternoon playing pirates on the playground, build massive 'forts' out of all the chairs and every blanket in the house (and then have it all put away before mommy comes home!); see my children grasp the concept of phonics and read something brand new; or hold my daughter after school the first time another girl made fun of her clothes and crushed her ego. I also get to do amazing things like chaperone field trips to the pumpkin patch, help out in my kids' classrooms, and take my kids after school to volunteer down at the homeless shelter.It's different, however, being a SAHD.

Most moms wear it as a badge of honor if they are a SAHM: they are sacrificing their 'working life' to spend the quality time it takes to raise kids right, and be there for them.

But many of these same SAHMs treat a SAHD as if there must be something wrong with you, as if it’s not okay for a man to stay at home and let his wife go earn the paycheck. I've experienced the strange, guarded looks from the mommies at the park and the children's museum. I've actually seen mommies guide their little ones to the other side of the playground when I was playing with my son on the slide or swing. And I've had play-dates turned down because only I—not my wife—would be home to supervise.

Oddly enough, even though I'm there with my kids – just like them – it takes a bit for some to realize that I'm not out 'cruising' to pick up moms, or stalking their kids. Once I got past the stares and snubs, several of the SAHMs have become good friends, with us trading off watching each other's kids now & then.

Some working fathers aren't exactly sure how to treat a SAHD either, especially when I might spend an afternoon at their house – or their wife might spend an afternoon at our house – while our kids are playing. One thing that seems to help a lot is to invite the whole family over for dinner one evening so everyone gets to know each other a bit better first. (And yes, I do the cooking. If you're passing through town some time, we'll have you over. I make a mean stir-fry and pot roast, and have become a bit of an expert with homemade breads - especially pizza crust. I even cook once a month at our church for about 100 people or so...) Then there are the friends who can't imagine that you actually like being a SAHD. Again, there's the perception that there must be something wrong with me since I've stopped looking for a job. I've had the ex-coworkers ask about when I was going back to the classroom. And I've fielded calls on my cell phone from my old buddies 'ribbing' me about being "Mr. Mom." Of course, I was playing with my kids at the zoo when they called!

Though a lot of my new ‘job’ is fantastic, it's not all fun and games. When a kid is burning up with a fever, or puking their guts out, my wife heads off to work and I get the 'pleasure' of dealing with it. I've picked up a lot more of the housework, of course, but I still take care of the cars, yard, maintenance, repairs, etc. I also do the bulk of the laundry (kids' clothes, sheets, towels, etc. - my wife prefers to wash her work clothes herself), the shopping (which is really fun with a 3-yr-old), and most of the errands.

All-in-all, it's wonderful being a SAHD - with an incredible, intense time to really bond and get to know and help shape your kids - and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

A lot of our society looks at mommies who stay home as almost 2nd-class citizens. Yet, I've learned the real secret – they have the best job in the world!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ashland, Oregon Resources for Pregnant Women Who Want to Stay Fit

A front page article in yesterday's Tidings, written by co-author Jennifer Margulis, lists the many ways pregnant women can stay fit in Ashland, Oregon.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

A new study conducted by researchers in Norway has discovered yet another benefit to exercise for pregnant women: In addition to keeping moms-to-be healthy, exercising while pregnant also helps keeps down the birth weight of the newborn.

The study, published in the October issue of "Obstetrics & Gynecology," tracked the outcomes of over 35,000 singleton births in Norway and found that regular exercise — at least three times a week — reduces the chances of giving birth to an excessively big baby by 23-28 percent.

Too-big babies (the scientific name for this is "fetal macrosomia") have been linked to increases in birth complications, including post-partum hemorrhages, C-sections, and low Apgar scores.

Although the authors of the study report that fetal macrosomia seems to be on the rise and that the numbers of pregnant women who exercise regularly are on the decline, that does not seem to be the case in Ashland. where it is common to see pregnant women bicycling, walking, swimming, and doing yoga.

"Women who get plenty of exercise during pregnancy benefit in innumerable ways," said Sheryl Grunde, owner of, who teaches prenatal and postnatal yoga classes in Ashland. Grunde, 33, also offers pay-what-you-can massage for pregnant women and works as a doula (a trained birth assistant) at Ashland Community Hospital.

"Healthy, regular metabolism, a strong heart and low blood pressure, and the ability to breathe deeply are some benefits to exercise that come to mind," Grunde said.

The list of Ashland, Oregon resources at the bottom of the article are as follows:
**Prenatal yoga classes cost $12 (less for a punch card) and take place on at the Ashland Yoga Center (at Fourth and A streets) Wednesdays from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Contact instructor Sheryl Grunde at 541-951-7474 or for more information. Grunde also teaches postpartum mom and baby yoga classes at The Studio at Fourth and B streets on Mondays at 10:45 a.m. Participants must pre-register for this six-week class. Focus is on core strength, stretching, and baby play.

**Prenatal swim classes at the Ashland YMCA, free for members or $10 (for a guest pass to the Y), are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5 to 6 p.m. Contact the YMCA at 482-9622 for more information.

**Ashland Community Hospital offers an early pregnancy class ($10), a prenatal yoga class ($10), a four-week basic childbirth education series ($50, which includes a book), waterbirth and doulas class, breastfeeding, and a four-week monthly infant massage class, as well as a free one-day class for siblings-to-be and a free new parents group that meets Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information call the birth center at 201-4210.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dads Experience Postpartum Depression Too

Since Brooke Shields came out of the closet about her struggle with depression in her book, Down Came the Rain, after her daughter was born, it seems like more people in America are attuned to the fact that many, many women suffer from postpartum depression (PPD).

Most studies about postpartum depression focus on the mother's experience, including this new one by researchers in Spain, but it's important to remember that dads can get depressed after a baby is born as well as moms.

Here's a description of what one man who suffered from PPD went through (from an article in US News & World Report):
The birth of John Hyman's first child didn't fill him with the joy he might have hoped for. Far from treasuring every minute with his son, the Rockville, Md., college writing instructor reacted by teaching more courses just to get himself out of the house. "I didn't know what my role was there," recalls Hyman, now 51. His wife, by contrast, bonded instantly with their son, Jake, now a teenager. "Betsy fell in love. It was primal," he says. "I didn't have that experience. I thought I was broken. I remember thinking this was a dirty little secret I would have to deal with."
As much as 10 percent of new dads are affected by PPD, which can strike any time in the first year of a child's like.

According to the recent study of postpartum women only by researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, there are ways to predict women who are at risk for postpartum depression. These include:
1. Lack of social networks and support
2. History of previous depression or psychiatric difficulties in the family
3. An emotionally or physically difficult birth or complications at birth
The researchers also point out two protective factors that make it less likely for women to experience postpartum depression:
1. Age of the mom: older moms are less likely to suffer than younger moms
2. Working during pregnancy: moms who work while pregnant tend to suffer less depression than moms who do not
We wonder what all this means for dads?

If you are feeling depressed or displaced after the birth of your baby, it's important to know that that feeling is normal and temporary and that your experience is nothing to be ashamed of.

The best thing you can do to combat those negative feelings is to talk about them--probably not with your wife--and to find other dads who can understand what you are going through and offer you support. Talking to a social worker or a psychologist can also help. Joining or even starting a dads' group and visiting on-line support groups for dads will make you feel less alone. Finding ways to be involved with your baby, right from the start, can also make you feel better and more connected to your family.