Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges by Patty Wipfler

A little way back I came across a book by Patty Wipfler, called Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges. Being a “single mom”  (yes, I remarried recently but my son is my parental duty and sole responsibility and he will always be) I always worry about being able to give him the tools for him to become a well-rounded adult. Parenting is not easy, even less so when done by only one parent, I always joke how babies don’t come with manuals and how it would be much easier if they did.


Anyway, I will review the book at a later date but for now, I want to leave you with this guest post that Patty has prepared for all of you.

What Are the Five Simple Tools You Need
to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges?

By Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand Parenting

Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.  Copyright © Hand in Hand Parenting, 2016

Each of the five Hand in Hand Listening Tools plays an important role in building wellbeing for your family. The tools work together to connect you and your children. And your child’s developing mind needs a close sense of connection with you as surely as she needs food, shelter, cleanliness, and sleep.

Special Time is a simple way to pour love and attention into your child. You set aside one-on-one time, and let your child choose what the two of you will do. She will use this time to show you what’s important to her and reveal her struggles. Special Time lets your child feel seen. It deepens her trust in you, while giving you a window into her thinking. It builds the sense of safety that promotes cooperation. Special Time can help connect you and your child from her earliest years through her adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond. It’s almost always the first Listening Tool to reach for when you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to do with this kid!”

Staylistening transmits your caring while your child feels hurt or afraid, and is expressing intense feelings. She pours out the hurt she feels; you listen, and pour in your quiet confidence that she’ll recover. You protect her while she feels alone and undone. Listening to your child’s upset doesn’t mean approving of her feelings; it’s your way of bathing her in your caring during her toughest moments. As her feelings pour out, an emotional burden will lift, and she’ll be left with the deep imprint of your love and support in its place. Both you and she will learn that feelings of hurt will heal when someone listens and cares. Because most of us were not listened to in this way, Staylistening can be challenging for a parent. But this tool has the power to lift your child’s spirits and transform bothersome behavior.

Setting Limits is crucial in your work as a parent. Your child needs and deserves a limit the minute her behavior starts to veer off track. A good limit gives your child the chance to offload the emotional tension that clouds her behavior, so she can return to the fun of learning and enjoying those around her. We’ll help you recognize the early warning signals your child sends out, and show you how to set limits without harshness. There are even ways to bring a limit that will fill your child with laughter.

Playlistening is the art of eliciting laughter in play with your child, without tickling. A heartwarming, creative tool, it will strengthen your connection as you make time for fun and enjoyment. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress. Your child’s confidence will build as you learn to instigate playful role reversal and games full of friendly challenge and affection. Laughter will foster warmth in your family.

Finally, the Listening Partnership gives you a way to replenish your energy for parenting. An exchange of listening time with another parent can help you shed the stress that crops up when you live with young children. A Listening Partnership also gives you a haven for learning. You get a safe, private place to unfold your thoughts and feelings. How do you want your parenting to be different from the way you were raised? What gifts from your parents do you want to pass on? When you find yourself struggling with your child over a particular issue, how does your own past experience come into play? You’ll also have the privilege of listening to another parent as they think, feel, and learn. You won’t exchange advice, but you’ll learn from one another every time you meet. As you listen and are listened to, you’ll find it easier to enjoy your children, and to connect warmly with them during their troubled moments.

So there you have it!

Each tool is powerful in its own right, but no one tool is meant to be used alone. Setting limits—your use of parental power—is tempered with Special Time, which puts your child in the driver’s seat for short chunks of time. Playlistening, the lighthearted side of parent-child interactions, helps to balance out the full-throated drama your child goes through as you Staylisten. Your Listening Partnership is a vital learning laboratory, as well as your sanctuary. There, you are respected and understood. Your every feeling is welcome, every experience is of interest, and every thought, an important one.

With these five Hand in Hand Listening Tools, you can fully express your deep love for your kids and strengthen your family life. Enjoy!

Patty Bio Pic

By Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore the authors of
Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.

To learn more about this unique approach to relationships in the family and get your own copy of Listen, click here.



The Spinfords : Different is Beautiful

In a world so focused on our differences, this book makes perfect sense. Between school stress, peer pressure, family dynamics and a list of other “worries” today’s kids deal with more anxiety than ever before.

We live in a world,  in which the access to social media has given us all the power to judge, to criticize, to give our opinion, and to hide behind screens and faces. We jump into conclusions and judgments so fast and precariously, many times in front of our kids without even noticing. They notice, though.


“The challenge, especially during the formative years of childhood, is teaching kids that what makes them different is exactly what they should celebrate, not hide”

Ann Marie, the author of the beautifully written children’s book The Spinfords, tells a story that in a simple yet magical way explains to both kids and parents how differences make us unique. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, white or black, girl or boy. It doesn’t really matter if you do things in a different way. What it matters are your pure and true intentions. What matters is who you are in essence, inside and out. We are all beings who want to be loved and accepted and appreciated. Let love conquer all.


This book speaks volumes to me. Not only am I the sister of a child with disabilities, but I am also very passionate about equality. My brother has encountered a significant amount of judgemental people in this world, but he has also encountered people willing and able to treat him like any other human being regardless of his disabilities. Growing up, my mom had to take him out of “regular” school once because she was told that they didn’t have time for “kids like him” – My brother is 27 years old now. He is bilingual, he is a functional member of society. Yes, he is has some challenges being deaf and with Aspergers but that doesn’t make him less of a person.

My son is also different. I mean how many vegetarian, compassionate 10-year-old do you encounter every day? Probably not that many. I don’t think this quality is unique to him, but it does make him different when at parties he doesn’t want that hotdog or that pepperoni on his pizza.


The Spinfords teaches:

  • Different is beautiful
  • People can surprise you
  • Moms and dads aren’t perfect
  • Anything is possible
  • Never be afraid to be 100% yourself

“Each spiderweb is uniquely woven, each individual does things in their own time and way” Ann Marie Martin

The book is also beautifully illustrated by Steve Hannigan . Hannigan a freelance graphic designer has volunteered for The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention organization, and seen from a very close distance how difficult it can be for our youth to deal and accept being different.

BE different. BE you. BE unique.



Safe Little Monsters :: Halloween Safety ::

Halloween!!! time for scary masks, little superheroes, vampires, green witches and well candy! Please, parents, grandparents and carers  let’s be extra careful this Halloween season with our little ones (and no so little) safety is important!

That is why I have decided to share some safety tips kindly provided by the Houston Police Department in my community. Thank you HPD!


Halloween Safety Tips

• Parents should accompany their children while the children are Trick or Treating. At least be close enough to see your child at all times.
• Take a cell phone if possible.
• Children should travel in a group. Although older children may travel in pairs, they should still be in contact with their parents or a guardian.
• If the neighborhood is participating in a Trick or Treat Trail program, stick to the trail.
• Pre-plan the route children will be taking and consider the approximate time they will be gone.
• Work out a plan in case your child gets separated from the group. Supply each child with a telephone contact number and an alternate place to meet; If necessary attach the telephone number to the child’s costume.
Costume Design 
• Each child should be equipped with a flashlight. This flashlight, whether carried on a string or in a pocket, should be considered a part of the costume making it important to the child
• Incorporate reflective tape into the costume for maximum visibility in the dark. • Avoid costumes made with large amounts of plastic. Be extremely cautious of materials which could come in contact with flame (candles, etc.)

Trick or Treat 
• Children should not go to homes which are off the established path or the path agreed upon with parents. 
Don’t go to homes which are either poorly lit or not lit at all. 
• Be wary of older individuals who are not known to the group, but begins walking with and associating with them.
• Accept no rides from strangers.
• Children should not ride by themselves, in a car, with anyone except a parent, brother or sister.
• If you observe something unusual happen; children should notify their parents. A parent may need to notify the police.

• Parents, do not allow your children to eat their treats until they return home and you are able to inspect it.
Inspect all wrappers for tears, holes and/or unusual characteristics.
• Pay particular attention to soft candies and soft chocolate bars.
• If a wrapper is torn or exhibits a hole in it, open it and inspect the candy further. If you feel uncomfortable about the candy or suspect it in any way, throw the candy away. Give the child candy from your own stock. Inspect fruits also for cuts, punctures, or marks which may look unsanitary or the results of tampering.
Safety first! I am sure that all of my readers already know these tips but just in case, let’s be extra careful especially with the little ones. Halloween can be a confusing concept for kids as we constantly tell them not to accept candy from strangers, yet during Halloween…. yeah, we contradict ourselves, lol parenting.
Trick or Treat?
Trick or Treat?

Everything is Awesome! Legoland Florida

Last week we went to Florida! yes, my son and I packed our travel legos and went to the “mother house”… Legoland Florida!


The park is far away in what seems the middle of nowhere in comparison to the Disney Empire and the Universal Parks complex. Legoland is located half way between Tampa and Orlando. The road is ok though but it takes a while to get there so make sure you pack in car entertainment for your little ones.

Parking is same price as Disney, at $17 a day. We did the two park combo (water park and general park) in two days, and I kind of wish we had done it in one day. It is possible to do it as the waterpark isn’t really that big (but fun) and in order to get to the water park you have to walk ALL the way through the general park, there is no other way around it.

The park is an awesome experience for Lego fans. You have an entire area dedicated to small cities made of Legos, it is amazing although clearly getting deteriorated by weather, some of the stuff has lost is color and looks a little meh but it is understandable. It still constitute and amazing work of art and dedication.

The rides are fun, kid friendly. A few rollercoasters, a cool laser tag and a sort of splash adventure in which you will get soaked (YOU WILL no matter what so if you don’t want to get soaked do not go to the Lego Chima ride). At the Pirate Cove there is a live action show that involves water stunts and water splashes which seems to be a favorite with kids. I mean who doesn’t like captain Brick Beard?


There is an indoor station (PERFECT, HEAVEN for hot summer days) in which you can try all Lego video games in different platforms (PS4, Wii, Xbox) and a place in which you can built your own little race car and test “drive” it against other people. We also saw some characters there (picture time!) get those cameras ready and snap snap snap!

There are plenty of eating options and I was very pleasantly surprised with the availability of vegetarian dishes. At the Market Place main restaurant they offer an asian veggie bowl/ with rice that was quite delicious! The burger place also offers spicy bean burgers. Salads are also an option available. I was a little sad however that there was no funnel cake anywhere! I mean really? for me Florida parks and funnel cake go hand on hand.


I also loved how all the benches in the park claim to be made of recycled materials! So this park hit all the environmentally friendly and vegan friendly marks with me. So everything is awesome! (pun intended)


The park has many stores thought the entire place with different options of Legos and Lego related merchandise. The main shop at the entrance called “The Big Shop” is without a doubt the one with more variety. You can also find a minifig store in which you can make your own mini figures, and a brick shop in which you can buy bricks by the pound. I was sad we were unable to use or gain any Lego VIP points though, you would think that of all places this will be the place to earn points. So boo for that! The Lego store has cool stuff from Lego toy sets to clothing and Lego inspired kitchen supplies

IMG_5181The Water Park


The water park area is a different park, so you need to purchase a separate ticket for this site if you wish to visit it. It isn’t really that big but is very fun! specially on a super hot day!. The lazy river with oversized Lego bricks floating are the best part (if you ask me, my son might differ) There is also an area for the little ones, and a much adventurous area with slides and buckets for the bigger ones.

There is a beach with a lego island in the middle, and two big slide/rides for which kids need to be at least 48″. Food options are a little limited but still available with just one restaurant in the area. Lockers can be rented for an affordable price too.

Legoland was all we expected! if you have kids ages 2-15 you and them will enjoy this park. It is a little overpriced at $89 for general entry BUT a year pass is only $10 more bucks and… there are other options like a multipass including entry to other locations in Orlando.

Until next adventure… 🙂

Summer Series: Let’s Play Outside!

I simply love outdoors, even in super hot texas. Summer is a brilliant time to get the kids (and adults) in your life to interact with nature, and away of screen time. It is not an easy task, trust me. Ive had to detach my son from his PS4, iPad and iPhone but the results are amazing.

Go outside and..

1. You don’t have to go to a park far away. Your front or backyard will do sometimes. Get some sidewalk chalk and some bubbles at your dollar store and break out the fun outside. We had lots of fun painting in the shade, drinking lemonade and blowing bubbles.


2. If you have more time… go visit a local park. In Texas i have discovered so many amazing parks. We went to Jessie Jones Park over the weekend and it was so fun. Hiking, discovering nature and picking up leaves and stones. We also had the chance to see a bunch of beautiful turtles in their natural pond. Experiences like this you and your kids will cherish for a long time.

TIP: Make sure you take some OFF and spray yourselves before you venture into the park. At this time of year there are lots of bugs (specially mosquitoes) around so make sure you spray yourselves first. Also make sure you take some water with you.

3. Nature Scavenger Hunt – make time outdoors even more educational by doing a scavenger hunt. Hunt for different types of vegetation, spot the bird, find the stick, and many more. The possibilities are endless. Lake Houston Nature Wilderness Park organizes some of these events now and then, but if not, simply make your own.

4. Backyard Water War: if you have more than one child, you can get a few water guns at the dollar store and have your own little splash war time. It gets the kids running and keeps them active while staying fresh. This is fun for kids and adults alike.

Researches suggest that spending time outdoors helps you reduce stress, depression and anxiety. According to a study by the University of Minnesota “Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.” So go outside and start enjoying the benefits of nature.


The Chores Jar

So my son is nearly 9 years old and although he helps around the house now and then I think its time to put some more action into this. He has reward charts that grant him video game time and that works really well, but with the new puppy (we adopted a lovely 9 week old Lab/Hound mix from the shelter last week)  its a perfect opportunity to inject some more responsibility into his life. But as a mother of a boy I know that whenever possible things have to be “fun”.

So I decided to make a Chores Jar instead of a chart since we already have a reward chart in place. The jar makes it a little more fun and random as he has to pick a chore daily, but without looking.

I wanted to make something colorful so I made the “chores” by printing them in different colors and fonts. Play with it and have fun, you can even use a theme as superhero or cars or whatever and put little pictures into the cards too. I was going for a “vintage” look so I kept it simple.


What do you need:

1 mason jar or any other glass/clear plastic jar

1 set of printed chores


1 label (I made mine using, printed and glued)

A pair of scissors

I printed my own customized label and placed on the jar with some glue. You can also print straight into label paper and its probably easier that way.

You can download mine if you like and use with your own jar.

I printed at 75% of the size to make it fit into the Mason Jar.
I printed at 75% of the size to make it fit into the Mason Jar.

The rest is pretty self explanatory.



What are Little Boys Made of?

It doesn’t have to be Snips and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails…

So I am a mother of 1. My boy and I are a team. His dad and I divorced when he was 4, and a year after we moved away to a different country. Its complicated, his dad has some mental health issues he needed (needs) to address before he can be an actual dad. So my son and I learnt to be a team of 2, we learnt to rely on each other.


I have been doing this motherhood thing 24/7, 365 days a year for the last 8 years… and I love it. My boy is a very compassionate 8 year old, who likes to play with Lego’s and eat homemade cookies. He has always been vegetarian by choice (prompting me to take the leap and become more of a plant eater) When he was 5 years old he told me he didn’t want to kill animals to eat them, he said “what if they have mom’s and dad’s? what would be very sad”. He loves and respect life no matter how small or big – a quality many lack nowadays.


I have taught my boy to love nature, to embrace nature and to be part of it and respect life. I shower him with love and affection and I treat him with respect, as equally as one can in a world made for grownups. I don’t believe in the premise that “kids must be seen ,not heard”, therefore I have taught him to be inquisitive, always wondering and discovering and never afraid to ask. Yes, he does has shores too  but I don’t exploit it making him do things for something like $1 a day. We do reward charts instead. Good behavior and good grades are rewarded with video game time and Legos. (Did I mention he loves Legos?)

My boy is my superstar, my biggest achievement, my companion… he has my whole heart.


Some say my boy is too soft. Too soft because he isn’t a meat eater, too soft because he doesn’t like the sight of blood and guts. Too soft because he covers his eyes during “ugly parts” in the movies. Too soft because he still has 2 teddies he takes to bed every night. “isn’t he too old for that?” “he is the only 8 year old I’ve seen with teddies” –  I’ve been told.

He is too soft because I let him wear “pink” shirts, too soft because I make him a cup of tea every morning and I let him sleep in my bed once a month when the thunderstorms scare him… too soft because I wake him up every morning with cuddles and kisses, and I bake him cookies once in a while.

So what if he is too soft? So what if he isn’t a boy obsessed with guns, blood and guts. So what if he doesn’t eat steak for dinner, and play with worms? why do boys have to be raised to be hard, strong and senseless? don’t we have too many macho men in this world already? couldn’t we do with a little more softness and compassion?


Life will try to destroy him. Society will try to re-shape him. Women will take advantage of him… maybe. But at least I know I have taught him to taste the sweet scent of life, to live to the fullest, to dance under the rain. I have taught him that its ok to be compassionate and to respect life. That is ok to open the door for other people, and to say thank you and please. That is ok to respect others even when they are being rude to us. That it is not ok to through rubbish or spit in the parking lot. That is not ok to solve problems with violence; that is not ok to alienate those we don’t understand.

I have done my part…

He will grow and do his part. He will grow and decide what to be. He will grow and decide who to be.

And if you think being compassionate in a world so tough is a sign of weakness, am afraid that’s YOUR lost.  




Food Choices & Parenting

So this is the thing, there is one thing about parenting (well, there’s many but hear me out) if you don’t have kids, don’t give me parenting advice. 

Uh huh, yes that’s the way I feel.

So I work hard to teach good values to my son, I concentrate on his nutrition and his lifestyle choices because I want the best for him. I believe the best for him is to be informed, so at his young age (8 years old) he knows where food comes from, and what is what. He has always been vegetarian by choice I have never ever told him not to eat meat, nor animal products. In fact he isn’t fully vegetarian he does eat/drink dairy and chicken as well as fish. He just isn’t fan of red meats, pork, other poultry, etc.

Anyway I have told my child that McDonalds is not a safe option. Most of its food is full of crap, lacks nutritional value and its loaded with sodium and other not so great ingredients. Their chicken nuggets are nothing but a combination of pink slime and flour. Therefore as from last year we banned McDonalds. We do other fast foods… ok we do only Chick Fil A occasionally, but hey that counts.

I have given my son the knowledge and the capacity to decide whether something is healthy or not. If he is out and about with someone else but me, and he really wants a “Happy Meal” he is by all means free to decide.

But, here is the beauty of it all. My son was with my mother. She picked him up from afterschool daycare and he said he was really hungry and wanted to go to Chick Fil A. Since McDonalds was closer my mother offered him McDonalds to which he declined and explained why. “McDonalds is not healthy, and it has yucky food” *proud grin* so my mother took him to get his Chick Fil A.

It was his choice.

So I tell this anecdote to a friend mostly because I am proud of my parenting skills (at least on this subject) and he says “but why do you do that to him! He is only a kid… kids can eat McDonalds” “meals come with a toy!” – say what? First, no. It is not ok for kids, it is not ok for anyone, it is maybe ok for your dog! OK! Second, do not question my parenting decisions. Third… NO! LOL and as far as for the toy Chick Fil A gives out books and board games with their meal, yes, far more useful than a plastic little toy.

I am wrong here? I am not a food Nazi, my kid is free to eat meat (yet he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t like the idea of killing animals nor the idea of dead meat, flesh and blood) he is free to eat cookies (and as a matter fact he eats too many of those) and ice-cream, and many other treats. But he is a healthy child, who rather drink a Mango Smoothie from Panera than an Icee from Target (even if he does have those occasionally)

I involve my child in cooking, so he knows where things come from. And he often asks me what is plant based and what’s not. He helps me from baking cookies to deseeding pomegranates (one of this favourite things to do.. . lol, easily amused like his mother I guess)

Anyway rant over. Am I wrong for giving my child the knowledge needed to make well thought eating decisions?

I don’t think so.