Archives For Kids

Cheerios made huge strides by featuring a “controversial” interracial family in their advertisements – not once, but twice – the latest airing during Super Bowl Sunday.

The fictional family is made up of actors – a black dad, white mom, and their young daughter.

The first commercial, which aired in May 2013, drew immediate viewer feedback. Sadly, the majority of the earliest comments was negative. So negative that the comments section had to be disabled.

The common rule, “If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all,” doesn’t exactly translate online. Comments tend to be a lot more critical when typed versus spoken.

After the initial backlash, General Mills, which owns Cheerios, received an outpouring of support from viewers. The company decided to sink an additional $4 million investment into their follow-up Super Bowl ad that featured the same family.

I recently had a friend share a video with me that asked kids for their opinions on the first Cheerios ad. The interviewer asked open-ended questions like, “What did you think of the family?” and “Do you have any idea about why people are angry about the parents in this commercial?”

The children’s answers are worth listening to with an open mind.

Although they are visibly shocked upon realizing that racism still exists to the extent it does, their overall response is one of love. “You don’t have to leave mean comments,” one says. “Think about those people…they probably feel horrible,” echoes another.

Watching their reactions made me think about the little kids I see everyday at preschool when I drop off and pick up my youngest. Let me give you a listen into the types of conversations I hear.

She forgot to wear her crazy socks so I gave her a hug.

He doesn’t have a dog like us, but his cat is cute.

She just moved here and is shy. We shared crayons.

I took his snack. (Come on, you didn’t expect them all to be innocent and selfless, did you?)

Now, let me tell you what I don’t hear.

She doesn’t practice the right religion.

I feel like her family make-up is unethical and wrong.

He voted for the wrong politician.

Her skin color makes me feel uncomfortable.

We are all entitled to our own opinions and I’ll be damned if I don’t do everything within my power to respect those who have different opinions than my own. What I cannot respect are people who chastise and judge others because they disagree with their beliefs, because they don’t agree with who they love, and because they don’t respect human differences.

Let me leave you with one of the best stories I’ve heard.

Today is Rosa Finnegan’s 102nd birthday. She gives a precious glimpse into her life while giving everyone hope that it’s never too late to love thy neighbor.  

Give five minutes of your time to listen to her interview with NPR.

Trust me. You won’t regret it.

Rosa Finnegan in her nursing home in Massachusetts. c/o NPR

Rosa Finnegan in her nursing home in Massachusetts. c/o NPR

Written by Heidi Woodard

Your mom loves you. That is one assurance you should never ever doubt.

Even when I’m shouting at you. You should consider my out of control rants as me just having a hard time controlling my overflowing fondness of you. Actually, I yell at you because you sort of drive me completely and totally insane at times.

Jaycee winter walk

Jaycee winter walk

But, even during our most trying times together, I am happier with you next to me than I ever am without you.

I know you look to me and your dad for guidance and you probably question whether or not we know what we’re doing.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret: we don’t.

Ready to conquer the world...starting with grade school

Ready to conquer the world…starting with grade school

You likely wonder if we even know what it feels like to be your age. Honestly, I can’t remember how it feels to not have grownup responsibilities. Don’t take that statement the wrong way. I know you have a lot on your mind too. My preoccupations are simply different than yours.

I know that my parents were/are always there for me and so I’m trying to do the same for you. I feel like I can talk to you about anything and my ultimate wish is that you always feel the same way about me.

If I get only one thing right on this parenting journey, make it be that you know you can come to me with whatever’s on your mind both now and forever.

Your memories make me smile

Your memories make me smile

Your dad and I both work to save up money for living expenses, extracurricular activities, vacationing, college tuition, and ideally, retirement. After working many years doing what I thought was right in terms of career pathing, I decided to find work that was more right for me…for us.

That decision was difficult for me, but I was tired of being tired around you.

Even though there will always be people who show up to the office before I do and those who will stay well after I leave, I still feel guilty for not being with you for nine of your waking hours. But at least now I can explain to you why I do what I do and feel like you get it.

I don't want to miss a moment of you growing up

I don’t want to miss a moment of you growing up

No longer do you need me to tend to your every need. To constantly wipe away your tears or bandage your scraped knees. You just need me to be a role model.

There will be times when I fall short of that massive responsibility. There will be times when the table is turned and I look to you for inspiration. There will be times when your dad and I will sit back, look at each other, and have a mutual and profound pride for what we brought into this world together.

Know that we are trying to ace a test for which there is no study guide. We’re searching for treasure without the aid of a map.

We’re no experts. We simply love you. Always.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Boy have Christmas breaks changed over the years.

When I was in college, unlike some people (I’m talking to you, Ryan Woodard), taking time off from school never involved a drunkin escapade to Cabo. Rather, I’d travel with my softball team to play in a tournament someplace sunny.

I always seemed to come down with strep throat…a fate that followed me every year as the seasons changed until I had my tonsils yanked out when I turned 30.

The first year I entered the real world with a full-time corporate job post-college, it dawned on me that grownups don’t get Christmas breaks or Spring breaks or any other rejuvenation periods built into their calendar year. Grownups get Paid Time Off (PTO) based on their years of service. And, for some odd reason, there are people who bank their PTO as a badge of honor – refusing to take a single day off unless they’re on their death bed.

I’ve never understood those people.

And, by not understanding certain things I observe in others, I’ve come to better understand myself.

I’ve learned a lot throughout the past year.

1. I relate to what the author of Hands Free Mama has to say. I see my life as over-scheduled and over-committed and when I try to balance it all and fall short of my own self-imposed expectations, I implode on myself and explode on others. This kind of behavior is avoidable…with proper perspective.

2. I need motivation to stay fit. While I’ve grown in all other aspects of my professional life by working at a new company, I lost a support group of fitness friends when I left my former one. Time for me to kick my own butt back into action. I don’t like being squishy.

3. There will never be a greater source of satisfaction in my life as my kids. Roll your eyes if you want (I don’t blame you), but it’s the truth. They have this crazy way of making life seem as meaningful and memorable as it should be.

4. There will never be a greater source of frustration in my life as my kids. My middle one broke his left arm on my third day at the new job a year ago, and then broke his right arm on my birthday this year. My youngest has had “poop farts” (her own words for diarrhea) all day today as we head into the holidays. Hooray! My oldest came upstairs for a 25-minute lunch break before declaring to the world that he was descending back down to the MAN CAVE. Because he’s a (soon to be 12-year old) MAN.

5. I feel like I’m a fairly laid back woman, with the exception of how I relate to my husband – the aforementioned Ryan Woodard. I don’t care that we have the same “we always manage to have it all work out, don’t we?…” conversation every year, shopping 48 hours prior to Christmas is annoyingly irresponsible. He’ll never convince me otherwise.

6. My parents make me laugh. After succumbing to the realization they were among the last dozen or so Americans who don’t own a computer, they allowed me to pick out a laptop for them. Upon opening it, my dad said, “What’s this kind called? An Ass-us?” The brand is Asus. I did not correct him.

Grandma and Grandpa coming to terms with technology

Grandma and Grandpa coming to terms with technology

7. Whenever I’ve doubted whether the stuff I write even makes a difference to anyone but me, I’ll remember that this piece Do not for one moment believe you are all alone connected me to a life-long friend who I’d previously lost touch with for over a decade. In her words, “Reading someone’s writing can affect your day, or, if you’re lucky to read something truly inspirational at just the right time, sometimes affect your entire life for the better.”

8. I will never regret meeting someone new or hearing different perspectives.

9. I also will never regret setting goals…even perceptibly lofty ones. Because even if I only finish 80 percent of what I set out to accomplish, I’m still 80 percent better than what I once was.

10. Anchor Man 2 is worth the price of admission.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday. And that’s not just lip service. Have a WONDERFUL Christmas break.

Written by Heidi Woodard

School pictures…a right of passage for kids. I remember convincing myself as a child that my entire year would be as good as the printed mugshot I saw staring back at me in the yearbook.

My sixth grade photo involved inadvertent feathered bangs and a failed attempt at a closed-mouth-yet-natural-looking smile to hide my silver grill. Sixth grade was blah. Coincidence? I think not.

However, no matter how bad the picture, I never had a “re-do.” Life’s imperfect and, as such, school photos are imperfect.

My daughter, who’s now 5, had her preschool photo taken earlier this year. After a 40-minute prep session (which KILLED me), I sent her off to school in style and couldn’t wait to see the finished product.

photo 2 (1)

Sporting primped hair, a pressed dress, and a cute smile.

With her photo session scheduled a mere hour after I dropped her off, I was positive I’d be pleased with the precious picture that would arrive in 2-3 weeks. I’d proudly display it for all the world to see.

Then…well…then THIS happened.

Uuummm...was there an all-night rave I didn't know about? Did the photographer not count to 3?

Uuummmm…was there an all-night rave I didn’t know about? Did the photographer not count to 3? What is UP with that hair and faux smile?

I stared at the instructions on the envelope for picture retake day. Would I be THAT mom who is so conceited that she forces her daughter to go through another photo session? I honestly didn’t think her photo gave any indication of her true personality. Part of me actually wondered if the photographer was rushed. I mean, this COULDN’T have been the best option, right?

I decided to swallow my pride and take the following Friday off from work to accompany Jaycee on picture retake day.

After we made our way back to the makeshift studio and waited for her turn to pose, I got to witness firsthand how patient and caring the photographer was with all of the kids. He took multiple shots while making playful noises and waving hand puppets around. He gave no harsh orders, just kind praise.

I started to wonder if it might have been my daughter who caused the first photo fiasco. Before I could give it much thought, it was her turn.

And this, my friends, is what unfolded before my very eyes.

Clearly, I'll be ready when I'm ready.

Clearly, I’ll be ready when I’m ready.

I'd rather make this face than smile.

I’d rather make this face than smile.

WHAT?! I can't hear you over my mom yelling at me to calm down. You'll have to speak up!

WHAT?! I can’t hear you over my mom yelling at me to calm down. You’ll have to speak up!

How about the floor? You want me on the floor or what?

How about the floor? You want me on the floor or what?

I freakin LOVE rolling around on the floor. Are you capturing this magic?

I freakin LOVE rolling around on the floor. Are you capturing this magic?

You wanna piece of me? Ok get ready cause I'm coming at you.

You wanna piece of me? Ok get ready cause I’m coming at you.

Aaaannd pose.

Aaaannd pose.

Mark my words. I will never, ever assume again that the person behind the camera lens was somehow rushed. On the contrary, if I get a picture that even remotely resembles my psychotic mini-me, I owe that photographer double what he normally charges.

Jaycee Lee

What you see is what you get. 100% sassiness guaranteed.

Special thanks to Sully from Sbello Photos for capturing these hilarious moments. If you’re looking for a way to showcase your kid’s true personality, he’s your man!

Written by Heidi Woodard