Big Buck Bunny – Short movie

big buck bunny - 2houses


The plot follows a day of the life of Big Buck Bunny when he meets three bullying rodents, Frank (the leader of the rodents), Rinky and Gamera. The rodents amuse themselves by harassing helpless creatures of the forest by throwing fruits, nuts and rocks at them. After the deaths of two of Bunny’s favorite butterflies, and an offensive attack on Bunny himself, Bunny sets aside his gentle nature and orchestrates a complex plan to avenge the two butterflies.


What to do when your child hates school

normal for a child to hate school - 2houses

If your child hates school it is probably not his fault, nor that of his teacher, but rather it can be evidence that his brain is functioning appropriately. Healthy brains protect their owners from perceived threat. School today is stressful, often threatening, as a result of the high-stakes standardized testing that challenges students, teachers, and school administrators. There is so much information mandated as required “knowledge” for these tests (that determine federal funding), that for many children school seems more like a feedlot, force-feeding them facts without adequate time or resources to make them interesting or relevant.

Overstuffed Curriculum

Without the projects, group activities, to say nothing of the elimination of art, music, P.E., and often elementary school science, social studies, and even recess, why should a child want to be there? These classes and many enjoyable activities have been sacrificed so there is more time for the two subjects that are evaluated on those tests-math and English. Fortunately there are many wonderful, creative, and dedicated teachers, consultants, and administrators on the front line every day doing all they can to engage their students, without whom I cannot imagine how much worse things would be for the children in their charge.

The problem is worst when the district is required to stick to a rigid “teacher proof” curriculum that dictates tedious days of worksheets and nights of more of the same brain stuffing. In these cases the best teachers have less opportunity to use their skills to create the joyful, memorable learning experiences children need. The penalty for all of us is that the dropout rate has never been higher. For a child in high school now, it is more likely that his or her parents will have graduated than it is that the student will graduate high school. When surveyed as to the reason for the dropping out the overwhelming cry is BOREDOM. When asked what constitutes boredom, the two major responses are, “The material isn’t interesting” and “What we are taught has no relevance to me.

From my perspective as a neurologist and classroom teacher, I see the blank faces, “acting out”, and zoning out and know that these are not the children’s choices. The brain evolved as an organ to promote survival of the animal and the species. Its first priority is to avoid danger. Our attention is hard-wired to alert to signals of potential danger. The most primitive parts of the brain are those that determine what gets our attention and what information gets priority entry into the brain. This attention system is essentially the same in humans as in other mammals. When the brain experiences stress that attention system is on autopilot seeking the potential threat that might be causing the emotional disturbance, and ignoring other sensory information such as lessons. Stress goes up with boredom and frustration in humans and animals. Animals restrained or understimulated “misbehave” with aggressive, destructive, and even self-mutilating behavior. The stress causes their brains to attend only to imagined or real threat. In that state behavior is no longer influenced by the higher, thinking brain. Stress takes control of the neural pathways that determine where information is processed and where behavior is controlled.

The same responses take place in the human brain. If children are stressed by boring lessons that have little personal relevance and by the frustration of not keeping up with the overloaded curriculum, their brains do what they are programmed to do. Input is diverted away from the thinking higher brain (the prefrontal cortex) and sent to the lower, reactive brain. In this situation, in humans as in animals, the involuntary behavioral reactions are essentially limited to three responses: Fight, Flight, or Freeze.

The reason I left my neurology practice and became a teacher was because I had a profound increase in the children referred to my practice because their teachers felt they might have attention or other neurological disorders causing them to “act out” or “zone out” in class. When I observed the joyless force-feeding of facts by teachers who were given the impossible task of cramming test material into these young brains, my heart went out both the students and their teachers. I joined their ranks, and made correlations between the neuroscience research about stress, attention, behavior, and memory, as I spent the past ten years in my classrooms and implementing strategies to promote the neuroscience of joyful learning.


Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

Honey I blew up the kid review - 2houses


Wacky inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is at it again. Apparently shrinking his kids was not enough. This time he has inadvertently increased the size of his toddler, Adam. Electromagnetic forces — televisions, lights, and microwaves — continue to make Adam grow more and more. Unfortunately, the toddler has escaped with his “big” brother Nicky and the unsuspecting babysitter (Keri Russell), and he’s heading for Las Vegas, the neon capital of the United States. Will Mr. and Mrs. Szalinski (Marsha Strassman) make it there before Adam terrorizes the city?



Guidelines For Divorcing and Divorced Parents

tips for divorcing parents - 2houses

Follow these guidelines to make the transition of divorce and the process of family restructuring and rebuilding easier for you and your children.

1. Divorced but still co-parents

If you have not done so already, call a truce with your Ex. (Note: Your Ex does not have to take the same action.) Divorced parents can succeed at co-parenting. That success may not begin with harmony but, at a minimum, a ceasefire is necessary.

2. You are stuck with each other forever

One day, you will be Grandma and Grandpa to the same babies. And when these babies are grown they will repeat the stories that they heard about Grandma and Grandpa. This will be your legacy. How do you want to be depicted?

3. Divorce creates a breakdown of trust and communication

Accept this and work towards rebuilding trust and communication with the other parent, even if it feels like you are doing all of the work. And, be patient, emotional wounds need time to heal.

4. Establish a business relationship with your former spouse

The business is the co-parenting of your children. Business relationships are based on mutual gain. Emotional attachments and expectations don’t work in business. Instead, in a successful business communication is up-front and direct, appointments are scheduled, meetings take place, agendas are provided, discussions focus on the business at hand, everyone is polite, formal courtesies are observed, and agreements are explicit, clear, and written. You do not need to like the people you do business with but you do need to put negative feelings aside in order to conduct business. Relating in a business-like way with your former spouse may feel strange and awkward at first so if you catch yourself behaving in an unbusiness-like way, end the conversation and continue the discussion at another time.

5. There are at least two versions to every story

Your child may attempt to slant the facts in a way that gives you what she thinks you want to hear. So give the other parent the benefit of the doubt when your child reports on extraordinary discipline and/or rewards.

6. Confirm your decisions with your ex-spouse

Do not suggest possible plans or make arrangements directly with pre-adolescent children. And, always confirm any arrangements you have discussed with an older child with the other parent ASAP.

7. Make a soft transition for the wellbeing of the children

The transition between Mom’s house and Dad’s house is often difficult. Be sure to have your children clean, fed, ready to go, and in possession of all of their paraphernalia when its time to make the switch. Better yet, if possible avoid the dreaded switch by structuring your time sharing so that weekends start Friday after school and end with school drop-off on Monday morning.

8. Make sure that your child maintains communication with his other parent

Do not screen calls from the other parent or limit telephone contact between your child and the other parent. Instead, ensure that your child is available to speak to the other parent when s/he is on the telephone.

9. Do not discuss adults subjects with your children

Do not discuss the divorce, finances, or other adult subjects with your children. Likewise, avoid saying anything negative about other parent and his/her family and friends to your children.

10. Be careful when talking in front of your child

Children are always listening – especially when you think they’re not. So, avoid discussions regarding the divorce, finances, the other parent, and other adult subjects when your children are within earshot.

11. Your children can read your emotions

Avoid using body language, facial expressions or other subtleties to express negative thoughts and emotions about the other parent. Your child can read you!

12. Stay positive

You can discuss your feelings with your children to the extent that they can understand them. But, if you let your child know that you are terrified of the future, your child will be terrified too. Instead, keep a balanced emotional perspective that focuses on the difference between feelings and facts.

13. Do not use your child as a courier

Do not use your child as a courier for messages or money.

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How to build your child’s self-esteem

build a child's self-esteem - 2houses

Last week, my son Aaron made the school soccer team. Boy, was I proud. And I couldn’t stop saying so. “Good job, buddy! You’re the best!” I beamed, he beamed, and all seemed right with the world.

It’s not the first time my kids have heard me shout their praises. I’m the resident cheering section, their biggest fan, a back-patter extraordinaire. These days, you can find me handing out compliments as if they’re sticks of gum – when my kids practise guitar, score a goal, help with dishes. The mom logic goes like this: The kid does good (or good enough for me), so I make him feel great about himself. It’s called boosting self-esteem. Or so I thought.

Step back

As it turns out, there are better ways to build self-esteem than heaping on praise for everything kids do – starting with helping them become competent in the world, says Jim Taylor, author of the book Your Kids Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You. To do so, though, you have to learn to step back and let your child take risks, make choices, solve problems and stick with what they start.

Over-praising kids does more harm than good

Self-esteem comes from feeling loved and secure, and from developing competence, Taylor says, and although parents often shower their kids with the first two ingredients, competence – becoming good at things – takes time and effort. “As much as we may want to, we can’t praise our kids into competence,” he says.

In fact, by over-praising kids, we’re doing more harm than good. “We’re lowering the bar for them,” Taylor says. “If you keep telling your child she is already doing a fantastic job, you’re saying she no longer needs to push herself. But confidence comes from doing, from trying and failing and trying again – from practice.”

Samantha MacLeod, who has four boys, ages one to nine, believes constant complimenting can actually erode self-esteem. Either kids start thinking they’re perfect or they try to be perfect all the time – an impossible standard. And inaccurate praise confuses them, she says. “If my son can’t spell and I tell him he’s doing terrific, he learns not to trust his own instincts. He also learns that praise is just flat-out lying.”

Plus, Taylor adds, telling your child he’s the best, the smartest or the most talented is setting him up for some very bad news down the road. You’re creating an egomaniac who thinks his scribbles are Rothkos but, sooner or later, he’ll discover he’s not all that after all.


Dinosaur Party

dinosaur party for kids - 2houses

Whether they are into t-rexes, fossils or the Land Before Time, most kids go through a dinosaur phase. With these exciting crafts and action packed activities, your child and their friends can have a great time romping, stomping, and roaring at a dinosaur themed birthday party.

Dino Tail Obstacle Course

Dinosaurs are known for their massive tails. In this game, your kid will see just how cumbersome they could be. To get started, you will need to mark off a path about 25 feet long and 6 feet wide. This will become an obstacle course full of objects that can easily be tipped over. For example you can arrange a bunch of empty water bottles with green paper wrapped around them as a “forest”. Or a “mountain” made out of shoeboxes standing on their side. One thing to be careful of is that the obstacle course can be set up quickly – at least a couple of objects will need to be stood back up almost every time someone goes through. The other thing you will need is a pool noodle that you can turn into a “dinosaur tail” by attaching the end of it to a child-sized belt so the end of it drags along the ground.

Divide the kids into two teams, both of which should pick dinosaur names for their groups. Then, they can take turns going through the obstacle course with the dinosaur tail strapped onto them. The catch is that they are not allowed to knock anything over, or touch their tail with their hands. Whenever a player gets through the course, that team gets 5 points. However, for each object a team member knocks over with their tail, they lose a point. To make the game more exciting, add a time limit, like 45 seconds. If the person does not finish the course in this time, they lose points for whatever they knocked over, and do not get any points for completing the course. After everyone has gone through three times, tally up the scores and see which team is the winner.

Capture the Egg

This activity is a little like capture the flag, except with some prehistoric differences. Divide an open area, like a park, into two sides. On each side, the teams should craft four “volcanoes” by piling salt dough (there are plenty of easy online recipes), dirt, clay, sand, or another similar substance around an opened but full, small bottle of Diet Coke – just make sure the mouth of the bottle sticks out. Next, each team will get a “dinosaur egg” (you can use something like a soccer ball, or actually make a dinosaur egg out of paper mache beforehand) they should put in the furthest corner of their area. Mark off an area of about 10×10 feet around each of the volcanoes and the egg; this will be a safe zone where people cannot be tagged. Then give each team a few packets of Mentos candy – just make sure they don’t eat it all. The objective of the game is for someone to steal the egg from the opposing team, and bring it back to his or her own side. However, whenever the other team tags someone in their territory, that person is out.

There are two ways to get back into the game after being tagged; if someone steals the opponent’s egg, the game restarts and everyone is back in from both sides. The other way to get back in is for a teammate to erupt one of the opposing team’s volcanoes without getting tagged. This can be done by dropping a piece of Mentos candy into the soda bottle to make it foam up and erupt. Whenever this happens the captured people from the team that set off the volcano are back in the game. One thing for the kids to keep in mind is that each volcano can only be erupted one time, so they should split them up between games. Each time a team wins, they earn 15 points. Each time they lose, they lose 5 points. The game ends after three rounds.

Extinction Tug of War

Many dinosaurs had voracious appetites and amazing strength. This game is great because it combines both, and all you need to set it up is a rope and some “pterodactyl” chicken wings. The Extinction Tug of War takes place near over one of the volcanoes from Capture the Egg. The two teams stand on either side of volcano with a rope between them and then pull against each other. If someone gets pulled over the volcano, they have fallen into hot lava are extinct until they can gobble down one of the pterodactyl wings. As soon as they do this, they are back in. Kids will love pulling and sliding each other around and over the volcano, and then racing off to chow on wings as soon as they are out. The game ends when every member of the team has become extinct, whether it is because they were overpowered, or just could not eat fast enough. They can play for three rounds, where they’ll receive 15 points for winning and a 5 point penalty for losing.

After treading carefully through the obstacle course, running around stealing eggs and exploding volcanoes, and a battle of brute force, the kids should be tired from a long day of dinosaur activities. The winning team can get the first slices of the birthday cake – after the birthday boy or girl of course. Then the children can change into their kids footed pajamas and settle down with a movie like Ice Age or the Land Before time.


10 things You should never say to your kids

things you should never say to your kids - 2houses

There are a handful of obviously wrong, damaging and terrible things to say to a child (“I wish I never had you” or “You’re the reason we’re getting a divorce” count among them).

But it may surprise you to discover that some seemingly harmless phrases can trigger resentment, dent self-esteem or bring up other less-than-desirable sentiments in your kids. Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…,notes, “We have the best of intentions, but often we say things to our kids without thought to how it’s being perceived by the child.” Here, 10 phrases you should think twice about before repeating to your kids.

1. “I know you can try harder.”

Frustrated by a daughter who you know is capable of much more in school, sports, music, etc.? While you (hopefully!) aren’t saying such obviously hurtful things as “You are so lazy!”, any comment that makes it seem as though you’re not satisfied with her efforts can not only be discouraging to your child, it can also do the opposite of motivating her to try harder, says McCready. If your “try harder” has to do with tasks or chores, be clear about what you expect: “When you have your room cleaned up, then you can go out and play.” If you’re talking about academics, “take note of times she does go the extra mile,” such as: “Wow! That extra time spent on your book report really shows!”

2. “Are you sure you need that second cupcake?”

Yikes. You have good intentions—keeping your child fit and healthy—but you’re better off steering clear of any talk that might foster a negative body image, says McCready. If you’re worried about what your child eats at home, use actions, not words, such as stocking your kitchen with healthy foods rather than junk and emphasizing family physical activity like after-dinner walks. That way, if there are cupcakes at a party, your child’s fine to indulge. And walk the walk yourself; you mix your message if you tell your kid to keep his hands out of the cookie jar while you’re inhaling potato chips. Incidentally, the same goes for telling your child that he’s a “great” eater; try to avoid labels (he’s my picky child; she’s such an adventurous eater; this one needs to stay away from treats) because “you never want to turn food into a power issue,” says McCready. As best you can, keep food-related comments specific and positive: “Wow, I see you tried the squash soup!”

3. “You always…” or “You never…”

Undeniably, it’s tempting—almost a reflex at times—to spit out an always (“You always forget to put your socks in the hamper!”) or a never (“You never remember to call me when you’re running late!”). But be careful because those two words are a minefield, says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychotherapist and author of “The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids”.


Homeopathy for Children

homeopathy for children - 2houses

Homeopathy’s origins

The principle of treating “like with like” dates back to Hippocrates (460-377BC) but in its current form, homeopathy has been widely used worldwide for more than 200 years.

It was discovered by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, who, shocked with the harsh medical practises of the day (which included blood-letting, purging and the use of poisons such as arsenic), looked for a way to reduce the damaging side-effects associated with medical treatment.

He began experimenting on himself and a group of healthy volunteers, giving smaller and smaller medicinal doses, and found that as well as reducing toxicity, the medicines actually appeared to be more effective the lower the dose. He also observed that symptoms caused by toxic ‘medicines’ such as mercury, were similar to those of the diseases they were being used to treat e.g. syphilis, which lead to the principle he described as ‘like cures like’.

Hahnemann went on to document his work, and his texts formed the foundations of homeopathic medicine as it is practised today. A BBC Radio 4 documentary aired in December 2010 described Hahnemann as a medical pioneer who worked tirelessly to improve medical practice, insisting that medicines were tested before use.

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Homeopathy for Children

Homeopathy is a medical method that has been used in the US for over 200 years. With today’s parental concern about interactions, side effects and contra-indications of prescription and over the counter drugs, the homeopathic method, which is free of these causes for concern, is enjoying a popular revival. Homeopathy is natural and mild medicine. The remedies are natural substances which have been diluted and potentized many times so that when used according to the homeopathic method, they stimulate the child’s own defenses to move your child toward a healthier state without causing any side effects.

It is always a pleasure to discuss the use of Homeopathic remedies for children. Homeopathic remedies are safe, effective and mild. They are particularly effective in children, because the remedies work by stimulating the body’s own vitality. Children naturally have a higher vitality; therefore they work especially well in children. Homeopathic remedies are easy and pleasant to administer. The special soft tablets can be placed in the child’s mouth where they readily dissolve or dissolved in a little water for administration. They have a pleasant taste.

The common childhood conditions we will discuss are:
 Teething, Colic, Fever, Bumps and Bruises, Bed-Wetting, Coughs & Colds, Chicken Pox, Diarrhea, Diaper Rash.

Teething is treated with:

Chamomilla for painful teething with or without fever. The teething is frequently associated with colic. You always know to use Chamomilla when the child has one hot cheek, the other pale and cold. – 
Coffea Cruda for the restlessness observed in the teething child. Calcarea Phosphorica for delayed or difficult teething, as well as the colic frequently associated with teething.

Colic is treated with:

Dioscorea : for the treatment of cramps or colic in the abdomen which seem relieved by straightening up or leaning back.
 – Chamomilla : for the child with a poor tolerance for pain, restless and squeamish. The Chamomilla child usually has one hot cheek, the other pale and cool. The child seems improved when carried or pushed in the stroller. – 
Colocynthus : to relieve violent cramp-like pains which are relieved by heat and pressure. It is also helpful to relieve the irritability associated with pain. -
Magnesia Phosphorica : to relieve colic characterized by being spasmodic or intermittent. The colic is relieved by gentle pressure, warmth and burping. The symptoms are usually worse on the right side and there is usually a general muscular weakness.

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The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

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What children of divorce most want and need is to maintain healthy and strong relationships with both of their parents, and to be shielded from their parents’ conflicts. Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme case, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both their parents.

What is parental alienation ?

Parental alienation involves the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Such denigration results in the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted parent, and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the life of the child. Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept of “parental alienation syndrome” 20 years ago, defining it as, “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.” Children’s views of the targeted parent are almost exclusively negative, to the point that the parent is demonized and seen as evil.

As Baker writes, parental alienation involves a set of strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child, forcing the child to reject the other parent, …


Understanding How Assets Get Divided In Divorce

proprety division during a divorce - 2houses

Dividing the family’s property during divorce can be quite difficult, especially if there are significant assets such as houses, rental property, retirement and pension plans, stock options, restricted stock, deferred compensation, brokerage accounts, closely-held businesses, professional practices and licenses, etc.Deciding who should get what can be quite a challenge, even under the most amenable of situations. But, if your divorce is contentious, then this can be especially complicated.

Differences between separate and marital property

Assets should not necessarily be divided simply based on their current dollar value. You need to understand which assets will be best for your short- and long-term financial security. This is not always easy to discern without a thorough understanding of the asset itself – its liquidity, cost basis and any tax implications associated with its sale.

However, before we go any further, we need to discuss the differences between separate and arital Property and why that’s critically important to you. In my experience, this is an area that is not well understood by most people.

Separate property

States differ in some of the details, but generally speaking, separate property includes:

• Any property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage;

An inheritance received by the husband or wife (either before or after the marriage);

• A gift received by the husband or wife from a third party (your mother gave you her diamond ring);

• Payment received for pain and suffering portion in a personal injury judgment

Warning: Separate property can lose its separate property status if you commingle it with marital property or vice versa. For example, if you re-title your separately owned condo by adding your husband as a co-owner or if you deposit the inheritance from your parents into a joint bank account with him, then that property will most likely now be considered marital property.

Marital property

All other property that is acquired during the marriage is usually considered marital property regardless of which spouse owns the property or how the property is titled. Most people don’t understand this. I’ve had many clients tell me that they were not entitled to a specific asset, because it was titled in their husband’s name – such as his 401K. This is not true! This point is worth repeating because it is that important. All property that is acquired during the marriage is usually considered marital property regardless of which spouse owns the property or how that property is titled.

(State laws vary greatly, especially between Community Property & Equitable Distribution States, so please consult with your divorce attorney).

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