Author Archives: kathy

Back to School Craft Ideas

Back to School Craft Ideas

Stone Soup Back to School

Hard to believe, but it is back to school time yet again.  And kids throughout the country are doing their usual complaining.  But school doesn’t have to be all that bad.  It’s definitely easier to see friends when everyone is in school.  The summer time boredom blues disappear with the start of school activities.  And every girl loves to do the annual back to school clothes shopping trip.  Plus there always seem to be fun new products for school supplies.

Just to make back to school time not so hard, I’ve done a little searching on Pinterest and come up with a few do-it-yourself school projects that will fit any budget.

Chalkboard Notebooks

This is a clever idea I want to do on every notebook I own.  Use chalkboard paint to turn the front cover of a notebook into a place to write reminders on the go.  Or draw a new picture every day to suit a mood.  Your kids will come up with many original ideas on what to paint and how to use their chalkboard notebooks.

Paper Embellished Clothespins

These clothespins help solve the problem of how to display children’s artwork without using scotch tape which always seems to tear the paper.  Each child in the family can make their own personalized set of magnetic clothespins so hanging their artwork will be even more special.  What a great way to decorate the refrigerator!

Notebook T-Shirt

What a fun and permanent way for kids to collect first day of school greetings.  A t-shirt that looks like a notebook.  Do one every year to remember new friends made on the first day of school.

Pocket Book

I’m going to guess every tween girl is going to want one of these pocket books to store her stickers.  A clever idea to keep pens and pencils handy too and a great way to use jeans that your kid has outgrown.

I’m sure there are plenty more creative ideas to make the first day of school fun.  Please share in the comments your ideas for us all to enjoy.

How to Talk to Your Daughter about her Body

How to Talk to Your Daughter about her Body

How To Talk to Your Daughter about her BodyReblogged from Hope Avenue:

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”


Read the rest of the post here.






How Do I Track My Period?

How Do I Track My Period

How Do I Track My PeriodAs most women know, the first question asked at each gynecology visit is ‘What was the first day of your last period?’ Doctors ask this question to determine how regular a woman’s menstrual cycle is and if the woman is pregnant, the date helps determine the approximate day of conception. Learning how to track your period is therefore a handy skill to have.

For girls just starting their period, knowing when their next period will start will help them plan for when supplies should be handy while away from home.  Tracking can also help determine if periods are becoming too irregular.

Fortunately there are many calendars and even phone apps to help women and girls track their period. Some of the iPhone apps are reviewed here. If you don’t have a smart phone sites like Kotex and offer free online calendars. And then there is the old-fashioned printed calendar to carry around in a purse or backpack.

Using one of these calendars will allow you to track not only when you first start to bleed each menstrual cycle but also when other discharge or PMS symptoms occur.  This will allow you to plan for any supplies you might need or action you might want to take to head off bothersome symptoms.

There are several types of vaginal discharge that may occur during a menstrual cycle.  Learning how to identify these discharges and understanding what is normal will help you if abnormal discharge happens.  As always, see your doctor if you have any concerns about your menstrual cycle.

Other symptoms that can be tracked include abdominal bloating or water retention, breast tenderness or headaches.  Noting the severity of these symptoms on a tracking calendar can help determine from cycle to cycle if PMS symptoms are becoming better or worse.

We all get caught up in our daily lives and remembering what happens from month to month can be difficult.  Using a period tracking calendar will help you better manage your health and provide useful information when you see your doctor about any concerns.

5 Tips on Raising an Informed Citizen

5 Tips on Raising an Informed Citizen

Raising an Informed CitizenWhen I was growing up the 4th of July was always about lighting fireworks during the annual neighborhood pool party.  The kids were regulated to one side of the pool and on the other side the dads would light the fireworks to the delight of the crowd.  One memorable year, a lighted spinning wheel spun out of control and burnt the fence.  The kids loved it!  Somewhere in the back of my mind I also knew it was the nation’s birthday.  But other than helping my Dad put the American flag in front of the house, I really didn’t know how lucky we were to celebrating this birthday.

This is something I have thought about as I raised my own kids.  Do they really understand what it means to be an American?  Do they pay attention to how laws being discussed in the U.S. Congress will impact their daily lives and pocketbooks?  Are they informed enough to vote in elections? Do they appreciate what sacrifices military service members make to serve our country?

In honor of 4th of July, 2013 – the nation’s 237th birthday, I decided to put together a few tips on raising an informed citizen.

1.  There is a saying that all politics is local.  Start off by visiting the City Hall building where you live.  Explain to her the functions of the mayor and city council.  Encourage your daughter to read the local newspaper.  When our kids were little we took them to our polling place on Election Day.  Regretfully, actual physical polling places are being phased out.  But you can still go over a mail in ballot with her and explain all the offices.

2.  A visit to your state’s capitol city is a great way to spend a summer vacation.  Prepare ahead of time by checking out book’s from your local library on state history. Governors frequently appear on TV.  Make a date with your daughter to watch a press conference or speech then discuss the Governor’s news and how it will impact you as state citizens.

3.  Plan a trip to Washington D.C. Nothing inspires patriotism then seeing our nation’s government buildings and monuments in person.  If an actual visit is out of reach, then take advantage of the wealth of information on the internet.  Learn about the history and beauty of the U.S. Capitol Building and the White House.  Make a game with your daughter of finding information about every monument on the National Mall.

4. Military bases are scattered throughout the country.  We live close to Naval Station Everett which throws a special party every 4th of July.  Local citizens can go on base and tour ships and learn how the military supports the country in peace and war.  Your daughter probably knows children of service members.  Get a group together and tour a local base.

5. And last but not least, sit down and read with your daughter.  The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the biographies of presidents, histories of U.S. events, and articles in national newspapers.  Then discuss current events at the dinner table and how they tie back to the country’s founding documents.  And watch your daughter’s interest grow as she becomes an informed citizen.




Feminine Hygiene Pads – The Differences

Feminine Hygiene Pads – The Differences

Feminine Hygiene Pads - The DifferencesIn this day and age in the United States we seem to have a product to fit every choice.  Whether it be food, shoes, homes, or even yes, feminine hygiene pads, there is something unique that fits your life style.  It can be confusing to sort through all the options but once you find the perfect fit you will probably be a customer for life.

Since I started this business 6 years ago, I’ve become much more aware of the choices in feminine hygiene pads.  There is the usual variety in stores that tend toward the disposable.  And then there are the natural products found in specialty stores or on the internet.  There are also new options like the DivaCup where you can do away with the pads altogether.

With all the options available I thought I would make a list for you and your daughter to explore to discuss which type of pads will be best for her and maybe even for you.

Washable Cloth Menstrual Pads

Companies like Lunapads and GladRags lead this market.  Offering reusable all-cotton pads with covers that attach to your underwear (think wings like on disposable pads) these companies attract the eco-conscious consumer.  As a mother who used cloth diapers on her babies, I can see the appeal in these products.  Not only are you cutting down on waste, but there is a real savings in not buying disposable products every month.  The companies also offer bright, cute covers for the pads to appeal to any age.

Menstrual Cup

The DivaCup was first on the scene in this segment of the market.  Offering two sizes, based on age and previous childbirth experience, the cup works just like it sounds.  Inserted vaginally, the silicone cup holds the menstrual blood inside your body until you empty it.  From my own experience, this option is excellent for traveling.  No need to carry supplies and it fits neatly into a cloth bag that can go into any travel purse.  Menstrual cups are also an excellent option for girls involved in sports as an alternative to tampons.  Girls just starting their periods may fill a little unsure about using the cups, but as they get used to their menstrual flow it can be introduced as an option.  Different brands of menstrual cups can now be found in most major drugstores.

The Disposable Stuff

This is where the choices become beyond overwhelming as anyone who has ever walked down the feminine care aisle at a drugstore can attest.  Finding the right fit can be a challenge.  I’m frequently asked by mothers for recommendations on pads that will fit for small tween girls.  So far I have not found a good option.  Instead I tend to recommend investigating the U by Kotex line of products. Specifically targeted to the younger set, the packaging is cute and cheerful and the website offers advice in finding the perfect match for size and flow.

If you know of any other options in feminine care products who would love to here from you in the comments!





An Anatomical Lesson

An Anatomical Lesson

An Anatomical LessonThroughout our journey in bringing menstruation education to young girls we have found that girls (and their parents) can sometimes be very shy about using the correct words for their female reproductive parts.  Even saying the words ‘menstrual period’ can be embarrassing to the girls who would much rather say ‘Aunt Flo’ or ‘being on the rag’.

We thought we would help with this situation by providing a short dictionary of the female parts along with a simple definition.  As a matter of health, girls should be comfortable using these words as it helps if they ever have reproductive issues.  Knowing the proper words can help describe discomfort and leads to better understanding of how the female body works.  The more information that girls have the better control they have over their bodies and their health decisions.

Fallopian Tubes

The tubes that allows passage of eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.


Where eggs and female sex hormones are produced.  Generally only one egg is released each month with the ovaries alternating each month on which is producing the egg.


The female body organ where an egg can grow into a baby when a woman is pregnant.


The mucous membrane that lines the uterus.  This lining becomes thick and rich with blood during the menstrual cycle in order to support a fertilized egg.  If a fertilized egg is not implanted than the endometrium is sloughed off during monthly menstruation.


The canal that connects the uterus to the outside world.  The vulva and labia form the outside entrance to the vagina.  The vulva is where tampons are inserted.


The interior end of the vaginal canal where it joins with the uterus.


The monthly discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus of non-pregnant women.  Generally first menstruation starts between the ages of 9 – 12 and lasts until a woman is in her fifties.



Summer Camp and Your Daughter

Summer Camp and Your Daughter

Summer Camp and Your DaughterI only attended one overnight camp when I was a teenager and it wasn’t the best of experiences.  We seemed to spend more time cleaning the facilities than having fun, not my idea of how to spend camp time.  When our kids were growing up we looked for camps that would teach them new skills (outdoor cooking at Boy Scout camp, how to dunk at basketball camp) plus how to manage themselves away from home.

These days there seems to be a dizzying choice of different summer camps.  Everything from horse riding to academics, to computers and just old fashioned out door camping with canoe rides included.  No matter which you choose for your daughter, there are some common ways you can help her prepare to spend time away from home on her own.

The Scout motto is to be prepared and there are some obvious things your daughter needs in her suitcase for camp like enough underwear, sunblock and deodorant to last the week.  Think about the less obvious things though.  We always included a list of family addresses, stamps, envelopes and some writing paper in our daughter’s camp essentials.  It was a good way for her to stay in touch without email or cell phone texting.

Writing letters is also a great way for you to stay in touch.  Mail a letter to your daughter at camp a few days before she leaves.  She will have a nice letter from home soon after she arrives which may help if she is feeling homesick.

If your daughter is attending a nature camp, find some plant and bird books about the camp location and help her learn to identify some common species that she will see at camp.  If she is attending camp outside of your local area, looking at a map and learning about the towns or cities near the camp location will help her be ready for being in new surroundings.  And include a disposable camera in her supplies so she can take pictures.

Having your daughter spend a night or two away from home at a friends house or with relatives before she goes to camp is a good way to help her practice being away from home.  She will gain a little confidence and so will you that she is ready to be away for a longer stretch of time.

And most importantly at the tween girl age, if she has started her menstrual period already, track with a calendar her last cycle to estimate if her next period will start at camp.  Pack her some emergency supplies and make sure she knows where to get more from the camp office, store, or nurse.  If she hasn’t started her period yet, assume she might while she is away so be sure she knows how to handle it so it isn’t a surprise or inconvenience.

Helping your daughter be prepared for summer camp will ensure she enjoys the experience even more and will let her create lots of happy memories to share with you when she gets home.


Celebrating Memorial Day with Your Children

Celebrating Memorial Day with Your Children

Our younger son Dylan was involved in Boy Scouts for many years.  One of the traditions his troop did every year was to place flags at the gravestones of fallen soldiers at a cemetery near our home.  The troop carried out this task every year for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  I always tried to go with Dylan and his troop because I feel it is important to honor those who have served our country in the military.

With Memorial Day being the official kick off to summer and a huge shopping weekend, it is easy to forget what the holiday is all about.  The day was originally known as Decoration Day – a day to decorate the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers killed during the Civil War.  By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service.

Celebrating Memorial Day in the traditional way of honoring these fallen soldiers is a good way to teach your children about the value of service.  Here are some ideas on how to celebrate the holiday with your children:

1. Many of us live near national cemeteries that usually have formal ceremonies on Memorial Day.  Local cemeteries may also have an event planned for the day, check the events calendar in your local newspaper and plan on making it a family outing.

2. Attend a parade and bring along an American flag to wave.  Before you go explain the different branches of the military to your kids, as they’ll most likely see soldiers, sailors and Marines during the parade.

3. Check out some kid-friendly books from the library about American history and talk about the various ways the military has protected our country throughout the history of the United States.  We are lucky to live near the Flying Heritage Collection where historic military aircraft are displayed.  Perhaps there is a similar museum near you that your children would enjoy.

And lastly, remember to fly the American flag on Memorial Day in honor of those who have fallen in the service of our country.

Three Favorite Parenting Blogs

Three Favorite Parenting Blogs

Three Favorite Parening Blogs by Dot Girl ProductsWhen our children were born, the internet did not exist (our youngest is 21 years old).  When we needed advice on parenting we turned to our parents and my sister-in-law whose first born son is the oldest cousin.  We also relied heavily on books by T. Berry Brazelton.  Now of course the Information Age confronts us at every turn and there must be at least a million mom and dad blogs for parents to turn to for advice if grandma is not available.

To help Dot Girl readers find the best blogs for parenting advice and in honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would list the blogs we would recommend to our children, should they ever decide to have their own children.  This list is in no particular order.

The Dad Man

The Dad Man is Joe Kelly – a father, author, speaker, blogger, activist and consultant.  He offers a blog, books and resources to help Dads get through those all important parenting years.  Pay particular attention to the Dads & Daughters® section of his website.  This section is what makes him one of our favorites.  He also has a book with the same title.

Lisa Belkin

I follow Lisa on Facebook and am always glad that I do. Lisa blogs for the Huffington Post and offers insightful commentary about today’s modern parenting dilemmas.  She is not afraid to offer differing opinions when she sees another article that she doesn’t consider right.  Reading Lisa reminds you that you are not alone in this great parenting world.


This site is a little edgy but always honest.  It’s not just one blogger, it is a group of bloggers and their ‘About Us’ page says it all – “Mommyish writers take parenting seriously. But we don’t take ourselves seriously. We care about the realities of parenting today, and combine a thirst for the latest parenting news and trends with a tongue in cheek approach to child rearing”.  I would highly recommend this blog to those who want to stay in touch with what is happening in the ‘real’ parenting world.

I’m sure our readers have their favorite mom and dad blogs too.  Please be sure to leave links in the comments and help other parents find good advice on the internet.


5 Lessons about Marriage for Your Daughter

5 Lessons about Marriage for Your Daughter

5 Lessons for Your Daughter About Marriage - Dot Girl ProductsThis past weekend, my husband and I attended the wedding of one of our daughter’s high school friends. Hayley was a bridesmaid and it was fun to see her walk down the aisle, even though she wasn’t the blushing bride. It made us realize though that her wedding will some day be upon us (we hope!) and there are some lessons we would like to make sure she knows before she embarks on the marriage road. Note that we want our two sons to learn these lessons too!

Lesson #1
Once you take those marriage vows, your spouse becomes the person you check with on decisions, large and small. Yes, your parents are still available for guidance and feedback (and love of course) but a married couple is a unit unto themselves and decisions should be based on what is best for that unit.

Lesson #2
Communication is the key to a successful marriage. A couple should be able to discuss anything and everything with each other. Being afraid or unwilling to talk to your spouse about health issues, money, or relationship concerns can lead to months if not years of unhappiness and spending too much time wondering what the other person is thinking instead of working out the issue.

Lesson #3
Be ‘OK’ with each other having ‘mad money’ that can be spent with no recriminations from the other spouse. Budget carefully to allow for this – i.e. monthly bills paid on time, money set aside for retirement or education needs, and a rainy day fund – and then set aside the ‘mad money’ with no questions asked.

Lesson #4
My mother always used to say ‘If momma ain’t happy, then no one is happy’. In today’s day and age, the same goes for dad. Child rearing is a joint task and duties should be divided on the parent’s strengths. One might be better at organizing and making sure that the kids get to school on time, the other might be better at helping with homework. Talk about it and review frequently to make sure both of you are enjoying the child raising, not just enduring it. And remember, take time for yourselves away from the kids. It ensures that you’ll still like each other when you end up ’empty nesters’.

Lesson #5

This goes along with taking time out for yourselves with each other. Develop a common hobby and have friends in common. Whether you center your life around a faith community, a volunteer organization or an active outdoor activity, do something together and develop a close knit group of friends who share your values. You’ll appreciate the support if there are times of trouble and appreciate a group to grow old with.