Sunday, August 31, 2008

How do single mothers provide good male role models?

Filed under: Dads, Teenager, 15-19 years, Parental relationships, Peer pressureAs a single mother raising a son, I have always been concerned about having good male role models in my son's life. Even though his father and I had our differences, I was glad that my son knew him because I had always worried about that "void" my son would feel if he had never met his father.With the death of his father last year, I continue to be concerned as my son gets older. He is at a very impressionable age, going through the teen years, where he needs to have strong men to look to as role models.I try to point out examples of good and bad behavior in news stories, the behavior of people we know and the behavior of others, such as celebrities. I know that he is well informed on topics such as being respectful to women, among other things, but I worry that there are things he might be missing that a good strong male in his life could provide.If you are the single mother of a son, do you have other men in your life who are good role models for your son? If not, how do you provide your son with good examples of male behavior?Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Do child rapists deserve the death penalty?

Filed under: Media, 8-9 yearsIn 2003, a Louisiana jury found Patrick Kennedy guilty of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter and sentenced him to death. The law states in Louisiana that aggravated rape of a child younger than 12 is punishable by "death or life imprisonment ... without parole." It is one of five states that allows juries to sentence convicted rapists to death. In May, 2007, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld this sentence.Patrick Kennedy is appealing this sentence because his attorneys claim that the Louisiana law conflicts with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that "a sentence of death is grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment for the crime of rape." Kennedy's claim is that he is the only person on death row in Louisiana for rape. However, Kennedy did not rape an adult, he raped an 8-year-old child. In fact, Dr. Scott Benton of Children's Hospital testified during the trial that the child's injuries from the rape were the worst he had ever seen in a sexual assault of a child. Kennedy also refused to plead guilty to a lesser charge, which would have reduced his sentence and removed the death penalty possibility from his sentence. Kennedy's petition will be considered on January 4 by the Supreme Court Justices in a private conference.Do you think Kennedy's conviction should be overturned as cruel and unusual? Do child rapists deserve the death penalty?Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Friday, August 29, 2008

A glimmer of hope for (extremely patient) Harry Potter fans

Filed under: Books, Rumors, BrandsCould there have been a light left on over at Hogwarts?! J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has hinted she might be considering adding an 8th book to the popular line-up. I In an interview with Time magazine (who gave Rowling a #3 ranking on their Person Of The Year list) the author said: "There have been times since finishing, weak moments, when I've said 'Yeah, all right' to the eighth novel." But before you get your Amazon pre-order hopes up, Rowling quickly squelches the flames adding, "If - and it's a big if - I ever write an eighth book, I doubt that Harry would be the central character. I feel I've already told his story. But these are big ifs. Let's give it ten years." TEN YEARS?! I'll be REALLY old and gray by then! If you can't wait that long, I have good news for you. Remember that limited edition Rowling book that sold to an unnamed buyer for $4 million? We now know who the buyer was: And while the online book store isn't allowed to sell copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, they are allowed to review the stories it contains and have set up a discussion board where muggles can ask questions and discuss the second-hand-yet-still-magical addition to the Pottermania. %Gallery-12546%Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Apple Martin could teach her dad a few things

Filed under: Celebrity babies, Celebrity parents, Celebrity parents behaving badlySo, your dad is a big rock star and mom is a famous actress. Complete strangers treat you like royalty and constantly tell you how wonderful and cute you are. With all that adulation, you are bound to become a little spoiled and possibly even bratty, right? No so in the case of Apple Martin, 3-year-old daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin. According to shop assistants at the New York boutique Ink Pad, Apple is a real sweetie, but her dad could use a refresher course on manners. A source at the shop says, "She was so cute, speaking a mile a minute and telling the clerk that her dad was taking her to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks." As for Chris, the source says he "wasn't polite to the staff at all."The article doesn't say exactly what Chris did to be deemed impolite, but if Apple is anything like Ellie, she will set him straight. If Ellie sees me losing my patience or getting short with someone, she never fails to correct me. She will say, "Nana, you are being negative." This always gives me pause and forces me to rethink my attitude. How can I expect her to be well-mannered and polite if I don't set the example?Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You want fries with that baby?

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth, Teenager, Working moms, Going into labor, Birth complications, Birth announcementWhen I worked at McDonald's, I brought home what seemed like a huge amount of money, for a teenager. Sometimes, I would bring home dinner too. One girl, working at a McDonald's in Vancouver, Washington, brought home a bit more than that. She brought home a surprise -- a bouncing baby boy.Sixteen-year-old Danielle Miller was working at McDonald's when she suddenly felt ill. She ran to the bathroom, followed closely by a concerned friend and co-worker. The friend asked if she might be pregnant, to which Miller replied that she wasn't. Or so she thought, anyway. With the help of a 911 dispatcher and her friend, Miller gave birth in the restaurant restroom to her son Austin.Certainly, the birth of a child is a life-changing event and it's even more so when it is unexpected. "I was so shocked. I couldn't talk," said the new mum, who was taken with her baby to a nearby hospital by emergency personnel. "I was shaking the whole time. I didn't stop shaking until 3 a.m. the next morning," she added.If you ask me, I think this should qualify the kid for free nuggets for life or something. At the very least, if he goes to McDonald's for a snack after school, it will be just like going home, eh?Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chelsea Clinton politely disses kid reporter

Filed under: 8-9 years, Celebrity kids, In the NewsNo matter what you think about her parents, you've got to admit that Chelsea Clinton turned out pretty darn good. She graduated from Stanford, got a master's degree from Oxford University, and managed to stay out of trouble and outside the media glare. Famously shielded from the spotlight by her parents during her father's two terms in the White House, the twenty-seven year old former first daughter only recently joined her mother on the campaign trail. On the stage, Chelsea doesn't speak; she only stands next to her mother and applauds. Reporters covering the campaign have been warned that Chelsea is not available to speak to them and an aide follows the former first daughter as she works the crowd, shushing reporters who approach her and try to ask any questions. But that didn't stop nine-year-old Sydney Rieckoff, a Cedar Rapids fourth grader and kid reporter for Scholastic News from giving it the old college try. Rieckoff seized her moment with Clinton to slip in a query, "Do you think your dad would be a good 'first man' in the White House?" Chelsea neatly sidestepped the question but still gave the fearless junior reporter something to take with her, a compliment. "I'm sorry, I don't talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you're cute!" Clinton responded. %Gallery-12507% Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Monday, August 25, 2008

Teen actress dating 30-year-old co-star

Filed under: Celebrity kidsAn entertainment news show - I forget which one - recently touted Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere as an example of a young Hollywood girl with her head on straight. The 18-year-old says she has resisted the pressure to diet herself down to skeletal proportions and has shunned the partying night life. She's even interested in environmental causes and recently participated in a protest against the slaughtering of dolphins in Japan.However, despite her assertion to Teen Magazine that she wants to be a good role model for young girls, some are starting to question her sincerity. First, she does her sex-kitten bit for the December issue of GQ Magazine and now it is revealed that she's dating her 30-year-old co-star, Milo Ventimiglia.I personally think a relationship between a 30-year-old man and an 18-year-old girl says more about the man does it does about the girl. And regardless of the fact that her mother approves of the relationship, Panettiere is legally old enough to date whomever she chooses. However, I would suggest to Panettiere that she refrain from all this bragging about her good judgment. She is still very young and will have lots of opportunities to make mistakes in the future. And those same people who have built her up as the next big thing, will be more than happy to tear her down. Just ask self-proclaimed "virgin until I'm wed" Britney Spears.Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The ever-changing due date

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth, MomsWhen Rachel first realized she was pregnant, she used the due date calculator at to figure out when the kid would show up. Based on the date of the first day of her last menstrual period (or LMP -- I had no idea there was even a common abbreviation for that!) the calculator came up with a date of May 8th, 2008.When she visited her gynecologist, however, the doctor came up with a different date -- May 11. I'm not sure what criteria she used that would be different from the website, but given that she's been doing this for a very long time and is regarded as one of the best, I would be inclined to trust her judgment on this.I am, however, very much a believer in science and given top notch diagnostic tools, I appreciate the unemotional calculations that such equipment are capable of. At Rachel's first ultrasound, the technician took some measurements (or whatever it is they do) and came up with yet another date -- May 2nd. So now, I have no idea when the little one will actually show up.I suggested to Rachel that she keep her legs crossed until May 27th -- my dad's birthday -- but she didn't seem to like that idea. So who do we listen to? Whose date is correct? I guess when it really comes down to it, there is only one person's calculation that matters -- the kid's.Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Handy dandy staplers

Filed under: Crafts, Creative projects, Indoor PlayMy son loves to draw and he is actually quite good at it. He folds blank paper together to make a book, and then writes a story and draws cartoons. He will even number the back and he has invented his own personal logo to put on each one, "KC" to stand for "Kyle Creation." I have to admit, it makes me proud to have such an imaginative and creative child, especially one who can draw. I can't beam with too much pride, though, because he did not inherit it from me. I lost playing Pictionary once by trying to draw a stapler and everyone guessed it was a shark. (It was a staple, not teeth!)I ran across this stapler while surfing the internet and wondered where it's been. Has something like this been around and I've missed it or did someone finally get smart and invent something we've needed forever? It's one of those things that you say, "What took them so long or why didn't I think of that?"It's a booklet stapler. The stapler turns and will staple up to 15 pages neatly and precisely without having to bend and crumple the paper to fit in the stapler. I cannot count how many times I have fumbled with paper to staple something together, long before my son started doing it for drawing. I am definitely going to have to buy one of these for the cartoon artist in my family.Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Friday, August 22, 2008

Woman who performed her own c-section does not recommend it

Filed under: Newspapers, Weird but TrueThis is kind of old news -- Ines Ramirez performed a c-section on herself back in 2000 -- but this is the first I'd heard of it, and I feel compelled to share. Eight years ago, 40-year-old Ines Ramirez was alone in her cabin in a remote area of Mexico when she felt labour pains start. Her husband was off drinking in a cantina and the nearest midwife (and telephone) were more than fifty miles away. As the pains heightened, Ramirez did what any desperate and completely ballsy Mama would do: she sat down, swilled from a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and used a kitchen knife to cut open her abdomen omigod writing those words makes me feel like I am going to slither right off this seat.Ramirez operated on herself for an hour -- that is 60 long, painstaking Minutes from Hell, and after making a cut in her own abdomen, severed the umbilical cord with scissors and became unconscious. When she came to, she wrapped up her bleeding abdomen and asked her 6-year-old son to fetch help.A village health assistant later arrived to stitch Ramirez and tend to her live newborn. Both Mama and baby lived, and Ramirez is thought to be the only woman to have ever performed a c-section on herself, and lived to tell the tale. She does not recommend the procedure to fellow mothers-to-be. Man. I will have to file this story for future consideration for the next time I am feeling wussy about anything.Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jamie Lynn due in a couple of months?

Filed under: Teenager, Pregnant celebrities, Celebrity kids, RumorsThe National Enquirer reported back in July that Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant recently printed the letter they received from her attorneys which seems laughable in light of recent events: "Ms. Spears is a devout Christian with a spotless reputation, who lives in accordance with the highest moral and ethical standards in accordance with her faith. There is no "rumor" concerning Ms. Spears' (non-existent) pregnancy, except perhaps for the baseless "rumor" just now being created by the National Enquirer. Ms. Spears is not pregnant. It is pathetic for the National Enquirer to attempt to create a wholly baseless "rumor" that Ms. Spears is pregnant, so it can run a malicious story and false story which would be emotionally devastating to a morally upright 16 year old girl." So when the same rag stands by its story and says Jamie Lynn is actually due in March with a girl, you pay closer attention and wonder how the world someone so tiny could possibly conceal a pregnancy longer than fifteen minutes and expect to fudge a birthdate by that much. There are also rumors circulating that the father of the baby isn't Jamie Lynn's 19 year-old boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, but an older man who was a producer of Spear's television show, which is disturbing on so many levels. An accidental pregnancy between a couple of hormonal and love-struck teens is one thing, but an older man taking advantage of a young girl is disturbing and wrong. For some reason, nothing is ever simple and straightforward in the Spears family. Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rock star baby announcements

Filed under: Newborn, Birth announcementWe didn't send out birth announcements for Nolan's entrance into the world back in 2005. Despite my rabid inhalation of every book on pregnancy and new Motherhood, I was still completely shocked by the magnitude of the shift of my earth on its axis, and I mostly stumbled around in striped pyjamas and streaked mascara, occasionally stuffing bagel crumbles into my mouth and wondering how on earth I was going to do this. I could barely exist, let alone put together a coherent sentence to stuff into an envelope. If I could go back in time and conjure up some post-partum energy and a few awesome, original birth announcements, I'd definitely start right here. Rattle n Roll are custom designed birth announcements, styled after rock n roll gig posters. They're custom designed and are so groovy that I'd want to keep a few for myself to hang on the nursery wall. Basically, you send in a photo of your newborn, choose a template and some wording and Rattle n Roll will take care of the transition of your baby photo into an ultra-cool birth announcement. You can also use the service for invitations, grad announcements, family news, or whatever. The cost, starting at 200 bucks, is a little steep but for a once-in-a-lifetime announcement, it might just be worth it.These are by far the coolest announcements you will ever find! Styled after gig posters eepsake for the coolest kid on the block...yours. They are great as birth announcements or birthday invites! These announcements are 8.5"X 5.5" single-sided handbills, printed in full color on 12 pt. white card stock and accompanied by 6X9 envelopesPermalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

'Problem teacher' database made available

Filed under: Teachers, Elementary school, Middle school, High school, Public school, Going to schoolDid you know that a national database of 'problem' teachers exists? It is a repository of information regarding teachers across the United States who have been disciplined for professional misconduct. In Florida, education officials run potential teacher's names through that database before offering them a job. Now, thanks to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, you can access that information as well.It is called the Clearinghouse and was created by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). While it may currently be the best tool available for checking up on teachers, it is not without its flaws.For one thing, membership in the NASDTEC is voluntary as is reporting cases to the database. And some states are better than others at reporting problem teachers. For example, some smaller states like Oregon have more entries than large states like New York or New Jersey. And what constitutes an infraction worthy of inclusion in the database varies widely from state to state. Some will report a teacher for something as relatively minor as failing to repay a student loan. Others only report misconduct that results in a criminal conviction.A fill-in form on the Herald Tribune website gives anyone with an Internet connection access to the database. But because the information returned only includes the teacher's name, date of birth and state, you will have no way of knowing without further research just why that teacher is in the database. Still, it might be a good place to start if you have concerns about your child's teacher.Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Monday, August 18, 2008

Toddler art: should it stay or should it go?

Filed under: 2 years, Toddler, Child care, Creative projectsMy boy goes to daycare three days a week, and in his current classroom they do art projects pretty much every single day. He comes home splattered with fingerpaint, sometimes he has glitter in his hair, he's got crayon wax under his nails . . . I love it. I especially love picking him up and seeing him sitting at a table with his pint-sized classmates, studiously smearing some glue around while a patient teacher doles out cotton balls.Let's be honest: I particularly love knowing that I don't have to clean up the mess. I mean, I want to encourage my child's creativity as much as any other parent, but . . . GLUE? Dude, I'm sorry, but not in my living room, unless we've got about fifty tarps on hand.Anyway, the fallout from all this art time is a never-ending stream of papers stuffed in his cubby for us to take home. A million and one art projects, all personally created by our toddler. Which is to say, a lot of smeary, goopy, endearing little pieces of crap.(What? Oh, I can't say that? I'm sorry: many lovely works of art. Is that better? Sheesh.)So, what to do with all of these? I honestly feel like kind of an asshole throwing them away, but what's the alternative? I keep the ones that include, say, his handprints, or are especially cool in some way (or sometimes I just take a digital photo and archive that image), but the rest . . . well, they get round-filed.Am I a heartless jerk for doing this? What do you guys do with your little kids' many creative manifestos, assuming they've played out their time on the fridge or wherever?Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kiddie virtual worlds: prepare to be inundated

Filed under: 6-7 years, Internet, Games, Monitoring your kids, Video Games, Marketing to kidsOn the very top of Ellie's Christmas wish list was the Barbie Girls MP3 player that doubles as a USB key. The key unlocks some of the extra-special fun stuff to be found on Without the key, her activities on the site are limited. With the key, she joins a large group of like-minded little girls in a virtual world where they can shop, decorate and get makeovers.Virtual worlds for grownups have been around for some time. I've poked around in Second Life a little, but frankly I find the whole experience to be just a little bit weird. Apparently, I am not the only adult shying away from pretend living in pretend worlds - the growth of these so-called worlds has failed to meet the expectations of those who predict such things. But who likes make-believe more than a kid? Virtual worlds for the grade-school set are experiencing rapid growth and Debra Aho Williamson of EMarketer, predicts that by 2001, more than 20 million children will be members of a virtual world. "Get ready for total inundation," she says.This has some critics ready to do battle. "We cannot allow the media and marketing industries to construct a childhood that is all screens, all the time," said Susan Linn, a Boston psychologist and the director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Of course, the "all screens, all the time" problem is nothing new. Children's television has been marketing to our kids for quite some time. And just like television, I think the key is moderation and parental supervision. If you don't allow your kids to spend all day in front of the television, why would you let them spend all day in front of a computer?Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Being Momma

Filed under: 2 years, Adventures in ParentingNolan has been sleeping a lot lately: three hour naps and wake ups that sometimes do not happen before the sun rises, thank you Universe for tiny blessings. Usually when his sleeping patterns change, it means something's morphing in his small body, and this time (although he is also growing at a rocketing, mindboggling speed), it seems to be related directly to his vocabulary.All of a sudden Nolan is talking to me like a fellow human being, inquiring after the cheese and telling me about how this truck is going to the cottee shop. He told me about the sock that was stuck in the bottom of his boot (as I was attempting to unsuccessfully wedge it on to his foot) and he has definite preferences in music (yes to Feist, no to Queens of the Stone Age). Several times in the last week I've gaped at him in wide-mouthed wonder: where did you come from, little wizened man? And where did you put my baby?Scattered among the new verbiage is a perplexing development in his preferred title for me: he now calls me Momma. I have no idea where it came from, I have always been Mommy, and as far as I know, none of his cartoon friends call their Mothers Momma. I don't feel like I'm a Momma, I picture Momma to be a large, barrel-chested woman with pink styrofoam curlers and a pocketful of thin mints. Mommy seems so much more fitting for a woman with a small child, but really, it's not up to me. Nolan also calls my Mom Nanny, though we tried to title her "Nana" to avoid confusion with his paternal Grandmother, who has always been Nanny to her grandkids.I guess kids will call us what they will, and I'm just grateful he hasn't declared me "Kristin". Yet.Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Friday, August 15, 2008

Do you pluck your gray hair?

Filed under: Lifestyle, ParentDish Laughs, Momwear, Creative projects, Feminism, Making a Difference, EnvironmentalBreck, anyone? Come on, admit it. Not that you have gray hair--'cuz I know you do. At least one. Unless you plucked it. Even if you colored it, it still started its sad little life out as a gray hair. And that stinks. Or does it? I pluck my gray hair. Not so sure that I should. The old adage said that for every one gray hair plucked three would grow in its place--rather like that mythic sea monster of (I think) Greek myth. My mother warned me not to pluck mine--not because of the adage, but because she said one couldn't be too sure if anything would grow back. At least one could dye one's grays and still keep a full head of hair. I pluck the heck out of mine. I don't even have that many, but I keep it that way by plucking anything that looks even remotely transluscent to within an inch of its life. As a result, my hair has grown back, but they're still gray and now they're really short and stick out to boot. So perhaps better to not pluck. Then again, having tghem stick out like that makes them easier to spot. The ones that live deep under my mane that only show up when I get whimsical for a pony tail I have to search for, but the short ones, well, they just pop out like a sore thumb. The sad truth of it is that I don't even really care that I'm going gray. I just enjoy the art of plucking. Really. For me, it's like sport. Ask my husband. It moved from my eyebrows to the head. Honestly, I don't think women care that much anymore. Or do they? What about you--do you pluck, color or let live? Pic of the best head of gray hair I've ever seen by caseywest.Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One instance where the movie is better than the book

Filed under: Toddler, DVDs and Videos, Adventures in ParentingBesides my son, reading might be the single greatest joy in my life. That sounds kind of incredibly pathetic, but wait a minute: there is nothing better than a new book waiting beside a steaming cup of honeyed tea beside an opened-up bed, sheets crisp and cool and the window slightly open to let in the sounds of rain and night. I'd rather read a new book than see a new movie, except perhaps in the case of a truly killer documentary.Until recently, I don't think I've ever seen a movie that was quite as good as the book version. It makes sense: the images, voices, and theatre I create in my own mind will always be more meaningful to me than someone else's version. For that reason, I don't usually watch the movie versions of my favourite books. Whenever I've had, I've ended up sorely disappointed.But lo, there is a an exception and it is Disney. I bought Nolan a hardcover Disney picture book at Costco upon his grubby, reaching-fingered request. The book is a trilogy of Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Monsters Inc. and I dread it every time he asks for it. The stories, they make no sense! Key elements seem to be removed, and the stories flip awkwardly from one scene to the other...perhaps because the movie came before the book. Nolan loves the pictures but I find that reading the stories is incredibly arduous.I was so pleasantly surprised when I watched Finding Nemo for the first time -- based on the children's book, I'd thought it would be bunk. Same with Toy Story, which I watched this weekend. I can't believe I've been missing out on these animated films -- I'd watch them even if Nolan weren't around. Anyway,Toy Story the movie was awesome, the children's book version tedious. Two lessons learned:1) In the case of Disney, choose the movie over the book2) Avoid all aisles touting glossy Disney books at Costco.Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baby Videos Are Extremely Popular

There are tons of baby videos on the Internet. This video of a baby laughing has been viewed nearly 25 million times on YouTube alone. It is far from the only baby video out there. A YouTube search for "baby" return 495,000 video entries. explains the enormous popularity of baby videos in this video clip below. You can find links to some great baby video resources in our baby videos section.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pass the salt

Filed under: Feeding & Nutrition, Family togetherness, Eating, 12-18 monthsI am a product of a divorce. My parents split and my Dad left to live in a condo when I was 8 (I think). I remember him telling me in a white Datsun that he was not going to live with us anymore. What I also remember is my mother trying to keep the tradition of eating together very much alive - even with the fourth seat at our Formica kitchen table very much empty. I am very pro-family dinner, seeing it as a way to connect to all members of my family for at least 30 minutes a day. Even Tasman, who is challenging at 17 months with the toss fling chomp spit ritual he has got going on at the moment. We contemplated having him eat prior to our sitting down, pushing our standard 6:30pm dinner time to 7pm, with Hudson sated by television and an apple for the additional 30 minutes. Thankfully we decided against it. I love seeing him eat and enjoy the tactile goodness that is smeared sweet potatoes. I also think him seeing all of us at the table, managing our utensils, laughing at silly jokes, tsk tsking any reference to flatulence and simply enjoying each other company is a lovely way for a toddler to graduate to boy. We also think badgering Hudson about his daily activities at dinner will both offer insight into how our nanny is handling the child rearing by proxy and to make sure we are involved in what goes on at his school. We ask pointed questions like if any bullies are starting their bully career or if his teacher is sipping stinky liquids from flasks. That kind of thing. The time is spent laughing and loving, from hot dogs to homemade Indian, and I look forward to it every night. I do also remember some TV dinner moments from my youth - so I know it happened, and do not harbour any resentment to my wonderful mother. She was brilliant in her single motherdom. How serious do you take family dinners? Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Monday, August 11, 2008

One month to go: must-haves for a second baby

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth, 0-3 months, Infant / First yearLet it be known I have officially started panicking about the impending birth of my second child; specifically, the fact that I have known about this kid's arrival timeline since JUNE and here I am with ONE MONTH to go, and I haven't done anything to prepare.Well, that's not strictly true: we did get Riley out of his room and into his new bedroom, which hinged on completing a large-scale home remodel that lasted for seven months and nearly drove me insane, so there's that. And now he's happily sleeping in his big kid bed, which is a giant relief for me.However, I still haven't laid out his old baby clothes, his old room is a wreck (less of a problem since the baby will probably be sleeping close to us for a while before moving to the crib), we have basically zero baby supplies on hand . . . I've got some serious nesting to take care of over here, people.Here's what I'm thinking I absolutely need to have at the ready:o. Carseat (our old one is currently in the garage, covered in sawdust -- getting it out and cleaned up sounds like a good Husband Task, doesn't it?)o. Newborn-sized diapers (I personally like the Swaddlers brand)o. Assortment of onesies etc -- I'm pretty sure I'm well covered on the clothing front, just need to get them out of storage and launder themo. Eighty hojillion washcloths, because Spit Happens. I have a giant pile of these things, but I bet I should get some moreo. Double-check to make sure I have a good working thermometer, infant nail clippers, newborn-sized snot suckero. Swaddling blanketsCan you think of anything else that's mission-critical? I have other things that were useful with Riley when he was very small, like a bouncy seat, mobile, sleep sacks, etc, but as far as stuff you want on hand for when the baby comes home from the hospital, I'm thinking the must-have list is actually pretty short. "Sanity" would be nice, but I guess you can't buy that ahead of time from Babies R Us.Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Website profiles postcards of children dealing with divorce

Filed under: Emotions, Creative projects, Parental relationships, DivorceIt is common knowledge that children go through enormous emotional adjustments when their parents are getting a divorce. There are numerous ways to help children with what they are experiencing, like therapy and family counseling. A woman in Arizona recently developed a website to help children communicate their feelings about their parents. Kara Bishop, a graphic artist from Tucson, works with children in the Tucson based Divorce Recovery group. Inspired by Frank Warren's Postsecret website, Bishop created Postcards from Splitsville, a website that allows a child to send a postcard to the site, expressing what they feel while their parents are divorcing. One of the cards says, "It used to be a good thing that I look just like my mom. Now it just makes my dad sad."Those are heartbreaking words for any parent to hear, but sometimes parents might need such a jolt to realize what they are doing to their children. We all know the "rules" of divorce, like not to say bad things to the children about the other parent, not to put the children in the middle, but a lot of times, angry parents forget these rules. After seeing what children experience, Bishop hopes that parents will understand more of what their children are experiencing and try to handle the situation in a mature manner. I contacted Kara Bishop to ask her about the site, to see if she had gotten any feedback from parents, either positive or negative. She said that some of the parents had recognized cards that had been written by their children, but she had received no negative responses so far.I think this is a great idea. During my custody trial, my son drew quite often, and there were times when it helped me understand what he was experiencing. It also helped him communicate with his therapist when he was unable to find the words to describe how he was feeling. Hopefully, therapists and ad litem attorneys will take notice of this outlet for children and give them additional ways to express their feelings during this traumatic time in their lives.Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Friday, August 08, 2008

Have you experienced "Maternal Profiling"?

Filed under: Moms, Working out of home, Working moms, FeminismYou might be thinking to yourself, "What's maternal profiling?" According to that New York Times article on hot new words and catchphrases of 2007, maternal profiling is defined as "Employment discrimination against a woman who has, or will have, children." I had written about my experience with this in the past, but didn't know that Moms Rising came up with an official catchphrase for it. Some Googling lead me to this post by Kristin and then this article written by a blogger I had the great honour of meeting once: Cooper Munroe. It turns out that in some states it is legal for a potential employer to ask you whether you are married and have children, and then use that information when making their ultimate hiring decision.Cooper writes, "The "bottom line," it appears, is a key factor when employers discriminate against mothers, driven by a belief that health benefits (if there are any) could cost the employer more if a spouse doesn't have insurance or if the woman is single, or that mothers are less productive."In Canada, maternal profiling isn't so blatantly obvious because it's illegal. In fact, we have fantastic health and maternal benefits, as well as other key rights that Moms Rising is campaigning for in the States. Instead it happens in subtler ways, such as getting passed over for a big project or promotion. While this is also illegal in Canada, it's often difficult to prove and most women don't want to rock the job boat.Aside from the fact that we're often tired and sometimes have to take days off to attend to sick kids, most moms I know are the hardest workers on the block. 40-60 hour workweeks, sometimes more, and then a full load of housework and childrearing. At a conference on motherhood I attended a while back, author Ann Crittenden compared the skill set acquired by parenting to those of highly skilled CEOs.If we continue to punish working women for having (or desiring to have) children, what kind of world will this be a generation from now? Have you ever experienced maternal profiling?Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Special Care Of The Premature Baby

Babies born prematurely may require special care during their
first 2 years of life. This is especially true if the baby
weighed 3 pounds or less at birth.

Premature Baby's Growth and Development

Take your baby to your doctor's office soon after the baby
leaves the hospital. The doctor will check the baby's weight
gain and inquire of how the baby is doing at home.

Discuss with your doctor about feeding the premature baby. He
may recommend vitamins, iron and special formula if the baby is
bottle-fed. Doctors give vitamins to premature babies to help
them grow and stay healthy. The doctor may also prescribe extra
iron for a premature baby for at least four months. At four
months of age a premature baby will have about the same amount
of iron as a full-term baby, however, your doctor may still have
a premature baby take iron drops for a year or more.

Premature babies are usually smaller than full-term babies for
the first 2 years of life. They usually catch up after a while.
Keep a record of your premature baby's development. Your
doctor will need to know how active the baby is, when your baby
sits up for the first time and crawls for the first time for

Premature Baby's Immunization Schedule

Immunization or "shots" are given to premature babies at the
same ages they are given to full-term babies. Some doctors may
recommend a flu shot for a premature baby when he or she is 6
months of age. There is a chance that premature babies will
become sicker with the flu more often than full-term babies. He
may also recommend the entire family taking flu shots to help
protect the premature baby in the home.

Premature Baby's Feeding Schedule

Right after birth, premature babies need 8 to 10 feedings per
day. Do not wait longer than 4 hours between. Premature babies
are very susceptible to dehydration. Waiting longer than 4
hours between feedings may cause a premature baby to become
dehydrated. A good rule of thumb is if your premature baby is
wetting 6 to 8 diapers per day then he or she is getting enough
breast milk or formula. Spitting up is often a common problem
of premature babies after feedings. Be sure to talk to your
doctor if your premature baby spits up a lot. He or she may not
gain enough weight if this occurs.

Solid Food for Premature Babies

Four to six months after the baby's original due date (not the
birth date) is usually the time doctors advise putting a
premature baby on solid food. Putting premature babies on solid
foods before this time could create a choking hazard. Premature
babies need more time to develop their swallowing abilities. If
the premature baby has medical problems, the doctor may
prescribe a special diet.

Premature Babies Sleep Time

Premature babies usually sleep more hours each day than a
full-term baby; however, they sleep for shorter periods of time
and wake up more often. Put your premature baby to bed on its
back, never on its stomach. Use firm mattresses and pillows.
Sleeping on the stomach or on soft mattresses and pillows has
been known to increase baby's risk of sudden infant death
syndrome (this is for full-term babies as well as the premature

Common vision and hearing problems in premature babies include:

•Crossed eyes (or strabismus) are a problem that often goes
away on its own as your baby grows up. You may be advised to
see an eye doctor if your premature baby has crossed eyes.
•Retinopathy of prematurity usually occurs in babies born very
early, at 32 weeks of pregnancy or earlier
•Hearing problems are more common in premature babies than in
full-term babies. If you notice your premature baby does not
hear well, discuss this with your doctor for further evaluations
of premature baby's hearing. Check your premature baby's
hearing by making noises behind or to the side of the baby. If
your premature baby does not turn his or her head, or jump at a
loud noise, tell your doctor.

Traveling with your premature baby in cars poses extra
problems. Review the following information to help you
transport your premature baby in a car safely:

•Select a car safety seat that fits your premature baby
•Do not use a car safety seat with a shield or tray
•Place rolled receiving blankets on both sides of your
premature baby to center him or her in the car safety seat.
•Place a rolled diaper or washcloth between your premature
baby's diaper area and the crotch strap to keep your baby from
slipping down.
•Do not place the rolled diaper or receiving blankets behind or
under the baby.
•Your premature baby may need to use a car bed that meets
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to allow babies to travel
while lying down if he or she has any of the following while in
a car safety seat:
1.A decrease in oxygen levels
2.Slow heart rate
3.Apnea (breathing stops for a moment or two)

Other reasons babies may need a car bed rather than a car seat

•Problems with breathing when sitting upright or semi-reclined
•Decreased muscle control
•Bones that break easy
•Recent spine surgery
•Baby is wearing a cast

At this time car beds are designed for babies and not larger
children. They vary in design. All car beds must be installed
lengthwise with the baby's head toward the center of the car.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the
Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article
is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health
care professional.

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

About The Author: Written by: Connie Limon Visit us at for an extensive list of
articles and resources all about baby health and taking care of
babies. Visit us at Camelot Articles

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The creative process of a 3 year old

Filed under: Doing it myself, 3 years, Toddler, Preschooler, Exploring, Crafts, Creative projectsI was watching my son draw yesterday. The way he draws is so different from the way I draw. He doesn't start out with an idea in mind. He starts out with the material in front of him, and lets them take him where they will. "What are you drawing?" I'll ask him. "Um, he says," already busy, tilting his head in one direction and then another. "It's clothes hanging on a line," he says finally. What? I didn't even know he knew what a clothesline was. We don't have one, and besides it's the middle of winter here. Nobody has clotheslines up. But somehow, somewhere, his little mind has assimilated an image of a clothesline, and what he drew--a horizontal line with lots of raggedy lines and circles hanging down from it did indeed look quite a bit like a clothesline. Later he drew arcs across the page. He looked at them studiously, and then declared, "I made rainbows, mommy." There is something to be learned from his approach--the way he dives into art, grabbing whatever medium is at hand and making wild strokes until something emerges. Once, visiting Florence, Italy I was told by a museum guide that Michelangelo believed there was a form inside of every block of stone waiting for him to find and reveal it. Perhaps three year olds are attune to the same raw creative spark. And here I am saying, "Draw a person! Here, like this. Draw arms and legs and a big circle for a head." It's so easy to want him already at the next level---when he was 9 months old I couldn't wait for him to walk. When he was a year, I was eagerly clinging on his first words. Now I'm giddy to show him how to draw all the things I loved to draw as a kid: castles and people and airplanes and trees. But watching him draw yesterday made me remember to slow down and enjoy where he's at right now: fully immersed in the color, making rainbows and clotheslines and triangles and wide whirling swaths of color. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Approved for all audiences?

Filed under: 6-7 years, MoviesEvery time a movie is released that seems like it might be appropriate for Ellie, I check it out at Kids In Mind. This website, and others like it, give detailed information about the movie, including scenes involving sex, violence and other issues of concern to a parent. Recently, I checked out Alvin and the Chipmunks and decided that despite the PG rating, it would be fine for Ellie to see.In fact, she has already seen it twice and thinks it is hilarious. It is funny and even I laughed out loud a few times. But what wasn't funny was the previews she had to see before the movie started. The first time we saw the movie, we arrived a little late and walked in during the last scene of the trailer for 10,000 BC. This movie is rated PG-13 and the preview we saw was "approved for all audiences." The scene we came in on involved some large, scary beast about to stomp someone to death. Ellie immediately closed her eyes and waited for it to be over.As bad as that was, it was nothing compared to what my husband saw when he took Ellie back to see the same movie a few days later. They arrived a bit earlier and had the pleasure of not only seeing the entire scary preview for 10,000 BC, but the trailer for 27 Dresses as well. That movie is also rated PG-13 and the preview was "approved for all audiences." I thought the entire preview was inappropriate for an audience full of children waiting to see Alvin and The Chipmunks, but one scene in particular blew my mind. That scene shows one woman telling another woman that one of the benefits to being unmarried is the opportunity to have "hot hate sex with random strangers". On what planet is that appropriate for all audiences?I am not sure who to be angry with, but I will start with the theater. I suspect their rationale for showing children such a preview will be the fact that it was "approved for all audiences". Which brings me to that person. Who decided that "hot hate sex" was a subject appropriate for children?Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Help with your "Be More Organized" resolution

Filed under: Gear, Child's room decor, Likes and dislikes, BrandsFirst off, I'd like to say that I am not a paid sponsor of The Container Store, but it would be a dream job for me. Last year in an organizational fit, I ordered the Elfa Closet System during their January sale. It was seriously the best money I spent all year long. The utility closet in my laundry area (more of a "laundry hall" than "laundry room" and I curse who ever built this house with every sidestep approach to the washer and dryer I make, but that's another story) consisted of a rod for clothes with a narrow, high shelf above. This meant the vacuum cleaner, broom, cleaning & laundry supplies, and everything I needed to easily access sat on the floor in a jumbled heap of clutter and curses. After giving the Elfa angels the measurements they requested and listing everything I needed to cram store in this area, the designers diagrammed and charted the best way to make the space work for me. They even called after sending me a layout to see if I had any questions or concerns and held my hand and walked me through the entire process! When everything arrived, cut to the specifications of my space, my husband and I put the entire closet together in about an hour and then sat back and marveled. It's amazing how a well-organized space makes it feel like you've increased the square footage of your home. And the beauty of the Elfa system is that everything in interchangeable, so when kids grow, it's easy to reconfigure the closet to accomodate longer and larger items, making it a one-time purchase. I vowed to organized one closet every year during the big sale and it is that time of year again. This time, with the help of the Elfa design team, I will master the Master closet, a deja vu of the utility one: a rod with high shelf and loads of wasted space. Is it sad that I'm more excited about this than I was about Christmas?! In the gallery are shots of my Utility/Cleaning Stuff/Kid Stuff closet and well-designed kid spaces from the Elfa site. %Gallery-12496%Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fun indoor winter activities

Filed under: ,

We are bracing for a huge winter storm in Southern California this weekend, and although our winter storms don't involve snow, we're expecting some seriously huge amounts of rain. This weather development means no walks to the beach, no playing in the park, NO NOTHING FUN OUTSIDE. Gah. What's a mom to do?

Good thing Cookie Magazine just published some super ideas for indoor play with your kids. I'm partial to the cereal box bowling myself.

Check out all of the fun tips at Cookie's website.
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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Writers Write, Inc. Launches Fantasy and Science Fiction Blog

Writers Write, Inc. has added a new blog to its blog network called Fantasy/SF Blog is a daily blog covering what's new and interesting in the worlds of fantasy, SF, and horror, including books, movies, TV and gaming.

Recent posts include:

  • Lost: The Orchid Orientation Video
  • Is Peter Jackson Back on Board for The Hobbit?
  • Finalists Announced For British Fantasy Awards
  • Saw IV Coming in October
  • Will Tom Cruise Join the Star Trek Cast?
  • The Dresden Files Is Cancelled
  • ABC Offers Masters of Science Fiction
  • The Beowulf Trailer is Here
  • Johnny Depp Is Barnabas Collins

    RSS subscription informaton for the Fantasy/SF Blog can be found here.

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  • Saturday, August 02, 2008

    Miracle Pounding: a mini-stress reliever

    Filed under: ,

    When I hear the term "miracle pounding", I immediately think of spending several blissful hours with my awesome masseuse. Not the case with this developmental toy by Plan Toys, but fun nonetheless.

    This wooden, half-moon container cradles a row of five brightly colored balls. As your child uses the mallet to hit the top ball, new ones continuously pop up. Great for developing your child's eye-hand coordination. This toy also won the Best Toy Award by the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio.

    Plan Toys are always made from natural, chemical-free rubber wood and finished with non-toxic and child friendly colors. $24.99 at Alphabet Soup.

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    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Lawn bowling, anyone?

    Filed under: , ,

    Hi. I am thirty-three years old and completely captivated by lawn bowling.

    There, I said it.

    I frequently pass by a local lawn bowling club while running errands, and it just looks so fun to me. All the members wear white clothes and straw hats, sip ice tea, and seem to be enjoying themselves immensely. Of course, all of these people are 104 years old.

    Hey! What about us young whippersnappers?

    That's it - I'm starting my own Lawn Bowling Club this summer in my front yard. All ages welcome - even toddlers. Look, I even found a great set made from solid birch. $31.99 at Natural Pod.
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