Archive for July, 2009

Is your teen tanning?

Earlier this week, cancer experts concluded tanning beds are as deadly as arsenic or mustard gas, and said people who begin using the ultraviolet radiation beds before age 30 up their skin cancer risk by 75 percent. After analyzing about 20 studies, scientists moved tanning beds and other forms of ultraviolet radiation from their list of probable carcinogens to the top risk category of “definite causes of cancer.”

When I was a teenager, several of my friends regularly used tanning beds to jump-start or extend tans they achieved from lying out in the summer sun. My skin is so fair that I simply burn and peel without zinc oxide or a minimum of SPF 50.  Any color I may have is simply the explosion of freckles brought out by the sun. Like an impressionist painting, I may appear a little darker from a distance, but up close, my “tan” is really just a bunch of dots. Even so, I remember being tempted to try to get a deep tan like my friends.

I never did use a tanning bed back in the …

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Tax-free holidays are here…what’s your back-to-school shopping strategy?

Theresa had some things to take care of before her family goes on vacation. Keith Still will be filling in for her this week.

Georgia’s back-to-school sales tax holiday is upon us. For the next four days, you can save big by shopping tax-free for clothes, school supplies and computers — if you can handle the madness that will be the crowds at Target, Wal-Mart and the mall.

Some moms LOVE the thrill of finding a good deal, or shopping ‘til they drop. I have nightmares about shopping even in an empty store, so I can’t imagine intentionally diving into a sea of shoppers on a “big bargain” day.  With everyone nervous about the economy, however, the tax-free sirens’ call is difficult to resist.

This year, I am trying to approach back-to-school in a way that will maximize my family’s savings and minimize my need for a shopping-induced straightjacket. (I’m not sure straightjackets qualify for the tax-free weekend anyway. Click here to see what does qualify.)

Step #1 – What I really …

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What will you do when your nest is empty?

Theresa had some things to take care of before her family goes on vacation. Keith Still will be filling in for her this week.

Our MOMania friend JJ, like many other “mama birds” in the metro area, is about to let her baby bird fly. In a few weeks, she will take her only child off to college for the first time. While my children are nowhere near the college years, I can easily imagine the pride and excitement JJ must feel at having raised her daughter to be a smart, independent young woman with a world of opportunities ahead of her.

Most of us can remember our own first days of freedom, when we were 18 and the world was our oyster. We met new people, got used to dorm or apartment life, went to classes or work, and started to make every decision (big and little) for ourselves. Life at that age is abuzz with excitement.

But what is life like for parents who return home to an empty nest — especially the single parents who have done the work of two over the years, and who truly …

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Are you worried about Swine Flu in your child’s school?

While children may be excited to see old friends when school starts back, many parents may worry that a new – and invisible — class visitor will begin making its way through Georgia’s schools.  In most cases, H1N1 – or “swine flu” – is a mild to moderate virus, with many symptoms similar to seasonal flu. However, officials worry that it could quickly mutate into something far more dangerous, because it is also highly contagious.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stopped trying to keep count of the increasing numbers of people infected with swine flu, calling it an unstoppable pandemic. The media report of fatalities worldwide from the virus, and some camps in the U.S closed or sent home young campers who fell ill with the flu this summer. While vaccines are being readied for the masses as quickly as possible, it may be October before the flu shots are available.

One thing is certain: the swine flu virus has continued to spread over the summer (when seasonal flu …

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How are your kids spending their last days of freedom?

Theresa had some things to take care of before her family goes on vacation. Keith Still will be filling in for her this week.

Over the past two months, our family has tried to pack as much fun as possible into the kids’ summer break. We have hiked in Idaho, played in the snow on Mount Rainier, Wash., and dipped our toes in the freezing Pacific Ocean along the Oregon coast. Our girls have spent hours swimming in the neighborhood pool and playing with friends. They have practiced softball and gymnastics; held talent shows on the living room hearth, played board games and eaten their weight in ice cream.

Now, this week marks the beginning of the end – of summer – for most students around metro Atlanta. It’s T minus 14 days and counting until that school bus comes rumbling down the street; then another 180 school days of backpacks, homework and dressing out for P.E. before they enjoy another real taste of freedom.

In a last-ditch effort to squeeze in a little more summer (and …

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Do you worry about sharks in the ocean?

I am of the “Jaws” generation, but I never let being scared to death of the movies keep me from swimming and riding waves deep out in the ocean when I was a kid. We’d swim out to the sand bar with our canvas rafts and ride waves until the tide came back in.

What I haven’t mentioned yet, is that the beach we used to go to every summer for probably 15 years was New Smyrna beach in Florida. New Smyrna beach is about an hour south of Daytona and as of the last few years has hard a rather large amount of shark attacks!

A USA Today article from a year ago proclaims: “New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Fla., is the shark attack capital of the world, according to a database called the International Shark Attack File.”

It recorded a record 24 shark attacks in 2008, according to The L.A. Times!

“Most people who have swum in and around New Smyrna have been within 10 feet of a shark in their lifetime,” says George Burgess, an ichthyologist and fisheries biologist at the University of …

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Are you tipping off crooks your family is on vacation?

Although I love seeing real-time photos and commentary on Facebook from friends traveling it also worries me, they’re just letting crooks know “Hey come rob our house. We’re out of town!” (Here’s a round up story on the trend and tips to stop it. The Leaf Chronicle.)

(Also here is another news story about how Atlanta is embracing Facebook faster than any other metropolitan area!)

I guess Facebook is safer than Twitter because in theory it’s only “Friends” seeing your feed whereas Twitter goes out to the world.

I had to ask Michael to please stop posting on Twitter: “Getting on a airplane for Phoenix” or “Assigned for two weeks to Washington, D.C.”  I’m sure criminals read those posts as: “My wife will be home alone with three kids!”

I commiserated PRIVATELY by email on Facebook with a CNN wife recently when her husband was sent for weeks to California to cover Michael Jackson and my husband was sent for weeks to Washington, D.C. to work on the Sotomayer coverage.

There are …

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What kind of vacation does your family like — active or lazy?

In a few weeks, my family will go on the most exciting vacation: Our plan is to do nothing!  We are super psyched about going to the beach, sleeping late, lying in the sun and playing in the water and sand. No fancy restaurants, no fancy clothes, just sleeping, eating and playing.

Our good friend, and MOMania fill-in host, Keith, just returned from an awesome family trip where they didn’t stop at all. They visited several states in the Northwest, visited friends, hiked and saw cities.  (Keith wrote the first installment about her trip in this blog on AJC’s Still Traveling.)

Keith’s kids are older than mine (Her oldest is three years older than my oldest, and her youngest is three years older than my youngest.) so I think it’s easier for her family to pull off a big trip where you’re doing a lot. (She says this was the first year they really tried a sight-seeing, do a lot vacation.) I’m sure as our kids get older we’ll do more adventure trips. But at this point we’re pretty …

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How, when do you start formal music training for kids?

I got a note from one of regular readers about starting a formal music education for her 6 1/2 year old daughter. Her daughter is very bright! We are interested in starting Rose in some music instruction as well, but we are clueless too so I am very interested to hear your answers! Here’s what the mom wrote:

“We are really committed to starting some formal musical education for our daughter, but we are a bit clueless about where to begin. Some questions:

“Are group classes better or private instruction, and how do you go about choosing them? Also, is it best to start off with something basic like keyboard lessons, or is there a way for her (even at the age of 6 1/2) to experience a variety of instruments and start on something different?

“For instance, she thinks she wants to play the trumpet, but is such a thing even possible for a kid that age? We don’t have a clue.”

So what do you all advise:

1. What are good ages to start learning instruments?

2. What are good instruments …

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What to do when kids lie?

For the first time that I can remember, I caught my 8-year-old daughter in a lie last week!

She cut her own hair while I was at the hospital  and my father was babysitting. At first she denied that it was cut at all, then she told me the baby cut her hair. She stuck with that story for a while and then finally, finally she admitted she had cut her own hair!

I always have a hard time punishing Rose. It’s hard to find something she really cares about to take away from her. Walsh is easy to punish. You take away his Legos or his video games or computer time and he feels his punishment severely. The baby every now and then will be put in timeout and she is the saddest little girl in timeout. She drops her little head and sits so forlorn in the corner. I know she understands she did something wrong.

I finally decided to take movies away from Rose for the week. She had been watching  “Princess Protection” and “Princess Diaries 2″ each day while the baby napped so I told her couldn’t …

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