Archive for August, 2009

Disney buys Marvel: Company set on world domination or just after Boys 6 to 14?

The Walt Disney Co. announced today it will buy Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion – a move that will give many parents pause.

I’m old school, and I like my Mickey Mouse separate from my Amazing Spiderman! I like my cartoon characters competing and looking different. Crossovers have always given me the willies.

But I don’t think this move is about world domination by Disney. I just think buying Marvel helps the company attain a goal it’s been after for years: Boys 6 to 14.

Disney knows it’s got the young girl market locked up all the way from my 2-year-old to my girlfriend’s young teenager. They suck them in as toddlers with tiaras and fake high heels. (I can’t get my 2-year-old out of her Princess outfits.) Then keep them interested as tweens with Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato movies and videos. (I still can’t tell these two apart.). And finally I think even the most cynical 14-year-old would have to admit the Jonas brothers are cute.

But what do they have for boys? Last …

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Should students forget the classics, choose own books?

A new trend in teaching literature in schools is to allow the students to choose the books they want to read instead of making the class read books named in the curriculum. It’s called Reading Workshop, and there are variations. Some schools allow students to choose some of their own books in addition to the curriculum, others are letting students completely set their own agendas.

The New York Times wrote a story this weekend about this trend featuring Lorrie McNeill, a seventh and eighth-grade English teacher at Jonesboro Middle School.

For the first time last year, McNeill allowed the students to pick their own books to read and then they would discuss them with her, each other and write detailed journals about the books.

New York, Seattle and Chicago are all seeing versions of the Reading Workshop.

What are the plusses and minuses to this method? Motoko Rich of The New York Times reports:

“In the method familiar to generations of students, an entire class reads a novel – …

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10 Stories Parents Shouldn’t Miss!

I found so many great stories I wanted to share with you last night that I decided to do a round-up today. (I know it’s supposed to be Fun Friday, but there are too many important things to talk about!)

From Swine Flu advice to parents to advice for parents who have lost their jobs to advice for parents sending their teens away to college, these are 10 great stories you shouldn’t miss.

So let’s start with the Swine Flu of course! The ladies couldn’t stop talking about it yesterday at the elementary school and the preschool. Although our school nurse is pretty calm about it.

1. CDC leery of estimate of Swine Flu’s toll

This story from veteran Associated Press health writer Lauran Neergaard made me feel so much better! I saw this number —  90,000 people dying from Swine Flu this fall — on CNN a few nights ago and was ready to start homeschooling!  But Mrs. Neergaard got to the bottom of that scary number. Here’s what she writes:

“Government health officials are urging people not …

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Would you show your teen this bloody texting/driving PSA?

A new very violent, very graphic PSA against texting while driving is creating a buzz on the Internet.

The PSA was created in Great Britain and shows very graphically what could happen if teens are driving and texting. It shows teen girls texting and then crashing into a car. And it only gets worse from there. The girls’ car is hit by another car and then other cars fatally crash into the ones behind them.

I have to warn you before you watch this, it is VERY UPSETTING! I literally felt like I was going to throw up after watching it. They even show a baby dead.  (I personally wouldn’t watch it if I were pregnant or just had a baby – it’s that upsetting!)

Kansas City.Com reports that the clip that landed on You Tube is part of a 30-minute video that was made to be shown to students in South Wales.

Another big point I think this video illustrates is wear your darn seatbelt — even in the back seat!

So my questions are:

A.      What do you think of the video? Is it too violent? Is …

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Is cooking for your kids a ‘moral imperative’?

A few weeks ago Michael Pollan wrote for The New York Times Magazine this amazing story examining cooking in America – or more accurately the lack of cooking in America. The story was timed to the release of the movie “Julie and Julia.” It was a super long story and covered a lot of ground.

The part that caught my eye was his examination of why many parents are not cooking for their families anymore, how this trend developed in America and how it is affecting our children.

He points out in one part of the story that women used to view cooking as a moral imperative on par with childcare. That not cooking for your family was a dereliction of duty.

If you have the time, Pollan’s entire article is well worth reading but for our discussion here are a few of the more salient points:

“Yes, women with jobs outside the home spend less time cooking – but so do women without jobs. The amount of time spent on food preparation in America has fallen at the same precipitous rate among …

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Who chooses extracurricular activities: Kids or Parents?

My husband and 6-year-old son are currently battling over what extracurricular activity my little guy is going to do this fall. (I’m trying to only have one after-school activity per child since we also have church one of the weeknights.)

My little guy has decided he wants to do the Cub Scouts. He said a lady came by the classroom and told them they get to ride in paddleboats and go camping! He was sold!

Michael of course wants him to be playing a sport – any sport. I pretty much put my foot down about our community’s competitive, tackle, 3 and 4-day a week football program. (Too much time and money for a 6-year-old. Also too physical at this age.) I have been collecting brochures for the local flag football league that has practice and a game on the same day – the weekend (so Dad can help go to practice). I also gathered brochures for a different basketball program and T-Ball programs.

Walsh says he’s not interested in any of those sports. He just wants to join the Cub …

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Cash Only: Can it save your family money?

For the first time in our 15-year marriage we are trying to use only CASH to pay for things.

I know this is not a new concept, and I know it is touted by money gurus as a good way to save money, which is why we’re finally giving it a try.

We’ve always used credit cards and have always paid them off every single month. (I can think of two times in our entire marriage that we ever let a payment roll to the next month on a credit card.) Debt is not our problem.

Our problem is that we spend more than we should each month because it is so easy to whip out a charge card and pull the extra money from savings later to pay the bill.

The problem with this is not that we can’t cover the bill (at least at this point) but that we could be saving more than we are. Plus, we are often wasting money on stuff we simply don’t need!

(I need to clarify that I am still paying our regular monthly bills (like mortgage payment, car note) online deducting from our bank account, but we’re trying to use …

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Is your spouse ever spontaneous? Give us inspiration!

A regular sent me a note yesterday saying she wants inspiration from other couples about how to be spontaneous. Here’s what she’s wrote:

After our wedding in April, I had very unexpected female surgery in May that had a seven week recovery.

My husband was unemployed during that time and we very quickly got into a little bit of a rut due to finances and my not feeling well.

Several weeks ago we went to dinner and a movie and had a great time and decided that we wanted to go dance and drink like we were young again.  So we found a band playing in buckhead, hopped in the car and went.  We had the best time and this was something we had no plans to do.  We made it in about 2:30 a.m. and are still talking about how much fun that was.

I would love to hear about other spontaneous moments between couples that might inspire us to be a little more unplanned.

So with the weekend upon us, please share your best unplanned, spontaneous moments. Give us some great ideas to spring on our …

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Siblings close now; siblings close later?

My brother is starting his ninth week at the hospital. He spent almost eight weeks in the ICU and was just moved to a regular hospital room on Tuesday. I have spent a lot of time at the hospital this summer, more some weeks than others, but always trying to help when I can.

Nurses and friends have made odd, yet nice comments, saying what a good sister I am. They say they don’t know very many sisters that would be there like that for their brothers.

And it makes me wonder: Could that be true? Would a sibling who lived close by really not help their brother or sister at the hospital?

Rose and Walsh and Lilina are all so close now — doing so much together from playing to bathing (not Rose and Walsh), to cuddling up in the same bed — that I can’t imagine them not being there for each other as adults.

There are so many shared sibling experiences. Only your brothers and sisters know what growing up in your house was like. Only they know the idiosyncrasies of your parents, and how …

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Study:25 percent low-income kids having sex; average age 12

A new study of 1,000 low-income families in three major U.S. cities found that one in four children between the ages of 11 and 16 reported having sex, with their first sexual intercourse experience occurring at the average age of 12.77.

The Iowa State University news services reports:

” ‘So if 12 years was the average age here, that meant that some kids were starting at 10 or younger,’ said Brenda Lohman, an Iowa State University associate professor of human development and family studies (HDFS). ‘A handful of kids reported having sex as early as 8 or 9. We know from our follow-up interviews that one boy who reported having sexual intercourse for the first time at age nine had fathered four children by the time he was 18.’

“In the study, boys reported their first sexual intercourse at younger ages (averaging 12.48) than girls (13.16). Boys also had nearly 10 percent higher frequency of intercourse than girls.”

“Recent national research has found that 13 percent of girls and 15 …

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