Archive for November, 2009

Read-a-thon strategies:Crazy competitive or clever?

I was talking with a mom friend on the phone this weekend and her husband kept beeping in. He had been sent to the library to pick up more books for her child’s school read-a-thon. You would think this would be a fairly easy task: choose some books around your child’s reading level that he or she would be interested in reading. Bring home a bunch since it is a competition.

But apparently it’s not that simple – at least not at my friend’s school.  I can’t decide if she’s being very clever or if her child’s school is way too competitive. Here are some examples of her read-a-thon strategies:

The most important thing a mom can know is at what page number the point value of the book increases. This mom didn’t want the 136-page book because at page 137 her child would get an extra point for reading just one more page.  So you need to pay attention to where the point breaks are at all levels and choose books that just barely qualify for that next point level. …

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Should soldier Moms be deployed away from babies?

U.S. Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson was supposed to deploy to Afghanistan as a cook but she had no one to care for her infant son. She was told to her 10-month-old would go to foster care!!! So she refused to deploy as scheduled.

Single parents must file a child care plan with the Army and Hutchinson had one. Her mother was supposed to care for her infant when she deployed. However, her mother was caring for three other family members and didn’t feel she was up to caring for the baby. (As mothers, we can relate to how difficult and time consuming caring for a 10-month old is!)

Angelique Hughes, the soldier’s mother, said they told her daughter’s commanders they needed more time to find another family member or close friend to help Hughes care for the boy, but Hutchinson was ordered to deploy on schedule.

Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield, said he didn’t know what Hutchinson was told by her commanders, but he said the Army would not deploy a single parent who …

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Would YOU know if your daughter was sexually active?

An Associated Press story reports that Sarah Palin didn’t know her daughter Bristol was sexually active before she learned the teenager was pregnant.

“The former vice presidential candidate told ABC’s Barbara Walters: ‘Truthfully, we were devastated.’ ”

I’m not why this should be a shocker. I don’t think most parents know if their kids, especially their daughters, are sexually active. I think teens are very adept at hiding many things – including drugs, drinking and having sex.

I know we have several regulars who have very good relationships with their daughters and talk about good communication but I think they’re unusual.

Would you know if your teen was having sex? How would you know? How could you determine it if you weren’t sure? Do you think boys are more open with their parents about having sex than girls? Is there some failing by a parent if they aren’t aware of their teen’s sexual status?

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Should chocolate milk be banned in schools?

Cupcakes have been under siege for a number of years, and now it’s chocolate milk’s turn on the chopping block.

How evil is chocolate milk?

According to The Huffinton Post, the complaint is that often there are more than 3 teaspoons of sugar added to the milk to make it more palatable to kids. (Three teaspoons was the magic number that made kids drink it.) Here is an AP story also on the controversy.

According to chef Ann Cooper, Renegade Lunch Lady of Boulder, CO., kids could put on as much as 5 pounds a year from that additional sugar.

The National Dairy Council has launched a defense campaign – Raise your Hand for Chocolate Milk. Their argument is:

  • “Milk provides nutrients essential for good health and kids will drink more when it’s flavored.
  • Flavored milk contains the same nine essential nutrients as white milk and is a healthful alternative to soft drinks.
  • Drinking low-fat or fat-free white or flavored milk helps kids get the 3 daily servings* of milk …

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Is masturbation an OK topic for high school lit class?

A high school teacher in the Bronx has been suspended after assigning his 11th grade class a short story about masturbation.

The story is “Guts” by “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve heard of “Fight Club” the movie – Brad Pitt, Edward Norton. I’ve never heard of “Guts” or that specific author.

Here are two different stories with information about what happened:

The first is from Gawker and has an actual quote from the book so you can judge whether the content was appropriate or not.

The second is from the Gothamist and focuses on the reaction to what happened.

You need to read the quote from the book on the Gawker site to be able to fully participate in the discussion. I’m pretty sure I would get into trouble if I posted the actual quote here.

If you’ve read the quote consider a couple of points:

First off, I’m confused. Does that act qualify as masturbation? To me that takes it to a different level than say in Judy Blume’s “Deenie,” …

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Do you recall all of the children’s product recalls?

Popular stroller manufacturer Maclaren yesterday recalled one million of its strollers amid reports that some children have had their fingertips cut off by a hinge on the products.

All Maclaren single and double umbrella strollers sold between 1999 and November 2009 are being voluntarily recalled. The products, which cost between $100 and $360, have been sold at Target, Babies R Us and other children’s specialty stores throughout the country. “Maclaren” is printed on the strollers, and model names include Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, TechnoXLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveler.

Twelve children have reportedly had their fingertips severed after getting them caught in the strollers’ hinges. Maclaren is asking parents to stop using the products and immediately contact Maclaren USA to receive a free repair kit that will cover the hinge. Until parents have fitted the hinge with the protective kit, the company says they should “use extra …

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How much is enough for a first-time babysitter to earn?

Twelve years old seems to be the magic age. Not only did my daughter and her friends go trick-or-treating on their own this past Halloween, but my newly-minted, almost-teenager has begun to get calls from our friends and neighbors in need of a babysitter.

Needless to say, my daughter is thrilled at the prospect of babysitting, earning a little bit of money and crossing that mythical line that separates the babysittees from the babysitters. She has already booked her first gig as big kid in charge, and it’s a great job for a babysitting neophyte.

Before she takes on the responsibility of big-time babysitting, I want her to complete one of those babysitting courses that the local parks and rec offers. This job offer came in before she could enroll in the class.  However, the “client” in question is a kindergarten-aged child of friends of ours in the neighborhood. We will be attending a neighborhood event a few houses down with the child’s parents, so all four of us …

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How stressed are your kids? Do you know what’s making them feel so anxious?

Americans are so accustomed to stress that a recent study finding 75 percent of adults feel moderate to high levels of stress would hardly qualify as “news” to most of us. My personal response to those figures was a simple, “eh, that’s about right” – even though I doubt my life at the moment could be classified as particularly stressful.

I am married with three young children, and there are certainly stresses that go with that. But on the whole, our family isn’t facing any major upheavals –the birth of a baby, unemployment, a big move, divorce, loss or sickness of a family member – that can really cause stress levels to spike. We are among the millions of Americans in the middle, who are going along to get along. For that, I feel incredibly grateful.

But do I also feel stressed? Yes. Moderately to highly stressed? Yes, often. For me, it’s the little things that pile up – endless housework; training our dog not to eat the window casings on the house; …

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Do kids still love Sesame Street 40 years on?

Parents who grew up on the program may be devoted to Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Bob and Maria, but does the landmark children’s show still grab the attention of 21st century kids?

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Renovating: Is there good design with kids in mind?

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You know it's time to update your kitchen when your friends' high school photos on Facebook look like they could be taken today in your house.

After two years of thought, planning and saving, we are finally renovating our kitchen this week.

I don’t want you to think we’re updating the kitchen purely for aesthetics. I currently only have two of four burners that actually heat and both 27-year-old ovens are calibrated way off and are releasing tremendous heat from the top. And while the 27-year-old dishwasher still cleans, I feel certain it’s a fire hazard. Plus for some reason it was never attached to the counter above so the entire thing tips forward when you open the door to put dishes in.

So while I’m thrilled not to have a kitchen that look like it’s straight out of an ’80s movie, I’m also happy to have appliances that won’t burn down my house.

I’ve been looking at granite, appliances and tile since the summer. I give the same story to each salesperson: …

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