Archive for April, 2010

Are school field trip permission forms too inclusive?

One of our regular readers sent me a note about school permission slips. Her kids go to school in Cobb County and she is bothered by how completely the permission forms seem to clear the school of any responsibility to your child. Here’s what she wrote:

“I’m not sure if you’ve covered this topic before, but I was wondering about your, and other parent’s, take on the “waiver” that appears on permission slips for field trips – at least in Cobb County. If you read it carefully, it says you agree to fully “hold harmless” the school, school system, etc. under ANY circumstances if your child is participating in the field trip. This sounds to me that the trip supervisor could sit and watch the bus driver consume alcohol then load up the kids and go. If your student willingly gets on the bus and an accident occurs because of the driver’s impairment and your child is injured, oh well – you’ve already agreed you won’t make a claim against the school or any of its agents.”

“Not only …

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Would banning fast food toys reduce childhood obesity?

A county in California is trying to help curb childhood obesity by banning restaurants from giving away toys with high-calorie meals.

From the AP story:

“The ordinance is largely symbolic as it would only cover unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, meaning only about a dozen fast-food outlets and several other family-owned restaurants would be affected.”

“But its chief sponsor says it’s still important because it paves the way for other areas to act, may spur action by fast-food chains to offer healthier choices and can help parents by taking away a child’s incentive for wanting less healthy food.”

“This ordinance does not attack toys. Obviously, toys, in and of themselves, do not make children obese,” said county Supervisor Ken Yeager, who pushed for the ban. “But it is unfair to parents and children to use toys to capture the tastes of children when they are young to get them hooked on eating high-sugar, high-fat foods early in life.”

“The ban, which faces a final vote …

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AJC picks no-fail restaurants for Parent Date Nights: Tell us your faves and your horror stories

Editor’s Note: We have fixed our technical glitch. The link to the list is hotlinked now and ready to read!!

Many parents will tell you that they very rarely get to go out for a good dinner alone and when they do they want it to be perfect. They are spending money to hire a babysitter, money on the dinner and know they won’t get to try again anytime soon if they make a bad choice.

Michael and I get out maybe once every two to three months for a nice dinner alone. We’ve had a multitude of bad date night experiences over the last few years including:

  • Taking the early bird reservation because that was when the baby sitter could come only to be rushed out of the very expensive restaurant for the “real” patrons to show up at 7:30.
  • The embarrassment of having to call back snotty and smug hostesses to say that we couldn’t get a babysitter or our babysitter canceled at the last minute. (OpenTable, the restaurant booking web site, has solved this problem for us! No more snotty …

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Bonus entry: Fernbank offers archeology weekend

I actually went through my Gmail inbox and pulled out interesting products or Web sites that I thought you guys would like. So they probably won’t spark great debates but I just wanted to share them.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History is hosting a day of hands-on activities looking at how archeology works. On Saturday, May 1 from 10 to 2 p.m., kids can:

  • Act like an archaeologist and sift through dirt and sand to find artifacts, and try piecing them back together.
  • Enjoy hands-on activities guided by real archaeologists.
  • Learn more about this special project between the Flat Rock Archive, local archaeologists and Georgia State University students.
  • See ancient pottery recreationist Patrick Severts at work and create your own clay masterpiece to take home.
  • Discover how ancient weapons were created using primitive tools and technologies.
  • Darts, spear heads, and a variety of other tools will be on display and many more things.

All Archaeology Day activities are included …

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Part-time working moms have healthiest kids?

A new study out of Australia suggests that mothers who work part-time have healthier kids than mothers who work full time or those who stay at home full time.

From The Seattle Times:

“Published by the journal Social Science & Medicine, the study looked at the impact of mothers’ hours of paid work on the lifestyle and weight of about 2,500 children at ages 4-5 years and 6-7 years.”

“It found that at both ages, children whose mothers worked part time were less likely to be overweight, watched less TV, ate less junk food and were more physically active than children whose mothers were working full time or not in paid employment.”

” ‘What we didn’t expect was the finding that the children of mothers in part-time work were healthier than children of mothers at home full time,’ study co-author Jan Nicholson wrote by e-mail from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. ‘What our results may show is that women who work part time, perhaps compared to women at …

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Bonus entry: Local mom invents iBrite app for kids

I actually went through my Gmail inbox and pulled out interesting products or Web sites that I thought you guys would like. So they probably won’t spark great debates but I just wanted to share them with you guys!

The first is an app for your iPad invented by a local mom Jen Gordon. It’s like Lite Brite but for your iPad called iBrite.  Here’s the site where you can see the app.

It’s pretty neat because the colors are limitless and even toddlers can use it because they just have to touch it.

Here are some sites with iPhone apps for parents:

From Mommy Poppins

From Travel Savvy Mom

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Is crying it out ‘toxic’ for baby’s brain? New evidence in England reignites issue

Apparently Dr. Penelope Leach is England’s Dr. Sears. (The old Dr. Sears not the young one.) She has released a new book quoting new scientific evidence that letting babies consistently cry it out can actually hurt their brains.

From the BBC’s web site, which seemed to be the most neutral on the subject:

“Dr Leach told the BBC News website: ‘We are talking about the release of stress chemicals. The best known of them is cortisol, which is produced under extreme stress.’

” ‘One is not talking about a wakeful baby lying there gurgling, one is talking about a baby that is crying hard and nobody is responding.’

” ‘When that happens, and particularly if it happens over a long period, the brain chemical system releases cortisol and that is very bad for brain development. Some neuroscientists describe it as toxic.’ “

She suggested that unattended crying bouts of 30 minutes or more could damage babies.

The writer at the Guardian in Britain seemed to be an advocate for “crying it out” …

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Should we be ‘Unschooling’ our kids?

A new education movement showed up on ‘Good Morning America” this week and parents are up in arms about the story. The movement is called “Unschooling.”

Based on what I read and watched on the “Good Morning America” web site, it sounds like a cross between extremely lazy Montessori and homeschooling. The basic gist as far as I can tell is that the kids choose what they want to study and how they want to study. But that they may mean they just watch TV or play video games that day. (I’m only comparing it to Montessori because kids get to choose what they work on to some degree – but in Montessori kids have and actual curriculum and lessons to choose from.)

The report estimated that of 56 million school children, 1.5 million are homeschooled and of that 150,000 are “Unschooled.”

From the GMA web site:

” ‘We find that we don’t need a whole lot of rules,’ Phil Biegler said in the segment that aired Monday. ‘They might watch television,’ Christine Yablonski said. ‘They might play …

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Has Earth Day lost its impact among so much environmental fervor?

My kids asked me yesterday morning what we were doing special for Earth Day. I told them I didn’t have any big special plan because I felt like we were trying to do stuff every day.

I told them I thought we were doing a much better job recycling in the kitchen. We’re eating less meat a week trying to reduce the carbon dioxide produced by the animals (as well as the health effect for us). We are reusing toys and clothes for other children. We’re much more conscience of our electrical, gas, and water usage, which has definitely been reflected in our bills.

The school does recycling projects year round. Send in your old shoes for charity. Send in bottle caps for 2-liters that can’t be recycled the regular way. Send in cans. Send in newspapers. There’s always some project going on for the environment.

Rose’s class is even participating in a science competition to build a solar oven and actually cook on it.

So it makes me wonder: Has Earth Day lost its voice in the cacophony of …

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What would Cookie Monster Google?

I ran across on some very cute videos released from Sesame Street. They are parody videos of the Google search ads and examine what would Cookie Monster and Bert search for online.


“Sesame Street has really gotten into the social media game in recent years: its Twitter is cute, relevant and totally in character; Elmo has his own iPhone app; and characters have even appeared as Google logos. Yeah, puppets are so hot right now.”

So just for fun, here are the two videos.

Bonus Video:

The article also links to the Muppets’ version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” (I should have saved these for Fun Friday! Rats!)

So what do you think? Did you like Cookie’s Google search? What about Bert’s? (I think Cookie’s was cuter.) Why do you think Sesame Street has done so much with social media? It is to engage the kids or their parents?

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