Archive for July, 2011

Harry Potter mania nearing an end

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him atajcmomania@gmail.com.

If you or your kids are Harry Potter fans, you have a reason to be nostalgic this weekend.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

Many of you and your children have watched the gifted young wizard grow up in the decade since the first Potter flick came out.

You might have bonded with your kids over the books or waited for midnight showings of the movies. Did Potter work his magic and get your kids to finally start reading?

Ty’s too young to have been a part of the Potter frenzy and I have never had interest in it, but Lori has read every book and seen every movie. She’s even going back to read the second part of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” to prepare for this last movie.

For some kids – and parents, including Lori – it’s the end of an era.

If you need any proof of how long the Potter …

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Part 2: Georgia football coach Mark Richt shares his parenting philosophies

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

Mark Richt is entering his 11th season as the football coach at the University of Georgia. He and his wife Katharyn were married in 1987 and had two boys – Jon, 21, and David, 16 – before adopting Zack, 15, and Anya, 14, from the Ukraine in 1999. He took some time to talk to me about his philosophies on several aspects of parenting.

Part 2 (Read Part 1 here)

On adoption:

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

When we adopted, Jon and David were very much in the decision process. We wanted them to be for it, also. Once we all decided that we were going to do this, there was enough time in the adoption process to begin to pray for the siblings who were coming in and to get used to the idea that a brother and sister were on the way. So I think that was helpful, that we didn’t just spring it on them. David was …

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Slip n Slides not the best way to stay cool in the summer

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com

A few weeks ago, when it was only about 92 degrees on a daily basis, I turned on our sprinkler system one afternoon, thinking only the grass would get wet.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

I had forgotten about the white-hot attraction between shooting water and kids.

Pretty soon, four or five of our neighbors’ children had joined Ty for rollicking runs through our yard. They alternated from trying to dodge the water to standing right on top of the stream, absorbing every drop that shot skyward.

They laughed and smiled and screamed and danced through the water, wrapped up in the blissful joy of childhood.

We all have our keeping cool in the summer memories.

Growing up, a friend down the street had a Slip ’n Slide and a yard with a nice grassy hill.

Not just a short hill with a gradual slope. This one was …

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Georgia football coach Mark Richt shares his parenting philosophies

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

Mark Richt is entering his 11th season as the football coach at the University of Georgia. He and his wife Katharyn were married in 1987 and had two boys – Jon, 21, and David, 16 – before adopting Zack, 15, and Anya, 14, from the Ukraine in 1999. He took some time to talk to me about his philosophies on several aspects of parenting.

Part 1

On parenting:

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

First of all, it’s crucial, at least for me personally, that myself and my wife are connected to the Lord. That’s No. 1. A relationship with God is first and foremost. If that’s right, we’ve got a chance. And No. 2, have a great relationship with your wife. If the parents are stable in their relationship and if we are in agreement with how we’re going to go about our business, that’s very, very important. …

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Baseball game turns tragic for father, son

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

I’m usually not affected by sad stories.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

I’ve heard tons of heart-wrenching ones in my 23 years in journalism, a profession that has turned me into a hardened cynic.

But I was deeply moved by the Texas Rangers fan who fell to his death last Thursday night after trying to catch a ball tossed into the stands by outfielder Josh Hamilton.

You’ve probably read the story – or even seen the YouTube video – of Shannon Stone, a firefighter from Brownwood, Texas, falling over the first railing at Rangers Ballpark. At his side was his 6-year-old son, Cooper, who could only watch as his father fell 20 feet onto a concrete slab.

They were at the game together, father and son, enjoying a sport that has been a common link to so many fathers and their sons through the …

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Georgia answer changing scandal is shocking

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

I just re-read several of the AJC’s stories on the test scores scandal that started with Atlanta Public Schools and has now spread to hundreds of schools all over the state.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

It’s now suspected that answers were changed on the spring’s state standardized tests in one out of every five public schools in Georgia.

That’s a stunning number, one that leaves little or no faith in Georgia’s public education system.

Although we live in a county where the public schools have a strong academic reputation, I’m concerned that there’s so much pressure on school systems to post successful test scores, answer changing, if not stopped right now, could reach almost every district in the state.

 The extent of the scandal, which led to Atlanta’s children being a punch line to a …

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No Tiger Mothers here

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

One of the thousands of things I’ve had to learn and come to terms with over the past five years, is that every child matures at their own rate.

I don’t know why that surprised me. I know plenty of adults who have never grown up.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

Maybe it’s because of all those charts the doctors and experts throw at you. You know, the ones that say things like: By age 3, your child should be doing long division and changing the oil in your car.

Kids are people, too, and their minds and personalities develop at their own pace.

I used to compare Ty with other kids his age and often was disappointed when one of his friends or his cousin, who is a couple of months younger than Ty, did something that seemed more advanced than what he was capable of doing.

Eventually I realized that he …

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Study: Giving birth at home is on the rise

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

Home delivery never crossed our minds.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

It wasn’t an option we talked about or discussed with anybody else. I’m sure it was mentioned in our birthing class, but we had always thought that Lori would give birth in a hospital.

But apparently not everybody thinks that way.

Home births were up 20 percent in the U.S. from 2004-08, according to the folks over at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That accounted for 28,357 of 4.2 births in this country during that time.

An article on MSNBC.com reported that the study found, “White women led the drive, with 1 in 98 having babies at home in 2008, compared to 1 in 357 black women and 1 in 500 Hispanic women.”

Here’s more:

Robbie Davis-Floyd, a medical anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin and …

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What do you think of Casey Anthony’s reaction?

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

Casey Anthony looked shocked, relieved and then on the verge of collapse when the verdict was read.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

Anthony was found innocent of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee on Tuesday to end one of the most closely watched trials since O.J. Simpson’s in 1995.

There’s been a ton of reaction to the verdict since the trial was so polarizing. Anthony was found guilty only of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.

But there’s also been a lot of blogging, tweeting and talking about Anthony’s reaction after she found out she was innocent of the most serious charges.

After the initial shock wore off, Anthony and her entire defense team were seen smiling and laughing in the courthouse. This is from the Orlando Sentinel:

As soon as …

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Airline CEO: No babies allowed in first class

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

I read the other day that Malaysia Airlines, which has banned kids from first class on its 747s since 2004, will not allow them to sit in the pricey seats when its Airbus A380s are introduced next year.

According to a New York Times blog, CEO Tengku Azmil said the decision was based on the complaints from passengers and having no room for changing tables in the bathrooms in first class.

Having kids in first class is an extremely touchy issue for flyers who prefer that area be reserved for adults, or at least older children, who would enjoy the comfy seats, extra space and other luxuries. We’ve flown with Ty several times since he was 2 months old, and I couldn’t imagine him sitting in first class on a couple of those trips, even though he’s an excellent flier, for the most part.

When he …

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